Saturday, August 31, 2013

We Can See God

No one has ever seen God, . . . God the One and only [Son], who is at the Father's side, has made him known.   John 1:18, NIV

All through the ages people have longed to actually see God. They have drawn pictures

and written books

and composed music

and constructed temples,

all for the purpose of unveiling the mystery of what He is like. But we are no longer left to our imaginations, wondering in educated ignorance. We can know for sure. Although "no one has ever seen God, . . . God the One and only [Son], who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

What a thrilling, firsthand, life-changing, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring testimony! God did not have to reveal Himself to us, but He did. He chose to make Himself visible in a way we could understand - as Man. This visibility is not only compelling and clear, it is glorious!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Branch that Bears Fruit

"Apart from me you can do nothing."   John 15:5, NIV

Have you been making fruit-bearing more complicated and difficult than it is? Have you worn yourself out until you are discouraged over the lack of fruitfulness in your own service and resentful of others for the fruitfulness in theirs? Then I have wonderful news for you! You can relax! Not only are you freed from trying hard to bear fruit, you are freed from trying at all! That's the secret!

As simplistic as it may sound, fruit is produced on a branch that is attached to a vine. Jesus clearly told His disciples, "I am the vine; you are the branches" (John 15:5, NIV). So there is no guesswork about our position in His illustration. For a branch to have fruit-bearing potential, it must be alive. Since it has no life of its own, it must be organically attached to the vine so that the sap, or life, of the vine flows up through the trunk and into the branch. Fruit-bearing is all about being connected to the Vine. The branch bears the fruit, it doesn't produce the fruit.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Well

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst."   John 4:13-14, NIV

Jesus knew the Samaritan woman who met Him at the well had searched for satisfaction and come up short. He knew her heart was empty, without love or self-worth or meaning or fulfillment or happiness. And so He gently pointed out to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again." What was "this water"? The woman took it to mean the water in Jacob's well, but Jesus was speaking to her heart. All those who look to draw their satisfaction from the wells of the world-pleasure, popularity, position, possessions, politics, power, prestige, finances, family, friends, fame, fortune, career, children, church, clubs, sports, sex, success, recognition, reputation, religion, education, entertainment, exercise, honors, health, hobbies - will soon be thirsty again!

If you look for deep, lasting satisfaction from any of these wells the world offers, you're wasting your time. You need to be filled with the Living Water of Jesus Christ.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Heavenly Treasure

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.   Matthew 6:20, NIV

Gold is one of our most precious commodities. We hoard gold, we wear gold, we invest in gold, we work hard for more gold - we love gold! We sacrifice our families, our friends, our reputations, our health - all so that we can increase our supply of earthly treasures. We want to buy more things . . .

so we can dust more things

so we can break more things

so we can get more things

so we can show off more things

- none of which will last!

Jesus commanded His disciples not to lay up treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal, but to lay up treasures in Heaven. I wonder what treasures we will have in Heaven as evidence of our work and witness on earth - if any? While it is said we can take nothing with us to heaven - we can! We can take somebody else!


Friday, August 23, 2013

A Day of Rest

Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord.   Exodus 31:15, NKJV

Like a boat that would be tossed endlessly and aimlessly and dangerously on the open sea without an anchor, we need to anchor our lives as well. That anchor is devotion to God. God worked for six days during that first "week" then rested on the seventh: "And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done" (Gen. 2:3, NIV). The word holy means "set apart," or different from ordinary things.

From the law in Exodus we know one reason for this day of devotion is to ensure that we do not get too far away from God's pattern. If one out of every seven days we are anchored by our focus on Him, we are less likely to drift from Him. On the other hand, if one day each week is not spent in giving Him our attention, we are more likely to put Him further and further away from our thoughts until we do not seriously think of Him at all, and we end up being tossed about on the sea of life only to wind up being smashed and broken on the rocks when a storm hits.
Drop your anchor - keep your focus on Him!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is saying OMG or words like 'geez' still taking the Lord's name in vain?

Is saying OMG or words like 'geez' still taking the Lord's name in vain? 

The idea of "taking the Lord's name in vain" is first found in Exodus 20 when Moses receives the Ten Commandments. The third commandment states, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). What does this mean? How does it apply to words like OMG and GEEZ?

Taking the Lord's name in vain is to speak of God with irreverence or disrespect. Many have traditionally understood the exclamation "Oh my God!" to be sinful, because it has nothing to do with a proper, reverent use of God's name.

