Monthly Archives: April 2014

Thriving or Surviving?

Text: Job 8:21

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

We all want a life filled with happy endings, but we seem to be living lives that could well be described as “joy-less.” Every day is lived at the mercy of the world.

God promises that if we know Him, we will know true joy. Joy is not merely happiness. True joy is an unshakable confidence that God is in control.

God is our one and only source of joy and stands ready and waiting to saturate every circumstance with His presence. As His children, joy is ours to claim. Really? If that is true, then where is it? Why are so many of us facing each day with a sense of dread instead of a confident celebration?

Maybe it is because of the Joy Stealers who lurk in the shadows, waiting to crush joy wherever they find it. I have great news for you, friend. Nothing and no one can take your joy without your permission. So, don’t give it! Choose joy instead. 

Choosing joy requires us to identify and eliminate the “joy stealers” in life. You may be allowing a person to take your joy. Maybe some painful experience from a shadowed yesterday is an obstacle of joy in your life today. Perhaps a fearful circumstance or a broken dream is the culprit.

I know life can be painful. I know it is often hard and unfair. I also know God is in control. So if God really is God (and He definitely is), then we can and should be people of joy.

Lord, remind me to live each day against the backdrop of eternity. I pray that, in every circumstance, I would choose joy, knowing that You are in control. 

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Spiritual things are more important than material things

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul says that the “things which are not seen” (spiritual things) are more important than the “things which are seen” (material things) because spiritual things are eternal.

Are you focusing your life on things that will have no value after your eulogy is read? Or are you focusing your life — your time, your energy, your abilities, your money, your relationships and your thoughts — on things that will last forever? Things that bring God glory, things that lead other people to faith in Christ, things that encourage others in their spiritual growth.

A focus on self always leads your life in the direction of things that do not last. A focus on God always leads your life in the direction of things that really matter. What is the focus of your life?

Ask God to`open your eyes’ to what really matters. Sometimes it’s when we close our eyes in prayer that we see most clearly.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

The Commission

Jesus, before His incarnation, was equal with the Father and He possessed all authority and power. He is still equal to the Father, but now He has two natures: God and Man. Therefore, as the God-man, as the Mediator, all power was given him. This is because Jesus was a man (Phil. 2:5-8) and had humbled Himself.

 Jesus wants you to finish what He began.  He came to the disciples, taught them, and worked with them.  He then died on the cross and rose from the dead.  But, before He ascended into heaven, He gave them, and us, the commission to convert the world.  He will not ask you to do the impossible.

You need to know that your efforts to honor Christ by obeying His call to make disciples of all nations is something that you can do.  Do it where you are, with those whom you meet, with the those you work with, with those you go to school with, etc.  Be a witness for Jesus in your lives and when necessary, talk about Him, too.

When seek to accomplish God’s will, He will bless your efforts because you’re seeking to obey Him.

 

 

Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

  1. This is one of the most crucial statements that Jesus ever made.
  2. Jesus has all the authority… in heaven and on earth.
    1. Authority to forgive sins (Luke 5:207:48).
    2. Authority to mediate to the Father (1 Tim. 2:5).
    3. Authority to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:2615:26).
    4. Authority to open the hearts and minds of His people (Luke 24:45).
    5. Authority to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27Luke 10:22).
    6. Authority to give eternal life to whom He chooses (John 10:27-28).
    7. Authority to raise us up on the last day (John 6:40).

 

Twelve Ways Christians Can be Less Mean

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant, in a shopping mall, at the doctor’s office, grocery store etc. I consistently hear of and see Christians who serve smiling on Saturday/Sunday but are mean to others during the week. It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

There are ways we can be “less mean”. Here are a few suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our involvement with others.

And, finally, a bonus one:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12–14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others? Let me hear them!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Freedom From Worry

Matthew 6:25-35

When we keep our eyes on Jesus we have nothing to worry about for He knows our every need. During such times of uncertainty like job losses, divorce, recessions, droughts, famine and sickness, Jesus is never caught off guard or caught by surprise. He knows humans tendency to worry about things. When we worry about the future we are borrowing trouble from tomorrow and ruining today. Remember Jesus spoke more about worry than heaven, hell, or sin than anything else? It is because He knew that we look more at our circumstances than we look at Him. But when we keep our eyes on Jesus, we know that we can depend upon Him for He is the God of nature, natural events and yes, our circumstances too. 

Matthew 6:25-35 should give us all the reassurance we need to know that He is always in control no matter what things look like. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Tomorrow is what keeps people awake at night. We just can’t turn it off sometimes because we are simply not keeping our eyes on Jesus. This may be because we are trusting in our own resources, our own money and our own portfolio. But there is no one who has more resources that the God of the universe. Psalm 50:10 should remind us of who has the most resources of all: “for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”  When Jesus said in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” the word “believe” means to trust upon, to rely on, to depend upon. That’s what “believe in” means. He has said that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5) and will never, ever cast us away (John 6:37), we must believe Him at His word. The strength of your faith is only as strong as the object of your faith and since Jesus is God and God can not lie, He will not leave you orphans (John 14:8).

