Thursday, January 31, 2013

God Has No Grandchildren

 

Read: Matthew 24:4-12

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” - Jude 1:24

The truth of the fact that God has no grandchildren is found in Biblical, as well as current life scenarios. No one can inherit their faith from their parents or grandparents. They must answer God’s call on their own. Two people can believe in the one true God and live to worship Him in spirit and in truth as they teach His principles and precepts to their family; yet, one or more of their children may fail to live in the Truth (Joel 1:3). This happened to King David. His own son even plotted to kill him so he could take over his kingdom.

In Old Testament times, whole nations forgot that God raised them up to fulfill a specific purpose, even when God’s prophets tried to remind them (Judges 2:10). In the New Testament, Jesus explained that false teachers were already in the world and were expected to continue to come into the world throughout the Church Age (Luke 17:1). The Spirit clearly claimed that in the end times some would even abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and lies taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1). We see this happening rampantly in our world today. In modern society, we cannot find even one Godly nation left in the entire world.

In our present day, it is even rare to find a church with more than a remote comprehension of who Jesus is. They worship with sad faces and fail to preach God’s Word. They spend more time as social volunteers than as God’s Army. There are very few people who call themselves Christians who actually follow Christ’s teachings or have a personal relationship with Him. It takes humility and courage to call upon Him; but once we do, He lives in us through every step of our future. It is our privilege and calling to share with others what we have in Christ. God calls us to give everyone we know the opportunity to reject or to receive God’s gift of Eternal Life (Hebrews 10:24; Ezekiel 3:18).

The love of God provided Paradise for us to enjoy forever. Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie and aspired to be as wise as God. Their sin brought condemnation on the whole world. Sin also brought sickness, pain, suffering and death. However, God sent His Son to redeem everyone who is willing to believe in Him (John 3:16-18). Jesus freely gave His life to ransom all of mankind from eternal damnation (Mark 10:45). He rose again and proved that, because of the power of Christ within us, any tragedy which befalls us will exalt us in due time (Romans 8:35-39).

If we trust in Him alone, He purifies us and gives us the privilege of living as His children now and in eternity (1 John 3:2-3). Living in a personal relationship with God, we no longer need to understand everything that occurs. We live in faith that God is trustworthy, because He proves Himself to us over and over again. As we walk by the Spirit and crucify the deeds of the flesh, God provides us with a life that flourishes with His constant blessings (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:14). He will also restore everlasting love to the world during His eternal reign over His Kingdom. His forgiveness is only a prayer away.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, may we never forget the sacrifice You made on Calvary’s cross to pay our sin debt and to provide us with everlasting life. Give us the desire to share the Gospel with everyone we meet. Help us to let everyone know what a mighty God we serve and to give a reasoned response for our faith (1 Pete 3:15). Make us salt and light in this world that is dying in decay and darkness (Matthew 5:13-16).

Thought for the Day:
"Many people today do want to serve God, but only as His advisors."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mistaken Identity



I spent the first third of my life searching for my identity as I grew from an infant to a woman. After high school, I married and had three children, each eighteen months apart. I supported my husband as Sarah served Abraham (1 Peter 3:6), centering my focus on him and his needs. In the churches he pastored, I taught in the children’s ministries, and discipled and mentored the women. I busily served God vicariously through my ministry to my family and our church.

Although years earlier I came to understand my need for a relationship with the true and living God through Jesus Christ, presently my obsessive busyness pervaded every moment of my life. I knew God; yet, I did not know how to be one with Him. I loved Him, claimed His promises for my life and spent my days trying very desperately to please Him. I knew my eternal Salvation was guaranteed by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. However, I was so active for God that these distractions prevented a qualitative relationship with Him.

I stayed at home with my children in their toddler years, then home schooled them through part of their elementary years, and center my life around my husband’s and children’s needs, activities and interests during their high school years. I went to every ball game, band concert, art exhibit, school function, church program and Taekwondo event they participated in. I taught them to cook, keep up their own laundry, clean a home and balance their checkbook. Then, they launched out into college, one right after the other.

