Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mend Your Net

"Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him."
Matthew 4:21-22

When Jesus called James and John, the fishermen, they were "mending their nets." It is often in the most mundane that Jesus calls us. My late husband's great great grandfather was chopping wood in the back of his parents' home when the Lord called him to become a circuit preacher. He dropped his axe and heeded the Lord's call without hesitation. Throughout our walk with the Lord there may be times when the only task He has for us is to mend our nets. To do only the thing that He's placed before us  -- no matter how simple or mundane -- until He calls us to a greater work. If you are waiting on the Lord with a net in your lap, rejoice. Mend that net and trust that a greater work for you is in His plan.

(Today's devotional is the last entry for Mountain Manna. I want to thank all of you who have followed this devotional blog since I started it just a little over two years ago. Many of you have encouraged me personally, and I appreciate that more than you know. I've enjoyed this journey with you, but all good things must come to an end. I feel the Lord is calling me away from this ministry. I don't know what He has planned for me, so for now I'm just going to mend my own net and wait for Him to show me what's next. 

"The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus. -- Nancy)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Be Patient, Be Strong

"You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, 
for the coming of the Lord is near."
James 5:8

James wants to encourage Christians to stand firm in trials. He reminds us that the Lord's return is near, and he tells Christians to "be patient" and "strengthen your hearts". The focus here in on the Lord's second coming. It is imminent. It will happen. The coming of Christ is mentioned some three hundred times in the New Testament.  There is a mention of the coming of Christ one time for every thirteen verses from Matthew to Revelation. It is the one single event that every Christian should long for and watch for. The Christian life requires patience and endurance as we wait for the Lord's return. Trials are never ending. One may end, but another will eventually take its place. There will always be something for us to endure. That's true for everyone - believers and unbelievers alike. The difference is that we believers have access to the Holy Spirit, and He is able to empower us to endure tribulation. Our responsibility is to purpose to live with patience and strength, and then to ask the Holy Spirit to help us do so. His responsibility is to give us what we need. He is faithful. He will do it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This I Know

"This I know, that God is for me."
Psalm 56:9

Even under the threat of death David could say, "This I know, that God is for me." David's trust in God was so complete that I sometimes wonder if he was completely human. And yet I know he was because in times of distress he also struggled with feeling rejected by God (Psalm 89:46,49; Psalm 13:1). Perhaps David, more than any other figure in the Bible, is most like the majority of believers. We know theologically that God is for us. We know it by Calvary. But the cares and concerns of life here on earth tempt us to doubt that He is really for us every day. Especially when we are in the midst of physical or emotional pain. Is God really for us when the prognosis is not good? Yes. He is. Is God really for us when a loved one dies? Yes. He is. Is God really for us when a relationship ends, or we lose a job, or our house goes up in flames? Yes. He is. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:31-32). God is for us. When we call to Him, He will either remove the trial from our lives or give us through His grace the strength to bear it (2 Corinthians 12:9). Like David we can each say with confidence, "God is for me."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Things First

"How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, 
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood."
Psalm 40:4

It's election year here in the United States and the rhetoric is building. I'm not even talking about the candidates. I'm talking about the conversations on Facebook, at the coffee shops and in the grocery store check-out lines. It seems many people have placed their trust in an ideology instead of God. Certainly we should participate in the election process, but to do so and leave God out of the picture will never lead to the blessings He wants to bestow upon our country. The Bible tells us to acknowledge the Lord in everything we do and He will direct the way we should go (Proverbs 3:5-6). "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. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13). I wonder what great things would happen in our country if we put first things first. If we humbled ourselves and honestly prayed for God's wisdom before we vote. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Creative God

"O Lord, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions."
Psalm 104:24

There is nothing that speaks to me more of God's creativity than to observe His earthly possessions. From the magnificent mountains to the roaring seas, from the cornfields to the deserts, every locale shows God's fingerprint. They are all beautiful in their own way. The animals that inhabit the earth know their place, for He has placed each one according to their habits and needs. He sees that they are fed and watered. He is the all-wise and loving Creator. "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Ah, yes. It is very good. "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." (Revelation 4:11)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Daily He Bears Our Burdens

