Saturday, November 27, 2010

IT IS GOOD TO GIVE THANKS!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim
your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.
Psalm 92:1-2 NLT
~~~~~~

Tradition has it that after the pilgrims had learned (with the help of the Indians) how to survive in this country they celebrated the harvest with grateful hearts. President Washington, as well as several other Presidents, made one-time Thanksgiving holidays. President Lincoln was the first to make it an annual observance on the last Thursday of November. In 1939 President Roosevelt set the fourth Thursday of November as our National Thanksgiving Day (approved by congress in 1941).

So last Thursday according to American tradition we observed Thanksgiving Day. Many families got together to catch up on the latest happenings in the lives of loved ones and feast on turkey and all the trimmings. It most likely was a good time of expressing gratitude for the good things the Lord has given this past year.

Our Scripture tells us, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” It is good and right because expressing thanks to Him honors and glorifies Him and acknowledges that HE is the source of the good things that we are enjoying. Sincerely giving thanks to the Lord not only pleases Him but it definitely has a very positive effect on our lives. It fills us with a sense of peace and an awareness of His favor, along with a desire to live close to Him.

Ingratitude on the other hand turns a cold shoulder to the Lord – taking for granted all the blessings that He so graciously gives. It’s an attitude which flows from a proud heart that feels it deserves all the good that happens in life and quickly grumbles and complains when anything unpleasant comes along. What an insult to a loving Father who consistently showers us with His unconditional love. And what a negative person, ingratitude turns us into – someone no one enjoys being around.

So it becomes quite obvious that expressing thanks to the Lord is the way to go not only once a year on a National Holiday, but every day all day long. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening. There is so much to be thankful for – spiritually – physically – materially - relationally and on and on. If we get to feeling a bit sorry for ourselves we need to be reminded that our Lord’s love endures forever, so whether we are on the mountain or the valley - It is (always) good to give thanks to the Lord!!


The song FOREVER by Chris Tomlin will stir your heart to give thanks.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

GOD NEVER CHANGES

“Whatever is good and perfect
comes down to us from God our Father,
who created all the lights in the heavens.
He never changes
or casts a shifting shadow.”
James 1:17 NLT
~~~~~

In the last four or five weeks we have observed major changes in our surroundings. From temperatures in the 80’s to hard frost, and even snow for some of you further north. Leaves on trees have changed from lush green to golds, reds and browns, and have been falling for some time now. It would truly be sad if this were the end, but we know fall is followed by winter, and winter is followed by spring, and eventually it will be summer again. Why does this happen year after year? Because, God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them mark off the seasons, days, and years.” Genesis 1.

In relation to the earth, the sun is fixed in place. The earth revolves around the sun once every 365 days and as a result we experience day and night every 24 hours, and the four seasons every year. The changing shadow on the sundial is not an indication that the sun is moving, rather it shows that the earth is moving.

In a sense, God is like the sun. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. If His light is hidden from us, and we find ourselves in the dark, it indicates that we have allowed the “world” to come between us and Him. When we experience spiritual “winter” it is because we have turned our face from Him.

God has always been good and perfect and will eternally remain the same. Every good and perfect thing that happens to us has its origin in Him – whether He uses people, nature or supernatural means, it ultimately is from Him. He can even use our spiritual “nights” and “winters” brought about by our carelessness and bring good out of them - if we acknowledge our errors and turn back to Him.

Our wonderful God never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He has been and will always be - loving, merciful, patient, and forgiving. No matter what we are going through, we can count on Him to be faithful! He doesn’t change!! ”In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens….. They will perish, but you remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing. You will fold them up like a cloak and discard them like old clothing. But you are always the same.” Hebrews 1.

Listen to the song HE NEVER CHANGES and let it bless your heart.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I WILL BE WITH YOU

“Do not be afraid,
for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name;
you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT
~~~~~~

When God created us, He made us social beings that need others to interact with. And that is especially important when we find ourselves going through difficult times. Today’s scripture passage tells us how God has made provision for such times. We belong to Him not only because we are part of His creation, but even more so because He has ransomed us – He bought us to be His personal possession. And now He calls us by our name and assures us, “You are mine - I will be with you.” No matter what we go through in this life, we are never alone, He is always with us!

Having this personal relationship with Him doesn’t mean that we are exempt from difficult and scary times. His admonition, “Do not be afraid,” shows us that He wants us to focus on His promise instead of on what strikes fear into our hearts. He will be with us in every situation no matter how threatening it may be. He will not allow His ransomed ones to be destroyed.

When we are in deep waters way over our head, and our feet can’t touch bottom anymore, He will be there with us, holding us up and bringing us to solid ground again - all the while calling us by name, and reminding us that we belong to Him.

In rivers of difficulty with strong currents about to pull us under – no matter how hopeless the situation may look - His assuring promise is “I will be with you . . . you will not drown.” We are not alone in the struggle, He is holding our hand, He will not allow us to go under.

Even in the midst of the fire of oppression when we go through fiery trials, He will not allow the flames to destroy us. He is with us through it all, like the fourth man in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3.


Deep waters – rivers of difficulty and fire of oppression are allowed in our lives not to harm but to strengthen and purify us. Remember His word to us is, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. . . I will be with you.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Click on DO NOT FEAR and let it bless your heart.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A SPIRIT OF POWER, LOVE, AND SELF-DISCIPLINE

“For God has not given us
a spirit of fear and timidity,
but of power,
love, and self-discipline.
So never be ashamed
to tell others about our Lord.”
2 Timothy 1:7-8 NLT
~~~~~~

