Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Keep Your Eyes on Heaven!

Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise.  Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city God had planned and built. Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son.  Her husband Abraham was almost dead, but he became the ancestor of many people. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the seashore.

Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth.  When people talk this way, it is clear they are looking for a place to call their own.  If they had been talking about the land where they had once lived, they could have gone back at any time.  But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. This is why God wasn't ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them.

Hebrews 11:9-16

When a sports team continues to win victory after victory, there will come a day when they will play the championship game and the ultimate prize is at hand!  

As a follower of Jesus Christ, you will discover that He will give you the strength to win battle after battle and overcome the temptation to turn away from Him.  He will show you the way that you should go and will help you walk that way!

The testimony of many people is all about where they came from in their journey toward Heaven.  But these folks in Hebrews 11 are talking about where they are going!  Keep your mind on Heaven and your eyes on the goal of your faith.  Keep your ears open for a Word from the Holy Spirit and your heart continually turned in loving submission to Jesus!  Then you will be always ready for the Day of the Lord and the Coming of Jesus!

“Lord Jesus, help me today to think more about the future than the past.  Give me a new vision of the wonderful things that are to come because of who You are!  My Lord and my Savior.  Amen.”

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Breath and Life!

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?

You already know what is holding this wicked one back until it is time for him to come.  His mysterious power is already at work, but someone is holding him back. And the wicked one won't appear until this someone is out of the way.  Then he will appear, but the Lord Jesus will kill him simply by breathing on him. He will be completely destroyed by the Lord's glorious return.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

For Adam, the breath of God was the beginning of life, the point of creation!  But for the wicked one described in these verses it is the end!  

There is great power in God’s breath!  And, in fact it is with the breath of God that He formed the Words, let there be light!  

Mankind which was created in the image of God also has power in the breath that comes from them.  Your breath brings life to plants as you breathe out the carbon dioxide that plants need to live!

For the one who rebelled against God and became known as the “Wicked One,” the breath of God is lethal!  So God’s breath brings life or it brings death!  

“Lord Jesus, may I be one of those who live because of Your breath!  Help me to always seek You so that Your breath will bring nothing but blessing to my life.  And may You be praised forever.  Amen.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Uncomfortable Spirit!

The Lord said:
The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement. Here is the new agreement that I, the Lord, will make with the people of Israel:

“I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will they have to teach one another to obey me. I, the Lord, promise that all of them will obey me, ordinary people and rulers alike. I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34

When the Holy Spirit is living in your heart, the laws of God are written on that heart and on your mind.  Then, knowing the right thing to do when you have two options is usually obvious.  One option is clearly consistent with the Holy Spirit living in your heart and the other one is not.  

I think most people know what a “restless spirit” is when it comes to your own life.  When you are not comfortable in your situation you become disturbed and desire a change.  But when the Holy Spirit is the restless Spirit in your heart, you become keenly aware that something about your actions or direction in life is wrong!  The Holy Spirit desires that you change your actions or direction.  

Following Jesus does not consist of your being obedient to a set of rules that you find in a Book.  If you are a disciple of Christ you chart your course according to the laws of God that He has written on your heart and mind.  And, by the way they are also in the Book!

“Lord Jesus, help me today to make the Holy Spirit comfortable in my heart.  May my heart and mind be available for You to write Your will in my life.  May You, Jesus be praised forever.  Amen.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

God Plows the Field

Isaiah was fearless enough to tell that the Lord had said, “I was found by people who were not looking for me.  I appeared to the ones who were not asking about me.”

And Isaiah said about the people of Israel, “All day long the Lord has reached out to people who are stubborn and refuse to obey.”

Romans 10:20-21

What is the difference between a man who is seeking God, and a man who is being sought by Him?  The Bible clearly says that when you seek God, you will find Him.  But when God seeks you, He waits for you to respond to His promptings and callings.  Some say that all God does today is to have someone present us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then He waits for our decision.  I believe it is not that simple.  

There are many stories today of people who considered themselves enemies of Christ and then they dreamed about a man, that they later realized was Jesus!  In their pursuit of understanding the dream many of these people have become followers of Jesus, but there is no way to know how many men and women to whom Jesus appeared refused to seek Him.  

