Saturday, December 31, 2011

Restoration of All Things

Read: Zech 10:6-9

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you. - Joel 2:25

I started my adult life with a handsome husband. We soon entertained an adorable family of three precocious children. As they grew, God also gave me a meaningful career. To top it all off, He provided an attentive Pomeranian pet. I counted all of these gifts as abundant blessings for which I thanked God daily. Over a period of five short years, however, these treasures were stripped from my life.

My children went off to college or moved away from home. I lost my vocation as a teacher and mentor for at risk children. Then, as if things could not get any more dismal, my husband of twenty-two years told me that he saw no option for us but divorce.

I soon stood alone in half of a duplex with a portable dishwasher, a single recliner and a couch that did not even match, a few bookcases, some furniture my dad made for me over the years and an empty king-sized bed. My Pomeranian was my only true remaining treasure. Since I ended up working three jobs to pay my bills and to build up a nest egg toward retirement, I eventually even lost my cherished dog, when I gave her to a lovely family across town with small children whom she adored.

It is interesting to note in Joel 2:25 that God declares that He is the one who sends this army of figurative "locust" into our life. He uses them to strip us of everything, which we hold precious and which we believe that we cannot live without. One by one, they slip through our fingers like chaff in the wind. We sink deeper by the day into a pit of gloom and despair, until one day we gain the courage to look up into the light of His face.

Somehow as one day drags into the next, we stop struggling to regain the life we once knew. We throw our soul upon God’s mercy and grace, and we trust Him to do what is best for us. We find our strength, our joy and our hope centered in Him alone. Once we are stripped of every ounce of our “self” and we cast all of our cares upon Him, then He starts to restore everything that He allowed Satan to strip from our lives.

Over these last several years, God gave me the inner strength to realize that He and I can meet any trial life throws my way. He also restored to me a new loving husband, multiple grandchildren, a fulfilling ministry, a quaint cottage home full of beautiful furniture and another gorgeous Pomeranian that distinctly resembles my little, lost treasure.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have learned to never take for granted one of Your precious gifts. I trust You with every detail of my life and I look to You for Your guidance and wisdom for each moment that remains until I finally see You face-to-face.

Thought for the Day:
When all is lost, look up…your redemption draws near.

Friday, December 30, 2011

God Keeps Life From Hurting So Much

Read: 2 Corinthians 4: 8-10

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;”
- 2 Corinthians 4: 8


Have you ever had “one of those days”? Maybe today was not the best of days. You admit to feeling depressed. You are under great pressure, far beyond your ability to endure. Your body aches from lack of rest. Conflicts plaque you from the outside, and fears afflict you from within your soul. Possibly, you even despair of life and long for Heaven.

I’ve been in that dark state before too. I usually read my Bible before trying to go to sleep. At times like these, God always uses his Word to bring me comfort, direction and peace. 2 Corinthians 4:8 reminds me that God keeps life from hurting so much. Although life tries to press us in from all sides, it will never crush us. When life frustrates us, it will not take away our hope.

Christ in me is my hope of glory (Col 1: 27). When I bow my head in prayer and listen to God’s Spirit, He fills me to overflowing and I feel like I can soar with the eagles. Once this happens, I know that I can continue to work without growing weary. I can help others without feeling faint. As I hope in the Lord, He renews my strength (Isa 40: 31).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, although troubles surround us on every side, we are not without hope. When life gets too hard for us, You walk with us through the trials. Thank You for Your joy, which is our strength (Neh 8:10).

Thought for the Day:
Success is sweeter after we have tasted failure.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Lesson from Lot

Read: Genesis 18

God never sends judgment without warning. This is revealed over and over again in Biblical accounts. God used people like Jonah, who warned Nineveh. Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the rest of the prophets also warned people in their age and time of His impending judgment.

Genesis 18 gives us a glimpse of the heart of God. He is not willing that any should perish. In this story of Lot’s deliverance from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, we see God’s mercy and patience. Iniquity ran rampant in the city, and people were hurting one another just as they do in our world today. God wanted to bring righteous judgment on the people there. So, God and Abraham had a little chat about His plans.

Abe asks, “Will you spare the city if we can find righteous people living there?” God agrees to spare the city. Abe goes down in number until he finally asks, in Genesis 18:32… "What if only ten righteous people can be found in the city, will you still destroy it?”

God answered, “For the sake of ten, I will NOT destroy the city.”

This Biblical account paints a lovely picture of God’s longsuffering mercy. He was willing to spare the entire city for just ten righteous people. Unfortunately, only Lot was righteous (Gen 19:12). Therefore, the angels demanded that Lot get his family out of town, so that they would be safe. When Lot went to talk to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters, the men jeered at him because they thought he was joking.

