Thursday, December 31, 2009
Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-14,16-18
Our joy, prayers, and thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstances or feelings. Sometimes we may feel as if God is 1000 miles away. Sometimes we may feel as if our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. But what does God promise? He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. And we have to ask ourselves: do we trust our feelings, or do we trust the Word of God? Obeying these three commands - be joyful, pray continually, and give thanks - often goes against our natural inclinations. When we make a conscious decision to do what God says, however, we will begin to see people and our circumstances in a whole, new perspective. When we do God's will, we will find it easier to be joyful and thankful. Imagine that.
Blessings to you upon this new year,
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Many of us are plagued by guilt. We worry that we may have committed a sin unknowingly, done something good with selfish intentions, failed to put our whole heart into a task, or neglected what we should have done. Guilt can play an important role in bringing us to Christ and in keeping us behaving the way we should, but it can also paralyze us or make us fearful, unwilling to act because we have deemed ourselves "unworthy." Let that garbage go. God's love is so great that He fully and completely forgives us - even for those sins we do without realizing it.
Would you change the way you live if you knew that every word and thought would be examined by God first? David asks that God approve his words and thoughts as though they were offerings brought to the altar. As you begin each day in this new year, determine for yourself that God's love will guide you by what you say and how you think. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things." Philippians 4:8
Happy New Year,
God Bless you and yours,
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing . . . At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes. Zephaniah 3:17;20
There will be a new day when God will mightily bless His people. If the leaders in the church today were to hear a message from a prophet of God, the message would probably resemble the book of Zephaniah. Under Josiah's religious reforms, the people did return to God outwardly, but still their hearts were far from Him. Zephaniah encouraged the nation to gather together and pray for salvation. And we, so too, must also ask ourselves: Are the changes we make merely an outward show, or are they changing our very hearts and lives? We need to gather together and pray, to walk humbly with the Lord, to do what is right, and to hear the message of hope regarding the new world to come. God Bless you, J.H.
Monday, December 28, 2009
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:1-2,4
God is a shelter, a refuge when we are afraid. The psalmist's faith in the Almighty God as Protector would carry him through all the dangers and fears of life. This should be a picture of our trust - trading all our fears for faith in Him, no matter how intense our fears. To do this we must "dwell" and "rest" with Him. By entrusting ourselves to His protection and spending time daily in the Word, we will be kept safe. That is a promise you can trust. And you can take that to the bank. Heavenly Father, I thank you for bringing me through another year. For all those reading these words, I ask that you bless them mightily upon the New Year and elevate them in ways that they themselves did not deem possible. Demonstrate your Power and Grace in our lives this year that will enable us to get our eyes off of our circumstances and on to You, the author and perfector of our faith. I thank you for Your overwhelming forgiveness and mercy that will allow us to begin this year free of burden and condemnation from the past, free to enjoy today and look forward to the future with hope. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen. God Bless you, J.H.
Even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25
How tempting it is to remind someone of a past offense! But when God forgives our sins, He totally forgets them. We never have to fear that He will remind us of them later. Forgiveness is a decision. It is a deliberate act that results in setting a person free; free of anger, resentment and bitterness. Once forgiveness is granted, a large burden is lifted. But it is not the offender who is being freed, it is you. Being bitter against thost who have wronged you in the past is not doing anything to the other person, but it does serve to weigh you down to grit and grind your teeth every time you even think about that person or what they did to you. Forgiving them removes all those feelings of resentment so that you can get on with your life. To be forgiving is to be God-like. To forget the past is to be even more like God. Thoughts for the New Year, God Bless you, J.H.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Simeon blessed them and said to Mary: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed." There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Luke 2:34-37 Although Simeon and Anna were very old, they had never lost their hope that they would one day see the Messiah. Led by the Holy Spirit, they were among the first to bear witness to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, elders were respected, so because of Simeon's and Anna's age, their prophecies carried extra weight. Our society, however, values youthfullness over wisdom, and potential contributions by the elderly are often ignored. As Christians, we should reverse those values whenever and wherever we can. Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience. Listen carefully when they speak. Offer them your friendship and help them find ways to continue to serve God. God Bless you, J.H.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Although our first picture of Jesus is as a baby in a manger, it must not be our last. The Christ-child in the manger has been made into a beautiful Christmas scene, but we cannot leave Him there. This tiny, helpless baby lived an amazing life, died for us, ascended to heaven, and will come back to this earth as King of kings. Christ will rule the world and judge all people according to their decisions about Him. Remember, it is a decision. It's not about what you did or didn't do in this life. It is about the decision you made regarding Him. It is that simple. Did you accept Him or reject Him? Do you live as if there is no God? In your mind, are you the only one controlling every decision you make? Do you still picture Jesus as a baby in a manger - or is He your Lord? Make sure you don't underestimate Jesus. Let Him grow up in your life.
