Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Something New or Same Old Stuff?

There are a thousand Scriptures that I would like to have used this morning but these stuck out in bold print:   "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world.  Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  You turn man back into dust and say, "Return, O children of men."  For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night" (Psalm 90:1-4).

James wrote these words to help keep our head screwed on right: "Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to sway, "If the Lord wills we will live and also do this or that." (James 4:13-15.)

Hey Gang, Another New Year has been placed in the archives of history.    I sense that most folks would place the events of the past year in the  "up and down" column.  If my heart and soul were not anchored on the King of kings and Lord of lords, I believe I would be frazzled mess.  But I know that even before time began, God laid out a plan for this earth and for every person on this earth, an irrevocable plan and He has not neglected that plan or forsaken those who are locked into His word. 

But it is a good time, as we stand between two years to do some evaluation of our lives.  Looking back and remembering some of the events of the year, its high points and its low points.  The delights and disappointments that stick out in our memories.  A new great grand baby, the marriage of a loved one, the opportunity to pray for a  brother or sister, and seeing God pour out His healing power on that loved one;  all are experiences etched in our mind and heart forever.

Looking ahead, we have new hopes for the New Year.  We wait with anticipation, high hopes and new dreams. True, everything that can be shaken is being shaken but we know that God is still at the helm.  God is God and we are not.  It is a time when we need to be firmly entrenched in the fact that God is in control and we are not. 

I have often said that in my home I control all the important things like should we enter the war, who the next president should be or whether the taxes should be increased: the bride-of-my-youth controls all the mundane things like how to raise the kids, control of the household budget, where we should live and a multitude of other mundane decisions.  Do we not get the idea that we are in control of the important things of life when in reality it is God's who controls death and life, day and night, seasons and times.  
Charles Swindoll wrote the following:  "As we move forward into a New Year, we would do well to remember these four "greats": 

*We have a Great God!  Our God has within Him power to accomplish all things He desires to do. 
*God is able to make this a great year! We may be looking at this coming year with fear and trepidation but keep in mind God can make this year a great year for serving Him
*Don't  be afraid to ask GREAT things of Him.  This is where the shoes hit the pavement.  If we believe that God can do great things, why don't we ask Him for them?

*The Lord delights in giving His children GREAT gifts.  God loves to give-it's in His nature.

Soooo my friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters in Christ, do you believe that God can do great things?  What great things have you asked Him for recently?  

 We wish for each of you that you will have a deeper hunger to know and walk closer to the Lord in this New Year and submit yourselves to be used by the Lord to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is Lord and Coming Soon!



Monday, December 29, 2014

The True Meaning of Christmas

"By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:  He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory"  (1 Timothy 3:16)

Hey Gang, I realize Christmas is over and all the packages that were wrapped neatly and under the tree have been ravaged by eager hands but as I was researching I came across this neat saying submitted by one Delmar Eby of London, Kentucky that rang my bell so decided to extend Christmas one more day and send it along to you:

The Bethlehem Babe of the Manger became -
The Calvary Savior of the Cross, who is -
The Resurrected Lord from the Grave and is now -
The Ascended King in Heaven, soon to be -
The Returning Judge in Glory -
He became all of this so we can be -
The Reigning Saints in Glory forever!
Alleluia!  What a Savior!

He followed this with the question, "Does the commemoration of Christ's birth mean all this to you?  Or are you satisfied with a manger scene of the Babe?  For if we are locked into the manger scene and satisfied to leave Jesus in the manger, then there is no way we can look beyond the manger to the scenario listed above.   In other words, we are locked into the Bethlehem Babe of the Manger - period.

Delmar made a powerful point when he wrote, "All the attributes and titles given to Jesus in the Scriptures are necessary for our eternal well-being.  We must receive Jesus for who He is.  Only then can we find the true meaning of HIs birth, and Jesus will become to us all that is most comforting and blessed".  

In other words, as you look at the past year and prepare for the New Year, are you satisfied to allow it to be just a continuation of the past year, or are you filled with zeal and excitement in the many opportunities that are yours to serve the King of kings? 