This often happens to us today too. We try to warn our friends and family, but they just scoff at us and think it is a big joke or that we are deceived. They do not even believe when we show them that God is using fulfilled Bible prophecy, record breaking natural disasters, wars and rumors of war, financial collapses, hearts growing spiritually cold, iniquity abounding, and so many more signs to warn us about the impending judgment ahead. The greatest tribulation the world has ever known is about to come upon the whole earth. God wants everyone to be saved. However, it is up to individuals to make their own choice about whether or not to believe the truth and to walk uprightly with God, or to believe a lie and to continue walking in unrighteousness.

Genesis tells us that the angels again urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

Lot hesitated once more. He did not want to leave his family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, home and belongings. The angels finally had to grab his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, in order to hurry them safely out of the city. God showed unlimited patience and mercy to Lot and his family. He does the same thing for us today.

Another example of God’s merciful patience is seen in the story of Noah, who preached for 120 years and built a boat as a huge object lesson. However, no one would listen to him either. God gave them 120 years to repent of their wickedness and to get on the ark before He sent the flood. They all scoffed at His warning. The Bible tells us that the same thing that happened in Noah's day will happen in the last days of the world as we know it. "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man." (Matt 24:37)

Prayer:
Lord God, You do not desire that any should perish. However, so many people make their own formula for life, and write You out of the equation. The people of the Old Testament did not succeed by ignoring You in their day, and mankind will not succeed by ignoring You now. Help us to understand that this is why You gave us all the stories in the Bible, as a warning for the wise.

Thought for the Day:
God cautioned mankind for 2000 years that the Great Tribulation is eventually coming. Please, listen!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is There Life After Death?

Read: John 14:1-7

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies." - John 11:25

People who refuse to believe in Christ have an interesting view of life. Many do not believe in heaven nor hell and some do not even believe in reincarnation. They just live and die, and that’s all there is. Some even see the idea of heaven as a mythical utopia that has no merit in truth, but one that is needed by those of us with weak spirits and strong emotional needs.

Many despise the fact that Christians believe in the idea that people end up in hell on the grounds of their unbelief in Jesus Christ. On the other side of the scale, Universalism believes that, without exception, through the mercy of God everybody will be saved and enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In our Christian belief, however, heaven is not a place where everyone goes. Nor is it a place where only "good" people go. It is a place in which, through God's mercy and love, forgiveness is granted to anyone who trusts in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and believes in redemption through His death and resurrection.

The Bible holds to the truth that only those who resist God's love, and who refuse to admit that they are sinners and to repent of their sinful lifestyle, will find themselves in hell. Luke 16:19-31 gives us a vivid picture of hell and its torments. It also describes how mankind throughout the ages refuses to believe God’s Word concerning our eternal destination. 1 Corinthians 15:19 reminds us that, if only in this life we have hope in Christ, then we are to be pitied.

However, since Jesus Christ rose from the dead, it is now possible for those who believe in Him to also share in His risen life for eternity. Heaven is where God is and it is not limited by the constraints of space or time. Psalm 62:8 reminds us that God is our refuge in this life as well as in the next. It also states that we can trust in Him and pour out our hearts to Him. He cares about every aspect of our existence, including the timing of our liberation from this earth and our inauguration into life in the heavenly realm. To believe in life beyond death gives us a promising perspective to the life we live now. It is the key Christian belief that this is not "all there is".

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there are so many people who believe that if they are good, they will go to heaven. Others believe that if they get baptized or work in the church or serve others that they will go to heaven. Help people to realize that salvation is only through grace by faith in Your finished work on the cross, and not about our good deeds at all (Ephesians 2:5-8) .

Thought for the Day:
Satan condemns; Jesus convicts. Satan heaps unforgivable shame; Jesus brings blood bought forgiveness.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Man of Conviction

Read: Daniel 6:22-26

"I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For He is the living God and He endures forever." - Daniel 6:26

Daniel chose to be different rather than to dishonor his vows before God. All of those around him watched with skepticism and derision, yet with an inkling of respect too. His work ethic and respectful submission to authority gained him favor in the eyes of the kingdom authorities. Jealousy in his fellow officials eventually got him thrown into the Lion’s Den; but Daniel’s faith in God miraculously delivered him from these ravenous beasts.

After this, God used Daniel to encourage his Jewish kinsmen. By living as a man of conviction, Daniel also rose in the ranks of government and ended up ministering for seventy years as a trusted counselor in Babylon. As he increased in power and influence, God also utilized him as a witness to an entire nation, who’s King eventually decreed that they all worship the one true God.

Though our current circumstance may be less than desirable, we can take courage from Daniel. He lived for God with total devotion, even through the dark night in the Lion’s Den. Let’s be men and women of conviction and trust and serve our Living God with our whole heart. He will make use of us as salt and light in a dying world of darkness, just as he employed Daniel in his day and time.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help us to walk down the straight and narrow path, even when all of our friends or family members want us to take the easy road. Help us to live up to our convictions on a daily basis and please provide for our needs abundantly above all we could ever ask or think.

