Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Nation that Repents!

But the [Lord] has filled me
with power and his Spirit.
I have been given the courage
to speak about justice
and to tell you people of Israel
that you have sinned.

So listen to my message,
you rulers of Israel!
You hate justice
and twist the truth.

You make cruelty and murder
a way of life in Jerusalem.

You leaders accept bribes
for dishonest decisions.
You priests and prophets
teach and preach,
but only for money.
Then you say,
“The [Lord] is on our side.
No harm will come to us.”

And so, because of you,
Jerusalem will be plowed under
and left in ruins.
Thorns will cover the mountain
where the temple now stands.

Micah 3:8-12

There is indeed a strong temptation to avoid speaking of the sins of a nation, any nation.

Whenever a group of people begin to call themselves a nation and establish the rules by which they will judge it's citizens do they include the instructions of the Lord? If they do, they will be blessed. If they do not include, or intentionally exclude God's will they will soon become corrupt and can begin to crumble.

When a God fearing nation turns away from the Almighty and bans Him from the discourse and deliberations of that country the chaos and confusion that come can be expected.

But when a godless people turn their hearts to God and repent, calling on His name and inviting Him to be part of or even the center of their national life, there comes peace, clarity and protection from the Eternal Father!

A revival in your land will bless those who turn to Jesus, but it will also bring great benefit to the nation as a whole!

The leaders of every nation should be warned that excluding God from their work of overseeing the lives of their citizens will not bring any good thing. If yours is the work of leading your fellow citizens, then ask God to show you how to include His Word in your work. Search the Bible with a heart that is listening for the message of God for your people. You can bring blessings beyond your fondest imagination to many people!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Under the Curse!

I am a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a witness to my conscience. So I tell the truth and I am not lying when I say  my heart is broken and I am in great sorrow.  I would gladly be placed under God's curse and be separated from Christ for the good of my own people.  They are the descendants of Israel, and they are also God's chosen people. God showed them his glory. He made agreements with them and gave them his Law. The temple is theirs and so are the promises that God made to them.

They have those famous ancestors, who were also the ancestors of the Christ.  I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever!  Amen.

Romans 9:1-5

I have always thought that is was strange for Paul to say that he would "gladly" let himself be put under God's curse and separated from Christ for the good of his Jewish brothers and sisters. Did he not love Christ more than he loved his brothers? Why would he say such a thing?

Here is the simple and yet profound explanation. When Jesus Himself went to the Cross He let Himself be put under God's curse. Jesus was briefly separated from His Father for my sake.

We often think of a cross as something that is forced upon us. I think if a thing truly is a "cross" it is something that we willingly take up and carry every day. The essence of the sacrifice of Jesus was His willingness to be separated from God and under God's curse for my sake! When Paul said that he was willing to be under God's curse and separated from Christ for His brothers he was showing us in the deepest way that the Apostle Paul had been shaped into the image of Christ!

The goal of walking with Jesus is not Heaven. The ultimate reward is when we become like Jesus in every way. And being like Jesus is all about the Cross in His life and mine.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Challenge to the Word!

But I will turn Jerusalem into a heavy stone that crushes anyone who tries to lift it.

When all nations on earth surround Jerusalem,  I will blind every horse and make them panic, and every rider will be confused. But at the same time, I will watch over Judah.

Then every clan in Judah will realize that I, the [Lord] All-Powerful, am their God, and that I am the source of their strength.

At that time I will let the clans of Judah be like a ball of fire in a wood pile or a fiery torch in a hay stack. Then Judah will send the surrounding nations up in smoke. And once again the city of Jerusalem will be filled with people.

But I will first give victory to Judah, so the kingdom of David and the city of Jerusalem in all of their glory won't be thought of more highly than Judah itself.  I, the [Lord] God, will protect Jerusalem. Even the weakest person there will be as strong as David, and David's kingdom will rule as though my very own angel were its leader.

I am determined to wipe out every nation that attacks Jerusalem.

Zechariah 12:3-9

Like the "Big Bad Wolf" in the children's story they "Huff and Puff" and threaten to destroy Jerusalem. The fascination with and anger at Israel is really amazing. Why not just leave them alone? Israel is just a tiny spot of land compared to the Arab Middle East. And yet, it seems that most of the fundamental Islamic world is focused on destroying Israel.

These words in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah serve as a certain warning to any nation bold enough to come against Jerusalem. God says, "I am determined to wipe out every nation that attacks Jerusalem."

The new President of Egypt has recently declared that there will be an Arab United States and that Jerusalem will be it's capital city.

I suppose we may soon see if the prophetic Word of God will be challenged and how God will respond.

But, for me I am tempted to challenge God's Word every day in my own life. I read the Bible and say in my heart, "Surely, that doesn't apply to me and my life." And so I step out on the quicksand of disobedience to the Bible's clear message and then wonder why I am sinking!

"Lord, help me to believe Your every Word without exception. Help me to take You at Your Word and never challenge it in my heart or in my life. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen."

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Love You Jesus!