I am sure that each of you who read these epistles have your favorite Scriptures.  I certainly have mine but also confess as I have reached the older that dirt age my emphasis has changed.  My ears perk up when I hear Jesus saying "Come you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).

Wow, is that not awesome?  But, note what the King said are the prerequisites to inheriting the kingdom.  Yes, salvation is the foundation but note what Jesus said following this statement, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me." (vs. 40). 

Did what?   "For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; naked and you clothed Me .  I was sick, and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me" (vs. 35-36).

Soooo,  my young friends in Christ, I close this epistle with a  promise from Yeshua Hamashiah, "Give, and it will be given to you.  They will pour into your lap a good measure - pressed down, shaken together, and running over".  Now note the next words of the Lord, "For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return" (Luke 6:38).  By whose standard of measure?  Your standard of measure!  What say ye?  Does that sound like we determine whether we will be blessed in the same measure that we give?  Wow! Awesome!   



Friday, December 26, 2014

I Wonder If THis Might Be the Last Christmas on Earth?

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”.  (Luke 2:11).  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God”  (I Thess. 4:16). 

Hey Gang, Have you transitioned in your walk with the Lord between verse one of the morning Scripture and verse two? Me thinks that many folks are still locked into the “babe of the manger” and not the "King of kings and Lord of lords!"  
This past week I came in contact once again with Paul’s words to the Philippian Believers and must admit that, in the many times I have read Philippians, I never associated Paul’s words in chapter 2:5-11 as being Paul's Christmas story.  As I read this portion of Paul’s words I was impressed that he did not stop at the manger but described the birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and Second Coming of the Lord.

Several weeks ago our pastor preached a message that he titled “Hopeful Anticipation”.  I have said on many occasions that one of the great tragedies of our 'instant gratification generation" is the taking away the joy of anticipation.  Receiving a gift is nice, but when you have prayed, dreamed and waited with great anticipation for something you really want and the day arrives when you can hold it in your hands, it is very special memory that you will remember forever.

Those who know me know I have always gone to great lengths to make the Christmas Season very special to my family.  Some might even suggest the hundreds of feet of Christmas displays is a wee bit on the over-kill side.  But as a “Seed Planter’ my heart has always been to implant that Jesus not only came as a ‘babe’ but “He is going to come again as King of kings and Lord of Lords”.  We know not when Father God will tell His Son to “go for it” but we do know from His prophetic word, all is place for the final chapter to begin.  

Sooooo, Yes, Jesus was born in a manger under very miraculous circumstances - but that was only the delivery system to get Him to earth.  This Christmas season, as you share the Christmas Story once again, make sure you do not leave Jesus in the manger.  As Paul Harvey would say - “now here is the rest of the story":  “Then they will see The Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven” (Mark 13:26-27). 



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

THe Greatest Gift of All

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 12:17).

Hey Gang:  I pray, as we near that day set by man that we celebrate the birthday of our Lord, that you will take some time alone and give thanks for the gifts that God gave to us through His Son Jesus Christ.  Keep in mind that when Jesus came to earth as a man and suffered and died on the cross so that you could be reconciled to God, He had you in mind- even though you had not been created yet.  
Luke put it this way: “And human hands can’t minister to His needs, for He has no needs!  He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and satisfies every need there is” (17:25 Living New Testament) 
The most memorized verse in the Bible lays the very foundation for God’s love for His creation and His desire that none should perish but have everlasting life with Him: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It is also the most profound verse in the Bible.
The greatest gift – He gave Himself.  Our greatest gift – to give ourselves to Him and those He sends our way.  He gave us life so that we would have something very precious to give to Him.  He gives us abundantly, more than we need, so that we can share those blessings with others who are not as blessed as we are.
I have learned that when I give to others the presence of God flows through the giver in compassion, which is love in action.    And I have also found that the greatest of all gifts is not purchased at Macy’s, but rather words of comfort to those in stress, a casserole dish to someone who is too ill to prepare dinner, or shoveling the walk of the shut in next door.
And a neat promise of God is that the giver is always blessed more than the receiver. The first blesssing will be the joy of the Lord saying ‘thank you.’   Matthew put it this way, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (25:40). 
Sooo, as you prepare for the sharing of gifts on Christmas morning, keep in mind the greatest of all gifts was not made with human hands, but comes from the Father of Lights, THE GIFT OF SALVATION, who was in the beginning with God!