Thought for the Day:
Regardless of your current situation, determine to live for God with committed conviction and dedicated devotion.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blessing or Cursing

Read: Number 14:18-24

5 “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” - Exodus 20:5-6, NKJV

When I first read Exodus 20:5, I was hurt to the core. I could not understand how a loving God would curse three or four future generations for the evil behavior of one person. I collapsed on the couch and cried out to God for understanding, trying not to feel too angry at the injustice I saw here.

In His sweet, loving way the Lord said, “Hey, Kathy…read the next verse.”

WOW…He shows mercy to 1,000s of generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. I love that ratio: one to a thousand as compared to one to four. As a just and holy God He must hold us accountable for our choices and behavior. The expected consequences of our actions would naturally affect future generations. Think about it. If a young father goes to jail, his children run the risk of feeling rejected, abandoned, hopeless and helpless, with the possibility of following in his footsteps.

Loving the Lord and keeping His commandments does not necessarily guarantee that our children will follow in His precepts as well; but the chances are much higher. The wonderful thing about this law of generations is that even if our children do not honor the Lord, they are still blessed, because of our decision to trust God with our life. Even our future progeny reap the advantageous blessings that God bestows on thousands of generations that come after us.

This caused me to realize the awesome responsibility that we carry as parents. Our behavior absolutely affects future generations. It is the law of reaping and sowing. I had to take stock of my thoughts, words and actions - to make sure they line up with God’s standards.

I find great comfort now in the fact that He shows mercy to many more generations than He holds accountable. We can assure the success of our children and their children’s children for generations to come by making Jesus our Lord and living according to His precepts (Mt 7:21). In this way, we pass down mercy and blessings, rather than cursing and suffering to our descendants.

PRAYER:
Thank You for Your mercy, Lord, in the face of Your justice. Mold me into Your image and give me both the desire and the power to walk in Your will (Philippians 2: 13).

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
A God who is only merciful, presents just one side of the coin.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Memories

My favorite Christmas memories are of Christmas Eve, when my three children huddled around the little wooden stable made by my Dad. They each held one or more Nativity characters made of ceramics by my Aunt Betty and Uncle Jean. We sat on the sofa as our children re-enacted the Christmas story from the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem with the angels heralding His coming, to the shepherds worshiping at the manger and His parents bewilderingly watching as the Savior of the world made His debut.

Each Christmas Eve, I also thank God that Christ was born in my heart. My sincerest prayer for you today is that if He has not already come to reside in you, that you will accept the greatest gift ever given by praying this simple prayer:

"Dear God in heaven, I acknowledge to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe that Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins. I am willing to turn away from my sinful lifestyle and to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. Come now and transform my life, so that I may bring glory and honor to You from now on. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me and giving me eternal life. Amen."

If you prayed this prayer, send me an email: ckbradley950@comcast.net
And I will tell you…the rest of the story. God bless you now and always, kat

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Joy-filled Life

Read: Hebrews 12:1-11

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4:9

There are so many depressing events in our lives today. It is very hard to have peace and joy on a daily basis. That is why I love to read Paul's letter to the Philippians. I am encouraged by so many of his words.

Look at just a few:
  • "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (1:6).
  • “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (I:21)
  • “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (2:13).
  • “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (3:10).
  • “Forgetting what lies behind and pressing toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal" (3:13-14).
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (4:6).
  • “The God of peace will be with you” (4:9).
  • "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" (4:13).
Paul suffered more persecution than I will probably ever experience; yet, he found contentment in the midst of it all. He lived one day at a time. He kept His focus on Jesus rather than on his circumstances. He learned contentment in every situation. He trusted God as his supply and strength.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, never let me live as just a hearer of Your Word, but help me to practice Your precepts as well. Draw me ever closer to Your heart each and every day.

Thought for the Day:
Loving God with your whole body, soul and spirit produces a joy-filled life.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Proof for Skeptics

Hi~

Tonight's blog is a different format, because we just spent a few hours with the college and carreer group at First Baptist in Bonita. Pastor Kevin answered their questions about a myriad of topics. Their questions reminded me of some research I did for a friend who was skeptical about the Bible. I love the way the Bible answers these questions so clearly. For instance:

The New Testament is proven to be true by the accounts from the Old Testament such as:

In Luke 3:23-38 the genealogy of Jesus is traced through a long line of ancients, including a number of the well known personalities of the Old Testament, along with Seth, who was “the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” Thus clearly does Luke establish that Adam not only was the first man, but that he was the direct creation of God—“the son of God.”

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” (I Tim. 2:13; Gen. 1:27) Here again we note the full confidence Paul had in the details of the Genesis account of creation.

