Archive for April, 2010

Christ: Given for us, but also given to us

April 30, 2010

I marvel at some of the things that my kids wonder and ask questions about.  For instances, my daughter is so apprehensive and reluctant to ask for things she wants.  She regularly sends her front man to survey the territory to see if her longing has a chance of being fulfilled.  Her front man – her little brother.  My wife may have gone grocery shopping.  We all assist in putting up the groceries.  Later, my daughter will want some Cheez-It crackers.  Unsure as to whether she may get some, she will send her brother to ask.  I often ask her why is she so afraid or unsure to the point she doesn’t ask. 

The point is we bought the groceries for us to consume, so why wouldn’t she believe that she is free to ask for and receive what we have provided for her.  It’s simple.  She does not understand how much we love her and that we had already given our resources to secure what she needed: in that case wanted.  This is similar to how we respond to God about what we need especially spiritually.  For the sake of purity of point, we need to focus on spiritual needs here. 

From our reading yesterday, I would like for you to join me in pondering or meditating on one verse.  Romans 8:32
“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?”

We see the same proposition originally rendered by God through Paul.  Any sane parent would agree that their children are valued in their hearts more than anything else on this earth.   God, who is not darkened by sin, values His son Jesus more than anything else; yet, God gave Him up for those who are called: the elect.  Consequently, Paul asks us for God, since I gave my most valuable for your salvation, why would I not give you any other thing that is needed for you to live a life in obedience and conformity.  He gave Christ for us, so He could give Christ to us.  We would be able to live a life conforming to the likeness of Christ to the glory of God alone. 

God is saying that I gave my all to you certainly I will give something that is less than my all.  I am not sure if this is making sense to you.  I just sense in verse 32 God and Christ saying I will give you anything since I already gave you every thing.   Remember, I am not talking about houses, cars, money, etc.  While God promises to meet our needs, the focus here is a spiritual matter.  The goal today was for us to consider, ponder, meditate on the notion that God has given us everything in Christ; therefore, any other particular need is a mere formality.  Needs like peace, joy, comfort, security of heart and mind, love, hope, faith, etc.   God has always promised to do those things for us see the following verses.

Psalm 34
9 Fear the LORD, you his saints,
       for those who fear him lack nothing.

 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
       but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.

Psalm 84
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
       the LORD bestows favor and honor;
       no good thing does he withhold
       from those whose walk is blameless.

God is saying that as we are yielded to honoring Him by obedience we get what we need – guaranteed.

Think on what you need spiritually.  If you are unsure, just read your bible.  Still not exactly sure what that means, you can start off by reading the devotion on Today in the Word where three needs are clearly identified and listed, and they are big ones. 

Be blessed.  nJoy your weekend.

More Than Conquerors

April 29, 2010

Well, good morning.  I have been offline for a few days, but I have been thinking a lot about what God has shared with me over the past few days.  Today, I sense a personal message from God.  You too may sense that after reading the anchor text (Romans 8:28-39) below.  I will not profess that I have this passage, or any other, of scripture all figured out.  The reality is that the Word of God is living and active.  God is always giving us greater insight into His Word which reveals the vastness of God.  God is too deep to be captured in a few sentences of a blog

Despite that, I want to focus on verse 28.  Let me say that the result (good) of verse 28 is a function of a relationship.  I will continue to reiterate that the benefits of experiencing the fullness of God only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  John 1:12 says,”12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  As children of God, we are entitled to what He offers only His children – his unfailing love, compassion, grace and forgiveness and assurance that He will fulfill every promise made to us as evidenced in 2 Corinthians 1:20

Question: What promise is made in verse 28 to those who have surrendered and live their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior?  Answer: God will, no matter the circumstance, work out that circumstance for our good and His glory.  This means that in any unsavory situation God will allow you to experience Him and His goodness.  He will work it out for His purpose.  This is key.  It’s not our purpose or wish but God’s.  This is marvelous, but God does not promise it will be without pain.  In fact, this is the whole point.  God is working to make us like Christ who suffered but is united with God. 

The most poignant example I can think of is birth.  While there is excitement about the pregnancy, the woman knows that there is a moment in which all of her longings will reach a crescendo of pain followed by the zenith of seeing the child that grew inside her for months.  Save the magic of modern medicine, the mother knows that she will experience pain, but the joy of the birth causes the pain to pale in comparison.  This is the same mindset Christ had on the cross as stated in Hebrews 12

The net result of following that pattern is unity and complete joy with God.  If you want to survive tough times, walk with Jehovah through Jesus Christ.   nJoy

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He 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? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither 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.

