Friday, August 31, 2012

Saved or Not?

Read: Matt 7:21-23

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Because of Adam’s sin, every human being is born in sin. We all have a carnal, self-centered nature that has no desire to live righteously. Jesus came to die on the cross to blot out Satan’s legal charges against us. Then God gave us a share in the very life of Christ. He forgave all our sins by nailing them to Christ's cross. In this way God took away Satan's power to accuse us of our past sins, and at the same time He openly displayed to the whole world Christ's triumph at Calvary (Colossians 2:13-15).

One of Satan’s slickest tricks is to use his lie of condemnation to defeat us. God does not condemn us. He convicts us. Condemnation brings shame with no way out; but conviction brings guilt with a desire for repentance. Repentance means to turn away from sin toward the righteousness of God. Some people feel conviction and pray for salvation, but they continue to live in worldly pursuits and willful sin. Some even get more sinful in their thoughts and actions over the years. These people are not born again and they have a false hope of eternal salvation (Matthew 7:21-23).

Even though they responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they never fully surrendered their will to God, nor did they enter into a personal relationship with our holy God. Their heart never changed. It is still deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). They may even talk to God, read their Bible, attend church and serve in a ministry (Romans 3:21-22). The truth, however, is that they never totally surrendered their life to God or turned away from all of their sin. Even though they are doing good works, their spirit is still dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). They perform works of righteousness through self-effort instead of by the Spirit of God (Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:9).

The Holy Spirit never breathed the breath of life into them and their spirit remains dead in sin (Job 32:8). They prayed a vain prayer and they gave God empty promises rather than authentic devotion. They still live for their own pleasure and give God a tip of their time and resources, rather than their full dedication. We can live our whole life thinking that we are going to heaven, when in the end, Jesus will tell us, “Depart from me, for I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:23).

So, how do we know if we are truly saved from hell and going to heaven? Take the Bible’s spiritual test to see if you really are a Christian. Do you feel Christ's presence and power growing within you more and more? Are you just pretending to be a Christian, when actually deep inside of you it is evident that you are just playing a game? (2 Corinthians 13:5-6; Lamentations 3:40-42). Do you feel like all your filthiness is washed away, or do you still regularly get sullied by sin? Has God given you a new heart, or do you still have the same cold, dead heart you always had? Is the Spirit of God within you, convicting you of sin and leading you throughout the day, or can you sin without conviction? Do you obey all of God’s Word, or do you pick and choose only parts of it that what you want to believe and follow? (Ezek 36:25-27).

We serve a Holy God who wants a holy people (1 Peter 1:16). We come to know Christ only through repenting from all of our willful sin and completely surrendering our life to Him. We allow God’s Spirit to convert our sinful nature to a spiritual one and to develop His spiritual fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). The process of God’s Spirit working holiness into our lives is called Sanctification. It takes a lifetime to accomplish this fully, but we can see the results a little more each day.

If we are living for God through our own effort, we are just self-righteous individuals who are trying in our own vain exploits to live a Christian life. If we are not washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, and do not have a new heart and righteous desires, we are actually not saved from hell and we are not going to heaven. We are not born again. So what do we do now? Truly repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord. Then fully surrender your life to Him and walk in His ways.

As you do this, the peace of God will rule in your heart. You will no longer be a stanger and foreigner but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household (Ephesians 2:19). You will have a heart full of gratitude and joy, and the word of Christ will dwell in you richly. You will sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with your whole heart, not just part of it. Eventually, you will also teach and admonish others with His wisdom. Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, you will do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God our Father (Colossians 3:15-18).

Father God, if I am not truly born again, if I have a false hope of going to heaven when I die, please convict me right now and lead me to true repentance. Give me Your Spirit to lead me into all truth and teach me Your ways. Help me to be holy, even as You are holy (1 Peter 1:16).

Thought for the Day:
“If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most miserable."
- 1 Corinthians 15: 19


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Returning to God

Read: John 13: 3-5

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” – John 3:34

Jesus came from God and He looked forward to returning to God. He knew that His Father put all things under His power. Even so, He wanted to give His disciples one last lesson; so he washed their feet. He showed them how to use humility to prefer and to serve one another (John 13:3-5). He gave them an object lesson by His actions. He did not have to say a word.