God Bless you,
Thursday, December 24, 2009
"Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." Luke 2:11-14 Some of the Jews were waiting for a savior to deliver them from Roman rule; others hoped the Christ (Messiah) would deliver them from physical ailments. But Jesus, while healing their illnesses and establishing a spiritual kingdom, delivered them from sin. His work is more far-reaching than anyone could imagine. Christ paid the price for sin and opened the way to peace with God. He offers us more than temporary political or physical changes - he offers us new hearts that will last for eternity. As a parent, it is difficult to keep your kids focused on the true meaning of Christmas when all they can think about is what is sitting under the Christmas tree. However, the magic and innocence of Christmas is evident in my children and they know (because I remind them) from whence all good things flow. That is something that I praise God for and prayerfully is something that I have instilled in my children as my parents instilled it in me and will therefore pass on through the generations. Merry Christmas everyone, J.H.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12 The greatest event in history has just happened! The Messiah had been born! For ages, the Jews had waited for this, and when it finally occurred, the announcement came to humble shepherds. The Good News about Jesus is that He comes to all, He comes to everyone, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept Him. Whoever you are, whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life by simply accepting this precious gift. Don't think you need any kind of extraordinary qualifications - He accepts you just as you are. Our challenge is to actually admit that we need Him and then to accept His gift. When someone gives you a present on Christmas day, we are certain to say "thank you" and let the giver know how much we appreciate the gift, lest we appear to be ungrateful. And we wouldn't dare to reject the gift. Even so, if by chance, we failed to give a gift in return, we feel rather sheepish and undeserving. And that is true of the gift of Jesus, as well. We didn't do anything to earn His gift. In fact, we have done much to warrant NOT receiving anything at all. Yet, God saw fit to give us His Son because He loves us. He loves us unconditionally. Accept His Gift today. Merry Christmas, J.H.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not alos, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
How often have you thought that because you were not good enough that you did not deserve God's gift of mercy? How often have you felt that salvation is for everyone else but you? Then read these verses again; they speak right to the heart of those unfounded fears. Think about it: if God gave his Son for you, He isn't going to hold back the gift of salvation. If Christ gave His life for you, He isn't going to turn around and condemn you. He will not withhold anything you need to live for Him. The book of Romans is more than a theological explanation of God's redeeming grace - it is a letter of comfort and confidence addressed directly to you.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Perhaps one of the most popular passages in all of Scripture, and one that you will often see in the endzone of football games, and for good reason. The entire gospel comes to a focus in this verse. God's love is not static or self-centered; it reaches out and draws others in. Here God sets the pattern of true love, the basis of all love relationships - when you love someone dearly, you are willing to give freely to the point of self-sacrifice. God paid dearly with the life of His Son, the highest price He could pay. Jesus accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that He had bought for us. When we share the gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus' - willingly giving up our own comfort and security so that others might join us in receiving God's love. On Christmas day, more than 2000 years ago, this is exactly what Jesus did: gave up His own comfort and security in order to become one of us and fulfill the greatest promise that the world will ever know. God Bless you, J.H.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 This passage provides the central theme of Deuteronomy. It sets a pattern that helps us relate the Word of God to our daily lives. We are to love God, think constantly about His commandments, teach His commandments to our children, and live each day by the guidelines in His Word. God emphasized the importance of parents' teaching the Bible to their children. The church and schools cannot be used to escape this responsibility. Do you ever wonder what is wrong with our children today? We have relied too much on our schools and paid too little attention to the other influences in our children's lives, such as television, music and even their friends, who many times have more of an impact in changing and shaping their world view than we do. The Bible provides so many opportunities for object lessons and practical teaching that it would be a shame to study it only one day a week. Our kids need to know that there is such a thing as Absolute Truth: what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong, and it has nothing to do with what you "feel is right for you," or "what's right for me is not necessarily right for everyone else." That's called Individualism and that is the biggest lie of the modern age. Eternal truths are most effectively learned in the loving environment of a God-fearing home. Teach your children well. God Bless you, J.H.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. Proverbs 23:4-5 We have all heard of people who have won millions of dollars and then lost it all. Even the average person can spend an inheritance - or a paycheck - with lightning speed and have little to show for it. Don't spend time chasing fleeting earthly treasures. Instead, store up treasures in heaven, for such treasures will never be lost (Luke 12:33-34). "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God . . . " At this time of Christmas commercialism, it is important to keep your mind on the real meaning of Christmas. It's not about what you get, it's about what you have already been given. If you truly stop and think about it, you already have everything that you need. Sometimes, our biggest challenge as Christians is being content. Pray for contentment today. Heavenly Father, I pray that you give me the Grace to see Your hand on my life today. I pray that you will continue to work out the circumstances of my life for Your glory. I may not be able to see my hand in front of my face, but You know how everything is going to work out, as You have already ordained the footsteps of my life. I pray for discernment and wisdom when making financial decisions for myself and my family and that we are content with all that you have blessed us with. I thank you and praise you, in Jesus' Name, Amen. God bless you, J.H.