Thursday, February 28, 2013

Waiting



Waiting is one of the hardest concepts for modern mankind to embrace. We dislike waiting for anything, not even at red lights, at the doctor’s office or for food at the restaurant. If we had to wait and work for seven years for our future father-in-law like Jacob did, how many of us would stay in love with the same person? The poor guy actually ended up working fourteen years for her; but to him it only seemed like a few days, because he loved her so much (Genesis 29:20-28).

One of the least patient characters in the Bible is Saul. He got tired of waiting on Samuel, and he offered a burnt peace offering to God himself. Samuel was horrified when he found out that Saul was too impatient to do things God’s way! Consequently, Saul lost his kingdom and God sought for a man after His own heart to take Saul’s place (1 Samuel 13:8-14). The prodigal son is another example of impatience. He talked his father into giving him his inheritance early. Then he ended up squandering it and having nothing left. It was only the mercy of the father that took this wayward son back into his home (Luke 15:11-24).

Paul bragged on the Saints in Thessalonica, because they had patience and faith, even in the face of persecution and tribulations. He considered their endurance in their suffering as a manifestation of their worthiness of the Kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5). We too can rejoice in hope of the glory of God, even in our tribulation (Romans 5:2-4). 
 
The writer of Hebrews lays out a list of faithful Saints who patiently waited for the promise of redemption, even though it was afar off. These Saints realized that they were pilgrims and strangers on this earth, and they yearned for their homeland in heaven. God is not ashamed to be the God of these Saints, or of those who trust in Him today (Hebrews 11: 13-16). We only need to allow patience to do her perfect work in our life (James 1:4).

Paul encourages us to hope for what we do not see, and to have the patience to wait on God’s provision of it. He promises that the Holy Spirit will help us with our impatience by making intercession for us according to God’s will. When we wait, we have the assurance that God will work everything out for our good. Nothing can ever separate us from Christ’s love, not even nuisances, disasters, persecution, hunger, destitution or danger of death (Romans 8:24-28, 35).

In the Serenity Prayer, we ask God to grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference between the two. In this way, we put our energy into changing the issues, which He shows us we can handle (Philippians 4:13). Then we relinquish control to Him over the areas of our life that we cannot change. Living a surrendered life to God’s control brings us righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, aspects which we could never attain on our own (Romans 14:17).

Prayer:
Father God, unbelievers do not have spiritual discernment. They do not understand the huge difference Your presence makes in our life. Help us to live as examples to everyone in we know that has not accepted You as their Savior. Season our speech and our actions with Your love and make us a living testimony of your mercy and grace.

Thought for the Day:
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." – Psalm 37:7

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

True Friendship

Friends : best Friends  Stock Photo

As King-elect of Israel, David served King Saul by playing his harp and singing in order to calm Saul’s troubled soul. Saul relied on David, but was also jealous of God’s anointing on the young man’s life. He had a need for David, but also a hatred that burned so deeply that he often tried to take David’s life (1 Samuel 20:1-17).

One day, Saul’s son Jonathan looked at David and realized that in him he had a brother for life. They were soulmates, so they made a covenant between them. Jonathan gave David all that he possessed and did whatever David needed in order to protect his beloved friend from his father’s cruelty, even to the point of giving up his own life (1 Samuel 18:1-4).

There are few people in the world today with that type of commitment and love for one another (Psalms 41:9). Jesus Christ made just such a vow to every human being ever born. He gave His own life as a ransom to pay the sin debt that we owe. He died in our place, so that we would never have to taste death. Our last breath on this earth leads to our very next breath in Heaven, and we owe it all to Jesus Christ. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer to us than a brother (John 15:13-15). He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

At times people find it almost impossible to bond with other human beings. They are so shy or have such limited people skills that they make others uncomfortable around them. Angry people make poor friends and the Bible encourages us to stay away from them
(Proverbs 22:24). Jeremiah warns us against hanging out with a brother or neighbor who is a deceiver or slanderer (Jeremiah 9:4).

Paul tells us to stay away from people who love their self, pleasure and money. He warns us against making friends with the proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and heartless, unappeasable, brutal, treacherous, reckless and conceited. He is especially uncomplimentary toward people who act religiously, but who reject the power that could make them godly. He also singles out idlers, gossips and busybodies as poor potential friends (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 Timothy 5:13-14).

