Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ready or Not Here I Come!

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Ezekiel, son of man, condemn Gog and tell him:

You are the ruler of Meshech and Tubal, but I, the [Lord], am your enemy!  I will turn you around and drag you from the north until you reach the mountains of Israel.  I will knock the bow out of your left hand and the arrows out of your right hand, and you and your army will die on those mountains. Then birds and wild animals will eat the flesh of your dead bodies left lying in open fields. I, the [Lord], have spoken.

I will set fire to the land of Magog and to those nations along the seacoast that think they are so secure, and they will know that I am the [Lord].  My people Israel will know me, and they will no longer disgrace my holy name. Everyone on earth will know that I am the holy [Lord] God of Israel.

The day is coming when these things will happen, just as I have promised.

Ezekiel 39:1-8

There are those who believe that these verses are talking about Russia attacking Israel from the north. Since the Word of God is in every way reliable and trustworthy, the question is one of timing not fact. There either has been a day when a nation north of Israel attacked and was destroyed or there will be one. I have never, however read of a claim that this passage was fulfilled in history.

So will this happen soon or later in the timeline of history? When you decide to believe that prophetic fulfillment is not going on now, then you can dismiss every current event and live your life as if God is not working today in the world! Don't forget that even with all the prophecies speaking of the incarnation of Jesus, almost all of the biblical scholars of the time did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. So it may be that very few of those who know the scriptures will recognize that the end is truly near. The rest will dismiss the evidence because it doesn't support everything they believe about the end time.

Jesus is coming, and when He comes He will fulfill every prophecy concerning that event just as He did in His first coming. My job is not to predict the timing of His return, but rather to be ready for it.

When children play the game of hide and seek, they hear the shout "READY OR NOT HERE I COME." One day, maybe soon we will all hear those words from Jesus! "READY OR NOT HERE I COME!"

Friday, March 30, 2012

Live Like Jesus!

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Father, I don't ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one.  They don't belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours.  I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me.

I have given myself completely for their sake, so they may belong completely to the truth.

I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me.

John 17:15-20

We are not here on earth simply to bide our time until Jesus returns or calls us home when death arrives at our door. We are here to be sent into the world just as Jesus was!

That is a startling truth. My task today is to let those around me see Jesus walking on earth again. Like Jesus I have the Holy Spirit to direct my every step. I have God's message for the world and I have His promise that no matter what happens to me here on earth I will live with Jesus forever in Heaven!

My impact on those I encounter today should be to let them see Jesus still walking on this earth.

Years ago a dear brother who some thought was overconfident said this: "If you want to know what a Christian is like just watch me!" Whether we like it or not that is how others decide what Christianity is, they watch us. If we are not living like Jesus Christ then the world will have no way to see the Love of Christ!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good from Evil!

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But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed.

Pilate asked the crowd again, “Which of these two men do you want me to set free?”
“Barabbas!” they shouted.

Pilate asked them, “What am I to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?”
They all yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

Pilate answered, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.

Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, “I won't have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!”

Everyone answered, “We and our own families will take the blame for his death!”

Matthew 27:20-25

Every time I read this story I feel anger rising in me against those who called for the crucifixion of Jesus. But what if they had freed Jesus instead of Barabbas? Their call for crucifixion was unjust, cruel, and not at all fair, but if you and I had been there, knowing what we know now, we would have also called for the Cross.

Without the Cross we would all be lost forever. It was only because of the Cross of Jesus that we can be saved. The people that called for the crucifixion did not know what it would mean for all of us, but I am glad they insisted that Jesus go to the Cross!

Never forget that when other people intend evil for you, God can transform that evil like He did the Cross! Thank God the people that day called for Crucifixion.

"Lord, give me eyes to see the good that you bring from the evil I see around me. Amen!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Comfortable with God!

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When we love others, we know we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God. But even if we don't feel at ease, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.  Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him.

1 John 3:19-21

When you don't love other people you feel uncomfortable being in the presence of God. When that happens you enjoy talking about God much more than talking with God.

Grasping all the nuances of doctrine can be a great way to avoid the presence of God. Who would ever know that you avoid God while knowing so much of His Word and so much about Him?

