Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Abiding Peace

Read: Hebrews 4: 1-11
“A relaxed attitude lengthens life.” - Proverbs 14:30a (TLB)

As a young adult, my daily focus centered on the events of my day. I worried about what others thought of me and about how well I performed. Anxiety and anger broiled within me, and I often over-reacted to perceived slights and a lack of recognition. I breathed with shallow breaths and had a very intense personality.

Over the years, I learned to relax, to breathe deeply, to notice God's blessings throughout the day and to look to Him for my affirmation. I walk in peace now, by focusing on the way God meets all of my needs. He not only saved me from eternal damnation, He also puts joy in my heart regardless of life’s circumstances, keeps me from falling into temptation, gives me air to breathe, nature to enjoy and my daily bread.

I feel so much joy and abiding peace now, found only from focusing on God (Isaiah 26:3). As I serve my family and work in my church and community, God provides for me and dwells in me, keeping me serene and sheltered under the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91:4). Peace comes only when we abide in Christ.

Lord, help me to hold fast to Your promises and to maintain a positive attitude throughout my day. I want to be glad and rejoice in You forevermore. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
Relax in the Spirit and enjoy the crisis. – James 1:2

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



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Planning Our Goals

Read: Proverbs 3:5-6

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever done something that you did not want anyone to know about? Did you go to great lengths to hide your actions, even from the Lord? Did you wait until darkness, so no one would see you (Isaiah 29:15)? Sometimes we even plan our deeds before we fall asleep and then boldly get up the next day and carry them out (Micah 2:1). The Lord is very clear that He will not help His obstinate children who carry out activities that He does not initiate, or those who make alliances against His will, or those who heap sin upon sin and who do not follow the leading of His Spirit (Isaiah 30:1).

We often take God’s protection and provision for granted. We do not even acknowledge Him until we need something. Then, when we do pray, we give God a litany of our gripes and ask Him for things we covet. We forget to praise Him for what He already gave us. We neglect giving Him glory for the wonderful blessing He gives us each and every day. We never notice the flowers, the snowflake, the spider web, the formations in the clouds, the flu bug that never developed, the food on our table, the gas for our car, the home appliances that never break down. Yet, we are quick to blame Him when something does go wrong. When He uses the trials in our life to mold us into Christ’s image, we do not fail to indict Him for what we believe is His failure to keep up His part of this bargain we made with Him.

How silly we are for arranging what we will do today or tomorrow, because we do not even know what will happen at that time. What is our life, but a vapor? We live for a little while and then we vanish. We boast and brag about what we do for the Lord, but if it is not His will for us, then all of our boasting is evil. God wants us to adopt the attitude, “If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do His will" (James 4:13-16). Sadly, many are commended for their faith in God and their marvelous works in His name, but they will not receive God’s promise for them. This is because God had something better planned for them, to bring them and the Body of Christ to perfection, and they are ignoring His desires for their life (Hebrews 11:39-40). They are building up their own kingdom on the earth instead of God’s Kingdom.

God has a predestined plan for each of our lives. He works out everything according to the purposes of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is our God. We live to exalt and praise His name. He is perfectly faithful to us in every area of our life, doing marvelous things for us that He planned before the beginning of time (Isaiah 25:1; Jeremiah 29:11). He is so powerful that He foils the campaign of entire nations and He thwarts the plans of governments and people who desire to do things that are contrary to His plans (Psalm 33:10). Only the Lord’s plans prevail (Proverbs 16:9, 19:21). 

Believers have a supernatural reservoir in our life that most people never tap into. We are wasting their time and our lives by scheduling our own activities without praying about it first, because the Lord wants to determine our steps. In order to receive God’s blessings, all we need to do is to commit to do the Lord’s will, and our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). Then, there is no need to worry about anything, even what we will eat and drink and what we will wear. God knows exactly what we need and He provides for His faithful saints. All He asks is that we seek first His kingdom and live righteously, and He will supply everything we need. We do not have to worry about tomorrow, for He will provide (Matthew 6:31-35). As we walk by the Spirit, all things will work out for our good (Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:28).

