Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Obey God or Men?

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When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them,

“We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death.”

Peter and the apostles replied: We don’t obey people. We obey God. You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life and made him our Leader and Savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side, so that the people of Israel would turn back to him and be forgiven.

We are here to tell you about all this, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to everyone who obeys God.

When the council members heard this, they became so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles.

Acts 5:27-33

Catholics in the United States are currently reliving this dilemma of the apostles.  The United States government has ruled that by the end of 2012 every organization that provides medical insurance must include birth control and abortion coverage.  The Catholic church has stood steadfastly against both of those.  Churches are exempt from the ruling, but other Catholic organizations like universities and even Catholic hospitals would be required to violate their own consciences.

In a country where citizens have the right to protest and even vote to change the government, this has set up a struggle that is sure to escalate.  This is not a small matter and one that may be a watershed of religious freedom in America!

It does take courage to disobey other men who are telling you to go against God.  But there is another voice that calls us to disobey God and to obey its clear and constant call on our lives.  That other voice is the voice of our own flesh!  It continually tells us to ignore the voice of God and to fulfill the desires of our own bodies.

To ignore our own desires and obey God instead of fulfilling the lusts of the flesh is a daily battle.  Sometimes men will demand that we disobey God and we must stand against them.  But all the time our bodies demand that we disobey God and walk the way of our own desires!

It is a good thing to stand against those who would demand that we disobey God, but it is also essential that we stand against the unrighteous demands of our own flesh.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Let God Choose the Weapon!

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Then Samuel said, “Tell everyone in Israel to meet together at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.”

The Israelites met together at Mizpah with Samuel as their leader. They drew water from the well and poured it out as an offering to the Lord. On that same day they went without eating to show their sorrow, and they confessed they had been unfaithful to the Lord.

When the Philistine rulers found out about the meeting at Mizpah, they sent an army there to attack the people of Israel. The Israelites were afraid when they heard that the Philistines were coming.

“Don’t stop praying!” they told Samuel. “Ask the Lord our God to rescue us.”

Samuel begged the Lord to rescue Israel, then he sacrificed a young lamb to the Lord. Samuel had not even finished offering the sacrifice when the Philistines started to attack. But the Lord answered his prayer and made thunder crash all around them. The Philistines panicked and ran away.

I Samuel 7:5-10

I have never heard of a man who was killed by thunder! Thunder is loud and can be very upsetting, but it is not deadly. The lightning that causes the thunder is the thing to fear. Someone taught me when I was just a child that if you hear the thunder, the danger has passed.

God caused the Philistine army to run away in fear by sending thunder to crash all around them. They rightly sensed that they were targeted by thunder and needed to get away before they were destroyed by the One who was the cause of the thunder.

Samuel probably would never have prayed for thunder to come and scare the Philistines away. But Samuel kept on praying for God to rescue them and God chose thunder as the way to do it.

When you pray for God to rescue you from some threatening thing in your life, don't tell God how to do it! You do the praying and let God choose the weapon!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Gift for God!

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The Lord is disgusted by gifts from the wicked,
but it makes him happy
when his people pray.

The Lord is disgusted with all who do wrong,
but he loves everyone
who does right.

If you turn from the right way, you will be punished;
if you refuse correction,
you will die.

If the Lord can see everything in the world of the dead,
he can see in our hearts.

Proverbs 15:8-11

Why would a wicked person want to give God a gift?  It seems a little odd that someone who doesn't obey God's Word and is sinning continually would even think about giving God a gift! 

Did you ever hear of a policeman who would take bribes?  The story is an old one.  The one who is in charge of enforcing the law accepts a gift and then ignores the law breaker.  That never happens with God, but sometimes people try to bribe the Lord Himself.  They know they are sinners, and they know that they deserve Hell, but instead of accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as the basis of their salvation they want to do enough good works to merit Heaven in spite of their sin! 

When you stand before God on the Day of Judgment, none of the good things you have done will be the reason God declares that you are to enter Heaven for eternity!  The only reason anyone will ever go to Heaven is the Blood of Jesus Christ.  When you are washed in His Blood Heaven's door will open without any effort on your part.  You won't have to unlock the door of Heaven or even turn the door knob.

If you stand before the Lord and read your  list of good works, the door to Heaven will remain closed.  There is no gift that you can give God which will open that door.  But the gift that Jesus gave on the Cross swings wide the door to Heaven!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jesus is the Answer!

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In the right hand of the one sitting on the throne I saw a scroll that had writing on the inside and on the outside. And it was sealed in seven places. I saw a mighty angel ask with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”

No one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or see inside it. I cried hard because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or see inside it.

Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying and look! The one who is called both the ‘Lion from the Tribe of Judah’ and ‘King David’s Great Descendant’ has won the victory. He will open the book and its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:1-5

When you call a customer service number in an attempt to get help with a problem, the experience is usually very frustrating. I would safely say that almost always the first call is answered by someone who cannot help you with your issue. And so as you are passed from person to person and office to office your frustration grows and grows.

When life itself is the problem and you are looking for someone who can accurately answer your questions and help you solve your problems there are lots of numbers posted on the bulletin board of life and lots of people claiming to have just the right answer for you.

You know the list. Life will be better if you lose weight, get a college degree, find the right person to marry, or just get organized in your life! Don't forget the suggestions that you can look at least ten years younger in about an hour!

When it comes to the right answers for your life, the Person you need to go to for the answers is Himself the answer!  Jesus can tell you things that no one else knows or could ever know.  Jesus can order the circumstances of your life so that if you love Him, everything will work out for good!  Jesus can heal your body so that you will live here on this earth as long as He wills it!  Jesus has great plans for you. 