Lord, show me how I am avoiding your presence. Let me see every opportunity today to spend time with You and give me the courage to step in to Your presence.

Open my eyes to see the people I know, but don't love so that I can feel at ease with You. Help me to know that not loving others is a road block in my walk with You! Amen!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let Us Pray!

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In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don't know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God's people. We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him.  They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose, and he has always known who his chosen ones would be. He had decided to let them become like his own Son, so that his Son would be the first of many children.

Romans 8:26-29

When Jesus was here on earth in his human body He prayed to the Father.  The Holy Spirit which is now here on earth dwelling in the bodies of Christians also prays to the Father.  As followers of Jesus we are often tempted to think that our prayers are not effective, but we would never believe that about the prayers of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus prayed Lazarus came back to life!  And when the Holy Spirit prays for those in whom He dwells “all things work together for good!”

If the Holy Spirit is in me and is praying for me then why do I need to pray?  I need to pray because I am to be like Jesus and because I can pray for others!  When I decide to lift someone’s name before the Father then I unleash God’s power in that person’s life!  As a follower of Jesus I can, by praying take someone’s need and move it to the top of the stack on God’s to do list. 

One thing I would like to know when I get to Heaven is who prayed for me!  I am certain that there were people who prayed for me that through that prayer made a tremendous difference in my life, and continue to do so.  I am certain that there were Godly ancestors who prayed for generations to come which included me! 

So, when you bow your head today to pray, remember you are spreading around the power of God in the lives of those you bring before Him.  So the call is simply, “Let us pray!”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Loving Everybody!

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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.

Matthew 5:43-45

At some point in my childhood I remember thinking "I love everybody!" I wish I could tell you exactly when loving everybody was my perspective on life, but truthfully as a little child it was. I suppose that is part of why Jesus said we must all become as little children.

Love is not something that we fall into like a well while stumbling around in the dark. Love is rather an ocean into which we plunge ourselves while basking in the sunshine of God. Love is a choice not an accident.

What it I could return to the place of loving everybody like I did as a child? What if my only reaction to other people's sin against me was to forgive them before they even asked? What if the fragrance of Christ was so strong on me that every evil odor vanished in my presence?

What if my life of sin literally drowned in the Ocean of Jesus’ Love? When your garden is watered with the Love of Jesus the weeds of sin cannot grow.

It is only when the Love of Christ so completely fills your lungs that you cannot breathe anything else, that your heart has no room for sin!.

"Lord, let me see again the world around me as a little child, and love them with Your Love. May Your Love flowing through me topple the strongholds of Satan and bring the refreshing cool breeze of Your Holy Spirit to everyone I meet today. Amen!"

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Now I See!

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When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

2 Chronicles 9:3-7

The Queen of Sheba would understand what it will be like when we stand before God Almighty and see for ourselves His wisdom and the greatness of His kingdom. We cannot even imagine how great God is! Like the Queen we will be overwhelmed with the awesomeness of everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and feel when we come into His presence.

Every question will have the perfect and totally complete answer. Every desire will be gloriously and righteously fulfilled. Fear will be swallowed up in complete trust and the unknown will melt in the knowledge that flows from the Father.

Then will come the recognition of all the things that we never considered here on earth. Your heart will almost burst with gasps of "I see, I see, Now I see perfectly!" Set your heart on being there and say no everyday to the sin that so easily besets you. Live today as if this is the day you will be ushered into the presence of God! Then you will see everything!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Build a Boat!

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When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived.  People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day the flood came and Noah went into the big boat.

They didn't know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. This is how it will be when the Son of Man appears. Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left.  Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left.  So be on your guard! You don't know when your Lord will come.

Matthew 24:37-42

It seems that for many years Noah didn't know exactly when the Flood would come, but he patiently built the Ark because he knew the Flood was coming. The people who lived on the earth at the same time Noah was alive did not see the coming destruction. All they saw was a "crazy man" building a huge boat on dry land.

Noah prepared for the Flood while the world continued to party!

Jesus clearly says that when the End comes it will be like it was in the days of Noah. We do not know the day or the hour, but from all the signs it appears the End is very near.

So when the world invites you to be part of their non-stop party you might want to say, "I don't have time to party, I have to build a boat!"