Jesus showed the disciples that although we have power and authority from God, we do not have to act superior to others, insist upon our own way or demean anyone else. Jesus called people to a surrendered life, but He never forced anyone to submit to Him and He made no demands upon their lives. If someone chose not to follow Him, He willingly let them go.

God freely gives us His limitless Spirit and calls upon us to serve in this same manner that Jesus did. We are to use humility and to prefer and serve one another. Paul learned this lesson as well, and told us not to use our freedom to indulge our sinful nature; but to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13). Jesus wants followers who love Him with all of our thoughts, actions, emotions and strength (Mark 12:30), and then to submit to one another out of our worship for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Things of this world grow dim when we compare them to the eternal glories of heaven. We will spend eternity with the Trinity, the angels and every believer who ever lived. This thought should provoke in us the same eternal mindset Jesus exhibited. We do this by keeping our focus on Him and allowing His Spirit to lead us each moment of the day as we care for the needs of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Even Peter instructs us to use our gifts from God to serve others (1 Peter 2:16; 4:10).

By praying without ceasing, we fellowship with our Father all day long (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We follow the example Jesus set (Acts 10:38). We are guided and counseled by God’s Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:25). This gives us the confidence to reach out to others and to share with them what God gives to us.

Once we repent of our sins and surrender our life completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we are assured of a place in the Heavenly Kingdom as the bride of Christ. We have the entire power of the full godhead – the Father, Son and Spirit – residing in our spirit through Christ (Colossians 1:19). We are saved to serve and free to enjoy the blessings of the Body of Christ (Luke 1:74).

Lord Jesus, You gave us your Spirit, and all of your power and authority. You desire that we love You first and love our neighbor as our self (Mark 12:33). This is more important to You than all the sacrifices and offerings we could ever make to You. I surrender to You my thoughts, will and emotions. I give my body as a living sacrifice to You as my Lord and my God (Romans 12:1). Into your hands I also commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5). Use all of me to do Your will for eternity.

Thought for the Day:
Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. – Luke 10:27

Thank you, Zoe Novak, for the use of your photo.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reduced to Fools

Read: Exodus 20:18-20

Did you ever notice the absence of the fear of (respect for) the Lord in people today. Everyone is a god unto him/herself, and they make up their own rules for life as they go along. Or else, they create designer gods that fit their philosophy of life and which do not require anything from them.

Why should we fear/reverence the Lord? God instructs and confides in those who fear Him. The path of those who reverence the Lord includes prosperity (Psalm 25:12-14). He stores up goodness for them that take refuge in Him (Psalm 31:19). He delivers from famine and death all those whose hope is in His unfailing love (Psalm 33:18-19). He sends His angels to camp around those who fear Him and He delivers them in their times of trouble. He is a refuge to them and they lack no good thing (Psalm 34:7-11). He provides food for them who remember his covenant forever (Psalm 111:5). He takes His delight in them (Psalm 147:11).

Other reasons we have such a high regard for the Lord is that whatever He speaks and commands always comes to pass (Psalm 33:8-9). He puts a new song into our mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many unbelievers see why we sing to Him and then they put their trust in the Lord too and come to fear Him (Psalm 40:3). He gives a heritage to those who fear His name (Psalm 61:5). His love for us is a high as the heavens are from the earth (Psalm 103:11).

To those who obey His precepts and remember His covenant, His love is from everlasting to everlasting…in modern vernacular that is as far as infinity and beyond! (Psalm 103:17-18). He is our help and our shield in times of danger (Psalm 115:11). When we fear Him and walk in His ways we are blessed, we eat the fruit of our labor and His blessings and prosperity are ours. Even our family increases and is fruitful (Ps 128:1-4) and His mercy extends from generation to generation (Proverbs 1:50).

Conversely, those who are wicked and sinful and flatter themselves too much to repent of or to hate their sin do not fear the Lord (Psalm 36:1-2). God brings to everlasting ruin those who do not make Him their stronghold, but trust instead in their earned wealth and grow strong by destroying others. He snatches them up, uproots them and removes them from their homes (Ps 52:5-7).

Therefore, it does not make sense for us to be wise in our own eyes. If we fear the Lord and shun evil, God will bring health to our body and nourish our bones (Proverbs 3:7-8). In Exodus 20:18-20, God shows His mighty power to the Israelites. They are so convicted of their unholiness in His sight, and are so fearful of His awesome power, that they cower behind Moses. The wise will hear this message and learn from it (Matthew 7:24).

