Thursday, April 29, 2010

Refined by Fire

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Christ Jesus is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with of an expressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I Peter 6-8

Peter mentions suffering several times in this letter. When he speaks of trials, he is not talking about natural disasters or the experience of God's punishments, but the response of an unbelieving world to people of faith. All believers face such trials when they let their light shine into the darkness. We must except trials as part of the refining process that burns away impurities and prepares us to meet Christ. Trials teach us patience and help us to grow to be the kind of people that God wants. As gold is heated, impurities float to the top and can be skimmed off. Steel is tempered or strengthened by heating it in fire. Likewise, our trials, struggles, and persecutions refine and strengthen our faith, making us useful to God for His purposes. Regardless of what you are going through today, keep looking up. God is with you.

God Bless you,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

True Repentance

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like a winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3

This is presumption, not genuine repentance. The people did not understand the depth of their sin. They did not turn from idols, regret their sins, or pledge to make changes. They thought that God's wrath would last only a few days; Little did they know that their nation would soon be taken into exile. Israel was interested in God only for the material benefits He provided; they did not value the eternal benefits that come from worshiping Him. Before judging Israel, however, consider your own attitude. What do you hope to gain from your "religion?" Do you "repent" easily, without seriously considering what changes need to take place in your life? Repentance means to do an "about face;" to do a 180 degree turn in your life; to stop what you are doing and to leave it behind and to go in the opposite direction. It is not simply to say that you are "sorry" for what you have done and then continue to go down the same path only to get stuck in the same sin somewhere further down the road. That is absurd. In order to truly repent in the eyes of God, we need to leave our old life, our old habits behind and learn new ways of living. That is why the Bible is so important. It shows us the way we are supposed to go.

God Bless you,


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Evidence of God

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out it to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4

We are surrounded by fantastic displays of God's craftsmanship - the heavens give dramatic evidence of His existence, His power, His love, and His care. To say that the universe happened by chance is absurd. Its design, intricacy, and orderliness point to a personally involved Creator. As you look at God's handiwork in nature and the heavens, thank Him for such magnificent beauty and the truth it reveals about Himself. The apostle Paul referred to this psalm when he explained that everyone knows about God, because nature proclaims God's existence and power (Romans 1:19-20). This does not cancel the need for missions, because the message of God's salvation found in his Word, the Bible, must still be told to the ends of the earth. While nature points to the existence of God, the Bible tells us about salvation. God's people must explain to others how they can have a relationship with God. Although people everywhere should already believe in the Creator by just looking at the evidence of nature around them, God needs us to explain His love, mercy, and Grace. What are you doing to take God's message to the world?

God Bless you,


Monday, April 26, 2010

Shout for Joy

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5

God is our Creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and the center of their own little world. This mindset leads to a greedy possessiveness and, if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself. But when we realize and accept that God created us and gives us all we have, we want to give to others as God has given to us. Then, if all is lost, we still have God. God alone is worthy of being worshiped. What is your attitude toward worship? Do you willingly and joyfully come into God's presence, or are you just going through the motions, reluctantly going to church? This Psalm tells us to remember God's goodness and dependability and faithfulness, and then to worship with thanksgiving and praise!

God Bless you,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Never Alone

Hear my cry, oh God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge.

Psalm 61:1-3

David must have been far from home when he wrote this psalm. Fortunately, God is not limited to any geographic location. He is everywhere. Even when we are among unknown people and in unfamiliar surroundings, God never abandons or forsakes us. The "higher" rock would be a plain of refuge and safety. God's all surpassing strength is always with us. Remember, as alone as you may feel during difficult times, you never really are. He is there. Rely on Him today.

God Bless you,


Friday, April 23, 2010

Happiness and Security

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone. The idols speak deceit, diviners show visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

Zechariah 10:1-2

We often create idols of money, power, fame, or success, and then we expect them to give us happiness and security. But these idols cannot supply what we need any more than a stone image can make it rain. How foolish it is to trust in idols. Instead, trust God's promises for your future. He alone causes the blessings in your life. He alone can make it rain and provide for your every need. It is God who orchestrates our steps and our circumstances. Many people I speak with are not believers, and yet they find themselves "in no moral or spiritual danger." And yet they are all seeking something. They are still seeking the ever-elusive happiness and security; the joy that can only be found in Christ. They are all seeking something, they just don't know where to find it. You have the answer they are looking for; share it with someone today.

God Bless you,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Born of the Spirit

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit."

John 3:3,5

What did Nicodemus know about the kingdom? From the Bible, he knew it would be ruled by God, it would be restored on earth, and it would incorporate God's people. Jesus revealed to this devout Pharisee that the kingdom would come to the whole world, not just the Jews, and that Nicodemus would not be a part of it unless he was personally born-again. This was a revolutionary concept: the kingdom is personal, not national or ethnic, and its entrance requirements are repentance and spiritual rebirth. Jesus later taught that God's kingdom has already begun in the hearts of believers. It will be fully realized when Jesus returns again to judge the world and abolish evil forever. It is impossible for man to have a new life without a new birth. Being a Christian is a great deal more than joining a church and making resolutions. It is experiencing a regeneration through a crucified Redeemer.