In these last days building your boat is putting your hand to the task God places in front of you every day. Actually, Jesus Himself is the Ark that will rescue us from this world. This time instead of rain, the fire will fall and we will be carried away to Glory!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just Say No!

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My children, I am writing this so you won't sin. But if you do sin, Jesus Christ always does the right thing, and he will speak to the Father for us.

Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sins of all the world's people.
When we obey God, we are sure we know him. But if we claim to know him and don't obey him, we are lying and the truth isn't in our hearts. We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know we belong to him.

1 John 2:1-5

My mother would say, "If you don't stop doing that I'm going to tell your father when he comes home!" She was not telling him to get me out of trouble, but to make sure that I was held accountable for my sin. When she made such a threat I usually stopped my bad behavior.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I still sometimes sin. And then Jesus talks to God about my sin. The purpose of His conversation with the Father about my sin is not to make sure I am held accountable, but exactly the opposite. Jesus pleads with the Father on my behalf and reminds God that He paid the price for that sin when He died on the Cross!

Here is the thing that makes me want to never sin again. When I say, think or do something that is a sin, Jesus and the Father are going to talk about it! So when the devil tells me that no one will know if I sin because I can keep it a secret. Well that is a lie, because when I sin Jesus and God are going to talk about it!

Don't get me wrong. I am thrilled that Jesus sacrifice covers my sin and that He speaks to the Father on my behalf, but I am even happier when I make the right choice and that conversation never takes place!

The next time you are tempted to sin, just remember that if you yield to that temptation Jesus will discuss it with God! It's one more reason to JUST SAY NO!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Full of Faith!

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Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don't ever become slaves of the Law again.

I, Paul, promise you that Christ won't do you any good if you get circumcised.  If you do, you must obey the whole Law.  And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his gift of undeserved grace.  But the Spirit makes us sure God will accept us because of our faith in Christ.

If you are a follower of Christ Jesus, it makes no difference whether you are circumcised or not. All that matters is your faith that makes you love others.

Galatians 5:1-6

I remember when coming to church services regularly gave a man or women the designation of being "faithful." Once a person had made a public commitment to the Lord it seems we were mostly concerned with whether or not they showed up when the church doors were open.

We are encouraged to assemble together to worship, but the evidence of your faith is something far more fundamental. Your faith in Christ will make you love others. So if you want to know if a man is "faithful" or "full of faith," look and see if he loves others.

If I am full of faith how many others must I love? A better question is this: If I am full of faith who can I hate? In a heart full of faith there is no room for hating anyone. Hating even one person is like taking a drop of jet black ink and letting it fall into a glass of crystal clear water. All the water will be changed by one drop of ink, and your heart will be polluted by hating one person.

Why do we spread the news about evil deeds done by evil men? Is that something we all need to know? Of course not. Satan wants us to spread the Bad News about evil people so we can find reason to hate them, and so pollute our own hearts.

"Lord give me the wisdom and strength to reject the temptation to hate any man. May the Love of Christ flow through me today to everyone I encounter. Amen."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Easy to Say, Hard to Do!

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This is what I say to all who will listen to me:
Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you.  Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, don't stop that person from slapping you on the other cheek. If someone wants to take your coat, don't try to keep back your shirt.  Give to everyone who asks and don't ask people to return what they have taken from you.

Luke 6:27-30

The practical reality of this teaching is very hard. I remember hearing someone say, "The Bible says we must love our enemies, but it never says we have to like them!" Then there is the neat theological distinction of "hate the sin and love the sinner."

Think of the most despicable person you know and ask yourself, "Do I really want God's best for this person? Do I want someone who deserves hell and has used me as a bulls eye for the arrows of hate to be blessed, pardoned and saved eternally?

Real love doesn't just ask God to bless an enemy. Love prompts me to take from my own blessing and resources and give it to someone who hates me. Doing that is not a normal human response. Unless your heart is changed into the image of Jesus you will not be able to love those who hate you.

If you want to fulfill God's command to love your enemies, you must first pray for Him to do a miracle in your heart. That miracle will make your heart like the heart of Jesus. The greatest miracle Jesus ever did was not healing the sick or raising the dead. The greatest miracle of Jesus was loving His enemies.

It was certainly love that held Jesus to the Cross. And it is the miracle of loving your enemies that Jesus wants to do in your heart today.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This is Wash Day!

