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Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Lift Up My Eyes To The Hills

English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range fr...
English: Trinidad and Tobago Northern range from the Asa Wright Nature Centre, my photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is there a particular natural feature that makes you catch your breath, stare in wonder, sets your pulse racing? I think almost all of nature makes me stand in awe and think about the One who created it, but there is one particular feature that really sets my soul on fire, and that is mountains. Having just returned from a short vacation in my native country Trinidad and Tobago, mountains are very much on my mind. From the minute the plane begins to descend, my eyes are riveted on the hills and they are the last things I look at when I am leaving.

Tall, forest-clad, majestic, their highest peak stands just over 3000 feet, so they are really considered hills in comparison to the mountains of the world, but for me they are impressive enough to make me love them. They frame the small island with their undulating beauty and form a protective barrier from hurricane winds. It was said that when Christopher Columbus discovered Trinidad in 1498 and he saw the three peaks of the Northern Range, they reminded him of the Trinity, and so he named the island La Trinidad which later became Trinidad.

When I look at those hills, so majestic, so immovable, so protective, so invincible, so impenetrable I can't help but think about my Creator who is all those things and more. Hills and mountains have many benefits for the people of that land. In addition to providing protection from strong winds, they were used as forts in time of war. From the hills come rivers and streams to water the land and cause crops to grow. Wild animals dwell there and precious minerals lie buried.

We can compare the hills to our God. He is our protector, our refuge, our provider and the source of all our supply. He cannot be moved, He protects us in our sleeping and waking moments, He cannot be destroyed and no one can fathom His height or depth, length or breadth. He is as solid, as timeless and as breathtaking as the hills. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121: 1)

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Break Down Those Walls

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...
English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation wall at Former Check Point Charlie, Berlin. The photo documentation is permanently placed in the public. Türkçe: Berlin Duvarı, 1989 sonbaharı (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had another post already drafted to be published today, but then I saw somewhere that today is the anniversary of the pulling down of the Berlin wall, and I thought I couldn't miss out on commenting on this historic event.

A lot of young people may have never heard of the Berlin wall, but for older folks like myself, familiar with the Cold War and all it entailed, the Berlin wall was a physical and political barrier that separated West Berlin from East Germany. It also represented the separation of communism from democracy, oppression from freedom. Twenty-five years today, that wall was demolished as hastily as it was erected and Germany is a united country.

Many of us build up walls between ourselves and others. Walls of prejudice, racism, hate and anger. Some of us are so insecure, we shun love and companionship and encase ourselves within our own cocoon. God does not want us to live that way. This is the reason he placed us in families and communities so we can fellowship and learn from each other. The Bible says, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians 2: 14).

Note the words, "he himself is our peace." People who live within walls have no peace. They are always on the lookout for an attack, but when the wall is broken down, they can breathe easily, move freely. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus, by His death on the cross and His resurrection, broke down the wall of sin that separated us from God. Now we have been reunited with the Father and enjoy all the freedom that comes with being His child.

What walls have you built around yourself? Sin, anger, unforgiveness, fear? It's time to let Jesus break them down and come into your heart. Let Him be your peace; let Him be your shield and your protector. You don't need those walls. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8: 36). Invite Him in today.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Do You See Yourself?

I am always puzzled when I read about celebrities who complain about their looks, status
or some other thing. These people seem to have it all. The public adores them and thinks their looks are perfect and their performance divine. So why are they not satisfied?

If they can be dissatisfied with themselves, how much easier it is for the ordinary John or Jane to have a low opinion about themselves? This was the case of Gideon. Israel had fallen on hard times on account of the Midanites and other eastern peoples who had invaded their land. He had such low self-esteem that when an angel appeared to him and addressed him as "Mighty warrior" (Judges 6: 12), Gideon replied, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" The Lord answered, "I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together"(v 15 - 16). 

But Gideon was not convinced. He asked God to give him a sign (v 36 - 39) . And the Lord did so (v 40). And so it was that Gideon conquered the Midianites, but not before God had showed him more signs and caused him to hear someone interpreting a dream that foretold victory for the Israelites

So it is with us. We see ourselves as weak, insignificant, destined for failure even though God assures us that He is with us. We will not go after the job we want or the business we would like to start because we are afraid we might fail. But in God's eyes we are not failures. The Bible says, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8 : 37).

If you are born again, when you look yourself in the mirror, you should see yourself as God sees you - son/daughter of the Most High God, bought with a price, beloved, redeemed, worthy, blessed and highly favored, the head and not the tail -- Shall I go on? Love yourself, because God loves you. 


 

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.