One day, I came to the sudden realization that they did not need me any longer. They had lives of their own. The empty nest took me by complete surprise. My identity disintegrated. My husband resented me for clinging to him to fulfill my ravenous need for attention. I was alone for much of the time. I had no idea what to do with myself! I still read my Bible, went to the church and worked in my job; but I was not used to receiving so little attention on a daily basis. I suffered with depression and melancholia. The empty house and the barren loneliness haunted me.

One day during my quiet time, I thought about the disciples in the upper room. They waited for days for the Holy Spirit of God to come to them, as Jesus promised (Acts 2:1-6; Luke 24:49). During this time in my life, I decided to wait quietly on the Lord too. This became my own personal Pentecost: a time where day after day I stayed in my prayer closet, until the Lord revealed Himself to me more intimately than ever before. I totally surrendered my will and my life to Him. I truly felt like we were one, just as He and God were one (John 17:21).

As I continued to sit quietly at Jesus’ feet over the successive days, weeks and months (Luke 10:42), God required that I completely empty myself of all of my negative thoughts and feelings. He taught me how to stay connected to His Holy Spirit throughout the day (Galatians 5:16, 25; Ezekiel 36:27; Romans 8:1, 4). The hollow place within me eventually filled with His peace and joy that transcended all of the circumstances in my life (Philippians 4:6-7).

I realized from that moment on, that out of this relationship flows our ministry to our family, our church, our workplace and our community. God’s Spirit within us allows us to ride serenely in the wake of every storm in our life. We are never alone or lonely, because He lives within us, fills us, fulfills us and makes us complete in Him (Hebrews 13:5; Colossians 1:27, 2:10; Romans 15:13). His love pours over us like a waterfall, if we will quiet our soul – our mind, will and emotions – long enough to experience it (Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 58:11).

Soon after this time of sitting still before the Lord, I went to work at a fast food restaurant. Thankfully, my boss identified with my place in life. She pointed out to me that I was a person too. She reminded me that I could minister to my own needs, just like I ministered to the needs in others. It was not necessary for me to codependently wait on my children, a husband or a best friend to make me happy or fulfilled. We are sufficient with Christ within us to live as a whole, completed person (Colossians 2:10).

At this same time, my husband went through a dark night in his own soul. He decided there was no option for us but divorce. God had a purpose even in this, however. Since I had that deep, abiding relationship with Christ now, and I learned how to meet my own needs, I was not overwhelmed by his defection. I was one with Christ and I lived with the assurance that God loved me unconditionally (John 15:4; Romans 5:8).

God had a plan for my life that did not include my former husband or my children. They had their own lives now, and God had a fulfilling life in store for me as well. Over the next eighteen months, I put into practice everything I learned at Jesus’ feet. I followed His Spirit’s leading for each new day’s adventure and I looked forward to Him writing the new chapters of my life.

One night, the Spirit led me to help a girlfriend with her project at Books-a-Million bookstore. There I met a Pastor whose wife was divorcing him. We had a great deal in common and hung out together or talked on the phone every day after that. He had young children, and I helped him to do their laundry and to fix wholesome meals for them. We soon realized that God wanted more for us than friendship. God took the ashes of our individual lives and forged from them a union of beauty and a harmonious pastoral ministry to His people.

Now, even when my husband’s schedule keeps us separated for much of the time, when I do not hear from my children for months on end and my friends are busy with other pursuits, I still have the abiding presence of the Lord filling my days and nights. My unity with the Lord is the foundation for my life. This brings fulfillment to me that no earthly relationship provides.

Even when I am alone, I am never lonely. God’s unconditional love transcends any lapse in the circumstances of my life. God is truly all we need. As we abide in Him, we have His love that surpasses anything available to us on this human plane. Each and every day, He fills us through all of our being with all of His fullness and gives us the richest measure of His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Prayer:
May our God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him alone, expecting nothing in return; so that you may overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

Thought for the Day:
We are complete in Christ, lacking nothing (Colossians 2:10; Psalm 23:1; James 1:4).