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Then I was told:

I am coming soon! And when I come, I will reward everyone for what they have done.

I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

God will bless all who have washed their robes. They will each have the right to eat fruit from the tree that gives life, and they can enter the gates of the city.

Revelation 22:12-14

When I was a kid I think Friday was "Wash Day." It was before the day of electric dryers so my mother would hang the clothes outside on the line or on racks in the house if it was rainy or too cold outside.

My mother was allergic to almost everything so she was very careful to wash our clothes only in "Ivory Snow" soap which was claimed to be "99 and 44 one hundredth percent pure." I sometimes wonder what that tiny impurity was in Ivory Soap, but I digress.

When it comes to life itself, everyday is "Wash Day." It is time to wash your robe in the Blood of the Lamb. Unlike Ivory Snow, the Blood of Jesus is 100 per cent pure and will take all the sin stains off of your life.

Over the years my wife and I have learned which detergents don't do a good job of washing clothes.  And when it comes to the sin stains on your heart there are so many claims of ways to rid your life of guilt, but only One Way remains effective. Only when your heart and life is washed in the Blood of the Lamb will you be clean and ready for Heaven.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Delivered by Trouble!

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Michael, the chief of the angels, is the protector of your people, and he will come at a time of terrible suffering, the worst in all of history. And your people who have their names written in The Book will be protected.  Many of those who lie dead in the ground will rise from death. Some of them will be given eternal life, and others will receive nothing but eternal shame and disgrace.

Everyone who has been wise will shine as bright as the sky above, and everyone who has led others to please God will shine forever like the stars.

Daniel 12:1-3

If the worst suffering in all of history is still in the future, how do we prepare to "get through it?"

Survivalist techniques can help you last a bit longer in a dire emergency. Food and water storage can give you time to address other urgent, but maybe not life threatening issues. Preparing for disaster is becoming a very big business in the United States.

But if the trouble that appears to be coming is the trouble that is predicted just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, all your gathering of supplies is fundamentally futile.

Here is the hope! If your name is written in the Book, you will be protected! That means if your name is not written in the Book you will not be protected. So spend your preparation time insuring that your name is in God's Book! If it is, even though the storm may come you will be safe. If it is not, no amount of stored supplies will get you through the trouble that is coming.

"Thank you Lord, that whatever trouble comes to Your children you will deliver them from it, or by it. We most look forward to that moment when we arrive in Heaven to live with You forever! Amen."

Friday, March 16, 2012

Defeat the Beast!

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Then I saw something that looked like a glass sea mixed with fire, and people were standing on it. They were the ones who had defeated the beast and the idol and the number that tells the name of the beast. God had given them harps, and they were singing the song his servant Moses and the Lamb had sung.

They were singing,
“Lord God All-Powerful,
you have done great
and marvelous things.
You are the ruler
of all nations,
and you do what is
right and fair.

Revelation 15:2-3

The Beast, the Anti-Christ, 666 are all predicted in the Bible and for more than fifty years I have resigned myself to that fact and waited to ride out the storm if I was alive when they appeared. But then this morning I saw Revelation 15:2 which describes the "people" who defeated "the beast and the idol and the number that tells the name of the beast."

I think that means that instead of simply going in to survival mode we need to be preparing for the battle and for the victory celebration.

How do you fight evil? Not with guns and bombs and weapons made by men. The fight against evil in every place is waged with the Love of Christ! When the love of Christ comes forth from your heart and touches everyone you meet it spreads with contagious speed.

"Lord let me be one of those who will stand on the glass sea mixed with fire because I took part in the battle that defeated the beast! Amen."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Don’t Tell!


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I saw another powerful angel come down from heaven. This one was covered with a cloud, and a rainbow was over his head. His face was like the sun, his legs were like columns of fire,  and with his hand he held a little scroll that had been unrolled. He stood there with his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.

Then he shouted with a voice that sounded like a growling lion. Thunder roared seven times.

After the thunder stopped, I was about to write what it had said. But a voice from heaven shouted, “Keep it secret! Don't write these things.”

Revelation 10:1-4

Why did the angel reveal things to John and then tell him not to write them in the Book of Revelation? Why he did that and what he told John is one of those things we may find out in Heaven.

