Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Silence of God


He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.  Psalm 32:10, NKJV

Is God silent in your life? What prayers has He not answered for you?

At a time of unanswered prayer in my life years ago, my mother taught me the verse to a hymn 
that I still quote when I am totally baffled by events that seem to careen out of the orbit of what I have asked:

Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee,

Trust Him when thy strength is small,

Trust Him when to simply trust Him,

Seems the hardest thing of all.

Is your focus on your immediate need blinding you to a greater purpose that God is working out? 

Would you choose to be patient and simply trust Him? Sometimes God does not answer our immediate prayer because He has something greater in store for us.

Blessings,

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Set Free!


Set Free!

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.   Romans 6:18, NIV


With blood flowing from His wounds and streaming down His face from the thorns in His brow, Jesus stood before Pilate. As part of the Passover celebration, it was Pilate's custom to release any prisoner the crowd chose. It just so happened that "at that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So . . . Pilate asked them, 'Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus Who is called Christ?'" (Matt. 27:16-17, NIV)


The rulers shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" (John 18:40, NIV). Barabbas! Barabbas was a thief and a murderer and a rabble-rouser! The religious leaders of Israel were demanding that Barabbas be set free and Jesus be crucified. And so Barabbas became the first person to be set free by the death of Jesus.


Jesus died, not just in the place of Barabbas, but in your place and mine. Because He died, I am free! Free from my sin and its penalty, so are you!


Blessings,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Rite of Passage

A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. 


He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. 


The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! 


Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We too are never alone. 


Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us.Sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. 


Moral of the story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there. "For we walk by faith, not by sight.


GOD bless!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

God Lifts the Pressure


The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.  Psalm 29:11, NKJV


Do you feel overwhelmed and smothered by pressure? 

 Are you desperate for "breathing room"? 

 Do you try to escape the stress through . . .

an extended vacation,

therapeutic counseling,

alcohol,

drugs,

entertainment, or

a romantic liaison . . .

only to find when you stop to assess your condition you are no better than you were before, because the pressure is from within?

Only God has the power to lift the pressure from within you. Your circumstances may remain the same, but He has the power to give you breathing room. He can give your spirit peace and rest, even as He gives your life a new dimension. Just ask Him.

Blessings,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thank Him Now


He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.   Isaiah 53:5, NIV



Perhaps thinking to satisfy the crowd's thirst for blood without actually going so far as to execute Jesus, Pilate had Him flogged. The flogging would have ripped the flesh off of His back, exposing His internal organs. History records that flogging victims either passed into unconsciousness, went insane, or died. The miracle is not that Jesus survived the whipping, but that He submitted to it! How easy it would have been for Him to defy them and, without cursing but in righteous judgment, send them all to hell!


Why? Why would God allow His Son to endure such physical torture? The answer had been given years earlier, when Isaiah solemnly prophesied, "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. . . . He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isa. 53:4-5, NIV).


Thank Him now for bearing God's judgment that should have been yours!


Blessings,
sc-signature

Friday, June 22, 2012

AN UNKNOWN GOD


Athens, around a.d. 50—leading city of ancient Greece and center of one of the greatest cultures the world has ever known. yet in this city famous for learning and philosophy stood an altar bearing the inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Within every human being persists a desire to worship something. But without knowing what we are to worship, we may worship the wrong object, construct an object to worship, or like the Athenians, simply conclude that we worship someone, even though we don’t know who it is we worship.

One day Paul, a man sent by God to speak the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, came to Athens. He spoke to the Athenians to tell them that God is a knowable God.

What Paul spoke in Athens two thousand years ago is just as relevant to us today. Paul said that God is the One who made the world and everything in it. As the Creator, He is also the Lord, the owner, of heaven and earth. This living God does not live in a temple made with human hands. Nor is He a being that is according to the thought or imagination of man. Instead, as the giver of life and breath to all things, God is the source of life. God is also the Creator of every nation dwelling on the face of the earth; thus, He is the source of all mankind.

Moreover, Paul said that God set a day when He will judge the entire world by a man designated by Him, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is the very God who came to be a man, a God-man. Jesus lived a sinless life. He then died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. But He did not remain in death—He was raised from the dead, and one day He will return to this earth.

Paul continued and said, “That they might seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, even though He is not far from each one of us.” God is the omnipresent Spirit, close to us. He is here even as you read this, and if you seek, you will find Him. Finally, Paul said that God, having overlooked the times of ignorance, charges all men everywhere to repent. To repent is to turn. We must turn from our not knowing or our not acknowledging the true God. As we turn to Him, we must believe in the One who was raised from the dead, Jesus Christ, and simply call upon Him. He will forgive us of our sins and come to live in us, and we will truly know Him.