 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

God Never Condemns



When Adam and Eve sinned, they lost everything God created for our enjoyment in Paradise. At that time, the spirit of man died. Human beings are all born with a living body and a living soul - our mind, will and emotions; but our spirit is dead in Adam’s sin (Ephesians 2: 1). When we accept Christ as our Savior, He not only rebirths our spirit through salvation, but He renews our soul through a lifetime of sanctification. Since our thoughts and actions grow more positive, our body is healthier as well.

The influence of sin in the world from the time of Adam and Eve causes all of the sickness and trials we have now, but God uses them for our good and for His higher purpose (Romans 8:28; Isaiah 57:1). God never sends judgment without first sending a warning. He warned the people in the Old Testament through the prophets, but few people heeded their admonition. God even took the form of a human being and came to earth as Jesus Christ to warn the people of coming judgment, and His contemporaries crucified Him. Those in the early church heard about judgment through the Apostles. Today, we have the Word of God as our warning.

Since the book of Revelation was written and circulated, we have had a clear harbinger of things to come. Most people have a Bible in their home, but very few ever read it or take it seriously. This is Satan's doing. He appeals to mankind's intellect and convinces them that the Bible is nothing more than fairy tales, that Jesus’ divinity is improvable and that God does not exist – all lies. Biblical prophecy is the major proof that the Bible is true. Every prophecy is either already literally fulfilled, being literally fulfilled today or soon to be literally fulfilled through end time events.

Jesus will soon rapture His Church. Receiving our rewards and marrying Jesus, our bridegroom, along with our wedding feast, takes seven years. Those unbelievers left behind on the earth after the rapture will go through horrid torment during this same seven years. That is why we try so hard to talk to people about Christ now in order to give them a chance to hear the truth before the judgment comes. Revelation chapter 6 begins with the seals that represent the beginning of God's judgment of unbelievers on the earth during the Great Tribulation period (Matthew 24:4-31.)

We condemn our self by our unbelief (John 3:18; 1 John 3:20). God condemns no one (John 3:17). God desires that no one will perish, but that all will come to repentance and faith in Him (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus actually came to seek and to save those who are lost in sin (Luke 19:10). If we sin, Jesus is our advocate with our Heavenly Father (1 John 2:1). God calls us to continue living in Christ so that when He appears, we may be confident in our salvation and stand before Him unashamed (1 John 2:28).

Prayer:
Father God, we are so impressed with the length and breadth and width of Your love for Your People (Ephesians 3:18). You made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that You will fulfill in the Millennium. The Bride and Israel will dwell together with You as joint heirs with Jesus of all that You have in store for us. Thank You for the opportunity for us to choose You and to follow You and to live for You now and for eternity.
 
Thought for the Day:
Those who refuse to love God’s Truth and be saved, because they delight in wickedness, will receive powerful delusion during the Great Tribulation; so that they will believe the anti-Christ’s lie and be condemned for eternity with Satan and his demons. - 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strength that Never Fails




Landscapes and Skyscapes
 

God is the stronghold of our life (Psalm 27:1). His strength comes to us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-11). The eyes of the Lord actually search the earth in order to show Himself strong on behalf of those who love Him with a loyal heart (2 Chronicles 16:9). As we surrender our life to Christ, He leads and guides us by His Spirit and gives us the peace and power to do all that He calls us to do (Philippians 2:12-13). God equips us with everything we need and makes our way blameless. He gives us constancy in these unstable times in which we live (Psalm 18:32-33).

God never grows weary and never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). He shares His power with the weak and increases the strength of those who have no capability. He causes us to rise up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:28-31). When we are weak and anxious, there is no need to fear, because God is our strength. He helps us and upholds us in His mighty hand (Isaiah 41:10). He is our salvation and song, our Father, and worthy of our exaltation (Exodus 15:2).

There are Biblical examples of God strengthening His Saints. We can strengthen our self in the Lord, just like David did when the people were bitter in soul and wanted to stone him (1 Samuel 30:6). Peter served God with the strength given to him by the Lord, so that he could speak the oracles of God and glorify Christ (1 Peter 4:11). The Lord strengthened Paul when he was very near death, so Paul could preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (2 Timothy 4:17). When Joshua commanded the officers and the people to prepare for taking possession of the land, which God gave them, he told them to be strong and courageous because God was with them (Joshua 1:9-11).