The same principle is true when a person uses an acronym such as OMG or a word like geez (the first syllable of Jesus' name) or gosh (a modified form of God). If the intended meaning is to be disrespectful toward God and His name, the word should not be used. However, some people use OMG without any thought of its connection to God's name, and that's what makes this question difficult.

We could all use the reminder that our words carry meaning. As people who follow Christ, we care deeply about helping others and honoring God. We must ask ourselves, "Do these words help others and honor God?" If we are honest, we will probably admit that words such as gosh do not. It may not be easy to change a long-standing habit, but we must seek to speak words that build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and honor the Lord.

James 3:9-10 speaks of the tongue as a powerful part of the body: "With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." Our goal is to be consistent in our use of words, so they would serve as a blessing to God and to others.

Paul wrote, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). This stands as our basis for evaluating terms such as OMG and geez. Does using these words give "thanks to God the Father"? If not, begin working to remove these words from your conversations and texts in order to honor God "in word and deed."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Forgiveness for ALL Our Sins

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9, NIV

The blood of Jesus is sufficient for the forgiveness of any and all sins because the Cross was two thousand years ago and all of our sins were still to come. Therefore, all of our sins, whether we committed them yesterday or today or have yet to commit them tomorrow, are covered by His blood - past sins, present sins, future sins, big sins, small sins, or medium-size sins - it makes no difference.

Praise God for the blood of Jesus that is sufficient to cover all of our sins! All of them! Big sins like murder. Little sins like gossip. Medium-size sins like losing your temper. They are all under the blood of Jesus, and we are free just to enjoy our forgiveness! We will never be held accountable for the guilt of our sins because Jesus has taken the punishment for us.


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Gardener

"Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."   John 15:2, NIV

You and I can trust the Gardener to skillfully, personally, lovingly, and effectively prune the "vines" of our lives. Isaiah described the gentle skillfulness of His touch when he revealed, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out" (Isa. 42:3, NIV). In other words, God will not cut you back so much that you are broken beyond the ability to grow, nor will He quench you to the point that you give up and quit. So trust Him. He's been pruning for years. He knows what He's doing.

While cutting is drastic and encourages new growth, clipping is used mainly to control and shape the growth of the plant. This encourages fruitfulness by concentrating the energy of the vine into the fruitful areas of the branch. The Gardener clips even a fruitful branch, as Jesus described: "Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."


Saturday, August 17, 2013

God's Power to Change

His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.   2 Peter 1:3, NKJV

Do you know someone who is desperate for change? Someone who is:

bound by anger?

isolated by pride?

depressed by worry?

consumed by jealousy?

panicked by fear?

God's Word has not lost its power since the beginning of time! The same power that transformed Planet Earth from that which was void, dark, without form, and in a fluid condition to that which was teeming with life, clothed in beauty, and reflective of the image of God is available today to change and fill empty lives. There is no life so shattered and devastated that it is beyond God's power to redeem and transform it. The process of transformation that invariably takes place through the preparation of the Spirit and the daily application of the Word is illustrated by what took place in the beginning of Planet Earth.

God's power changed the earth in the beginning, and His power is available to change you today!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dying to Self

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."   Matthew 16:24, NIV

The power in your life and mine that results in blessing is in direct proportion to the extent that you are willing to die to . . .

your own will,

your own goals,

your own dreams,

your own rights.

It's what Jesus meant when He challenged His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." However, before you get too hung up on the cross, don't forget -- after the cross comes the resurrection and the power and the glory and the crown! Jesus kept His focus on the joy of abundant blessing as He "endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2, NIV). Because Jesus was willing to die, He was blessed by God with a position of power and authority at His right hand.

If blessing is in direct proportion to a willingness to die to self, how blessed are you?


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Divine Appointment

Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.   Psalm 62:1, NKJV

Have you ever considered that you have a divine appointment when you get up early for your quiet time of prayer and meditation on His Word? . . . That Jesus is patiently, personally waiting to meet with you there?

Have you ever thought of going to church as a divine appointment? . . . That Jesus is patiently, personally waiting to meet with you there?

Have you ever thought of the Bible study you belong to as a divine appointment? . . . That Jesus is patiently, personally waiting to meet with you there?

What a difference it would make in our attitude of expectancy and our habit of consistency if we truly wrapped our hearts around the knowledge that each is a divine appointment, that Jesus Himself is waiting to meet with us.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Faith in the God of Creation

Sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth.  Psalm 147:7-8, NKJV

Although God was actively involved throughout the Creation process, in the beginning the "earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep" (Gen. 1:2, NIV). If you and I had been present at that time to view the earth, we might have had the impression that because we could not see any evidence of God's activity, He was not doing anything. Yet at that very time, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" (Gen. 1:2, NIV). He was actively preparing Planet Earth to receive His Word and be transformed into a place of beauty and purpose.