In Jude, verse 14, we are informed that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. Surely Jude had confidence in the genealogical record of Genesis.

Jesus believed in the Genesis account of the Flood. When describing conditions in the earth at the time of his return and second coming, he said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26,27) If Jesus was mistaken concerning the Flood, then we could have no confidence in any of his teachings. But Jesus was not mistaken, as archeologists have since confirmed.

Jesus believed in the Jonah and the whale account. "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”—Matt. 12:38-40

I also love the number of Old Testament Prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. They say if you stack silver dollars three feet deep, across the entire state of Texas; then mark one silver dollar with an X, get up in an airplane and randomly drop it out of the plane over the state of Texas; the likelihood of finding that silver dollar with an X would be the same probability of one man fulfilling all of the dozens of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled by His birth, scourging, crucifixion, death, burial, placement in the tomb, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Here are just a few of these Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment:

He will enter Jerusalem riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
Fulfillment: Matt. 21:5; Luke 19:32-37.

He will be hated for no reason (Psalm 69:4).
Fulfillment: John 15:25.

He will be betrayed (Psalm 41:9).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:3-10.

More specifically, He will be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:3-10; 26:47-48.

The price of his betrayal will be thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:3-10.

The betrayal money will be cast onto the floor (Zech. 11:13).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:5.

More specifically, it will be cast onto the floor of the Temple (Zech. 11:13).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:3-10.

The betrayal money will be used to buy a potter's field (Zech. 11:13).
Fulfillment: Matt. 27:6-10.

He will not open his mouth to defend himself (Isaiah 53:7).
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12.

He will be beaten and spit upon (Isaiah 50:6).
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:67; 27:26-30.

He will be“numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
Fulfillment: Jesus was crucified as a criminal in between two thieves (Mat 27:38).

He will be pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
Fulfillment: John 19:34 His hands and feet will be pierced (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Galatians 3:13).

His crucifixion was foretold in Psalm 22 , which graphically prophesies the Messiah's manner of death.

At the time the Psalm was written (and long after), the penalty for blasphemy was stoning.

However, at the time Jesus was condemned by the Sanhedrn, it no longer had the legal right to put people to death.

Thus, the case was taken to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, who crucified Jesus according to Roman custom, and as Psalm 22 prophesied.

Today, so many skeptics scoff at the Christian’s unshakable faith in the truth of the Bible, but when you look at it from the point of view of fulfilled prophecy, it just makes sense!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sidetracked

Read: Proverbs 2:3-5

" Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God."
- Proverbs 2:5

A “sidetrack” refers to a second, relatively short length of railroad track that is placed just to the side of a main track. It is joined to the main track by switches at one or both ends. Engineers use them either for unloading freight, or to allow two trains on a same track either to meet from opposite directions or to pass in the same direction. A train is sidetracked from its course to make room for another train to pass. Sometimes, this maneuver throws the original train off schedule and makes life more difficult for the travelers inside.

In the same way that the train gets sidetracked, we also get sidetracked in our walk with God. This sidetrack refers to an alternate venue of thought or activity, that is a deviation or distracton from the main topic or central activity. It is also secondary or subordinate in importance or effectiveness. We allow the social mores of this world to cause us to take this alternate route, rather than to allow God's transforming hand to do a sanctifying work in our life. Then, we experience unnecessary trials and distance from God. Our prayers are stilted and our understanding of God’s Word weakens.

However, God continually calls us to a closer walk. If we repent and seek God’s will with all of our heart, He reveals His truth to us, fills us with His love and pours out His grace upon our lives. The Holy Spirit becomes our teacher and leads us into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He wants us to trust and obey His Word and His Spirit, and to honor and respect Him with our lives.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to use my time to seek the knowledge of God as a hidden treasure, and to walk in reverence for Your name. When I get sidetracked, lead me back to Your path of righteousness. Let me walk with reverence for You, Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Thought for the Day:
If our worldview lines up with God's Word, it will stand the test of time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Want My Own Way

Read: Luke 12:20-31 

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:" - Matthew 6:20

How often do I reject God's plan for my life and choose to follow the ways of the Satan, the flesh or the world? How often do I disappoint God with my choices? I wonder how often God grants my request, knowing all along that it is not His best plan for me. In my quest for life, do I look for fulfillment in all the wrong places?

God gave the Israelites a prophet to speak to them directly, but they wanted a king instead (1 Samuel 8:5). Eventually, it turned out that their king had to go to the prophet to find out God’s will for them at any given moment. So tell me, why did they need the king? He was merely a middleman. They just wanted a king, so they could be like all the other nations in their world.