But the principle is sound. When you have a close relationship with another person there are things that you simply don't share with others. They may be things that are very personal or just simply things that would make no sense to someone who is not in that relationship.

Here is a good test of the depth of your relationship with Jesus. What has Jesus told you and then asked you not to tell anyone else? What is there that Jesus knows and you know and no one else?

I think most Christians confide in Jesus things that they tell no one else, but what has Jesus told you that He wants you to keep to yourself?

In any close friendship there are the "don't tell anyone else this" conversations. Spend time with Jesus until you hear those Words from Him. Let your prayer time include the eternal issues as well as the mundane things of today. Stay close enough to Jesus so that every thought that comes to your mind is a word that you can share with Him. Let Jesus know everything that is in your heart and He will let you know what is in His!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Step Into Eternity!

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On this mountain
the [Lord] All-Powerful
will prepare for all nations
a feast of the finest foods.
Choice wines and the best meats
will be served.

Here the [Lord] will strip away
the burial clothes
that cover the nations.

The [Lord] All-Powerful
will destroy the power of death
and wipe away all tears.
No longer will his people
be insulted everywhere.
The [Lord] has spoken!

At that time, people will say,
“The [Lord] has saved us!
Let's celebrate.
We waited and hoped—
now our God is here.”

Isaiah 25:6-9

Will we be tempted to think, "This must be a dream" when Jesus returns? We will see things that we have never even imagined. We will eat food that has no equal on earth. When Jesus returns we will become aware that our bodies are new and young and strong and that death is no longer a threat!

There will be no more insults for Christians. We will call each other to celebrate the arrival of Jesus.

I rejoiced as a young man because of the life that lay before me. I rejoice as an old man for the same reason. The life I look forward to now is not the one I will live in this ravaged and painful body. Soon oh, very soon either Jesus will come and take me home, or my body will breathe it's last and I will fly away to Jesus!

That is a most marvelous hope. This life is a drop of water, the next is an ocean! In this life we consider ourselves rich if we have a pound or two of asphalt from the streets of Heaven.

The doomsayers proclaim that The End is Near, but for children of God the End is not Near, instead it will be the beginning. Jesus will come and let us step into Eternity, which has already been going on forever!

Monday, March 12, 2012

All Over the World!

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God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him. Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.

You know that all over the world the Lord's followers are suffering just as you are.  But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That's why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm.

God will be in control forever! Amen.

1 Peter 5:7-11

I heard it again last night. A follower of Jesus was telling how the attacks of the devil have been increasing in his life just in the past few months. It seems you hear those claims everywhere. In fact, if you are a believer it is likely that you too can tell of how rough things are getting in your life.

These verses clearly tell us that we must resist the devil and stay strong in our faith. And we can be certain that we are not alone. These sufferings are going on all over the world.

But suffering for Jesus will only last on this earth for a while and God will make us complete, steady, strong, and firm!

If you know someone else who is suffering from the attacks of the devil, you can encourage them with these words and let them know that God is in control forever!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Because of My Faith!

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Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see.

It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.

Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God's command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.

Because Abel had faith, he offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. God was pleased with him and his gift, and even though Abel is now dead, his faith still speaks for him.

Enoch had faith and did not die. He pleased God, and God took him up to heaven. This is why his body was never found.

But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and rewards everyone who searches for him.

Because Noah had faith, he was warned about something that had not yet happened. He obeyed and built a boat that saved him and his family. In this way the people of the world were judged, and Noah was given the blessings that come to everyone who pleases God.

Hebrews 11:1-7

What is the "because" of your faith. If you have faith then there is something that has happened that would not have happened otherwise. Your faith is the spark that lights a fire in the world and burns brightly even after your life on this earth ends.

Notice the faith of Abel who was killed by his brother Cain. Abel did not do some great work because of his faith. All Abel did was to obey God in offering a sacrifice. Abel obeyed God and Cain killed Abel. The faith of Abel is listed among those who had great faith.

So your faith may seem small when it is not at all in the eyes of God. If you trust and obey the Lord until you die you are doing all that He requires. Obedience in the public matters sometimes is easier than obedience to God in the private small things. No one will know if I ignore God's leading in this "small" way. But God will know and it is the small acts of obedience that may please the Lord the most.

