Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Directions for Life

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!   Psalm 119:2, NKJV

God as our Creator has specific directions for our lives. If we live according to His directions, our lives work - we are blessed, and we experience life the way it was meant to be lived. If we ignore or reject His directions, we do so to our own detriment and experience much less than He intended.

All around us are

broken homes,

broken hearts,

broken hopes.

But God never intended us to be broken. He did not just create you and me, plop us down on Planet Earth, and say, "Happy birthday! Now you can guess your way through life." Instead, He has given us directions, which form a pattern that will prevent breakage of our lives and will help to mend the brokenness already present if we follow them.

So . . . open the Creator's manual for life - the Bible - and follow His directions.  

Make this the one resolution that you DON'T break!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Basis For Hope

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.   Proverbs 16:20, NKJV

When God had told Noah He was "going to bring the floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens," He had also said He would establish a covenant with Noah and his family to keep them alive along with all the animals who would come to him (Gen. 6:17-18, 20). Noah had God's promise that God would bring him through the Flood to new life on the other side.

Have you been in a situation that has proven to be extremely stressful? It may not have been as stressful as a nuclear holocaust or a devastating flood, but has the pressure been great enough so that consuming fear and worry have been your constant companions?

When you find yourself drowning in overwhelming circumstances, ask God to give you a promise to which you can cling - a promise on which you can base your hope. Hope that is based simply on what you want or what you feel is not a genuine expression of faith. Our hope must be based on God's word.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Go and Tell

Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him.   John 12:18, NIV

What has Jesus done for you? What things have your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, teammates, employers, employees, professors, doctors, lawyer, counselor, pastor, and anyone else heard about that Jesus has done for you? John testified that, "Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him." Who is seeking to meet Jesus because of what He has done for you?

When have you told someone about how He raised you from spiritual death?

When have you told someone about how He forgave your sin and removed your guilt?

When have you told someone about the disease He healed,

or the prayer He answered,

or the blessing He gave,

or the promise He fulfilled?

Go . . . and tell someone about Jesus!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hope Was Born

They shall obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.  Isaiah 35:10, NKJV

The black, velvety sky was clear and studded with sparkling stars that had looked down on Earth since the beginning of time. Shepherds appeared to be sitting idly by their flocks but in fact were keeping a sharp lookout for anything or anyone who might harm the sheep entrusted to their care. In the distance, the lights from the town could be seen and the noisy commotion could be heard as more people were coming into the town than the town could hold.

On the clear night air, sound traveled easily and somewhere from the direction of the village inn someone slammed a door.

And a baby cried.

The Seed of the woman, Who would open heaven's gate and welcome any and all who place their faith in Him . . . had been given!

The Hope that was born that night continues to radiate down through the years until it envelops your heart and mine.

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Worshiping God

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.John 4:24, NKJV

To worship God means to attribute worth to God through obedience to God, preoccupation with God, and praise of God. The Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar said, in essence, "Oh, well, I worship God." And Jesus corrected her, "You Samaritans worship what you do not know." Why was her worship invalid? Because she was substituting the traditions and rituals of her religion for a personal relationship with God through faith. So Jesus explained, "God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24, NIV).

What does it mean to worship "in spirit and in truth"? To worship God in spirit means to worship Him in deepest sincerity from the heart as one who is indwelled by the Spirit of God. To worship Him in truth means to worship Him honestly, without hypocrisy, through faith in His Word, both the Living Word, which is Jesus, and the written Word, which is the Bible.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our God-Given Counselor

It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.   John 16:7, NIV

Following supper the night before He was to be crucified, Jesus unburdened His heart to His disciples. He knew He was going not only to the cross but, after the resurrection, back to His Father in heaven. His disciples would be like orphans. Had He taught them all they needed to know?

The disciples must have begun to sense His heavy burden. Without Jesus, how could they ever meet their own needs, much less the needs of the multitude? They had given Him their very lives for three years. How could they possibly manage without Him?

Jesus knew their fears. So He began to tell them how they would go on in His absence. He told them they could live, not just somehow, but triumphantly, because "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you . . . I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever" (John 14:18, 16, NIV, emphasis added). Jesus would remain with them, not physically, but in the invisible person of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

When Bad Things Happen

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28, NIV

Why does God let bad things happen to good people? to innocent people? to children? to me?

Sometimes His ways seem so hard to understand!

In Romans 8:28, Paul wrote to reassure believers who lived in a city dominated by Nero, a madman with absolute power. He wrote encouragingly, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Phrased another way, Paul was reminding the children of God they can be confident that...

all things work together for good,

brokenness leads to blessing,

death leads to life,

and suffering leads to glory!

So when bad things happen, just trust Him!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Proof of Love

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:8, NKJV

Has someone suggested to you that:

If God really loved you, He would heal your disease?

If God really loved you, He would never have allowed you to lose your job?

If God really loved you, He would bring your spouse back home?

If God really loved you, you would be healthy and wealthy and problem free?

Yet God has said that the proof of His love is none of those things! The proof of His love is that while we were sinners, passing Jesus by on the road of life, He sent His only, beloved Son to die for us.

Would you thank God, not just for saying, "I love you," in words, but for proving it?