Jesus can break the seals on the scroll of your life and usher you in to Eternity with Him!
The bottom line is this: Jesus wants to do for your life what no one else can ever do.  All you must do is to trust Him, obey Him and let Jesus do His work in your life!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are You a Pretender?

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This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: I am the one who holds the seven stars in my right hand, and I walk among the seven gold lampstands. Listen to what I say.

I know everything you have done, including your hard work and how you have endured. I know you won’t put up with anyone who is evil. When some people pretended to be apostles, you tested them and found out that they were liars.

You have endured and gone through hard times because of me, and you have not given up.

But I do have something against you! And it is this: You don’t have as much love as you used to. Think about where you have fallen from, and then turn back and do as you did at first. If you don’t turn back, I will come and take away your lampstand.

Revelation 2:1-5

Children love to play “pretend.”  I think it is often how a child decides on the ultimate direction of his life. I would be surprised to find a doctor who had not pretended to be a doctor as a child. I know in my own childhood I loved to pretend that I was talking on the radio. Throughout my adult years I have done some of that "for real."

It is wonderful and helpful for children to pretend, but when adults do it the consequences can be sad, pitiful, or even tragic. Do you remember the man who was called "the great pretender?" He would impersonate competent people in different occupations. I think the worst he did was when he pretended to be a surgeon!

As a follower of Jesus are you looking forward to what you will become?   Like a child are you imagining what it will be like, or are you just pretending to be what you are not and are not on the path to become?

"Lord give me the vision to dream about what it will be like when I am standing before you in Heaven, or even what it will be like after more years of following you here on earth.  But Lord, keep me from the deception of pretending to be something that you have not called and empowered me to be!"

Don't be afraid to dream about what you will be when Jesus returns, but never  pretend to be something you are not in Christ!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jesus is the Treasure!

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But it is just as the Scriptures say, “What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!”

God’s Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God. You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God’s Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God’s mind.

But God has given us his Spirit. That’s why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think. That’s also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us.

1 Corinthians 2:9-12

I love to find a bargain at a yard sale. But best of all is to find a real treasure. Frankly, I do feel a little guilty when I pay a very small price for an item that is worth much more than the asking price. In all my yard sale adventures I think the best deal I ever got was a vacuum cleaner for $25.00 that was probably worth over a hundred. But you've heard of people who paid five or ten dollars for something that was worth thousands!

Christians often have no idea how valuable it is to be in relationship with Jesus Christ and have our sins washed away by His Blood!  If you owned a diamond that was worth ten millions dollars how would you care for it?  Would you just leave it laying around or would you guard it with your life?

Remember, a man sitting in solitary confinement in a prison for many years who knows Jesus Christ is richer than a king who does not know the Lord.  If you know Jesus, then you have access to the throne of God Himself and can have dialogue with the Creator of everything that is.

  When you count your blessings, start the list with Jesus Christ.  You can also end the list of blessings with Jesus, because without Jesus there would be no other blessings at all!  
So when you ask God to bless you, He gives you Jesus!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fellowship with the Heart of God!

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You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?

But you must always act like your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:43-48

Loving someone who loves you is really quite easy. And loving someone who hates you is hard, but there is great reward when you step into those waters of loving your enemy. But loving the anonymous crowd provides a real challenge.

Did you ever hear of a bad automobile accident and then experience a great sense of relief that none of the four people killed was someone you know? How does not knowing a person who dies in an accident justify your lack of concern?

I have often wondered how God can stand all the joy and pain of each day. Every day there are men, women, boys and girls who give their hearts to Him and are cause for celebration in Heaven. On that same day there is lots of tragedy, sorrow, grief and pain and those who put their feet firmly on the path to Hell. For all those, the Heart of God suffers and Jesus Himself feels their pain!

Here is a suggestion. When you hear of someone walking through the same troubled waters you have known, even if you don't know them at all, pray for them and those around them as if they were your best friends.

God knows them well, and will welcome your prayers of concern. This is a very special way you can have fellowship with the Heart of God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Does Newt Fear God?

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Ezra was a priest and an expert in the laws and commands that the Lord had given to Israel. One day King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter which said:

Greetings from the great King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and expert in the teachings of the God of heaven.

Any of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom may go with you to Jerusalem if they want to. My seven advisors and I agree that you may go to Jerusalem and Judah to find out if the laws of your God are being obeyed.

If you need to get anything else for the temple, you may have the money you need from the royal treasury.

Ezra, you are a priest and an expert in the laws of the God of heaven, and I order all treasurers in Western Province to do their very best to help you.

Ezra 7:11-14 & 20-21

Years ago I was having breakfast with a group of people who were promoting the candidacy of a local politician. The politician himself was sitting next to me and I had the opportunity to question him at some length. One answer to a question shocked me at the time and still sticks in my mind. Instead of asking him if he was a Christian, I simply asked: "Do you fear God?" His response was "Hell yes!"

The man was embarrassed by his own response, but it was just the answer I wanted to hear.

When a leader fears God the people he or she leads are blessed. When a leader does not fear God trouble comes to all of us.

If I could ask one question at the United States presidential debates, it would be that same question. Do you fear God? I believe the answer, and the tone and demeanor of the answer would speak volumes about the man's qualifications to be President of the United States.

Proverbs 9:10 identifies the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom. So leaders who do not fear God act without wisdom.

What about you? Do you fear God or do you just fear that God will catch you doing something wrong? Fearing God includes respect and honor. Fearing God means that you will filter everything you do through the lens of God's Word. That is the very best way to see clearly and avoid foolishness!

