Saturday, June 18, 2011

Peace Comes With Practice

"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Philippians 4:9

Driving through our neighborhood this afternoon, I spied two elk resting in the grass. As I pulled my car over to the side of the road and took this photo, I marveled at how calm the beautiful animals were. They knew I lurked only a few yards from them, yet they showed no fear. They were at peace with their surroundings. The Book of Philippians is filled with instructions for finding peace in the midst of our suffering: pray about everything, rejoice in the Lord always, give thanks, dwell on the things that are excellent, be completely humble and dependent upon Christ. Paul wrote these things to the believers in Philippi so that they might experience the fulness of the God of peace. His words are relevant for us today, as well. But just as Paul admonished the Philippians to practice these things, so must we practice what God's word teaches. Peace comes with practice.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Speak Boldly

"When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
Acts 9:26-27

Before Saul of Tarsus' (Paul) conversion, he persecuted the Christians. He was instrumental in the death of many believers; even holding Stephen's cloak while the Jews stoned him to death. For that reason, it's no wonder the disciples were afraid of him and skeptical of joining with him. But God laid it on Barnabas' heart to stand up for Paul and prove to the disciples that Paul was authentic. Paul had "spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus." When we speak boldly of Jesus, there can be little room for doubt of our relationship with Him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No Condemnation

"As far as the east is from the west, 
So far has He removed our transgressions from us." 
Psalm 103:12

Here is good news for all Christians who struggle with feeling forgiven for their past. Once we have confessed our sins to God, He no longer holds them against us. Christ has atoned for them, God has discarded the record of them, and we are no longer under condemnation. This verse is a good one to recite to the devil the next time he tries to make you feel guilty. Another one is "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). If you are in Christ Jesus, you can claim both verses. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Would We Still Love Him?

"Though the fig tree should not blossom 

And there be no fruit on the vines, 
Though the yield of the olive should fail 
And the fields produce no food, 
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold 
And there be no cattle in the stalls, 
Yet I will exult in the LORD, 
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." 
Habakkuk 3:17-18

This is a challenge to everyone who claims to love the Lord. Who say He is the King of their hearts. If everything was taken away from us, would we still love Him? Of course, we can never know for sure until disaster strikes and all is lost. I have heard missionaries to third world countries say that the poorest Christians there are the happiest. Though we may never be tested to the degree those impoverished believers are, we would be wise to petition the Lord for the strength of faith and trust they exhibit through their joy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Amazing Grace

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

"Was blind, but now I see." Those familiar words from John Newton's hymn "Amazing Grace" describe the before and after state of the believer. Before we come to Christ, accepting Him as our personal Savior, we are blinded by the "god of this world", Satan. He puts a veil over our eyes, convincing us that we do not need to be saved. We're fine just as we are. We're so accustomed to sin's darkness, that the light of the gospel seems uncomfortable. Sometimes we even make jokes about our lost condition, saying such things as "Well, all my friends are bound for Hell, too, so I'll have lots of company when I go there." How tragic. Hell is real, indeed, but it is not a country club. It is an evil place of isolation and separation from God for all of eternity (Luke 16:19-31). Until we receive Gods' amazing grace, coming to Him in repentance and receiving His forgiveness, we are perishing.  But what glory we see when our eyes are opened to Jesus Christ, the image of God! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Don't Lose Heart

"Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart"
Luke 18:1

In one of His teachings on prayer, Jesus told the parable of the "unrighteous judge" and the widow who persistently begged him for justice (Luke 18:1-8). The widow had no social standing, nor money to bribe the evil judge, and so he ignored her request. But the widow didn't give up, and finally under the weight of her badgering and for fear she would never stop, the judge gave in. Unlike the heartless judge, God our Father is not irritated by our needs. He is anxious to hear from us and to grant us our requests, as long as they conform to His will. If you are in the midst of a struggle today, don't lose heart. Your loving, heavenly Father is ready and willing to help you. Just trust Him and count on Him to answer you in His timing. He will not fail you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Creation's Song

"Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; 
Speak of all His wonders. 
Glory in His holy name; 
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. 
Seek the LORD and His strength; 
Seek His face continually."
1 Chronicles 16:9-11

How can we survey the beauty of creation and not believe there is a God? He shows Himself to us in the bright red of a poppy and the varied greens of the grass and trees. The night sky shouts His glory with diamonds of light against velvet black, the morning whispers His name with the first pale shades of dawn. Birdsong reminds us that He cares for the sparrow, and so how much more He must care for us. There is nowhere His handprint cannot be found. It is there on the frothy wave of the ocean that caresses the glistening beach. And on the snow-covered mountain peak that points to His throne. He warms our cheek with the rays of the sun and cools our weary feet in the bubbling spring. Look around you. See and taste that the Lord is good. Worship Him, praise Him. Join in Creation's song.
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