Lord help me to be obedient to You in everything so that you will be pleased with the end of the "Because of my faith" sentence!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Storms and Snakes!

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When we came ashore, we learned that the island was called Malta.

The local people were very friendly, and they welcomed us by building a fire, because it was rainy and cold.

After Paul had gathered some wood and had put it on the fire, the heat caused a snake to crawl out, and it bit him on the hand.

When the local people saw the snake hanging from Paul's hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer! He didn't drown in the sea, but the goddess of justice will kill him anyway.”  Paul shook the snake off into the fire and wasn't harmed.

The people kept thinking that Paul would either swell up or suddenly drop dead. They watched him for a long time, and when nothing happened to him, they changed their minds and said, “This man is a god.”

Acts 28:1-6

Paul was a prisoner, but he was on his way to Rome to preach the Gospel there. A storm at sea tried to derail God's purpose for Paul and then a snake. The storm could not take Paul's life and neither could the snake because God was protecting Paul so that His purpose for Paul's life would be accomplished.

When the life of a man of God is "cut short" by death, never wonder how much more he could have done if only he had not died. The history of Christian martyrs is filled with the stories of men and woman who accomplished more in death than they ever had in life.

Jesus greatest work was completed on the day He died. Without the death of Jesus on the Cross we would have no hope of an eternity with Him.

Our job is not to be careful to avoid the storms and snakes at all costs. We must rather be sure that we are on the way to the next appointment God has for us in our walk with Him. If we are, nothing will stop us until God determines that we have finished the course.

"Lord help me to focus on the plan You have for me today. I will leave with You the job of protecting me from the storms and snakes! Thank You Jesus. Amen!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

God is the Pilot!

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When the Spirit is given to us
from heaven,
deserts will become orchards
thick as fertile forests.

Honesty and justice
will prosper there,

and justice will produce
lasting peace and security.

You, the [Lord]'s people,
will live in peace,
calm and secure,

even if hailstones flatten
forests and cities.

You will have God's blessing,
as you plant your crops
beside streams,
while your donkeys and cattle
roam freely about

Isaiah 32:15-20

How does the Holy Spirit change a life? The answer to that question is the difference between a man or woman trying to make sense of life and live it on their own or one who is empowered by God to walk from here to eternity with assurance and peace.

When the Holy Spirit lives in you, you are literally possessed. You have given the control of your life over to God and His Spirit gives you the strength and the guidance to navigate this life.

Life without the Holy Spirit is like trying to fly an airplane around the world without a co-pilot. It is too much for anyone to accomplish alone. But God is not my co-pilot! When I accept Jesus as my Lord, He becomes the pilot and I move over to the other seat. And yes, I do get to put my hand on the stick and fly the plane, but Jesus never let's go of the other one.

When the Lord is the pilot of my life, I can rest and be at peace. I haven't seen it for years now, but there used to be a bumper sticker that you would see on the back of automobiles. It said, "God is my co-pilot!" That sounds great, but if God is your co-pilot, switch seats and you will be in for the ride of your life!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Joy Like Jesus

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We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. This is why we must give our lives for each other.  If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God.

Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.

When we love others, we know we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God.

1 John 3:16-19

Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves, but then He requires that we do for others what He did for us.  Of course, we cannot pay the price for the sins of other people, but we can give our lives for them.  In the Kingdom of God the lowliest among you is also the greatest.  The one who gets the most praise is the one who serves others the most.

If you seek every day to do for someone else something that they cannot do for themselves, you will touch the joy of Jesus.  I have a friend who seems to get his greatest joy by helping someone else.  I have asked for his help on a few projects that overwhelmed me and his response has always been more than positive.  When he finds someone he can help his day is just brighter.

So often we try to tell people about Jesus and what He did for them, instead of showing them!  When you love someone and express that love through actions that bless, it is easy to tell them what Jesus did for them as well!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Remember the Scars!

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Dear friends, don't be surprised or shocked that you are going through testing that is like walking through fire.

Be glad for the chance to suffer as Christ suffered. It will prepare you for even greater happiness when he makes his glorious return.

Count it a blessing when you suffer for being a Christian. This shows that God's glorious Spirit is with you.