Lord Jesus, as we align our life with God’s Word (James 1:22) and Will, lead us by Your Spirit. You are the living Word, and You are God and You are with God (John 1:1). Thank You for honoring our obedience to You (James 1:22; Matthew 7:24-27). Make us Your true disciples, who obey You unwaveringly (John 8:31; 1 John 2:3). We may slip up and give in to temptation from our flesh, the devil or the world; but convict us to quickly repent and restore our faithful relationship with You. As we walk in Your will, we trust You with all of our heart to provide for our needs and to protect us in every storm and trial we ever encounter in life.

Thought for the Day:
We often labor in vain, because we do not allow the Lord to build our lives according to His plans. - Psalm 127:1


Monday, October 29, 2012

Covenant Maker

Read: Matthew 7:22-23

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant.” - 2 Corinthians 3:6

In the Old Testament, God made covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and other patriarchs (Genesis 9:11; Genesis 15; Exodus 19; 2 Samuel 7). In each instance, there were either conditional or unconditional parameters to the covenants. In the New Testament, God made the most important covenant of all by sending His Son to bring us redemption from our sins (Matthew 26:28). This covenant is unconditional and binding. We do nothing to earn it and it will last throughout eternity.

I heard a man say, “I pray to God all the time while I am out in nature. I do not need a church to say my prayers.” Of course, this is true. We do not need a building, or a corporate worship service to worship God. However, Paul encourages us not to neglect meeting together, as some people do. He tells us to gather and encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).

Some people think that believing in God is all they need to guarantee them a place in heaven (John 6:40). Even demons believe in Jesus. They actually tremble because they understand and respect His power and authority (James 2:19). So, belief in God is not enough. Salvation is a covenant between God and man. Saving faith is much more than acknowledging God’s existence. Faith without works is dead. We do not need works for salvation, but we prove our salvation by our works (James 2:18, 20, 26).

Most people who claim to have a saving knowledge of Christ have no personal relationship with Him at all. They are just like the foolish virgins who missed the wedding feast (Matthew 7:22-23). God does not know them, and they have a false hope of going to Heaven. They do not have the Spirit of God or the oil of salvation within them. They have a body and soul – a mind, will and emotions; however, their spirit is still dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1,5).

Jesus purchased us by His blood sacrifice on the cross (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20). He identified us as His own, and He gives us His Spirit as an earnest of our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 4:30). Then He makes all things new within us (2 Corinthians 5:17). He replaces our stony heart with one made of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26-27). He writes His laws upon our heart (Hebrews 8:10), and He teaches us what He expects from us. God gives us eternal life, so we will never perish (John 10:28). His Spirit leads and guides us as we listen to His voice (Romans 8:14).

Christ in us keeps us faithful and blameless (1 Corinthians 1:8). We can never walk away from or lose our salvation once we have that personal relationship with Christ. We are like the five wise virgins who entered the wedding feast fully prepared with the oil of salvation (Matthew 7:22-23). God forgives our wickedness and remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12). Our spirit is no longer dead in sin, but Born Again (John 3:7). Jesus entered the heavenly tabernacle by His own blood, cleansed our conscience and made us holy, so that we can serve the living God (Hebrews 9:12,14; 10:10).  Now, we minister to others the truth about God’s new covenant with us and His life and Spirit within us.

Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross to free us from the consequences of our sinful behavior. Thank You for Your covenant, which renews a right spirit within us and gives us everlasting life. Create in us a clean heart and help us to walk by the direction of Your Spirit each and every day. Also help us to lead others to saving faith in You.

Thought for the Day:
Our covenant with God is protective, not restrictive. 