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Gifts

Where is He that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him"… “They opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:2, 11). 

Do  you remember a Christmas celebration with young children?   Are the toys and gifts still in one piece?  Or scattered?  I remember a take-off on “T’was the Night before Christmas’ that had a line: “ The presents are scattered and broken I fear, and St Nicholas won’t come again for a year!” 

Praise God! His Gifts to us are forever – if we choose to open \accept the gift of His love through His Son Jesus. We often think of God’s Gift as Jesus – but His gifts include much more.  In her book Christmas is Always, Dale Evans Rogers wrote of the gifts and miracles of healing, redeeming, teaching, sacrifice of His life, resurrection and anticipation of His coming again.
But she really emphasized the gift of relationship, especially related to blessing the children.   Christmas is a special time for children and all of us who are young at heart!

The Bible contains all kinds of true adventure stories:  stories of daring feats, love, obedience, excitement and mystery.  I am always amazed when I read a passage over and over and yet something new seems to leap off the page. The passages we read during the Christmas season are like that.  In one year we may hear the same passage many times, but each time it is fresh and alive, mysterious and fascinating.

Christmas Scriptures are mysterious in many ways: decree at the right time, travel for this family, and birth in a smelly cave for animals; and the story of the Magi.  Who were they really?  Where did they come from?  Did they travel together all the way?  Or did they see the star separately and through some mysterious way join forces? How many were there?  Did they bring just three gifts?  How long did the journey take?  Did the star appear before the birth and they arrived soon after, or did the star appear at the birth and they arrived close to two years later?

Many Christmas stories have been written to fill in these questions.  I'm glad it's not important for us to know.   The important thing is for us to center our thoughts on what we DO know….”For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that WHOSOEVER…..”   God provided a way for everyone - from the lowly shepherds who were Jews, to the kingly Magi who were Gentiles, . Christ the Anointed One is for everyone one!

We know for fact that these ‘Wisemen from the East’, astrologers, magi, or kings,(the song not Scripture says three!) or whoever they were, saw something special in the heavens, were expectant, and were willing to take a risk, because they felt it was from God.  Maybe Daniel has shared the prophecy from Numbers “…A Star will come out of Jacob; a septer will rise out of Israel” (24:17).  

Verse 3 of Silent Night concludes:
                Silent night, holy night
                Wondrous star, lend thy light
                With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King; Christ the Savior is born!

The journey cost them time and finances.  They came prepared with gifts to worship the new king.  How many others missed out because they were not will to take a risk and see what God would do?  We know the religious leaders of Jerusalem did not check it out.  How about you?  God is pro–active and wanting to do something special in your life.  It might be risky, it might even cost you something - time, ridicule, change.   Are you willing to make him King of your life?
The Song, ‘We Three Kings’ has wonderful words and tells the importance of each of their gifts.  The last stanza is also important as we continue to anticipate His return:
                Glorious now behold Him arise
                King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia sounds through the earth and Skies.

Our volunteering at the Voice of the Martyrs has taught us much about those who suffer \ die for speaking the Name of Jesus, and those who support and encourage them.  Most of those who are suffering do not pray to be removed from the situation, but rather that their testimony be so strong that their persecutors will seek to follow Jesus.  In the Bible schools supported by VOM one of the classes is ‘Prison Ministry 101’; not how to get out of going to prison, but rather how to teach and share while you are in prison. (the question is not if, but  ‘when you are arrested’)

SOOO, young friends, in this  message to you remember Christmas is Always – it is a state of our heart Share the good News of the Gospel all year long.  The Magi came to worship the King!  We belong to the King of kings and the victorious Lord of Glory who want His JOY complete in us (John 15).  He says to the whole world, all races, color and creeds:  “Live\abide in me and my words abide/ remain in you… remain in my love… I have told you this that my JOY might be in you and that your JOY may be complete. Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 7-13.



Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Is A Time of Reminiscing

“Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:6-7).

Hey Gang:  In our affluent country have we lost the sensitivity, or true meaning of receiving a gift?  We learned very early, in our work with dependent – neglect children, that to receive a gift was almost an embarrassment.  They had been taught by experience that they were not worth much and, therefore, did not deserve a gift.

