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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Do You Enjoy Your Life?

English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, ...
English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, Kyiv, Ukraine). Source: own camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In light of all that is happening in the world today, one may be tempted to say, what is there to enjoy? Every time we pick up the newspapers, or turn on the television we hear and see things, which, if we are not careful, can send us into a deep state of depression. Hence the reason for the question, do you enjoy your life? Or better still, can you enjoy your life when all around you there is pain and suffering?

Joyce Meyer, popular televangelist, has built a worldwide ministry around the theme, Enjoying Everyday Life. When one listens to her speak about growing up with an abusive father and all the things she had to endure, one wonders that today she can encourage others to enjoy their lives. The truth is, if you're living a life of poverty, abuse and hardship, and you are anxious and disheartened by all the bad news you hear everyday, there may not be much to enjoy.

 But listen to what Jesus said. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer ; I have overcome the world" (John 16: 33). The key is in me. In Him, Jesus Christ. If you are in Him, you will have peace and joy unspeakable and full of glory. You will not be bothered about what is going on around you, you will not be afraid of evil tidings, because your heart is fixed trusting in the Lord.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

When Storms Come

Jesus with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee...
Jesus with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee, Ernst Georg Bartsch, 1967 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Not too long ago, I wrote on Facebook: Most people are either in a storm, coming out of one or about to enter one. Little did I know that I was about to enter one. This past week, one of my sons suffered a vicious knife attack and was fortunate to escape with a wound to his leg and a cut on his forehead. As you may well imagine, I was, and still am, shaken over this incident. To think that you can be in danger of losing your life while going about your normal, everyday business is frightening.

This is the thing about storms; they come upon us unawares, when we are busy, when we are tired, when we need to rest or to concentrate. We are never prepared for a storm. Jesus had been teaching and preaching to large crowds all day, so when evening came and He said to the disciples, "Let us go over to the other side," (Mark 4: 35), they must have been glad to get away from the crowd and all the clamor and get to a place where they could rest. But it was not to be.  "A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped" (v 37).

The disciples were afraid and they called on Jesus who, get this, was asleep on a cushion. Mark doesn't say it, but from their words it seems the disciples' fear turned to anger. "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"(v 38). You know the rest. Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and the waves and the storm ceased. And then He did something else. He rebuked them. "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

But then the story takes a strange twist.  They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"(v 41). They were not afraid because Jesus rebuked them; they were afraid because the wind and the waves obeyed Him. Despite all the miracles and all the preaching, they didn't really expect that Jesus could calm the wind and the waves. 

That's where the test of our faith comes. I have to confess that I am not much different from those men. When the storm comes, I know Jesus is in my boat. I call on Him, but then I worry. I worry that that young man, or someone else, may come after my son again. But I have no cause to fear because "He has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1 : 7). 

And how do we develop this spirit of power and love and sound mind? By going through a storm, of course, and knowing that He is right there with us. 

 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

What Do You Want From God?

If we were to examine the contents of our prayers, we may find that we are always telling
God what we want. Or asking Him for things. And there's nothing wrong with that really. Jesus said we are to ask and we will receive. Matthew 7 : 7. But are we following God only for what He can give us, or do for us? Sadly, some people turn away from God and from the church because they feel disappointed. They are not getting what they hoped for and they go back into the world.

I read this in The Daily Devotional recently: It's not that we do not want God. We want Him - and a house by the lake, an impressive career, a perfect spouse and whatever else catches our fancy. But what we have to remember is that God is all-wise and all-knowing. He knows what we need even before we ask Him (Matthew 6: 8). And in His wisdom and love, He will only give us those things that are good for us, at the right time and in the right amount.

James put it this way: When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (4:3). 

So what do we really need from God? King Solomon prayed for knowledge and wisdom so he could lead the people (2 Chronicles 1 : 10). God replied, "therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have" (1: 12).

If you don't know what to ask God for, pray the Our Father prayer. Here it is:  'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one ' (Matthew 6 : 9 -13).

It has everything we need.

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And speaking of prayer, America is in dire of prayer. This month Southern Baptists are praying daily for this nation state by state.
Please join with us as we pray for Iowa and Kansas and for a spiritual awakening in the nation, that the gospel of Jesus Christ would spread across this land and that people of all ages, races and backgrounds would be drawn to Christ.  

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Where Is God?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? If you are like most of us, you have.  But
you are not alone. Other great men and women of the Bible felt that way, and later events proved them wrong.When weeks grow into months and months grow into years and your prayers are not answered, you may despair and think that
God has forgotten you.

Abram wanted an heir, but as he and his wife Sarai grew older and they did not have a child, Abram thought he would have to leave his inheritance to his servant's child. But the Lord said to Abram, "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir" (Genesis 15: 4). 