The secret to having friends is to be friendly (Proverbs 18:24). We learn how to be a good friend from the wisdom of God’s Word. We love one another at all times and stand with each other through trials and tribulation (Proverbs 17:17; Proverbs 27:6,10). We have concern for one another, we avoid arguing and division, and we share in one another’s pain as well as rejoicing when someone is honored (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
 
Sometimes a friend speaks the truth to us in love
(Ephesians 4:15, 25). This often hurts our feelings and makes us angry. Sparks may fly between us like iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17). However, true Christians will always submit to one another and settle our differences with grace and humility (1 Peter 5:5).
 
The fact is that two people facing life together is better than one, because they reap a double reward for their labor. If one falls, the other is there to lift him/her up. We provide warmth for one another in both body and soul. A three-fold cord is not quickly broken; and when Christ is in the center of a friendship, no one will be able to stand against us
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
 
Prayer:
Lord Jesus, at times, our friends are too busy or burdened by cares in their own life to help us out. However, You are a friend that sticks closer than a brother (John 15:13-15). You told us that if we ask, You will answer; if we seek, You will show us the way; if we knock You will open the door to us (Luke 11:5-10). Teach us to be this type of friend to one another, and to lift one another up; so that those in the world will see our love for one another and be drawn to our fellowship with You (John 13:35).

Thought for the Day:
True friendship revives the life within our soul.

 

 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Our Enabler



When we help in a time of need, this is usually a one-time event, and it rarely causes any negative emotions to rise up in our heart. When the crowds asked Him, Jesus told them,Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:10-11). Pure religion that is undefiled before God the Father is to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction (James 1:17). There is a time and a place to help one another (1 John 3:17).

However, there is a thin line between the concepts of helping and enabling a friend, neighbor, workmate or family member. Enabling drives us to help another person in inordinate ways, and to feel responsible and worried about things that this person should actually do for him/herself. Enabling allows addictive and irresponsible behavior in the person we are helping. Enabling often goes one step further into protecting the person from the consequences of his/her actions.

We make excuses for the person we enable. We do things for them that is their responsibility. We feel obligated to solve their problems. We try to make life easier for them at our own expense. Then we feel negative emotions rising up within our soul, because we feel taken advantage of and unappreciated. Enabling is as addictive as any drug and quite destructive both to our self and to the person we are enabling. The balance comes in when we help people as Christ directs us to assist them, instead of by doing things for them that they should do for themselves (Ephesians 2:10).

The Bible tells us that every person should bear their own burden (Galatians 6:5). It clearly states that those who do not work, should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10-15). When we enable others, we prevent them from growing up as independent individuals who follow God’s will for their life. God makes His grace abound to those who trust in Him, giving us the sufficiency to accomplish what He calls us to do by His Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 9:8). There is so much that we cannot do for our self, however, and these are the things that God does for us. He is our enabler in the best of ways.

God reveals Christ to us and in us (John 16:14-15), guides us into all truth (John 16:13), regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5), sanctifies us (2 Thessalonians. 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:16), washes and renews us (Titus 3:5) and strengthens our spirit (Ephesians 3:16). He also leads us (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18; Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1), empowers us (Luke 4:14; 24:49; Romans 15:19; Acts 1:8), fills us (Ephesians 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 9:17) and dwells in us (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14; John 14:17).

He sets us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), quickens our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11) and grants us everlasting life (Galatians 6:8).  He teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26-27; Jude 1:20), distributes His spiritual gifts and manifestations in us (1 Corinthians 12:4, 8-10; Hebrews 2:4), anoints us for ministry (Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38) and brings unity and oneness to the body (Ephesians 4:3; 2:14-18). He proves we are His children and produces in us the evidence of His presence (Romans 8:16; Galatians 5:22-23), sealing us until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

The Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), gives us access to God the Father (Ephesians 2:18), reveals the deep things of God to us (1 Corinthians 2:10), reveals to us what God gave us (1 Corinthians 2:12), reveals the mystery of God to us (Ephesians 3:5) and brings us into liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). He is also our guarantee and deposit of our future resurrection (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5). He speaks to, in, and through us (1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:11; Hebrews 3:7; Matthew 10:20; Acts 2:4; 8:29; 10:19; 11:12, 28; 13:2; 16:6,7; 21:4,11).