Thank you, DGE Photography, for the use of your photo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Achieving Perfection

Read: 1 John 3:6-8

“Just as we once yielded our body to the slavery of immorality and wickedness, we now yield our body to the slavery of righteous living and holiness.” - Romans 6:19, 22

If we do not have a personal relationship with Christ, we will sin and the road to perfection is impossible to traverse. If we practice sexual immorality, drunkenness, idolatry, hatred, animosity, jealousy and envy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, quarrelsomeness, debauchery, etc. we cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Galatians 5:20-21). Conversely, when we invite Christ to forgive our sins, the Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life into our spirit and we are Born Again.  At that very same moment, the Kingdom of God actually comes to dwell within us (1 John 1:9; Luke 17:20-21).

Jesus gives us His righteousness in exchange for our sins. As we seek first His Kingdom and holiness, He will add to our life everything else we need (Matthew 6:33). We abide in Christ as a branch is connected to the vine. He is our life source and we need no other. God consecrates us until He is revealed in us. We come to hate sin as much as He does, because He destroys the works of the devil in us (1 John 3:6; 3:8). Whoever is born of God does not live in habitual sin, because God will, with Satan’s temptation, give us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Holy Spirit opens our eyes, and turns us from darkness to light, from minions of Satan to servants of the Most High King by the power of God within us.

First, we learn and walk in the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ, such as repentance from dead works and having faith in God. Then we submit to His sanctifying process until we come to the point of perfection (Hebrews 6:1; Hebrews 10:14). God’s grace does not give us a license to sin, but to work out our own salvation with respect and honor towards our Heavenly Father (Philippians 2:12). Thankfully, God is the One who is actually working in us, giving us the desire and the strength to walk in perfection through His mercy (Philippians 2:13). God rewards everyone who diligently seeks Him. He gives us the power to become His sons (John 1:12).

God also gave us the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to help us to walk in perfection, in the unity of the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God as a perfect church (Ephesians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 13:11). As we walk in God’s light, we have fellowship with one another through the blood of Jesus, and He purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7; 1 Peter 1:22). God then calls us to sound a warning to everyone we meet, and to teach them about the wisdom of God; so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1: 27-28). He not only perfects our activities, but also our thoughts (James 4:8). As we allow patience to have its perfect work in us, we are made complete in Christ and have need of nothing (James 1:4).

When we completely surrender to Christ, He becomes our Lord. We relinquish to Him all control, we give Him all of our love, we respond to His discipline and we further His kingdom in the earth. We are set free from the law of sin and death through the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2), and we live a life of purity, even as Jesus is pure (1 John 3:3,9; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Timothy 2:15). As we let the Holy Spirit guide our lives, we will not do what our sinful nature craves. We will walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16). This allows us to live in peace, holiness and perfection and allows us to look forward to the day that we see the Lord face-to-face (Hebrews 12:14).

Through Christ, it is absolutely possible to attain perfection (1 Corinthians 15:57). By His death on Calvary’s cross, Jesus totally cleansed and perfected everyone who accepts His free gift of salvation and who submits to His purifying work. We receive forgiveness for our sins, we are released from sin's slavery. We gain an inheritance with Christ among those who are sanctified and cleansed by faith in Him (Romans 8:15-17; Acts 16:18). God is our Father and He protects us (1 John 5:18). Christ is planted in our heart at salvation (Galatians 4:19). Then, we move closer to perfection each day by the work of the Holy Spirit, until Christ is fully formed and resurrected within us (2 Corinthians 4:14; Colossians 2:11-12; Ephesians 2:5-6; Romans 8:11).

Lord Jesus, You made it possible through our union with You and our fellowship with our Father God, to be sanctified, holy and perfect in every good work. You give us the desire to do Your will and the privilege to sit with You in Heavenly places (Hebrews 13:21). Help us to be Godly examples to those we meet. Move by Your Spirit in their lives, so they too will come to know Your fullness and the peace and joy that comes from serving You with our lives.