Abram believed what God told him, but he did not hear from God again, and his wife remained barren. If you know the story, you know what followed. Abram and Sarai became tired of waiting and took matters into their own hands. Sarai gave her maid Hagar to Abram so she could have a child through her. Hagar does become pregnant and has a son whom they call Ishmael. And after all this, God reappears when Abram is ninety-nine years old and his wife, now Sarah, almost ninety and once more tells him that he will have a son,

There are so many lessons in this story about Abraham and Sarah (God changed their names.) During those twenty odd years that they waited for God's promise to be fulfilled they must have asked themselves many times, "Where is God? Why doesn't He answer us?" Abraham and Sarah had a difficult wait, but for many of us, waiting can be painful. If you are ill, in need of a job or have some other pressing problem that doesn't seem to be going away, you may be tempted to give up. Or give in, as Abraham and Sarah did. 

Listen to the complaint of the prophet Habakkuk: "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?" And he went on and on to complain about the injustices of his day. But what did the Lord say? "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. -- but the righteous will live by his faith-- (2: 2 - 4).

Let's live by faith. Don't give up and don't give in.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do You Make Mistakes?

The inspiration for this post came from something I heard recently: People who never make mistakes never make anything. I thought it was neat, and adequately sums up the essence of this post. Do you know of someone who is so careful, so afraid of making a mistake he never ventures out? He plays it safe, never takes risks, stays close to home base. Do you think that person is happy?

I read of a man who had acres of land, but did nothing with them. Reason? He was afraid of making a mistake. On June 5, 1944 thousands of American paratroopers jumped into Normandy. Four men refused to jump. Their lives ended that day, according to playwright David Marnet.

The apostle Peter has been called a lot of names - impulsive, foolhardy etc., but no one can say he was afraid to make a mistake. And Jesus, knowing the kind of person Peter was, commanded him to come to Him on the water. I believe the reason Jesus made Peter the founder of His church is that He knew that Peter would not let fear stand in his way. Jesus knew that Peter faced a daunting task, but he would not back down because he knew God was on his side.

Do you make mistakes? Then you are in good company. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. Your mistakes are only stepping stones from your success. Trust God. Ask Him to guide you, and He will see you through. Here are some scriptures to help you when you make mistakes.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41: 10.  

Though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.  Psalm 37: 24

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.1 Peter 5: 6-7

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time To De-Clutter

While on vacation, I visited a friend I had not seen in a long time. After our enthusiastic greeting, my friend took me to her bedroom and showed me her closet. It was crammed from top to bottom with so many things, it was difficult to really see what was in it. In other words, it was like looking at a forest and not seeing the trees. As I stared at her closet, I recalled it had been in the same condition a couple years ago.

She shook her head in dismay. "I have to do something, but I don't know where to begin."

All I could do was nod and agree. And give her the suggestion I've heard so many times on television - if you haven't used it in a year, throw it out.

Do you have a closet like that? Packed with stuff you have forgotten you have? Do you long to throw out some of that junk, but don't know where to start? Do you wish you could just turn it over to someone who knew what to do?

Just as our closets can be clogged with things we no longer need, so can our lives. All that stuff can burden us to the point that we stagger under their weight, and feel anxious and overwhelmed. And like my friend, we may not know where to begin. How do we get rid of jealousy, pride, anger, prejudice, bad habits, bad relationships, and the myriad things that are choking out the good qualities God wants to develop in us?

My friend longs to have some order and space in her closet so she can select her items with ease, and until she begins to ruthlessly throw some things out, she will never have what she needs. As Christians, we are more fortunate. We don't have to do our internal cleaning ourselves. In fact, like my friend, we won't know where or how to begin. But thank God, we have the Holy Spirit who will cleanse us from within and help us breathe freely once more.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Do You Have A friend?

The focus of social media is getting us to establish as many friendships or connections as possible. The founders of Facebook and other social media platforms have capitalized on something the rest of us took for granted, so if you are not on Facebook, you are part of a rare minority. We all need someone to communicate with, to share our joys and sorrows with, and sometimes to vent our frustrations on.

The Bible gives us some examples of true friendships: David and Jonathan, Abraham and God, Moses and God, Ruth and Naomi, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and his disciples, and many others. God knows the value of true friendship. He has placed something in us that helps us spot a kindred spirit in unfamiliar surroundings, and if conditions are right, friendship ensues.

But sadly, in my job, I come across many people who tell me they have no friends. This always saddens me, because I can't begin to imagine my life without my friends. And I don't mean Facebook friends, although I love them as well. But there is Someone who will gladly be your Friend, if you will let Him. His name is Jesus. He is a friend of  sinners (Matthew 11: 19); one that sticketh closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); He is the One who laid down His life for His friends (John 15: 13) and the One who promises never to leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Do you have a friend like that? I said earlier I can't imagine my life without my friends, but none of them carry the attributes listed above. They won't be with me forever and they certainly can't die in my place. So today, whether you have tons of friends or not even one, won't you make Jesus your friend?
Just pray this prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord, Savior and Friend. Amen.