Lord God, You are a great God and most worthy of our praise. You are to be feared above all gods. For other gods are mere idols made of wood and stone, but You are the one who made the heavens. We will fear You and praise You and we pray that all of our descendants will honor and revere You (1 Chronicles 16:25-26; Psalm 22:23).

Thought for the Day ~
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...without it, we are reduced to fools.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Good Grief!

Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“I will lead the blind (those who have lost their way) by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

From the first moment of loss, the human soul is numb, in shock and probably in denial. We expect our loved one to come walzing back through the door at any moment, dispelling our fears that this loss will last forever. We dream about them coming in and sweeping us off our feet and proclaiming that it was all a misunderstanding. We have no feelings at all during this time. We are in limbo, holding our breath and living in slow motion. God programmed our soul this way in order to protect us from facing the impact of our loss all at one time. There comes a time, however, when the nerves in our soul begin to feel, the reality of our loss sinks in and we have to face the future without our loved one.

At this point, dreams or nightmares may start. This is your soul’s way of dealing with your pain. Your soul uses your time asleep to process your thoughts and feelings in order to help you to make decisions that are necessary at this time in your life. Most experts advise that a grieving person not make any major or life changing decisions at this time. It is so easy, during a time of grief, to fly off the handle or to make a knee-jerk reaction that may affect you adversely for the rest of your life.

Grief comes in waves after a loss. We go through stages of denial that it happened, anger over being abandoned, bargaining for a way out, having to live alone, depression over what we cannot control and finally acceptance and hope for a fulfilling future (Jeremiah 29:11). Grief is a very personal issue and we all experience it differently. Give yourself permission to heal according to your own schedule, not someone else’s.

Some people go through some of these stages of grief more than once, experiencing them in a different light or a new level this time. Other people get stuck on one stage and cannot seem to get free from it. Some never go through all of the stages, because they process their grief differently than others. One thing that we can always count on is God offers hope to the hopeless and joy for our mourning (Psalm 30:11).

God also gave us a place in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 12: 4-5). No matter how grave our loss, we are still an integral and vital part of His Body. Though we may need to step back from service until we have the emotional and physical energy to serve again, we can still worship with believers and enjoy what is going on in our local Body. Most of people the people we see there had a lifetime of grief and loss as well, and they can relate to how we feel. They will have empathy and counsel for us too (Luke 22: 31-34).

Have you ever given your self permission to cry? Crying does not indicate weakness. It is actually very wise to allow your self to cry. Grief does not diminish if you ignore it. You do not have to hide your sorrow, even from your self. Do not pretend that you are fine. Grief changes everything about us. There are monumental issues that need your attention. They will not be dealt with if you ignore your loss. Only as grief is expressed can it truly heal.

Tears wash away the sorrow that tries to take root in our soul, and sets us free from issues that would otherwise fester and grow and possibly even makes us physically ill. Journaling is a very helpful tool, not only to rid your soul of your negative emotions, but also to give you a clear picture of how you really feel. Our ultimate healing comes when we turn our pain over to God. He will work all things out for out good (Romans 8:29). His joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalms 28:7). Confidence in His love and provision give us hope for our future (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is a very real tendency as we grieve, whether from death or divorce, to marry the first kind person that reaches out to us. They care about you and you really miss the companionship of your mate. This is called rebounding. It is very lethal, because it takes you out of the fire and into the frying pan. Rebounding unites you with someone to whom you are unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).

The person may actually claim to believe in Christ, but you may be total opposites and your souls will clash. You may find your soulmate, but spiritually you are incompatible. You may have a physical attraction to this person, but you share little in soul and spirit. Take your time before commiting to a new relationship. Date many different people and really get to know someone before comitting the rest of your life to them. Wait for God to bring along His intended mate for you. It’s worth the wait.

When you least expect it, something familiar may cause a flashback to your former life, which may trigger unwanted grief. Tears and fears may arise to interupt your day. This is God’s way of allowing you to process the emotions within you, adjust to your loss and eventually to heal. If you fight the pain, the grief will persist. If you go with the pain and feel it fully, you will grieve and get past it. Then, the next time you experience that trigger it will not affect you as deeply.