Do we marry the wrong person, take the wrong job, go to the wrong school, move into the wrong neighborhood, buy the wrong car and wear the wrong clothes just because we want to be like everyone else in our world? What’s wrong with being different? What’s wrong with putting God first, living out His will for our life, and dressing and living in such a way to give glory and honor to Him? Let’s seek first His kingdom, and He will provide us with every thing that we need.

Prayer:
Lord, when my heart longs to be like the world, I step out of Your will for my life. Help me not to sew to the flesh, because I will most certainly reap destruction. Transform my mind to see things from Your perspective and make me content with Heavenly treasure instead of earth's counterfeit.

Thought for the Day:
When I seek to follow the Spirit’s direction with my life, I may not always see the results, but I know that I am laying up treasures in Heaven.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Grace for a Lifetime

Read: Daniel 3:12-18

"For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”  - Psalm 30:5

I love the fact that, although God is righteous and just and keeps us accountable to His Word, He also gives us His mercy and grace every day of our lives. To honor Him and to thank Him for all of the blessings He showers on me, I want to stand up without compromise for Jesus. I do not want to bow to modern expectations or to give up my traditional values, or to make excuses for sin as if it does not exist. I want to remain true to our living God.

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon erected a huge statue of himself made of gold. Then he ordered everyone to worship it, whenever the palace orchestra played. Everyone bowed down, except three young Hebrew men who continued to stand up. You probably know the rest of the story. This trio chose to worship only the one, true and living God; so the King tried to reduce them to ashes. Sure, they could have rationalized their behavior and joined the crowd; but instead, they chose to stand up against the crowd, which made them stand out for God.

I want to stand up and stand out for God in my daily walk too. I want to remain true to His Word and His calling in my life - no matter what the circumstances, or who I am with, or what is expected of me by my family, friends, neighbors and associates.  

Prayer:
Lord, help us to realize that our preoccupation with worldly pleasures, popularity, monetary gain and our hesitation to live up to Godly values is actually sinful behavior. Continue to draw us to Your heart each day; and shower us with Your grace, as we attempt to walk in Your truth.

Thought For The Day:
Take a stand and live a God-honoring life, which is void of compromise.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Loving With All of Your Heart

Read: Romans 12:1-2

The man answered, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"- Luke 10: 27

In his sermon tonight, my pastor husband spoke about how God wants us to love Him. He made his point by using this example:

“I love my wife. I really, really love my wife. I tell her this all the time. I spend as much time with my wife as I can. I enjoy spending time with her and she loves to spend time with me. We do just about everything together.

“Now, what if I told my wife, ‘I really, really love you;’ but then, I did everything I could to avoid spending time with her? What if I fill up my days so full of activities that I barely have a chance to say, ‘Good Morning,’ and ‘Good Night’ to her? Would she believe that I love her? Would she believe that I was devoted to her and that I would do anything to make her happy? Would she let me get away with this type of behavior for very long without saying something to me about it? No woman in her right mind would feel loved without actions to back up the words.

“God wants this same devotion from us. He wants us to spend time with Him, as well as telling Him that we love Him. I meet people who say, ‘Oh, I really, really love the Lord;” but their day is so full of work, running their kids in ever direction at once, and pursuing their own hobbies or watching TV all hours of the day and night, that they never have time to read their Bible, to pray or to come to worship services and church Bible studies and prayer meetings. This makes me wonder just how much they actually love the Lord. How do you think the Lord feels when people act this way?

“If my wife expects me to be a man of my word and to love her in deed, as well as in word; how much more does the Lord expect this same consideration from me? Let us strive to love God not as hearers only, but also as doers of His Word (James 1:22), starting with constant communication with Him throughout the day (1 Thessalonians 5:19).”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach us to pray without ceasing and to follow the leading of Your Spirit every moment of the day. Enable our love for You to spill over into our time with our family and community as well.

Thought for the Day:
God’s love fills in the cracks of our imperfections.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Liberating Forgiveness

Read: Matthew 18:26-33 

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

Over a lifetime, I collected an assortment of both pleasant and painful recollections. The positive memories warm my soul to the core and bring a smile to my face. I drink in their fragrance like little flowers scattered along the pathway of my life. I can enjoy them any time of the day or night. Milestones with children, kindnesses from grandchildren, thoughtful gesture by friends and family all sprinkle sunshine in my heart.

I usually only think about the negative memories when something or someone reminds me of the mental, physical or emotional damage inflicted upon me by some equally hurting soul. These people suffered at the hand of someone else and those internal wounds still fester in them from time to time, especially when we get too close to a sensitive area. Then they unload all of their pain on us, even if we are unsuspecting victims.

I have heard it said, that we only hurt the ones we love. This may be true in some cases. Some of my wounds came during the heat of raging emotions, some by another person trying to be humorous, and others hurt me quite unintentionally. I know you have similar stories to tell. These same people may continue to hurt us throughout the years. We may even try to reconcile with them to no avail.