Thought for the Day:
Pray for one another’s perfection. - 2 Corinthians 13:9

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. Then, when they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” - 2 Corinthians 1:4

The Bible stories we read as children and hear in sermons from every pulpit in the world are told in order to give us comfort and hope when we experience similar circumstances (Romans 15:4). Even in the valley of the shadow of death, we find comfort through the Lord’s protection and correction (Psalm 23:4). Then, we in turn can comfort others in their time of trouble. Job had three Christian brothers who came to “comfort” him in his affliction; yet, all they did was bring condemnation and more discouragement. We can learn from their example to act in a more sensitive and comforting manner when others need our help (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Psalm 119:50).

Sometimes, the Lord does not give us words of wisdom to share with a hurting friend or relative. This is when we simply offer to pray with them. At times, God wants our brother or sister to turn to Him in their crisis, rather than to us. This way He can comfort them personally. This will improve their relationship with God and also teach them to rely more on Him to meet all of their needs. The best help we can ever offer anyone is a personal relationship in Jesus Christ. They will appreciate our comfort, but their life will change for the better if we tell them about how much God really cares about them, enough to die on a cross in order to save them from eternal damnation (John 3: 16-18).

A few times in the Gospel accounts, we initially find Jesus exhibiting what we might term harsh or calloused behavior when people needed His help. But, as we read on, we see that God created these circumstances to show His glory. For instance, when Lazarus died, Martha condemned Jesus’ behavior and seeming lack of interest in His good friends’ plight (John 11:32). We all know that Jesus tarried in coming to see them, in order to set the stage for a monumental miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:5). The Holy Spirit will also lead us to do the Lord’s work in His way and timing in order to bring comfort to others as He comforts us.

We bless You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Through the sufferings of Your Son, You comfort us in all of our afflictions. Then we are able to comfort others who are also afflicted, through the comfort with which You comfort us. Our hope in You is steadfast, knowing that, since we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, we also share in Your comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

Thought for the Day:
“Rejoice. Be perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” - 2 Corinthians 13:11

Thank you, Sarah Patterson, for the use of your photo.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Problem Solver

Read: Hebrews 12:2-3

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." – Luke 21:28

Roman soldiers were allowed to conscript Jewish people to walk a mile with them in order to carry their burdens. Jesus told the Christian Jews to walk two miles with them instead, in order to exhibit a living testimony of God’s love (Matthew 5:41). God put us in His family, so we always have someone to go the extra mile with us. We can also help one another when anxious thoughts burden our hearts, because a kind word always cheers us up (Proverbs 12:25).

Jesus is our ultimate burden bearer. He refreshes the weary and satisfies the despairing soul (Jeremiah 31:25). He wants us to cast all of our cares upon Him, because He always cares for us (Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7). As sinners we are burdened with a load of guilt that is impossible to bear alone (Psalm 38:4). Jesus tells us to lay our burdens down and to take up His yoke instead, because it is easy and light (Mathew 11:30).

When we come to Christ, it is easy for us to trust Him for our eternal destiny. However, trusting Him in the daily drudgery of life is a bit harder. We believe God is able, but we struggle with believing that He wants to meet our earthly needs (Mark 9:24). This concern causes anxiety and worry to form in our soul, which affects our spirit and body as well. When we place our cares in the heart of God, we trust Him to work out all the details for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). God’s answer is not always what we really wanted, but He continually works out everything even better than we planned.

Paul instructs us to thank God in faith for the answer to our prayer, rather than to pray with apprehension from a place of discouragement (Philippians 4:6). As we view our earthly needs through the lense of eternity, we find that fewer issues really bother us anymore. We discover an excitement and expectancy in each new morning, wondering what God has planned for us. We no long attempt to control life, because we know that the Lord cares about every aspect of our life. Jesus told us not to even worry about what we will eat or wear, but to seek Him and His Kingdom instead. When we do, it opens the door for Him to shower us with blessings (Matthew 6:25,34).

In these troubled end times, I always thank God that He gave us another normal day to experience life. Someday, maybe soon, we will wake up to a collapsed economy, chaos in the streets, governmental indecision and general insecurity in every facet of life. But when this happens, we can look up, because Jesus promises that our redemption is very near (Luke 21:28). The Lord will soon come for His bride, who has chosen to live a holy life (Ephesians 5:17). There is no place in heaven for sinners, so repent today and chose to live your life in service to our King.