So if you have the opportunity to pick an earthly king, always pick the person who fears God. Everything else is irrelevant. If a leader does not fear God, the reign will not be pleasant for those who are being led!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Journey to Eternity

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People who are ruled by their desires think only of themselves. Everyone who is ruled by the Holy Spirit thinks about spiritual things. If our minds are ruled by our desires, we will die. But if our minds are ruled by the Spirit, we will have life and peace. Our desires fight against God, because they do not and cannot obey God’s laws.

If we follow our desires, we cannot please God.

You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him.

Romans 8:5-9

When it comes to freedom, God gives us the freedom to choose our master. You will either be ruled by your own desires or you will be ruled by the Holy Spirit. The Devil wants you to be ruled by your own desires. He uses them quite well in leading you to self destruction in this life and consequently for eternity.

God desires that you turn your life over to Him and be led by the Holy Spirit. When you do that the Peace of God will Rule your heart and mind. You will be confident of the way you are walking and not shaken when trouble comes your way.

No one is free to be their own master. Your freedom is limited by your own humanity. You only have so many years to live on this earth and no ability to contradict the laws of nature without deadly consequence. As your little bubble of life floats around for less than a dozen decades you are free to choose praising God or satisfying the momentary desires of the flesh.

If you choose to Praise God through Jesus Christ your bubble will finally float up to Heaven for eternity. If you choose to satisfy the desires of the flesh, one day the bubble will burst directly over the gates of Hell.

"Lord, I thank you for giving me the freedom to choose Jesus Christ and to be led by Your Holy Spirit on this Journey to Eternity!"

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Smaller is Better!

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Early the next morning, Gideon and his army got up and moved their camp to Fear Spring.  The Midianite camp was to the north, in the valley at the foot of Moreh Hill.  The Lord said, “Gideon, your army is too big. I can’t let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn’t have anything to do with it.

So call your troops together and tell them that anyone who is really afraid can leave Mount Gilead and go home.” Twenty-two thousand men returned home, leaving Gideon with only ten thousand soldiers.

“Gideon,” the Lord said, “you still have too many soldiers. Take them down to the spring and I’ll test them. I’ll tell you which ones can go along with you and which ones must go back home.”

When Gideon led his army down to the spring, the Lord told him, “Watch how each man gets a drink of water. Then divide them into two groups—those who lap the water like a dog and those who kneel down to drink.”

Three hundred men scooped up water in their hands and lapped it, and the rest knelt to get a drink.

The Lord said, “Gideon, your army will be made up of everyone who lapped the water from their hands. Send the others home. I’m going to rescue Israel by helping you and your army of three hundred defeat the Midianites.”

Judges 7:1-7

Did you ever hear of a group of Church elders who believed God was leading them to evangelize their city say, "We have too much money and too many people for this task. We must first get rid of some of our people and give away some of our money so that God will get the glory instead of our Church?"

When you go to battle for the Lord, make sure that you don't have enough strength to win without God. If you have enough human strength to win then you will be tempted to take the glory for yourself instead of giving it to God.

Lord, give me the courage to take on armies too large for me to defeat, tasks too big for me to accomplish, and goals beyond the reach of any human being. May Your Spirit be the deciding factor in everything I do, to Your Glory and Honor! Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Faith Alive!

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Well, our ancestor Abraham pleased God by putting his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice him. Now you see how Abraham’s faith and deeds worked together. He proved that his faith was real by what he did.

This is what the Scriptures mean by saying, “Abraham had faith in God, and God was pleased with him.” That’s how Abraham became God’s friend.  You can now see that we please God by what we do and not only by what we believe.

For example, Rahab had been a prostitute. But she pleased God when she welcomed the spies and sent them home by another way.
Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!
James 2:21-26

Even today some Christians love to argue about faith and works. When someone puts great emphasis on "works" there is a loud cry supported by Galatians 2:16 that we are saved by faith not by works. And when "faith only" is the cry these verses in James 2 are dusted off to prove that more is required.
A simple understanding of the answer to this dilemma is this: Faith produces works and those works are required to prove that the faith from which they come is real and alive. Works that do not spring from faith are of no benefit eternally.
It is like swimming in one of those exercise pools where the water is continually flowing. You may put out enough effort to have covered miles and miles in the open sea, but in the exercise pool you go no where! Doing the good works that often come from faith are of no value spiritually. Having faith without doing the good works that come from that faith means that it is dead!

When Peter walked on water did it take faith or works? Of course it took both. Without faith Peter would never have stepped out of the boat and without getting out of the boat Peter would never have walked on water.

So if you want to know how your own faith is doing, look at your life and see what you have done because of your faith.
Remember if faith without works is dead, then faith with works is alive!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quiet Time With God!

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I ask the glorious Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you his Spirit. The Spirit will make you wise and let you understand what it means to know God.

My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people.
Ephesians 1:17-18

Relationships progress from the first handshake to the most intimate union of a man and woman who have been married for more than 50 years!  When a man knows his wife, he finds that such knowledge is a well too deep for words. It is a mystery and a wonder that you can see on the faces of couples who have been married for many years.

What does it mean to know God? Knowing God and being known by Him is the greatest wonder and mystery on earth. God has known me from the first thought of Creation. I begin the journey of knowing God when I realize that my earthly father could not have made the stars! The "heavens declare the Glory of God" and they shout loudly in the ears of every child who looks up at the night sky.

Do you know God or do you just know about God? Do you know what He says and does or do you sit quietly with Him and watch Him do it? Is the Bible a whip you love to crack over the heads of those who don't believe, or is the Bible the bit and bridle that gently directs you in the path God had planned for your life?

Do you ever pray and say nothing at all to God? Really good friends can spend hours being together without talking. Try having a truly "Quiet Time" today with God. It is a step closer to Him!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Keystone Pipeline War

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But we know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we put our faith in Christ Jesus, and God accepted us because of our faith.