From time to time as we deal with people we face situations in which we feel intimidated or downright afraid. Some people are gripped with fear in front of a large crowd. All of us have found ourselves in a small group or even with just one other person, afraid to speak up lest we looked like a fool or be rejected. This sort of timidity and fear is especially common when we are attempting to tell unsaved people about the Lord. Some of us may feel threatened by negative feelings because of past failures or perhaps by actual demonic influences. Today’s Scriptures comes right to the point, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity. Wherever that kind of hindering emotion may come from, it is not from God! What God has given us are three positive gifts which fully equip us so we will not be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

First, He has given us a spirit of power. In Acts 1 Jesus told His disciples, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere. To effectively tell others about the Lord, takes more than human ability, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit; and God has graciously given that power to every believer. We need to be reminded of that awesome reality every time we share the Gospel in word or deed – it’s not just us – it’s the power of God’s Spirit working though us!

Secondly, God has given us a spirit of love. This of course is not a reference to romantic love for someone of the opposite sex, but rather an unconditional God-like love for people. God’s unconditional love expressed itself most clearly through the sacrifice of His only Son for us who had turned our backs on Him. With that kind of love in our hearts we are enabled to witness to the lost no matter what it may cost.

Thirdly, God has given us a spirit of self-discipline. We may struggle with feelings of inferiority and fear at the very thought of sharing our faith. We don’t need to be controlled by such negative thoughts. Self-discipline is the ability to bring those impulses under control, and it’s one of God’s gifts to us!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

THE BIBLE - GOD'S TEXTBOOK

“All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful to teach us
what is true and to make us realize
what is wrong in our lives.
It corrects us when we are wrong
and teaches us to do what is right.
God uses it to prepare and equip his people
to do every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
~~~~~~
The Bible is by far the bestselling book of all time. An estimated 6,000,000,000 copies have been printed in more than 2,000 languages and dialects. More than 100 million are sold world wide every year. There is no other book, which is used by millions of people every day, parts of which were written over 3000 years ago, yet it still shapes lives today! What is it about the Bible that makes it so special?

As we learn from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, both the Old and New Testament writings are inspired by God. “Inspiration” simply means “God-breathed.” God breathed His changeless Truth into the hearts of chosen prophets and apostles - so what they wrote was actually The Word of God. The various writings brought together became God’s textbook for His people which will never become obsolete. It provides us with all we need, to know Him, and live a life that pleases Him.

The Scriptures are God’s perfect standard by which we can learn what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. The writer of Hebrews adds, For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. In other words, it speaks to our conscience and convicts us when there is sin in our lives. 1 John assures us,
If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

Scripture is filled with promises that can fill our lives with peace and joy and a wonderful sense of fulfillment. However, to benefit from God’s Word we must respond to it in a positive way. It’s not enough just to know what it says. James cautions us, don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. But if you do what it says, then God will bless you for doing it. Our key verse assures us, God uses the Scriptures to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. There is nothing that can take its’ place; it alone is able to equip us to do all that God has planned for us to accomplish.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

WE ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE

“For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew
in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10 NLT
~~~~~~

A masterpiece is a person's greatest piece of work. That creation which over time is acclaimed by his peers as the artist’s or craftsman’s very best work. However, when we are talking about God’s masterpiece it’s not something that can be framed – performed or displayed on a pedestal.

God’s creation is all around us – above us and beneath us. It is both physical and spiritual – temporal and eternal. How can we ever determine which is His greatest piece of work – His masterpiece? Where should we even begin? Is it a mountain range – a water falls – a rain forest – a flower – a precious gem or mineral – sunsets or the northern lights? Could it be one of the countless heavenly bodies He has flung into endless space? Could it be heaven - one of the holy angels or heavenly beings which worship Him continually? No, none of these are His greatest work!

Left purely to human insight, we would have never recognized God’s greatest piece of work. But one of His “peers,” the Holy Spirit, revealed the secret - born again believers are God’s masterpiece. Nothing in all of creation comes close to what He accomplished when He created us anew in Christ Jesus. Paul received this divine revelation and writes, Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Even before God created this world, He planned specific good things for us to do. But by sinning we died spiritually, making it impossible for us to carry out what He had in mind. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, .... He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. That act of grace in the life of the believer is God’s greatest piece of work, making us God’s masterpiece!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