God is always with us. He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5-6). We have no need to fear or dread tomorrow, because the Lord goes with us to make us strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6). We have peace in the world, regardless of whatever tribulation life sends our way. We can take heart, because Jesus is our great High Priest and He already suffered everything we will ever experience (John 16:33). Even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be there with us, comforting us with His discipline and guidance (Psalm 23:4).

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Even if He allows someone to threaten our life, we can still hope in Him (Job 13:15). His hope does not bring us shame, because His love pours out in our hearts though His Holy Spirit, whom He gave to us (Romans 5:5). God empties us of our self before He can mold us into His Son (Romans 8:29). We must be conscious of our lack of strength and cast our burdens upon Him, before He can fill us with His power and might as we stand against the devil. Then we can accomplish all that He calls us to do (1 Peter 5:6-8).

Prayer:
Lord God, You are always in our midst. You are the Mighty One who saves us. You rejoice over us with gladness and You quiet us with Your love. You exult over us with singing so we do not lose heart (Zephaniah 3:17). Though our body wastes away with age, you renew our inner spirit every day. You give us an eternal inheritance with Jesus. Remind us not to focus on the temporal problems of life, but on the eternal, lasting issues instead (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Thought for the Day:
Seek the Lord and He will fill you with His strength and presence continually. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Conversation Openers



Have you ever wanted to share your faith with someone…anyone…family or stranger, and you could not think of what to say? Evangelists have come up with a few easy questions to get the conversation started.

“Do you attend church anywhere?”
“Have you ever read any of the Bible?”
“What do you believe about Jesus?”
“Do you think there is a heaven and hell?
“If what you believe is wrong, would you want to know the truth?”

You can add any number of generic questions to this list! If the person sincerely answers the question, that gives you an opportunity to share with them what Jesus did in your life. Not a long soliloquy, but a short synopsis made up of about three to five sentences. Write out your testimony in as many words as you would like to use. Then, narrow it down to 3-5 sentences. This gives you a good way to tell others about the changes in your life since coming to Christ.

Open your Bible and let the person you are talking to read these verses. They are called the Romans’ Road to Salvation and are the traditional verses used in witnessing: Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-11. A few other helpful verses are: John 3:3; John 3:16-18; Revelation 3:20.

Then you can ask:
1. Have you ever sinned? (told a lie, coveted something, gotten angry or drunk)
2. Do you want to pay the penalty of those sins or would you like complete forgiveness?
3. Do you believe that God became man in the form of Jesus Christ and died on the cross for you and rose again?
4. Are you willing to surrender your life and will to God in exchange for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
5. Are you ready to invite the Holy Spirit to move into your life?

Some people you are sharing with will come up with excuses such as these:

1. The church is full of hypocrites.
            You are so right. The church is not a showcase for Saints, but a hospital for
           sinners.

2. My parents would disown me.
          Jesus came across this scenario and He said, “If you love your mother or
          father more than you love me, you are not worthy of Me.”

3. I am just not ready.
          Why? (Then listen).
          Well, what if you die today or tomorrow and you are not ready?

4. I already believe in God.
         The Bible says that even demons believe in God and tremble. Salvation
          takes repentance as well as belief. That means to totally turn away from a
          sinful lifestyle and to surrender your life and your will to God. Have you done 
          that?

5. There are too many religions in the world. I don’t know what to believe.
          There are really only two types of religions in the world. Those that believe
          Jesus is God, who came in the flesh to save us from the penalty of our
          sins; and those who do not believe in Jesus. Jesus said that HE is the only
          way, truth and life.

6. There are so many translations of the Bible. I don’t know which one is right.
          There are two types of Bibles: paraphrases and translations. The
          translations are taken from the original Greek and Hebrew of the Bible.
          The Dead Sea Scrolls proved that the translations today are very close to
          the original scriptures.

7. The Bible’s been changed so many times.
          The Bible has never been changed. The translations we use today are
          extremely similar to the original texts. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove this to
          be true. Every archeological discovery ever made proves the truth of the          
         Bible and not one has ever proven otherwise.

8. Will I have to give up my bad habits (stop sinning) if I become a Christian?
         No, God will take them away from you one at a time and give you back so
        much more. Then your life will be so full, you will never miss them.

