Tuesday, December 31, 2013
As we come to an end of the year 2013 some of us will look forward to a new year. A new year to do so many things... We even get caught up in the excitement of making resolutions... sometimes we look at this time as a new starting point. This year I will do better... This year I will get my weight under control... This year I will not act so badly... This year I will try to love more... This year I will draw near to God... This year I will be a better person... So tomorrow start 2014 and like many we want to be better... But what makes this year so special? Some of us have been trying hard for many New Years to be better... And believe it or not for many of us the New Year just fades away in a few days or weeks and we are living life just as we had before. Back to the same old, if you will. How can we change this New Year thing? How can we reach the goals that we know God wants in our lives? Now let us pull back a little and say small goals... small changes... and for some maybe big goals. You see we are always waiting for the right time... timing is everything right? We wait for the right day, we wait for the right season, the right place... But in God's word there is this verse Lam. 3:22 "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." So as we go ahead this new year some may start a right if you will, some might not, some might still be waiting... but we do not have to wait for special days.. to seek God... to change for every day is new and with God's lovingkindnesses; you have to like that word lovinglindnesses. So let us go forth day by day in God's lovingkindnesses. Lovingkindnesses fits in with our study just right.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
As we have been going through what love is as written in 1Cor.13, it seems that we need to understand why we love! Let us start with why does God love us? Why would God love me; I'm not that likable... I have messed up a lot and I still mess up a lot... sometimes it seems that I just can't get it right, sometimes I feel like I am a one man wrecking crew or you may think that you have done something(s) so bad there is no way that God can love me. As we have been learning that love is an action(s), but what motivates that action of love. What motivated God to love us that He sent His Son! He does say in His word that not one is good. Why would God love us? Now before we go further let me say that this is not going to be an answer of great theology... God love us because we are His creation, and we are created in His image/likeness. I also believe that God also knows what we would be like when we can handle the knowledge of evil and when we really start understanding the knowledge of good. We are His! That is why He reaches down with love, the love of sending His Son to pay the price for our mess ups... to fix our thinking... so we can have everlasting life with Him. As for us when we accept this gift of God, Jesus, our life is changed... and love for Him becomes more real if you will and more... Now why do we love? A good example would be the love parents have for their children. Because they are yours part of you... The same as love for family! We love each other for we are connected. We don't have to do anything to earn that love. A child could be crying or over active... but as parents we still love them. How much more does God love us His creation. Now why does a man love His wife what is the bond that makes their love stand out if you will. The bond is that an attraction becomes more when they become married for they become one, a bond that is greater than family. Love is actions but before we get to those actions love is a choice. We need to choose to whom we love and then do the actions of love. As for God He chose the world, all of us, that all have the choice to accept His love of Jesus. As for us we need to learn how to love all and to do those deeds of love. Yes, God did give a gift, His Son but with His gift He is still doing what we are learning in 1Corinth. 13. For us we need to understand that just giving gifts to show love is not enough we need to do those action of 1Corinth.13 So Merry Christmas to you all!
Friday, December 20, 2013
As we continue our series of love; we find ourselves leaving the section of what love is not, and back to another section of what love is. You see love is an action, that is doing acts that demonstrate love and as we have seen that it also includes not doing actions that do not demonstrate love. With that the next of what love does is love "rejoices with the truth." Truth, so many times we wonder what is truth in the big picture of things. Some believe that the bible is true and some only think that parts are true... (there is another devotional for this). For us it will be helpful to recognize that when we look at truth in this circumstance that we focus toward individuals. That when we look at truth we are looking at the actions of someone, or ones. Are those actions done in good will? Are they sincere? Did they tell the truth? Are they honest? So many times we look at things of being factually true... that we miss in life when one tries to do something good... and things go array... we only see the negative... Or when one does a wrong we can't wait to jump... on them, make them pay... even when they are up front and tell the truth... our anger... So many times when we see truth... what do we do? but what should we do? Rejoice! So no matter what is happening when we see, hear... truth, we need to rejoice. Yes, when our children tell the truth we need to rejoice! Guess what, if we do rejoice it will help us in the way we deal with them... When we hear of someone who has done something... and tells the truth we rejoice! And if we are rejoicing then hopefully all that negative thinking... will go away. For hopefully when we are rejoicing we can put on the other positive actions of love; being patient and kind. You see when we where honest with God, confessing our sins... and believing that He will forgive us... in the Name of Jesus His Son who takes away the sins of the world. Do you not think that when God hears us being truthful... He rejoices! Not only then but when we come before Him in our Christian walk and confessing our sins as we are instructed in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Not only does He forgive us but He rejoices! He is not up in heaven saying here comes Peter again, can't he get anything right... No He is waiting for us to come to Him, yes with a good attitude... and when we start confessing in truth a smile of rejoicing if you will start... So this Christmas season let us have rejoicing more a part of our lives!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Love is not provoked. Now this is an interesting concept of what love is not. When I think of provoke the thought of pushing one to act with anger is at the forefront. Some one's actions or words, bringing up feelings... to get me to respond in a negative way... Let's face it people know how to press others buttons... They know how to get under ones skin... knowingly or not. Yes, people for some reason do put people in negative "light" if you would trying to get that negative response... to confirm all what they have been saying... Provoke how ever has that positive meaning also; to provoke someone to continue in a good direction... to provoke a smile... so provoke is not a bad thing. But when love is provoked it is. Now before we go on we must remember that things need to be put in to perspective. That having a hard black and white approach may not fit; here is one of those times. The first example would be that of dangling an object... in front of someone. You want the object or even have a need for the object... so with that you show affection... even when you do not want to. OK I'm going to say it, "money can't buy me love". Nor can one who does the other of threatening... Another one would be that of favoritism... For if one is doing these things to get love, then one needs to stop doing those things for love is not provoked. The love you think you have is not really love, it is shallow, weak at best. For love is not something that can be bought, influenced... Just like you cannot buy God's love or the love of God for love is not a thing that can be bought. Remember it is a gift! You can try to buy it, steel it, borrow it... but you can never get the real deal with those ways... For love is a gift that one gives... if you need to do something to earn... influence... or buy... it is not a gift freely given...