Today in the Word

Reconciled!

April 25, 2010

As a small child, I always liked dealing with money.  I liked holding it, counting it, saving it and using it.  When I was in high school, I took an accounting class as an exploration of what career path I might take.  When I entered college, I declared Accounting as my major in my business degree.  Afterall, multitudes of people had told me that you want a job that you like.  I liked money, so it seamed plausible to me.  Whether in high school or college, one of the foundational terms was reconciling or reconciliation.  Reconciling an account often means proving or documenting that an account balance is correct.  For example, we reconcile the balance in the general ledger account Cash in Checking to the balance shown on the bank statement.  In essence, it is the process of ensuring that things are balanced are in harmony not disagreement.  The end result of financial reconciliation is that things must be in agreement.

Spiritually, reconciliation is the process of God bringing man into agreement or balance with Him.  Reconciled comes from the Greek word katallassō (kä-täl-lä’s-sō) as referenced by Strong’s Concordance.  According to Vines Expository Dictionary, it means to “properly denotes “to change, exchange” (especially of money); hence, of persons, “to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile.” With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily “reconciliation” is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Christ in propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin, 2Cr 5:19, where both the verb and the noun are used (cp. No. 2, in Col 1:21). By reason of this men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be “reconciled” to Him; that is to say, to change their attitude, and accept the provision God had made, whereby their sins can be remitted and they themselves be justified in His sight in Christ.”  Romans 5:8 says,”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

You see, by Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, God was bringing us into balance, harmony and agreement with Him.  For all who solely rely upon Christ as Lord and Savior, you have been reconciled.  In fact, you become a part of God’s plan to reconcile man to Himself.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation.  People are forever asking me if I missed my calling to be a minister.  I often respond by saying I am a minister – one of reconciliation.  Again, we who call Christ as Lord are all ministers of that ilk.  Our responsibility is to urge people to take advantage of the forgiveness of God offered through His grace.  To remind us that we need harmony with God, remember what Paul said in Colossians 1:21,”Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”  Not many of us think of ourselves as enemies of God, but without Christ’s death as payment for the consequences of our sins, that is exactly what we are – enemies. 

I am so glad that God brought me into harmony with Him.  Like I said in Am I a friend of God, it is such a blessing to be friends with God.  I have access to God Almighty.  He  promises to never leave me, to keep me, to hear my prayers, to answer godly prayers, to rescue me, to be my rock, fortress and shield, to be my ever-present help in times of trouble.  With benefits such as those, who would not want to be reconciled to God to be friends? 

Let us respond accordingly to the triune God by becoming Ambassadors for Christ.  The devotion today gives good insight into how we should position ourselves as ambassadors rather than tourists.

Today in the Word

Am I a friend of God?

April 22, 2010

We all have a definition of a friend.  The question is who is a friend of God.  The Word of God has the answer for us.  John 15:14 says,”You are my friends if you do what I command.”  That is simple, but it is also very complex.  Recently, we talked about what it means to obey God via the greatest commandment as found in Mark 12: 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  God says that we love Him if we obey Him.   He also calls us friends when He reveals His will to us and invites/commands us to participate in His redemptive plan. 
Have you been redeemed?  Are you actively seeking to obey God?  If not, you are not a friend of God.  James 4:4 says,”You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”  Colossians 1 says,”21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a] your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—”  Again, if you have not surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, then, you are an enemy of God.  Your destiny is destruction.  These are not my words but God’s. 
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).  Jesus laid down His life for you.  To be His friend, you must lay down your life for Him.  Simple but complex. 
Laying it down for the Lord.   Be ready!
 
Today in the Word: Thursday, April 22, 2010
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10

TODAY IN THE WORD
After issues plagued her bathrooms, Mrs. Kim finally called a plumber. As the truck approached, she noticed the message: “Family-owned and operated since 1935.” The father-son team worked quickly with remarkable competence. Steve explained that his grandfather and father had both been plumbers, and that his son, Robert, was apprenticing with him now to learn the family business: “Like my father and grandfather before him, I want to pass down the necessary skills and character for my son to fulfill our mission.” In today’s reading, Jesus invites us to apprentice with Him in His Father’s mission.