Several years ago I watched one of my grandkids open his Christmas packages and noticed it took prodding by the parent to keep him focused on opening the various packages.  His real interest was not in opening the gifts, but in playing with the wrappings and boxes and running to and fro visiting with all of the family members who were there.  

I have learned, through my years on this earth, that the importance of Christmas is not the time of giving material gifts but a time of showing our appreciation and love for those we chose to honor with a gift.   Listening to our kids reminisce about Christmas’s past is always a warm feeling; seems it is not the material gifts received, that is the focus of the conversations, but the things we did in the giving of those gifts that was important.

Jesus said, Greater love hath no man than this,..” By these words our Lord shows, how far love to another should extend, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren - which is the highest instance of love among men.  Did he mean that we have to give up our life in a literal sense?  Possibly, but I sense it went far deeper than that.  It is a ‘hello’ to the handicapped person, who pushes the carts at the super market, or a few extra cents in the Salvation bucket to help someone less fortunate.

Soooo, my young friends, it is time to close this morning thought, get back to my workshop and finish the wooden trucks and trains that I pray will end up in the hands of little people who need to know that someone really cares enough for them to give a little chunk of their life. 



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Every Good and Perfect is From Above

 “He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made”  (John 1:2-3).   “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  (James 1:17).

Hey Gang: Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote in A Family Christmas Treasury. “As we rejoice in the arrival of the Christmas season, let us celebrate the constancy of the light that shined into the world when Jesus was born of the virgin Mary". 

John tells us that Jesus was “with God in the beginning”.  Furthermore, Jesus is the Creator God without whom “nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1,3), Jesus is the eternal God!
God cannot change.  He declared through the prophet Malachi, “I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal; 3:6).  James made this wonderful statement: “Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

We will soon welcome in a new year.  And since our world is a very uncertain and perilous place, we have this certainty to lean on “His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23).

Keep in mind we do have the constancy of Jesus to depend on for today, but someday we are going to be made just like Him.  "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is"  (I John 3:2).  We will bask in the direct rays of His glorious light forever!  Praise God for the changeless, constant light of the Lord Jesus Christ!  Does that get your thumper to thumping?

Soooo, to all my friends,  if your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life and you are awaiting your invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, give yourself an eternal Christmas present right this moment! Fill that void in your chest cavity with One who loves you dearly, Yeshua Hamashiah. 



Monday, December 15, 2014

Who Are You Lord

“For unto you is born this day a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” 

Hey Gang:  Familiar but totally misunderstood by growing numbers of people.  Have you ever taken a moment or three in the quietness of your mind and heart and asked the question,  “Who are You Lord?”   I have.  I learned long ago that, if I do not take a moment of reflection and review of my Christian walk, I can become as cold as the left-over potatoes from the Christmas meal.   

I read of a wonderful story about a man who was blind for more than fifty years.  Then, one day, a surgeon discovered a new procedure that gave hope to the man- perhaps he could see for the first time in his life.  The operation went well and all anxiously awaited the moment of unveiling, to see if he had been blessed with the miracle of sight, something we take for granted every day.

When the surgeon arrived on that morning, the man was filled with anticipation, a heap of hope and excitement, that God had blessed the hands of the surgeon and he would see for the first time, after more than fifty years of darkness.  The moment came.  The bandages were removed from the first eye, and then the second.  Then the pads that prevented light from penetrating and straining the eye were removed.  

Slowly the man opened his eye lids but had to shut them quickly, for the light, even in the darkened room, was too intense for eyes that had been darkened for more than fifty years.

He slowly opened them again, a wee bit at a time.  His first comment, I didn’t know yellow could be so yellow, as he looked at the yellow wall paper in front of him.  He was blind but now he could see.  
For many years of my life my eyesight was good but I was blind spiritually and could not see. But, when Jesus was born into my life, my blindness was buried by the light! 

Soooo, friends, have you taken a moment or three, in the hustle and bustle of the asides of Christmas, to get alone with God?  To thank and praise Him for His love?  Praise Him that He sent His only Son into the Word that our blindness could be removed and we could live in the light?  O, by the way, don’t leave the quietness of your time until God answers your question, “Who are You, Lord??