But God has commanded the present heavens and earth to remain until the day of judgment. Then they will be set on fire, and ungodly people will be destroyed. Dear friends, don't forget that for the Lord one day is the same as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years is the same as one day.

The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.

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.

2 Peter 3:7-11

The desire of God is that everyone would turn from sin and not be eternally separated from Him in Hell. What God is waiting for is for you to return His love!

Romance begins when a man loves a woman and gives of himself for her. But the wildly amazing part of the story is when she returns his love and declares that love, first to him and then to the world!

All love stories have a new chapter every day. Is your story still at the point of knowing that Jesus loves you, but you have not yet decided to return that love to Him and complete the circle of love that He desires? There is an old country song that says, "I love you for a hundred thousand reasons, but most of all I love you because you are you!" Do you love Jesus because of what He has done or will do for you, or do you love Jesus because He is Jesus? Jesus doesn't love you because you are beautiful, or smart, or because you are strong and diligent.

Do you love Jesus because of the blessings He gives you or would you love Him if the blessings stopped? When you recklessly give your heart to Jesus and love Him no matter what happens, you will be stunned with the beauty and fulfilling joy of that relationship. You say you love Jesus as the Creator of everything but would you love Jesus if He were just the son of a carpenter from Nazareth?

Love is beyond reason. The wildly amazing part of your love story with Jesus is when you return His love and declare that love, first to Him and then to the world! Jesus I love You!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jesus Talks to Trees!

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When Jesus got up the next morning, he was hungry. He started out for the city, and along the way he saw a fig tree. But when he came to it, he found only leaves and no figs. So he told the tree, “You will never again grow any fruit!” Right then the fig tree dried up.
The disciples were shocked when they saw how quickly the tree had dried up.  But Jesus said to them, “If you have faith and don't doubt, I promise you can do what I did to this tree. And you will be able to do even more. You can tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it will.

If you have faith when you pray, you will be given whatever you ask for.”
Matthew 21:18-22
There is a famous song from a Broadway musical that begins with the line, "I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me." Jesus cannot sing that song, because when He talks to the trees they do listen!
The Word of God not only called everything into existence, but still controls it all. If God told the sun not to set today, it would most certainly stay in the sky. If God tells the Red Sea to part it would do it again. When God speaks all of creation responds even as He has spoken.
There is one exception to this rule, and that exception is your heart. God has spoken through His Word to the hearts of men and women and they have said "No!" to God.
Like a rebellious child who stubbornly refuses to obey his parents we declare by our actions that we will not obey God! We have even carefully identified scriptures that seem to tell us that we can go to Heaven without being obedient to the Word of God. So we convince ourselves that we are saved even though we refuse to obey God!
All I can say is this: Disobedience is not good ground on which to be standing when you come before God on the Day of Judgment.
"Lord, help me to be so obedient to You that when You come looking for fruit in my life tomorrow morning, You will find it! Help me Lord to Trust and Obey because there is no other way to be 'Happy in Jesus.' Amen."
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Friday, June 22, 2012

When Your Rooster Crows!

video


After the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the cross, they divided up his clothes into four parts, one for each of them. But his outer garment was made from a single piece of cloth, and it did not have any seams.


The soldiers said to each other, “Let's not rip it apart. We will gamble to see who gets it.” This happened so the Scriptures would come true, which say, “They divided up my clothes and gambled for my garments.”


The soldiers then did what they had decided.


John 19:23-24


When the soldiers put Jesus on the Cross they made a logical decision about not cutting up His "outer garment" because it was made from a single piece of cloth. This simple and seemingly insignificant decision fulfilled Biblical prophecy and is part of the story of the Crucifixion.

This is where our skills of reason and intellect take over and we try to analyze how the prophetic Word of God is compatible with the free will of man. That is a side track into human pride that keeps me from seeing the point of Prophecy.

Certainly, Biblical Prophecy can predict huge world shaking events, but the truly amazing thing is that a simple decision not to cut up a robe can be equally significant as a prophetic fulfillment.

Prophetic utterances in the Bible declare the Glory of Almighty God and remind us of His unwavering care for His children.

Never forget the significance of your own small decisions. There was a man or woman, we don't know for sure who took care of a rooster. He or she was careful to feed that bird and keep it alive. Every morning that rooster would crow like every rooster does, but then one morning when that rooster raised his voice toward heaven the ears of Peter heard the sound. Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before he heard the rooster crow.

Today you will make a lot of little decisions, or perhaps you will get a new rooster. Be sobered by the fact that deciding not to cut a piece of cloth or having a rooster in your pen can be part of God's prophetic plan for the world.

When we get to Heaven I'm sure God will explain all the mysteries about free will and Sovereignty if we still care to know them! Theology may be fun, but trusting and obeying God is better.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A New Heart!

 

Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Pay attention and try to understand what I mean.

The food that you put into your mouth doesn't make you unclean and unfit to worship God. The bad words that come out of your mouth are what make you unclean.”

After Jesus and his disciples had left the crowd and gone into the house, they asked him what these sayings meant.  He answered, “Don't you know what I am talking about by now? You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean.