God does not want to be the Unknown God to you. You can know Him right now by turning to Him and praying this simple prayer:

“Lord Jesus, You are God, my Creator and my Redeemer! Thank You for coming to be known by me. Thank You for dying for my sins. I believe in You as the One who was raised from the dead. I receive You into me right now.” Amen

Blessings

The Antidote to Fear


Trust in God; trust also in me.  John 14:1, NIV



Jesus commanded His disciples to "trust in God; trust also in me." The antidote to fear is faith.
When I toss and turn in the middle of the night, worried and fearful over something that is impending in my life or the life of someone I love, I am comforted and calmed as I meditate on Who God is. It helps me plant my faith in Someone Who is bigger than my fears. I just fall back on Who God is and rest in Him. He cannot be less than Himself! And my God is God!


Next time you feel afraid, make up a list - not of your fears but of the characteristics of God. Find a Scripture verse or passage to substantiate each one as you reconsider your situation in light of Who God is. Then, if you feel it would be helpful to list your fears, make sure beside each one you write down the attribute of God that applies. The secret to peace lies in your focus.


Blessings,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Sign of the Cross


This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.   Matthew 26:28, NKJV



God knew that after our salvation experience, as we sought to live a new life, we would sin again. And because of the continuing struggle with sin and failure in our lives, we would be tempted to doubt our salvation. So God gave us a sign of the new covenant. Jesus said it was the sign of His broken body and His poured-out blood. It was the sign of the cross.


Have you become so overwhelmed with your own weakness and failure and sin and inability to live a life that is pleasing to God that you have begun to doubt your salvation? Then look up! Take a good, long look at the cross and remember that God remembers. He loves you, He has forgiven you, He is eternally committed to you, and you are saved! Forever! Praise God! His covenant is unconditional!


Blessings,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THE WORD OF THE CROSS — FOOLISHNESS OR WISDOM?


“For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:18

Written nearly 2,000 years ago, these words in the Bible address the attitude of certain Greeks in Corinth who prided themselves on their philosophy. They ardently pursued wisdom in an attempt to understand the universe and mankind. Yet, although their philosophy had not answered the questions concerning the problems of human nature or the meaning of mankind’s existence, these wisdom seekers rejected the word concerning Jesus Christ and His crucifixion, dismissing it as foolishness.

The Bible reveals to us that God created mankind with a purpose. He wanted to enter into man to be man’s life, enjoyment, and everything. As a result, man would be God’s expression. God and man would not be two separate entities, one far away, worshipped by the other, but the two would be joined together in a loving relationship.

Before this could happen, God’s enemy, Satan, corrupted man and polluted him from the inside out. Man became sinful, dark both in deeds and thoughts, and thereafter struggled to overcome the inward evil and its consequences. He did not understand what God wanted or why he existed.

But God in His wisdom made a way of salvation: Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

Jesus Christ, to outward appearances, was simply a good man who died an ignoble death by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman government. But Jesus was more than a good man. He was the Almighty God who humbled Himself to become a lowly man. He was without sin, yet He willingly bore the sins of all mankind in His own body on the cross. His redemptive death saves us from sin and a meaningless existence.

The Lord Jesus not only died for us on the cross, but He also resurrected from the dead. In resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit who is available anywhere, anytime, to anyone.

This word can either be foolishness to us or it can be the power of God to save us. Which will it be to you? Will you reject this word as foolishness, even as you struggle with the problem of your sins and the emptiness of an existence without purpose? Or will you recognize the cross of Christ as God’s wisdom and the power of God to save you?

The Lord Jesus and all He did on the cross can be yours simply by your receiving Him. He is here now, waiting to come into you to be your salvation and the meaning of your human life. You can accept God’s way of salvation simply by opening your heart and praying:

“Lord Jesus, thank You for the word of the cross. I accept this word. I confess that I am a sinner. Thank You for dying for my sins on the cross. You are truly God’s way of salvation for me. Lord Jesus, I open my heart to You. Come into me. I receive You as my Savior and my life. Amen.”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lost and Found

Luke 15:11–32

How did I get here? The young man took a long look at his life. He was penniless, homeless, filthy, and starving. You would never know that he had once lived under the loving care of his wealthy father.