Lord Jesus, remind us to keep our faith in Your faithfulness during times of deprivation and trouble. When life bears down on us, stresses us out and buries us with concerns, help us to change our focus from looking at our problems, to seeking the Problem Solver. This change in focus allows us to breathe deeply in the midst of turmoil and to smile with confidence in You, our living Lord. In this way, we enter Your rest (Hebrews 4:11), and are able to hear the Spirit’s direction moment by moment throughout our life (Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:14).

Thought for the Day:
God’s perfect love chases all our fears out of our heart and fills every nook and cranny with faith in His faithfulness (1 John 4:18).






Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life Changing Experience

Read: Proverbs 3:5-6

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

The gospel in a nutshell contains only a few words, but they are powerful and life changing. Through them, we see our sin, repent and surrender our life to Christ. We simply ask in faith for Jesus to justify us as our Savior. It is so effortless; yet, so profound. This uncomplicated act opens the door for God’s welcoming grace to flood our soul, and to begin the sanctifying process of holiness.

There is no penance to perform, no searching journey to take around the world and no monumental feat to accomplish. Salvation is not accomplished by works, which we can do, it is a free gift for us from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we ask Him to save us, Jesus instantaneously breathes His Spirit into our dead spirit (John 3:6) and we are "born again" (John 3:7). He makes us a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Old things pass away and everything about us gradually is made new. Then He calls us to diligently seek Him with all of our heart, so He can teach us all things (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

So often, we mistakenly think that once our salvation is secure, we must start to impress God with our goodness. We work to deserve His love. We take copious notes on Biblical imperatives and we use them to create a set of rules to live by. Paul watched the Galatians do this very same thing, and he called them foolish (Galatians 3:1-3). All God wants is our praise. We trust Him with our life and we do not rely on our own devices (Proverbs 3:5-6). As we abide in His presence, and as we allow His Holy Spirit to direct our steps, we will bear much fruit and further God’s Kingdom in the earth (John 15:5).

Paul exhorted his spiritual son Timothy to trust in the grace of Christ (2 Timothy 2:1). Grace saves us and keeps us in its grasp (Colossians 2:6) as the Holy Spirit equips us with everything we need to live godly in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12). Grace is unmerited favor from God that makes us victorious over every temptation and strengthens us through every trial. With this grace operating in our life, we learn contentment sitting at Jesus’ feet (Philippians 4:12).


Lord Jesus, help us to live in Your grace with a life of wisdom, honor, holiness and victory. Our soul hungers and thirsts for more of You (Psalm 42:2, 63:1, 84:2, 143:6). Keep us ever faithful to You, and remind us to show our gratitude for everything You do in us, through us and for us. You are gracious to us, Lord God Almighty, and we are eternally grateful.

Thought for the Day:
We did not earn our salvation, and we do not need to earn God’s love.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Comfortable in My Own Skin

Read: Matt 6:25-34

"So don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”- Matthew 6:27 

In my first few years as a Christian, worry was my constant companion. Bad things happen to good people, including myself, much too often.

I do not enjoy suffering for any reason and I do not like my friends and family to suffer either. I had a habit of taking shallow breaths, intently concentrating on the issue at hand, praying intensely for the situation and attempting through the sheer power of my self-will to prevent the issues I worried about from ever occurring. Of course, this never did any good!

One day I developed chest congestion for the millionth time, and the Lord pointed out to me that hyperventilating was causing my lungs to fill up with fluid. Worry was choking the life right out of my spirit, soul and body. I had to face the facts. There were more requests than gratitude in my prayers, pleading with God to change the circumstances in my life. I didn’t even like what I looked like, where I lived or the clothes I had to wear. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I worried way too much. 