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation." 
Psalm 68:19

Isn't it good to know that the Lord bears our burdens on a daily basis. Not just once in awhile but every single day.  We don't ever need to wonder if the Lord loves us. His love is everlasting (Jeremiah 31:3). He is always watching over us (2 Chronicles 16:9). Even when we are old and gray Jesus is our Rescuer (Isaiah 64:4). He is Yeshua" -- God of salvation. He never tires of hearing us say, "Lord, I can't do this alone." Before we even ask for help He is aware of our need and standing before us with outstretched arms, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28 NIV).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Waiting in Hope

"I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope."
Psalm 130:5

We must wait for the Lord, no matter how long it takes, because His timing is perfect. Is it easy? No, most of the time it isn't easy to wait on the Lord. We tend to fret that He's taking too long to move. But as Peter said, "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." God's timeline is much different from ours. And it is the hope we have in His word -- His promises - that sustains us while we wait. Scripture gives us the strength we need to wait. It assures us that God has not forgotten us. In the middle of the night when anxious thoughts keep us awake we can think on familiar verses like Jeremiah 29:11 "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." Praise God that He is a loving Father who has the very best plans for us, and has given us His word to give us hope as we wait on Him.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Free Indeed

"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." 
John 8:36

We can live in a free country and still be enslaved. Perhaps not politically, but certainly spiritually. Many people are enslaved to sin and its consequences, and don't even realize it. Our culture has become so desensitized to the word "sin", and so much of what the Bible calls sin has become acceptable to our populace, that we pretty much go through this life thinking we're all okay. And in that thinking we have lost more freedom than we can possibly comprehend. But here's the amazing thing: "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). See, Christ doesn't wait until we realize we're sinners to save us. He already did it. That's why He came to earth. That's why He died and rose again. To conquer sin and death and set us free. But we need to recognize that we are enslaved and admit to Christ that we need the freedom only He can give. He is the Key that unlocks the chains that bind us. Once we receive Him as our Savior we will be free indeed. Until then we're hopelessly enslaved.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Light-filled Lives

"The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."
Romans 13:12

The time for salvation is running out. When Christ the Messiah came He ushered in the light, and all those who have received Him as Lord and Savior live in that light. But unbelievers still live in darkness and need to see the Light we possess. It is up to us to live in such a way that they see the Light. When people meet us, talk to us, spend time with us, they should notice something very different about our lives. Perhaps it's time for us to examine ourselves and ask the Lord to reveal to us where we are living outside His will (2 Corinthians 13:5), and therefore may be a stumbling block to those who have not yet come to Christ. In the power of the Holy Spirit we can live Light-filled lives. We can lay aside the darkness of sin and shine with the pure light of Christ that covers us.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Six Words I Long to Hear

 "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’"
Matthew 25:21

There is nothing in the Bible that speaks of reincarnation. In fact, Hebrews 9:27 tells us it is appointed for every person to die only once and after this comes judgment. We only go through life one time. No second chances. So the spiritual decision we make here on earth has eternal consequences. Those who reject Christ will face an eternity separated from God. Those who receive Him will live forever in the light of His presence. Living the Christian life isn't easy. Christ never told us it would be. But He promised to walk with us and help us through this life into the next. And when our time is over and we've remained faithful to Him we can be assured of hearing Him say to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I don't know about you, but those are the six words I long to hear more than any others. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crucified with Christ

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, 
for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Galatians 2:20-21

This is the gospel. That Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, should die for you and for me. That He should fulfill the law by living a perfect, sinless life. The law was given to show us our sinfulness and need for a Savior. And the grace of God in giving HIs Son to die for us shows His incredible love for us and to what lengths He would go to keep us from Hell. What's more, it shows us the undeniable love Christ has for us; to obey the will of His Father and complete the work required of Him. And on the third day, when Jesus rose from the dead, Satan and death were defeated. Only when we accept Christ's sacrifice as sufficient and receive by faith that He paid the penalty for our sins can we say with Paul, "Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." If Christ is your Savior, praise God! Your old sinful self has been crucified with Christ and your new righteous self lives because He now lives in you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God's Got Your Back