TRUST IN THE LORD

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord
their hope and confidence.
They are like trees
planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
~~~~~~

Just before today’s passage Jeremiah said, This is what the Lord says: “CURSED are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.” Then in absolute contrast he writes, But those who TRUST IN THE LORD and have made the Lord their hope and confidence - THEY ARE BLESSED.”

Trusting in the Lord – that is, focusing our hope and confidence in Him is at the very heart of experiencing God’s blessing as we go through trouble. Some of you are living examples of this truth. In hard and frightening times your hope and confidence has remained strong because you are planted along God’s riverbank and your roots reach deep into the water.

All of us have learned that Trusting in the Lord does not mean that we will be spared difficult and hard times in this life. In fact Jesus tells us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Whatever He allows us to go through, if we continue to trust Him, and keep our hope and confidence deeply rooted in Him, will actually work out for our good.
Trusting in the Lord not only assures our survival, but enables us to live an abundant life even while we are hurting. Because our roots are deep in God’s water supply our leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Seeing the promising comfort of our green leaves, hurting people are drawn to us. By God’s grace we will have opportunity to let them know where our hope and confidence is rooted. To the degree that we keep trusting in the Lord, we will continue to produce fruit - not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought that may yet cross our path. The bottom line is, we will be BLESSED!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for being a faithful visitor to our blog site over the past few years.
We have truly enjoyed meeting you here. Your email replies and the comments you posted have been a real encouragement to us. However, we believe the time has come for us to slow up a bit. So beginning with September, as the Lord provides, there will be just two posts a month.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

THE HOLY SPIRIT IN US

“We received the Spirit of adoption
by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
The Spirit Himself bears witness
with our spirit
that we are children of God.”
Romans 8:15-16 NKJV
~~~~~~

No matter at what age we put our trust in Jesus as Savior, God gave us His Holy Spirit. In fact Paul tells us, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” As we grow in our understanding of God’s Word, we become more and more aware of the significance of the presence of the Spirit in our lives.

THE SPIRIT BEARS WITNESS:
One of the first things the Holy Spirit does in us when we become believers is, “He bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” When we put our faith in Christ we believed the promise that we had become children of God. The Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit reaffirming the truth that we indeed are children of God – in fact we have been officially adopted as joint heirs with His only begotten Son. And now, like His only begotten, we can call God Abba, Father. (“Abba” is the Aramaic term for “Daddy”) - an indication of an incredibly intimate relationship!

THE SPIRIT IS OUR SEAL:
Paul writing to the Ephesians said, “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” In ancient times a king marked important documents with the imprint of his signet ring. The “seal” was a sign that the document was authentic. When timbers were shipped, the buyer’s “seal” was imprinted on each log, signifying ownership. A similar practice takes place in cattle country where ranchers brand their cattle and ship them to market. At market they are mixed with other cattle, but the brand or “seal” always settles the issue of ownership. The Holy Spirit living in us is God’s authentic seal which settles the question of ownership! We belong to God!!

THE SPIRIT IS THE DOWN PAYMENT:

When Paul wrote the Ephesians, “having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,” he added, “who is the guarantee (down payment or first installment) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Making a down payment on a house implies that we will make full payment in the future. By giving us the Holy Spirit, God has given us the first installment of our inheritance and has committed Himself to give us the rest of it in the future. Presently we experience only part of it, but in the future we will have it all to enjoy forever! What a matchless secure inheritance!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT
~~~~~~~~

A faithful person can be relied on and trusted in every situation. The closer the relationship, the more highly faithfulness is valued. While the faithfulness of a friend or business partner is highly valued, it cannot be compared to the value we place on the faithfulness of our mate!

There is so much unfaithfulness all around us in this world. A business partner goes back on his word, a friend betrays the trust we placed in him causing us deep disappointment and pain. But when a marriage partner who promised - “to love and to cherish; from this day forward, until death do us part” - has been unfaithful; that must be absolutely heart wrenching!

Our faithful LORD will never betray us and cause us such pain. His unconditional love never ends!! Even before we believed in Him, and still were hostile toward Him, He loved us. And now as believers, we have to admit that we are not always entirely reliable and trustworthy. Yet He continues to love us. Paul writes, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.” When we admit our shortcomings and repent, the Holy Spirit makes us aware that His faithful love has been there all the time! GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS!!

In addition to our LORD’S faithful and unending love, “His mercies never cease.” If we stop to think, His mercies are really too numerous to count. Besides the mercies we can recall, there must be countless more of which we are totally unaware. All through life He has been graciously and faithfully pouring mercies on us.

Our LORD’S mercies begin afresh each morning. He never runs out. Every morning there is a new supply, perfectly designed to meet the needs of our day! Every morning when the alarm goes off and we put our feet on the floor – our LORD is ready with fresh mercies! GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS!!

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.”
T. O. Chisholm

Turn up your sound as you click on the link below –

take a moment to worship our Faithful LORD!!
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

Saturday, August 7, 2010

WAITING UPON THE LORD

“Wait on the LORD:
be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the LORD.”
Psalm 27:14 KJV
~~~~~~

Lately my computer has been getting spells when it is soooo sloooow – I click on something and it takes fooor evvvver to respond. Frustrating!! All I can do is wait. Most prolonged waiting becomes annoying whether we are caught in traffic - standing in line – sitting in the doctor’s “waiting” room or staring at a computer screen that’s not responding. But the “waiting” referred to in today’s scriptures is something quite different.

The Hebrew word used here, I am told, is “qāwâ,” which does not mean to passively stand by doing nothing, but rather it implies our involvement. It means to be expecting the Lord to act – to be hopefully looking forward for his response. For us to be able to do that requires some effort on our part.
  • First, waiting on the Lord requires: spending time studying his Word to get to know him better – to become aware of our shortcomings – to learn what pleases him, and to grow in faith.
  • Second, waiting on the Lord requires: spending time in prayer honoring and praising him for who he is and all he has done – bringing all our needs to him and believing he will grant us what he knows will be best for us.
  • Third, waiting on the Lord requires: spending time meditating on his limitless power – his absolute holiness – the endless wonder of his creation – his unconditional love that sacrificed his only son for our salvation.