Then, I read Jesus’ solution to worry in Matthew 6:25-34. He teaches us that worry does not add a single moment to our life or a single inch to our stature. He admonishes us not to worry about our provision for food, housing or clothing. He points out that God effectually cares for the flowers that He created for temporary enjoyment, and He reminds us that we are far more important to Our Heavenly Father than all the lilies in the field and the birds of the air.

In bringing about my healing from worry, God went one step further. He also gave me my firstborn son, and the delights of motherhood gave me a vision and a purpose for my life. God also taught me to paint. He even allowed some of my paintings to sell. He built up my self-worth and showed me how much fun it is to be creative. God taught me to trust in Him, to obey Him and to do good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). He also promised me that I would dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8, 16:9; Proverbs 1:23).

God told me to be still and to trust that He is God (Psalm 46:10), to wait patiently for Him and not to fret, even when evil men carried out their wicked schemes against me and those I love (Psalm 37:7). He encouraged me to delight myself in Him and He would put His desires in my heart. He called me to commit my way to Him and to trust Him. Then, He would make my righteous deeds and the people I care about shine as a light to illuminate the way for others (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Our Heavenly Father already knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He promises that if we look after His business, then He will provide everything we need according to His glorious riches (Matthew 6:33). God gives us strength to walk through trials and He always works them out for our good (Romans 8:28). He protects us from our enemies (Psalm 138:7; Zechariah 9:15). He encourages us to give all our worries and cares to Him, because He really does completely care for us (1 Peter 5:7). Nothing can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). With Christ dwelling in us we can be comfortable in our own skin (Colossians 1:27)!

Lord, thank You for helping me to stop fretting about life and to start casting my cares on You. You care for me now and always. I believe, dear Lord, but please, help my unbelief when my faith waivers. When the way looks dark, shine Your light on my path. When the storm clouds gather, continue to provide me with a safe haven. Help me to trust in You and to let my light to shine so that everyone will see my life and glorify You (Matthew 5:16).

Thought For the Day:
God loves us so much that He stretched out His arms and died for us, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Thank you, Susan Holsinger, for the use of your photo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Forgiveness, the Two-edged Sword

Read: Matthew 6: 14-15 

“Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” – Luke 17:4

People use all sorts of crutches to endure their times of loneliness and despair, which they feel deep within their soul. They use alcohol, drugs, relationships, shopping, food, money, gambling, codependency, internet, breaking the law, pornography, video games, etc. to mask their pain. They live in denial and make excuses for their behavior. The pain of past encounters usually drives people to make poor choices. They use these alternatives to mask their pain and to deal with life.

These crutches lead to erratic behavior, impaired thinking and judgment, slower reaction times, loss of control, moodiness, slurred speech, double vision, impaired memory, depression, infertility, premature babies, birth defects, increased heart rate, potential cardiac problems, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, asthma, defective immune system, reduced resistance levels to disease and illness and a host of other maladies. They are not a very good way to cope with life’s issues.

There is only one way to fill the void in your soul, and that is to surrender your life to Jesus Christ. He calls us to be converted and to repent of our sins, so that our sins may be blotted out of His record book forever (Acts 3:19). If we confess our sins, He is faithful and honorable and He forgives them. He not only forgives them, but He also cleanses us from the penalty of all our unrighteous deeds ( 1 John 1:9). Our sins are like scarlet, but He washes them white as snow with his own blood (Matthew 26:28). Though they are red like crimson, He makes them white as lamb's wool (Isaiah 1:18). Then He brings us times of refreshing as we bask in His presence (Acts 3:19). 

Once we are in Christ, we are a new creation; old things have passed away and all things are becoming new through the process of sanctification (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Him, we have redemption through His blood and forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). Though we have lived in rebellion against Him, He grants us mercy and forgiveness (Daniel 9:9). He has removed our transgressions so completely that, He casts them away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He also casts all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). He promises not to remember our sins and lawless deeds ever again (Hebrews 10:17; Isaiah 43:25).