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ's control - we can't obtain them by trying to get that without His help. If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our lives to His. We must know Him, love Him, remember Him, and imitate Him. As result, we will fulfill the intended purpose of the law - to love God and our neighbors. Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce it you? Because the God who sent the law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God's law. A person who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit fulfills the law, far better than a person who observes the rituals, but has little love in his or her heart. Look to Him today and learn from Him. Everything you strive to be, He is. Everything He has promised, is already yours. Receive it today. God Bless you, J.H.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of the one and the same Spirit, and He gives them to each just as He determines. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 Here are the gifts of the Spirit, given to be shared as the beginning for all else that God has for those who open themselves up to be used by Him. All Christians have faith, however, some have the spiritual gift of faith, which is an unusual measure of trust in the Holy Spirit's power. "Prophecy" is not just a prediction about the future; it can also mean preaching God's Word with power. "Distinguishing between spirits" means the ability to discern whether a person who claims to speak for God is actually doing so. No matter what gift or gifts a person has, each gift is given by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit decides which gifts each one of us should have. We are responsible to use and sharpen our gifts, but we can take no credit for what God has freely given us. God bless you, J.H.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. Joel 2:28-29 The Apostle Peter quoted this passage in Acts 2:16-21; the outpouring of the Spirit predicted by Joel occurred on Pentacost. While in the past, God's Spirit seemed available only to kings, prophets, and judges, Joel envisioned a time when the Spirit would be available to every believer. And that time is now. Ezekiel also spoke of an outpouring of the Spirit in Ezekiel 39:28-29. God's Spirit is available now to anyone who calls on the Lord. God gives us authority here on earth; authority that many believers do not utilize. When we take ahold of that authority, God releases His power to us from heaven. Because it is God's power and not ours, we become the vessel through which His power and Spirit flow. When we pray, we bring that power to bear upon everything we are praying about, and we allow the power of God to work through our powerlessness. When we pray, we are humbling ourselves before God and saying, "I need Your presence and Your power, Lord. I can't do this without You." Pray now, and pray hard. God Bless you, J.H
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
So he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty. Zechariah 4:6 Many people believe that to survive in this world a person must be tough, strong, unbending, and harsh. But God says, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," The key words here are "by my Spirit." It is only through God's Spirit that anything of lasting value is ever accomplished. The exiles returned to Jerusalem and were indeed weak - harassed by their enemies, tired, discouraged, poor and hungry. But they had God on their side! And so do you. As you continue to live for God this Christmas season and beyond, determine not to trust in your own strength or abilities. Instead, depend on God and work in the power of his Spirit. That means slowing down. That means praying and seeking God's will. That means not worrying about tomorrow, but focusing on today. God wants us to redeem the time that He has given us and live for today. Right now. If we truly believe that He has a great plan for our life, let Him start working that plan out in your life today and stop thinking that it will happen sometime in the near future. Go out expecting great things. Expect a miracle. He will deliver. For He is faithful. God Bless you, J.H.
Monday, December 14, 2009
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-27 As a believer, you are not left to your own resources to cope with problems. Even when you don't know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with you and for you, and God answers. With God helping you pray, you don't need to be afraid to come before Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you "in accordance with God's will." Then, when you bring your requests to God, trust that he will always do what is best. We do not need to come to Him with a lot of words and sound all holy and devout in order to be heard by God. He hears the simplest prayers of a child. Children don't beat around the bush when they pray. They get right to the point. Whatever they need, they ask for it; pure and simple. We need to remember to do the same. God has plans for you beyond what you can ask or imagine. He will not fail you. He will guide you towards all Peace. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Look to Him. Rely on Him. He is there. Always. God Bless you, J.H.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
God guides us through the inspiration of His Word, the inner impression of His presence and through circumstances that He has created or allowed. The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth. The key here is letting Him do so. Especially at this time of year, it is easy to take our eyes off of Him and think too much about what we have yet to do in order to get ready for Christmas. We hurry, we spend, we worry about little things in this mad rush to get everything done and then when it's all over, there's this let down while you ask yourself why you allowed yourself to get all stressed out in the first place. All the while, God is waiting patiently for you to relax, relate and release all your concerns and worries to Him that He may guide you, strenghthen you and give you peace. Seek God today and allow Him to do what He loves to do: bless you.