Finding comfort in artificial means, such as unhealthy relationships and controlled substances will also prolong your grief. Time alone gives you time to journal and get in touch with the true feelings of your soul. The writers of Psalms felt these same feelings. Reading the Psalms often, brings comfort to know you are not the only one feeling this way. Reach out to the comfort of people with positive attitudes. Take a class and make new friends. Hang out with other divorcees or widows/widowers.  

If the idea of being home alone is troublesome for you: adopt a pet; rent movies you always wanted to see, but your mate did not; go to church services whenever they are available; volunteer at a soup kitchen or at the hospital or other charity events; invite the grandchildren for a slumber party; go on the excursions you already planned to attend with your mate – take a friend if you do not want to go alone. Do anything that feels comfortable to you and that makes you happy.

Lord Jesus, no matter who we are or what we lost or how we feel, we can always pour out our grief to You. You are the One who loves us, keeps us as the apple of Your eye and laid down Your life for us. You are a strong tower and You are just waiting for us to run into Your everlasting arms.

Thought for the Day:
Comfort is just a prayer away.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Father God

Read: Ephesians 3: 14-15

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." – Luke 15:10

God knows everything about us. We are individuals, and unique in Him. He loves us and makes a difference in our life. He knows when we sit down, sleep and rise up. He is familiar with all our ways (Psalm 139:1-3). He knows the exact number of hairs on our head, even when our brush has more than we can count (Matthew 10:29-31). We depend on Him more completely as each day passes, because we learn more about Him and grow closer to Him. In fact, eventually, when we become one with Him, we actually live and move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28).

God made us in His image (Genesis 1:27). He is Father, Son and Spirit. We are body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:25). We are fearfully and wonderfully made. He knit us together in our mother's womb. He brought us forth on the day we were born (Psalm 139:13-14, 71:6). We are His offspring. He knew us even before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). He chose us when He planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12). He determined the exact time of our birth and where we would live and when we will die (Acts 17:26; Job 14:5). None of us surprised Him with our birth and none of us are a mistake, because all of our days are written in His book (Psalm 139:15-16).

Those who do not understand His ways, malign God. He is not distant and angry, but is the complete expression of love. And it is His desire to lavish His love on us, simply because we are His children and He is our Father (John 8:41-44; 1 John 4:16, 3:1). He offers us more than our earthly father ever could, because He is the perfect Father. Every good gift that we receive comes from His hand. He is our provider and He meets all of our needs (Matthew 7:11, 5:48; James 1:17; Matthew 6:31-33).

His plans for our future are filled with hope and a promise. He loves us with an everlasting love. His thoughts toward us are as countless as the sand on the seashore. He rejoices over us with singing (Jeremiah 29:11, 31:3; Psalms 139:17-18; Zephaniah 3:17). He will never stop doing good for us. We are His treasured possession. He desires to establish us with all of His heart and soul. He wants to show us great and marvelous things, which we cannot even envision (Jeremiah 32:40, Exodus 19:5, Jeremiah 32:41, 33:3).

If you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him. Delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart. He is able to do more for us than we could ever imagine. He is our greatest encourager (Deuteronomy 4:29, Psalm 37:4, Philippians 2:13, Ephesians 3:20). Jesus gave up everything He loved and died on the cross so that we might come to know Him. If we receive the gift of Jesus’ righteousness, He comes to reside in our spirit, and nothing will ever separate us from His love again. (Romans 8:31-32, 1 John 2:23, Romans 8:38-39)

He is also the Father who comforts us in all of our troubles. When we are brokenhearted, He is closer to us than at any other time. Just as a shepherd carries a lamb, He has carries us close to His heart (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 40:11). One day He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and take away all the pain we suffered on this earth. For now, He is keeping every tear we shed in His bottle and records them all on His scroll. He will bring revenge on our enemies and give us His everlasting life (Revelation 21:3-4; Psalm 56:8; Hebrews 10:30).

