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
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