Observe the parallels between the Father’s relationship with Jesus and Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. First, Jesus loves His disciples just as the Father has loved Him (v. 9). God’s love is the cornerstone of today’s passage. In love, the Father sent Jesus into the world “that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). Second, Jesus’ obedience was the result of a life lived in the Father’s love. We also make Jesus’ love our dwelling place when we obey (v. 10). Jesus highlights one particular command. He indicates His sacrificial death as the kind of love for others He intends (vv. 12-13). God’s love is not only life giving, it also produces complete joy. Everything originates with Jesus before we experience it: love, obedience, and joy.

Third, everything Jesus has learned from His Father, He has passed down to us (v. 16). Jesus fulfills His Father’s mission, and He calls us to join it, too (cf. John 5:17). Jesus declares: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21). We remain in God’s love as we participate in this incarnational mission as God’s sent ones.

Jesus clarifies the context of our relationship with Him and the Father. We are not slaves, obliged to submit to the Father’s rules. We are friends, joyfully joining His work of redemption in the world. We know we are friends because we are made privy to the Father’s business, and God has purposed us to bear fruit in His kingdom.


TODAY ALONG THE WAY
Jesus promises: “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (v. 16). The context for answered prayer is God’s mission. The Father answers prayers that accord with and are focused upon pursuit and fulfillment of His work. Prayers that are motivated by selfishness are not aligned with the will of God; we should not interpret this verse as a magic word to get whatever we want. Rather, praying in Jesus’ name recognizes His authority over our lives and our desire to live out our calling as His followers.

The Greatest Commandment

April 21, 2010

Mark 12:28-34 – The Greatest Commandment

 28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.”

 32“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

 34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

When we ask God a question in which he answers, He answers completely.  The teacher of the law asked, what I believe, Jesus a genuine question.   Jesus responded.  Sometimes, we ask God questions and wonder why we do not hear anything.  First, you must know God through Christ as Lord in order to expect an answer.  Then, your request must be genuine.  Even for those who don’t know Him, God will not honor requests centered in improper motives.  Earlier in this chapter, there were other pundits of the day trying to show their depth of knowledge in efforts to entrap Jesus, but Christ was too wise for that.  As usual, Jesus inverts the scenario drawn for him.  In the vernacular, Jesus ‘flips the script’.  Those who were trying to trap him became ensnared by their own sin; however, here, the one specific man is genuinely looking for the “way”.  As such, you see Christ convey to him that he was not far from realizing the goal of your yearning – the kingdom of God.

The most important message conveyed in the passage is the expectation Christ conveys from God.  This is what and how God expects us to love Him – with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It will take more time than you may be willing to invest reading addressing each of those, so let’s just look at one – the mind.  For me, this is truly where the battle rages.  We know we do not love God with all our mind because we think wrong things daily.  Truth be told, we think wrong things all day long; nah, almost every minute of our waking day.  Our minds should have true and pure thoughts (Psalms 119:9,11; Philippians 4:8-9).  Proverbs 27 tells us that as a man thinks, so is he.  It is the motives of our heart that reveal who we are.  God, Christ, can see straight to our motives.  We fail miserably in loving God with all our mind.  Again, we think wrong all day long. 

How can we improve in this matter?   Again, the answer is in the Word of God.  Proverbs 14:12 tells us that ” 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Consequently, we must not follow what we think is correct, but what God says.  Where can we find what God has said to man?  We can find God’s words in the bible.  How active are we in hearing, reading, memorizing, meditating and studying the Word of God?  Those are the basics of interacting with the Word of God.  With all of the technology we have today, those are at the press of a button or the picking up of God’s Word, but that reveals that we don’t want to which says God is not loved with all our heart. 

The hole deepens for us doesn’t it.  This is the beauty of salvation through faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.  We could never earn our way into heaven which ultimately was Jesus’ point and message.  John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  He saves us from the misery of failing to love God as he prescribed.  Only Jesus loved God completely.  Only Jesus can afford us access into a loving relationship with God where we experience peace with God and inner peace.  It is Jesus who is Innerstate 7.  Take I-7 to as your road to completeness.  Be blessed.

Today in the Word

What is good?

April 18, 2010

The English language is satiated with clichés that grow our senses fainter to the true meaning of an idea.  This has a tremendous impact on how we interpret information.  The greatest impact is on how we internalize the Word of God. 