It doesn't go into your heart, but into your stomach, and then out of your body.” By saying this, Jesus meant that all foods were fit to eat.

Then Jesus said: What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean.  Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder,  unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness.

All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God.

Mark 7:14-23

Heart disease is said to be the leading cause of death worldwide. If your heart fails you cannot keep on living no matter how healthy the rest of your body is. You can live without an arm or a leg and there are parts of your body that are not essential to life, but your heart is.

Spiritual heart disease makes you unclean and it is easy to identify the problem because of the symptoms. Listen to them again. "Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness." You will not be able to worship God when you come before Him with these things coming from your heart!

Jesus doesn't want to just patch up your old heart. Jesus wants to give you a new heart! With your brand new heart you can come before the Lord and worship Him with all your heart!

By the way, there is no waiting list for the new heart Jesus wants to give you. It is available right now. Let the Great Physician put a new heart in your life!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

End Times Puzzle

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When our Lord Jesus returns, we will be gathered up to meet him. So I ask you, my friends,  not to be easily upset or disturbed by people who claim the Lord has already come. They may say they heard this directly from the Holy Spirit, or from someone else, or even that they read it in one of our letters.  But don't be fooled! People will rebel against God. Then before the Lord returns, the wicked one who is doomed to be destroyed will appear. He will brag and oppose everything holy or sacred. He will even sit in God's temple and claim to be God.

Don't you remember I told you this while I was still with you?

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5

As we wait for the return of Jesus Christ there is great joy and anticipation, but there is also the sobering reality that the cosmic conclusion to the struggle between good and evil will play out on this earth just before Jesus comes back.

A "wicked one" will appear and will brag, even claiming to be God. This will not be some insignificant idiot who is simply the brunt of jokes. This man will be a world leader who is not the "father of lies" but is closely related. Those who are lost will believe his lies because they don't believe the truth.

If the days we are living in are just before the return of Jesus it is possible this man is or soon will be in power.

How much time should we spend trying to identify this "man of sin?" The answer to that is this: If the "wicked one" knocked on your front door and when you opened the door he said "Hello I am the wicked one" what would you do about it? Identifying this evil man is not a parlor game, with the winner being declared the smartest of all! As believers in Jesus Christ our job is to follow Jesus and no one else! The End Times Puzzle may be fun to play, but it is better to spend all of your time resting in the arms of Jesus. There you will be safe from whatever comes. Remember the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the end of all things is not a spectator sport. What will happen on this earth when Jesus comes is as real as it gets!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Access the Power?

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God gave Paul the power to work great miracles.

People even took handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul's body, and they carried them to everyone who was sick. All of the sick people were healed, and the evil spirits went out.

Some Jewish men started going around trying to force out evil spirits by using the name of the Lord Jesus. They said to the spirits, “Come out in the name of that same Jesus that Paul preaches about!”

Seven sons of a high priest named Sceva were doing this, when an evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus! And I have heard about Paul. But who are you?”

Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them up. They ran out of the house, naked and bruised.

When the Jews and Gentiles in Ephesus heard about this, they were so frightened that they praised the name of the Lord Jesus.  Many who were followers now started telling everyone about the evil things they had been doing.  Some who had been practicing witchcraft even brought their books and burned them in public. These books were worth about 50,000 silver coins.

So the Lord's message spread and became even more powerful.

Acts 19:11-20

Seven sons of a high priest named Sceva were obviously fascinated by the power available to those who cast out demons in the name of Jesus. They made one critical mistake. They tried to access the power of Jesus without letting Him be the Lord of their lives first. If this were a movie scene there would be laughter as the seven men ran out of the house naked and bruised.

Saying the right things, having the right formula and even doing the correct deeds means nothing unless you have turned your heart to Jesus first and let Him be your Lord! Then the power is available!

Two goals of Satan are these: First, convince you to attempt to access the power of Jesus Christ without belonging to Him. When you come against Satan in your own human power you will end up like Sceva's sons. Or if you already belong to Jesus, Satan wants to convince you that there is no power.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, how have you been waging war against Satan? Have you been coming at the Enemy with all the power you have as a human being, or have you been standing against him in the Name of Jesus? Until you do that, there will be no victory, and when you do that Satan will not win the battle!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Fourth Man!

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Now I am going to give you one more chance. If you bow down and worship the statue when you hear the music, everything will be all right. But if you don't, you will at once be thrown into a flaming furnace. No god can save you from me.”

The three men replied, “Your Majesty, we don't need to defend ourselves.  The God we worship can save us from you and your flaming furnace.

But even if he doesn't, we still won't worship your gods and the gold statue you have set up.”

Nebuchadnezzar's face twisted with anger at the three men. And he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than usual. Next, he commanded some of his strongest soldiers to tie up the men and throw them into the flaming furnace.

The king wanted it done at that very moment. So the soldiers tied up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and threw them into the flaming furnace with all of their clothes still on, including their turbans. The fire was so hot that flames leaped out and killed the soldiers.

Suddenly the king jumped up and shouted, “Weren't only three men tied up and thrown into the fire?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” his officers answered.