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness. Or rejoices not in iniquity. We are to be marked with love as a Christian. That is love is what comes forth from us ... Not only toward the people we know, or close to or the people we like... but toward all. When we think of this what love is not we can get stuck in the out ward appearance we have if you will. That is we are not doing bad deeds... to others; we are not the one that did such an such... that we have had no part in that... But this of what love is not goes much deeper. It reaches deep down inside of us. For deep down is where things boil up that should not be. We think that when someone is going through a hard time... that they deserve it because of their sin... Even when an unthinkable thing as a death of a child, people think that something is a miss... in their lives that is why it happened... Oh, some might say, that is not what I am doing... Love does not rejoice in iniquity, that is evil. Love does not rejoice when evil... comes upon someone... If you were to have love you would have compassion... not thinking what they did to cause this... or thinking that this evil/bad thing is deserved or what they have coming... You see if you are getting stuck in what people deserve... or what sin have they done... to be where they are... Then you will have a hard time to demonstrate love... I would even go as far to say you will have a hard time witnessing for our Lord and Savior Jesus. You see for God so loved us He sent His Son. This He did out of love. You see we all deserve His judgment but He reaches out to us in love... Love is foremost. You need to love the people that God created, even when they are in the midst of bad things because of sin or when things fall their way because we live in a fallen world... So if you find yourself thinking that they deserve such an such... or hoping that something happens to someone... That get'em attitude. Just maybe you need to refocus, rethink... even thinking that this might be tough love... you still need to change for love does not rejoice in evil.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
"Love does not take into account a wrong suffered," Of all the "does not" maybe this one gives most people the most problems. When I think of wrong, I default to my school days of getting problems wrong... but the main definition of wrong has to do with unjust, injurious acts, principles being violated and conduct. As with all things dealing with people there seems to be those things that have different meanings for different people. that what is wrong to one may not be a wrong to another. Never mind putting ones feelings into the equation. So with that said, you have been wronged by someone. The question is are you taking into account that wrong? Did you forgive the one who wronged you? Has the one who wronged you been restored? Here is the deal if you are one who is holding a grudge, you are not putting on love; if you are not willing to forgive someone for a wrong, you are not putting on love; if you are waiting for one to ask forgiveness... before you will forgive, you are not putting on love; if you are one who is judging someone's actions, you are not putting on love. For many of us we have great memories when it comes to remembering wrongs... we need to forgive and to forgive like Jesus forgives. Forgiveness is what demonstrates love. Eph.4:31-32 "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Love is not self seeking. Now this is easy to see in others... Your watching a chix flick and there is that one person who is doing things to impress... for their own goals... It is usually pretty pronounced in the movies. In real life there are ones who do the same, they are good at putting on the charm... and good at doing things to pursue their own desires... Now I know that this example is toward romance; but it does not end there. Self seeking brings the thought of one doing things that would benefit them self. That you give a gift to someone for you know that one will be given in return, hopefully a better one. You have someone over for dinner because you know that they will have you over... You show love if you will because love will be shown back... Always looking at what will be given back... what is in it for me. Now sometime that what is in it for me would be praise. Yes, praise; let me tell you looking good... for doing something... is a good motivator for a lot of us. Praise, of men... Now let us not get to far to the left/right, having one thank you... is ok; it is when the line is crossed. What line? Say that you reached out in "love" by doing or giving to someone and they never thank you... Now here is the line test, how did you feel... and what do you think... would you reach out again? Did those negative feelings... boil up? The true test of love is that you do... with no expectations... and you are happy... that you showed/ demonstrated love... The joy of giving! One more thing; we must be aware of who we show love too. That we do not show partiality. An example, in a church I have attended there was a signup sheet for meals for people in need/ going through crisis... A family was on that list and there where meals signed up for weeks... and during the same time there was another family on the list; but very few would sign up... Calls were made to try to fill in the gaps... but still people were reluctant to help... saying they were helping the other family... Even now it brings tears to my eyes... Oh, it happens all the time in churches; oh yes it does. We are the church of the living God, how can this be? Let us all work on not letting this be in our lives. Now one last thing for men, so many times we do things for our wife... and guess what we sometimes do these things with expectations... and after a while when these expectations are not met we stop doing. Love does not stop doing. So keep on doing. Yes I know it is hard but don't give up.
Monday, November 11, 2013
"Love does not act unbecomingly" , 1 Corinthians 13:5. For me it is still hard to get over of knowing what love is not. Is it only me, does it not seem that we need to know more of what love is? So we can do what love is. Well yes, but we need to know what love is not, for we tend to think that some of the actions of what love is not, is showing love... so let us dig in to this next concept. Unbecoming is talking about our conduct. Rude is a word used in some translations; but unbecomingly reaches beyond the meanings of rude. It has in its meaning the respect of person(s), no matter who they are, were they are and what ever station of life they are at, being age or rank or wealth(rich or poor)... As I was thinking of this I can relate to acting unbecoming toward the poor and also acting unbecoming toward the rich. How can that be? That acting unbecoming could reach so vast a people in me, in you? So here it is we need to watch that we do not act unbecoming, that is bad conduct, feelings, speech, ..., toward people. That we treat people with love no matter who they are... For when God reached down for us it was not that we were deserving, nor that we were noble, nor that we were good looking, nor that were bright, nor that were we better... He reached down to all of us because we all are His creation; and He loves us, His creation. He reached down to us by sending His son, to redeem us... For this was our first great need. Now one last thing, unbecoming/rude also implies the idea of one not preparing/ thinking it out... not learning how to love, as pertained to the individual/ groups... for we all are so different in our preferences... also with these words of what love is not; could suggest the deliberate act of being rude/ unbecoming. Hopefully that is not us and hopefully we will try to be more studious about how to love our spouse, children, family and others.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Love is not arrogant or love is not proud. One should not show or say or boast of how much they love. For love is an ongoing thing and not only is it on going, the opportunities of showing love are changing... and not only that, that as one grows his love should grow... When I think of arrogant, it makes me think of one thinking that they are better than_____. That their gifts... are better than.... What they do is better than... That no matter what for the most part you cannot compete with them for they are better than and do better than... And eventually this will make them think that the one being loved, shown love... should appreciate them more for showing such great love... We joke about this saying(s), "She is so lucky to have so and so" or "She is so lucky to have me." That just being associated with them, they are blessed... You see if we are only relying on our ability to love we have missed the mark; for we do not know how to truly love. Think about it! We think we know how to love but as time goes on we realize that we know so little... And when we want to truly love more... it somehow get's mixed up... and we find ourselves not doing the actions we want... You see for us to show love... we need God's help. We need Him to show us the way. We need Him guides us so we know how to love, when to love... and we need His strength also; for without Him our love is shaky at best.
Monday, October 21, 2013
As we continue of what love is we are faced with another, what love in not. Love does not brag(1Corinthians13:4). This is good that we learn what love is not. Just like there are actions that show love; there are actions that do not show love. Some of these actions would surprise us as we look at them. Like the one before us now; love does not brag. Brag, to boast. That is to tell what one has done... Wow, doesn't that hit hard. Love does not boast. So when you do something that demonstrates love... don't brag about it. When you buy your wife a gift just because you love her, don't bring it up later... saying this shows that I love you... That when you start saying that, this demonstrates the love I have for _____. That really is saying that maybe your priority has been amiss. You see love does not need to be defended because it is an ongoing process. Passed deeds that show love, are void if new deeds are not present. Love is a continuing process that involves multiple deeds/things. Love is more than just feelings, it is action based. Action based, that would be actions based. It is not just many actions it is actions that continue in the future, thus being on going. Now that, that is said, those actions being done have to have meaning. Not just financial meaning, but meaning that is personal. Maybe actions that fit needs and actions that makes one feel special. Actions that are personal to the individual... Sometimes actions just because it seems nice.... If you find that you are bringing up past actions of love... to justify your love... maybe you need to take a hard look at yourself and ask have I been demonstrating love enough? Now if you are married, maybe we all need to ask that question more frequently. Did I say maybe? No we need to ask that question frequently! An to act; so many times I find myself wanting to do... but then I get tired... and .... and ... So let us do the actions that demonstrate love to our spouses, to our children and to the brethren...
