Saturday, August 22, 2009


“Don’t just listen to God’s word.
You must do what it says.
Otherwise, you are only
fooling yourselves.”
James 1:22 NLT

I have been studying and sharing the Scriptures, in one way or another, for more than fifty years. It has been a wonderful God-given privilege. It has transformed my life and the lives of many who received the teaching. But I have a confession to make. In studying the Word, I often saw passages as something other people needed to hear and obey. And to be perfectly frank, my mindset is still somewhat that way. I read a passage in the Bible or an article in a Christian magazine or website, and right off I see how it applies to someone else, and then only later realize – hey, I need to apply that to my life! Does that ever happen to you, or am I the only one who does that?

Most of us who go to church regularly love to hear good teaching and preaching of the Word. While it is comforting and reassuring, it also informs us of what we should and should not be doing. In Psalm 119:105 David says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” God’s Word reveals dangerous obstacles so we can avoid them, and it clearly illumines the right path to take. However, seeing what to do is not the same as doing it. As this week’s Word from God says, “You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” Wow, that really hits us where we live. The greater understanding we have of the Word , the more responsible we are to live by it.

Jesus says, “Why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49) The part of our life which doesn’t obey the Lord suffers ruin. I see that as applying to my life as well as yours.

“When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
for there’s no other wayTo be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey.”
John H. Sammis

Let’s Pray-
Thank you Lord for the light of your Word.
Help us to obediently apply it to our lives first
before trying to apply it to others.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget
the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.”
Psalm 103:2-3 NLT
Over a hundred years ago Johnson Oatman wrote these familiar lines,
“When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
It is always beneficial to recall “the good things” with which God has blessed us, but it is especially helpful when we are down and feeling sorry for ourselves.

Three thousand years ago King David was praising the Lord as he counted his blessings. In the process he challenges himself: “may I never forget the good things he does for me.” And as he pondered the good things the Lord brought into his life, two rose to the top of the list.
”He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.”

Forgiveness of sin is God’s most incredible gift! Without it we are eternally separated from him, which is what hell is – separation from God and every form of his blessing. No one, we or any other human or angelic being, can grant us forgiveness of sin! Only God can, and in mercy and grace he offers that forgiveness making it possible for us to be united with him eternally (which is heaven). How can we every praise him enough for his forgiveness?! May we never take it for granted, rather in gratefulness live a life which brings him honor and glory.

The second blessing at the top of David’s list was: “he heals all my diseases.” Without question, for believers, God is the healer of every disease, whether in time or eternity. All of us have experienced his healing, sometimes in answer to prayer, other times through medical means, still other times God just sovereignly touched us. All healing is from God, which like forgiveness of sin, is for his glory.

Obviously, God does not always heal. Why, because of sin or lack of faith? Possibly, but that certainly isn’t always the reason. Often the Lord holds back or delays healing to teach us to trust him as we “walk through the darkest valley.” It’s always meant for our best and his glory!

Revelation 21:4 assures us that perfect and eternal healing is reserved for every believer. “
He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Let’s Pray-
Oh Lord, “You were pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. You were beaten so we could be whole. You were whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“Let all that I am praise you Lord; may I never forget the good things you do for me.”

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I will be your God
throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.
Isaiah 46:4 NLT
Do we have worth beyond the years we can make a meaningful contribution to society? What about that phase of life when others may consider us just an inconvenience or an expense to be avoided, will we still have worth?

“1.3 million abortions are performed in the US each year.”(1) The motivations for those abortions, no doubt, are varied. But without question, for many, inconvenience and/or the expense of raising the child, was a deciding factor. The child was considered not worth it.

On the other end of the life cycle “there are about 16,500 nursing homes certified to provide Medicare and/or Medicaid care in the United States, with approximately 1.8 million total beds. About 3.5 million people will live in a nursing home in the course of a year.”(2)

Go to any nursing home and you will find people who go weeks and months without a visitor. Aren’t they worth the effort? At times even their children find themselves “too busy” with their own families to stop by for a visit. Some are even scheming how they can end this drain on their inheritance.

But I am sure there are many nursing home residents whose loved ones would do anything to bless them. I know an elderly gentleman (let’s call him Carl) whose wife had Alzheimer’s. When he couldn’t take care of her at home any more, he admitted her to a nursing home. He drove miles to visit her regularly even when she didn’t know him any more. When she had to be spoon fed, Carl was there every day to lovingly feed her. This went on for over a year until the Lord took her Home. For Carl this wasn’t too inconvenient or time consuming. She was more than worth it all!

We live in a world where the unwanted unborn, the severely impaired, and the elderly are increasingly seen as a liability rather than an asset to society. The reasoning is - why spend time, energy, and money on something which will not yield an economic return.

Our heavenly father has a different set of values. He says, “I saw you as having infinite worth when I formed you in your mother’s womb. The cross shows how much worth you are to me, whether you are a youth, a helpless invalid, or in your white haired 80’s or 90’s. You are worth everything to me, that’s why I sacrificed my Son to save you.”(3)

Let’s Pray –
Thank you Father, that you consider us precious, even if others may not consider us worth their effort. We are so grateful that “Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue us all the days of our life.”(4)

(1) (Source: Finer LB and Henshaw SK, Estimates of U.S. Abortion Incidence in 2001 and 2002, Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2005)
(2) McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living
(3) Paraphrase of various scriptures
(4)Psalm 23:6 NLT

Saturday, August 1, 2009


“Think clearly and exercise self-control….
You must live as God’s obedient children.
Don’t slip back into your old ways
of living to satisfy your own desires.”
Peter 1:13-14 NLT

“Self” is that part of us which is in rebellion against God. It is our sinful nature which does not want to, indeed can not, obey God. It will dominate our life unless we allow the power of the Holy Spirit to bring it under control.

To the degree that we allow self to control us, it will really mess up our lives and the lives of the people around us. Paul refers to this in Galatians 5:19-21 just before he mentions the fruit of the Spirit.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

What a sickening list. You may or may not be struggling with some of these gross sins. But some of these sins in their “refined” forms may invade our thought life. Jesus taught that lustful glances and fantasies are the same as carrying out the act itself. Then there is that whole area of excesses of good things – eating –drinking – leisure – pleasure - clothing – spending etc., etc. What about - uncontrolled anger – profanity – critical spirit – selfishness - gossip - "and other sins like these."

I don’t know about you, but I have to admit there are areas in my life that need help with self control. The good news is that God has made a way to bring self under control. “Dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.(Romans 8:12,13) Self-control is at the heart of all the facets of the fruit of the Spirit. To the degree that we allow the Spirit to bring our sinful nature under control, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness” will all flourish in our lives. The secret is to be filled (controlled by) the Holy Spirit.

Let’s Pray-
Father, self is in control in our lives too much of the time. We need the power of your Holy Spirit to be in control of self. We desperately need a fresh infilling of your Spirit! Please bring it about, whether in answer to pleading prayers, or by sovereignly touching our lives. Cause your Spirit to fill us once again!!
We ask it in Jesus name.