The results of this kind of “waiting” is “he shall strengthen our heart.” The same truth is found in Isaiah 40:31 which many of us sang during the Charismatic Renewal in the 70’s - “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

As we study the Word and put it into practice – pray in harmony with his will – fill our minds with the awesomeness of our God – "he will renew our strength" to faithfully walk with him – have the endurance we need to victoriously run the race of life, and have the incredible ability to fly above the storm.



Turn up your sound - click on the link below and be encouraged!

THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD

Saturday, July 31, 2010

BUT GOD

“My health may fail,
and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength
of my heart; he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:26 NLT
~~~~~~

The other day I was reading Acts 7, and was struck with how often Stephen used the words but God in this chapter. In checking I learned that the phrase but God appears at least 50 different times in the Old and New Testaments. The words but God indicate that he is in control, he has the final word. He has made a difference in the past - is making a difference now– and will continue to make a difference in our world and in our personal lives forever.

Pondering this thought brought to mind a number of times when God intervened in my life bringing about wonderful results. My mother who had given birth to 10 children was in her 50’s when she was pregnant with me and felt so embarrassed that she tried to abort me – “but God“ protected my life and safely brought me into this world.

In my teens I was heading down the broad road of sin - “but God“ - had different plans for me. At the age of 21 his Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and granted me grace to repent and trust Jesus Christ as my savior.

While attending Electrical Trades School I got a “Dear John” letter from my girl friend. My attempts to patch up the relationship failed. “But God” had someone else in mind for me. At the suggestion of my pastor, I enrolled at Sioux Falls College where I met and married Donna, the Sweetheart of my life, and the mother of our three precious children!

My intention at college was to prepare for a teaching career. “But God“ – opened an opportunity to teach an adult Sunday School Class which led into preaching every week – which led to changing my major from education to religion and graduating from The North American Baptist Seminary to enter the full time Gospel Ministry!

After 30 years of service in NAB churches, I received the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith, and understandably, the denomination saw that as my having departed from the traditional Baptist Faith and so they severed relationships with me. “But God,“ has been more real and precious to me than ever and opened other avenues of service! I am in my 80’s now - “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”


I am sure you have had “but God“ experiences which would be an encouragement to the readers of this blog.
Please feel free to post some as “comments.”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

THE LOVE OF GOD

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV
~~~~~~

The song, “The Love of God” written in 1917 by Frederick M. Lehman and arranged by Claudia Lehman May was made famous by George Beverly Shea as he sang it around the world with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusades – on The Hour of Decision and his recordings. The secret behind the impact of this powerful song is the fact that its’ message is based on the word of God – John 3:16 and Romans 8:38-39.

God’s love is eternal – has always been – will always be! God not only loves, God is love. Human love, by- in-large, is conditional; we love people we are attracted to and enjoy being with. God’s love is unconditional; he loves us not only when we please him, but also when we offend him by our unbelief and disobedience. His love can never be earned or deserved – it is his free gift to all which can only be received by faith. God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

The closest that human love can come to God’s unconditional love is the love parents have for their children. Donna and I have three, and it is impossible for us to imagine a situation where we would sacrifice the life of any one of them to save the life of someone else; no matter how needy or deserving that person may be. But God’s perfect, unconditional love sacrificed his one and only Son for a world full of totally undeserving sinners – which includes you and me! Even though we had become his enemies by turning our backs on him from birth, and had chosen to live our lives according to our own desires, yet his pure and measureless love made provision for our forgiveness.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song.”

Turn up sound and click on the link to hear
George Beverly Shea sing: THE LOVE OF GOD

Saturday, July 17, 2010

DON’T BE AFRAID

“Jesus spoke to them at once.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said.
‘Take courage! I am here!”
Mark 6:50 NLT
~~~~~

As a youngster growing up on the South Dakota prairie, I remember frightening storms that came rolling in from the west. Dark clouds built up until they became an ominous black wall with lightning flashing and thunder changing from a rumble to loud crashes. Then about a half mile across open fields, black dust clouds would start rolling toward us and we knew this could be dangerous. We had seen enough flattened crops - destroyed farm buildings - overturned and mangled machinery - to get fearful thoughts as those dust clouds came flying toward us.

Our farm house was small and not that sturdy. I remember a particular storm that had us worried. The wind was so strong and the rain so heavy it was feared that the dining/kitchen window which faced west would blow in, so large pillows were held against the window to reinforce the glass. What made this storm memorable was that an itinerant German AG preacher, his wife and their teen age son had come to visit us that day. As the storm raged and we were filled with anxiety they were singing praises to the Lord until the storm died down. When the storm was over, the window was still intact – no buildings were damaged - only the tops of some hay stacks had blown off. Could the praises of God’s servants have made a difference?

We know the presence of the Lord in the midst of the storm can make all the difference! The disciples found that out one stormy night on the lake of Galilee. Jesus had told them to get in the boat and go to the other side while he went up into the hills to pray. When they were in the middle of the lake, a violent storm swept down upon them. They were in serious trouble as they struggled with the wind and the waves, trying to control the boat with their ores. Jesus saw what was happening and about three o’clock in the morning he came to them walking on the water. They were terrified! Jesus knew what was going on in their minds, so he called out to them: “Don’t be afraid, Take courage! I am here! Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped.”

Life in this world can have its frightening storms. Some we see building up. Others hit us with hardly a cloud in the sky. Whatever the nature of our storm, Jesus sees what’s happening – he knows our struggle. Can you hear him over the noise of the storm? He is saying:
“Don’t be afraid, Take courage! I am here!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

NEVER GIVE UP!

“Everyone who asks, receives.
Everyone who seeks, finds.
And to everyone who knocks,
the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:10 NLT
~~~~~~~
I recently read about Winston Churchill’s last public speech – a commencement address. He was so frail he had to be helped to the podium. After standing there for a long time, he finally spoke – “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” Turning from the podium he was helped back to his chair. There was a dead silence - then the entire audience exploded into thunderous applause.