There is a popular saying in church now.  It goes something like this “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.”  What does good mean?  More importantly, what does it say or not say about God?  We know that there are two types of verbs in the English language: action verbs and state of being verbs.  ‘Is’ is a state of being verb, so it is very important to understand the descriptor that follows is when defining or portraying who God is.  I believe the single most important internalization (my word) is how we see/define who is God.  By this, I mean that we must be intimately aware of how our understanding of the nature of God is shaped and by whom it is shaped. 

God has not left that up to anyone.  He defines Himself.  The Word of God (Psalm 100:5) says that “the LORD is good.” Another challenge is the correct interpretation of what the Word of God says about God.  For example, again, what is meant by good when describing God.  Those clichés are used, but do we really understand.  The mere fact that a saying becomes cliché dictates that some meaning is lost.  I would like for you to go on your own excursion in discovering what it means.  Your primary source is the Word of God, the bible.  Secondarily, you should use sources that identify the words used in the bible like a concordance or a bible dictionary.  As a last resort, you could peer into some commentaries; however, trust the first two sources first.  My favorite two approaches are to look for a word or phrase then to look for the Hebrew (old testament is written in Hebrew) and Greek (new testament is written in Greek) meanings.  I have the two links on my page:
 www.biblegateway.com and www.blueletterbible.com
You may know others or have other resources, but these are quick since most of the time I am online.  For the biblegateway site, you can do a word or phrase search.  In this case, you could search for “good” or “is good” or “God is good”.  It will result in a list of verses.  You could then use those verses as references on the blueletterbible site.  That site will enable you to find the Hebrew or Greek meaning for each major word.  I know this may seem like a lot, but your understanding of God depends on you digging deeper.  If it doesn’t matter to you, you will not look at it; however, it’s your loss if you choose not to indulge yourself.

The BibleGateway          Bible / Dictionary Search

Bible Word / Phrase Search Tool     

Hebrew/Greek Search by English Definitions  

Detailed Word Search

Okay, let’s put some teeth to this.  I really would like for you all to help me.  I need your responses.  Let’s build our understanding together on the matter of understanding the goodness of God.  If we understand that God is good, we will respond much better to unfavorable circumstances, opinions or people.   After reading verses in the bible about God’s character revolving around the word, please post what you believe it means.  In the next few days, I will do the same along with some examples from my life.

The Art of Waiting

April 17, 2010

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1

What does it mean to wait?  What does it mean to wait patiently?  First, who really waits in our society?  Our culture tells us that this is a fast-paced world that waits on no one.  We are always attempting to figure out more efficient ways to accomplish tasks or goals.  This is true regardless of the object of our waiting: whether people or projects.  We want what we want NOW.

Fortunately for us, God does not work that way.  In our waiting, the sovereignty and omnipotence of God is evidenced.  He reigns supreme.  We can’t rush God nor can we dictate pace to Him.  In our finite power, we are not able to change our circumstances, but we must rely upon the Almighty God who has no bounds or limitations.  Despite that fact, we regularly try to make it happen while we fully know that we can move on with out God.  That is futile, foolish and dangerous.

Wait – by all accounts to wait means to look forward to eagerly or to expect something to happen (Hebrew qavah); to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens (from dictionary.com) Regardless, the connotation is that we can’t move forward in that circumstance until some force beyond us enables us to do so.  I submit that God is the only force that is worthy of waiting on.  There are other forces, but do they have your best interest at heart.

Patiently is used as an adverb in the verse above.  Patiently means to bear trials, pains, hardships, provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.

“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.”

Who can do that?  No one who is not empowered by the Spirit of God.   When one does wait, the benefits are clearly outlined in Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.

For several years, I have meditated over the following verse as a means to build my discipline in waiting.   Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, ” 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.”  When talking with God about this verse.  I asked Him to explain it to me.  He told me that the reason we can’t wait is that we want something now.  We do not accept nor understand that life involves many processes as a function of the order that He instituted.  As a matter of order, we must wait.  God stated that He is always at work aligning things with optimal effectiveness and efficiency.  He told me that I live in the moment and He lives outside of time.  Because the moment is my motivator, I make poor decisions because of the short-sightedness of just living for that moment.  Priorities change when the moment is not the most essential thing we consider.  He said, “Darron, if you just believed that I was working it out for your good, you could wait.  The problem is you don’t trust me.”  That hurt.  I thought I trusted God, but the reality is there are lapses of time where I do trust Him, but most of the time I lack faith.  The reason why the end of the matter is better than the begging is because of the order of God.  He is working things our in a process.  Patience is better than pride.  In patience, I must show my dependency on God and faith in God to work for my good.  Pride assumes the position that I know better than God and that I have the power equal to or greater than God; therefore, I act in effort to direct my circumstance in the manner I believe is best.  We all know that when we rush ahead we create a mess.