Father God, You love us as much as You love Your son, Jesus. In Jesus, You revealed Your great love for us. Jesus is the exact representation of You. You are in Him and He is in us; therefore we are one with You also (John 17:23, 17:26, Hebrews 1:3; John 17:21). Jesus came to demonstrate that You are for us, not against us. You do not count our sins against us. We condemn our self through our unbelief. Jesus died so that we can be reconciled to You. His death is the ultimate expression of Your love for us (Romans 8:31; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Jon 3:18; 1 John 4:10)

Thought for the Day:
”Will you draw near to Him? He is waiting for you.” - James 4:8; Luke 15:11-32

Thank you, Marianne Lordi, for the use of your photo.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Freedom in Christ

Read: Romans 8:1-4

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." - Hebrews 12:1

As blood-bought children of God, we really want to do what is right, but we do not always do it. We know perfectly well that what we are doing is wrong, but sin inside of us is stronger than our resolve to be holy. Paul expounds on this topic when he states that when he wants to do what is right, he inevitably does what is wrong. He also relates to us the reality of the war going on in our soul between the old habits of the sinful nature and the new Christ-like nature birthed in our soul at conversion. He complains that he wants to be God's willing servant, but instead he finds himself still enslaved to sin.

Then Paul cries out in anguish in Romans 7:23... “Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly carnal nature?” With the same breath he realizes in ecstasy, “Thank God! It has already been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”

As we cling to Christ, and walk by His Spirit on a moment by moment basis, He replaces our sinful nature with the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  God then encourages us to keep our eyes on Jesus and to walk in His ways. In Hebrews 12:1-2 the author exhorts us, “Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before each of us. Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor.”

Added to the mix of our own self-reproach, Satan’s deception often brings with it a heavy dose of undeserved condemnation. Even when we did nothing wrong, we sometimes still feel shame. We human beings find it hard to accept anything less than perfect. We struggle with our most tempting sins; but that is the way God made us, and why He gave us Jesus to save us from those sins. God does not deal with us by using shame and condemnation. He uses conviction instead. These negative feelings of condemnation come from Satan trying to convince us that we are hopeless. He wants us to believe that we are so bad God cannot save us.

There is a big difference between guilt and shame. Conviction of guilt is a deserved feeling of remorse for doing something wrong. Conviction comes with hope because God suggests to us an alternative way to behave. Also, conviction says, “You have done a bad thing, but next time, you can do better.” Conviction is a quick truth that shows us our error and offers us a way to repent.

Shaming condemnation on the other hand, is an undeserved feeling of being unfit and harshly judged. Condemnation brings shame with no suggestion of any alternative behavior. Condemnation says, “You are bad.” Shame comes from Satan and will cripple your life. Satan tries to break us with the weight of shame that Jesus already bore for us on the cross. Satan does not show us a way to heal from our transgression. He just heaps condemnation on us so heavily that we see no way out.

Shame makes us quit going to church, quit reading our Bible, and quit fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Shame encourages us to do other sinful actions, which adds to the weight of shame, until we finally give up on ourselves and God completely. Then Satan has us right where he wants us...under his thumb!

Jesus frees us from the vicious circle of conflicting desires and emotions. He frees us from the grasp of sin and its condemnation. Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection and ascention back to heaven destroyed Satan’s control over us. So now, we can obey God as we listen to His Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old carnal nature within us. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we ‘may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your finished work on Calvary’s cross. Help us to see life from an eternal perspective, to live in the moment and to walk by the direction of Your Holy Spirit all throughout the day. Use us to advance Your Kingdom and to change lives for the better through Your Spirit.

Though for the Day:
It is when we behave the least like His child that we need Him the most.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Defying Science

I can just see God chuckling as He created some of the most peculiar animals and matter in the universe, at the same time that He put the laws of science and nature into motion. He knew He would be messing with the human mind! For instance, there is actually a planet that defies these laws. It is ten times larger than Jupiter. Scientists agree that under the laws of physics, it should spiral into the surface of its molten sun and disintegrate.

WASP-18b, as it is called, resides a thousand light years from Earth. Scientists say that the tidal interactions between the massive planet and it’s enormous sun should be pulling them together; however, the planet routinely orbits its own star in under 24 hours. Its temperatures exceed 2,100C and this creates clouds of silica-based gems. This means that if we visited this planet, we might see a sky full of sapphires and diamonds!

We all know about the many animals, which defy scientific laws. The most common is the bumblebee, which breaks the laws of aerodynamics because of its massive weight compared to its wingspan. Scientists also say that dolphin are simply too heavy and large to swim as fast, jump as high or do as many tricks as they are able to do. Another example is the 5” long Anna’s Hummingbird. While attempting to impress the fairer sex, the tiny male bird can dive through the air at around 50 mph. This causes the hummingbird to whirl its wings at more than a thousand beats per minute and to burn body fuel about four hundred times faster than a human being.