If you are a believer, you have no reason to worry. If you are concerned about today, tomorrow and your eternal future, then the solution is to keep your eyes fixed and set upon Jesus for all eternity and have Him remain with you forever.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Changed For Eternity

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall never perish.” – John 3:16

Having completed a weekend of acknowledging Christ’s death on the cross to cover our sins and His glorious resurrection, making it possible to spend eternity with God, there is something on my mind I must share with you. I simply can’t share it enough. My friends, there are some of you who have never made the decision to follow Jesus. I want you to know that everyone who has been reading this daily devotional has been introduced to Jesus. Just by reading this today, you have been introduced to Jesus. Realize that Jesus has been reaching out to you, long before you’ve reached out to Him. Jesus is speaking to you at this moment and it is time for you to respond, regardless of the newness of your acquaintance.

But many others of you know a lot about Jesus. You’ve come to understand more about Him, yet you’ve still been hesitant to step out in faith and follow Him as your Saviour and Lord. I assure you, He’s trustworthy. He’s the One you’ll want to follow, because He knows where He’s going. He’ll get you to where you need to go which is, ultimately, heaven. If you’ve been reluctant to follow Jesus, let today be the day that you step out in faith and decide to follow Him, knowing that Christ has great plans for your life. Christ sees more potential in you than anybody on this earth. You don’t want to miss out on your eternal destiny.

I encourage you, as I always do – please choose to accept the call to follow Jesus. Today. Then, if you do, let someone know what you have done. I promise your life will be changed for eternity!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

The Single Act That Defined Christianity

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” – Luke 24:5-6

What is the one single act that defined Christianity? The virgin birth? The philosophies of Jesus Christ? The great miracles – feeding of the 5,000, turning water into wine, healing the sick? While all of these acts of Christ certainly set Him above any other person who has ever walked the earth, nothing compares to His death and resurrection from the dead. Through His death, Jesus gave His life to pay the penalty of my sin. Through His resurrection, He conquered sin and death and gives us that power, as well. And today, we celebrate this wonderful moment and the joyous consequences that stemmed from it.

When I contemplate the amazing grace that exploded from His resurrection, I find myself humming, and singing some of the words to this hymn, He Lives!

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me; He talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives,
He lives within my heart.

It is my prayer that this Easter inspires you to new hope, happiness, prosperity and abundance, all received through God’s divine grace. May the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
fill you with joy this blessed Easter Sunday!

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Resolve To Serve Christ In Love

Luke 23:55–56

Today is Good Friday. Today is the most solemn day of the church year. On Good Friday, more than on any other day, we see our Saviour’s love, because today of all days, we see just how much our salvation cost Jesus. On Good Friday we see Jesus going to the cross for us. Throughout those terrible hours of the first Good Friday, three women stood by Jesus. They are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome. These names may not mean a great deal to us today, but these women had a connection to Christ. They served Christ in love during his life and ministry. During his death and burial.

Mark tells us that “in Galilee these women had followed him.” We realize that when the Bible speaks of “following Jesus,” it refers to being a disciple of Jesus. These women had something in common with you and me — they had faith in Christ as their Saviour. They understood Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow him.

God provided Jesus and his disciples with these faithful women to support his ministry. Understand these women supported Christ’s ministry because they recognized him as the promised Messiah. They had heard him preach and teach and the Holy Spirit had planted faith in their hearts. So they served Christ in love during his life and ministry.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the service of these women. It was God’s way of providing for Jesus’ human needs. But it was much more than that — Jesus demonstrated that he could feed his disciples like he fed the five thousand, if that were necessary. The support that these women gave was God’s way of allowing them to participate in the Gospel ministry of Christ. God let them be a part of Jesus’ work. Every time Jesus called a sinner to repentance or announced that the Messiah had come, these women were a part of that work — because God wanted them to be.

These women served Christ in love during his life and ministry. They continued that service right up to the end of that ministry. Mark says that they “had come with him to Jerusalem.” These women made that last trip to Jerusalem with Christ. Luke describes that trip for us. “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Jesus made no secret of were he was going or why. Again and again, the gospel writers tell us that Jesus told his disciples plainly that he was gong to Jerusalem to die for their sins. On that first Easter, the angel reminded these women that they had heard Jesus say these things. 

They had come with Jesus from Galilee and they had seen his resolve to make that last trip to Jerusalem. They may not have understood it all, but they had to know that this was Christ’s most important work of all. They served him in love as he went to Jerusalem to die.

My friends, we are like those women.  We serve Christ, our Lord, in love just as they did. Of course, we can’t make that trip to Jerusalem in the same way that they did, but we serve Christ in love when we follow Christ our Lord.  Disciples of Christ hear his Word and live that Word. Disciples of Christ recognize that Jesus went to the cross to pay for our sins. Disciples of Christ trust that the payment that Jesus made is our payment. Our sins were forgiven and now we are free from guilt and fear. Free to serve Christ in our hearts and with our lives. So we too can serve Christ in love by supporting his ministry throughout the world. We support that ministry when we share our Christian love with each other and with the workers God has given us. Our encouragement, our prayers and our efforts for the congregation support the work of the Kingdom. When we give as these women gave, of our time, our talents, our love, we make the work our own. Today, of all days, let us resolve to serve Christ in love.