I am learning to wait on God, but it is a process.  It is a process because God wants me to learn of His trustworthiness. Patience is better than pride.  What would happen if God were prideful?  God is so cool.  He is patient with me as his child.  God is the ultimate teacher.  He always demonstrates what He expects of us.  The reason that we can eagerly look forward to or expect something to good to happen is because God is good.  If we just focus on who God is, we can wait.   Wow!!!

Got Benefits? The Shelter of the Most High

April 16, 2010

Yesterday, we talked about how to survive the storms of life.  I provided King David as one example.  Today, I will defer to King David again as a source of encouragement.  King David shared how he was protected and preserved in the shelter of Jehovah.  The Hebrew word for Jehovah (Yĕhovah) means “the existing One”.  In Psalm 34, there are a wealth of verses to strengthen your spirit and to encourage your heart in the midst of trials or hardships.   Look for all the time the LORD is mentioned.  See the benefits of “the existing One” taking action on David’s behalf.  Look at all the action verbs used to describe Jehovah.  When the state of being verbs are used, still look at the benefits.  The man/woman who trusts in the LORD is blessed. 

Once more, I want us to see the outstanding benefits of yielding to Christ as Lord and relying on God.  As the psalmist invites us in verse 8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” 

Psalm 34:1-22 (New International Version)

Psalm 34

Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.

 1 [a] I will extol the LORD at all times;  his praise will always be on my lips. 

2 My soul will boast in the LORD;  let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 

3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. 

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;  he delivered me from all my fears. 

5 Those who look to him are radiant;  their faces are never covered with shame. 

6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;  he saved him out of all his troubles. 

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 

8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. 

9 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. 

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 

11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 

12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, 

13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. 

14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; 

16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,  to cut off the memory of them from the earth. 

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; 

20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken. 

21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. 

22 The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.  

Footnotes:
  1. Psalm 34:1 This psalm is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Do you see the wonderful benefits that come from entering into a love relationship with God.  I would love for you to open up your thoughts so others could benefit from what God has done or is doing in your life.  Let your praises ring for the Lord.  Post your comments.
Today in the Word

How to Survive the Storms of Life

April 15, 2010

What causes tornadoes?

Thunderstorms develop in warm, moist air in advance of eastward-moving cold fronts. These thunderstorms often produce large hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. Tornadoes in the winter and early spring are often associated with strong, frontal systems that form in the Central States and move east. Occasionally, large outbreaks of tornadoes occur with this type of weather pattern. Severe storms impacted the various parts of our country during the year.  The impact may come in the form of large hail, heavy rains, and heat bursts impacted. 

Regardless when a tornado comes, we are taught to seek shelter.  For those who aren’t able to find adequate shelter, they are left to the mercy and ravages of the storm.  In life, we experience storms that threatened to destroy many facets of our lives.  Those storms come in the form of many things.  There are relational implosions.  You think that you have a committed loving relationship, but something comes in to derail what you thought you had.  Other times, our relationships are cut short by illness and death of loved ones.  There are also financial storms.  You may have been sailing along fine, but some circumstance seizes you like Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street haunting you despite efforts to escape its clutches.  There are also physical, emotional, and spiritual storms.  Depending on how protected you are from a shelter, if you have one, you may survive those storms unscathed. 

I believe that all storms are spiritual in nature.  I believe that because the storms we experienced are designed to draw us closer to God building our faith.  Consider what 1 Peter 1:3-7 says as evidence of my assertion.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These 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 Jesus Christ is revealed.

If you ever wondered why we go through hardships or hard times, that is why?  For those who know Christ as Lord, God wants to refine your faith conforming you more to the likeness of Christ Jesus.  For those who do not know Christ as Lord, God desires to use those storms to draw you closer to him, so that you can enter into that relationship with Christ as Lord.  This relationship will help you with all the present storms in this life because the greatest storm is when one faces Christ after death.  Hebrews 9:27 says, “27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,”  That will be the final storm that brings damnation, but there is hope in Jesus.

King David saw this hope in Psalm 27.  Listen to what David said:

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
       whom shall I fear?
       The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
       of whom shall I be afraid?