“But I see four men walking around in the fire,” the king replied. “None of them is tied up or harmed, and the fourth one looks like a god.”

Daniel 3:15-25

When you stand up for what you know to be right there will sometimes be a fiery furnace waiting to punish you for not going along with the rest of the world. Persecution of the righteous started when Cain killed Abel and has continued up to this very moment.

Suffering for righteousness sake is a promise in scripture that no one likes to claim!

If you walk through the mud your feet will get dirty. If you claim that you have been walking in the mud and your feet are clean you are obviously telling a lie.   If you live righteously in the sight of the world you will be persecuted. If you have gotten no persecution from the world it is not because you are living right, rather it is quite the opposite. When you refuse to bow down to the golden idols of this world you will be thrown into the fire.

And when you are tossed into the furnace instead of looking for the silver lining, look for the Fourth Man! Remember Christians are Crucified with Christ!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Eyewitness to Heaven!

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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 look inside it. I cried hard because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or look 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 scroll and its seven seals.”

Then I looked and saw a Lamb standing in the center of the throne surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb looked as if it had once been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out to all the earth.
The Lamb went over and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. After he had taken it, the four living creatures and the 24 elders knelt down before him. Each of them had a harp and a gold bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people.

Then they sang a new song,
“You are worthy
to receive the scroll
and open its seals,
because you were killed.
And with your own blood
you bought for God
people from every tribe,
language, nation, and race.

You let them become kings
and serve God as priests,
and they will rule on earth.”

Revelation 5:1-10

Is reading the Bible sometimes a boring experience? Is it just a bunch of old stories and you have heard them all many times before? So why read it all over again and again? These verses in Revelation tell us why.

When you let Jesus "open the scroll" and reveal to your heart what the Bible is saying you will find it more exciting than the best thriller novel and more relevant than this morning's newspaper!

The process is this: God appointed Words for us to know, the Holy Spirit inspired men to write them down, and Jesus breaks the seal on them in your life!

It is like when a child goes from hearing the words you are speaking to understanding the meaning and intent of those words. Eternity is like a sunset and the Bible describes it well, but Jesus is right now seeing everything that the Bible talks about. Jesus is an eyewitness to Heaven and when He speaks God's Word to your heart it is truly almost like being there yourself!

"Lord Jesus, let my heart receive what Your eyes can see. Help me look beyond the veil of this life into the Glory of Eternity with You! Break the seals today!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Most Important Verse!

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Ezekiel, son of man, the people with you in Babylonia talk about you when they meet by the city walls or in the doorways of their houses. They say, “Let's ask Ezekiel what the [Lord] has said today.”  So they all come and listen to you, but they refuse to do what you tell them. They claim to be faithful, but they are forever trying to cheat others out of their money.

They treat you as though you were merely singing love songs or playing music. They listen, but don't do anything you say.

Soon they will be punished, just as you warned, and they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Ezekiel 33:30-33

It is a good thing when you want to hear the Word of the Lord. Listening to what God says must come before obedience. Unless you hear you cannot obey!

In these verses Ezekiel is telling us about people who want to hear what God has to say, but don't want to obey it when they hear it.

Sometimes we listen to the Word of God to see how much God agrees with us. If God's Word confirms what I am already thinking and doing then I am diligent in continuing on that path. But if the message from Heaven contradicts the way I have chosen to go I am quick to dismiss it as not a necessary command.

It is foolish to consider the Word of the Lord as something you can categorize into important and not so important. Just ask Moses about that when you get to Heaven. God told Moses to strike the rock to get water the first time the situation arose. The second time God told Moses to speak to the rock. Moses struck it instead and missed the promised land! He got water both times, but Moses made a judgment about how important it was to do exactly what God said.

I must listen to and obey every Word that comes from God. When I begin to evaluate how important that Word is I become the perfect target for Satan's deception. The Devil wants me to question God's Word as step one on my journey into disobedience.

There should be a footnote on every verse in the Bible that says, "This is the most important scripture of all!"

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cookie Jar Christianity!

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Jesus told us God is light and doesn't have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you.

If we say we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth.  But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away.  If we say we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn't in our hearts.

But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.

If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his message isn't in our hearts.

1 John 1:5-10

Even when a little child gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar he can creatively deny that he was doing anything wrong. The "nature of man" or should I say the "fallen nature of man" is to deny your own sin while gleefully pointing out the sins of others. It is so easy for me to see your sin and at the same time so hard to admit my own sin, even to myself.

When I lived in Asia I was tall. Now I am average to short. No I didn't shrink, well maybe a little, but when almost everyone you meet is five feet five inches tall or less then five feet ten inches is tall.

Perhaps you think you are not sinning because you are comparing yourself to people who are not followers of Jesus. When you do that you can convince yourself that you are a pretty good person. Instead we must compare ourselves to Jesus, and only to Him. Jesus is the standard by which we must judge our own actions. If what you do is what Jesus would do, then it is not sin. If what you do is what Jesus would not do then it probably is sin!