The Holy Spirit sheds God’s love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), bears witness to the truth in our conscience (Romans 9:1), teaches us (1 Corinthians 2:13; John 14:26), gives us joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6), comforts us (Acts 9:31) and brings things to our remembrance (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit enables us to wait on God (Galatians 5:5), to obey His truth (1 Peter 1:22) and to preach the gospel (1 Peter 1:12). Jesus is our all in all (Colossians 1:17) and He lives within us by the Holy Spirit, enabling, leading and guiding all of our steps (Galatians 5:25).

Prayer:
Father God, You have done everything for us. Without You, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We can do all things, only when You enable us (Philippians 4:13). We trust and to obey You (Psalm 78:7). As we put on Christ each and every day (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27), we walk in Your Spirit by Your direction to accomplish greater works than Jesus did (John 14:12), because we are His Body (1 Corinthians 12:27). Remind us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to give You all the glory for everything we accomplish in Your name (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Thought for the Day:
God is working in us, enabling us both to desire and to have the power to work out His will in our lives. - Philippians 2:13

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Power of Our Words



No one is perfect. All human beings stumble in one way or another. If anyone is never at fault in what he/she says, they are a perfect person. They are able to keep their whole body in submission (James 3:1-2). We are acquitted and condemned by what we say and do (Matthew 12:37). Too much talk can lead to sin; therefore, it is sensible to keep a guard over our words (Proverbs 10:19).

When we do speak, we should pray first and then speak as though God Himself were speaking through us. This way everything we say will bring glory to God (1 Peter 4:11). What we say is the product of how we think and what we believe (Matthew 12:33-35). What we say flows from what is in our heart. A good person produces good things from the reservoir of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the abundance of an evil heart (Luke 6:45).

Our negative thoughts are like a skein of tangled yarn, so entwined that it is almost impossible to unravel them. They confuse our mind and cause us to miss the purposes of God in our life. We are too busy complaining to see His hand working out the details for our good (Romans 8:28). Negative thoughts cause a perverse heart, which never prospers; and a deceitful tongue causes just as much trouble (Proverbs 17:20). The person who speaks rashly will come to ruin (Proverbs 13:3). Only a fool keeps on talking (Ecclesiastes 5:3). An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble (Proverbs 12:13).

A cultured person with education may be able to use words with restraint, and a thoughtful person is more even-tempered than someone who just blurts out whatever comes to his/her mind (Proverbs 17:27). However, no human being can ever fully restrain their tongue. It is impatient, wicked and full of lethal poison (James 3:8). Only the work of Jesus, living within the Believer, gives us the power over our tongue. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, the negative aspects of life only have power over our thoughts or actions if we allow them to do so.

When we belong to Jesus, then the power of the life-giving Spirit frees us from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:2). We are no longer conformed to this world, but we are transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). Jesus actually renews the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23). He effectively gives us a choice along with wise advice about which choice to make. If we guard our words and keep our tongue, we avoid calamity (Proverbs 21:23). We are to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ, and to live with each other in one mind and spirit rather than arguing (Philippians 1:27).

The Bible encourages us to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Our thoughts affect our beliefs, our emotions and our attitude. We reap the consequences of our words, and they affect our relationships and even our health (Proverbs 8:21). Wise words win good things for us; and if we guard our lips, we guard our life (Proverbs 13:2). Therefore, we can choose to think only about those things, which are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable (Philippians 4:8). When our thoughts are excellent and worthy of praise then this affects what we say and what we do, as well as how we feel emotionally and physically.

Prayer:
Father God, it is better not to be quick to speak with our mouth or hasty in our heart to utter anything before You. You are in heaven and we are on earth, so let us be wise and let our words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Help us to submit to Your Spirit as You transform our mind, so that we may prove what Your good, acceptable and perfect will is for our life (Romans 12:2).