Friday, December 12, 2014

The Wonder and Awe of the Christmas Story

 “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

Hey Gang, There is no doubt that the Christmas story is filled with wonder and awe. It fills young and old with delight that is even more enjoyable and amazing because it is all true! I found the following quips about Christmas somewhere in my travels, and would share them with you this morning. 

Shepherds, at the bottom of the social fabric of that time, were entertained and blessed by a choir of angels that filled the night with glory and hope. Mysterious Wise Men from the East followed a star that brought them to Bethlehem, where they worshipped and presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born King.

Then there is the centerpiece of the story: A young couple, probably still teenagers, were uniquely chosen to bring the Christ-child into the world. They faced a challenge of faith and courage that was undergirded by angelic visitations! Mary, the young virgin maiden, was with child without ever knowing a man before marriage; an outward looking scandal, by any stretch of the imagination. Then there was Joseph, who had to endure the gossip and “whispering” in a community that knew nothing of the angelic announcement heralding the birth of Jesus.

More sinister still was Herod’s plot to kill the child and, and if successful, would frustrate the will and purpose of God for world redemption. The Christmas story is truly beautiful, amazing and thought provoking. For Christians, it teaches us:

       1. Christmas is worth celebrating, since all of Heaven did so and gave beautiful voice to the wondrous events as they were unfolding in Bethlehem. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke devote lengthy passages to this story of wonder and great joy. We should do the same.

       2. Christmas is the hope of the world. God became man and did so to save us from our sins and give us a new beginning. The message is ever the same - peace and goodwill to all the world; a peace and goodwill which has to be appropriated individually by repentance and faith in the finished work of the Son of God on the cross.

      3. Christmas has a unique message in the gifts delivered to the Christ-child by the Kings from the East. Gold was a tribute to his identity as King of the Jews and the King of kings of all the world. Frankincense, a priestly connection meant his life would be pleasing to God and sinless. And myrrh foreshadowed that he would die for the sins of world – for all who would repent and accept His salvation. This is because myrrh was a burial ointment that was used to prepare the body for its final resting place.

     4. Christmas reminds us of a conflict that ever rages over the souls of men; Dark forces were at work on that beautiful, awe inspiring night. They sought to destroy the babe born to Mary and Joseph and thus they ultimately sought the destruction of all of humankind. This battle continues!

Soooo good buddies, we would do well then to gather our families together and carefully read this wonderful narrative from the Gospels. Worship and prayers of thanksgiving and joy should ascend to Heaven and sweet carols of years gone by should bathe our souls in the wondrous love of God. We would do well to visit the House of God on Christmas Eve or morning and there, together with all the family of God, give thanks for the gift of all gifts that became ours on Christmas Day.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Greetings favored one, the Lord is with you."

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one!  The Lord is with you.”   (Luke 1:26-28)

Hey gang:  Are these not amazing words that get your heart to pumping?  The Christmas story begins with an experience that is beyond description to our human minds.  Gabriel, an angel who stands at the throne of God, was sent to tell a young lassie that she was the “favored one” who would be the mom to the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

All you mom’s out there who learned for the first time that you were with child, how did you feel?  Now, keep in mind she was a virgin, betrothed, but not married yet. Imagine the torrent of feelings that must have surged through Mary’s heart at that moment.

Then the angel spoke, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and His kingdom will have no end”

The Catholic Church refers to Mary as ‘The Queen of Heaven’ and has placed her on the same level as deity; however, Protestants tends to place her in what might be called the ‘second class coach of the gospel train’.  We need to rethink this and   be mindful of the role that Mary played in the Christmas story. 

God did not give her divinity, but instead used her obedience to give Christ humanity.  Note Paul’s words in I Timothy 3:16, “This is the mystery of godliness, that Jesus Christ is entirely God and thoroughly man” (Hainley rendition).  And how did this happen? Through the young woman’s pregnancy and pain of labor.  

Mary’s response to Gabriel foretells her important place in the gospel story: “And Mary said: ‘My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For He has had regard for the humble stated of His bond slave. For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed’” (Lu. 1:46-48).