Examine your life in the light of Jesus Christ. Then you will know what to confess to God. And here is the Good News, when you confess it, God will fix it and take it away!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Faith Does Things!

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God's people had faith, and when they had walked around the city of Jericho for seven days, its walls fell down.

Rahab had been a prostitute, but she had faith and welcomed the spies. So she wasn't killed with the people who disobeyed.

What else can I say? There isn't enough time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Their faith helped them conquer kingdoms, and because they did right, God made promises to them. They closed the jaws of lions and put out raging fires and escaped from the swords of their enemies. Although they were weak, they were given the strength and power to chase foreign armies away.

Some women received their loved ones back from death. Many of these people were tortured, but they refused to be released. They were sure they would get a better reward when the dead are raised to life. Others were made fun of and beaten with whips, and some were chained in jail.  Still others were stoned to death or sawed in two or killed with swords. Some had nothing but sheep skins or goat skins to wear. They were poor, mistreated, and tortured.

The world did not deserve these good people, who had to wander in deserts and on mountains and had to live in caves and holes in the ground.

Hebrews 11:30-38

Faith that is real is surrounded by amazing deeds. It is foolish to try and separate faith from the works that evidence that faith. There is no man or woman of faith who "just believed" the Lord without that belief resulting in actions that were worth writing about.

Today, we love to identify the things you don't have to do to be Saved. We try to separate faith from the deeds that reveal the veracity of it.

In some ways we are like an Olympic swimmer who never gets back in the pool. To be "saved by faith" and then display no evidence of it is remarkably shallow and perhaps very deceptive.

Here is what you have to do to be Saved: Trust in the Blood of Jesus and His death on the Cross and relate to Him in such a way that every Word you hear from His lips becomes your obsession. Let obedience to the will of Christ become your overwhelming desire.

Never consider whether a specific command of Jesus is "essential" to your salvation. Are you really planning on standing before the Lord on the day of judgment and answer for the things He clearly told you to do, but you decided to ignore them because they weren't essential?

If your name was added to the list of people of faith in Hebrews 11 how would God describe the evidence of your faith?

"Lord, show me what to do today because of the faith that I have in You. Speak a Word to me today so that I may obey it. Amen!"

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Voice of the Lord!

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All of you angels in heaven,
honor the glory and power
of the Lord!

Honor the wonderful name
of the Lord,
and worship the Lord
most holy and glorious.

The voice of the Lord
echoes over the oceans.
The glorious Lord God
thunders
above the roar
of the raging sea, and his voice is mighty
and marvelous.

The voice of the Lord
destroys the cedar trees;
the Lord shatters cedars
on Mount Lebanon.
God makes Mount Lebanon
skip like a calf
and Mount Hermon
jump like a wild ox.

The voice of the Lord
makes lightning flash
and the desert tremble.
And because of the Lord,
the desert near Kadesh
shivers and shakes.

The voice of the Lord
makes deer give birth
before their time.
Forests are stripped of leaves,
and the temple is filled
with shouts of praise.

The Lord rules on his throne,
king of the flood forever.
Pray that our Lord
will make us strong
and give us peace.

Psalm 29

Most of us cannot remember the days before the public address system was used whenever someone spoke to a large group.  The microphone has become an expected part of speaking to many people at once.  Before the days of the microphone men would speak with a booming delivery so that everyone could hear.  When Jesus went out on the boat and spoke to the crowd still on the shore He was using a natural public address system.  The sound traveled unhindered over the water and everyone on shore could hear very well.  When God speaks today you must cover your ears if you don’t want to hear His Voice!

God used His Voice to create the world.  He literally spoke the world into existence.  When God speaks, truth itself is established by His Words!  Listen for the Voice of the Lord when the sound is loud and when it is a “still small voice.” 

When God speaks, eternity vibrates with the Word and reality is defined by His utterances.  That’s why those who run away from God are especially threatened by His Word.  The Voice of the Lord will change you when it touches your heart.  So if you want to be what God wants you to be then listen to His Voice all the time.  Pray without ceasing and listen to His answer continually.  God’s Voice created everything that is and His Voice can create in you a clean heart! 

“Lord, let the sound of Your Voice rush into my ears and fill my heart and mind with Your thoughts.  And may Your Voice change me every day into the image of Jesus Christ.  Amen!”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prepare for Your New Body!

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Some of you have asked, “How will the dead be raised to life? What kind of bodies will they have?”  Don't be foolish. A seed must die before it can sprout from the ground.  Wheat seeds and all other seeds look different from the sprouts that come up.  This is because God gives everything the kind of body he wants it to have.  People, animals, birds, and fish are each made of flesh, but none of them are alike.  Everything in the heavens has a body, and so does everything on earth. But each one is very different from all the others.

The sun isn't like the moon, the moon isn't like the stars, and each star is different.
That's how it will be when our bodies are raised to life. These bodies will die, but the bodies that are raised will live forever.  These ugly and weak bodies will become beautiful and strong.

As surely as there are physical bodies, there are spiritual bodies. And our physical bodies will be changed into spiritual bodies.