You and I have witnessed that same saving love of God. We have heard the message that Jesus died to pay for our sins. We know that we are forgiven, because of what happened on the cross. In love, let us commit ourselves to serving Christ, day by day, with our lives and with our testimony — no matter how little the world may think of what we have to say, no matter what the personal cost may be.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Adam and Jesus 

1 Corinthians 15:21–22; 15:45–47). 

From the very beginning, Adam’s relationship with God was dependent on faith and obedience to God’s word as absolute truth. This was the governing principle in Adam’s relationship to God in Eden. Adam was instructed not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam had to make a conscious, deliberate choice to trust and obey, or to disbelieve and disobey the Creator.

At the point of disobedience (the fall), man moved away from the Creator’s standard of truth and substituted his own standard. The fall was a rejection of the Creator’s Word as truth. Man began to base truth on himself. As a result, death came into the universe. Adam was not created to die; death was an intrusion! Adam’s willful disobedience resulted in paradise lost with the introduction of pain, suffering and death. Scripture is abundantly clear that there was no death and suffering until after Adam’s transgression.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned . . .” (Romans 5:12) Scripture’s indictment: In Adam’s fall, sin gained entrance into humankind. And what are the results? All men are guilty; all are sinners; in Adam we all die! All are under the judgment of God. But God so loved the world that He gave His only Son as a ransom to purchase back what Adam forfeited. “For since death came through a man the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man”. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. . . . The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:21–22; 15:45–47).

Paul recognized an interesting parallel, as well as contrast, between Adam and Jesus. Adam was created immortal and was to be God’s representative and steward on the earth, to fulfill the divine purpose. World dominion was granted to him. He was commissioned to subdue the earth. The last Adam implies that there would not be a third representative man, sinless, as were both Christ and Adam.

Jesus was sinless and like Adam, had no human father. Christ is immortal and is heaven’s representative on earth. He will subdue both heaven and earth: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10–11). Adam’s disobedience resulted in death for man, both spiritually and physically. Christ’s death resulted in everlasting life for those that repent and submit to him. And just as we have borne the likeness of Adam, the earthly man, so shall we, one day, bear the likeness of Jesus, the man from heaven. (1 Corinthians 1:49). Jesus Christ freely offered himself as atonement for man’s sin and purchased eternal life for all who trust Him.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

God and Money

Scripture Ref: Matthew 6:24 and I Timothy 6:10

Money has a powerful effect on people. Sometimes the impact can be negative. The Bible instructs us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Tim. 6:10) It was the love of money that caused Judas to betray Jesus.

Money affects all of our lives. Think about it for a moment. How free are you from the influence and control of money? My hunch is not very. In fact, I would bet your life is controlled by money far more than you would like to admit.

In Matthew 6, Jesus warns us of the danger of money’s influence… that it can actually damage our relationship with him. How? By taking over the role only he should occupy, and that is the role of the one you serve. Jesus said it pretty clearly in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

So how do you get out from under the control of such a cruel master? Let me give you four things to consider:

Don’t believe the lie that money can provide security. This is a big lie straight from the pit of hell. Satan desperately wants you to believe this false notion that the more money you have, the more secure you will be. So you and I pursue more money, driven by worry and fear. Jesus calls us out on this in Matthew 6:25-34, when he tells us not to worry but to rely on God for provision. His point? God is the only true source of security.

Stop storing up stuff here on earth. Materialism is the disease of the heart. It drives you and me to use our money in the pursuit of fulfilling a need that only Jesus can fill. That’s why he commands us to stop piling up treasure here on earth because it will only fade away. Only what you invest in the Kingdom will last. And those investments will bring returns that will never stop paying dividends.

Stop tipping God. Most Christians have an unbiblical view of giving. We think of tithing – giving 10 percent to God – as what we are supposed to give. And then the rest is ours to do with as we wish. Take a look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, and you will discover what God desires us to understand: All we have has been entrusted to us by him to invest wisely for Kingdom purposes. That’s a completely different mind set than tipping God a bit of “our” money.

Stop serving the master of debt. If you are like most people, you have some consumer debt – perhaps a lot of consumer debt. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:7: “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” If you have consumer debt, you are its slave and by definition, it is your master. And if you are running up debt just to maintain a lifestyle, you are serving the god of money. So stop serving that master as quickly as you can.

Remember that handling money can lead to bondage. Jesus said, You cannot serve two masters: God and money.” Mt. 6:24. God wants us to handle money with a right priority. Notice Jesus description in Matt 6:33 “ seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

If you do these four things, you will get out from under the yoke of financial slavery and experience the financial freedom God wants you to have. God should have top priority with your money, your time and your heart passion.