“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’"
Deuteronomy 20:1-4

The Lord encouraged Israel with these words and it is just as applicable to us today. When trouble comes you can be assured of this: God's got your back. The floods may come, you may have to walk through a fiery trial, but He is with you (Isaiah 43:2). God's got your back. Storms may come and threaten to sink your fragile boat, but Jesus Christ is the Master of the storms (Luke 8:22-25). God's got your back. A thorn in the flesh may come and torment you as it did Paul, and as with the apostle the Lord might not remove it. But His grace is sufficient for you to endure it. God's got your back. "Do not be faintheared. Do not be afraid or panic, or tremble before [your troubles], for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your [troubles], to save you." God's got your back.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Worship God Alone

"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, 'Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.'”
Revelation 22:8-9

When John falls down to worship the angel, the angel rebukes him (this is the second time this has happened, for John did a similar act in Revelation 19:10). Angels are not to be worshipped. They are created beings -- created by God Almighty -- and to worship them is idolatry. When the angel Lucifer set himself up to be worshiped God cast him out of heaven (Isaiah 12:14-17, Luke 10:18). No doubt John knew this, but he was overwhelmed by what he had been shown and lost himself in praising the messenger. We can be in danger of doing this, too, if we become awed by those who deliver God's word in a sermon or message and put them on a pedestal. There is only One worthy of our awe and worship. Only One who is awesome. The Triune God. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Pearl of Great Value

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."
Matthew 13:45-46

For the one who seeks eternal life Jesus Christ is more valuable than anything else. Although salvation can never be bought, when the Savior is found by the seeker he or she would gladly give up everything to possess a relationship with Him. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8 "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ." Jesus is the pearl of great value. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Forsaking the Fountain of Living Waters

"For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13

Jeremiah here refers to the Israelites' proclivity to idolatry. They rejected "The Fountain of Living Waters" right in front of them to dig for something they perceived to be better: anything but God. We today are no different. We forsake God for all sorts of idols that we believe will give us more pleasure than He Himself gives. Money, popularity,  possessions, ________ (fill in the blank). Our culture is rampant with false gods; broken cisterns that can never hold life-giving water.  Nothing brings full and lasting satisfaction like a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we drink from His "living water" we are never thirsty again (John 4:13-14). The water He gives is eternal. If we refuse it we lose much more than a refreshing drink. We lose our soul.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Lord Stands With You

"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,"
2 Timothy 4:17

At Paul's preliminary trial in Rome, no one defended him. No one appeared in court to stand up and support him. And yet Paul was never alone. The Lord was with him and strengthened him. The word "strengthened" is from the Greek word "endunamoo". In simple terms it means "to put power in" (like a car needs gas for power) and so to make strong, vigorous, to strengthen, or to be strengthened, enabled or empowered inwardly. The idea is to cause one to be able to function or do something. It can refer to physical strengthening, but more often endunamoo refers to spiritual or moral strengthening. Paul knew by experience the truth of Deuteronomy 31:6: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Sometimes God removes our support system so that we will totally rely on Him. This is a good thing, for it shows us God's faithfulness and unsurpassed ability to enable or empower us inwardly in impossible situations. If you are feeling alone at this moment, know that if you have confessed that the Lord is your God you are not abandoned. He is standing with you and He will strengthen you. He will not fail you. He will not forsake you.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

No Compromise

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths."
2 Timothy 4:3-4

Throughout the history of the Church there have been people who refuse to accept the authority of scripture. Paul warned that this would occur. We live in a time right now when the number of people who compromise the word of God is increasing, even among professing Christians. They look for teachers who will say the things they want to hear and support their personal views rather than God's views. It comes down to this: we either accept that the entire Bible is the inspired (the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Bible’s writers, which guaranteed that what they wrote was accurate and trustworthy), inerrant word of God, or we don't. We can't choose to believe some verses and reject others. If we insist on doing this we will never have a complete picture of who God is. Yes, God is a God of love. He is love (1 John 4:8). And He is also a God of judgment (Acts 17:30-31). In John 17:17 Jesus says, "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth." God's word is truth. All of it.

