Saturday, May 21, 2011

Risky Business

"in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:12b-13

When we are submitted to the Lord, He puts it in our hearts and minds to serve Him in a particular way. Our response to His call is only to move forward in obedience. Never try to do God's job. Just do what He has put in front of you and then trust Him to bring the results. The outcome may not be what you expected, but rest assured that in God's eyes it is exactly what He intended. Think of the freedom that comes from doing "all things through Him who strengthens [you]". When you fully understand that God calls, God performs, and God is responsible for the bottom line, then you are free to take risks you may never have considered in the past. And whether you then have little or have much, you can be content in knowing that you are in the center of God's will. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

God's Wonderful Grace

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

God's amazing grace. It exceeds all sin. Every sin for anyone who places their faith in Christ.  No one has ever been able to perfectly keep the Ten Commandments (the Law). They only expose how sinful we are. The law cannot save. Only God can save through His grace, and we are never beyond it. His arm of grace reaches far beyond our greatest fall and brings us to Him. His grace is a free gift that can never be earned. We don't deserve it. And that makes it all the more wonderful.   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Forgiving Heart

"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions."
Mark 11:25

Forgiveness is at the heart of our faith. Because God is willing to forgive, we can come to Him and confess our sins, knowing that He is faithful to "forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray to the Father, He included the words, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" (Luke 11:4). Forgiving someone who has wounded us is difficult, especially if the offender shows no remorse. But Jesus didn't say to forgive only those who say they're sorry. He taught us to forgive "anything against anyone". Our forgiveness is not dependent upon what the other person does or doesn't do. We must choose to forgive, because the Lord told us to. And because if we don't, God can't forgive us. This is a hard teaching to accept, but God's word clearly lays it out for us. An unforgiving heart becomes bitter and hard. And a hard heart cannot fully appreciate the forgiveness of God, nor extend it to others. Choose to forgive the one who has hurt you. Ask God to help you do it. If you are willing, He will give you to ability to forgive that person and experience the indescribable freedom that comes from a forgiving heart.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Best Place Possible

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?"
 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."
John 8:10-11

Throughout Jesus' ministry the Scribes and Pharisees did their best to discredit Him. This time they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to the Lord, asking Him if He would uphold the law that gave death as a penalty for her sin (Lev 20:10, Deut. 22:22). It's interesting that the man involved with the woman was not present. The law stated that both the woman and the man must die. Why didn't the accusers bring her partner to the Lord, as well? There is no way we can know the answer, but it is for certain the legalists wanted to shame the woman and trap the Lord at the same time. But Jesus says nothing at first. Instead, He mysteriously writes in the sand with His finger. Whatever He wrote may have had a direct impact on the people around Him, for when He told them to cast a stone at the woman if they were without sin, they all left. Then He turns to the woman with compassion. Although He does not condemn her, He does call her act of adultery sin, and commands her to stop it. The Lord is never soft on sin. There is always a penalty for it eventually (Rom. 6:23; Eze. 18:4). That's why we need to run to Jesus, our Savior, for forgiveness. When the religious authorities brought the woman to Jesus, they brought her to the best place possible.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cover It with Love

"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

Genuine Christian love -- the love that Christ exhibits -- is long suffering. It chooses to overlook an offense, rather than dwell on it and allow it to become a bone of contention. Satan would like nothing more than to cause conflict between God's children, so it is up to us to defeat his scheme by responding to others with love, even someone we don't particularly like. This is possible through the work of the Holy Spirit living within us. As we relinquish our self interests to Him, we receive in exchange the power to love the unloveable. In this God is glorified and we are satisfied.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heaven's Throne

 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, 
   to receive glory and honor and power, 
for you created all things, 
   and by your will they were created 
   and have their being.”
Revelation 4:9-11

In Revelation, John gives us a picture of what is happening around God's throne in Heaven. He describes strange "living creatures" who worship the Lord day and night.  At times they give special praise to the Almighty, and during those times the twenty-four elders cast their victor crowns at His feet and join in the praise. They are in the Lord's presence because of His grace and mercy, and He alone is worthy of their adoration. God is the Eternal One, the Great Creator, the Sovereign Ruler, the Sustainer of Life. A day is coming when we who have acknowledged God as our Savior will enter with the elders in this awesome scene. Take joy in that thought today.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

God is Unique

"See now that I, I am He,
         And there is no god besides Me;
         It is I who put to death and give life 
         I have wounded and it is I who heal,
         And there is no one who can deliver from My hand." 
Deuteronomy 32:39

This is the testimony that God gives of Himself. He is unique. There is no one like Him. He has control over life and death. He may allow wounds, but He will also heal them. Those who place their trust in Him, find that He is altogether trustworthy. God holds them tightly in His hand and no one can steal them away.
Praise the Lord!
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