When we Jews started looking for a way to please God, we discovered that we are sinners too. Does this mean that Christ is the one who makes us sinners? No, it doesn’t!

But if I tear down something and then build it again, I prove that I was wrong at first.

Galatians 2:16-18

Controversy is easier to deal with when there is a country or even an idea that is suitable for a declaration of war. When a war is declared, then we can in good conscience throw everything we have at the enemy.

The Keystone Pipeline, a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to Texas is good example of an issue not worthy of a declaration of war. Those who favor it stand on the ground of energy independence and those who oppose it believe it will be a danger to the environment. It is one of those "you can't kick the can down the road" issues because Asia stands ready to buy the oil if we choose not to build it.
When the problem is with your own country, a good friend, someone you love, or even with yourself the resolution comes with compromise. The issue at hand is weighed against the value of those who oppose your position. When you go to war the goal is to wipe out the opposition and remove it as a player on the stage. When you choose not to go to war the resolution will include a way to maintain the relationship with respect.

Christians declare war on sin, not on sinners! Sinners are the prisoners of war who were captured by Satan and stand desperately in need of being liberated from the Enemy!

When you bring out your weapons of war, including the Sword of the Spirit be sure to wield them against the Enemy and not prisoners of war!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Contagious Sin!

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Don’t be too quick to accept people into the service of the Lord by placing your hands on them.

Don’t sin because others do, but stay close to God.

Stop drinking only water. Take a little wine to help your stomach trouble and the other illnesses you always have.

1 Timothy 5:22-23

If you want to be ignored in a public situation, find someone who cannot be ignored and stand next to them. No one remembers the guy to stood beside the man with Green hair!

Sometimes we ignore parts of the Bible because they stand next to something very noticeable or even controversial. The phrase "don't sin because others do" is standing between a warning about laying hands on someone quickly and an encouragement to drink a little wine. So it is easy to ignore these words about the contagion of sin.

If you move from the northern part of the United States to the deep South you will have a serious accent when you speak. Southern listeners will tolerate your odd way of talking, but if you stay long enough they will convert you into a man or woman who occasionally says ya'll. Unless you make a conscious effort not to, over time you will lose most if not all of your northern accent.

Sin is like that. When we spend time with people who are sinning the temptation to join in grows and grows. Sin is contagious. It is like poison ivy. When you rub up against it you will have to deal with the consequences for quite a while, if not forever.

Frankly, when someone says "Everybody is doing it" the chances are quite high that "it" may indeed be a sin! Judge yourself by the Word of God, not by the collective morality of the world around you. Then you can be salt and light in world that desperately needs both!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jesus Loves Me!

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If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side, speaking to him for us.  Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death?

It is exactly as the Scriptures say, “For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered.”

In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Romans 8:33-39

The love of Christ for me is more powerful than all my sin and the hordes of Satan who insist that I deserve Hell with them. The love of Jesus holds me tightly to His heart and will not let me go. Like a child who knows the embrace of his mother and father, but cannot understand the depth of their love for him, I feel the embrace of Jesus but I really have no idea how much He loves me!

I believe the depth of God's love for us will be one of the most amazing revelations in Heaven. Until we fall on our faces before Him and look into His eyes the reality of Jesus is only a shadow and a mist. But then, we will know Jesus in a way that words cannot describe.

And old church song declared that if all the oceans were filled with ink and you used it all to write a description of the Love of God you would not complete the task.
May the theme song of my life be this: Jesus Loves me, this I know!

Monday, January 16, 2012

It Will Happen!

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Daniel wrote:
I looked around and saw two other people—one on this side of the river and one on the other side.

The angel who had spoken to me was dressed in linen and was standing upstream from them.  So one of the two beside the river asked him, “How long before these amazing things happen?”

The angel then raised both hands toward heaven and said, “In the name of the God who lives forever, I solemnly promise that it will be a time, two times, and half a time. Everything will be over, when the suffering of God’s holy people comes to an end.”
Daniel 12:5-7

When you read the Book of Daniel it is very apparent that God knows all of history. He knows history past, history present and history yet to come. When it comes to God there are no secrets. He can look in every dark place and shine His light, even in the dark places of the future. I may know a little about yesterday and some about today but without Devine Revelation I know nothing about tomorrow.

God knows what tomorrow will bring. My job is not to shape the future by the force of my life, but to be used by God to shape the future according to His will and design. If all the righteous men and women who have ever lived came back to life at the same time and decided to change the future that God has predicted and allowed, they could not do it. But if one man or woman is committed to God's will in his or her life and willing to sacrifice even that life for Jesus the future will reverberate with the impact of just one life on this world.
So if, as a follower of Jesus Christ you are trying to manipulate the future of this world by whatever means, stop it! Instead apply your heart, mind and strength to the task of being obedient to God's direction for today. One word spoken at the right time and right place can be used by God to move mountains. Your job is not to move the mountains, but to speak the Word!
The final sign of the End of All Things is this: "Everything will be over, when the suffering of God's holy people comes to an end." And you can believe, it will happen!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wet or Dry?

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Gideon prayed to God, “I know that you promised to help me rescue Israel, but I need proof. Tonight I’ll put some wool on the stone floor of that threshing-place over there. If you really will help me rescue Israel, then tomorrow morning let there be dew on the wool, but let the stone floor be dry.”
And that’s just what happened. Early the next morning, Gideon got up and checked the wool. He squeezed out enough water to fill a bowl.