"Men do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them." E. Paul Hovey

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Walking Directions

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; 
I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
Psalm 32:8

One day a woman was trying to find her way to my shop. She called me using her cell phone and asked for walking directions. I asked her location and when she gave it to me I realized she was only a half block away. I told her the way to go and assured her that I was watching for her, and that as soon as I saw her I would wave and lead her into the store. I wanted to keep her from going the wrong way. That incident reminds me of how the Lord directs us. It is the Lord's desire that we walk according to His will. He instructs us on how to do this through His word. He watches us and if we take a wrong turn He corrects us so that we stay on the right path. 
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.
Psalm 121:7-8

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Look Back, Look Around, Look Up

"I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands."
Psalm 143:5

When we are in the midst of a trial and peace seems far from us, it's a perfect time to stop what we're doing and mediate on the goodness of our Heavenly Father. Look back to days past when He has brought us victoriously through trouble. Remembering what He has already done for us gives us hope in our current situation. Look around, consider creation and the blessings that He gives us every day through the natural world. Think about how the Lord holds it altogether by His power and strength. How constant He is in bringing the sunrise every morning and the sunset every night. If He is so trustworthy with nature, won't He be so much more trustworthy with our lives today and in the future? Look up. Seek the Lord's face and praise Him. Praising Him when we are troubled is a sacrifice which He will never refuse and one that delights Him. When we focus our attention on Him instead of our circumstances, He responds with all we need for the time. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). Look back and remember His faithfulness, look around and consider His power and strength, look up and receive His peace.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Giving an Account

"But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ 
will be put to shame."
1 Peter 3:14-16

There's not a lot of respect for Bible believing Christians in our culture, but maybe some of that disrespect we have brought upon ourselves. We can't expect people who don't know the love of Christ to understand our belief, much less accept it. Especially if we're speaking harshly to them. It's incumbent upon us according to scripture to defend our faith gently and with respect.  Before we believed we were enemies of the gospel. (Or have we forgotten that?) Now that we know the truth of Christ that has set us free, it's our responsibility to share it with others. We don't need to fear any intimidation they may try to use. We only need to pray and ask God to give us the words He has for us to share. Even the smallest amount of words we use can have a large impact if they are given to us by God and are delivered with love and kindness. It worked for Jesus. It will work for us.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


" I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ 
So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”"
Exodus 32:24

Moses had left Aaron in charge of the Israelites while he visited with God on the mountaintop. And now, tired of waiting for Moses to return, the people are grumbling and complaining and demanding that Aaron make them a god to go before them. And so Aaron tells them to gather up all their gold earrings and bring them to him. He takes what they give him and fashions it into a golden calf, and when the people call it their god Aaron plays along and proclaims a day of worship and celebration to the graven image. Later, when confronted with his sin by Moses, Aaron acts like he has no idea how it all happened. I have to say that whenever I read Exodus 32:24 I want to laugh out loud. Aaron seems so ridiculous. But really, is he any more ridiculous than I am when God confronts me with my sin and I try to shift the responsibility away from myself? No, I'm afraid not. I'm a lot more like Aaron than I care to admit. Can you relate?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Strength and Peace

"The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace."
Psalm 29:11

I look at the mountains around me and I see rock hard strength. And yet these mountains with all their strength can't compare to the strength God gives to His loved ones. Just when we think we can't take one more step, He gives us the strength to do so. He gives us the power we need to move forward when everything looks hopeless. And therein lies the peace that we long for. This is a crazy, hectic world we live in and trouble abounds. But don't give up. Run to the One who has the strength to see you through this day, and the next and the next. And rest in the peace that comes from knowing that victory doesn't depend on you or your feelings. It depends on the Lord who gives strength to His people. He never fails.

Friday, August 3, 2012

No Longer in Doubt

“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘Who will bring me down to earth?’"
Obadiah 1:3

Because I do a lot of online research I often come across websites and blogs that try to debunk Christianity. The authors spend hours, I'm sure, finding ways to convince Christians -- or people investigating Christianity -- that there is no God and that faith in Christ is nothing more than superstition or ignorance. When I was a young Christian I steered away from such writings because, frankly, they tested my faith and I found myself doubting. But now, so many years later, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is God. I study the skeptics' arguments and feel nothing but pity and sorrow for them. The arrogance of their hearts have deceived them. It's pride that keeps men and women from accepting that there is a God, that He came to earth in the human form of Jesus Christ who died for the sins of the world and rose again to defeat death, and that they are one of those sinners who need a Savior. It's self-righteousness that makes men and women say "I'm good," or "I don't need anyone to save me. I've saved myself." See, I know I'm not good. I know I can't save myself. And I know I need a Savior. You know what else? That makes me very happy. Because I know that while once I was filled with pride and arrogance, separated from God, I'm no longer that person. Jesus Christ has saved me and changed me. Praise the Lord!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Joy of Obedience