At Yosemite National Park, scientists discovered a huge variety of microbes, called thermophiles, which survive at 100C. To get a gist of the enormity of this feat, realize that God created all living creatures, including thermophiles, largely of protein. Protein cooks at not much above 40C. Some marathon runners are known to damage their kidneys as their body overheats. Yet, thermophiles live in this intense heat and flourish.

At ocean depths of 700m, the pressure is up to twenty times the normal atmospheric condition. In the deepest of oceans, it is more than a thousand atmospheres. This is enough to crush a human body. Yet some species of deep sea fish have no internal body cavities to collapse, so they survive and thrive here, because of God’s design. 

A sperm whale can dive to nearly two miles deep, where pressure reaches hundreds of atmospheres, and yet its lungs survive. God gave the sperm whale ribs that flatten when the lungs collapse. Also oxygen is stored in their blood, which allows the sperm whale to dive for up to ninety minutes before needing another breath. With human divers, a quick rise to the surface causes bubbles in the bloodstream, which can cause death. God protected the whale, however, and this does not happen when they rise suddenly.

At the other end of the earth’s terrain, in the Himalayan mountains, the migrating bar-headed geese fly in air that is so thin that human mountain climbers need oxygen. These geese actually enjoy these heights and the cold weather, because the thin air offers less resistance as they fly, and the intense cold prevents them from over-heating under their God-given goose down.

The Male Emperor Penguin survives the Antarctic winter, where temperatures often dip below -50C. God gave them the wisdom to huddle together to share their internal warmth. The outermost birds continually shuffle to the inside of the group and each one takes turns braving the extremely cold and cutting winds. God even gave the males a pocket to protect the eggs and baby penguin. In the same vacinity, God gave Polar fish their own natural anti-freeze to stop them from freezing in the icy depths of the sea.

Bats are blind, but they use God-inspired echo-location to create a ‘mental picture’ with so much detail that they  can find the tiniest of insects flying nearby; and also to detect other bats, in order to prevent collisions as they streak through the air. God created another phenomenon, which occurs every autumn. About ten billion birds take off from Northern Europe, Asia and North America and head for the tropics and beyond. In many species, the newest born birds follow their parents. However, young swallows set out on their own journey. No one really knows how they know where to go and how to return, but God does.

Pigeons and other species of birds seem to read the Earth’s magnetic signals. God gave them compounds of iron at the base of their beak to detect the magnetic currents in the earth. Other birds use sight. Some use smell to detect the scent of ammonia that emanates from their bird colonies. God gave other birds the ability to navigate by the sun. The night-flyers avoid overheating by using the moon and stars to navigate. Some birds, like the Indigo Bunting, evidently spend their early weeks in the nest learning the layout of the night sky. Scientist say they just need to identify the pole star, because all the other stars apparently revolve around it. These are all astonishing feats that God created birds to do.

Well, in spite of all these extraordinary examples, there is a one familiar creation that is the most astonishing of all…you.

The simplest of mundane tasks undertaken by any one of us requires truly astonishing physical skills and mental computing power. Consider the talents we all have to create beautiful music, art, inventions, and scientific and medical breakthroughs. We are all miracles of God. We are more sophisticated, intelligent and marvellous than any man-made invention or any of God’s other creations. God created each of us for a specific plan and purpose with all the gifts and talents we need to succeed in this area.
Yet, many of us take for granted all of our God given talents and the abilities He teaches us throughout our lifetime. As I consider these exceptions to the rules that God created, it makes me even more determined to live up to the potential He gave me, so that I can make my mark on society in His name and leave a spiritual legacy behind for future generations.

Lord Jesus, each human being is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). You knew us before You ever formed us in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are Your most esteemed creation and You made us to fellowship with You (Genesis 1:26). You care about us so much that You collect all of our tears in Your bottle and You record in Your journal each one and why we shed it (Psalm 56:8). You will bring vengence upon those who bring sorrow to Your beloved saints (Romans 12:19). You alone stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth by Your mighty power (Isaiah 44:24), and Your love endures forever (Psalm 136:6).

Thought for the Day:
Whatever pleased the Lord, He created in heaven, in the earth, in the seas and in all the deep places. - Psalms 135:6



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Friday, August 24, 2012

Are We Alone in the Universe?