9. How can I serve a God who sends people to hell.
          God desires that NO ONE goes to hell, but that everyone will repent and
          believe on Jesus Christ as his/her Savior. We condemn our self by our
          unbelief (John 3: 16-18).

10. How can I serve a God who orders His people to kill little babies and women?
          God is a God of mercy, but He is also a God of justice. The people who
          died in the Old Testament refused to believe in Him or to serve Him. This
          is written as a warning to us that if we also refuse to believe, we will spend
          eternity in hell.

11. My friends will unfriend me if I become a Christian.
          You will find truer friends in God’s family than anywhere else on earth. Not
          every one who claims to be Christian will live like Christ. However, those who 
          who do live like Christ will be happy to have you as a friend.
   
Sample Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and turn to You for salvation. I believe that You are God who came in the flesh to save me from my sins. I trust in You and surrender my life and my will to Your control. Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hidden Treasure

Antique : Old antique glass bottles in different colours on a white background.  Stock Photo

I love to have pretty belongings around me, but I like to find them by treasure hunting in a thrift store rather than in the mall. The value of the dollar stretches much further in a flea market than in a chain store. I find greater value, however, in storing up treasures in Heaven rather than here on this earth (Matthew 6:19-21). I treasure God’s presence even more than any presents the world has to offer.

Out of our heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). God instructs us in multiple verses throughout the Bible that the motivation for our thoughts, words and deeds should come from the spiritual, rather than the earthly realm. These verses encourage us to walk in the Spirit and not to fulfill the desires of our flesh (Galatians 5:16). They stress that our thoughts are as important as our actions (Proverbs 16:3).

Even popular motivational authors and speakers encourage us to wisely choose our thoughts and words, because they are very powerful (Proverbs 18:21). We can follow Paul’s advice. He tells us to think only on concepts that are true, honest, righteous, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). If your thoughts do not measure up to this standard, discard them and think positive thoughts instead. The secret to keeping our mind and thoughts in perfect peace is to keep our focus on God (Isaiah 26:3).

God wants us to guard our thoughts, as well as our words and actions (Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 34:13; 1 Corinthians 6:13). When Satan plants temptation in our mind, which He often does, what will we do? Will we act on it and sin, or will we submit to God and resist the devil, so Satan will flee from us (James 4:7)? With Salvation, God encourages us to put on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:15-16). As we live by His Spirit’s direction, He blesses us abundantly with every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

God wants us to learn to forgive the shortcomings in our self and others, as well as to use the gifts, which He gives us. This takes courage. God has a perfect plan for each of us. He opens doors for us that no one can close. As we walk in His will, He blesses us abundantly above all that we can even request or think. As we enjoy the unique calling God gives us, we use our gifts for His glory. We have to ask ourself if we are willing to live as the treasure that God created us to be.

Prayer:
Father God, You want to direct our life by Your Holy Spirit. You want us to allow the Holy Spirit to infuse our thoughts, words and deeds. Help us to live in the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit, as we cherish Your family and share our testimony with the world around us. Fellowship with other Believers is the life-blood of Your Body. Everything else on earth fades when compared to the privilege of living as Your child.

Thought for the Day:
When we allow God’s thoughts to permeate our thoughts, we have mastered life.

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Who's Your Boss?




Read: Joshua 24:14-15

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” - Joshua 24:15

Why are so many people rabidly incensed at even the mention of the name of Jesus, the word "Bible" or any quote from the Holy book? They may be nursing an offense perpetrated by a Christian – either deliberate or unintentional. This often turns people away from God. Also, running from conviction often causes a person to feel malice toward the Almighty. The closer they come to a face-to-face encounter with our Holy God, the louder they protest. The presence of God threatens their immoral behavior and sheds light into their darkness. God’s light causes sinners to resent and despise His presence in the universe.