As we begin the countdown before we celebrate the birth of God’s Gift – “His only begotten Son” who came to earth for the specific purpose of giving His life a ransom  for you and for me, make sure your honor and worship and praise is for ‘Jesus, the Reason for the Season’.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Are You Giving Gifts That Have Eternal Value?

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Hey Gang:  When was the last time you shut down all the things that cloud your mind from looking at the more important things of life?  Gar Trusley, who did time studies for corporations, identified the three top things participants would do if the doctor said, “You have one month to live”. By a large percentage, those he studied said, “Seek the Lord- make sure they were in good relationship with the Lord, make sure they were in right relationship with spouse and family, and repair all the breaches that might exist between them and their neighbors.

It was interesting to note that, when he asked them to list the ten things in which they tended to invest their time and energies, these three things were are the bottom of the list. Soo, they knew that the things that brought real joy into their heart was not making a buck, climbing the corporate ladder or becoming something super special in the eyes of man!  

A recent study discovered that, in our culture, suicides are increasing by leaps and bounds and each year depression is the number one plague among a growing number.  As we move God further from the life of our country, despair and hopelessness grow in equal proportion.

We go to great pains to fill that vacuum that is just the size of God in our chest cavity.  We just experienced another ‘Black Friday’ –which began on Thanksgiving.  The world's retailers spread the good news that they have the very thing that will fill that vacuum.  People lined up hours in advance to make sure they were the first in line to purchase that aphrodisiac that would give them a moment or two of joy.  
I vaguely recall a song of years gone which told us that we seek the things that give us peace in all the wrong places.  I believe the Psalmist knew something about that when he wrote these words, “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.  For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12).

Soooo, my young lassies and lads, am I saying the giving of material gifts is wrong?  In no way! But, keep in mind the gift will be probably be forgotten in due season but the intent behind the gift will never be forgotten.  God’s Gift to us, His only Son, is eternal.  Be sure and share this will all of your family and friends;  His return to claim His own seemingly grows closer each day… as seen by what is happening daily in the world.



Friday, December 5, 2014

Be A Power Broker for God

 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory”.  (Isa. 6:3,   Read 6:1-8) "And blessed by His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory.  Amen and Amen" 
(Psalms 72:19). 

  In this day when everything that can be shaken is being shaken, It may not seem like the earth is filled with His glory, but rest assured it is – For the Bible tells me so (Heb. 12:26b-28)

Hey Gang' Can you say, Wow!  is it not neat to know that the whole earth is full of His glory?  True, the news would seem to indicate that the earth is not filled with His glory.  But keep in mind, we are not to judge by what we think or see, but by what God has given us in His Word.  He did say, I will be with you always! 

In recent months I have gained a new appreciation for the book of Habakkuk.  It begins with a cry to God: "How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?  (Hab. 1:2).  God's response is found in verse five when He said, "Look among the nations!  Observe! Be Astonished!  Wonder!  Because I am doing something in your days - You would not believe if you were told." 
Now skip over to Chapter 2, verses 13-14 and tucked in the midst of four "woes" we find these words, "Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations  grow weary for nothing?  For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”  

Would it not be awesome to see God's glory covering Michigan and all the world as the waters cover the sea?    Is it not awesome to know that is exactly what is going to happen one day- in the not too distant future for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose?

Toni Evans wrote in his book Our God is An Awesome God that holiness is the center piece of God’s attributes.  In other words at the center of what God is, is His holiness and to understand His holiness is to unlock the door to understand Him better and better.

I like Peter’s words when he asked the question, “Do you want to learn to know God better?”  His answer, “Then work hard”.  To get things handed to us on a silver platter is to forget as quickly as we close the Word.   Again, we return to the words of James who said it is the trials and wilderness experiences that opens the door to a deep understanding of God.

Soooo,   my challenge to you today?  Do something sacrificially to honor Father God.  Plant a seed in some one’s heart who needs to feel the Lord’s touch.  Paul said be an imitator of me – a bond servant for Jesus.  Do you think it would be fan-tab-u-lous to be like Paul?  Call someone – tell them you are thinking about them and praying for them.  What joy that will bring to their heart!