No matter how noble our cause, we will never succeed if we lose heart and give up. In this age of “instant this and instant that” we want results at the flip of a switch - the click of a mouse - a voice command or the touch on a screen. We sometimes wish we had that kind of control in our prayer life, but we don’t, and that’s good! We don’t always know what’s best. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to know what we should pray for. John tells us: “We are confident that the Lord hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”

We all have people or situations we have been praying for, and we believe we are asking for what “pleases him,” but nothing seems to be happening. There have been times we have gotten discouraged and felt like quitting.

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” He told the story of the widow who repeatedly asked a wicked judge to grant her justice, but he kept ignoring her. Finally he said, “this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!.... Then the Lord said, Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night?”

Teaching about prayer at another time, Jesus told the story of the man who had unexpected company late at night. At midnight he knocks on the door of a friend asking for bread. The friend says, “we’re all in bed and everything is locked up, I can’t help you now.” But the man shamelessly keeps on knocking till he finally gets the bread. Jesus concludes the story by saying, “So I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

NEVER GIVE UP!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

“For the Lord is the Spirit,
and wherever
the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.”
2 Corintians 3:17 NLT
~~~~~~~

Tomorrow is the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the representatives of the original thirteen United States of America. Part of that Declaration declares, “We hold these truths to be self–evident, That all men are created equal, That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our founding fathers did not say that government gives us the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, but rather that these rights are gifts from God, and they committed themselves to protect those rights for the people. But, in our time some of these right are in danger!

I don’t mean to belittle our national government- For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. However, I wish to call attention to a higher level of unalienable God given rights.

Spiritual life- To all who believed on his Son he gives the right to become children of God, reborn—not physically, but spiritually by the Holy Spirit who gives birth to spiritual life. Jesus promises all who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.

In the kingdom of God, spiritual freedom is guaranteed. Jesus assures us you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free - you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Paul says, For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Even creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

The pursuit of Happiness is not the right to acquiring material things or the ability to control what happens to us so everything works out the way we want it to. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

THIRSTING FOR GOD


“As the deer
longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.”
Psalm 42:1-2 NLT
~~~~~~

I grew up on a farm in South Dakota and often worked out in the fields under a scorching summer sun. I can remember the hot dry winds of the “dirty thirties,” and how thirsty a person would get when the water jug was empty long before quitting time.

David spent a lot of time out in the open fields as a boy taking care of his father’s sheep and he knew what it meant to be thirsty. As an adult, he spent a lot of time running from his enemies, hiding in hot rocky barren places. He was always searching for water. Finding water, I can imagine him seeing a thirsty deer waiting near by. As he observed the deer, he may have thought, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.”

God has made us to thirst after him. Sometimes God sovereignly moves in our life, causing us to hunger and thirst for a closer walk with him. Other times we are drawn to know him better as he allows us to go through trying times which cause us to become keenly aware of how much we need him. Still other times the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and coldness of heart, and if we respond with true repentance, we realize a fresh thirst for God. But most commonly our hunger and thirst for more of God flows from an open hearted study of his word, and a prayer life rich with gratitude and praise.

Thirst for You
CeCe Winans

We thirst for You
We search for You
In a dry and barren land
W're longing for Your hand
To guide us to
A place where You
Can cleanse us with Your rain...
Baptize us once again
We thirst for You

Oh Lord we are waiting
Let Your river flow
Come flood our hearts again
Quench our thirsty souls

We thirst for You

Turn up your sound and listen to > AS THE DEER

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A WORLD FILLED WITH GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS

We are looking forward to
the new heavens and new earth
he has promised,
a world filled with God’s righteousness.”
2 Peter 3:13 NLT
~~~~~

God created us in his own image so we could have perfect fellowship with him which would never end! He gave Adam just one restriction – not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because that would bring death into the world. Adam and Eve ate, and death came! With death came every other evil. It got so bad that God had to wipe out the human race with the flood - destroying everyone except Noah, his family and the animals that miraculously came into the ark.

God started all over again with Noah and his family. But the consequence of Adam’s sin still brought death. Sin continued to rule in the hearts of people resulting in all sorts of corruption, violence and wars. God raised up prophets who foretold the coming of the messiah who would save repentant believers from their sin.

Two thousand years ago that messiah came in the person of Jesus, the sinless son of God, who died and rose again for our salvation. Though there are more believers in the world today than ever before, the vast majority of the world’s population does not believe in him. Wickedness is constantly increasing - lawlessness, immorality, violence, terrorism and wars are rampant around the world. Is God’s judgment going to fall again? Scoffers mock at the thought of another worldwide judgment.

God gave the rainbow as a sign that he would not destroy the world again with a flood. But Peter writes that “the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed." Like believers in Noah’s day were kept safe in the ark, so we as the believers of the end times will be kept safe in Christ no matter what we may have to suffer for our faith.

Peter continues: We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

This has been God’s plan from the beginning! Some day it’s going to literally come to pass!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

ASSURANCE OF SALVATION

“God saved you
by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this;
it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward
for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
~~~~~

Some people, for whatever reason, have concluded that there is no life after death. They believe when they die it’s all over – they cease to exist. Those who believe in reincarnation think they once lived as someone else, and when they die they expect to come back again as someone else – hopefully someone better. Ideas like these come from the father of lies.