1 Peter 4:12-14

How does suffering prepare us for happiness when Christ returns?

When people suffer together there is a bond that lasts.  I think soldiers are the most notable examples of people who suffer together and establish through that suffering a relationship that lasts for a life time.  But shared suffering does the same thing no matter what it is.  You may be riding out a tornado in a basement with people you don't know.  Surviving an airplane crash or the sinking of a cruise ship will produce relationships that last. There is a fellowship of suffering together.

When Jesus returns and He sees that you have suffered like He did and your scars look like His there will be a special level of happiness.

When Jesus decided to come to this earth and be our Savior, He chose to suffer the things that every human suffers.  Jesus knows all the pain that we experience.  But when we choose Jesus and take up our cross to follow Him, then we come to know what Jesus suffered.  Jesus knows my suffering and He allows me the privilege of suffering like Him so I can come to know His! 

What a glorious relationship!  The worst thing the Devil can do to me is inflict on me pain and suffering which will only make me look more like Jesus! 

Remember, looking like Jesus and being changed into His image also includes the scars!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lighten Your Load!

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God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is,

There is only one God,
and Christ Jesus
is the only one
who can bring us
to God.
Jesus was truly human,
and he gave himself
to rescue all of us.

1 Timothy 2:4-5

The Gospel really is quite simple. The only way to the One God is Jesus Christ, and don't forget Jesus was really a human who gave Himself to rescue all of us from the consequences of our sin.

We, in our pride like to make it much more complicated than that. We add theological nuances and doctrines that only serve to separate us from other followers of Jesus. We love to establish traditions and teach our children that these traditions are essential to our walk with God! And so we pass on to the next generation a lot of baggage that only slows them down on their journey to eternity.

Why carry baggage through this life that you cannot take to heaven?  Take a minute, or an hour or more and look at the "stuff" you are carrying through this life.  Pull each thing out of your backpack and ask yourself, "Is this essential to my walk with Jesus?"  If it is not then unburden yourself of it.  Lighten your load. 

I know you are wanting me to give specific examples of burdens that we don't need to carry.  You will have to let the Holy Spirit convict you personally about the things you are carrying.

Remember, when times get really bad, the only thing you will need in your survival kit is Jesus Christ.  When you carry only Jesus, your burden is easy and your load is light - and you will survive forever with Jesus!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nearer the Throne!

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The angel showed me a river that was crystal clear, and its waters gave life. The river came from the throne where God and the Lamb were seated.

Then it flowed down the middle of the city's main street. On each side of the river are trees that grow a different kind of fruit each month of the year. The fruit gives life, and the leaves are used as medicine to heal the nations.

God's curse will no longer be on the people of that city. He and the Lamb will be seated there on their thrones, and its people will worship God and will see him face to face. God's name will be written on the foreheads of the people.

Never again will night appear, and no one who lives there will ever need a lamp or the sun. The Lord God will be their light, and they will rule forever.

Revelation 22:1-5

Have you ever been far enough away from civilization that you could drink the water in a river? The closer you are to the springs that bubble up with the water that flows into the tiny streams that together become a mighty river, the cleaner it is. But the farther away you are downstream, the more polluted the water becomes and it certainly is not safe to drink!

The truth of God and His Word are a lot like the water in a river. When you are close to the Source and drink the Water of His Word as it comes from the Throne of God though the Bible, it is pure and Holy and life giving. But the farther away from God you go downstream you find His Word polluted with the traditions and cultures of men that contradict His Word, but are accepted by millions of Christians as certainly part of the Gospel.

That's why there are so many differences and divisions among and between groups of Christians who all claim allegiance to Jesus Christ. They have drifted so far downstream that the water of "Truth" is polluted by the world, and they don't even know it.

If you jump in the River, near the Source and then do nothing you will be carried downstream until eventually you will find yourself in the polluted waters of the world. If you want to stay close to God, you must swim against the current every day and strive to keep Him daily in your sight! When you relax, you will drift away from God.

"Lord, I see you today and I want to be even closer to your Throne. Give me the strength to come closer to you each moment of every day. Keep me far away from the things that would pollute Your Word in my heart. Thank you Jesus. Amen!"

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bang, You Are Dead!