There is such a violent hatred toward God in our secular society, that He would be crucified again today in the clutches of irate sinners. They did this in Jesus’ day as well. The crowds screamed for Jesus’ blood when Pilate offered them a choice. Christ willingly relinquished His humanity on the cross, but maintained His divine nature throughout His life and into eternity. Satan pierced the body and soul of God with the scourging and crucifixion, but not His Spirit. Jesus lives again and will eventually put Satan and sinners under His feet forever. God will then take every true Believer to live with Him for eternity (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Who is your Boss, Satan or Almighty God? Paul wrote His epistles to give us instruction on how to live the Christian faith. First, he reminds us that we cannot save our self, and he encourages us to put our total faith for salvation in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10). Then he exhorts us to live in unity with each other and to walk in holiness as we serve God unreservedly with undying love (Hebrews 13:1; Ephesians 6:24). Ultimately, Paul urges us to live a life worthy of God’s calling and even to offer our body as a living sacrifice if necessary (Ephesians 4:1; Romans 12:1).

Faced with these inspiring principles to rely on, it is astounding that so many Christians live a mediocre spiritual life. They exist with one foot in the world and one foot in religious activities. They wear their “church clothes” only on Sunday and then they live like the devil the rest of the week. This usually indicates a heart problem. They made a mental decision to follow Christ, but inwardly they are not changed at all. Their spirit is still dead in sin and they never fully trusted in the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ or completely surrendered their will to the will of God. Are you one of these people? If so, get off the fence and choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).

Prayer:

Father God, Elijah challenged the people of his day to stop wavering between two opinions. He stated that if You are God, then they should follow You; if Satan is god, then they should follow him (1 Kings 18:21). The people stood there in mute silence, because they could not make up their mind. Even if every person I know walks in the name of their false gods, I will walk in the name of the Lord my God for ever and ever. Amen (Micah 4:5).

Thought for the Day:
“Love the Lord our God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” - Mark 12:30

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Crippling Doubt


Doubt is such a common travesty among the Saints of God, starting with Adam and Eve. Take Abraham and Sarah for instance. They waited so long for their child, that they doubted God’s promise. They hatched an alternate plan to the Lord’s arrangement and Ishmael came as a result. They eventually had their own child, but their doubt produced a thorn in his side. To this day the Arab nations want to crucify the Jews (Genesis 17:15-21; Genesis 18:10-14).

John the Baptist, imprisoned and lacking in faith, doubted that the man Jesus was actually the Messiah. He sent two of his disciples to question Jesus. The Lord pointed to the miracles He performed and that He preached the gospel to the poor as proof that He was certainly the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-7).

Pilate was torn by doubt. He doubted Jesus’ story; yet, he also doubted the Jews accusations against Jesus. He finally made up his mind, declaring that he found no fault in Jesus. However, he was not a man who lived up to his convictions. He turned Jesus over to the Jews, so they could crucify Him (John 19:1-7).

Everyone knows about doubting Thomas. He was gone when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. When Thomas heard the babbling excitement of his peers, he refused to believe their account. He wanted the proof of seeing Jesus with his own eyes before he would believe in the accounts of the resurrection. Jesus humored him and appeared in the room without even coming through the door. He calmed their fears and allowed Thomas to touch His wounds as proof that He lived again.

Jesus chastised Thomas for his doubt and told him that those who believe without seeing are more blessed than those who believe only because they see proof with their own eyes (John 20:24-29). Unbelievers have this same problem. They refuse to believe because we cannot prove God to their human senses. How can anyone explain a spiritual concept with human terms? The two are in different leagues and the spiritual is much more profound than the earthly (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Jesus actually proved His resurrection by presenting Himself alive by many infallible proofs. Over 500 people saw him at one time and many heard Him during the forty days between His resurrection from the grave and ascension into heaven. He also hung out with His apostles, cooked for them, spoke about the kingdom of God and promised to send them the Holy Spirit to comfort and direct them after He returned to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:5-8; Acts 1:3-4). However, people today even doubt the reality of their testimony.

Double minded people are unstable in all of their ways. They are like a wave driven by the sea and tossed by the wind. They live unbalanced lives and are plagued with doubts (James 1:5-8). God said that if anyone lacks wisdom, He would provide it liberally without reproach (James 1:5-7). We do not have to live in crippling doubt, when we can ask in faith and receive anything from the Lord that is in accorance with His will (John 14:13-14). He will help us with our unbelief, if we make the commitment to believe (Mark 9:24).