Thought for the Day:
From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things, as surely as the good work of his hands rewards him. - Proverbs 12:13-14

 

 

 

 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

God's Gifts



Some people boast about their accomplishments and talents; however, they end up like a cloud without any rain, blown around by the wind (Proverbs 25:14; Jude 1:12). They brag, yet have little evidence to back up their claims. In reality, every good and perfect gift comes to us only from the Father of lights, not from any inherent goodness of our own (Ephesians 2: 8-10). God does not show partiality or prejudice in distributing His gifts (James 1:17). He generously gives them to all of us (1 Timothy 6:17).

Because of Adam’s offense, death reigned in us from birth. However, we can receive God’s great gift of righteousness and abundance from Jesus Christ, who justifies all men. He also gives us grace to succeed in life  (Romans 5:15-18; 6:23; Ephesians 4:7). Sin is no longer our master, because Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 6:14). In addition, Jesus gives us living water, so our soul will never thirst again. His love satisfies our longing and fills our hungry soul (John 4:10; Psalm 107:9).

When we repent and are baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of our sins, God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). The Spirit exchanges the carnal character in our soul with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, self-control and faith (Galatians 5:22-23). We eventually grow to the place where we no longer gratify the desires of our flesh, because we live by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16, 5:24; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 2:3).

Now that we live by the Spirit, we keep in step with the Spirit moment by moment throughout our day (Galatians 5:25). Anyone who does not have the Spirit of God in him/her will not accept the wisdom that comes from the Spirit. In fact, God’s wisdom sounds like foolishness to unbelievers; they cannot understand God’s principles, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). While we live and work in this world, God calls us to conduct ourselves, in all of our relationships, in the holiness and sincerity that are from Him. We do not act according to worldly wisdom but according to Godly wisdom by the grace of God (2 Corinthians 1:12).

All Believes receive gifts to minister to one another, as good stewards of the grace of God (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 7:7). Our gift makes room for us to use it, and may even bring us before great men (Proverbs 18:16). It is more valuable to us than precious stones because when we use our gift, we and those we minister to will prosper (Proverbs 17:8). Before we bring our offerings to God, however, He demands that we be reconciled with our brothers and sisters first, because any discord between two people blocks the communication between us and God (Matthew 5:23-24). God has many gifts for us, the best of which is to allow us to enjoy the fruit of our labors (Ecclesiastes 3:13).

Prayer:
If we, though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, You, Father God, know much more how to give good gifts to those of us who ask You for them (Matthew 7:11). We thank You for our daily provision of food and shelter. We thank You for Your spiritual gifts that make us useful to Your Body. We thank You most of all for Your spiritual wisdom that is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17).

Thought for the Day:
Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you. - 2 Timothy 1:6

Friday, February 22, 2013

Count it All Joy



No one is glad about the negative aspects of life. We all cringe when it happens and we often run and hide from it. For instance, there is so much negative in the world that people often fail to see anything positive. The Christian has the best advantage when it comes to adversity. James advises us to rejoice in our suffering (James 1:2-8). That sounds like the advice of a crazy man, but I am here to tell you that it works!

James’ advice is actually very sensible. Rather than adding a pessimistic attitude and negative emotions to our depressing circumstances, if we start to praise God in them, He will eventually work everything out for our good (Romans 8:28). We do not have to praise God “for” our circumstances, but a key to defeating Satan’s strongholds in our life is to praise God in spite of them.

Rejoicing in our suffering makes no human sense, but it makes every spiritual sense. We are telling God that we trust Him with our spiritual eyes, no matter what our life looks like with our natural eyes. At times, life takes us captive in unbearable situations. If we are so absorbed in feeling negative about these issues, we miss seeing the hand of God in them. Paul told us that suffering works character in our life and gives us qualities such as perseverance, which eventually produces hope. Hope helps us to rise above any disappointment (Romans 5:3-5).

God pours out His love into our hearts and His Holy Spirit resides within each person who believes that Jesus is God who came in the flesh and who surrenders their life to Him. Love is the emotion of the heart. You can’t prove it, you just feel it and you know that it is there. In this same way, faith is the emotion of our spirit. You can’t prove it, you just feel it and you know that it is there. God pours out His love on us regardless of our circumstances. We can trust Him in faith.