Read: Isaiah 42:16

“God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." - Hebrews 13:5

Do you feel lonely and insecure? Is your life unstable and incomplete? Planets in our solar system orbit in a predictable pattern because the sun is a stable center of gravitational pull. Without that pull, the planets would sling out into the universe without any order. If Jesus Christ is the center of our universe, we too stay in a structured orbit; but without Him as the center of our life, we sling out into life without any stability. There is a permanent remedy for this situation.

God’s promise to people who invite Christ into their lives is described in 1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

The first step is to believe that Jesus is God and the only Savior for the world. You cannot get to God except through Jesus, so believe in Him, repent of your sins and start acting on that faith. Once you invite Christ into your life, make Him the center of your universe. You will see amazing things start happening in your life as God stabilizes your life’s orbit.

List all of the most important issues in your life…home, family, work, hobbies, church, etc. What do you spend the most time on? That is the true center of your universe at this moment. How is that working for you? Does it keep you stable and secure? Are any of these things permanent and unmovable? God is the only entity in this life, which is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)? 

Our relationship with God is the only part of our life that is stable and secure and that cannot be taken away. Are you an authentic Believer, or are you a spectator sitting on the fringes of what God is doing in the earth right now? Once He is residing within you, you can access the power of His mercy, grace, deliverance, joy, provision and strength at any moment day or night.

He is not a genie in a bottle here to grant three wishes, He wants to be the Lord of your life. Completely surrender to Him all of your negative emotions: worry, fear, depression, insecurity, loneliness, grief, etc. He will now work on all of these issues as you trust in His goodness and love. He will stabilize the orbit of your life and even the most negative concerns will work out for your ultimate good (Romans 8:28). He will even lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths. He will guide us all and turn our darkness into light before us and make the rough places smooth. He will never forsake us. (Isaiah 42:16; Psalm 37:5)

God’s people listen to His voice. He knows us and we follow Him. He gives us eternal life that starts right here on the earth. We shall never perish, because no one can ever snatch us out of God’s hand (John 10:27-29). God crucifies our fleshly nature and it is no longer us who are living our life. Christ is living in us and through us. We live by faith in the Son of God who loves us and died for our eternal salvation (Galatians 2:20).

We have redemption by His blood, which means all of our sins, past, present and future are forgiven according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7) Now we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). We are now coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17) and we received a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Therefore we can rejoice and be thankful and worship God with reverence and awe for all that He does for us (Hebrews 12:28).

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but we have no fear of him, because we have abundant life through Jesus who lives within us (John 10:10). We have no cause to be anxious about anything. We pray about everything and the peace of God, which transcends all human reasoning, guards our thoughts and emotions because of Christ’s completed work on the cross (Philippians 4:6-7). He provides for all of our needs and He even blesses our children as we walk in His ways (Psalm 37:5)

Lord Jesus, thank You for the salvation you secured for us through Your scourging, crucifixion and death and burial. Thank You also for the freedom we have now through Your resurrection life within us. Help us to walk worthy of your sacrifice and help us to walk as testimonies of Your goodness and holiness (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Thought for the Day:
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” - Psalm 37:5

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Perfect Plans

Read: 2 Kings 18:11-12

“We live by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

I used to apply human reasoning to all of my decisions, but often found myself regretting my choices. Reading God’s Word taught me that He had a perfect plan for my life. It also instructed me to learn to follow the peace of God, because His wisdom surpasses all human comprehension and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). If we take the time to listen, God gives us spiritual ears to hear God’s plans and purpose for our lives (Matthew 11:15). We can follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our thoughts, words and deeds; and, therefore, live in total serenity (Romans 6: 11-14).

As I practiced hearing God’s voice, I continued to second-guess His directions. I often fell back onto conventional wisdom rather than walking in blind faith. I had “ears to hear”, but I failed to truly listen to and trust in the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:27). I heard His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), but doubted what I heard. I often ended up disobeying. Then I regretted my failure to make the most of the opportunity God presented to me, and I struggled with self-pity and condemnation (John 3:3; Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27).

I grieved the Holy Spirit by my disobedience and lack of faith and I had to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness (Ephesians 4:30; 1 John 1:9). When I considered the Biblical saints, I realize that some of them struggled with this too. They knew what to do but often disobeyed God, reaping the negative consequences of their actions. Yet there were other saints who dared to believe and obey the Spirit’s direction. They trusted God and their names are printed in the Hall of Faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.