Forgiveness is actually a two-edged sword. If you do not forgive others their trespasses against you, then neither can your Heavenly Father forgive your trespasses against Him and other people (Matthew 6:14-15). For some reason forgiveness is foreign to many people. We punish ourselves inordinately and we punish others by holding them accountable for their actions toward us. As soon as you come to Christ in repentance, He forgives all of your sins. Then you are free to forgive others their trespasses against you. Actually, because we freely received God’s Love, we can freely forgive our self and others by realizing that we are all mere mortals striving to do our best.

So, when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you (Mark 11:25). We have redemption and forgiveness of all our sins through His blood, now and for all time (Colossians 1:13-14). Forgiveness gives us freedom from the bondage of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), which will defile our whole body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5: 23). Forgiveness actually turns those who offended us over to God to deal with and to extract revenge in His timing and in His way (Romans 12:19). We also often fail to accept His forgiveness of our sins as a free gift (Romans 6:23). We attempt to earn it by our works, or we refuse to appropriate it to our lives by forgiving our self and those who mistreat us.
Lord Jesus, when I fail to forgive my self and others, please remind me that You died to insure our forgiveness. I often find myself attributing mortal characteristics to You, forgetting You are an immortal God. Father God, Satan wants me to fear that You will tire of my failings and eventually reject me totally. I know that the good news is that we may make mistakes, but Your love is not contingent upon our works. You call us to aspire to perfection, but You know that without You we can do nothing (John 15:5). You created us as human beings and You know our character will grow with each trial through which we persevere.

Thought for the Day:
Jesus endured the cross to ensure that we will join Him in eternity.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Public Enemy #1

Read: 1 Peter 5:8-9

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." – Ephesians 6:11

Today, so few people realize that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). This occurred when Adam and Eve surrendered their dominion over the earth to Satan (John 12:31, 14:31, 16:11; 1 John 5:19). He rules the world through deception and temptation (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 12:9). 

He transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is the lawless one and the man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; 8-10); a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), the son of perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4); a fallen angel (Revelation 9:1); the serpent of old (Revelation 12:9); the tempter (Matthew 4:3); the wicked one (Ephesians 6:16); the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

Satan is well versed in the art of deception. He magnifies minor inconveniences in a marriage until they grow to paramount proportions in a couple’s mind, which destroys the home. If that does not work, he sends seductive lovers to lure one of the mates away from the family. He also employs his obliging agitators to disrupt the unity in churches. He distracts Christians from God’s purpose for their day with disruptions and roadblocks. He lures unsuspecting victims into reckless behavior and immerses them in addictive vices, which ravage their life. 

As their future lies in ruin at his feet, he observes their demise with glee and celebrates.

We do not have to succumb to Satan’s trickery, however. Christ lives in every Believer and He is more powerful than Satan (1 John 4:4). Jesus defeated Satan by his crucifixion and resurrection (Genesis 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15: 57; Revelation 12:11). If we live by the Spirit of God, and keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), we will not be so easily swayed by Satan’s wiles. 

God calls us to grow into maturity in the faith and to have discernment, so we are not blown here and there by every charlatan’s wind of teaching that sounds good to our carnal ears (Ephesians 4:14). He also exhorts us to be self-controlled and alert, to be aware that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

We can resist Satan by standing firm in the faith and realizing that Christians all over the world are undergoing the same kind of temptations (1 Peter 5:9). James gives us a two-part piece of advice in dealing with Satan: 1. Submit yourselves to God. 2. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7). Paul warns us of the severity of the spiritual battle we face each day; but he gives us directions for how to prepare for the encounter.

First, he encourages us to be strong in the Lord and mighty in His power. He reminds us that we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers, mighty powers and evil spirits and authorities of the unseen spirit world. Then he instructs to put on every piece of God’s armor to be able to resist the enemy’s evil suggestions to us, and to stand firm in the battle against all the strategies of the devil (Ephesians 6:14-17).