If we are stuck in a prison of adversity and we do not see any way out, we may panic, grieve or just give up. Once we change our focus from our dismal negative circumstances to the limitless power of God, we relax. We believe that God has a purpose for allowing these hardships in our life, just as He has a plan for our overall life (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11). If we resist the negative, we may miss the positive that God is working out in our life through it.

Prayer:
Father God, You never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). You walk with us through every event in our life – the good and the bad. You even walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). When we cooperate with You rather than fight our circumstances, You always make a way for us, even where there seems to be no way. When one door closes on us, You open an even better one. When we persevere, You develop in us the character to believe that You have our best interest at heart (Romans 8:28).

Thought for the Day:
Faith in God’s faithfulness gives us wings to fly above every sorrow and trial.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Focusing

Magnifying_glass : Blank in Magnifying glass screen interface background  Stock Photo

Whenever we walk through life and forget to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), we change our focus from God’s glory and majesty to what is happening around us. This is discouraging to say the least. Our soul – our mind, our will and our emotions - gets disheartened and sometimes actually becomes sick inside of us (Proverbs 13:12). To change this, we can take Paul’s advice and focus our mind on eternal things, not on the temporal, day-to-day grind that we face here on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

Our daily worries and concerns take our eyes off Jesus and put them on our self. When this happens, our troubles and trials multiply until we are overwhelmed. We unwisely pay attention to foolish people and allow them to affect our life. We submit to people who take advantage of us and treat us abominably or who lord their life and success over us. Instead, God advises us to flee from people who are carnal and evil. He also tells us to take captive every one of our thoughts and to submit them to Christ (Psalm 35:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6, 11:20).

Paul gives us a checklist to do this. Rather than to focus on our little microcosm of the world, God wants us to place our thoughts only on things that are true, honorable, righteous, pure, lovely and admirable. We cast out negative thoughts from our imagination and take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. We think only about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8). Once we do this, our spiritual equilibrium returns and we find a smile bubbling up from deep within our soul. A fulfilled longing is sweet to the soul (Proverbs 13:19).

All authentic Believers have died; and it is no longer us, but Christ that lives His life in us and through us (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3). If we let Him, He will deal with our stress at work, the mean spirited people, our wayward children, our mounting bills, our messy house, etc. He lives within us and He motivates us and gives us wisdom and strength to face every issue with victory and grace. Our real life is hidden with Christ in God. Once we realize this, we are no longer negatively affected by the world going on around us.

If we focus on our failings and our sins, we try in the flesh to remove these issues from our life. We lose our joy and peace because we are no longer focused on God. Instead, we can repent of our sins and shortcomings, give them to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit of God to do His work within us. God rids us of all guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1). As we focus on Christ, we live good lives among the unsaved people in our world. Although they may accuse us of doing something wrong, if we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, they will ultimately see our good works and glorify God with their life as well (1 Peter 2:12).

Every morning, we put on our new self that is being renewed and changed into the image of Christ (Colossians 3:10). Each day, we clothe our self with Christ, and He provides a shield that repels all the fiery darts from our enemies (Romans 13:4; Psalm 33:20; Ephesians 6:16). God knows what is happening in the planet around us and He has everything under HIS control. There is no need for us to bother or worry about anything at all. God has an opinion about everything in our life and an answer for all of our questions. We just need to spend time with Him in prayer about all our concerns and then leave them in His capable hands.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when we look around us we get discouraged. When we look within us we get depressed. However, when we look to You, we find joy that defies description and we bask in Your glory (1 Peter 1:8). As we keep our mind centered on You all day long, we live in peace and we are led by Your Spirit through every moment of every day (Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:29). Your truth sets us free, and we live with high praises to You in our heart and on our lips (John 8:32; Psalm 149:6).

Thought for the Day:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” - Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Giving Thanks



We humans get so caught up in the busy schedule of our life that we forget to say, “Thank you.” We take for granted the service that we receive from waitresses, store clerks, stewardesses, janitors, bus and taxi drivers, teachers, pastors and other public servants. We never even think about thanking them. Worse yet, we forget to thank God who generously gives us all things to enjoy (2 Corinthians 9:8,11).