Medical practitioners say that when we nurse grudges against these unfortunate people, we end up reaping the negative effects. Seething anger reduces the amount of blood, which the heart pumps to our body tissues. This may result in strokes and heart attacks. Unforgiveness also causes stomach and intestinal disorders, kidney problems, eating disorders, obesity, depression, addictions, insomnia, nightmares, and even self-destructive behaviors. Not a pretty picture.

Forgiveness is liberating. It enables the one who has wronged us to be liberated from their guilt, at the same time that it liberates us from negative emotions. Forgiveness allows us to live more fully and freely in the present, because it frees us from the past. When Jesus died on the cross He gave complete forgiveness, not only to those crucifying Him, but also to the whole of mankind both then and forever. He showed us by example how to love and to forgive others. Any pain, which others inflict upon us, is small when compared to the pain we inflict upon our Savior by our daily behavior and choices. Yet, God completely forgives us. Let us also forgive one another.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, with Your undeniable love You washed away the sins of the whole world. Thank You for forgiving us and making it possible for us to enjoy the glories of Heaven with You in the future. In the meantime, help us to shed a little heaven on earth for others to enjoy.

Thought for the Day:
We can share the gifts of love and complete forgiveness with everyone in our past, present and future.

Friday, December 16, 2011

God's Great Love

Read: Romans 8:5-39

‘Many are the affliction of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all!’” - Psalm 34:19

We all view life from a limited human vantage point. We wonder, “How will I ever solve this problem?” “How am I going to succeed?” “When will I get past this?” “When will this sickness leave?”

When we notice our thoughts drifting in the direction of the Big “I” we need to remind ourselves that the battle is the Lord’s. Then, we can transfix our affection, our thoughts, our beliefs, our emotions and our worldview on things above, on a heavenly rather than an earthly point of view (Colossians 3:2-3).

The Eighth chapter of Romans gives us a powerful message of a life lived from God’s point of view. When we look at our problems from God’s angle, we soar into the heavenly realm and leave this old world and all of its problems behind us. Think of the photos of the earth as seen from outer space. These photos put the earth into proper perspective. In the light of all of the galaxies that make up the universe, earth is one of the smallest planets God created. God rules all of creation, and we can trust Him to conscientiously rule over our life as well.

At times, it seems that our whole world just came unglued. Everything swirls out of our control in every direction. We subdue one issue and several more pop up. Our molehill becomes a mountain in record time! This happens, because in the pressure cooker of life, God softens us until we are pliable enough for Him to mold us into Christ’s image.

Psalm 34:19 reminds us that the Lord delivers us out of all of our afflictions! God already won the battle 2000 years ago on Calvary’s cross. We are already conquerors through Christ in us, our hope of glory (Colossians 1: 27). When we look at life through God’s eyes, we start to see the possibilities rather than the problems. God used a small boy named David to defeat a giant like Goliath. He also empowers us with the same ability to face the giant problems in our life.

We serve an awesome and empathetic God. He loves, forgives, aids, chastises, transforms and molds us; and all the while, He gives us His abundant life now and for eternity. 1 John 3:1 reminds us, “Behold, what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon us.” Ephesians 2: 4 encourages us, "He is rich in mercy and loves us with abundant love.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for telling us that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate us from Your love. No human experience or atrocity can remove us from Your presence. We can run away from You, but You always wait right where we left You; so we will find You again when we go around the mountain of life one more time!

Thought for the Day:
Nothing will ever separate us from God’s great love.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Battle is the Lord's

Read: 2 Kings 18 & 19

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt (the world) for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord." - Isaiah 31:1

Judah crowned Hezekiah as king soon after the Assyrians took the northern tribes of Israel captive. Although very young, Hezekiah exhibited a strong desire to do right in the eyes of God. The weight of his responsibility as king, taxed his faith, however. He realized that the safety of his entire kingdom rested upon his slight shoulders. In order to prevent Assyria from taking Judah as well as Israel, Hezekiah's youthful inexperience caused him to make an coalition with Egypt.

We make this same mistake today. We believe God for the things we take for granted, but we look for a Plan B when faced with the overwhelming trials in life. As with Hezekiah, sometimes it is easier for us to trust  in what we can see, rather than in God whom we cannot see.

In the end, Hezekiah confirmed his full assurance in God. He stated, "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles" (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). The epitaph written about him at the end of his days, substantiates the fact that
there was no one like Hezekiah among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him (2 Kings 18:5).

God caused all things to work out for Hezekiah’s good. As we submit to the Holy Spirit and walk with the assurance of God’s Word, we can face whatever life throws at us with this same confidence. We walk victoriously, no matter what negative circumstances come our way. With Jesus as the center of our focus, we will see a positive outcome to every situation.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when Satan harasses me in order to cause me to doubt Your provision and protection or to curse Your name, keep me under the shadow of Your wings and give me Your faith as I weather each storm.