I Corinthians 15:35-44

If you live long enough your physical body will become weak and you will look like someone who is old.  There is no way around it.  All the tummy tucks and face lifts will eventually give way to the end of the road for plastic surgery.

When God assigned a time to die for every man and woman to ever live it included you and me.  The only exceptions will be Enoch, Elijah and those who are alive when the sky breaks open with the return of Jesus.  

So how much time do you spend grooming and exercising your physical body that will in a few short years stop breathing?  How much time do you spend preparing to receive your new spiritual body that will live forever? 

Of course it is a good thing to take care of the body that you have here.  Having a healthy body opens lots of doors of doing deeds that glorify the Lord, but when your purpose is to glorify yourself the gift becomes the disgrace!

Take your spiritual man to God's gym everyday and let Him show you how to prepare for the new body that will be given when Jesus returns!  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Enemies Need Love Too!

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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 this? Even tax collectors love their friends.  If you greet only your friends, what's so great about this? Don't even unbelievers do that?  But you must always act like your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:43-48

Love is not just an emotion, but it does put lives "in motion" when love becomes the driving factor in your life!

The words Love and Lust both begin with the letter "L" and both have four letters, but they are at polar opposites in meaning. Love is focused on the good of someone else. Lust is focused on my own gratification. Love however puts me in motion for the good of the object of my love. Lust puts me in motion to do harm.

There is a simple old song that proclaims,
"To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask, to be like Him." We sang it like little children proclaiming that they want to be like their father, not knowing what it took to really be like Jesus.

Being like Jesus is something you do or do not do every time you speak a word, think a thought or do a deed. But the bottom line of being like Jesus is loving your enemies! That's what Jesus did and that’s what we do not do by nature.

To love your enemies is a supernatural empowerment that cannot be imitated by human flesh.

To be like Jesus today, you can begin by identifying someone who hates you and set your heart and mind to love them. And by the way that includes your emotions. Let the Love of Christ flow through you to those who are lost without Jesus.

Then you will be taking an important step in becoming like God and your enemies will become your "Loved Ones."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Staying Alive!

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On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted, “If you are thirsty, come to me and drink!  Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say.”

Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit, who would be given to everyone that had faith in him. The Spirit had not yet been given to anyone, since Jesus had not yet been given his full glory.

When the crowd heard Jesus say this, some of them said, “He must be the Prophet!”  Others said, “He is the Messiah!” Others even said, “Can the Messiah come from Galilee? The Scriptures say that the Messiah will come from the family of King David. Doesn't this mean that he will be born in David's hometown of Bethlehem?” The people started taking sides against each other because of Jesus.

John 7:37-43

When you are thirsty, quenching that thirst becomes the most important thing on your list. If you are hungry and thirsty you will always drink before you will eat if both food and water become available.

You can't grow without putting food into your body, but you can't live without water. The body can stay alive for many days without food, but not so long without water.

Where do we get this life-giving water that Jesus offered to those who would come to Him. The answer is simple and profound. The life-giving water comes from within us. But the source of the water is not you, it is rather from the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of you if you are a follower of Jesus.

It is important that you set aside time everyday to consume the Bread of Life that comes from God's Word.  But it is also critical that you drink many times a day the Water that comes from the Holy Spirit.

Let that Water satisfy your thirst and then sit down to a meal from God's Word. When you do that everyday you will "stay alive and grow" as a Christian!

"Lord, quench my thirst that can only be satisfied by the Holy Spirit in me! And then Lord, nourish me with the strength that comes from eating the Bread of Life. Amen!"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Out of Wine!

 

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Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee.

Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.

When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don't have any more wine.”

Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn't yet come! You must not tell me what to do.”

Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.”

At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about 100 liters . Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said, “Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.”
The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!”

John 2:1-10

Why did Mary think that Jesus could do something about the problem of running out of wine at a wedding? This is a question not answered in scripture, but Mary obviously had reason to believe that Jesus had the power to do that which was miraculous.

Jesus told Mary it was not time yet for Him to do this kind of thing, but He did it anyway!

It is certainly important that we try to determine God's will in any situation, but it is alright to tell Jesus what your will is. My will is for the Holy Spirit to bring back the one who has wandered away, sooner rather than later. It is an marvelous combination of the Shepard seeking the lamb that wandered off and the Father waiting for the prodigal to come home. God waits for and seeks the lost!

The first miracle Jesus did was at the request of His mother Mary even though He told her not to ask Him.

"Lord, we are not out of wine but there are so many concerns in life that are to us like the wedding running out of wine. We planned and prepared, but now it is not enough. I know that my life and problems may not be significant in the "grand scheme of things," but I know that the wedding running out of wine was not important either until You stepped in and turned the water into wine! Please Lord, turn my water into wine and let my every moment be part of a miracle You are doing today! Amen!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Evangelism of Love!

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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.

I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.

I have honored my followers in the same way you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one.

I am one with them, and you are one with me, so they may become completely one. Then this world's people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me.

John 17:15-23

These verses provide the most amazing glimpse into the purpose of God for His people.  Some have declared that our purpose is to bring Glory to God, and of course it is, but Jesus said that we are to be "one" with each other and "one" with God.  