Are you concerned for a friend whose life is like "the surface of the deep"-- undulating, unstable, always changing, and moody? Even though you have prayed without ceasing, have you seen no evidence of God's activity in that person's life? Have you therefore concluded that God is not active? Place your faith in the God of Creation and be encouraged! He is active whether or not you and I can see evidence of His activity.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Fixing What's Wrong

By Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible, and invisible.   Colossians 1:16, NKJV

It can be mind boggling to contemplate the vastness of the universe, from the greatest star to the smallest particle. It is so vast that astronomers are now saying that it stretches beyond what we are capable of penetrating, even with sophisticated telescopes like the Hubble. And every bit of it was created by the Living Word of God, Who, even as He hung the stars in space, counted them and called them each by name!

Not only did He create objects of massive size, but He also created such minute, delicate, intricate things as snowflakes, no two of which are the same.

Jesus Christ is the One by Whom, for Whom, through Whom everything was made. Therefore, He knows what's wrong in your life and how to fix it. Let Him take charge. Give Him the authority to put it right.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You Are On God's Mind

I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.   Isaiah 49:15-16, NKJV

Noah was totally helpless to change his situation. There was nothing he could do except to stay on the ark and tend to the needs of his family and those of the animals until God in some way brought deliverance. He had to keep his faith in God while simply waiting out the silence that followed the storm.

Although He had been silent, God had not forgotten Noah. In fact, since Noah and his family were the only living persons on the face of the earth, we can be sure they had God's total, undivided attention every moment.

Do you think God's silence in your life means He has forgotten you? Oh, no! God says He has engraved your name on the palms of His hands. He says that a mother could forget her nursing baby at mealtime before He could forget you! You are in God's heart and on His mind every moment. He is fully informed of your circumstances and will bring about change when He knows the time is right.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Suffering Is Not Wasted

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.   2 Corinthians 4:17, NIV

Is the Potter molding -- or remolding -- you, using . . . pressure or problems? stress or suffering? hurt or heartache? illness or injustice? Has He now placed you in the fire so that circumstances are heating up with intensity in your life? Then would you just trust the Potter to know exactly what He is doing?

For the child of God, suffering is not wasted. It's not an end in itself. Scripture reminds us, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."

The spiritual principle is that in some way God uses suffering to transform ordinary, dust-clay people into . . .

vessels that are strong in faith . . .

vessels that are fit for His use . . .

vessels that display His glory to the watching world.

So don't waste your sorrow. Trust God!


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Believe or Perish

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.   John 3:17, NIV

Do you know someone who maintains that a loving God would never send anyone to hell? That a loving God will let everyone into heaven? Ask Noah! He was there when God shut the door of the ark. And although technically God doesn't send anyone to hell, you and I are condemned to go there if we refuse to enter through the "door" of the Cross into the safety of the "ark," which is Christ.

God didn't want anyone to perish. He wanted all to repent of their sins and rebellion and enter into the safety of the ark. But the people refused.

The God Who saved Noah from His judgment by providing an ark is the same God Who so loved the world that He sent His only Son as an Ark-a hiding place from the storm of God's wrath. Whosoever believes in Jesus as God's gracious provision for salvation will not perish or come under God's judgment but will be saved and receive eternal life. But you have to believe or you will perish.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Sacrificial Sacrifice

Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.   Hebrews 13:16, NKJV

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus was the honored guest at a feast held in one of His favorite homes, presumably to celebrate the new life of His friend Lazarus. While Jesus, along with Lazarus and other guests, was reclining at the dinner table, Lazarus's sister, Mary, entered the room with an alabaster box. The box contained very expensive perfume - equal to a year's wages - that would have been her dowry. Mary took the box of perfume that represented her future hopes and dreams, broke it, and poured it on the head of Jesus. When she was criticized by those in the room as being exceedingly wasteful, Jesus sharply rebuked them while gently praising her for a beautiful act of sacrificial worship.

How extravagant is your sacrifice to God? Do you give God as little as you think you can get by with? A little bit of energy and effort when you're not too tired? A little bit of time you have no use for? A little bit of money you don't really need yourself? A sacrifice is not a sacrifice until it's a sacrifice!