Prayer:
Lord God, you gave us the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything in them. You give us rain and fruitful seasons and the beauty of nature. You fill our hearts with gladness. You do all of this to prove Your existence (Romans 1:20; Acts 14:15-18). Yet, people persist in rejecting You and denying Your reality. Father, forgive them, because they are blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). Please remove Satan’s deception from their lives and set them free to believe in Your majesty and power.

Thought for the Day:
God have mercy on those who doubt. – Jude 1:22

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What About Angels?


Angel : angel and sunset abstract background
 
The Bible speaks about classes of angels: Cherubim (Ezekiel 1:5-11); Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2) and Archangels like Michael and Gabriel (Daniel 9:21, 10:6, 13; Luke 1:19, 26; Jude 9). Many scholars believe that Satan was an archangel, and higher than any other angel. Some angels are “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 18:10). The word “angel” actually comes from the Greek word aggelos and the Hebrew word mal'ak, which mean “messenger.”

Angels serve God through worship and praise (Isaiah 6:1-3; Revelation 4-5), as messengers (Acts 7:52-53), to answer prayers (Daniel 9:20-24; 10:10-12; Acts 12:1-17), to carry our soul and spirit to Heaven (Luke 16:22), to provide (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 21:17-20; 1 Kings 19:5-6; Matthew 4:11), to protect (Psalm 34:7; Daniel 6:22; 3:23; Genesis 3:24), to guide (Matthew 1-2; John 20:12; Acts 10:1-8, 78:26), to deliver (Acts 5:19; Acts 12:7) and to encourage (Matthew 4:11; Acts 5:19-20, 27:23-25).

Angels were not born and do not have physical bodies like humans (Luke 20:34-36; Colossians 1:16-17). God created angels before He created human beings (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2,5). Humans are not angels. Angels can appear as men, but they are not human. When people die, even babies, they do not become angels. Angels are always angels, and people are always human. Angels do not marry or reproduce (Matthew 22:30). When we get to heaven two groups meet us: “myriads of angels” and “the spirits of righteous men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-23).
 
Jesus declared that angels have no flesh and bones (Luke 24: 37-39). They are not usually visible (Colossians 1:16). Elisha prayed for his servant to see the invisible forces surrounding the city, and the young man was amazed to see an army of a host of angels and fiery chariots (2 Kings 6:17). At times, angels appear in bright white and flaming glory (Matthew 28:2-4; Daniel 10:6). While the Bible is not specific, we deduce that the number of angels is innumerable (Daniel 7:10; Matthew 26:53; Hebrews 12:22).

When angels do manifest to humans, they usually appear in the form of a man (Mark 16:5). There is one instance where two women appeared, with the wind in their wings, which were like the wings of a stork (Zechariah 5:9). In Genesis 18, Abraham welcomes and feeds three men who are traveling. It is clear, however, that one of them was the Lord, who remained with Abraham to chat, while the others were two angels who went on to Sodom (Genesis 19:1). The Bible reminds us to be kind to strangers, because we may be entertaining angels without realizing it (Hebrews 13:2).

When people in the Bible saw an angel, they typically fell on their face in a muddle of both terror and wonder (Daniel 10:10; Revelation 1:17). Some Bible passages picture angels with wings (Isaiah 6:2,6). Others talk about angels flying (Daniel 9:21). However, many scholars believe that angels can move around without depending on wings. Most allusions to angels in the Bible say nothing about wings, and in passages like Abraham and the three men, they had no noticeable wings.

Angels are more mobile than men, but are not omnipresent like God (Daniel 9:21-23, 10:10-14). They are stronger than men, but are not omnipotent (2 Peter 1:11; Psalm 103:2). They have more knowledge than men, but are not omniscient (Matthew 24:36; 2 Samuel 14:20). God created angels as holy beings to worship Him (Mark 13:32; Matthew 18:10). Satan then deceived 1/3 of these angels to rebel against God and they are now referred to as demons (2 Peter 2:4; Ephesians 6:12; Matthew 25:41; Jude 6).