 2 When evil men advance against me
       to devour my flesh, [a]
       when my enemies and my foes attack me,
       they will stumble and fall.

 3 Though an army besiege me,
       my heart will not fear;
       though war break out against me,
       even then will I be confident.

 5 For in the day of trouble
       he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
       he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
       and set me high upon a rock.

Do you not want the benefit of being kept safe in his dwelling and being set high upon a rock.  The dwelling represents being the presence of God.  Who can touch you in the presence of God.  Imagine your parent allowing someone to harm you in his/her presence.  The only way that would have occurred is if they died protecting you.  That’s the beauty of God.  No one is powerful enough to overcome or subdue Him.  The height means that you will be above all the storms if you choose to ride with Him.  When air planes encounter storms, many times the pilot will ascend to a height above the cloud freeing the plane and its passengers from the dangers in the storm.  God is the one who can lift us higher in the storm.  The rock represents a sure foundation. 

God says in his word (Matthew and Luke) that a house built on rock will stand the storms.  Specifically in Matthew 7, Jesus says, “24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.””

How does one survive the storms of life?  He trusts in Jesus as Lord residing in the shelter of his protection by standing on the rock of His Word.  Then, that man/woman will stand after the storms have past.

Today in the Word

Wanted: Dead or Alive

April 13, 2010

Wanted: Dead or Alive was a popular television show at one time.  I used to watch reruns when I was a small boy.  In Westerns, there would always be a person who was wanted dead or alive.  Many times, the person was of the ilk of people who continually did wrong and most viewers wanted captured to face the consequences.  There were times where the hunted was a good guy as portrayed by the writers and assumed by the viewers.  Bon Jovi, made a song with the same title.  Regardless, the notion that people are wanted is not a new issue.  I too faced it.  When I was a small boy, I used to wear a t-shirt that read ‘I never get lost because someone is always telling me where to go.’  While a play on my plight, I really was lost because everyone who was telling me where to go did not tell me about Jesus.  I was following the way of the world.  Here is what God says about following man. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

More specifically, Wanted: Dead or Alive describes the spiritual condition of every person who has ever existed.  We are Wanted: Dead or Alive.  The question is who wants us in either of those states.  Well in the Word of God, we are told.  In Ephesians 2, hear what Paul says to the Ephesians, “1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

There it is plain and simple.  There is a clamouring for the lives and souls of mankind.  Because of sin, we are born into a dead and damned state.  Following the world is equated to being dead while following God through Christ makes one alive.  As I sit here, I hear Bon Jovi singing his chorus, “Wanted, dead or alive: Wanted, dead or alive.”  We are wanted dead or alive.  We think we may know the way but Proverbs tells us that man’s way leads to death.  Conversely, God’s way leads to life.  Have you truly given your life to Christ in exchange for the eternal condemnation that you would experience for the consequence of your sin?  Make no mistake, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” as explained in Romans 3:23.  Romans 6:23 tells us “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

You are wanted dead by the wicked one.  You are wanted alive by the righteous one.  The question is who will you pledge your allegiance?  As in the westerns, the angels are looking on rooting for us to escape el diablo.  If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, now is the time.  You are being hunted by the wicked bounty hunter.  They bounty is your soul.  He has already been condemned to the lake of fire.  He just wants to take you and many others with him.  The world does not have a place in which you can hide or take refuge, but 2 Samuel 22 tells us David’s song that echos for us.  

1 David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies 
   and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said:
       “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
       my shield and the horn [a] of my salvation.
       He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—

While the world has no refuge, we have a refuge in Christ.  Christ will spare us, shield us, keep us from the bounty hunter of the soul.  Again, if you don’t know Christ please get to know him.  If you don’t know how, contact me. 

If you have surrendered your life to Christ, help those who are being hunted for dead.  In God’s eyes, He wants the alive.  Both now and for evermore, He will reward you for participating in them being brought to him alive.  If you know Christ, count yourselves dead to sin.  Run from it; separate yourself from those who glory in it.  Realize that there is a battle for the souls of men.  While your soul may be secure in eternity, your work for Christ and your witness for Christ is not.  Be aware that you are hunted too.  You are hunted to discredit our Lord.  You are hunted to make a mockery of the Cross.  As Al Green’s song exclaims, “yield not to temptation”.  We must stand strong in the power of the Lord today.  Remember, you are Wanted:  Dead or Alive.

Today in the Word