But he had left home, cut off his relationship with his father, squandered his inheritance on a life of sin, and ended up in this pitiful state. He finally came to his senses, and a deep feeling welled up in him: I need to go back to my father. But he was so ashamed. After all he had done, he wondered whether his father would even want him as a son anymore. In desperation, he decided he would return home and ask to be a servant.

He was unaware of the depth of his father’s love. Little did he know that his father had been longing for him, waiting and watching for the day he would return. As the young man made his way home, his father spotted him, even when he was still a long way off, and ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him affectionately.

Filthy and ragged, the repentant young man confessed to his father his sinful life, telling him that he was no longer worthy to be his son. But his father responded by first clothing him with the best robe and then sacrificing the fattened calf to feed him. With rejoicing, he called for a feast for all to celebrate the return of his son, whom he declared had been dead and now lived again, who had been lost and was now found.

Like the son in this parable, each of us will eventually come to the realization that we are lost and need to be found by God, our real Father. We may feel too ashamed to come to God. But the Bible reveals His unchanging and infinite love for us. He longs for every prodigal to come back to Himself.

In God’s eyes, to be lost is actually to be dead in sins, and to be found is to be saved and made alive in Christ. If we return to God and repent of our sins, we will be cleansed and Christ will cover us like a robe of righteousness. Not only so, like the
fattened calf, Christ who was sacrificed for us will also fill and satisfy us inwardly, becoming a rich feast for us to enjoy as sons in the household of our Father God.

Our loving and forgiving Father is waiting for us to come to Him. We can do this by praying this simple prayer:

“Dear Father, I’m lost and need to be found! I am dead in my sins! Come into my spirit and make me alive in Christ as a son of God! Lord Jesus, thank You for dying for me so that You could cleanse me, cover me, satisfy my hunger, and qualify me to feast with the Father in His house. Amen.”

The Look of Jesus


While [Peter] was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. . . . So Peter went out and wept bitterly.   Luke 22:60-62, NKJV



The night Jesus was betrayed, a man stepped up to Peter in the courtyard of the temple compound and challenged him: "Didn't I see you with [Jesus] in the olive grove?" (John 18:26, NIV). All the tension and anger of the past hours exploded in Peter and tumbled out in a stream of curses as he insisted, "I don't know the man!" Yet as he spoke, he heard the unmistakable sound of a rooster crowing in the distance. At that very moment, a commotion in the breezeway got everyone's attention. With the denial still burning his lips, Peter looked into the eyes of Jesus!


The look of Jesus was like a flaming fire, burning away Peter's hypocrisy and sin. Then as the entourage around Jesus roughly pushed and shoved Him forward, the moment passed. Peter, shaken to the core of his being, went out into the night, where he "wept bitterly," sobbing out his confession to God.


Three days later, Peter knew his sin had been forgiven when he met the risen Christ. Do you have the uneasy feeling that Jesus is "looking" at you? Is your heart burning with shame and guilt? Don't shed tears, shed your pride and come to Him for cleansing and restoration.


Blessings,


Saturday, June 16, 2012

United in Praise


I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God.  Isaiah 61:10, NKJV


Who is praising Jesus because you are? If your praise - and mine - is interrupted by . . .

our circumstances or our complaints,

our selfishness or our suffering,

our desires or our depression,

our indifference or our insistence,

or by anything at all . . .

the light will grow dim in our lives as we sink into the mire of self, and instead of causing others to praise Him, we will drag them down into the darkness with us.

So would you praise Him? And keep on praising Him! Praise Him for __________. 

 You fill in the blank with an attribute of Christ.

Blessings

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Accountable Before God


To whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.  Luke 12:48, NKJV


When Annas the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching (John 18:19), Jesus answered directly, "I have spoken openly to the world . . . I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said" (John 18:20-21, NIV).

Jesus confronted Annas with the awesome principle that God holds people accountable, not just for what they have heard or know, but for what they have had opportunity to hear and know. And in America, with churches on every corner, with religious radio broadcasts, with Christian television programming, with evangelistic crusades and festivals and services and movies, America has enormous accountability before God!

It doesn't matter if you have ever tuned in to or listened to or read or participated in any of the above. You and I have had the opportunity to do so, and for that we will be held accountable by God.

Blessings

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Listening Carefully


I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure. . . . I love Your law.    Psalm 119:162-163, NKJV


When have you totally misunderstood God's Word?