Love in Christ,
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 Power from the Holy Spirit is not limited to strength beyond the ordinary - that power also involves courage, boldness, confidence, insight, ability, and authority. The disciples would need all of these gifts to fulfill their mission. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive power to witness after they receive the Holy Spirit. Notice the progression: 1) they would receive the Holy Spirit, 2) He would give them power, 3) They would witness with extraordinary results. Often we try to reverse the order and witness by our own power and authority, only to find out that we have very little power and no authority. Witnessing is not showing what we can do for God. Witnessing is telling what God has done for us, pure and simple. Heavenly Father, grant me boldness and courage today to stand up for what I believe. Grant me the grace to proclaim what you have done for me. Let me live by example worthy of your ultimate sacrifice. Allow me to receive your gracious gift that I may never, ever be the same. In Jesus' Name, Amen. God bless you, J.H
Saturday, December 12, 2009
"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify for you have been with me from the beginning." John 15:26-27 Jesus uses two names for the Holy Spirit - Counselor and Spirit of truth. The word Counselor conveys the helping, encouraging, and strengthening work of the Spirit. Spirit of truth points to the teaching, illuminating, and reminding work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit ministers to both the head and the heart, and both dimensions are important. The Holy Spirit is our constant companion and our Divine Teacher whose number one assignment is pointing us to Jesus. When we have learned that lesson, we will have pleased the Teacher, received power in our lives, and fulfilled the plan of the Father. And we then, have a responsibility to share with others what God has done in our lives. "To whom much is given, much is expected." God Bless you, J.H
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith, we understand the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 1:1-3 Do you remember how you felt when you were very young and your birthday approached? You were excited and anxious. You knew you would certainly receive gifts and other special treats. But some things would be a surprise. Birthdays combined assurance and anticipation, and so does faith. Faith is the conviction based on past experience that God's new and fresh surprises will surely be ours. Two words describe that faith: sure and certain. These two qualities need a secure beginning and ending point. The beginning point of faith is believing in God's character - He is who He says He is. The end point is believing in God's promises - He will do what He says He will do. When we believe that God will fulfill his promises even though we don't see those promises materializing yet, we demonstrate to true faith. May the Lord renew your faith today. God Bless you, J.H.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32 We can grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Paul warns us against unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, brawling, slander, and bad attitudes toward others. Instead of acting that way, we should be forgiving, just as God has forgiven us. This is Christ's law of forgiveness that is taught in the Gospels. We also see it in the Lord's prayer - "Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors." God does not forgive us because we forgive others, but solely because of his great and awesome mercy. As we come to understand His mercy, however, we want to be like Him. Having received forgiveness, we should natually pass it onto others. Those who are unwilling to forgive have not become one with Christ, who was willing to forgive even those who crucified him. Forgiveness, like love, is a choice. We need to make a conscious choice to forgive and we must stick to that choice. We forgive others for two very basic and very important reasons: 1) because God demands it of us 2) because it frees us. We don't forgive in order to free the other person. The other person who injured you in some what has most likely forgotten all about the incident, all the while you are still seething with anger, unwilling to forgive. And who are you hurting? YOURSELF! We forgive in order to free ourselves of that burden, and get on with our lives, and renew and strengthen our walk with the Lord. And trust me, in this case, talking the talk and walking the walk are two totally different things. Pray hard for the courage and strength to forgive. Then forgive. Then let it go. For good. God Bless you, J.H
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in a way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 The writer begins his psalm extolling the joys of obeying God and refusing to listen to those who discredit or ridicule him. Our friends and associates can have a profound influence on us, often in very subtle ways. If we insist on friendships with those who mock what God considers important, we might sin by becoming indifferent to God's will. This attitude is the same as mocking. Do your friends build up your faith, or do they tear it down? True friends should help, not hinder, you to draw closer to God. When Scripture says, "whatever he does prospers," it does not mean immunity from failure or difficulties. Nor is it a guarantee of health, wealth, and happiness. What the Bible means by prosperity, is this: when we apply God's wisdom, the fruit we bear will be good and receive God's approval. Just as a tree soaks up water and bears luscious fruit, we also are to soak up God's Word, producing actions and attitudes that honor God. To achieve anything worth while, we must have God's Word in our hearts. Spend time with God today and let Him fill you. God Bless you, J.H.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Proverbs 4:6-7 If you want wisdom, you must decide to go after it. It takes resolve - a determination not to abandon the search once you begin, no matter how difficult the road may become. This is not a once-in-a-lifetime step, but a daily process of choosing between two paths - the wicked and the righteous. Nothing else is more important or more valuable. King David taught his son Solomon as a young boy that seeking God's wisdom was the most important choice he could make. Solomon learned that lesson well. When God appeared to the new king to fulfill any request, Solomon chose wisdom above all else. We should also make God's wisdom our first choice. And thanks to Jesus' work on the cross, we don't have to wait for God to appear to us. We can boldly ask him for wisdom today, through prayer. James 1:5 and assures us that God will grant our request. God Bless you, J.H.