When you ponder that thought at all you quickly come to a place that is too wonderful for us to imagine.  The most amazing relationship on this earth is the oneness of a man and woman in marriage.  It is a glorious mystery that is God's gift to all who would receive it.  Being one with God Almighty is too marvelous, but that is what Jesus said we will be.

Then Jesus says that the world will come to believe in Him because we are completely one with each other.  It is the most effective evangelistic technique ever conceived.  When people in this world see the followers of Jesus loving each other they find it hard to not believe that this is from God!  

The opposite is true as well.  Whenever brothers in Christ are not one that message quickly impacts the world around them.  It is a denial of Jesus when we are not united in love.  

So in order to proclaim Jesus to the world we must tear down every wall that separates those who believe in Jesus.  Let nothing come in between you and another believer.  When the world sees the Love of Jesus flowing between brothers they will ask us to tell them about it.  The Love of Jesus is what everyone on earth is looking for.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Joy Will Come!

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Jesus knew they had some questions, so he said:  You are wondering what I meant when I said that for a little while you won't see me, but after a while you will see me.

I tell you for certain that you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but later you will be happy.

When a woman is about to give birth, she is in great pain. But after it is all over, she forgets the pain and is happy, because she has brought a child into the world.  You are now very sad. But later I will see you, and you will be so happy that no one will be able to change the way you feel.

John 16:19-22

Jesus says that the sufferings we have in this life can be like the birth pains a woman has before a child is born. I had heard about birth pains, but I had no idea how bad they could be until just before my oldest child was born. For a short time I frankly didn't care about the baby that was on the way because my wife was in such pain. But as quickly as the pains came they left when the baby was born and the glory of a new life arrived!

The time before the Lord returns will be a time of birth pains. It will be suffering like never before and no one can probably imagine how bad it may be. But then for those who love Jesus the pain will stop when the Lord returns. His glorious arrival will mark the end of pain and suffering for all those who have given themselves to Him and call Jesus, Lord!

But for those who have rejected Jesus, His return will not be the end of suffering, it will rather be the beginning of eternal pain!

So if you, as a follower of Jesus are preparing for bad times don't forget that they are simply the birth pains and that Glory will follow forever. The joy will come be ready to receive it!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Which Sword to Use?

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When the dragon realized it had been thrown down to the earth, it tried to make trouble for the woman who had given birth to a son.

But the woman was given two wings like those of a huge eagle, so she could fly into the desert. There she would escape from the snake and be taken care of for a time, two times, and half a time.

The snake then spewed out water like a river to sweep the woman away.  But the earth helped her and swallowed the water that had come from the dragon's mouth. This made the dragon terribly angry with the woman. So it started a war against the rest of her children. They are the people who obey God and are faithful to what Jesus did and taught. The dragon stood on the beach beside the sea.

Revelation 12:13-18

War has been declared on you if you obey God and are faithful to what Jesus did and taught. It is the dragon, the devil, or Satan that has you in his gun sights and he will fire a shot in your direction as frequently as he can.

How can you respond and engage the enemy in this war that was not of your own choosing? Jesus is the example of how to wage war against Satan. And Peter is the example of how not to do battle with the enemy. Peter cut off an ear in response to the attack, but Jesus quoted the written Word of God. Peter's method did not work, but using the Sword of the Spirit in your daily battle with the enemy is the only "sure fire" method of winning!

It is love that overcomes the enemy. Jesus died for the men who put Him on the cross and the crowd that demanded it. Jesus loved those who hated Him and that is the secret of the Sword of the Spirit. The "non-violence" of Love is the most lethal weapon ever used in war.

Take all of your "old guns" of hate and violence and trade them for the "Sword of the Spirit." When the attacks come, and they will, pull out your Sword and let the Word of God do it's work in the lives of those who are trying to harm you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Greedy for God!

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Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children.

Let love be your guide. Christ loved us and offered his life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God.

You are God's people, so don't let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy.  Don't use dirty or foolish or filthy words. Instead, say how thankful you are.

Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God.

Ephesians 5:1-5

There is more than one way to worship an idol. You can carve out an image of something and bow down before it as if it were a god. You can also worship idols by being greedy, indecent or immoral. When you bow down before an image you must admit even to yourself that your are worshiping an idol, but when you are greedy, indecent or immoral you can easily deny that this has anything to do with idolatry.

And of course greed is the easiest one to justify as maybe not a sin at all and certainly not idolatry. Much of the commercial world is built on the premise that we can fan the desires of people for things they do not have to the point that they will sacrifice whatever is necessary to get that coveted thing.

The dictionary defines greed as the desire to have more of something than is actually needed. Having more things than you need can be a curse, but having more of the things of God is a continual blessing. You can be greedy for His love, His mercy, the Peace that passes understanding and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Being greedy for the things of this world makes you an idolater. Being "greedy" for the things of God makes you a worshiper! Let your heart run after God and fill your mind with the continual desire for Him. And then at the "end of the day" there will be the Morning of Joy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

God Speaks Truth!