But Gideon prayed to God again. “Don’t be angry at me,” Gideon said. “Let me try this just one more time, so I’ll really be sure you’ll help me. Only this time, let the wool be dry and the stone floor be wet with dew.”
That night, God made the stone floor wet with dew, but he kept the wool dry.

Judges 6:36-40

I have for years been critical of Gideon in my heart because he came back the second night and asked for another sign to show him that God wanted to use him to rescue Israel. Wasn't the wet wool on dry ground enough? Did he really need dry wool on wet ground to prove that he was walking after the will of God? Well God did not get angry or even upset at Gideon for asking for another sign.

Today, as we prepare to do battle for God, He gives us a sign that we belong to Him and are indeed called into this conflict.

The Holy Spirit is the sign and is a down payment on Heaven. The King James version of the Bible says the Holy Spirit is like earnest money. That is a small payment guaranteeing that you will come through with the rest of the promise. God is not offended when we ask for a confirmation that we belong to Him.

With the Holy Spirit in your heart you can see daily evidences of your eternal relationship with God Himself. Those who don't believe would call them co-incidences, but with faith in your heart you see the wool wet or the wool dry every day as you prepare to step out of your comfort zone for God!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Like Selling Candy to a Kid!

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People of Judah, I, the Lord, demand that whenever you go without food as a way of worshiping me, it should become a time of celebration. No matter if it’s the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, or the tenth month, you should have a joyful festival. So love truth and live at peace.

I tell you that people will come here from cities everywhere.
Those of one town will go to another and say, “We’re going to ask the Lord All-Powerful to treat us with kindness. Come and join us.”
Many people from strong nations will come to Jerusalem to worship me and to ask me to treat them with kindness.

When this happens, ten people from nations with different languages will grab a Jew by his clothes and say, “Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is on your side.” I, the Lord All-Powerful, have spoken!
Zechariah 8:19-23

Not far from where I live is a small tire store. I have never seen a newspaper ad, billboard, or heard a radio commercial for it. In fact you can drive by the store and not even see it because the sign in front of the store does not grab your attention. But when you go to that store there is always a line of people waiting to buy tires. And it has been that way for years. The reason the store is so busy is simple. The tires are good quality and the price is sometimes hundreds of dollars less than the stores that advertise. If you go there once you will never go to another store for tires!

The news about Jesus is called the "Good News!" So why are they not lined up to meet Jesus like the daily line up to buy tires? Well here is the reason. The tire store spreads the word about it like this. One man buys a set of tires and then says to his neighbor, "You won't believe the deal I got on a set of tires for my car." And the conversation progresses until the neighbor asks for directions to the store so he can get a deal like that too.

We see lots of ads about Jesus, lots of signs in front of Church buildings, lots of TV and radio programs, but we almost never hear our neighbor brag about the tires!
If you want to "bring someone to Jesus" here is the secret. Brag about Jesus and what He has done, is doing and will do for your life. Let them see how you are able to meet up with adversity and overcome temptation. Show them how Jesus has changed you and made you into the person you could never have been without Him.

Don't quit praising Jesus until someone asks how they can meet Him too! Then evangelism is as easy as selling candy to a kid.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Go Back Temptation!

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One day, Abraham called in his most trusted servant and said to him, “Solemnly promise me in the name of the Lord, who rules heaven and earth, that you won’t choose a wife for my son Isaac from the people here in the land of Canaan.

Instead, go back to the land where I was born and find a wife for him from among my relatives.”

But the servant asked, “What if the young woman I choose refuses to leave home and come here with me? Should I send Isaac there to look for a wife?”

“No!” Abraham answered. “Don’t ever do that, no matter what. The Lord who rules heaven brought me here from the land where I was born and promised that he would give this land to my descendants forever. When you go back there, the Lord will send his angel ahead of you to help you find a wife for my son.

Genesis 24:2-7

It seems that Abraham was afraid that if Isaac went back to the land where Abraham came from to look for a wife, he would abandon the land of Canaan and stay there. When things got tough for the Children of Israel in the wilderness they were tempted to go back to Egypt. And Jesus Himself was tempted by Satan to abandon His mission and let me go to Hell!

Whatever it is that God has called you to do in this life will meet the same temptation. Satan says, "Give up, go back, it won't work, forget about it," and anything else that can lure you back to where you were before you heard God's calling.

It often is a good thing to remember where you were when God called you to be His. But it is tragic to leave the path of discipleship and go back to live in that place. The temptation for Isaac would have been a young woman who didn't want to leave her family to go to Canaan. That's why Abraham sent his servant to bring the young woman to Isaac.

The short lesson in these verses is simple. Don't go back to the place where you were before you met Jesus to find something you need. Trust Jesus to provide your needs where you are as you walk with Him. Keep your eyes on the mission to which He has called you and believe that whatever it is that you need you will find on that path!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Take Jesus to Work Day

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The Lord is going to take away your job! He will give your official robes and your authority to his servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. Eliakim will be like a father to the people of Jerusalem and to the royal family of Judah. The Lord will put him in charge of the key that belongs to King David’s family. No one will be able to unlock what he locks, and no one will be able to lock what he unlocks.

The Lord will make him as firm in his position as a tent peg hammered in the ground, and Eliakim will bring honor to his family.

Isaiah 22:19-23

God knows about unemployment. In these verses it plainly says that He fired Shebna and gave his job to Eliakim. Now, I don't know a lot about either of these men, but I do know that God Himself acted like Donald Trump by firing one and hiring the other.

Is God involved in your job? Well, you may say, "I am not involved in Christian ministry in my job, so God would not be involved." That is quite wrong. If you are a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives in you then Christ in you goes to your job every day! When Jesus lived in His physical body on this earth He was a carpenter, but today Jesus is a doctor, engineer, janitor, school teacher, and all of a thousand other jobs that His followers do every day!