The Scriptures clearly teach that we are created in the image of God, and like God the spiritual part of us exists forever – either in heaven or in hell. In Matthew 25:31-33 Jesus, teaching about the final judgment says, “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.” Then in verse 46 equating the goats with the unrighteous and the sheep with the righteous he adds, “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Jesus came to this world, died and rose again, so we could have the privilege of choosing between eternal punishment and eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 says, “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” It’s not hard to see which is the best choice.

As clear as such scriptures are, there still are some Christians who can’t say with full assurance that they are going to heaven. They come up with a weak “I hope so.” Why is that? Here are two basic reasons. Not remembering a specific time when we accepted Christ. However, knowing that we are now trusting him as savior, is more important than remembering a time or place. The other common reason for the lack of assurance is thinking we have to be good enough to go to heaven. We can never be good enough!! “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”


Turn up your sound and click on > BLESSED ASSURANCE

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS


“All Scripture is inspired by God
and is useful to teach us
what is true and to make us realize
what is wrong in our lives.
It corrects us when we are wrong
and teaches us to do what is right.”
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT
~~~~~~~

Some people have the tendency not to read instructions. They start putting the thing together - or start trying to operate the gadget – not really knowing how it works.

In this digital age, new communication devices are hitting the market in a steady stream – only to become obsolete in a very short time because somebody created something new and better. Replacing a ten year old computer or switching from a PC to a Mac certainly requires a good look at the owner’s manual. A brief overview will probably enable us to work some basic functions, but if we want to enjoy all the latest features of the new machine, we really need to become familiar with the instructions and follow them.

It is amazing how people go about attempting to live life without consulting God’s instruction book. They see what other people do, and pick and chose what suits them. The result of lives lived like that fill News Programs every day. It doesn’t have to be that way! God has provided life’s instruction book through inspired prophets and apostles - The Bible, and it never becomes obsolete! “It is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

It instructs us how we can be set free from the deadly consequences of sin – (something everybody needs to know and take advantage of). It tells us how to best get along with people – how to cope with life’s problems – how to see God’s loving hand, even in the hardest of times. It tells us how to experience his joy and peace - a sure hope for the future – the assurance of being raised from the dead and spend eternity with our Lord in heaven!!


James, our Lord’s half brother wrote, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” Just as with any instruction book, it is not enough just to know what it says - we need to FOLLOW ITS INSTRUCTIONS in order to reap the benefits.

Friday, May 21, 2010

THROUGH CHRIST

For I can do everything
through Christ,
who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT
~~~~~~

If we isolate the first phrase of this verse by its self, it sounds like absolute arrogance. No one “can do everything.” Furthermore, “everything” we can do in our own strength, is not always beneficial to ourselves or others.

The second phrase “through Christ,” is the heart of this verse and sets the parameter of what we can do. Whatever comes through our Lord is always good, and is a blessing to everyone it touches, and brings honor to God.

“I can do everything through Christ” does NOT mean we can do anything and everything we want to. Our desires can often be self-serving and have nothing to do with honoring God. Our perfect Lord will not “give us strength” to fulfill carnal and selfish desires.

Paul wrote these words while he was in a Roman jail for preaching the Gospel. These words are part of a thank you letter to the Philippians who supported him with gifts while he was in prison. He had just written “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Then adds, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Through the strength that Christ gives, we can learn the secret of living victoriously in every situation – poverty or riches, (and I believe) in poor health or the peek of health. Often with financial prosperity and good health come inclinations to ignore God. We feel we are pretty much in control. There is victory over that temptation - “through Christ, who gives us strength.” On the other hand, financial need and poor health have a way of bringing discouragement and depression with them. But "through the strength that Christ gives, we can learn the secret of living" above those negative feelings and emotions!

By faith, we can join Paul in declaring, "I CAN DO EVERYTHING THROUGH CHRIST, WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH!!"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