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
We have been talking about what love is, but our next characteristic would be of what love is not. Love is not jealous. Jealous, hostile to a rival or one having an advantage. Another word used would be envy; this word seems to work a little better for us in our era. Envy, painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another with the desire to possess the same advantage, or an object of envious notice or feeling, also sometimes in its meaning is malice. Most people when we think of envy we associated with possessions. Envious of some ones car or the house they have... it is a feeling. Now some one can be envious of say a friend...who has a new nice car but instead of going to malice, he checks himself and becomes happy for his friend. The thing about envy that needs to be watched out for would be when we have malice (bad, evil intentions, thoughts verses good happy...). The thing about envy is that it can cause a lot of damage. For with our example about one is envious of a possession, car, one might go so far as to damage... the car. Or if something was to happen (stolen, damaged) they have that happy feeling about what has happened, they are happy that it was done to so and so. In the example above we used possessions but it is not the possession that is being hurt it is the person. Now some times we take our envy to people themselves; we are envious of how they look, their position at work..., their abilities, their influence, their achievements, their wisdom... the things they are doing... Here is where a lot of damage takes place. Remember associated with this word is malice. So in our society how does one show envy? It would be with the use of words, gossip if you will. The use of words to put one down... showing the little flaws in someone, their weakness... to try to over shadow the good... that the person does... Putting up negative words... to invoke negative feelings of others toward that person. One could even use resources that are different than what the person is about to tear them down. "To tear them down", that would be a good phrase. Now envy also involves a dislike of a person, it does not have to have a solid reason... it goes on feelings... It amazes me how we can dislike someone just in a few seconds... of seeing them. It amazes me how sometimes it is manifested, and how long it is carried out... Love does not envy.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Love is kind. The second character of love. As we have mentioned before love is an action; so this character of love is also an action. There are some words that we can associate with what it means to be kind. The first would be gentleness, I am using this one first for it seems that if one is practicing being patient, then kindness would start manifesting itself, hopefully. So gentleness is more than refraining... It is that of be understanding and caring. Now here is an example, some people have that gentleness, calmness when dealing with animals, but remember it is a lot more than that. The next word would be compassion, to sympathize with someone. Now it is not only feeling bad about what has happened to someone but to be active in helping... Here is what I think about when I think about, kindness, when you hear someone say, " you were so kind to do that..." It's an action being done, even just being prayer. Another words that is associated with kindness would be mercy. This I am going to link to situations that arise from some ones wrong choices... Even though it is not limited to that... but sometimes one needs to be shown mercy for something they have done. That kindness needs to be there. Now this is when we need to work on kindness. You see it might not be affecting you... but you know about the "wrong" if you will and the feeling of resentment... comes. So put on kindness, fight all the other feelings and action. For our God is merciful to us, look what is said in Lam. 3:22 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning great is your faithfulness." This is a great verse about love and what we are looking at; just like God we need to be full of mercy, full of kindness. One more verse to demonstrate this, Matt. 9:36 "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
We have been looking at the verse John 3:16 "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." There is a very important word for why God would send His Son to pay the price for our short comings...sin. That word would be love. Now when we think of love, if you are like me, some things come into mind. Love for my wife, children, extended family and even some friends. We will think of romance, sex, love of certain foods, possessions and the love of certain activities. For us that use the English language the word love is used in a very broad way as mentioned above. But is that the way that the word love is used in our verse or better yet; how is it used in our verse and what does it mean? So first let me put out three Greek word used for love, The first would be, agape(agapan), the second philo(philien) and the third eros. Now the third eros, sexual love we will not deal with. The second philo means, brotherly love, freindship. Now agape, let's call this God's love, it is unselfish love, a love that is dedicated to something no matter what. So what is love is still the question; love is an action it is more than just words. So what actions show love? Remember we are not including eros. Now before we get to those actions that show love let us not confuse love with lust, a strong desire. The best place that describes love is found in 1Corinthians 13:4-7 let's include part of verse 8. Verse 4 "Love is patient" would be the first character, or part that makes up what love is. Patient is an interesting word, it involves a few meanings like not acting hastily, bearing pains and trails calmly, steadfast despite opposition, manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain. So here are the first actions that demonstrate love. Not acting hastily, some of us are in a hurry most of the time, go, go , go. And when something comes up or when someone (usually someone close) doesn't perform or do... what we think needs to be done.. or doesn't do it "right" ; you know what happens. For some it happens in a big way for others their inpatient is shown in a little way (their good at hiding it). Now those instances of not performing are part of everyday life of doing things, but sometimes things are done a miss, on purpose if you will or even unawares that test our patience. So patient is what we all need to do to demonstrate love. Instead of getting wound up stop and think... come along side help if needed and forgive if needed. Now do not think that this is something that is easy... that we don't react fast, we wait a few minutes... some time you might need to be patient for a long time,hours, days, weeks, or even years. Think how patiently God waited for you just for salvation to be accepted, never mind how patient He is for us now as we try to follow His ways. This first character of love is not easy to do but let us all make a big effort to be more patient.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
We have been looking at John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life..." We looked at grace and mercy but today I want to look at why we all need to believe in Jesus the Son of God. Now this might seem a little different if you will but keep on reading and hopefully it will make sense. As believers we look at this verse and come to the conclusion that this the only way to get into heaven. But many think there is another. That other is what most are trying to do! That would be to live a life without sinning too badly if you will. Now with that comes the idea that if we are a so called "good" person you can get to heaven... And also comes the idea if you do more "good" than bad you can get into heaven. There is a lot of rationalizing, bending of what is good, bending of what is good works and the rationalizing away what is bad. This is where a lot of people are, not many want to think of themselves as bad, no good... or needing a savior. If only the world will come to the conclusion that they need a savior, that savior being God's Son, Jesus. You see we all have the same thing in common. that we all have sinned and that we all were born with sin as part of us. Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Now this is simple, all of us have sinned; why is it so hart to admit that? Even as Christians it is hard to admit that, that we still sin. That we still need to go to Jesus for forgiveness. One last thing when we look at what is sin... we need to look at what God has said is sin, not what we think is sin; nor should we rationalize that there is no God so this issue does not matter. In the end it does! When we enter heaven and ask how did you get here? The answer will all have the same tune, "Jesus
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Grace and mercy; are key to our Christian walk. It is also key to winning one to Christ if you will. You tell people of the grace of God and the mercy of God; which is seen and implied in John 3:16-18. Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now there are many ways of sharing, Christmas story, Easter story, Romans road... but there are not many listening... and the ones who are, are on the defensive. The other day another brother and I had the opportunity to talk to two people about Jesus, both were not followers. It was interesting for both had different back grounds, one didn't believe in God... and had had bad experiences when confronted about Jesus. The other had had some "religion" in her life but it never drew her to God... to believe. You see belief is the key factor for one to be saved; for one to be a Christian, for one to keep on walk through life as a Christian. One needs to believe in the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ and all that is said about them and all that They told us They will do... This is all found in the Bible! It is not my words or words of men that we need to believe; it is the words of God that needs to be believed. The bible is so key to our faith... it is what makes our belief sure. God's word says that the creation point to him or declares that God is... It gives us a starting point if you will to seek the one true God. The word of God is what gives us the direction/instruction... for us to have a relationship... with Him That why John 3:16 is so important, that is what gives us our firm conviction, that we all need Jesus. "Jesus loves me this I know for the bible tells me so... " this simple children's song is so true. So one needs to believe in the word of God as true and all that it says... Oh, if the masses would stop believing in the lies of men.. and come to believe the truth of the bible and to believe in the True God and His Son Jesus. 2Timothy3:16-17 "All scripture is inspired by God..." One more note one needs not only believe the bible as true but more important is that they believe in Jesus the Son of God...
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Last time we talked about grace, as something that Christians do. That we are to give grace as you give a gift. If we are really honest with ourselves, sometimes we only give gifts because we have to... or we give at a special time... Now with grace it needs to be given at times that are not conveniant. How is it that we give grace? Is there a right way to give grace? Now let me say that one should be giving grace no matter what. That sometimes we give grace even when we do not want to. Sometimes giving grace is a matter of obedience to our Lord. Which is ok. to begin with. But there is a better way. That would be that "love" is behind the giving. Now before we get to what love is let's talk about another important thing that Christians do; that would be mercy. Now mercy also has 2 components; one who asks for mercy and the one who grants mercy. Mercy has a few definitions, but overall it involves compassion to person(s). For example, beg for mercy or a merciful deed of kindness(helping...) We will focus on the first, for in the first; one who begs for mercy wants something... That one needs the mercy of a judge; so that the penalty will be lessen... What I would like to do is to walk through how this applies to us as Christians. We talked about grace last time, using John 3:16 "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." That the gift of grace was God's son Jesus. So what do we do with this gift, the gift that we believe in? Well first we need to believe, yes too really believe... not to be well maybe... but to believe that Jesus is the son of God... Now we are opening the gift that God has given to us (you, me) with that belief and right away we are able to put it to use! For we see that we are sinners... and the penalty for sin is death. So we cry out for mercy, and we claim the gift of Jesus to the Judge( God), for the price of sin is death and Jesus paid that price for me, for you! So the Judge pardons... us, you , me not for what we have done but on what Jesus has done on the cross. If you read on further in the Gospel of John it says, " that he who believes in Him is not judged" You don't even have to go through the whole trial... Because you have Jesus, He takes care of it all! He sees your name on the docket and says this has been taken care of by Me. This is how salvation works but Jesus does a lot more for us, even now for He is a living God working... So grace is a free gift and mercy is granted because of what is in the gift, Jesus. Grace we receive and mercy is asked for and granted because of grace.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Now as summer comes to an end, that is summer marked by going back to school..., let's make more of an effort to go to Church. This summer we have been taking a look at noticing the battle. For the most part we view the battle as over there, if you will... But what we have been looking at is when the battle is upon us. That would be when we are not doing "Christian" things... That when we neglect such activities we give the enemy an opening. Or sometimes we get caught up in/with the worldly things. Giving the enemy an opening. So this last devotional on noticing the battle will be on grace. What is grace? Unmerited favor, undeserved favor, act of kindness... or one is graceful(the way one moves). So how does grace work for us as believers? What we do is look at some of the workings of grace. The first would be it is extended. Eph.2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God." Grace is a gift! That when one extends grace, it is a gift that is being given. It is not earned... or something we can purchase. So then as with all gifts... there is a cost that is paid by the one giving the gift. So when grace is given there is a cost. "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. Now here we have God extending grace. That grace being the giving of His son Jesus so that we can have eternal life. Here is the deal grace is given to ones who have not been deserving... or to ones who have been acting badly... God extends His grace to the world. One big thing is that grace involves love. For if there is no love then grace would not be "pure" if you will. It would be tainted. Maybe not real. One more thing is that grace has to be received/accepted. That one must accept the gift! One must open the gift to receive the blessing that is inside. For us with God we need to believe in His Son Jesus; that is how we open/accept the gift, and is the beginning of the blessings that are found in Jesus. So many take the gift and never open it... not receiving what is inside. So just as God has given us bestowed on us grace, undeserved favor, we also are to give grace to others. Now the gift will be different but the act of giving it, grace, is something we need to be doing. And guess what, it may not be accepted/received every time. But just like God, we need to keep on giving grace. This is another thing that we as Christians should be doing to help them stay strong.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Are you working on forgiveness? If you are not the battle is upon you! When one becomes "saved" things start to happen in one's life. One of those things is that one starts to go to "Church"; which is a good thing. One also find that they are going to more "church" activities... But as time goes on something happens. It seems that it starts to get easier not to go to "Church". That something... be it about us or about the Church we attend... That the joy of going to "church" has ended. Sleeping in, doing yard work... almost anything seems to get in the way of going to church. Now there can be many things that can take us away from going to church. Yes many things. Now in this devotional we cannot address the many problems one has about going to Church, nor can we address the many problems that maybe in the individual churches. What we will address is that one needs to go to church. Heb. 10: 23-25 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and to good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Now I know it doesn't say/imply going to Church but going to church is very important and yes it is where we should be getting encouraged... and loved... and yes it is much more to church than that. So going to church is a good thing and assembling with Christians in other ways... is also a good thing. We all need to be loved upon and we all need encouragement. We all need to learn how to love more and more; we all need to learn how to encourage more and more. You see we can be blessed by other believers... and we can also be a blessing to other believers. Now if one does not go to "church" , who knows what one might be missing? Think about it!