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:37-38 The first line of this passage may be one of the most mis-quoted verses in the Bible. And it is usually misquoted by people who are attempting to deflect attention from their sinful lifestyle. "Do not judge, lest ye be judged," is one of the first thing to come out of their mouth. A judgment is a statement; a verdict given by someone in authority over the other. "If you do this, this is well happen to you." And that is not our job as Christians. We have not been given the authority to tell people what will happen to them if they continue down a particular path in life. We do not know what God may have in store for them. All we must do is humble ourselves and pray. A forgiving spirit demonstrates that a person has received God's forgiveness. Jesus uses the picture of measuring grain in a basket to ensure the full amount. If we are critical, rather than compassionate, we will also receive criticism. If we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, however, these qualities will come back to us in full measure. We are to love others, and not judge them. We can, however, speak the truth in love and present God's truth as it is presented to us in the Bible. God Bless you, J.H.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 In this age of information, knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom means far more than simply knowing a lot. It is a basic attitude that affects every aspect of life. The foundation of knowledge is to fear the Lord - to honor and respect God, to live in awe of his power and to obey his Word. Faith in God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes, and your actions. Trust in God - He will make you truly wise. One of the most annoying types of people is a know-it-all, a person who has a dogmatic opinion about everything, is closed to anything new, resents discipline, and refuses to learn. Solomon calls this kind of person a fool. Don't be a know-it-all. Instead, be open to the advice of others, especially those who know you well and can give you valuable insight. Learn how to learn from others. Remember, only God knows it all. Seek Him. Many kids and even adults today wear a bracelet emboldened with the letters: W.W.J.D. - which stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" That is a wonderful question to ask. We need to be sure to ask it often, and most importantly, to wait for an answer. God Bless you, J.H.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 Paul lists five benefits God gives all believers through Christ: 1. He made us qualified to share his inheritance 2. He rescued us from Satan's dominion of darkness and made us his children 3. He brought us into his eternal kingdom 4. He redeemed us - bought our freedom from sin and judgment 5. He forgave all our sins Thank God for what you have received in Christ. And not only that, you need to understand, deep in your heart, that these benefits are not contingent upon what you do. You have already been qualified, rescued, redeemed, forgiven and brought into his eternal kingdom. These are not that things are going to happen one day, but these are things that have already happened. Your spiritual growth is dependent on your belief in these things. If you believe these things to be true, then you will start to see fruit in your life, such as endurance, patience, and joy. You see, God has already done it. The work has been completed. It is finished. All that remains is for you to believe. Knowledge and faith are two vastly different things. Knowledge of God is very important and useful, but many people have knowledge they do not use. Faith is what God is looking for. Faith that will move mountains. God bless you, J.H
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45 The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything else we can have, and a person must be willing to give up everything to obtain it. The man who discovered the treasure in the field stumbled upon it by accident but knew its value when he found it. The merchant was earnestly searching for the pearl of great value, and, when he found it, he sold everything he had to purchase it. This is a lesson in majoring in main things. Put all that you have and all that you are in the one thing that really counts. In this life, and especially at this time of year, we are pulled many different ways with many different priorities. But always remember, there is only one that truly matters. Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, God bless you, J.H.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 Most of us have learned how to pretend to love others - how to speak kindly, avoid hurting their feelings, and appear to take an interest in them. We may even be skilled in pretending to feel moved with compassion, when we hear of others' needs, or to become indignant when we learn of injustice. But God calls us to real and sincere love that goes far beyond pretense and politeness. Sincere love requires concentration and effort. It means helping others become better people. It demands our time, money, and personal involvement. No individual has the capacity to express love to a whole community, but the body of Christ does. Look for people who need your love, and look for ways you and your fellow believers can love your community for Christ. We can honor others in one of two ways. One involves ulterior motives. We honor our bosses so they will reward of us, our employees so they will work harder, the wealthy so they will contribute to our cause, the powerful so they will use their power for us and not against us. God's other way involves love. As Christians we honor people because they have been created in God's image, because they are our brothers and our sisters in Christ, and because they have a unique contribution to make to Christ's Church. Does God's way of honoring others sound too difficult for your competitive nature? Why not try to outdo one another in showing honor? But others first! God Bless you, J.H.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 To "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" means to turn to God first for help, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to take His character for your example, and to serve and obey Him in everything; not just what you choose, but in everything. You have to really think about and honestly answer the question: what is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority in your life. Any of these can quickly bump God out of first place if you don't actively choose to give Him first place in every area of your life. Actively choosing means that each and every day you must realign your goals with God's. It doesn't take long for the routine and busyness of one day to mess us up and allow us to once again focus on our problems and all the work that must be done, rather than relying on God and His purpose. "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today. God bless you, J.H.