Pray that all men on earth will have the opportunity to come to faith in Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior!  And don’t forget that God has already been plowing the field even before you plant the seed!

“Lord Jesus, thank You for letting me be part of what You are doing in the world today!  I pray that all men may be convicted of their need for You today so that they may seek You and find You!    May You Jesus, be praised forever.  Amen.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Concealed Carry Idols

Jacob had set up camp in the hill country of Gilead, when Laban and his relatives came and set up camp in another part of the hill country. Laban went to Jacob and said: Look what you've done! You've tricked me and run off with my daughters like a kidnapper.  Why did you sneak away without telling me? I would have given you a going-away party with singing and with music on tambourines and harps.  You didn't even give me a chance to kiss my own grandchildren and daughters goodbye. That was really foolish.  I could easily hurt you, but the God your father worshiped has warned me not to make any threats or promises. I can understand why you were eager to return to your father, but why did you have to steal my idols?

Jacob answered, “I left secretly because I was afraid you would take your daughters from me by force.  If you find that any one of us has taken your idols, I'll have that person killed. Let your relatives be witnesses. Show me what belongs to you, and you can take it back.” Jacob did not realize that Rachel had stolen the household idols.

Laban searched the tents of Jacob, Leah, and the two servant women, but did not find the idols. Then he went to Rachel's tent.  She had already hidden them in the cushion she used as a saddle and was sitting on it. Laban searched everywhere and did not find them.

Genesis 31:25-34

Why would Rachel want to conceal and carry away the idols that were in her father’s home?  The Bible does not say, but it seems obvious that she wanted them for security.  Although she was the favored wife she had a very difficult time conceiving children.  She ultimately had only Joseph and Benjamin, but was barren for a long time before that. Taking her father’s idols seemed to say that Rachel was not at this point a woman of great faith in God.

Are you, like Rachel in the middle of seeing great things that God is doing around you, and yet you are holding on to powerless idols that may have been part of your life as your grew up?  There are things in everyone’s life that must be abandoned as you grow and follow Jesus.  Check your heart and mind and see if you are keeping anything concealed in your heart that Jesus wants you to destroy!  

“Lord Jesus, search my heart and show me if I am trying to conceal anything from You.  I do want to be completely Yours.  And, may You be praised forever.  Amen.” 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Let Jesus be Your Head!

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I saw an angel come down from heaven, carrying the key to the deep pit and a big chain.  He chained the dragon for 1,000 years. It is that old snake, who is also known as the devil and Satan.  Then the angel threw the dragon into the pit. He locked and sealed it, so 1,000 years would go by before the dragon could fool the nations again. But after that, it would have to be set free for a little while.

I saw thrones, and sitting on those thrones were the ones who had been given the right to judge. I also saw the souls of the people who had their heads cut off because they had told about Jesus and preached God's message. 

They were the same ones who had not worshiped the beast or the idol, and they had refused to let its mark be put on their foreheads or hands. They will come to life and rule with Christ for 1,000 years.

These people are the first to be raised to life, and they are especially blessed and holy. The second death has no power over them. They will be priests for God and Christ and will rule with them for 1,000 years. No other dead people were raised to life until 1,000 years later.

Revelation 20:1-6

You have seen the pictures of followers of Jesus having their heads cut off because of their unshakeable faith!  If someone you know has suffered that fate, then these words in Revelation 20 are especially comforting.  There is a special blessing for those who suffer in that way.  Losing your life for Jesus will be rewarded!

But the truth is that all followers of Jesus are called to lose their lives for Him.  You may not  have the “opportunity” to become a martyr and have your head cut off, but you can and must let Jesus be the one who rules your life and your every decision.

Know for sure when you give up your life for Jesus, there is a special blessing for you from your Heavenly Father!

“Lord Jesus, give me the courage to be willing to become a martyr for you!  And help me to be willing to let You be my Head even while I am alive on this earth.  Praise Your Holy Name forever.  Amen.”

Friday, August 12, 2016

Convert Not Kill!

“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.” 

Revelation 12:13-17

You will often hear someone say today that it is difficult to win a war if you are not willing to name the enemy!  If you don’t recognize the enemy, you may find yourself embracing the one who wants to destroy you.