Monday, August 12, 2013
We have come a long way in our summer study. Noticing the battle. We did not say that when this happens... that that is where the battle is. But we took the approach of when these things are not being done, that there is where the battle is for us. Alright we started about seeing the battle around us, then we moved to telling the Gospel, praying when the Gospel is shared, sharing of the works of God, rejoicing when Jesus is proclaimed, to are you hiding from God... for Husband and wives doing more together... So now let's talk about the next thing that Christians do. That would be forgiveness. Forgiveness is right at the center of who we are in Christ Jesus. Just like sharing about Jesus; forgiveness is what we do. Let me say that again forgiveness is what we do! Matt. 6:14-15 "For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Also see Col. 3:13. Now forgiveness has 2 basic components (not to say that there are only two... because forgiveness has many components and does many wonderful things...). The first of these components would be that of one asking forgiveness. One has done a deed/action... that was wrong. So what I would like to do is to go back to the basics of knowing what is wrong; that would be the ten commandments. Now the first half, if you will, deals with our relationship with God while the second half deals with our relationship with each other. When one sins, one needs forgiveness. When one sins one needs forgiveness, period. There is no way around it. So when one breaks one of the first half of the commandments one goes to God and asks for forgiveness...(the right way, true sorrow and repentance). Now to the second component of forgiveness; the one that is asked to forgive grants forgiveness. Now back to the example of one breaks one of the 10 Commandments that deals with God. The best way to put is to go to 1John 1:9"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We confess to God and He is faithful to forgive and cleanse. Now if one breaks one of the 10 Commandments dealing with people one needs to confess to God (remember He is faithful...) and confess to the one whom you have committed the offense. Now here is the tricky part people are not always faithful; they may not choose to forgive...or maybe it may take some time. What happens is that there is a wedge if you will between the two... You see without forgiveness it opens the door for all sorts of bad things... You see without forgiveness we cannot get cleansed/washed. Some versions use healed. That we cannot be cleaned/washed/healed... that the relationship cannot be cleansed/washed/healed. Restoration would be a good word also to use. Forgiveness is a powerful thing when done right but being ignored... destructive forces if you will can come into play... Let us all choose to forgive. One last note choosing to forgive cost. When God choose to forgive us it cost Him His Beloved Son! But the cost of not forgiving for us can be more than one can imagine.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Last devotional was to have a second part, but half way through I decided not to include it. For it may have been a little much or too much. Just getting a handle on going before God the right way if you will is hard... confessing our sins... You see 1John1:9 is not only for salvation but a process for the rest of our lives. So let us continue with our keeping short accounts before our God. Back to Gen.3:8-9 " What I would like to address now is that not only that we go before God alone for fellowship... That when you get married you need to go and fellowship... with God together. Remember that when you are married you become one! There is a oneness that should be about you. A sharing of life... that brings you together as one. That even before our God we bring our marriage life... and we need to do this together. We praise God together, thank God together, pray to God together and share our lives with God together. For there is a oneness that is part of us, a oneness that most of us need to understand more. An openness that is part of our marriage... Alright this is for us as men, are you hiding? Seriously are you hiding things from your wife? Be it big sin if you will or just a temptation that you struggle with but not falling into... Hiding is not good! You see you cannot hide from God. Nor should one be hiding from their wife. Now for the wife; now if your husband comes a sharing (not hiding) bringing things to the open... in the right way. Try not or do not condemn... making the matter worst... You see forgiveness also has the aspect of healing... now how it works... that is what God does. Now remember that this process/principle is also for the wife. How blessed is a marriage that is open and forgiven and healed before our God!