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 This "great cloud of witnesses" is composed of people we read about in the Old Testament, such as Abraham and Noah. Their faithfulness is a constant encouragement to us. We do not struggle alone, and we are not the first to struggle with the problems that we face. Others have run the race valiantly and won, and their witness gives us courage to run and win also. We have been given an amazing spiritual heritage, if we would only recognize it. The Christian life involves hard work. Jesus never said it was going to be easy. In fact, He told us straight up that we would face trials of many kinds. " But fear not . . . " This life requires us to give up whatever endangers our relationship with God, to run patiently, and to struggle against sin with the power of the Holy Spirit. To live effectively, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. We will stumble if we look away from Him to stare at ourselves, or at the circumstances surrounding us. We should be running for Christ, not ourselves, and we must always keep Him in sight. God Bless you, J.H.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Do everything without complaining or arguing, show that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 14-16 Why are complaining and arguing so harmful? If all the people know about a church is that its members constantly argue, complain, and gossip, they get a false impression of Christ and the gospel. Belief in Christ should unite those who trust Him. If your church is always complaining and arguing, it lacks the unifying power of Jesus Christ. Stop arguing with other Christians or complaining about people and conditions within the church and let the world see Christ. Our lives should be characterized by moral purity, patience, and peacefulness, so that we will "shine like stars" in a dark and depraved world. A transformed life is an effective witness to the power of God's Word. Indeed, there is no greater evidence of God in this world than a transformed life. It defies explanation. Are you shining brightly, or are you clouded by complaining and arguing? Our greatest job is not to explain the Word of God, but to extend it. We are given that duty and the power with which to do it. And we do it not so much with our words, but with our actions and our attitudes. Rest assured, people are watching how you react in certain situations, especially if you have already put it out there that you are a Christian. People who deperately need it are looking for patience and peacefulness in their lives. Once they see that you have it, they are going to want to know how to get it. And that is the power of your witness for Jesus. They are not seeing you, they are seeing the Jesus in you. God Bless you, J.H.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
"Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature . . . " II Peter 1:2-4a The power to grow doesn't come from within us, but from God. Because we don't have the resources to be truly godly, God allows us to "participate in the divine nature" in order to keep us from sin and help us live for Him. When we are born again, God by His Spirit empowers us with His own moral goodness. God has touched every base of human need to give us a full and beautiful life all the way home. How strange that we find it so hard to believe and receive. Believe what He says. Take what He offers. It is yours. God Bless you, J.H
May God Himself, the God of Peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. I Thessalonians 5:23-24 The spirit, soul and body refer not so much to the distinct parts of a person as to the entire being of a person. This expression is Paul's way of saying that God must be involved in every aspect of our lives. It is wrong to think that we can separate our spiritual lives from everything else, obeying God only in some ethereal sense or living for Him only one day each week, as some of us are wont to do. Christ must control all of us, not just a "religious" part. God does not come in as a military general and take control. We must give Him control. At our moment of salvation, it was we who asked Him into our hearts. With that one decision, we totally surrendered and asked Him to save us because we finally figured it out that life was really not all about us after all. That is our decision and that is our part. God gave us this strong power of choice because He wants our faith and love to be genuine and not drawn out of compulsion. God's grace is sufficient. Give it all over to Him . . . "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." God Bless you, J.H.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 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 8:32-33,38-39 These verses contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture. Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, even death. These could cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ. His death for us is proof of His unconquerable love. Nothing can stop Christ's constant presence with us. God tells us how great His love is so that we will feel totally secure in Him. If we would only believe these overwhelming assurances, we will never be afraid. Go forth in boldness today, and proclaim the Good News. Let everyone know what you know. Jesus is the answer. God Bless you, J.H.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes." says the Lord. Zephaniah 3:20 The message of doom in the beginning of the book of Zephaniah becomes a message of hope by the end. There will be a new day when God will bless His people. If the leaders in the church today were to hear a prophet of God, the message would probably resemble the book of Zephaniah. Under Josiah's religious reforms, the people did return to God outwardly, but their hearts were far from Him. Zephaniah encouraged the nation to gather together and pray for salvation. We must also ask ourselves: are the changes in our lives merely an outward show, or are they changing our hearts and lives? We need to gather together as believers and pray, to walk humbly with God, to do what is right, and to hear the message of hope regarding the new world to come. God Bless you, J.H.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.