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In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God.  You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn't obey God.

Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.

But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much he made us alive with Christ, and God's gift of undeserved grace is what saves you.  God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven.

Ephesians 2:1-6

When I was a very small boy, I remember playing pretend war. I don't think I ever had a toy gun that made any kind of noise, so we had to resort to pointing the stick (gun) at another child and shouting "bang, you're dead." Shooting other children, even with pretend guns soon became an outlawed activity in our family and I taught my six children the same thing!

What is it like to be dead? Do you see a bright light? Do you float above your body for a while as you are exiting? Well being dead is what you are right now if you are not a follower of Jesus Christ. Every man was born with an eternal death sentence written above his head. On your first day on this earth you are in the process of dying!

But that is what Jesus came to do. Jesus came to bring you eternal life instead of eternal death. Would you like to live forever sitting right beside Jesus in Heaven? Would you like no more pain, suffering, crying, sickness and death? Would you like joy and peace that are unimaginably wonderful?

So what do you do to get all these things? Nothing! That's right you can do nothing to deserve anything other than death. All you do is stop resisting the Holy Spirit's call on your life. Stop pushing Jesus away and let Him take all of you! Let Jesus fully engulf your life with His love. Mother Teresa said that she was simply God's pencil. When Jesus holds you tight your life will make a mark on this world that can never be erased!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Drifting From Truth!

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The [Lord] said:
It isn't too late.
You can still return to me
with all your heart.
Start crying and mourning!
Go without eating.

Don't rip your clothes
to show your sorrow.
Instead, turn back to me
with broken hearts.
I am merciful, kind, and caring.
I don't easily lose my temper,
and I don't like to punish.

I am the [Lord] your God.
Perhaps I will change my mind
and treat you with mercy.
Then you will be blessed
with enough grain and wine
for offering sacrifices to me.

Joel 2:12-14

I am currently reading a book that is making me remember some things that I once knew quite well, but over the years I have forgotten. It is humbling to realize that I can wander away from truth just like the Children of Israel wandered away from God in the desert for those forty years.

How do you drift from truth? The truth of God is like a language that you learn and perhaps can speak quite well. Then you move away from those who speak that language and for years you don't practice. You will loose a language if you don't use it. And if you don't daily live in the truth that God brings you it will fade from your heart as well.

How do you know if you need to turn back to God? What passion for Jesus did you have that now is simply a fond memory? Do you pray like you did when you were desperate for God's power in your life? Is the Holy Spirit leading you on to what is next in your life, or are you simply reminiscing about the past?

"Lord, not matter how much I love You now, I want to love You more. No matter how far I have come with You, Lord, I want to go further. I say "Yes" to Your Word before I even hear it. Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on and let me stand! Amen."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nothing But Truth!

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We believe what people tell us. But we can trust what God says even more, and God is the one who has spoken about his Son. If we have faith in God’s Son, we have believed what God has said. But if we don’t believe what God has said about his Son, it is the same as calling God a liar.   God has also said that he gave us eternal life and that this life comes to us from his Son. And so, if we have God’s Son, we have this life. But if we don’t have the Son, we don’t have this life.

1 John 5:9-12

Calling someone a liar is a far deeper cut than simply saying that they lied about something.  If you are a liar, you lie about almost everything if not everything.  It is impossible to have a close relationship with a liar.  Liars undermine relationships at every turn because without truth there is no mortar to hold the bricks together and there are no nails in the frame of the house. 

A loving relationship built on truth can weather the storms, but when lies are inserted into the mix the relationship will fall apart. 

When you call God a liar and question the truthfulness of His Word, you cannot experience the joy of knowing Him.

And when you lie to God and like Adam and Eve blame someone else for your own sin you will never walk with God in the cool of the Garden because you will spend  your time hiding behind a bush!

How often do you put your toe into the water of deceit?  You tell yourself, "it is not really a lie," but it is not really the truth either.  Here is a challenge for today.  When you are about to say something that is not completely true, stop and say nothing at all.  Try, for one day to keep yourself as a man or woman whose words are total truth.  I think we will all be shocked at how often we need to be quiet.

Lord, may my mouth today only utter words that like Yours are nothing but truth!  And give me the discernment to know the difference.