The first piece of armor is to accept Jesus as our Savior. He is the Truth, and he is the belt that holds our lives together. Then, we put on the breastplate of holy living, which protects all the vital aspects of our life. We walk in peace, which comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This fully prepares us for the fight. In addition to all of these, we hold up the shield of faith in Christ to stop the fiery arrows of deception and temptation, which Satan shoots at us throughout the day. 

We put on the mind of Christ as our helmet. Finally, we take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; and we quote scripture to Satan when he tries to deceive us, just like Jesus did on the pinnacle of His temptation by the father of lies (John 8:44; Matthew 4:8-9).

O Lord Jesus, our spirit aches to see the day of Your return. We groan daily with the burdens of society and the depravity of our modern culture. We ask you to draw hearts to You and to give us opportunities to share the Good News with everyone we meet. Move by Your Spirit upon the earth and help us to make a difference in the world in which we life.

Thought for the Day:
The night of a godless society is nearly over; the day of Christ’s return is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. - Romans 13:12

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Drawing Near to God

Read: Hebrews 10:19-22

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because in order to draw near to Him, we must believe that He exists and that He rewards all those who diligently seek Him.” - Hebrews 11:6

In the Old Testament covenant, the Jews could never enter the Holy of Holies. Even the priests could not enter. Coming close to God was a privilege only available to the High Priest, and he could do this just once a year on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2). The New Testament tells us that Christ’s death on the cross opened the way for us to draw near to the throne of God with confidence any time we want to do so (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19; Ephesians 3:12). We have this new and living way to approach God with a true heart full of assurance and faith. Drawing near to God is an act of humbling your heart and submitting your will to His.

When we diligently seek God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). As we come to Him, God sprinkles our heart with the atoning blood of Calvary’s cross (Mark 15:38). We are washed by the pure, living water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:19-22). Drawing near to God is a spiritual process rather than a physical one. We can draw near to God by going to church or to a solitary peaceful place; but it can also be done in the midst of a busy subway, a traffic jam, a hospital bed, a board meeting or a desk filled with a ringing phone and work piled to the ceiling. Make it your top priority of each day to draw near to God before you do anything else.

There is a small gate and narrow road, which leads to the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6); and only a few actually humble themselves, do the will of God with their life and find it (Matthew 7:13-14, 10:38; John 6:40). The wide gate and broad road only lead to destruction. Unfortunately, many try to enter Heaven through this broad way. They believe that all religions and lifestyles lead to eternal bliss. However, the Bible is clear that only those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). God only opens the Kingdom of Heaven to true Believers in Jesus Christ who draw near to Him.

Not everyone who claims the name of Lord or who does miraculous works will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Satan actually uses some of these good people to draw others into his kingdom. Being good and doing religious works does not guarantee us a place in Heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9). These people are actually not relying on the power of God in their lives, but on their own self-efforts instead. In fact, Jesus told us a parable that proves that some of those who name the name of Christ here on earth have no idea who He really is. They do not know him personally and He will not welcome them into Heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).

Turning away from a life of sinful pursuits and turning toward a life of holiness in Christ  (James 2:17) brings us more than Salvation and a guaranteed place in Heaven. It gives us the right to draw near to God with confidence at any time of the day or night. In His presence, we find mercy and grace to help us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). God is approachable and available to us. By His abiding power and wisdom within us, He helps us to stand against the devil and to resist his deception (James 4:7). He uses our circumstances to cause us to run to Him in our distress, so He can transform us into Christ’s image. Jesus lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God, and He is able to save us forever (Hebrews 7:25).

Lord Jesus, I pray for those who prefer to travel the broad road of life. They are traveling in a throng into the eternal fires of hell. I pray that You will catch them away from this everlasting darkness and bring them into Your eternal Light. Help everyone who hears Your Word to respond to it and to humble themselves and take advantage of your generous provision of mercy and grace as we draw near to You.

Thought for the Day:
A revelation of the majesty and holiness of God is a basic necessity for appreciating the love of God.

Many thanks to Heather Johnson for the use of her photo.