If Jesus was a janitor, would He impact those around Him with the Love of God every day? Of course He would! If Jesus were a school teacher, would He impart truth to students that is clear and untainted by lies?

Ask yourself this question: Does Jesus go to work with me everyday? If the answer is no, then it is not the job that needs to be changed, it is you! Even if the job itself is evil, then today repent of the evil and do the right thing instead of the wrong. Will you lose your job by the end of the day? Oh yes, I imagine that you probably will, but that is called being persecuted for righteousness sake.

The question is not "What would Jesus do if He were doing my job?" The question is "What will I allow Jesus to do since He is in me and wants to express His love and righteousness today where I work."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Pain No Gain!

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God lives fully in Christ.  And you are fully grown because you belong to Christ, who is over every power and authority.  Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body.  And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death.

You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins.

God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.

Colossians 2:9-14

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was not just something that was done "for me," it was accomplished "with me" as I was crucified with Christ, buried with Him by baptism and made alive with Jesus. Christianity is not a spectator sport with Jesus as the athlete on the field. The only viewing stands are in heaven. All of us here on earth are part of the game.

Somehow we think the greatest pain we experience is from Satan. I believe it is not. Christ cuts away our selfish desires just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. It is not painless. And Jesus lets us die to this world so that we can be buried with Him.

Don't make light of the hard road of a believer! Even Jesus prayed that He might not have to suffer on the Cross the night before it happened. Jesus came to save us from sin and eternal death, not from suffering. Satan is the one who promises an easy life, and he often does deliver on that promise for the short term. Not walking with Jesus can mean temporary comforts and pleasures. But Satan's long term plan is Hell!

The phrase isn't found in the Bible, but the concept is certainly true. NO PAIN, NO GAIN!

"Lord, bring whatever it takes today to make me more like You! Let me walk with You, suffer with You and even die with You, Jesus! May my all consuming joy in this life be resurrection, as I come to live forever with You! Amen."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jesus is My Only Desire

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When honest people prosper and the wicked disappear,
the whole city celebrates.

When God blesses his people, their city prospers,
but deceitful liars
can destroy a city.

A city without wise leaders will end up in ruin;
a city with many wise leaders
will be kept safe.

Proverbs 11:10-11 and 14

A political analyst who also knows God can quickly come to the disturbing conclusion that the United States is on a certain path to ruin. It is shocking but true that for the most part the men and women we have elected to lead us in this world are "deceitful liars" and they are not "wise leaders." Public positions about the economy, social issues or the size of government have nothing to do with the integrity of those who state them. It is not "positions" that will save us from our own foolishness. If we are to be saved it will be because we have chosen to be led by honest men and women who are not deceitful liars and can be classified as wise leaders.

When it comes to the things of God, how do you choose who to follow? There is an election every day and every Christian hears the call to follow someone. I think the perfect example of a leader worthy of my choice is John the Baptist who told his followers to follow Jesus instead! If those you deem worthy of your respect spiritually are not continually pointing you to Jesus, then there is something wrong.

The best advice is to not trust and follow human leaders. They will all ultimately disappoint. Set your heart and mind only on Jesus. Follow Jesus in everything you do every day. Nothing but the Blood of Jesus can wash away your sin. And no one but Jesus can take you to Heaven! Give Jesus your heart and let your love for Him consume every thought of every day until Jesus is your only desire!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sidetracked on the Way to Heaven!

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God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. Real love isn’t our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven.

1 John 4:9-10

You can trust that since Jesus sacrificed Himself to save us, He will also show us the way to go in this life!

It was years ago and well before the days of the GPS. I was alone and on my way from Ohio to Tennessee in the first new car I had ever owned. It was a small French made Simca. Somehow I either missed the right turn or made a wrong turn and drove for a number of miles in the wrong direction. My only option when the signs along the way made me aware of my mistake was to turn around and go back the way I had come until I found the place I either should have turned or made the error in navigating. It was upsetting to the point that I still remember it more than forty years later.

“Lord, am I on the right road in my life? Am I going the direction You want me to go or am I traveling on the road to somewhere else?”

Having a shiny new car and plenty of gas in the tank doesn’t mean I am going the right way. A bright sunny morning and great driving skills have nothing to do with the direction I am traveling. The question is this: Where is this road taking me? What is at the end of this path and is that the place God wants me to be? Getting sidetracked on the way to Heaven is at best foolish and at worst tragic.

If you are going the wrong way, turn around today and go back to the place where you left the path. Don’t wait, this is no time to be on a “rabbit trail” on the way to Heaven!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The First Supper in Heaven!

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The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are.

Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon.  On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat.

But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that!

2 Peter 3:10-13

I remember when I was five years old standing at the front window of our house looking for my father to come home from work. It was really the best part of my day. The prediction would come from my mother. She could accurately read the clock. I could not yet. He almost always came home about five o'clock and we would all sit down to supper and listen to stories about each other's day. If I think about it long enough I can still catch the wonder of those meals with my family at the close of every day. They were wonder filled!

Then came the TV tray. It seemed innocent enough and was a great convenience. If we wanted to eat something while watching our television we all had a tiny instant table on which to eat. But when you eat a meal using TV trays in front of a television, the communion of souls is necessarily missing. We didn't even have a remote control to turn off the volume during commercials.

Are you standing at the window waiting and watching for the Lord to return as He said He would? We do not know the day or hour, but we do know for certain that Jesus will return. And when He does we will all sit down together to eat that first meal in Heaven! I don't know for sure, but I imagine that the menu for that meal will include fruit from the Tree of LIfe!