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; 
just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, 
and that your joy may be made full."
John 15:9-11

In response to His Father's love Jesus carried out His Father's will. In the same way, if we love Jesus our response should be to do His will; to abide -- or remain -- in His love by obeying Him.   1 John 5:3-4 tells us: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.  For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith." The world considers God's commandments to be burdensome because it doesn't abide in His love, nor have the faith needed to walk victoriously in obedience to His word. Jesus has told us to abide in His love and obey Him by faith so that His joy may be in us. And when His joy is in us our joy is complete.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Must Be Born Again

"Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’"
John 3:7

Several days ago I had a conversation with a man and woman who came into my shop. When they saw some of the faith-related merchandise I carry they asked, "Are you a Christian?" "Yes," I answered. "A born-again Christian?" they asked. I answered "yes." After they left I thought about our exchange. In actuality there is no such thing as a Christian who is not born again. If you're not born again, you're not truly a Christian. I didn't make this up. Jesus said it Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?' Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’" 

When a Christian is born again in the spirit, his old self dies and his new self lives. It's a spiritual rebirth. "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:4-11) 

Jesus said, "Don't be amazed that I said to you 'You must be born again.'" He said it. I believe it. That settles it. We must be born again to be a Christian.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A More Excellent Way

"And I show you a still more excellent way."
1 Corinthians 12:31

The Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians about the use of spiritual gifts. How they are given to each person as God wills, and how they are to be used to build up the church, which is the body of Christ.  And then He goes on to show them "a still more excellent way" than zealously aspiring to the place of apostles, prophets or leaders, and that is to love. In chapter  13 he describes this love -- this more excellent way -- for the Corinthians, and for us: 
"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Love is not a spiritual gift. It is a way of life -- the way of our Savior. Every Christian is to apprehend it and live it. It's not optional. It's a command. Jesus said "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).  Love is to be the motivation behind the exercising of our spiritual gifts. It is a more excellent way. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Creation's Testimony

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Psalm 19:1-3

All of creation testifies to God's glory and the works of His hands. Romans 1:20 tells us: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Creation opens up our hearts and minds to believe there is Someone greater than us, and the word of God -- the Bible -- completes the revelation of who He is and how we can have a relationship with Him. "Thank God for creation – its beauty and the testimony to His creative glory! But thank God even more for the testimony of God’s word – the message of salvation by grace received through faith, founded in Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection." (David Bahn)

Here is a link to a stunning video of God's creation using footage from the BBC's Planet Earth Series, and set to Brian Doerksen's song "Creation Calls":

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Am With You

"Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, 
and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you 
until I have done what I have promised you."
Genesis 28:15

Jacob had never gone beyond his home. He stayed close to his mother and was not an adventurer like his brother Esau. In God's plan Jacob was called away to a strange place. But He was not called to go alone. God promised to be with Jacob and never leave him. This is the faithful God we serve. When He calls us to go we can be assured we will not go alone. God will surround us with His presence. He will go before us and behind us. He will walk by our side. 

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
  Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Source: The hymn God Hath Not Promised Skies Always Blue

Saturday, July 28, 2012

God Heal America

The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, 
and behold, they are an obstinate people."
Exodus 32:9

Thousands of years ago God made this statement to Moses about the Israelites. Thousands of years later Abraham Lincoln made a similar statement about Americans: “Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” One hundred and forty-seven years later we are still obstinate, still too proud to pray to our Creator. In Ezekiel 22 God looked for one who would "stand in the gap before me for the land" (v. 30). We who are called by His name are told to humble ourselves and pray and seek God's face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, will forgive our sin and will heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Our land lies wounded and bleeding. Let's stand in the gap and call upon the name of the Lord to heal her. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forgiveness that Knows No Limit