When you are at war, don’t be confused about who the enemy is.   In the War against Christians those who follow Jesus must recognize the enemy if they are to wield the Sword of the Spirit in making their counter attacks!  Your enemy as a Christian is not any other human being.  Your enemy is Satan himself!  He is the one who is orchestrating the War!

The Enemy of Christ inspires many men to join with him in fighting followers of Jesus, but the Blood of Jesus and His Holy Spirit are waiting even for those enemies of Christ who would turn to Him for their own Salvation!  

The amazing truth about the War between Satan and followers of Jesus is that our goal is to Convert Not Kill those who are fighting for Satan!  Then the only blood that is shed in the battle will be the Blood of Jesus and the only death will be the death of the “old life” of a New Believer!  

“Lord Jesus, help me today to fight to win those who oppose You so that they too can know the joy of Heaven!  May Your Name be praised forever.  Amen.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Christians Need Not Fear!

I am the Lord, the one who encourages you. Why are you afraid of mere humans? They dry up and die like grass. I spread out the heavens and laid foundations for the earth. But you have forgotten me, your Lord and Creator. All day long you were afraid of those who were angry and hoped to oppress you. Where are they now?

Everyone crying out in pain will be quickly set free; they will be rescued from the power of death and never go hungry. I will help them because I am your God, the Lord All-Powerful, who makes the ocean roar.

Isaiah 51:12-15

The world today is a very fearful place.  The world and most people who live in it are filled with fear!  In the United States many people fear that one candidate will be elected President and many others fear that the other one will be elected.  And if you listen to what they say, each side has fears that are not totally unreasonable.

But what about those who follow Jesus Christ?  Do Christians have any reason at all to fear in this world?  They do not!  Because of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the promise of His return to take us home to be with Him forever there is no reason for a Christian to fear any man on earth!  Jesus Himself even said that we do not need to fear a man who can only kill our bodies.  The worst thing your enemies can do to you is to send you into the arms of Jesus!  

If you are not a follower of Jesus, then you do need to be afraid of someone who can kill you.  Once you die and leave this earth your eternal fate is sealed!  And as bad as life on this earth may be, Hell will be many times worse!

So instead of spending your time protecting yourself from evil people on this earth, focus all your energy on Jesus Christ and being obedient to His every Word!  Let Jesus be the Lord of your life so you can live every day without fear!

“Lord Jesus, I thank You again today that with You in control of my life I have nothing to fear, not even death itself!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!  Amen.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Bring Honor to Jesus!

“God chose you, and we keep praying that God will make you worthy of being his people. We pray for God's power to help you do all the good things you hope to do and your faith makes you want to do. Then, because of the undeserved grace of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, you will bring honor to the name of our Lord Jesus, and he will bring honor to you.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

When you bring honor to the name of Jesus, He will bring honor to you!  So, how does one man bring honor to someone, anyone?  A son brings honor to his father when the world around him sees how he lives and credits his father for teaching him to be the man he has become!  A successful student brings honor to the one who taught him.  And by the way, fathers love to be proud of their children and teachers love to be proud of their students.  

Another way you can bring honor to Jesus is by doing good things by His power and telling others what He has done and how great He is!  It helps to be specific and don’t forget to include the “small” things!  It is the small acts of kindness that prove your constant love for someone, not just the “big” things!

Who loves you more, the man who pays your salary for what you do at work, or the one who prepares your daily meals?  Of course, Jesus provided for your salvation, but He also gives you your daily bread!  

People who don’t know Jesus are often more impressed with the “little” things that He does in taking care of His children!  Honor Jesus by telling others what He did for you this morning!  The prospect of living with Jesus forever in Heaven is wonderful, but living with Jesus today here on earth is frankly more enticing for those who are suffering!  

“Lord Jesus, I want to honor You today by how I live and what I say about You.  Give me opportunity to show Your wonderful power and love to those around me.  And may Your Name be Praised forever!  Amen.”

Monday, August 8, 2016

Obedience Training for Christians!