And the communion shared as eat that First Supper is beyond anyone's imagination. Nothing will interfere with that incredible time as we share stories about each other lives! I want to tell the one about the time when I first realized that Jesus is real and that He really loves me! But first, please pass the Bread of Life!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Learn Like a Baby

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The disciples had forgotten to bring any bread when they crossed the lake.

Jesus then warned them, “Watch out! Guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The disciples talked this over and said to each other, “He must be saying this because we didn’t bring along any bread.”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and said: You surely don’t have much faith! Why are you talking about not having any bread? Don’t you understand? Have you forgotten about the five thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from just five loaves of bread? And what about the four thousand people and all those baskets of leftovers from only seven loaves of bread?

Don’t you know by now that I am not talking to you about bread? Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!

Finally, the disciples understood that Jesus wasn’t talking about the yeast used to make bread, but about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Matthew 16:5-12

The process may seem very slow, but a baby finally comes to understand your words and responds to them. I think mothers are better at talking to babies than fathers and they certainly are better at understanding what the baby is trying to say. After many misunderstandings, the communication becomes clear and the child grows into a man or woman who only misses an occasional nuance of meaning.

The disciples of Jesus at first did not understand what Jesus was talking about when He mentioned the "yeast" of the Pharisees and Sadducees. But then, after Jesus explained what He was saying, they realized that Jesus was talking about the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

After a man is "born again" he must learn to understand the Word of God just like a baby learning to know what his mother is saying. The indwelling Holy Spirit interprets what God is saying to your heart. It is a life long process as you come to understand more fully all the Words you hear from God.

The disciples thought Jesus was talking about the yeast that was used to make bread, but He was talking about teaching that works like yeast in your life.

So here is the point. Don't use a dictionary to understand what God is saying to you. Use an interpreter. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to understand every Word you hear from the Throne of God!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wiki Word?

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I am Jesus! And I am the one who sent my angel to tell all of you these things for the churches. I am David’s Great Descendant, and I am also the bright morning star.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Everyone who hears this should say, “Come!” If you are thirsty, come! If you want life-giving water, come and take it. It’s free!
Here is my warning for everyone who hears the prophecies in this book: If you add anything to them, God will make you suffer all the terrible troubles written in this book.

If you take anything away from these prophecies, God will not let you have part in the life-giving tree and in the holy city described in this book.

Revelation 22:16-19

The Bible is the only book I know that is regularly edited by it's readers. No one even thinks of changing the words of other great literature, but the Bible is different. It is almost like Wikipedia, where everyone who reads it can add something to the text! "I know what the Bible says, but what it means is" are words that are casually spoken by those who have no clue of the eternal consequences of the statement.

Almost thirty years ago I was involved in a "Tea Party" type protest of taxes. I was a radio talk show host and my listeners decided to mail tea bags to congress. I think it was the first of the modern "tea bag" expressions of public feeling, but the really interesting thing to me is that when a friend of mine added the event to the Wikipedia description of the history of tea party stuff, it was removed several times. He finally gave up. I think that there was a strong desire to be recognized as the "first" in the Tea Party movement and my bit of truth caused a real problem for those who wanted that honor.

So when you go to God's Word do you edit out parts of the Bible, at least in your own heart, because of your own desire to have God's Word affirm your life and actions?

When you read the Bible take off all the filters and all the colored glasses that change it into something that simply affirms your beliefs or actions. Let the Word of God change you, not the other way around. You will be amazed at what unbridled truth will do in your life!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Sin!

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“On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dirt on their heads to show their sorrow. They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors.

For three hours they stood and listened to the Law of the Lord their God, and then for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord.”

Nehemiah 9:1-3

It is easy to confess the sins of other people. When I look around and see how others are living I can see how sinful they are. It is a little harder to confess the sins of my ancestors. So often I am still swimming in the wake of their sin and I can be implicated in what they did. It is always the hardest to confess my own sin.

Frankly, it makes me a little nervous to even walk in to this subject. I spend much of my day trying to ignore my own sin. I know that other people see it plainly, but I pretend that it is not there. I think my most frequent sin is looking at other people and forgetting how much God loves them! Even though I know it is wrong I so often judge another person by the externals of their life. What do they look like, how do they dress and a thousand other outward appearance items that really tell me nothing about the inner man. I also judge men by their intelligence and education. If I encounter a man who obviously doesn't know what he is talking about and is adamant in his ignorance I can quickly forget how much God loves that man as well.

Add to all of this the fleeting thoughts that I sometimes allow to stay too long in my mind. If I were to see my sin as God could see it before it was covered by the blood of Jesus I could easily say with the apostle Paul that I am the chief of sinners.

I frequently hear the voice of the Enemy say, "You are not as bad as the other sinners!" Oh yes I am, my sin sent Jesus to the Cross and so did yours. The human consequences of our sin may be some greater than others, but the eternal consequences are all the same. Sin brings death to every man, but Jesus Christ and His Blood brings eternal life to every sinner who turns to Him!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bootstraps and Fences!

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Judah was left defenseless. At that time you trusted in the weapons you had stored in Forest Palace. You saw the holes in the outer wall of Jerusalem, and you brought water from the lower pool. You counted the houses in Jerusalem and tore down some of them, so you could get stones to repair the city wall. Then you built a large tank between the walls to store the water. But you refused to trust the God who planned this long ago and made it happen.


When all of this happened,
the Lord All-Powerful told you to weep and mourn,
to shave your heads,
and wear sackcloth.

But instead, you celebrated by feasting on beef and lamb
and by drinking wine,
because you said,
“Let’s eat and drink!
Tomorrow we may die.”