Thought for the Day:
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Knowledge Based in Truth

Read: 2 Timothy 4: 3-5

"Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God." - Proverbs 2:3-5 (NIV)

My cousin read a book, which opposed the Bible, but had no support or evidence in truth. She believed this fictional work, however, and completely turned away from her faith in Biblical truths. I hardly recognize her anymore. This caused me to ask, “What truths form my life view? Are they based on facts or supposition?”

Historians in Jesus’ day confirmed much of what the Bible relates to us about His life. Archeology and science constantly produce overwhelming evidence for the veracity of the Bible. Many people who set out to prove that the Bible is a book of fables are so overwhelmed by the amount of truth backing it’s claims, that they end up believing in God instead.

God’s Word gives us undeniable truths, such as the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the Divine inspiration of the Bible, the sovereignty of God, the penalty of sin and the facts about our eternal destination. Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, and we continue to exist because of His grace. 

If we believe what the world’s experts tell us, we will focus on their fables and turn away from God’s Biblical truths. However, I love you enough to tell you that to believe anything contrary to Biblical truth is to believe a lie.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the capacity to learn, the capability to search for truth and the free will to choose what we believe. Expose worldly fables for what they are, open the eyes of those who seek You with all of their heart, and help us to find our truth in your Word.

Thought for the Day:

Line up your worldview with God's Word, so it will last for eternity.





Monday, December 12, 2011

The Reason for the Season

There is an unusual point to this message; but first, bear with me as I build a foundation.

Did you ever notice that Jesus did not tell us to celebrate His birth? In fact, for most of the church’s history, Christmas was a minor holiday, if celebrated at all. Maybe this is because Jesus told us to commemorate His death, burial and resurrection. This is why we have communion services in our churches. I believe He did this because He wants the focus of our Christian message to center around salvation through faith in Christ’s blood atonement, rather than on his nativity.

I am not proposing that we stop celebrating Christmas or that we should do away with the nativity set. I collect unusual nativity sets. Some I even keep out all year around in order to praise God for sending Jesus to save us from the penalty of our own choices and for giving us His resurrected life. In fact, I love the festivity and anticipation in the air at this time of the year. People smile more often, have a song on their lips, and act more generously toward one another. St. Nicholas was a kind and giving man and I love that people always focus on sharing with one another, especially with those less fortunate.

For most people, however, Jesus is no longer the reason for the season - if He ever was. Christmas is more about getting than receiving. It emphasizes a secular Santa, rather than Jesus, our Christ and Savior. Even some Christians put more emphasis on Santa and presents than on Christ.

Let’s face it, in reality most of the aspects of the season are pre-Christian. In order to make Christ more relavant to their world system, the Catholic church used the December 25th Roman holiday of Natalis Invicti, which is the festival of the birth of the invincible sun, as well as Saturnalia. The German mid-winter festival celebrations actually used evergreen trees and holly as symbols of eternal life. This is where we get that famous song, “O Tannenbaum.” 

The most central and recognizable symbol of Christmas today is the Christmas tree —and it has nothing to do with Christianity or Jesus. It is purely a symbol taken from the ancient German mid-winter festivals. Some people even claim that the practice of cutting down trees and taking them home to decorate them is actually condemned by God in Jeremiah 10:1-10.

When we insist on putting Jesus back as the reason for the season, today’s society thinks that we are seeking to assert our cultural superiority over everyone else. They resent us for hijacking their ancient celebrations and for pushing our views on an America that has moved toward religious pluralism. They even mock us, because we insist that Christmas is Christ’s birthday, when everyone knows that December 25th was probably not the exact date.

Every year Jesus recedes further into the background of human consciousness. At best, in their thinking He was a good man, a prophet or historical teacher. So, this is what I want to suggest. Let us make Jesus the reason for EVERY season. Make Him the focus of every day in which we live. Share, without apology or fear, what He did for us with His life, death, burial and resurrection.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we often make causes out of issues that You do not even care about. Teach us to live our lives in such a way that everyone will see our faith in and love for You. Move in their hearts so that they will join us in glorifying You with their lives.

Thought for the Day:
Make Jesus the center of your focus every day of the year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Original" Works ~ inspired by the Holy Spirit

Hi~
I wanted to clarify that all of the posts on this blog are written personally by me. Any resemblence to any other devotional or blog can be blamed on the Holy Spirit!

Have you ever listened on TV to several preachers on any one Sunday and realized that they all had the same theme in their sermons. No one writes their sermons for them. No one tells them what to preach. This is all the work of the Holy Spirit. After all, there is nothing new under the sun!