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Day Set Apart

If you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, . . . then you will find your joy in the Lord.   Isaiah 58:13-14, NIV

In the beginning, by His own example, God patterned our week to include not only the discipline of work but also one day out of every seven that would be "set apart," different from the other six days.

For the majority of people today, there is very little difference between the way they keep Sunday and the way they keep Saturday. Sunday has become more of a holiday than a holy day. Sunday was not designed just so we could sleep late, meet friends for brunch, go shopping to take advantage of weekend sales, do extra yard work or house work, attend the latest movie, or watch the football game on TV. Sunday should be not only for physical rest and restoration but for spiritual refreshment and expression of our devotion to God.

Has the day that is supposed to be set apart fallen apart? 

Consider what you can do to keep Sunday special - different from the other six days of the week.


Friday, December 13, 2013

We Are God's Treasure!

"They will be mine," says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession."   

Malachi 3:17, NIV

As we totally yield our lives to the control of God's Spirit within us, He uses:

the responsibilities and relationships and ridicule,

the opportunities and obstacles and obligations,

the pressures and pain and problems,

the success and sickness and solitude . . .

He uses all things to work for our ultimate good, which is increasing, progressive, glorious conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8:28)

We are God's treasure! When God the Father looked throughout the universe for something to give His only Son in reward for what He had accomplished on earth, the Father handpicked you! You are the Father's treasure - His priceless gift of love to the Son!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waiting Brings Blessings

No one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.   Isaiah 64:4, NIV

I hate to wait. I hate to wait for a traffic light to turn green,

for the doctor to see me,

for the telephone to ring,

for investments to produce,

for the copier to warm up,

for seeds to grow,

for the fax to go through,

for answers to prayer . . .

I just hate to wait. Period. Waiting is so hard, especially when I am waiting on the Lord. Sometimes He seems to be s-o-o-o s-l-o-w. But waiting is an essential part of spiritual discipline. It can be the ultimate test of our faith.

If we grow impatient with waiting and take matters into our own hands, we will be in trouble. But if we wait on God, we will be blessed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Thrilling Adventure

"Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come."   Matthew 14:28-29, NKJV

When it comes to experiencing God, I have to choose Him at all cost. I have to be willing to step out of the boat, as Peter did in Matthew 14, risking total failure in the eyes of others, in order to discover firsthand His power enabling me to walk on the water when He bids me, "Come." Again and again, I've been confronted with hard choices when I've had to throw caution to the wind and abandon myself to faith in Him, and Him alone . . .

when I step into a pulpit, 

when I pick up my pen to write,

when I commit our ministry to much more than we have resources to underwrite.

Whenever I choose to step out in faith and trust Him, I'm actually choosing to take Him at His Word, put Him to the test, and just do it! The result is the thrilling adventure called the Christian life.

Have you taken the first step?


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Life-Giving Power

Your word has given me life.   Psalm 119:50, NKJV

Sometimes when we are depressed, we feel lifeless. It's hard to get out of bed in the morning. We seem to have no energy to do even the most routine functions. If you are depressed by the greatness of your problems, read God's Word! That's where you find help. That's where you find joy. Let the rushing waters of the living Word drown out all other sounds and voices. There is life-giving power in the Word of God!

At the most difficult times in my life - the loss of a sibling, the forced removal from a church, having to arrest a friend, the robbery of our home - God's Word has sustained me. There have been times when I have only been capable of reading a few verses at a time, yet the supernatural life-giving power of the Word of God has not only helped me maintain my emotional and mental balance, it has given me strength to go on, even if only one day at a time.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Love Relationship with God

"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him."   1 John 4:16, NKJV

The first secret to loving others is to immerse yourself in a love relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - and abide there.

I will never get over the wonder that God the Father and God the Son do not have

a working kinship

nor a business partnership

nor a brotherly friendship

nor a competing dictatorship

nor a mandatory fellowship

nor an obligatory guardianship

but a love relationship

that has existed since before time and space! And you and I enter into that eternal sphere of unconditional love when we abide in Christ.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"God Says So" Prayers

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.   John 15:7, NKJV

Prayer is a conversation.  We speak to God in prayer then listen attentively as He speaks to us through His Word.

Do you think the promise that Jesus gave His disciples was like handing them a Divine Genie in a bottle?  And that if they would just rub the bottle with enough faith, the Genie would pop out and grant them their "wishes"?  As ludicrous as that is, it actually is the way some people view prayer.  And when the Genie doesn't pop out of the bottle, they become offended with God and resent Him for not being at their beck and call.

One major prerequisite to receiving answers to prayer is that our requests line up with God's will.  How will we know what God's will is?  By abiding consistently in His Word.  Instead of basing our prayers on "I hope so," our prayers are based on "God says so."  And if we are saturating ourselves in His Word, then His desires will be ours.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Heaven Is Beautiful

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.   1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV

The Creator Who created all the earthly beauty we have grown to love . . .

the majestic snowcapped peaks of the Alps,

the rushing mountain streams,

the carpets of wildflowers,

the whir of a humming bird's wings . . .

this is the same Creator who has prepared our heavenly home for us! If God could make the heavens and earth as beautiful as we think they are today - which includes thousands of years of wear and tear, corruption and pollution, sin and selfishness - can you imagine what the new Heaven and the new earth will look like? It will be much more glorious than any eyes have seen, any ears have heard, or any minds have ever conceived.