Isaiah 22:8-13

When a community experiences disaster the usual response from the mayor, governor, or even the President of that country is to declare "how strong we are and that we will overcome this tragedy". It always makes me sad because those people lose one more opportunity to turn their hearts to God! When we are brought low by pain, suffering or sorrow it is time to look to the only One on High who can lift us from the despair of life.

If that is where you are right now, the world around you is telling you to be strong and trust that things will get better. They are telling you to eat and drink and work to make a better life for you and those around you. The old saying is "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps." But it will not work. Try lifting yourself off of the ground by pulling on your feet! How silly is that? Only a man who has lost touch with reality would pull on his boots to try and jump over a fence.

There is only One Way to hurdle the obstacles in your life today. That Way has nothing to do with your education, money or talent and ability. The only Way is Jesus Christ. If you are resting in the arms of Jesus, the disasters may come and the waves may sweep you away, but in the end you will be safely lifted to Heaven.

The blessing of God is for those who turn to Him in times of great stress. It is not for those who trust in their own strength to get through it.

If your life is being swept away by one tsunami after another, then cry out to God. God will either calm the storm or carry you safely through it. Oh yes, you may die in the process, but as it stands right now, that is the only way to get to Heaven!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Falling in the Darkness

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The lifestyle of the wicked is like total darkness,
and they will never know
what makes them stumble.

My child, listen carefully to everything I say.

Don’t forget a single word, but think about it all.

Knowing these teachings will mean true life
and good health for you.

Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source
of true life.

Proverbs 4:19-23

I wasn't going to mention it, but these verses remind me of my own foolishness. It's been about two weeks now. I was almost ready to leave for work when I started down the stairs to the main floor of our house. It was dark and I neglected to turn on the light. When I stepped on the cat I jerked in an attempt to avoid my full weight sending the cat to an early grave and I fell! I bumped down the entire flight of steps like a small child pretending he is on the playground. I am not a child and I am not small, so the ride to the bottom was quick but painful. Miraculously, I broke no bones and now most of the bruising is gone.

Those who don't follow Jesus walk in darkness all day every day. For them the sun never rises and yet like a person born blind, they never know what they are missing.

We were all born spiritually blind. Like me when I tripped on the cat in the dark those who never let Jesus heal their eyes will fall without even knowing why.

The miracles that Jesus performed were all symbols and types of eternal truth! We are blind and need the miracle of healing in our eyes. We are all deaf to the Words of God and need our ears to be made whole. We are all dead and need to be raised to life. We are all starving spiritually and need the bread that Jesus passes out to those who follow Him.

"Lord, without the light of Your Word I will stumble today. Unless You heal my ears I cannot hear Your clear Word of warning. Without Your Resurrection I will stay in the grave forever. Without Your love I cannot love You or anyone else! Lord, unless You light up my life I will fall into Hell forever. Save me Lord, today!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Keep on Walking!

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Gideon lived to be an old man. And when he died, he was buried in the family tomb in his hometown of Ophrah, which belonged to the Abiezer clan.  Soon after Gideon’s death, the Israelites turned their backs on God again. They set up idols of Baal and worshiped Baal Berith as their god. The Israelites forgot that the Lord was their God, and that he had rescued them from the enemies who lived around them.

Judges 8:32-34

I am always amazed at how quickly the Israelites would turn their backs on God. This nation saw miracle after miracle and you would think that being confronted with the power of God on so many occasions, the fear of God would remain. It did not! The arrogance of those who turn their heads from following God is truly bewildering.

It makes no sense, but our rebellious hearts are not persuaded to remain faithful by seeing visible manifestations of the power of God in this world.

Even after more than 50 years of walking with Jesus I am regularly tempted to take a step on another path. I, like the Israelites can tell you of times when the miraculous power of God was the only explanation for a healing, an amazing co-incidence, or any number of circumstances beyond human reason. But even when you stand in the shadow of a miracle, their is a voice that screams "Don't trust God!"

That is the voice of the Enemy of God who cares not how many miracles you have seen. As you grow older in Christ let your ears become deaf to the voice of Satan. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and watch the feet of Jesus as you walk, not the path. Don't stop and look around to see where you are. Just keep walking with Jesus. Then one day when He stops you will look up and find yourself in Heaven.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Turn Back Again!

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Everyone in Israel should then know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, even though you put him to death on a cross.

When the people heard this, they were very upset. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “Friends, what shall we do?”

Peter said, “Turn back to God! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will be given the Holy Spirit.

This promise is for you and your children. It is for everyone our Lord God will choose, no matter where they live.”

Peter told them many other things as well. Then he said, “I beg you to save yourselves from what will happen to all these evil people.” On that day about three thousand believed his message and were baptized.

Acts 2:36-41

Jesus said that we should all be like little children. So when do little children turn away from God? I believe it is when they like Adam and Eve ignore the will of God and choose to go their own way. Every child eventually steps up to the tree of the knowledge good and evil and tastes the fruit. Jesus is the only man who ever lived who did not follow in the steps of Adam and Eve.

We all inherit the nature of our father. Our father Adam had a nature that was given over to sin. He chose the fulfillment of his own desires over the will of God in his life and we all do the same. The Bible clearly says that "all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God."

When I make my resolutions to do better this year than I did the last and determine to be strong and keep myself from sin, I am dreaming. There is only one way I can keep myself from falling into the old trap of sin that keeps holding me in it's grip. That way is Jesus Himself. Only Jesus can impart to me the nature of my Father who knows no sin!

Do I need to turn back to God only once in my life? Oh, no I need to turn back to God at least once a day and often it is many times each day that my heart takes a step in the wrong direction.

"Lord once again today, immerse me in Your will and drown me in Your Love and keep me close to You. Amen."