Happy Reading...kat bradley

The Bumps in the Road

Read: Psalm 91


"The LORD will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life." – Psalm 121:7

Our friend Bernadette should have died before reaching the age of 8, because of a debilitating disease. When I met her, she just celebrated her 43rd birthday. She uses an electric wheel chair to get around, but lives a very full life. While crossing a street a few months ago, her wheel chair hit a bump in the road. This delayed her a few seconds, which ended up sparing her from serious injury or possibly even death. A car ran a red light and she came within inches of being hit.

In the past, I used to complain when things did not go as I planned. I very rarely ever thanked God for the bumps in my road. I learned over the years, however, that He really DOES work all things out for my good, even the bad things.

Bernadette’s experience gave me a refresher course, though. I will always view those pesky bumps in the road as blessings from now on, instead of impediments. I may never know how God used them to save me from utter destruction, but I will praise Him for them anyway.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to see with the eyes of Your Spirit and to be more thankful for all You do for me and in me and through me.

Thought for the Day:
Having Christ in our life tilts the scales in our favor.

Follow Bernadette:
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000921160641#!/BernadetteTodd

To hear GREAT sermons check out:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

God's Abiding Love

Read: I John 4: 8-12

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)

Did you ever notice that even with just two commandments, we have a hard time keeping either one of them? The Bible teaches us that since God’s love abides in us, His love has been perfected in us. God forgave us and loved us while we were still sinners, and He gave us His example to follow.

After salvation, His love abides within us. We can more readily keep these two commandments. It is possible for us to love God and our neighbor, as well as our self. Even if my carnal nature gets in the way of my obedience to these commands, Agape’s love within me will do the job much better than I could ever imagine. As I put my feelings and prejudices aside, Christ will love even the most indigent of humans through my feeble actions.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let us pour out Your love to those in our family, neighborhood, workplace, community and church. You loved us without conditions and undeservedly. Help us to allow You to share Your love through us without restraint! 

Thought for the Day:
God’s love in us is the anchor for a world adrift in the sea of suffering.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Soul Waits for the Lord

Read: Psalm 18:1-3

"I trust in Your loyal love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me." - Psalm 13:5-6

My soul waits for the Lord more eagerly than a night watchman waits for the morning light to dawn. I plant my hope in His Word, because He is my help and my shield. He brings joy to my soul because He showers me with His unfailing love. Both riches and honor come from Him, and in His hand is all the power and might we need to live fulfilling and strong lives.

God has big plans for His children, which bring us prosperous blessings and protect us from all harm. He is our future and our hope (Jeremiah 29:11). We can take courage and not be afraid no matter what life throws at us, because the Lord Jesus is with us - no matter where we live, what we do for a living, nor for how long we live on this earth.

The Lord longs to be gracious and rises to show compassion on the whole earth. I could never finish singing His praises. I will testify to others what He has done for me, and what He longs to do for them. I will give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, and make known to others what He has done for me. I will sing praises to Him, and tell of all His wonderful acts (1 Chronicles 16:8-9). Even the heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they are a testimony to His goodness, and night after night they prove His existence (Psalm 19:1-2).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let Your unfailing love rain down on us, even as we put our hope in You.

Thought for the Day:
We have the privilege and the responsibility to offer others the gift of faith in Christ.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Go With The Flow

Read: Psalm 119: 116-126

“You will keep on guiding me all my life with your wisdom and counsel, and afterwards receive me into the glories of heaven!” Psalm 73:24 (TLB)

Anxiety drives us to try to control our life. In seeking freedom from the intensity of our fears, we keep tabs on everyone and everything in our sphere of influence. We exhibit a bossy, controlling, sometimes bombastic attitude in our attempt to keep people from hurting us. We fear the unknown and try to manage every aspect of our life to ensure tranquility.

However, no amount of self-effort guarantees us a peaceful life. All of our expended effort eventually crumbles at our feet, leaving us disillusioned and hopeless. Only God gives us the assurance we crave. His Word promises His provision for us on a daily basis. He gives us serenity, which is the exact opposite of anxiety.

If His kingdom is our desire instead of our own success, He will not allow our hopes to be dashed against the rocks of the circumstances we encounter. God ensures our well-being as we serve Him. He prevents the arrogant and the liar from oppressing us. He deals with us according to His loving kindness. He teaches us His commandments and writes them on our hearts to prevent us from sinning against Him. His great peace envelops us and nothing can make us fall or even stub our toe upon the impediments of adversity.

If we rest in God’s promises, we have nothing to fear. He supplies all of our needs according to His riches, mercy and grace. We can “Go With the Flow” of the Holy Spirit, moment by moment throughout the day and rest in His abundant love.

Prayer ~ Lord, help me to relinquish control of my life and to give You the reigns. Lead and guide me wherever You choose that I should go and help me to find peace and contentment in Your will.

Thought for the Day ~ Go with the flow of the Holy Spirit, moment by moment throughout the day.