The Israelites had a lifestyle of giving thanks to the Lord (Nehemiah 12: 46). They set up altars to remember the gracious provision God gave to them (Deuteronomy 27:5-6). They developed a habit in themselves and their children to give God praise, and to pass down the stories about the goodness of the Lord to all generations (Joel 1:3). We too should develop the habit of coming into God’s presence with thanksgiving. He is great, and worthy above all other rulers (Psalm 95: 2-3). We have so much to thank God for in our lives.

We can thank Him for our brothers and sisters in His Body (1Corinthians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2:13). We can express abounding thanksgiving for God’s goodness, mercy and grace in our life (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 106:1). Since He enriches us with all good things, we praise Him even when we find our self in ill health (2 Corinthians 4:15-16). We thank Him for His generous provision for us. Our life is full of things to thank Him for (2 Corinthians 9:11-12; 1 Timothy 4:4-5; Jeremiah 33:11). A body that works well, a family that loves us, a church in which to safely worship, a job to earn money to pay our bills and so many other things we take for granted are all gifts from God.

We can also thank the Lord Most High through songs of praise for giving us Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our sin (Psalm 7:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). We thank Him in prayer for being our strength and shield. Our heart trusts in Him because He helps us; therefore, we express our heart full of joy over our safety and provision at His hand. Even before we call upon His name in prayer, we sing songs of praise to Him (Psalm 28:7)  and we exalt Him (Isaiah 12:4).

However, we do not wait for God to do something for us before we thank Him. We just thank Him for who He is. Every morning, we enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. We are thankful to Him and bless His holy name (Psalm 100:4).  We bless the Lord at all times; and His praise shall continually be in our mouth (Psalm 34:1). Everything we do and say should be in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ as we give thanks to our Father God for Him (Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 13:15), which is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Prayer:
Father God, rather than allowing filthy talk or coarse jokes to come from our lips, we will express thanks to You instead (Ephesians 5:4). You give us Your loving kindness that is worthy of praise (Isaiah 63:7). You chose us and ordained us to bear fruit in the world as we serve You (John 15:16). As we minister for You, we can ask You for anything we need to minister in Your name and You will supply it for us (John 16:23-26). Remind us to keep thanksgiving as the fruit of our lips. You are worthy of praise because of who You are, even more than because of what You do for us.

Thought for the Day:
We make our requests known to God through grateful prayer, and we have no need to be anxious about anything. – Philippians 4:6

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Maturing in Our Faith

Plant And Stream : waterfall in deep forest of Croatia

As we age, our spiritual eyesight develops with much more astute clarity than when we first believed (Ephesians 1:17-19; Hebrews 5:14). As we view the hand of God in our life over our years of following Him, we see how He worked out everything, even the negative circumstances in our life, for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28). We see a golden thread of His purpose running through each subsequent year of our life. God’s ways are always perfect and His will is sovereign (Psalm 18:30). Unfortunately, God gave us a free will and we have a choice of whether or not to follow His directives and to allow Him freedom to govern our life.

More often than not, we get caught up in the worries and trials of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for carnal things, which come in and choke God’s Word and make us unfruitful (Mark 4:19). We also get overwhelmed with the trouble and persecution, which comes because of our choice to follow the Lord. Sometimes we get lax in our devotion and we may even fall away from serving the Lord (Mark 4:17). At other times, Satan comes along and takes away the word of faith we received from God. He blinds our eyes and we believe his lies instead of God’s truth (Mark 4:15; 2 Corinthians 4:4).

The only recourse we have when this occurs is to be self-controlled and alert, to submit our will and our life to God and to resist the devil, our enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8, James 4:7). We can put on the full armor of God, so that we can take our stand against the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18). We defy Satan and stand firm in our faith in God’s faithfulness, because we know that our brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering and trials that we are (1 Peter 5:7). If we humble our self before the Lord, He will lift us up in His perfect timing (1 Peter 5:6).

The Psalmists had similar experiences way back in their day as well. They encouraged us not to ask for guidance from the wicked, not to hang out with sinners and not to spend time with those who mock Christ and His Word. Our delight is the Word of God, and we meditate on it day and night. God’s life-giving Words allow us to grow like a tree, which is planted right next to a stream of water, and which yields its fruit at just the right time. It never withers or dies, because it is constantly nourished (Psalm 1:1-3, 56:4, 119:105). We will flourish like this tree, if we deeply sink our roots into prayer and reading God’s Word (2 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 5:11-14).