We can open our life to demonic forces by involvement in sinful and occult practices. The more we live by the flesh, the more influence Satan and his demons have on our body and soul. The Holy Spirit dwells in our spirit, so Satan cannot possess a Christian’s spirit. However, we can give Satan permission by our ungodly thoughts and behavior to oppress, demonize or inflict our body and soul. Satan is the god of everyone who has not repented and believed in Jesus for salvation (John 10:10). Their spirit is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), and Satan usually possesses their body and soul and makes their life miserable (1 John 5:19; Jude 9; Revelation 16:13-14).

There is an invisible clash rampant in the spiritual realm that the Bible only hints at. It is not an equitable fight, however, because God is always in control and His forces always prevail (Luke 4:6). Satan has to get his permission from God to touch His Saints (Job 1:8; 2:3), because God uses demons and angels to accomplish His purposes in our lives. After the Millennium, God will cast all unbelievers, Satan and all of his demons into the lake of fire for eternity (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41).
 
Prayer:
Holy Lord, we thank You for sending angels to guard us and minister to us. We are excited to know that archangels do battle in the heavenly realms and that Your forces always prevail. Help us to minister to You and for You as well. Lead us by Your Spirit each and every moment of the day as we accomplish great things for Your Kingdom.

Thought for the Day:
Only that which we accomplish in the Spirit will last for eternity. Everything else is just a temporary legacy.

 

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is God Incompetent?



There is a big difference between a temptation and a trial. A temptation is an enticement to sin. A trial is a test or an examination.  So many people believe that God will never give us a trial that we cannot handle. They use this verse to prove it:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

They substitute the word trial or testing in the place of the word temptation. This is very misleading. These misguided people share with new Christians their false belief, which results in inexperienced Christians getting angry with God when their trials get unbearable and the stress of life is about to kill them. This teaching deceives many people. When their life falls apart around them, they decide that God is incompetent and Christianity is a lie. Some even think that God does not love them since they have so many hardships.

This verse actually reminds us that God never allows us to be tempted more than we can stand. He always provides a way of escape, so we will not fall into sin. We do not ever have to sin. We always have a choice. The next time you are tempted to sin, remember this verse and look for the way God provided for you to escape this situation. God always gives us a way to escape if we will use it. God is always ready to deliver us from temptation and from Satan’s deceit (Matthew 6:13).

On the other hand, God does allow crushing circumstances in our life. He wants us to "give up" and to cast all of our cares on Him. He wants us to completely surrender everything in our life to Him, and to stop trying to live life in our own fleshly efforts. He allows negative circumstances to happen so we will not rely on our self, but on God (2 Corinthians 1:9). He wants us to handle everything with prayer and then leave the results in His capable hands to work out everything for our good (Romans 8:28), in His own timing and way.

God is also capable of preventing His children from having trials and tribulation, and sometimes He will (2 Peter 2:9). However, if He chooses not to deliver us, He will always walk through the dark valley with us (Psalm 23:4). God always turns around the negative aspects in our life for our ultimate good (Romans 8:29). As the three Hebrew children told the King who wanted to throw them into the fiery furnace, “Our God is able to deliver us; but even if He does not, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up" (Daniel 3:17-18).

The Lord states that we have no reason to fear. He created us, formed us and redeemed us. He knows our name and we belong to Him. He even knows the number of hairs upon our head (Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30). When we go through deep waters of tribulation, He will be with us. When we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. When we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up, because the flames will not consume us (Isaiah 43:1-2). God uses the tribulation in our life to increase our intimacy with Him, to build Godly character in us, to strengthen our spirit and to weaken our flesh.

God’s children in Habakkuk’s day saw plenty of trials and tribulation. The prophet summed it all up in these words, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3: 17-18).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, do not allow me to believe every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) that someone tells me. Cause me to imitate the Bereans rather than those in Thessalonica by nobly searching the scriptures every day to prove whether or not some doctrine is true (Acts 17:11). Never let me teach anyone something false, but help me to confirm everything I believe and say by searching Your Word for confirmation or correction (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 4:2). Thank You for delivering us from temptation and for walking through our trials with us.

Thought for the Day:
God DOES give us more trials and tribulation than WE can handle, but not more than HE can handle; so turn everything over to Him.