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The [Lord] told me to write down his message for his people, so that it would be there forever. They have turned against the [Lord] and can't be trusted. They have refused his teaching and have said to his messengers and prophets:
Don't tell us what God has shown you and don't preach the truth. Just say what we want to hear, even if it's false.

Stop telling us what God has said! We don't want to hear any more about the holy One of Israel.

Now this is the answer
of the holy One of Israel:
“You rejected my message,
and you trust in violence
and lies.

This sin is like a crack
that makes a high wall
quickly crumble

and shatter
like a crushed bowl.
There's not a piece left
big enough to carry hot coals
or to dip out water.”

Isaiah 30:8-14

Do you want to hear the truth? The truth is often the thing that makes you feel the most uncomfortable. When you listen to a man deliver a "message from God" do you stop listening if that message does not affirm what you already believe?

God's Word is Truth and all that is true comes from Him. The communication of God is Truth. The utterances of Satan are lies. Satan, of course is the father of lies. So when you speak the truth you are saying that which comes from God. And when you speak a lie, you become the Devil's mouthpiece.

The epic struggle that will continue until the return of Christ is the battle between truth and lies. Truth is of God and lies are of Satan. A man's conscience is his personal attempt to determine what is true and what is a lie and whether his own actions are consistent with that which is true.

When you give up on truth in an attempt to protect an idea, a principle or anything or anyone that you hold dear, you are blatantly giving up on God. Deception can produce short term gain and appear to be an effective way to handle a situation, but in the end it will not work. When deception runs in to the Truth of God it is always exposed for what it is.

"Lord, I pray that every word that I speak today will be true and one that Jesus would have comfortably spoken. Help me Lord to reject all forms of lying and rely only on the Truth. Amen."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Leave Your Window Open!

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Finally, they said to one another, “We will never be able to bring any charge against Daniel, unless it has to do with his religion.”

They all went to the king and said:
“Your Majesty, we hope you live forever! All of your officials, leaders, advisors, and governors agree that you should make a law forbidding anyone to pray to any god or human except you for the next 30 days. Everyone who disobeys this law must be thrown into a pit of lions.

Order this to be written and then sign it, so it cannot be changed, just as no written law of the Medes and Persians can be changed.”

So King Darius made the law and had it written down.

Daniel heard about the law, but when he returned home, he went upstairs and prayed in front of the window that faced Jerusalem. In the same way that he had always done, he knelt down in prayer three times a day, giving thanks to God.

The men who had spoken to the king watched Daniel and saw him praying to his God for help.

Daniel 6:5-11

When Daniel disobeyed the newly made law that made it illegal to pray to anyone except the king he must have known what would happen. Daniel prayed like he had done before and in a place where he could be seen by those plotting his demise!

Daniel could have "wisely" prayed behind a closed door and at least pulled a curtain in front of the window so no one could see. Daniel could even have prayed silently for those thirty days so that he would not "offend" anyone who saw him.

Instead Daniel trusted God and proceeded to pray as he had always done.

Still today it is "illegal" to express your faith in Jesus Christ publicly in a number of countries. And some, like the United States are convinced it is illegal even though there is no law against it. At least not yet.

If you want to be a man or woman of faith like Daniel it can be very risky! Let your relationship to Jesus be the final Word in every action that you take. Let nothing, even a new law, come in between you and Jesus.

When the law of God and the law of man come into conflict choosing to follow God is never a loosing strategy. Live your life like Daniel praying in front of an open window and then you will have nothing to fear from the den of lions, even if they kill you!

Remember if you pray without ceasing you will pray when the window is shut and when the window is open. But the example of Daniel is this: Leave your window open and trust God!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Old Dog–New Tricks!

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Proverbs will teach you
wisdom and self-control
and how to understand
sayings with deep meanings.

You will learn what is right
and honest and fair.

From these, an ordinary person
can learn to be smart,
and young people can gain
knowledge and good sense.

If you are already wise,
you will become even wiser.
And if you are smart,
you will learn to understand

proverbs and sayings,
as well as words of wisdom,
and all kinds of riddles.

Respect and obey the [Lord]!
This is the beginning
of knowledge.
Only a fool rejects wisdom
and good advice.

Proverbs 1:2-7

I still have not found the words "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" in the Bible. First of all, you are not a dog and God never says you are finished until you take your last breath on this earth.

One of the lies of Satan when you reach the "more mature" years of your life is to tell you that your life is over and nothing else can be done that makes any difference.

Our Western society venerates youth instead of age. What a foolish thing to do. The goal of most Americans is to look, act, and feel like they are very young and to hide from everyone how old they really are. We also exhibit a collective wisdom that is earmarked by the foolishness of youth! Notably, I know of no great country, institution or university that was founded by a bunch of kids!

So here is the suggestion for today. No matter how old you are go back to school in the Book of Proverbs. As it says "If you are wise, you will become even wiser."

"Lord, I may be old, but I am not a dog and I need to learn things from You that are new everyday. Teach me Lord as I wait for Your return!"

 

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