We are not children for long, but we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15). We mature in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Our faith increases as we walk through each trial with the Lord within us (2 Thessalonians 1:3, Galatians 2:20). However, we never need to get puffed up with pride and think that we arrived to total maturity, because like Peter, we are all capable of denying Christ when life gets tough (Matthew 26:31-35; 1 Corinthians 10:12). Eventually, however, patience will have her perfect work in us and we will be perfect and mature, not lacking in any area of our life (James 1:4).

Prayer:
Lord God, Jesus is the vine, we are the branches and You are the gardener. If we do not immerse our life in Your Word, pray without ceasing and spend time with other Believers, we will wither on the vine.  If we do not stay connected to the Vine, we will lose our source of nourishment; but if we do stay connected, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). When we allow You to hook us up to Your yoke in life, You help us to carry our load, and You make all of our burdens lighter (Matthew 11:30). According to the riches of Your glory, You strengthen us in our inner man with the might of Your Spirit (Ephesians 3:16).

Thought for the Day:
Let us walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him, increasing in the knowledge of God and being fruitful in every good work. – Colossians 1:10




Monday, February 18, 2013

The Right Hand of God



Scripture portrays God as possessing eyes (Psalm 32;8), breath (Job 33:4), a mouth (Job 23:12), arms (Deuteronomy 33:27), ears (Isaiah 59:1), feet (Isaiah 66:1) and hands (Isaiah 59:1). The right hand of God is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. The right hand is a symbol of the attributes of perfection of our infinite God. No human description can adequately describe the awesome power, honour and blessing of our God (Isaiah 40:18). With His powerful right hand, God saves us, sustains us, protects us and governs the heavens and the earth with it (Psalm 110:1,4; 118:16). The term, “right hand” in the Word of God mainly speaks of power, honour and blessings.

The sense of power is shown in many Biblical instances (Exodus 15:6). God’s right hand spread the heavens out in the universe (Isaiah 48:13). When God saved the Israelites from the Egyptian army, they proclaimed the glorious power of God’s right hand that shattered their enemy (Exodus 15:6). Joshua had the Israelites place twelve stones near Gilgal as a testimony of the mighty hand of God (Joshua 4:24). God’s right hand saves his anointed and answers them from heaven with the saving might of His right hand (Psalm 20:6). The Psalmist accused God at one point of hiding His powerful right hand in the folds of His garment rather than destroying Israel’s enemies (Psalm 74:11). We cling to God, and His right hand upholds us (Psalm 63:8). God has a mighty arm and a strong hand (Psalm 89:13).

Jesus predicted that we would see Him seated at God’s right hand of power in heaven (Matthew 22: 41-45; Colossians 3:1). This power supersedes all principalities and authority and power and dominion. Jesus’ name is above every name, which is named not only in this world, but also in the coming age  (Matthew 26:64; Luke 22: 69; Ephesians 1:19-21).  The right hand of God is depicted in scripture as the absolute power of God to accomplish in His might whatever task He determines to achieve.

The second significance of God’s right hand is honour. Benjamin is a name that means “son of my right hand”, indicating a place of love and honour (Genesis 35:18). When Bathsheba visited her son Solomon, he granted her the honour of sitting at his right hand (1 Kings 2:19). Jesus endured the cross, in spite of despising the shame of taking on the sin of the whole world, by considering the joy of returning to His honourable seat at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22; Psalm 110:1; Mark 2:36). Jesus functions as our high priest as He sits at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 8:1-2). The angels were never given this distinction to sit at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).

The third significance of the right hand is to receive blessing and provision (Ezra 7:9). Israel divides his blessing between Joseph’s sons (Genesis 48:13-18). Being in God’s presence at His right hand is to receive fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). The right hand of God does valiantly and brings the blessings of the voice of rejoicing and salvation in the tabernacle of the righteous (Psalm 118:15-16). His right hand provides us with His omnipresence, security and salvation (Psalm 139:8-10, 20:6). Our soul clings to Him, and His right hand supports us (Psalm 63:8). God encourages us not to be afraid, because He is with us; or to be dismayed, because He is our God; He promises to strengthen us, help us and hold us up by His right hand of righteousness (Isaiah 41:10).