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
It is so easy to lose track of what or where... we should be/ doing. Now this is a hard a hard devotional for me to write. For I do ok in some ways but in others I fail. Sometimes I do well but then,____ you know what I mean. The topic will be prayer, better yet talking with God! You will understand more as this devotional goes. We sing songs about our interaction... with our God. If you are like me they touch my heart... But do I do what they are saying... "Early in the morning" yes part of a worship song. Do we start our day with God? Or do you get up and just start doing, Oh how I know too well about that. But all the while singing that hymn... hearing brothers teaching about starting your day... Or even making your day to be with God. Prayer/Praise/thanksgiving... Turn in your bible to Gen.3:8 "They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden." So this happened after they have eaten the forbidden fruit. They had one commandment and bang they broke it. Just like us we cannot keep the ten commandments... So what happened God comes into the garden to fellowship with Adam and Eve; and Adam and Eve hide from God. No they were not playing hide and seek. You see sin, trespasses, iniquity in us separates us from God. For us we want to hide or keep it hidden(the sin). And 2 God cannot have sin in His presence, He needs to do something about it. So here we have it when sin is upon us... we tend to hide if you will. God wants to fellowship with us but sin needs to be dealt with for fellowship to be restored. This was done and is done at the cross of Jesus Christ. Now how does this work for us? A friend/ fellow believer in Christ told me to keep short accounts with God. That is confess your sins daily/ hourly/ minutely... For us that means not to hide them! For if you are hiding from God (like Adam and Eve in the trees) then you cannot fellowship truly with Him. But thanks be to God! 1John1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Isn't that great, God through Chris Jesus restores us back to fellowship with Him. He wants to have fellowship with each of us. Yes each of us. So are you in fellowship with God? Or are you hiding? Do you talk to him throughout the day? Or are you hiding? Or are you to busy? Fellowship with God is much more than "traditional prayers" "traditional praise" traditional thanks" it has the personalized touch to it. The praises of Tom ,Harry ,Jane... new sounds, new thanks, new prayers and most of all the individual sharing of ourselves to God. He cares about each of us.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Have you been rejoicing in the Gospel? That is have you been rejoicing when you hear the Gospel? For us followers of Jesus Christ, it is what we do! You see proclaiming the Gospel is what we do. It is part of our everyday life... We should be talking about Jesus throughout the day... We should be thanking Him every day. We should be singing praises to Him every day. We should be before Him in prayer... every day. We should be learning of Him every day... We should be in His word the Bible every day. Remember what our series is about? Being aware of the work of the enemy. So many times the enemy get's in our circle of life to do his deadly work. Oh, it is deadly and oh it is more extensive that what you will hear from me. What we all need to see is that if there is a breakdown of the things described above that the enemy is doing his work. So far we have only been talking about how the enemy is destroying the work of proclaiming the Gospel being share but he/they are trying to destroy us the believer also. He wants to disrupt the communication... we have with our Lord Jesus... He wants to destroy our fellowship, friendship...we have with our Lord... Seriously he does not wanting us sharing the Gospel. He does not want us talking about Jesus at all. Nor does he want us to sing praises to Jesus... Nor does he want to see us in prayer or reading the bible. Not only is it hard to share the Gospel... but it is also hard to talk about Jesus with other believers... Why is that? Does the evil ones have such and influence... fear seems to over whelm us... what if what I am learning/sharing is "simple"... I am not as spiritual as so and so... Do not let the enemy get a victory, Let us all be talking about our Lord Jesus. Not only is he mighty to save, He is mighty to finish the work He started in each of us. Phil. 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." You see that God is the one doing the work in each of us. He is perfecting each of us and with that we are all in different places of being perfected if you will. The lessons of Christ are not like the lessons of going to school; first grade then... but they are more suited to each individually. Yes we all have a start but some skip ahead to learn such and such... then skip back to learn such and such... So with that let us continue to rejoice in the Gospel being shared and with people sharing about the works of God and sharing about the blessings of God in their lives... For with this the name of Jesus is being honored... Let us be united in this effort as believers.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Sharing about Jesus, sharing about the works God is doing in our lives... Yes this is hard, very hard, but it is an easy task! You see we are only to do the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For God is the one Who does all the work... I cannot make anyone to really hear/understand the word I say... But God can! More over my words are powerless... but God's words are powerful... God is the one who draws men... to Himself. He is the one who saves... He is the one who changes lives... He is the one who does all the work... we are to share the Gospel. So many times we forget that it is God who does all the work. We get to doing the work of God in our own strength. We are talking about Him... but we forget that it is Him that has the power... We forget to pray... It is a slow process or it can be a fast process. Phil. 1:15-18 "Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the Gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice!" In this passage it is talking about how to different ways of the Gospel is being proclaimed; truthfully and envy and strife. But the Apostle Paul rejoices with both. You see it is the name of Christ that is being proclaimed and in that name is the power... So when you or anyone is sharing about Christ, we all must not forget that is God who does the work... Even when one is sharing with mixed motives or even when one shares fumbling along... We as believers must rejoice when we hear Christ being proclaimed! For there is power in the name of Christ no matter how it is proclaimed; or even the way it is proclaimed. So let's proclaim Christ.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Sharing about Jesus. What an important task! Last week I encouraged you all to share Jesus with some one... Was it hard, did you try... or did you just forget... I am not here to chastise you... but to encourage you.... Believe me when I tell you that it is hard to do these "Christian" things. We must never forget that the battle is still raging all around us. That we need to recognize this, and to remember that just because we have made the step in faith to Jesus Christ, that the battle has stopped for us; for the battle has not stopped even for us. An important part of sharing Jesus Christ comes from experience. I am not talking about formal training, schooling... but the experience of living a life filled with God/Jesus/Holy spirit. The experience of seeing God working in your life... The experience of God answering prayers... In Deut.6:20 is a helpful passage that encourages us in our sharing about God. A few verses before it is telling us to teach our children the commandments/statutes of God... Then comes verse 20, "When your sons ask you in times to come, saying, 'What do these testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out with a mighty hand. Moreover..." You see when we tell about Jesus how He saves us from our sin... We need to also share the moreover He is doing... The moreover He is doing in our life.... The more over He is doing in the lives of believers... The moreover He is doing in modern times... We are asked the same types of question what does this mean, is it real... So stop and think to share what Jesus is doing in your life that will make Him to be real to someone who does not believe.
Monday, June 10, 2013
Have you been on the alert? Have you seen the enemy at work? Have seen the pulls of this world working? These things and more are working all around. The thing is that we can see some things, the obvious bad if you will, but the common things of life... we just pass by as happenings... So what we all need to recognize that when things are happening in someone's life; and yes they are working in our life too. These things are working inside the Church. Yes, these workings...are inside the Church. More on that later. Last week I asked you all to look around... to try to recognize the workings of the evil one and the pull of world. We need to stay alert! So can you see the biggest workings of the evil one? That would be to silence the work of the great commission. Seriously, sharing the name of Jesus; is so hard now-a-days. Talking about God, is also hard... Presenting the Gospel of our Lord; it is something that is not happening. Think about it even in Church services sharing the salvation message seems hard; also when it is shared some (believers or regular church goers) put up a fuss... Why is that? Another also that more and more the Gospel of our Lord is being presented in a watered down version if you will, just get them to say a simple prayer... then go your way... Another thing that is happening that we make the Gospel of our Lord to be politically correct, that it fits in with all other types of beliefs/religions. This week let us all try to recognize the workings of the evil one. That we will pray that the Gospel of our Lord will shared more... That we will have the boldness to share the Gospel of our Lord or something about Jesus this week. Yes it will be alright if you do not lead someone to salvation in Jesus, the important thing is to start sharing about Jesus... We are to proclaim(share) the Gospel. God will take care of the rest. After all He is the one that draws men, women and children to Himself. Tell someone about Jesus this week!
Thursday, May 30, 2013