SAFE FROM THE EVIL ONE

“I’m not asking you
to take them out of the world,
but to keep them safe
from the evil one.”
John 17:15 NLT
~~~~~~

Later in this prayer for the twelve, Jesus added, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” That means you and I are covered by this prayer.

When we pray for safety, it’s normally about things like – accidents – violent weather – terrorists – diseases – or anything else that threatens us or our property. Our physical well being is a natural concern when we are in danger. I am sure we would be amazed if we knew how often the Lord has protected us against accidents or illness, and all sorts of physical harm. But living in this world, we get sick and bodily harm comes to us like it does to everyone else.

When Jesus prayed that we might be kept safe from the evil one, his main concern was not our physical safety and comfort, but rather our spiritual welfare. His prayer is that we will remain faithful to him, and become more like him. When various misfortunes come crashing into our lives, the evil one whispers thoughts of doubt – fear – self-pity into our ears, telling us “God doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he wouldn’t allow things like this to happen to you.”

The troubles God allows into our lives are always for a good reason as James tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” (It takes God’s grace to see “troubles” in that light.) “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

The enemy of our soul is waiting to use every misfortune of life to do us spiritual harm. We are so blessed by Jesus’ prayer for our safety from the evil one, not only does it shield us against Satan’s intended harm, but actually makes misfortune a means by which we can grow in character, and in the likeness of Jesus!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

SHARING THE WAY OF SALVATION

“You will receive power when
the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
And you will be my witnesses,
telling people about me everywhere.”
Acts 1:8 NLT
~~~~

In the early 50’s Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote “The Four Spiritual Laws.”
“1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.
2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.
3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.
4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.” After each “Law” Bright lists supporting scriptures.

In many communities, training sessions were held where people practiced on each other, then went out to share the “Four Laws” with non Christians. I recall being part of a team which was sent out to a small town to share the “Laws” with anyone and everyone who would listen. We knocked on doors – stopped people on the street – I shared the gospel with a utility man while he was hanging in his ‘Safety Harness’ at the top of a pole. He prayed the prayer! Whether he was sincere, only God knows.

We both know there are more conventional and acceptable ways of witnessing than sharing the gospel with someone at the top of a telephone pole. However we go about it, Jesus promises “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…you will be my witnesses.” Peter instructs us, “if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”

The most natural situation to share our faith is when our friends notice a difference in us, and start asking questions. If we are prepared to explain the way of salvation, and rely on the Holy Spirit to empower us, we are equipped to witness to anyone, a longtime friend or someone whom we have just met. Doing our part, we can leave the results in the hands of God.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

GOD’S OPEN DOORS

“I have opened a door for you
that no one can close.”
Revelation 3:8 NLT
~~~~~~

An open door can mean different things depending on the circumstances. Say for instance you come home at night, and find your front door standing open. Fear grips your heart! All sorts of threatening thoughts whirl through your mind. Someone has broken into the house – maybe they are still in there – the entire house is ransacked.” But you push aside your fears, and cautiously reach inside and turn on the light - everything is in order! Suddenly it dawns on you why the door is standing open - your neighbor had said something to you just as you were about to lock up, and you stepped aside to talk with him. You forgot to lock the door!!

There are also doors which are deliberately opened for us by our loving Lord so we can enter into the ministry and blessings he has for us. Paul repeatedly mentions such open doors. Concerning Ephesus he said, “There is a wide-open door for a great work here” and “When I came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me.” “When they had arrived at Antioch and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” God opened doors for Paul to enable him to accomplish the plans he had for him.

God also has plans for us, and he opens doors to make it possible for us to fulfill those plans. I can imagine him saying to us what he said to the church in Philadelphia, “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.”

It becomes our responsibility and privilege to recognize the doors God opens – step through them and proceed to carry out his plan for us. We don’t need to be afraid of what’s on the other side of God’s open doors – he will be there with us to protect and enable us
!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH?

“What is the price of five sparrows
—two copper coins?
Yet God does not forget a single one of them…
So don’t be afraid;
you are more valuable to God
than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7 NLT
~~~~~~


People often base their self-worth on material possessions – physical appearance – abilities – achievements – etc., which leads to arrogance and pride. If those standards determine self-worth then people who don’t measure up, see themselves as failures, and not worth much.

However, in God’s eyes our worth is not determined by what we have done or not done. Our worth is based on what God has done! God created us in his own image! No one else in all of creation can claim that. Talk about worth!! Our value is based on the value he places on us. He considered us so valuable that he sacrified his own son on the cross that we could be forgiven. Giving us his Holy Spirit to live in us is further evidence of the worth he placed on us. Galatians 4:6-7 says “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”

Take courage my friend, your true self-worth is not governed by the rise and fall of the material or social values of this world. Before the foundations of the world were laid God determined what our worth would be.

How much are you worth?!! It’s measureless!! Just think of all he has done to make it possible for you to spend eternity with him. That’s the value he has placed on you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

PRESS ON TO KNOW HIM

“Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us
as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
Hosea 6:3 NLT
~~~~~


Most of us, who trust in the Lord, have precious memories of the joy that filled our hearts, and the spiritual fire which burned in our souls when we first believed. But most likely since then we have also experienced times when the joy of the Lord had faded and the fire had died down to ash covered embers. What happened? What brought about the change?

In science there is a principle that says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” The same principle is also at work in our spiritual lives. If we draw back from the Lord, by whatever degree, we are drawing closer to the enemy of our soul, and consequently lose joy and fire. This “backsliding” never just happens to us, it is brought about by personal choices we make.

Our key scriptures today from Hosea six is part of a call to God’s people to repent. They had drifted from him, and were about to suffer severe consequences. The prophet identifying himself with them says, “Come, let us return to the Lord… Let us press on to know him.” To know him implies more than just having information about him. It refers to taking deliberate steps to have an intimate relationship with him – a relationship which grows out of obedient submission to him.

If we have never been close to the Lord, or find ourselves not as close as we once were, we don’t need to be afraid to admit it to him. We can press ever closer to him, he won’t scold us or push us away. His arms are wide open to welcome us! Our “pressing on to know him,” has been on his heart all along - that’s what he has been waiting for. “He will respond to us favorably as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

YOU ARE GIFTED BY GOD

“In his grace,
God has given us different gifts
for doing certain things well.”
Romans 12:6a NLT
~~~~~~


We may have watched someone perform a very complicated task with ease, or listened to an instrumentalist or vocalist performing with exceptional skill, and thought, “I could never do that.” While that may be true, the good news is we are not responsible for other people’s gifts.