These saints allowed the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23) to dwell in their hearts and they exhibited the Godly Character of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith in their everyday lives. People could tell there was something different about them. They lived lives of gratitude and praise (Ephesians 5: 18-20; Colossians 3:16). The Spirit of God led them each moment of the day (Romans 8:14). I decided that I wanted to be counted among these authentic believers. Therefore, I determined to walk in the Spirit moment by moment as well.

One aspect of “walking in the Spirit” is to follow God’s Spirit as He transforms our mind into the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Spirit helps us to crucify our fleshly desires (Galatians 5:24) and to make us humble servants of the Most High God. Now, I pay attention to God’s voice on a moment-by-moment basis. I follow His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12) and find direction, answers to my questions, and more ministry than I ever dreamed possible. My greatest joy will come when I stand before my Creator and I hear His joyful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Lord Jesus, I want to walk in Your perfect will for my life. Help me to walk to the end of my path of light and to take that next step into the darkness in obedience to Your direction. Help me to walk by faith and not by sight (Colossians 2:5). Continue to transform my soul with the fruit of Your Spirit. Give me the tongue of the learned, so I will know the words to share that will sustain the weary. Awaken me morning by morning; awaken my spiritual ear to hear as one who learns from You (Isaiah 50:4).

Thought for the Day:
Authentic Christians live by believing the impossible is possible, rather than by believing only what we comprehend with our human senses (Philippians 4:13).


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Unchanging Father

Read: Colossians 3:1-4

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him”. - Jeremiah 17:7

God is the awesome Creator of the universe, who paints a new day for us with each bright sunrise (Psalm 113:3). He brushes in more of His blessings as the day progresses – the beauty of a flower, familiar shapes in the clouds, a bird’s song, a slight breeze to cool a brow, a smile, a hug, an encouraging word or compliment, a deep breath, soothing waves on the beach, an unusual seashell, a rainbow and unexpected savings at the retail store. All of these gifts, and so many more, are signs from God that I am still the apple of His eye and He is hiding me under the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8).

Nothing can separate us from the love of God, as He escorts us toward His plans and purpose for each and every day of our lives (Romans 8: 38-39). Still, we often take God’s gifts for granted. How many people do not have the advantages we have because they are poor, blind, deaf or imprisoned? God even gives advantages to the disadvantaged, however.

He shows no partiality and He gives beyond what our mind can conceive to those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry, He sets prisoners free, He gives sight to the blind, He lifts up those who are bowed down, He loves the righteous and He watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow (Psalm 146:7-9).

God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8). No sin separates us from Him once it is repented (1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12). No person or event can ever negate His calling on our lives. We walk with Him in the unity of His Holy Spirit, and we live our lives in service to His will (Ephesians 4:3). Even in negative circumstances, He calls us to trust in His goodness and to confidently receive His provision for all of our needs (Romans 11:22; Philippians 4:19).

God raised us with Christ and calls us to take our eyes off earthly issues and to set our affections only on matters affecting His eternal purpose (Colossians 3:1-2). He instructs us to keep our focus on Christ, who is seated at the right hand of our Heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:2). In Jesus, we have died, and our life is now united with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3,Galatians 2:20). When Christ, who is our life, appears in clouds of glory, then we also will have the privilege of appearing with Him and worshiping Him throughout eternity (Revelation 1:7; Colossians 3:4).

Even before the foundation of the world, God had everything in His control (Ephesians 1:4). Nothing takes Him by surprise. Therefore we do not need to worry about anything (1 Peter 5:7). Daily, He showers us all with an abundant supply of everything we need as He unfolds our life to us one moment at a time (Philippians 4:19). God carefully orchestrates every issue in our life for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). Take a deep breath of God’s peace; relax the tension in your shoulders; look up into God’s face and smile; then breathe out all of the toxic, negative emotions pent up in your heart, and put your trust in His faithfulness (Psalm 36:5).

Lord Jesus, help us to live our life for You, regardless of our sorrows and disappointments. Hide us under the shadow of Your wings, and nurture our soul as You strengthen our spirit. Give us Your peace, wisdom and joy to face each new day. Help us to finish our race victoriously, as You did Yours.

Thought for the Day:
Our day flourishes when we seek the face of God before we ever see a human face – even our own face in the mirror!

Thank you, Jessica Greek, for the use of your photo.