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
Matthew 18:21-22

Perhaps Peter  was feeling righteous when he suggested to the Lord that forgiving an offending brother seven times would be acceptable to God. There was a rabbinic view that one need forgive only three times, so in effect Peter was actually doubling the quota for forgiveness.  But the Lord responded with a number much greater than Peter's. In fact, the Lord's idea of forgiveness knows no boundaries, and His followers are to forgive as He forgives. Today I read that Pierce O'Farrill, a 28-year-old who was shot three times in the Aurora theatre, says he has forgiven James Holmes the suspected shooter. O'Farrill, who serves at the  Denver Rescue Mission -- a Christian organization -- was quoted as saying: "Of course, I forgive him with all my heart. . . when I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him -- he's just a lost soul right now. I want to see him sometime. The first thing I want to say to him is 'I forgive you,' and the next is, 'Can I pray for you?'"  Pierce is a living testimony to what Christ taught. And it is by the power of Christ that this young man is able to forgive so great an offense. Praise God for his example. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When We Are Exiled

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’"
Jeremeiah 29:4-7

When we lose a loved one we can come to feel we have been exiled to a land of grief, never to return to the place where we once experienced joy. We long for what we once had and wonder how we will step through the days ahead of us. Where will we go? What will we do? We can wander in confusion or look to the God of Love who answers us with a simple directive: "Go on living. Embrace each day and walk with me. There is much healing to be done and it can only happen by continuing to walk through the shadowed valley hand-in-hand with me. I understand your grief. I have been there. I will rescue you and bring you back to a land of joy (Jeremiah 29:10-14). That time is coming. Trust me and wait for me to bring it about."

"Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as 'in all points tempted like as we are,' bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us." (Alexander MacLaren)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Are You Small Enough?

"What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?"
Psalm 8:4

Years ago, there was a famous explorer named William Beebe, a good friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. Often when he visited the President at Sagamore Hill, the two men would go outdoors at night to see who could first locate the Andromeda galaxy. Then, as they gazed at the tiny smudge of distant starlight, one of them would recite, “That is the spiral galaxy of Andromeda. It s as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galax- ies. It is 750,000 light years away. It consists of 100 billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.” With this ritual, Beebe and Roosevelt restored their sense of wonder. David had that sense of wonder, too. As he looked at creation he marveled that such a magnificent God could love and care for frail, weak humans. So often we think we have all the answers and can do everything needed without God's help. But the truth is we are completely dependent upon Him. Without His grace we would have nothing. Go out today and renew your wonder of God. Then lift up praises to Him for all that He is. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Radically Transformed

"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 
trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10

Christians don't need to dwell on what they were before they came to Christ. We are no longer the embodiment of darkness, now we are bright shining lights, just as the Lord is a Shining Light. However, remembering the darkness from which we came does help us to live in thankfulness, with a desire to please the One who gave His life so that we could become "children of Light". "Paul’s argument is based upon a fundamental premise: Christians have undergone a dramatic transformation which is here described as having been transformed from darkness to light. In the Bible, salvation is never spoken of as a trivial matter. Those who are saved by faith in Christ are not merely improved, they are radically transformed. They have been delivered from death and given eternal life and have been saved from a life of sin to a new life which is characterized by good works (Ephesians 2:1-10." (Bob Deffinbaugh)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Will We Share the Good News?

“Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane."
Isaiah 51:6

Isaiah prophesied of the events that will occur in the Second Coming of Jesus (Matthew 24:4-9, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 6:12-17), when the Lord's justice will be displayed to Israel and all the nations of the earth. Thousands of years have passed since Isaiah's prophecy, the warnings of Jesus, the words of Peter and John's revelation. Why is God waiting so long? Peter tells us why: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 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." It is God's mercy that stays His hand of judgment. He's holding back so that more and more people can enter His kingdom before it's too late. And we who know Him have the responsibility to share the good news of God's salvation with those who don't know and don't understand so that they may know His mercy and live. God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What He has said He will do, He will do. What He says will happen, will happen. If our neighbors lived in the path of a raging fire, wouldn't we warn them and show them the way to safety? Why, then, are we so afraid to warn them of the judgment that is coming and show them the way to mercy? (Friends, I ask this very question of myself as I write it.) May God give me -- and you -- the courage to share His salvation with everyone He places in our path.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...