As we walk on this Earth, the enemy is there. We think of the enemy as Satin but if we only think that he is the only one, alone. How misled, mistaken... we are. You see there is a whole host of angels that follow him... That together they do their deadly work... I wish it was easy to see the enemy working... that there is the sound of gun fire... if you will when he plans an attack. Or that we can see him coming from a far off, that someone will send out a warning call... But no that is not what happens, we don't usually hear the gun fire and let's face it a warning call... from other Christians, that doesn't really happen either. Even when the battle is in full force, it seems that we stand alone. Calling for help is not something that we do. And if we do, who will hear the call? Or if they hear the call for the most part there is no help... For whatever reason. Not only do we have an enemy; we live on earth! An earth is not a perfect place... nor does the world systems(government...) run perfectly or designed in a godly way. You see it is hard to live on earth, it involves hard work... and sometimes things cause us great grief... And guess what, we need to interact with others... and not all people are nice... even us as Christians are flawed. And even when we do seem to have a handle on the earthly stuff, it seems that the evil ones find ways to use these things against us... As we mentioned early do we see these troubles coming? No not really, maybe some. Or better yet when we are in the mist can we call for help? Will people get involved to help... no not really. Maybe sometimes you can get help for financial problems... but for more complex problems... Even in the church, we use the same theme, you need a specialist. A trained counselor... Well maybe but it seems we go that way, way too fast... Not to say that counseling in not important. You see there is a of things and a very powerful enemy pulling... at us. And it is not for our good. In John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." So with that we will start our next series of encouragement. So first we think of these three words: Steal- to take what does not belong to you, Kill- take life, Destroy- to ruin. For that is the goal of our enemy. We must recognize that this is what is happening all around us and even happening or trying to happen to us. O.K. Let me go a little further let us think about steal. What is the evil one trying to steal? It is people, for God does not one to perish, 2Peter3:9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing anyone to perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
So many times we lose our focus! We do this in everyday life all the time; trying to do too many things at once. Thinking of something while doing something else... Or even being distracted from a task by something happening around us. Think about it, it is so easy to lose focus, the t.v. is on we lose focus, this is happening... we lose focus. A storm comes we lose focus. The pull of people doing things...and having an easy life...(but doing wrong or sneaky things) seems to draw us to the same, we lose focus. Really it is very easy to lose focus of who we are in Jesus Christ... The pull of not following Him... is great! And sometimes seems like it will never end... The other day I heard of a man telling that some believe that heaven is here on Earth now, that is we are here right now and this is as good as it gets. That life here and now is it. Let me tell you I know that this is not heaven right now, that here on Earth is still not a perfect place... And the Heaven that God/Jesus promises is perfect...Now a days many believe all kinds of different things about life...God....or gods... or whatever else someone might think of, and some say I believe in nothing... You know what the problem is for us believers? That some of those things being offered really look somewhat good... That what is being offered in place of the real God, not only is inviting, but the ones practicing those things seem to be "well off"... happy. But we must not lose our focus! For there is only one true God, Who's Son is Jesus Christ. Who created the Heaven's and the earth and all that is in them; seen and unseen. There is no one like Him and there is no one who can compare to Him. There is no who can contend with His power, might, knowledge and ... And He alone is the one who has power over death, and He alone is the only one Who can save our soul. To bring us back into fellowship with Him... Remember the saying, " money can't buy love"? But love can pay the price to redeem our souls. "For God so loved the world that He sent His begotten Son, that whoever believes (trusts) in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." You see God put things into motion, rules, laws... and if one breaks those things then the just God does what He said will be the punishment for those things broken. But the God of love reaches down to pay the price for the things which we have broken. This He did through His Son Jesus Christ. Thank you Lord! For redeeming me. Now Lord help me to stay stead fast, focused, on you. To run the course of this life on earth fixed on what lies ahead for me. That is heaven and eternal life through Jesus Christ your Son and my Lord. Philippians 3:8-21 Read this passsage of our Lord. This will help us to understand that there is "more" to life than we know and that this "more" is found in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Last week we talked about how life is hard... that becoming a "Christian" does not make life's problems...go away... What we need to is to recognize that God is working. That no matter where we are our God is with us. Yes, I am fully aware that this doesn't always seem to be true; but He is always with us no matter where we are...This is one truth that we all must hold on to. No matter what is going on in your life, remember that God is there. Another truth we need to hold on to is; That matter what is going on in your life, recognize that God is there. You see these two principles we all need to be part of our lives. The nation of Israel did things to remember that God did things... In 1samuel 7:12 the prophet Samuel sets a stone for the nation to remember of what God has done and is doing. The stone was called, Ebenezer. Remembering what God has done for us will help to keep us on track to trust Him in the future... It is so easy to forget what God has done for us... How He has helped us through various struggles of life... So we too need to remember! Now the second principle goes with the first. We must give God thanks...and praise... for the things He has done. So many times God does something for us... we don't recognize it or we just brush it off with little importance... and sometimes we might give a little thank you... You see we are created in God's image, His likeness... Just like us when we do something for someone... we appreciate the thank you... And sometimes even more. You see God does so much more than anyone you will ever know and God will use people... to do for you so much more than you ever will know... so as we thank people we must remember to thank our God even more.
Friday, April 12, 2013
We have just finished Psalm 23; so what next? Well let us stop and reflect on this Psalm a little more. You see for some of us we read this Psalm and guess what; It just doesn't seem real... You see my life is just_____ or things...are just____....and .... Some of us are in such turmoil and some of us are in such situation and some are in places... that they cry out saying is God real? Or they cry out saying does God care? You see They start out with reading "God is my Shepherd" and they want Him to be... but they cannot see Him leading... they are in such turmoil, places, situation and... there seems like there is no way out...They ask, Is He leading? Or they say "I don't see any still waters or green pastures and rest?" Even I sometimes say these things or things like these when life is hard... You see no matter what you may have heard... life is hard. Also life is not fair! Some of us live in places that in of themselves make life hard. When one becomes a believer(Christian), follower of Jesus Christ; there seems to be this thinking that life becomes easy... all your problems...will be fixed... you have arrived! But that is not the case! One thing that does happen is that now God will be with you to help you through... but for life on earth becoming easy... that is not a promise of God. What He does promise is everlasting life in Heaven a perfect place. A place with no pain, sorrow.... or sin. You see Psalm 23 is a process...we need to hold on to the end. To the day we are in glory and we can see the big picture of our life and how God was working even when we couldn't see Him... that He was leading us... to His Son and to the promise of eternal life with Him in heaven. One thing I do know that life on earth is hard, even with Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I cannot imagine how much harder it would be without Him... So let us all encourage each other to stay the course of following Jesus Christ.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Last weekend we celebrated Easter Sunday. Now let me tell you Easter Sunday has a lot of different meanings/observance ... Depending on who you talk too. If you go to the stores you will see a lot of Easter things, chocolates bunnies ... different types of candies... Easter baskets... Easter bunnies and Easter eggs... and the hunt for Easter eggs... Some dress up.... Even churches do things a little different... For the most part more people think that Easter is something special... even if they really do not really know why... So what is Easter? A little over 3 months ago we celebrated Christmas, The birth of the baby Jesus, Emanuel - God with us. Another big day that is celebrated by many. So with Christmas God with us...the beginning if you will to Easter the finishing of His work on earth. You see God has/had a plan; He sent His son for a purpose. That purpose was to pay the price of our wrongs, bad thinking, bad actions...(we call this sin). That price was to shed His blood on the cross and to die. But to prove that He was God...after three days He rose from the dead. Now let's not get caught up saying that this is a fairy tale/myth... That is what most think or even might think, some might think it might be true...but not sure. Here's the thing one must believe that Jesus is the son of the living God. That He was born...and that He died on the cross and on the third day He rose again! That He did all this and more for me, for you, for him, for her... He did this because He loves you.... Now it is for us, individually, to believe and to trust Him, Jesus... So that we can believe and say, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" We believe that He will do what He says He will do for us, Everlasting life with Him in heaven.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
As we continue on our study in Psalm 23, we come to a section that is hard to to to... what would be the word or words to use here. The phrase is, "Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, " Let me begin with that this is a hard passage for all of us. As we live our lives, we sometimes cannot see the goodness in what we are facing... nor can we feel the lovingkindness. Sometimes life is hard... and for some of us it is harder... and for some it is harder than one can think of. We often ask or think, where is the goodness, the lovingkindness? How can it be here in this situation... I believe that a key to understand this phrase is in the word, "follow". You see the goodness and lovingkindness follows us, it doesn't go before us. You see we need god's help in the present. That is we need His help while we are going through life that no matter what we are going through that God's goodness and lovingkindness will come into play. So when we are walking were we shouldn't we turn to God for His goodness and lovingkindness (forgiveness). Now we also need to see that our God is helping us through those times... Have you seen God doing things in your life? Goodness and lovingkindness. Think about it how do we know that God is working? When He does for us the things we cannot do for ourselves. When He comes to the rescue or when He makes a bad situation not that bad... When we look back on our life seeing God working... Now next week We will touch more on this though. One verse to help us, Romans 8:28 "And we know for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose."