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Resisting Temptation - Tools in God's Toolbox

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". (I Peter 5:8). 

Hey Gang: In this day and age when reading the evening newspaper is like reading a horror story that is too evil to be true.  I have come to the point where I can only handle the news  one or two days a week.  One of the reasons I enjoy our tenure at Bartlesville, volunteering at Voice of Martyrs, is there is only local television and very little national and world news.  

But, As Believers we need to get the good news entrenched in our hearts and minds - Satan has been defeated and is on earth on borrowed time.  He is a gross sort of being with a crushed head.  We know that at the cross and Christ’s resurrection, Satan's power over Christians was destroyed.  The war has already been won! So take up your cross and sword today and keep your head up high - don't act like you have been defeated.   

However, there is a 'nonetheless' principle involved here, Satan still prowls the earth looking to drive a wedges between God and His children. His temptation is, unfortunately, a daily part of our lives. (I Peter 5:8).  But Peter gave us the antidote to his temptations, "But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world" (5:9). 

 Yet, if we use the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God's Word to help us, we will find ourselves effectively resisting temptations. But, there is a BUT, a prerequisite, we must avail ourselves of His presence by inviting the Holy Spirit to have control over our lives and spending quality time in God’s Word. 

It is important to firmly implant in your dome of intellect that Satan’s power over Christians has been effectively destroyed; the war has already been won through our Savior’s death and resurrection which conquered the power of sin and death forever.

So, how does one stand firm in the face of this world filled with bangles and beads that are constantly dangling the "better life" that the world offers?  First, we need to understand, temptation is always there.  Jesus endured it and overcame it in the wilderness. How? By overcoming Satan with the Word of God. 

The Psalmist emphasized this point when he wrote, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I may not sin against You" (Psa. 119:11).  In addition to God’s Word, prayer can help us to resist temptation. The night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and He told Peter to pray “so that you will not fall into temptation” (Mark 14:38). Also, in the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be lead into temptation (Matthew 6:13Luke 11:4).

Soooo, keep in mind, even though Christians already have the tools necessary for victory, we need to use our common sense and not place ourselves in situations that prey upon, or stimulate, our weaknesses. We are already bombarded every day with images and messages that tantalize our sinful lusts. We don’t need to make it more difficult than it already is.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Are You Tempted?

Are You Tempted?

If so, know! “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bare.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13). 

Hey Gang:  Did you know that there is a deadly predator that placed a bull’s eye on your back the moment you were born? And did you know that he quadrupled the bull’s eye the moment you gave your life to Christ as Lord?  A predator that is so very subtle and can appear totally innocent.  This soul seducer can present himself as a harmless lamb, but at the same time have the bite of a viper.  He will take any form necessary in order to persuade you to become dependent on his bangles and beads to find something that rings our bell.

Temptation is a fierce foe and it is out to get you.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that no matter how severe the attack, you don’t have to give in to it!  Read the above verse once again and notice that the promise is not that we will not be tempted, but rather that God will not allow us to endure any temptations to which we cannot say “Be gone”.  We need to have the James 4:5 promise firmly locked into our hearts and minds: "Submit therefore to God, Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”

There was an old fiery evangelist in England by the name of Wigglesworth.  When he preached, he shook the very rafters of the building. After one of his sermons, and not submitting to the ways of the evil one, a woman asked him to come and spend the night in her house.  She said she had spooks and spirits in her house that constantly harassed her.  After retiring for the night and turning the gas light down he fell asleep, only to be awaked by racket at the foot of his bed.  He turned up the gas light and there was Satan standing at the foot of the bed.  Wigglesworth’s response, “Oh, it is only you, and turned the lamp down and went back to sleep.”

Keep in mind, temptation is not sin until it is put into action.  We cannot keep the birds from flying over our head, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair.

Sooo, my young friends, a good defense is really a good offence.  We need to adapt Joseph’s method of dealing with Potiphar's wife's advances.  First, he firmly refused, then he used enduring denials, and finally he “cut and ran for it”.   There are times when ‘cutting and running’ is the best plan of action.



P.S   Life is a grindstone.  Whether it grinds you down or polishes you up depends upon what you are made of.