When He said, "Love one another,"

did you think He meant to tolerate sin? (1 John 4:7)

When He said, "in all things God works for the good,"

did you think that every story has a happy ending? (Rom. 8:28)

When He said, "I will surely bless you," 

did you think that He would make you healthy, 
wealthy, happy, and problem free? (Heb. 6:14)

Isn't it amazing how we can misinterpret what He says? Listening carefully to what God says is important, because if we misunderstand what He is saying, we set ourselves up for disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment.

So . . . would you be quiet and listen with your eyes on the pages of your Bible? Listen for His still, small voice to whisper to your heart through His Word.

Blessings

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Betrayal


"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?"  Luke 6:46, NKJV


Within moments of betraying Jesus, Judas hated himself for what he had done. Jesus' third religious trial was interrupted briefly by a commotion at the doorway as Judas burst onto the scene. With a face that was surely contorted by the wretchedness of conviction, he flung thirty pieces of silver across the temple floor. As the room suddenly grew silent, the clattering coins must have reverberated in the stillness as they skidded and skipped across the marble surface. Thirty pieces of silver! The price that had been paid him by the chief priests for his betrayal! Thirty pieces of silver! The price of a wounded slave! (see Ex. 21:32) Judas sold his Lord for the price of something that, in his culture, was good for nothing!

You and I betray Jesus when we call ourselves Christians yet give our hearts to money, or material things, or selfish pursuits, or anyone or anything other than Him. We betray Him when we spend more time on the Internet than in prayer. We betray Him when we spend more time reading the morning newspaper than reading the Bible. Would you confess and repent of your sin of betrayal, ask God to cleanse you, and commit to living a life of love and loyalty to Jesus?

Blessings

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hungry for God


If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.  

2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV


The changes brought about by God's Word in your life and mine are not primarily for the purpose of making us good or successful or happy or wealthy or prosperous or problem free. The primary purpose of these changes is that we might know God fully and intimately so we can reflect Him in all we are and say and do, bringing glory to the One Who created us.

Is your life complete? Do you feel you are waiting for something, but you don't know what? Do you have an aching loneliness, a hunger pain of the spirit, a yearning deep inside yourself for something? For Someone? Then get in touch with your Creator. You are hungry for God. You were created with a capacity to know Him in a personal, permanent, love relationship. That capacity is empty until you establish the relationship with Him for which you were created.

Blessings

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bound in God's Will


They laid their hands on Him and took Him. Mark 14:46, NKJV


The soldiers and officials who had come to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus seized Him roughly, punching and manhandling Him as they bound Him. They bound the hands of the Son of God! The hands of the Creator! Hands that had lifted in authority and calmed the storm at sea. Hands that had gathered little children on His knee.

Have you ever felt bound . . .

in a marriage where the love has run out?

in a small home with small children?

in a physical body wracked with pain?

Are you struggling with your bindings? Do you find that the more you fight against them, the more pain you inflict on yourself, so that you are miserable in your confinement? Sometimes binding is in the will of God. Jesus was in the center of His Father's will, yet He was bound. He did not resist the tight cords or complain about His confinement. He simply submitted, not to the soldiers, but to His Father's will. Would you do the same?

Blessings

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Heartbeat of Jesus


Father, I want those you have given me to . . . see . . . the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  John 17:24, NIV



Before the foundation of the world was laid, God, in His divine sovereignty, planned to send His own Son to the cross to be our Savior. Before the beginning of time and space and human history, He took counsel with Himself and decided to bring us into existence, knowing full well that we would rebel against Him and become separated from Him by our sin. So He made preparations for our redemption-preparations that were finished once and for all time at the cross.


The heartbeat of Jesus was to finish His Father's plan and, in so doing, bring glory to God. In other words, through His own death on the cross, Jesus would reveal the love of God in such a way that people throughout the ages would praise Him and love Him and lay down their lives before Him. So He embraced the cross and all that it meant.


Blessings

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Helpless Without Him

"I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me."   John 5:30, NKJV



Have you wondered, in agony, why God is doing what He's doing? Why He has delayed answering your prayer? Have you reacted to the delay by trying to help Him out and speed things up? Have you turned to . . . a doctor, a lawyer, a counselor, a friend, pop psychology, a neighbor's sympathetic ear, or a popular TV talk show? Have you resorted to threats
or bargaining or manipulation until you're totally exhausted? Have you come to the absolute end of your rope?


One reason God may be delaying His answer to your prayer and postponing His intervention in your situation is to bring you to the end of your own resources. Sometimes God waits in order to allow us time to exhaust every other avenue of help until we finally realize without any doubt or reservation that we are totally helpless without Him.


Blessings