Monday, March 18, 2013
As I was thinking about what to write this week, I really pondered to not write anything. It's been a hard week, a hard couple of months and a hard year. In times like these it is not easy to write about heaven; even though we have the hope, as believer's in Jesus Christ..., that we will be going to Heaven to be with our Lord. So this week think about your walk with Jesus Christ! It is so important, so many of us in different times of our lives, neglect that walk with Jesus; we go astray. Like sheep we go astray...for whatever reason. So today is the day to return...to Jesus. Today is the day to trust Jesus. So on to our study, did you notice that the psalmist started to refer to us not as sheep but, as a person (verse 5). Sheep don't need a table to eat, people do. The psalmist continues this to the end of the psalm when He says, "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." You know when we go to heaven we don't go as sheep, no but as a person. A person with a personality. A person that God wants to fellowship with; a God who wants us to dwell in his house. You see God wants us there in heaven with Him. A place more glorious than we can think...It's perfect and God will also perfect us. Now there is only one way for that to be done. That way is through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Some may say, that by saying that I'm narrow minded...But think about it, no matter how hard we try to be good...don't we all fail; never mind trying to be or act perfect. Or how about this has anyone else ever came back from the dead to live forever? Only one. So why not put your trust in the one that has; Jesus Christ. The one who says He can do it for you; if you believe in Him.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Our next phrase is a hard one to get a handle on. "Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life." As we walk our lives on earth, it is evident that it is hard. That difficult times are here and we can see them in the future. Not only that, there is a lot of bad things that happen in this world. Living life even when there is clear sailing also takes a lot of work. On top of that we are always in a learning mode. Think about it, we need to be learning, thinking all the time because each day is different and problem....come and we need to go through them....So life is hard and seeing God's goodness and loving-kindness, well sometime it's just hard to see. So let's talk about the everyday grind of life. Work, school, chores, cooking, eating and interacting with one another. All of these things can bring, let's call it stress, Work can be work. but sometimes it seems to be too much work. School well school is school, and sometimes we don't get what needs to be learned right away. Chores some days those task seem to be so big....The eating thing sometimes even causes problems. Do I need to go into socializing with each other. There is a principle we need to grasp. It is in Roman 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." Now as believers, this verse is true. All things work together for good. Let me tell you it is hard sometimes to see the good. Sometimes the "good" doesn't show up right away! It's days....behind. Sometimes the "good" isn't the "good" for you, but for someone else; a greater good. Now that's when it really gets hard. Now we also must remember that God's loving-kindness never fails. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins; His mercies are new every morning, great is thou faithful, oh Lord.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Do you like it when someone does something for you? Doesn't it make you feel good. When someone does something, just for you, in a special way; because they love you. Well so far we have been looking at all that God does for us, as we walk on this earth, that is in relation as The Lord being our shepherd. Now in verse 5 there is a little more personal note; the Lord as host... The Lord is doing 2 more things for us. The first, He prepares a table for us. That is He provides a meal or meals... for us. I don't know about you but food just seems to taste better when someone else is cooking. Think back, has the Lord been providing in this way for you? Taking care of the need of physical food for nourishment? He does more than just lead us to the feeding trough. He provides the food also. Psalm 23:5 "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup over flows." Now to the second thing He does. Anoints our head with oil. Well this is something that we don't do now a days. Well in, the good old days, that is biblical times, one would anoint his guest when they came to their home. It showed respect and honor...and made the guest welcomed. An example of this would be Luke 7:36-46. Isn't that great that our God welcomes us... not because of our deeds or because we are so and so; but because of who we are in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. You know that Gods arms are wide open for His children, when we are having a bad day or we mess up or whatever, we can always go to our loving Father. His loving arms are waiting to hold you... If you have never trusted... the Lord Jesus, He's waiting for you, no matter who you are or where you have been or what you have done, He's waiting for you to come to Him... Now when you have experienced all that God has and is doing for you, you can say just as the Psalmist say, "My cup over flows.". Don't let the world cloud your vision as to seeing all that God is doing for you. Sometimes we look around, we see this and that, and it looks a whole lot better than what we have. We think that if we only had this or that we would be better off...but letting God provide is the best way. Let me tell you, I know it's not easy. Let me say that again it's not easy, and boy do I know it. Also we even sometimes think if I was over there, I would be better off...we forget to let God lead...We need to let Him be the Shepherd! For He is the Good Shepherd! And as we see He does a lot more than leading, directing, protecting...He cares for your health(food) and He also cares for you socially (He welcomes you, anoints your head). Remember He is also our Father.
Monday, February 25, 2013
So, how did you do last week? Did you see God? That is did you see God working in your life, the rod as power for protection, security...or the staff as guiding, leading, rescuing...or have you thought back to times that God did something for you. It is very important to recognize when God is doing things... for you. Be it big things or small things. It is also important to recognize when God is working in the body of believers, also. So stop for a few minutes think about the things that God is doing, He's working...He's doing...Yes, our God is alive and well, He is active. Why is it so important to see God working? Well if you think about the section of Psalm 23:4c we are looking at "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." We only talked about, the rod and staff. We didn't talk about how they comfort. You see you can't have the comfort of God without seeing God working at some time or times in your life. You experience His comfort, it is real. Yes, we read about it in the word...we believe, we have faith...Yes, we need all this but our faith also involves real life experiences. For example You ask for forgiveness of a wrong...(sin) you have done... God forgives you and you experience peace...the burden is taken away. Hopefully the same happens when we ask of our brothers and sisters. Being forgiven, doesn't that bring you comfort? Now to comfort. Let's try to understand this word a little more; it will bring you more "comfort" as you apply it to this Psalm. We usually think of comfort, as comfortable, nice things...but it also has other meanings or expanded meaning. For example strengthening, aid; can you see that God does this, with His rod and staff? Have you ever asked for strength, wisdom...Another meaning of comfort is to condone, in time of trouble, worry...We talked about that a little bit a few weeks ago but He also comforts us in times of trouble...Has God worked for you in your times of trouble, worry...Has He made difficult or hard problems...go smoothly? Sometimes he uses His rod, power but for me mostly He guides me through. Even when I am still being stubborn. Let me tell you when God is helping me...it brings great comfort. When I hear of God working in people lives...it brings me comfort and joy.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Have you ever been lost? As children being lost is not a fun experience; in fact it is a fearful...experience. As adults we think of being lost as not being able to find our way to a particular destination. Some may even think of it as the unsaved. But if you really think about it we get lost in so many ways. Not sure of directions to take in the decisions of life or is it O.K. to do this or that...that feeling of indecision, direction...it's like being lost; not knowing which way to turn, where is______, what is this or that about... Psalm 23:4c "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." "Your rod and Your staff", two different things even though similar. The rod here is a club, a weapon to defend against predators... a sign of security. Now the staff if something different, it is a long pole type with a crook at one end. Remember the children stories? Little Bo Peep, The Charlie Brown Christmas...It is for guiding and rescuing. Isn't our God great! Here we have illustrations of God. First a God of strength and power, rod. Next we have God as leading and caring, staff. What is so great is that there are two different things that show His might...You see our God is so much more than we can imagine, when we need the guidance we see the staff. When we need power, protection we see the rod. Have you followed the staff of God? We sing the songs about following God but have you taken the time to recognize when God has been, "waving"..., His staff for you to see and follow? Also have you seen when God has been using His rod to protect you? You see our God is active, doing more than we can see, but so many times we don't even recognize anything that God is doing and we miss Him doing His work...You know that He loves us so much He's working all around, His rod and His staff. Stop and take a look. Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." verse 10 "Cease striving(Be still) and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
Monday, February 11, 2013
As I write this week my heart is sadden. Sometimes life is just hard; something happens to you or a loved one, a friends...be it hard times...sickness and even death. As we mentioned before we live here on earth and it's not perfect; we also have bodies that are not perfect, we all will die one day. Well this week a friend went through this ordeal of sickness to death. It was hard on me, but I can't imagine all the pain.... the family is going through. Never mind the trying to go through life in the future. It's hard to be talking about this at this time but this is where our study is right now. For the most part we have been talking about going through the trials of life and the fears that are part of life. We haven't talked about death. Yes, that is also a part of life. I'm not going to go to deep here but hopefully what is said will enable some of you to go deeper. You see as believers we have "hope" in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That "hope" is eternal life and so much more. There is a peace that comes from that "hope". It doesn't mean that we don't have hurts...when something happens. Instead we have a bold confidence that our God can do what He promises. Psalm 23:4b and 6b "for You (God) are with me;" and "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." You see my friend has this "hope" in Jesus Christ and his family also has this "hope". That one day we will see him again in heaven. It doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, that we won't miss him...but we know he is in good hands and in a better place. That someday in the future our time will come and we will see him again. How blessed it is when we know that God is with us...So when these times come we have "hope". Do you have Jesus? Do you believe He is the Son of God? That He rose from the dead and is alive? That He paid the price so you can have eternal life? Is John 3:16 a truth that you believe? "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."