God Bless you,


Monday, April 12, 2010

Pure in Heart

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our minds with thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. What are you allowing in to your mind through your eyes and ears on a regular basis? Whatever it is, it is affecting you, whether it be positively or negatively. Examine what you are injesting through television, books, conversations, movies, and magazines. So many people are quick to defend what they watch on TV or which music they listen to. "Well, I just like the beat, but I don't pay attention to the lyrics." Yeah, right. My response: "If there is nothing wrong with it, why do you need to defend it?" Music especially, is universal. All peoples and all cultures celebrate music. Music affects the heart and affects the mood of a person. It calms them, excites them, moves them, whatever the case may be. By the same token, scary movies filled with blood and gore may be fun on a Friday date night, but we wouldn't dare sit a three-year old down in front of that mess (or would we)? And if not, what makes us so mature enough to watch dismemberment and decapitation, and moreover, why would we want to? For entertainment? Please. It really comes down to what you want to do with your life. Yes, it really is that basic. Is your sole purpose to simply be entertained? I know a few people personally who would say "Yes" to that. Their greatest "fear" is boredom and will do anything to swallow up their time to prevent from being bored, with the clear exception of doing something important and worthwhile for themselves or someone else. The question is: do you actually want to do something of substance in this life, something that makes a difference? If so, it is important to read God's Word and pray. That is our source; that is where we gain our direction. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and pure. It takes practice, but it can be done. It's not enough to hear or read the word of God, or even to know it well. We must also put into practice. How easy it is to listen to a sermon forget what the preacher said. How easy it is to read the Bible and not think about how to live differently. How easy it is to debate what a passage means and not live out the meeting. Exposure to God's Word is not enough. It must lead to obedience. You must take action.

God Bless you,


Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Perfect Gift

I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend to them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. I'll make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send out showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34:23-26

A bad shepherd is not only selfish, but destructive. A minister who muddies the waters for others by raising unnecessary doubts, teaching false ideas, and acting sinnfully is destroying his flocks' spiritual nourishment. When our leaders fail us, we must not despair, but remember that God is in control and that He promises to return and care for His flock. Thus, we know that we can turn to God for help in all things. He is still in control, and can transform any tragic situation in order to produce good for His kingdom. In contrast to the present evil shepherds (leaders) of God's people, God has sent a perfect shepherd, the Messiah, who will take care of every need and His people have and set up a kingdom of perfect peace and justice. "Peace" here means more than just the absence of conflict. It is contentment, fulfillment, and security. That is part of God's will for us all. He desires for us be content, fulfilled and secure in our present circumstances, whatever they may be. We often say to ourselves, "Why me? I deserve better than this!" No, we don't. As sinners, and in the sight of a perfect, all-knowing God, we don't deserve much at all. And yet, in His Love for us, He has given us life. Declare a more perfect gift than that.

God Bless you,


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Does God Care Where You Are From?

Posted 05-Apr-07 11:05:40 EDT"Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her." But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God."

Ruth 1:15-16

Ruth was a Moabitess, but that did not stop her from worshiping the true God, nor did it stop God from accepting her worship and blessing her greatly. The Jews were not the only people God loved. God chose the Jews to be the people through whom the rest of the world would come to know Him. This was fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born as a Jew. Through Him, the entire world can come to know God. Acts 10:35 says that "God except men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right." God accepts all who worship Him; He works through people regardless of their race, sex, or nationality. The book of Ruth is a perfect example of God's impartiality. Although Ruth belonged to a race often despised by Israel, she was blessed because of her faithfulness. She became a great-grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus. No one should feel disqualified to serve God because of their background. And God can use every circumstance to build His kingdom. God has created you with a purpose. God is preparing you in order to for you to fulfill that purpose here on earth. Even times of great difficulty can serve as stepping stones in our lives that transition us to places where we can have the greatest impact for God's kingdom. Many of us believe that our decisions are the sole moving force in our lives. In other words, we are where we are because we decided to be there. And that is true for the most part. But what we don't realize is that many of our decisions were made in response to circumstances that God placed us in.

God Bless you,


Friday, April 9, 2010

Preaching to the Spirits

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who disobeyed long ago, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

1 Peter 3:18-19

The meaning of preaching "to the spirits in prison" is not completely clear, and commentators have explained it in different ways. The traditional interpretation is that Christ, between his death and resurrection, announced salvation to God's faithful followers who had been waiting for their salvation during the whole Old Testament era. Matthew records that when Jesus died, "the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people." (Matthew 27: 52, 53). In any case, the passage shows that Christ's Good News of salvation and victory is not limited. It has been preached in the past, as well as in the present; it has gone to the dead as well as to the living. God has given everyone the opportunity to come to Him, but this does not imply a second chance for those who reject Christ in this life.
Why continue to live with sins that Jesus has already died for? Whether you understand it or not, believe it and go free. It is our responsibility to acknowledge our need and His responsibility to meet that need. This, in fact, he has already done. Count it as so and move on. Heavenly Father, we admit that we are sinners and that we cannot save ourselves. However, we acknowledge that Jesus is our Savior, and we accept Him into our hearts right now. In Jesus' name. Amen.

