Saturday, January 15, 2011

Out of the Ordinary

"Immediately they left their nets and followed Him." Matthew 4:20
"Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." Matthew 4:22

Jesus called His disciples out of the ordinary circumstances of life. He found Simon Peter, Andrew, John and James working as fishermen; making a living. Jesus revealed Himself to them and they were compelled to immediately leave everything, even their family, to follow Him. They were common men who offered themselves to the service of the Lord and He empowered them to do extraordinary things for the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is still calling ordinary people in common circumstances to do the extraordinary. May we be as eager as those men of old to trust the Lord and follow Him, leaving everything behind if that's what He asks. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two Commandments Equal Ten

But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees and the Sadducees constantly set traps for the Lord. They were so legalistic that they missed the whole point of the Ten Commandments, which is to love God first -- giving all our allegiance to Him, and then to love everyone else as we love ourselves. The first four commandments are about reverencing God. The last six are about acting on that reverence by respecting and honoring our neighbor. (According to Strong's Concordance, "neighbor is any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet".) If we want to know how to respect and honor others, we only have to consider how we would like to be treated, and then act toward our neighbor in that manner. Love God, love others. Two commandments equal ten. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What if God Refused to Forgive?

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32

"I can never forgive. . .". How many times have we heard someone say this? Perhaps we've even said it ourselves. Someone harms us and we set our minds to never forgive them for what they have done. But as Christians, we absolutely must put aside any notion of refusing to forgive.  No matter how grievous the transgression. We must forgive because Christ forgave us and gave His life to ransom us from the punishment we deserve. Think of it this way. What if God had said, "I can never forgive you for what you have done." If God had refused to forgive, then Calvary never would have taken place, and there would be no remedy for sin. Without God's forgiveness, you are doomed. If you are harboring bitterness toward another person today, please stop. You are only hurting yourself and grieving the Lord. Forgive. "Just as God in Christ has forgiven you."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Blessing of a Trial

"He gives strength to the weary,
         And to him who lacks might He increases power."
Isaiah 40:29

When life knocks us down, our God has the strength we need to get back up again. We don't always believe this. Sometimes it takes a major setback for us to realize the extent of God's power. For it is when we are at our very weakest that we finally cry out to Him in surrender. Up until then we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are providing the strength we possess. Thank God that He doesn't allow us to stay in that state of ignorance. Although a trial never seems like a blessing, it really is. The blessing is in seeing the work of our mighty God when we are broken. It is then that we can say, "He gives strength to the weary and power to the weak."  All to the praise and glory of God.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our Hope In Painful Circumstances

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"
Jeremiah 29:11

In the midst of painful circumstances we may feel like giving up. After the death of my first husband, I struggled with believing that the future held anything good for me. All I could envision was a lonely life without my best friend and lover. But God many years before had given me Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise. I never knew how much I would need those words until I became a widow. During the darkest days of grief I would cling to that scripture and trust that  He had not set me adrift on a sea of hopelessness. His hand was upon me and He did, indeed, have plans for my future. And not just random plans. They were specific plans He designed just for me. To benefit me and testify to HIs goodness. As one who has seen the truth of these words, I can say to anyone who is grieving today -- no matter what the reason -- trust Him with your future.  He is faithful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

God Will Not Wait Forever

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9

Those of us who love the Lord long for His return.  Especially if we are in the midst of pain. For we know that when He comes for us we will leave the darkness of sorrow and disappointment behind and enter into the glorious light of His presence. Just as there were scoffers in Peter's day who mocked the second coming (see 2 Peter 3:3-4), there are people today who make jokes about Jesus coming back and ask what's taking Him so long. Peter answers the skeptics with wisdom that could only come from God Himself. The Lord hasn't forgotten His promise, nor is He too busy. He is holding back to give more sinners an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. God is compassionate and loving. Slow to anger and quick to forgive. He is waiting with a gracious heart. But He will not wait forever.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pray for Courage

"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

In Acts 4 Peter proclaims to the rulers and elders of the people the great truth of the Bible, Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.  There is "no other name", no other way, to be saved. Peter and John are commanded by the Council not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but they do not stop. They continue to preach the truth, and through their testimony many receive the Lord Jesus as Savior. Peter eventually would die a martyr's death for preaching the gospel, and John would die in exile. Today all around the world men and women are commanded not to speak the truth that Jesus saves. Refusing to cease telling others about Jesus, some have given their lives. Pray that we will have the courage to follow in their footsteps, should the time come.
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