God has created us with specific abilities to accomplish the purpose he has for our life. “So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” Romans 12:6b-8

Our gifts are those God-given abilities which we enjoy using to bless others. They may be different from other people’s gifts, but they are in no way superior or inferior in the eyes of the one who gave them. So we must guard against the temptation of comparing gifts. God knows which gifts are best suited for our personality, and will enable us to do well what he wants to accomplish through us.

No one is left empty handed. Everyone is gifted in some way, and all of us have the privilege and responsibility to discover, develop, and use those gifts to serve others. As we faithfully use our gifts, we experience a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, and bring glory to the giver.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

BECAUSE HE LIVES

“Don’t be alarmed.
You are looking for Jesus
of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!
Look, this is where they laid his body.”
Mark 16:6 NLT
~~~~~

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Churches will be crowded. Even people who don’t regularly attend will make a special effort to be there. Why? What is so special about Easter? Some people may make the effort because that’s what they traditionally do on Easter. But we who have a personal relationship with Christ, and attend church regularly celebrate Easter because it marks the anniversary of our Savior’s resurrection.

The reality of the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation on which the Christian Faith is built. Paul says: “if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost!..... But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:17-18,20 On that first Easter morning the angel announced to those who visited the tomb: “He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.” Acts 1:3 reports, “During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive.” Because he’s alive we can confidently believe his teachings, and with full assurance claim all his promises.


Because He Lives
by William J. Gaither

God sent His Son – they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Chorus:
Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory – and I'll know He lives.


Click on this link
BECAUSE HE LIVES to hear this beautiful song.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

THE SUFFERING SERVANT

"But he was wounded and crushed for our sins.
He was beaten that we might have peace.
He was whipped, and we were healed!"
Isaiah 53:5 NLT
~~~~~~~~~

700-750 years before the birth of Christ the prophet Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote about our Lord’s suffering for our sins. Though this passage may be familiar to you, I encourage you to read it once again, prayerfully, and let it minister to your heart during these days before Good Friday.

“Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins – that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.”
Isaiah 53:1-12 NLT

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A HARVEST OF BLESSING

“So let’s not get tired
of doing what is good.
At just the right time
we will reap a harvest of blessing
if we don’t give up.”
Galatians 6:9 NLT
~~~~~

This time of year St. Louis gardeners are getting the "fever." I took my tiller into the shop the other day to get it ready. In a few weeks it will be time to buy seeds and plants. As usual I expect to reap a harvest.

Gardening takes work. The ground needs to be tilled – seeds sown the right depth – plants properly spaced – use soaker hose during dry spells – mulch - pull weeds – fight bugs and worms – put up chicken wire fence to keep the rabbits out. If deer are a problem – MOVE!! :-) :-) The point is, it takes work to produce a good harvest.

Life is sort of that way. We are constantly sowing and planting and it will unquestionably produce a harvest. Bad stuff doesn’t take any effort, it just seems to happen, and sooner or later it will bear its disappointing fruit. Planting good deeds not only takes effort, it also stirs up the opposition of our enemy who tries to get us to give up. But with God’s help, we will be able to faithfully keep on doing good, and “just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing.”

“Doing good” is simply doing whatever pleases God. Jesus perfectly demonstrated what that looks like. Luke reminds us, “God anointed Jesus …. with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good.” As born again people we, like Jesus, are anointed with the Holy Spirit, and able to do good deeds which are pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

“So let’s not get tired
of doing what is good.
At just the right time
we will reap a harvest of blessing
if we don’t give up.”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

GOD IS READY TO HELP

“God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear
when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.”
Psalm 46:1-2 NLT
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Earthquakes have caught our attention recently. On Monday a 6.0 magnitude quake hit Turkey. Another hit Taiwan last Thursday morning, registering 6.4 on the Richter scale. Before that was the 8.8 quake that struck Chile, and on January 12th the 7.0 quake that hit Haiti killing an estimated 230,000 people.

It seems earthquakes are on the increase, but those who study seismic activity say, not so. They tell us normally there are approximately 80,000 quakes per month – 2,600 per day and 2 per minute. Somewhere in the world an earthquake is felt approximately every 30 seconds. Of these only a relative few are capable of causing damage.

But how utterly terrifying it must be for people to be in a “big one” and have everything around them breaking apart with debris crashing down, injuring and burying them.

We may never be in a major earthquake, but even if that should happen, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” As believers we would not be going through the experience alone, because he has promised to always be with us.

Living in a fallen world there are other things that are more apt to shake, and break up our lives than an earthquake: like an accident – illness – financial disaster – marital problems – death of a loved one. . . . Whatever it may be, we need not give in to fear and despair - GOD IS READY TO HELP! He offers us his “refuge and strength . . . in times of trouble.”