God bless you,


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Fresh Start

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 3:9

"No one who is born of God will continue to sin" means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God's moral law. All believers still sin, but they are working to gain victory over sin. "God's seed remains in him" means true believers do not make a practice of sinning because God's new life has been born into them. We are "born of God" when the Holy Spirit lives in us and gives us Jesus' new life. Being born again is more than a fresh start; it is a spiritual rebirth, receiving a new family name based on Christ's death for us. When this happens, God forgives us and totally accepts us; the Holy Spirit gives us new minds and hearts, lives in us, and begins helping us to become like Christ. Our perspective changes too because we have a mind that is renewed, day by day by the Holy Spirit. So we must begin to think and act differently, as we are "new creatures" in Christ.

God Bless you,


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We are Overcomers

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not the burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.

1 John 1-5

Yesterday was a glorious day. My seven year-old son began asking me about eternal life. He wanted to know how he could receive eternal life. I began to tell him what the Bible says and one thing led to another, and I soon led him in the Believer's Prayer and he gave his life to the Lord on April 1st, 2007. Thank you, God! When we become Christians, we become part of God's family, with fellow believers as our brothers and sisters, as well as our sons and daughters. It is God who determines who the other family members are, not us. We are simply called to accept and love them. Jesus never promised that obeying Him would be easy. But the hard work and self-discipline in serving Christ is no burden to those who love Him. And if our load starts to feel heavy, we can always trust Christ to help us bear it. Most of us surrender in one way or the other to the call of the world, when all the while, as Christians, we are called to be overcomers. "They overcame by the blood of Lamb, and the Word of their testimony." My son's testimony has just begun, and his testimony has just become part of mine as well.

God Bless you,


Monday, April 5, 2010

True Confession

But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the Word of Faith we are proclaiming; that if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame."

Romans 10:8-11

Have you ever been asked, "How do I become a Christian?" These verses give you the beautiful answer - salvation is as close as your own the mouth and heart. People think that it must be complicated process, but it is not. If we believe in our hearts and say with our mouths that Christ is the risen Lord, we will be saved. Verse 11 is a verse that must be read in context. Paul is not saying that Christians will never be put to shame or be disappointed. There will be times when people let us down and that circumstances take a turn for the worse. Paul is saying that God will always keep His side of the bargain - those who call on Him will be saved. God will never fail to provide righteousness to those who believe. He will comfort us in times of trial and support us in times of temptation. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

God Bless you,


Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them. "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

Luke 24:1-6

The two angels asked the women why they were looking in a tomb for someone who was alive. Often we run into people who are looking for God among the dead. They study the Bible as a mere historical document, and go to church as if going to a memorial service. But Jesus is not among the dead - He Lives! That is the main point of the Easter story. The focus of the story should not be the cruel and painful death on the cross, although that is very important as the payment in full for the sins of the world, but it should be the fact that He rose again three days later. God has the power to create life where their is no life! That which is dead may rise again! It is that same resurrection power that is available to each of us today through the Holy Spirit. Jesus reigns in the hearts of Christians, and He is the head of His Church. Are you looking for Jesus among the living? Do you expect Him to be active in the world and in the church? Look for signs of His power - they are all around you. Whatever you are going through today, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual or financial, pray for God's magnificent and intervening power and watch what happens. He continues to manifest the power of the Resurrection throughout the world today.

God Bless you,


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sacrifice and Surrender

Because by one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First, he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

Hebrews 10:14-17

The writer of Hebrews concludes his argument with this powerful statement that God will remember our sins no more. Christ forgives completely, so there is no need to confess our past sins repeatedly. As believers, we can be confident that the sins we confess and renounce are forgiven and forgotten.
We have been made perfect, yet we are "being made holy." Through His death and resurrection, Christ, once for all, made His believers perfect in God's sight. At the same time, he is making them holy (progressively cleansed and set apart for His special use) in their daily lives here on earth. We should not be surprised, ashamed, or shocked that we still need to grow. God is not finished with us yet. We can encourage this growth by deliberately applying Scripture to all areas of our lives, by accepting the discipline and guidance Christ provides, and by giving him control of our desires and our goals.

God Bless you,


Friday, April 2, 2010

How Ironic

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgatha). Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

John 19:16-19

This sign was meant to be ironic. A king, stripped nearly naked and executed in public view, and obviously lost his kingdom forever. But Jesus, who turns the world's wisdom upside down, was just coming into His kingdom. His death and resurrection would strike the death blow of Satan's rule and would establish Jesus' eternal authority over the earth. Few people reading the sign that bleak afternoon understood its real meaning, but the sign was absolutely true. All was not lost. Jesus was the king of the Jews-and the Gentiles, and the whole universe. Here is where the price was paid for our pardon, but everyone of us individually must acknowledge it was our sin that caused it before the pardon is valid.

God bless you,