God is ruler over light and darkness, over prosperity and disaster. Our lives are sprinkled with both types of experiences, and both are needed for us to grow spiritually. When good times come, thank God and use your prosperity for Him. When bad times come, don't resent them, but ask what you can learn from this refining experience to make you a better servant of God. "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." Father, guide Your children into all prosperity that You planned for us spiritually and physically and give us a generous spirit to go with it. In Jesus name, Amen.
God Bless you,
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Malachi 4:2 These last verses of the Old Testament are filled with hope. Regardless of how life looks now, God controls the future, and everything will be made right. We who have loved and served God look forward to a joyful celebration. This hope for the future becomes ours when we trust God with our lives. God Bless you, J.H.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Psalm 91:1-2 God is a shelter, a refuge when we are afraid. The writer's faith in the Almighty God as protector would carry him through all the dangers and fears of his life. This should be a picture of our trust - trading all our fears for faith in Him, no matter how intense our fears. To do this we must do "dwell" and "rest" in Him. By entrusting ourselves to His protection and pledging our daily devotion to Him, we will be kept safe. He is both a place to hide and abide. Come in out of the storm and strife of life regularly and meet with God. You will be better equiped to face the world and do His work. God Bless you, J.H.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. I Corinthians 2:9 We cannot imagine all that God has in store for us, both in this life and for eternity. He will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17), and we will live with Him forever. Until then, his Holy Spirit comforts and guides us. Knowing the wonderful and eternal future that awaits us gives us hope and courage to press on in this life, to endure hardship, and to avoid giving in to temptation. We must pass up that which seems to glitter in this life, but which in reality, is out to rob us of God's best. Then in the end, you will see that God's way is the only true way. This world is not all there is. The best is yet to come. And you can take that to the bank. Heavenly Father, help me to see that there's more to this life than that which I can perceive with my five limited senses. Help me to get my eyes off of myself and my circumstances, and to focus on you and your purpose for my life and the lives of those around me. Help me to resist temptation in whatever form it comes. Help me to maintain a heart of purity and honesty. I thank you, Father, for Your Faithfulness and Mercy. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. God Bless you, J.H.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. I Peter 5:6-7 We often worry about our position and status, hoping to get proper recognition for what we do. But Peter advises us to remember that God's recognition counts more than human praise. God is able and willing to bless us according to His timing. Humbly obey God regardless of your present circumstances, and in His good time - either in this life or in the next - He will lift you up. Carrying your worries, stresses, and daily struggles by yourself shows that you have not trusted God fully with your life. It takes humility, however, to recognize that God cares, to admit your need, and to let others in God's family help you. Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and foolishness are not God's concern. But when we turn to God in repentance, He will bear the weight even of those struggles. Letting God have your anxieties calls for action, not passivity. Don't submit to circumstances, but to the Lord, who controls those circumstances. God Bless you, J.H.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah 43:25 How tempting it is to remind someone of a past offense! But when God forgives our sins He totally forgets them. We never have to fear that He will remind us of them later. Because God forgives our sins, we need to forgive others. Conviction is what we feel in the middle of sin. When we are doing something wrong that we know is wrong, we feel convicted enough to turn and do right. Guilt is what we feel about something done in the past, about someone we hurt, about something that we wish we could take back. This verse tells us clearly that guilt is not from God. God does not hold anything over our head as a rememberance of how "bad" we used to be. He has forgiven us, and He has forgotten all about the past. He has freed us to move on and be more like Him. Some people, even mature Christians, will sit shackled by guilt for years regarding something they did long ago. We have to believe that what God says is true and that we are truly, completely forgiven. Once we believe, we are free from all guilt and shame. We can stand up boldly and declare the Grace of God in our lives. Unshackle yourselves today. Be free indeed. God Bless you, J.H
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Pennies From Heaven.........c1998 C.Mashburn
I found a penny today
Just laying on the ground
But it's not just a penny
This little coin I've found
Found pennies come from heaven
That's what my Grandpa told me
He said angels toss them down
Oh, how I loved that story
He said when an angel misses you
They toss a penny down
Sometimes just to cheer you up
Make a smile out of your frown
So don't pass by that penny
When you're feeling blue
It may be a penny from heaven
That an angel's tossed to you
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave to His servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us. May He turn our hearts toward Him, to walk in all His ways and to keep the commands He gave our fathers. In a these words of mine, which I pray before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of His people Israel, according to each day's need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know the Lord is God and that there is no other. I Kings 8:56-60 Solomon praised the Lord and prayed for his people. His prayer can be a pattern for our prayers. He had five basic requests:1. For God's presence; 2. For the desire to do God's will in everything; 3. For help with each day's need; 4. For the desire and ability to obey God's commands; 5. The spread of God's Kingdom to the entire world. These prayer requests are just as important today. When you pray for your church or family, you can make the same requests to God. Look at the record and leave the rest to Him. He will keep His word with you. We are but to claim it. God bless you, J.H.