Monday, February 4, 2013
What were we talking about? That's right fear! Last time we talked about let's say, fear in general, maybe a little of fear of men and situations; but on a "small" scale, that is little fears. Even though some might consider the example big. We also came to grips that fear is a real thing and it affects both men and women. We listed some words associated with fear so we can understand fear better. One word that caught my attention was worry, did that also get your attention? As men do we worry? Yes, is the answer for many of us. We might put things off as concerns; but really we are worried about, whatever it is. So what is one thing that is big for us as men? What I'm going to do is to group these areas into one word, that is work. Be it lack of work, not enough money, the feeling of failure, of providing or not measuring up....you look over at others and wonder what am I doing wrong; why do I struggle? I work hard...Does my family understand, I'm trying...don't have enough money for this bill of that bill...Then something breaks, you live from pay check to pay check and it seems that the hole is getting bigger... Have you ever seen the movie "RV"? Well it's about a guy, whose job is in trouble, His boss is on his case about doing better or he will replace him with, Larry. So instead of going on vacation to Hawaii; he rents an R.V. so that he can work and drive it to where a big company meeting is going to be, so that he can make his presentation. (doing this without telling his wife). All in an effort to save his job. Now during that trip he does some stupid things. But when his wife and children find out, he says this, "I didn't want you to know that my job was in trouble". You see for us men there is that fear, of work, and it also hits in all types of ways. It is real, I know I'm not the only one. The fear of not performing at work....and not performing as to providing for the family needs. The need to be respected and needed, at work, at home...feeling of being important... Let's face it, it is real for us men! We need help in our work; His help. We need help at home; His help. Ps. 146:5 "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in Jehovah his God: Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in the; who keepeth truth forever; Who executeth justice for the oppressed..." You know it is a great feeling when we rely on God. That is when we are able to do our everyday things with Him helping us. We should be happy, full of thanks and praise...We have a God who cares; who cares for each of us. Sometimes we just need to stop and ask for help. It seems easy, just ask for help, but we are men....we try to do things...on our own. That sense of accomplishment-well it is still there when we ask God for help. It is more rewarding when God helps, try it and see. The creator of heaven and earth wanting to help you.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
As I was thinking of writing this week on the next phrase, "I will fear no evil", I wasn't too sure how to tackle it. The easy way out will be to only address it as it relates to death; I will not fear, death. Or better yet I will not fear death because I have hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus, my Savior. But fear is a powerful thing! It can be used mightily by our enemy, Satan. Or even be an emotion that cripples us as we walk here on earth. Sometimes we don't even know what fear actually involves or means. We don't understand the different types of fear. Types? Let's not think that I'm an authority. Now there are words that we use that are associated with what we call "fear". In a little bit we will see a list of these words. What is very important to realize is that fear is a very real thing. It doesn't matter who you are "fear" in some way or another is part of our life and needs to be addressed. It is addressed by God numerous times and He wants us to work on it in our Lives. It is easy sometimes to recognize certain fears as silly but fear grips each of us differently... You know each of us, men and women, have fears. Yes, not only girls have fears, us men have fears too. We just try to hide it... So let's get to the list of words. Frighten, afraid, dread, anxious, anxiety, panic, danger, terror, pain, worry, apprehensive, scared, nervous and concerned. Now when we see these words and associate them with everyday life; can you see fear or types of fear? It is real and comes in different forms and levels. Each of us deals with these words differently and we also associate differently when we try to explain these words. For example some are afraid to speak in front of a lot of people, there is a big fear, while some only have a little concern, while some are just terrified... As with this fear and others we have a choice in how we will deal with them and how (sometimes) they will affect us. In Heb. 13:5-6 "Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you." so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do with me?" Fear is a very real thing; it can come from within ourselves or it can be from outside sources. So this week we focused on; let's call them fears of doing everyday life. In a week we will continue to talk about fear and address the word "evil" as it relates to fear. We all have fear(s), so remember Heb. 13:5-6.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! Yes, it sure does look pretty. But then again, so doesn't spring, summer and fall. Yes, we live in a beautiful planet. But if you look around you can see that the snow in places starts to get that dirty look. The same with our planet or world you can see the beauty, but there in the midst or not too far off, is let's call it dirt for now. The earth is a dangerous place. It's true, not only that, you also have to factor in time. That is that time ages things...and that we live in time and things could change in a moment. Also with that time is everyday life, the interaction with the world, nature and people. We have good days and we have bad days. We watch the news and we sometimes can't believe what happened. If you really break it down we live in a dangers world, where it is easy to get hurt... where bad things happen every day. Psalm23:4a "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death" So we are walking here on earth, and there is death before us all. Never mind all the other hard stuff. You see as believers death is just a shadow, it is something we need to walk through; on the way to eternal life. This earth is not our home, it's just part of our journey and there is no way around it. So while we are here we need to be lead by the Lord and follow Him. He will lead us through this valley(earth) and bring us home. Have you ever read about Corrie Ten Boon? She was a Christian lady who live during W.W. 2. During the war she was arrested and sent to the prison camps, the ones you see pictures of, that takes you breathe...away. Terrible, terrible places. But she had a firm foundation in Jesus our Lord. You see no matter where we are Jesus is there. He's active. He's leading....It doesn't mean that the outcome will be great here and now, but that the future outcome will be, eternal life in heaven. You see Corrie lived through the prison camps; but her sister Betsie, who was with her did not. God took her home and now she lives in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One day we all will be called home. For us death is only a shadow, because we have life in Him, Jesus our Lord.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Have you ever recieved a box of chocolates? The kind with all the different types and fillings? You start picking the ones you know you like then you are at the hit or miss stage, let's face it some fillings just don't go good with chocolate. Maybe it's just me! So toward the end of the box your guessing what might be a good one and sometimes you are taking the advice of someone as to which are the good ones; just to be disappointed. In life there is are lot of people giving advice and also a lot of people seeking advice. A lot of times this advice is like the advice with the box of chocolates, it's hit or miss. Psalm 23:3b " he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." You know what's so great about our God? His name and what is associated with His name. In this verse we are going to look at righteousness. That is doing right...let's break it down into 2 areas, the first with doing right and not sinning and the second as to making a right decision; more over a decision that is morally right...as compared to a decision where we benefit, and it's questionable and without honor or merit...You see it's not the outcome of the decision that is important but the motive behind the decision. Also it is not just doing the good in our actions but the why we are being good, the motivation to act good. As with both, our motivation should be our love to please our Lord... Now here's the important part. God always leads us in paths of righteousness, always. He is not a God who directs us to do evil. His leading is for good. Now let's not get caught up in when God used people to judge...or when God sends discipline on someone(s)....Remember sin has a hefty price and sometimes hefty consequences. When we are going astray, we must think who am I following? God? Myself? Satan? or the world? You see God wants to lead and He is leading, but think about it, it is so hard for us to follow. Just like playing follow the leader, we eventually want to lead. Or even playing Simon says, we eventually want to be Simon. Sometimes we need to stop, just stop and give the control back to God. Sometimes we need to stop believing the lie that certain things, questionable things are o.k. Paths of righteousness as to the super high ways of unrighteousness in this modern time. When you find yourself in a place or time when it seems questionable, just stop and think, am I following the Lord? Is there someone else leading? Or am I leading? When you are in a wrong place, for whatever reason, are you looking to be led out by the Lord? As men we tend to try to fix it or figure it out on our own; without the Lord. Let's begin to follow His lead.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Is something missing? Life is going good; you like your work, you have a nice family, you have a nice home, the bills are paid and there is even extra money for a lot more. But deep down there seems to be something amiss. Something is not right and you just can't explain it. Your happy, because of all that you have, but deep down there seems to be one more thing you need. You know for me that need, was there, but I didn't know what it was. Now I know what it was but, there was a time I didn't know what I needed or even what would fill that deep need and I was seeking different things to fill that need. Let me give you an example that might help us understand this. Have you ever received a gift from someone, father, mother, brother, sister...that you know they gave it because they had to? There was a friction there between you and that person. So you receive the gift but truly you are not as happy as you would have been if the friction...between you and the giver was not there or made it right before hand. You see the gift just doesn't have the meaning... You are not as appreciative as you should be. There is something amiss between the two of you, it might be you who was wronged or you might have been the one who wronged the other. Deep down you want the relationship to be restored. You want to be in a right standing with that person. Now to our text Psalm 23:3a "He restores my soul". The Lord restores my soul, that is the Lord Jesus restores my soul. Jesus is the only one who can do this. We can't do it, and yes we do try, with all types of things...But we can do only one thing. To turn to Jesus. You see that deep need is to be brought back into a right relationship with God. The relationship that we have broken; unlike the example above with you or another breaking the relationship. We must come to terms with, we broke the relationship and that God restores it through His Son Jesus Christ. That we broke it with our actions, be it bad behavior, bad thinking or not doing what we are suppose to... "All have sinned" Romans3:23a. We all have gone amiss or astray; that is away from God. So God reaches out to us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not sent His Son to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged, he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John3:16-18. So there we have it, it is Jesus Christ who restores, gives us life. Who forgives us our sins...1 John 1:9 " If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Thank you Jesus!