Jesus was still speaking, when Judas the betrayer came up. He was one of the twelve disciples, and a large mob armed with swords and clubs was with him. They had been sent by the chief priests and the nation's leaders. Judas had told them ahead of time, “Arrest the man I greet with a kiss.” Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him.  Jesus replied, “My friend, do what you came for.”

The men grabbed Jesus and arrested him. One of Jesus' followers pulled out a sword. He struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. But Jesus told him, “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting.  Don't you know that I could ask my Father, and he would at once send me more than twelve armies of angels?  But then, how could the words of the Scriptures come true, which say this must happen?”

Matthew 26:47-54

When it comes time for you to be “Crucified with Christ,” do you call for armies of angels to save you from that fate, or do you do as Jesus did and recognize the Will of God in your life?  

But how could crucifixion be God’s Will for you?  Doesn’t God oppose all evil?  Why would He allow you to suffer?  Didn’t Jesus suffer so that we wouldn’t have to endure persecution and pain?  

Of course, it is difficult to understand why any follower of Jesus would be called upon to endure great hardships and suffering.  But consider Hebrews 5:8 that says:  “Jesus is God's own Son, but still he had to suffer before he could learn what it really means to obey God.”

The bottom line is that Pain has a Purpose!  When you experience difficulty and hardship as a follower of Jesus, you are enrolled in obedience training for Christians!

“Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me enough to let me learn to be obedient through suffering.  May You, Jesus be praised forever.  Amen.”

Friday, August 5, 2016

All is Well Only in Jesus!

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So I am going to punish those lying prophets for deceiving the people of Israel with false messages. I will turn against them and no longer let them belong to my people. They will not be allowed to call themselves Israelites or even to set foot in Israel. Then they will realize that I am the Lord God.

Those prophets refuse to be honest. They tell my people there will be peace, even though there's no peace to be found. They are like workers who think they can fix a shaky wall by covering it with paint.  But when I send rainstorms, hailstones, and strong winds, the wall will surely collapse.  People will then ask the workers why the paint didn't hold it up.

That wall is the city of Jerusalem. And I, the Lord God, am so angry that I will send strong winds, rainstorms, and hailstones to destroy it.  The lying prophets have tried to cover up the evil in Jerusalem, but I will tear down the city, all the way to its foundations. And when it collapses, those prophets will be killed, and everyone will know that I have done these things.

The city of Jerusalem and its lying prophets will feel my fierce anger. Then I will announce that the city has fallen and that the lying prophets are dead,   because they promised my people peace, when there was no peace. I, the Lord God, have spoken.

Ezekiel 13:8-16

There are two voices that you can hear today!  One voice sounds the alarm that there is danger right at the door and that we must act and act quickly or we will all perish.  

The other voice says, “All is well.  How foolish you would be to believe that things are not safe and wonderful and better than they have ever been before!”  This voice is the one that tells you to relax and enjoy the “good times” because there is no real danger.  

Everyone wants to believe the voice that says “All is well.”  It is the enticing sound of Satan that once again pulls you away from the reality of God’s Word!

All is well if you are a follower of Jesus Christ.  All is well if you have given your life to Him.  All is well if your greatest desire in life is to please God by how you live each day!  But if your steps are not directed by the Holy Spirit, let me assure you that ALL IS NOT WELL!  If you are not on the road to Heaven, then you are indeed on the road to Hell and feeling good about the trip will not make the destination any less tragic!

“Lord Jesus, remind me again today that all is not well unless I am living in a personal relationship with You.  May Your Holy Spirit direct my every step today and forever.  Amen.”  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Build Your Boat!

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“The Lord saw how bad the people on earth were and that everything they thought and planned was evil. He was sorry that he had made them, and he said, “I'm going to destroy every person on earth! I'll even wipe out animals, birds, and reptiles. I'm sorry I ever made them.”  But the Lord was pleased with Noah, and this is the story about him. Noah was the only person who lived right and obeyed God.”

Genesis 6:5-9

“What can I do Lord?  I think I may be the only one I know who trusts You and wants to follow You.”

The Bible doesn’t say that Noah prayed those words, but surely, Noah felt that he was powerless to do anything positive in the world!  Noah didn’t even have a small group of fellow believers who shared his love of God and desired to do God’s Will.  