Monday, November 16, 2009
For their hearts were not loyal to Him, they were not faithful to His covenant. Yet He was merciful; He forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time, He restrained his anger and did not stir up His full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. Psalm 78:37-39 Over and over, the children of Israel claimed that they would follow God, but then they turned away from Him. The problem was that they followed God with words and not with their hearts; thus, their repentance was empty. Talk is cheap. God wants our conduct to back up our spiritual claims and promises. In spite of our failings, He is ready to forgive. Remember that God's love is unconditional. He places no conditions on our behavior, our attitudes, or anything else. He loves us, regardless. He loves us, in spite of. Once we understand the magnitude of this one thing; the kind of love that a father has for a child, we have no choice but to respond. We act and respond to Him not out of compulsion, but out of love and gratitude. Who are we to expect love like this? Well, that's just the point: we are God's children. We are nobody in and of ourselves, but we are someone very, very special in the eyes of God. We have to remember that we did not choose Him, but that He chose us. Once that fact grows deep into your heart, once you truly believe that what the Bible says is true about the love of God, once you begin to respond to that love of, there is no going back. You will be forever changed. God Bless you, J.H.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
All you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
Food costs money, lasts only a short time, and meets our physical needs. But God offers us free nourishment that feeds our soul. How do we get it? We come, listen, see, and call on God. God's salvation is freely offered, but to nourish our souls, we must eagerly receive it. We will starve spiritually without this food as surely as we will starve physically without daily bread.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for this day. Thank you for your Grace and your Mercy. I thank you for Your Word, and I thank You for the nourishment that it brings my soul. I ask You for a hunger and thirst for Your word that I may read it every day seeking Your guidance and seeking Your face. I ask that you open the eyes of my heart that I may see You moving in the circumstances of my life. When I'm hurting, when I am confused, I ask that You give me Grace to come to You each and every time. I ask for humility, that I would not try to change my circumstances under my own power, but that You remind me to continually go to the source of all Power and of all Love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
God Bless you,
Friday, November 13, 2009
The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the East, in Eden; and there He put the man he had formed.
"From the dust of the ground" implies that there is nothing fancy about the chemical elements making up our bodies. The body is a lifeless shell until God brings it alive with his "breath of life." When God removes his life-giving breath, our bodies once again return to dust. Therefore, our life and worth come from God's Spirit. Many people boast of their achievements and abilities as though they were the originator of their own strengths. Others feel worthless because their abilities do not stand out. In reality, our worth comes not from our achievements, but from the God of the universe, who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life. Value life, as He does. God, in his love, made man and put him in a garden. Man, in disobedience, has created a jungle for himself. Only the Lord Jesus knows the way out. He provided is at the cross. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
Father, we thank you for life, and that more abundantly. We thank You for what You have given us, and we thank You for our daily blessings. We ask that You give us grace to not lose sight of You as we begin another busy week. We ask that You help us maintain our focus on what is important. We ask that You give us courage to do what is right, to make the right decisions, and to keep You first. We thank You for Your Word that it feeds us, we thank You for Your Spirit that it fills us and gives us strength. We praise You in Jesus' Name, Amen.
God Bless you,
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me, may be in them. And that I myself may be in them. John 17:25-26 Look at how much we have going for us. We were included in His prayer than. We are included now. "He forever lives to make intercession for us." Once our love and commitment to the Lord is established, there is no end to what he will do for us, and Jesus said, "through us." "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." God Bless you, J.H.