Prayer:
Father God, we call people who are very helpful to us, “Our right hand man (or woman)”. We give one another the right hand of fellowship at church. Therefore, we understand the power and significance of Your right hand. Thank You for Your ministry to us with Your right hand. Your power protects us, Your honour encourages us and Your blessings and provision supply us with everything we need to flourish in this life. We look forward to living with You for eternity, both in Heaven and in the New Earth (2 Peter 3:13). We take courage and comfort and encouragement from the power, honour and provision of Your right hand.

Thought for the Day:
In Christ, seated at God’s right hand, we possess power over sin, (1 John 4:4, 1 Corinthians 15:57) and over Satan (Exodus 15:6); as well as power for service to our King (John 14:12, Philippians 4:13).  

Consulting the Lord

Photo: Morning... when everything starts over again.

Joshua took over the leadership of Israel from Moses. He followed in Moses’ footsteps and sought God's direction for each decision he made and every action he took. He had no confidence in his own ability and He always relied on God’s counsel. God promised to give Joshua ever part of the land where he set his foot and declared that no army would stand against him (Joshua 1:3,5).

Therefore, after he put a few successful military campaigns under his belt, Joshua’s fame spread throughout the land (Joshua 6:27). He got overly confident and started to believe the accolades freely given to him by his admirers. The unconventional warfare at Jericho (Joshua 6:20) puffed up His pride, and at the next battle in the tiny town of Ai, Joshua failed to consult the Lord.

He relied on his own wisdom. He felt like he did not need to bother God because there were only a few men in the city. He sent up an army of about three thousand men, expecting to hear of their victory in no time. However, God taught Joshua a lesson through this and allowed the few men of Ai to rout Joshua’s army (Joshua 7:3-4). Essentially, Joshua ended up embarrassed and defeated.

It happened again when the Gibeonite ambassadors fooled Joshua and he failed once more to consult the Lord (Joshua 9:14). This was another case where Joshua foolishly believed he could handle the decision without the Lord’s direction. We do this too. We allow salesmen to pressure us, friends and family to manipulate us and those in authority over us to demand things from us before we take the time to pray about the decision they require us to make. We will never succeed in life without developing the habit of first consulting the Lord. 

If Joshua had bothered to confer with the Lord, he would have learned about one of his men who took from the spoils of Jericho and buried it under the ground in his tent. This was in direct violation to God’s command. The Lord’s anger burned against Israel. The sin in the camp prevented Israel’s victory in Ai (Joshua 7:12). Joshua failed because he rose up in pride (James 4:6), did not consult the Lord and went into battle with sin in the camp (Joshua 7: 5-26).

How often do we fail to consult the Lord before barging headlong into some scheme we plan? We do not want to bother God with our concerns and we struggle through them without His help and anointing. We may achieve a portion of success with this strategy, but it does not compare to the fulfillment we could reach by walking in the direction of God’s Holy Spirit each moment of the day (Galatians 5:16,25).

Eventually, like Joshua, we fail often enough that we realize that without God’s direction we can do nothing (John 15:5). The first step is to remove any known sin from our life. Then, it is only as we wait on the Lord, that we receive courage (Psalm 27:14). It is only with Him at our right hand that we can succeed (Psalm 16:8). Even as we walk through a deadly situation, God is with us (Psalm 23:4). He is our fortress and our refuge in times of trouble and we will sing of His love forever (Psalm 59:16).

Prayer:
Father God, as Your children, we will need to make some important decisions throughout our lifetime. We have the choice of following a humanistic plan of action or of seeking Your divine direction. Remind us to trust in You with all of our heart and not to lean on our own understanding. Help us not to be wise in our own eyes, but to consult You (Proverbs 3:5-7). That way we will not be anxious about anything, but we will pray about everything and present our requests to You (Philippians 4:6). When we lack wisdom, we can ask You, because You give it generously to all without finding fault (James 1:5).

Thought for the Day:
Consult the Lord in whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
- Proverbs 16:3




Thank you Mike for the use of your photo. See more beautiful photos at:
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