Noah did not know that the future of every man who would ever live on earth after the time of Noah would rest squarely on his shoulders.  Today, Noah is everyone’s ancestor!  If it had not been for the faith and faithfulness of Noah the human race would not exist today!

So you feel alone in your walk with the Lord.  You may even be discouraged because, even though you are not alone, there are only a few other serious followers of Jesus around you!

Remember that when one man or woman trusts God and is faithful in being obedient to Him, the fate of the whole world may rest in the balance!  One man’s faith can rescue everyone on earth!  That is what happened in the case of Noah and those who would follow him!

Your job is not to persuade everyone to repent!  Your job is to trust the Lord and obey every Word you hear that comes from Him!  Noah didn’t know how important his faith and obedience were, and neither do you!

“Lord Jesus, there is no limit to what You can do with the faith of even one weak person like me.  Show me today how to build the boat you have planned for my life.  May You, Jesus be praised forever.  Amen.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Waiting for Jesus!

We die only once, and then we are judged.  So Christ died only once to take away the sins of many people. But when he comes again, it will not be to take away sin. He will come to save everyone who is waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

There are many phrases in the English language that may be hard to understand if you simply rely on the dictionary definition of the words.  When you hear the words “what are you waiting for” there are two possible meanings.  The speaker may be asking you to say specifically what you are expecting to happen.  But it is more likely that the question is “why are you delaying action” on a matter.

Another use of the word “wait” is this: When someone says “I just can’t wait,” it doesn’t mean that they can’t wait.  It rather means that they are anxious for something to happen and they wish it would come soon.

But there is no confusion about the meaning of the words in Hebrews 9:28!  If you are to be saved when Jesus comes, it will be because you are one of those who is waiting for Him!  Of course, the idea of waiting for Jesus includes action on your part and the excitement of expectation!  Waiting for Jesus is not just sitting still and looking to the sky!  As you wait for Jesus you will be listening to every Word from the Holy Spirit that directs your steps.  Also, waiting for Jesus builds your desire to see Him face to face and the hope that today will be that day!

“Lord Jesus, if I am still alive on this earth on the Day that You return, may I be one of those who is Waiting for You.  Praise Your Holy Name, now and forever.  Amen.” 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Eternal Makeover!

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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. The first man was named Adam, and the Scriptures tell us that he was a living person. But Jesus, who may be called the last Adam, is a life-giving spirit.  We see that the one with a spiritual body did not come first. He came after the one who had a physical body. The first man was made from the dust of the earth, but the second man came from heaven. Everyone on earth has a body like the body of the one who was made from the dust of the earth. And everyone in heaven has a body like the body of the one who came from heaven. Just as we are like the one who was made out of earth, we will be like the one who came from heaven.

My friends, I want you to know that our bodies of flesh and blood will decay. This means they cannot share in God's kingdom, which lasts forever.  I will explain a mystery to you. Not every one of us will die, but we will all be changed.  It will happen suddenly, quicker than the blink of an eye. At the sound of the last trumpet the dead will be raised. We will all be changed, so we will never die again.  Our dead and decaying bodies will be changed into bodies that won't die or decay.   The bodies we now have are weak and can die. But they will be changed into bodies that are eternal. Then the Scriptures will come true,

“Death has lost the battle!

1 Corinthians 15:43-54

Millions, if not billions of dollars are spent every year by people who want their physical bodies to “never die.”  Exercise and weight loss programs are coupled with “plastic” surgeries and all kinds of nutritional supplements to avoid the inevitable aging and death process!

But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your body will experience an “Eternal Makeover” that will leave you looking and feeling young forever!    Now, certainly it is not wrong to take care of your physical body here on this earth, but no matter how hard you work at it, your physical body will not last forever!  Even on this earth, a little baby becomes a child and a child becomes an adult.  If you have Jesus as the Lord of your life, your final change will be at the twinkling of an eye and your new body will be like the body of Jesus and it will last forever!  So instead of spending all your time and money trying to make this human body last forever, or simply look like it will, invest all you have into being ready for the change!  And you can be certain that the change will come!

“Lord Jesus, thank You for the promise that I will get a body that will be like Yours, and that I can keep that body forever!  Praise Your Holy Name!  Amen.”