‘Do I Have What It Takes?’

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Trials and tribulations are words that we do not like to hear, and yet as I read my Bible and see that whether or not I agree with God on having them enter into my life, I have come to realize that they are to God like a scalpel that a doctor would use in a surgery where he would cut something out that is potentially harmful to my physical health.  In the same way, God uses trials to remove those things in my character that if left unchecked will result in a stunted and weak spiritual development.

No matter who you are, man or woman, young or old, they come to us in every walk of life.  There are some who will face financial trials for their entire life…..  One thing for sure, the longer you live, you will face many trials or troubles.  It might be family, or relationships, but they will come.

There are some who believe that if you become a Christian, that all of your trials will go away.  There are even some inside the church that say that if you just believe in Jesus, everything will be great!  Sadly, I have not run into this kind of belief in Scripture.

Quite the contrary.  Jesus never told His followers that if they followed Him, that everything would be great or rosy.  Jesus did tell  people that followed Him that it will be a difficult road.  But good news!  These trials will come and go, as God faithfully uses them to slowly but surely transform your life into a way you could never have imagined!

A LORD KNOWS

In  2 Peter 2:9 , the Holy Spirit says: “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.”

Hallelujah! it is music to my ears that the ‘Lord knows how!” because I have to admit that if left to my own resources, I would crumble at the thought of another trial.  But the Lord know how, when I’ve had enough, making sure to never give me more than I can handle.       Lord, thank You that You are always my strong right hand, to help us in times of need. We don’t ask for ways out of these trials Lord, but we do ask that You give us Your wisdom, that we might become learners and applying Your wisdom int0 our lives and become like Paul, rejoicing, trial after trial!, trusting in Your Saving and wonderful grace! in  Your Name we pray this and in Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 A PYTHON

There is an instruction still given today to those in the ‘Peace Corps’ as they serve in the areas throughout South America.  The instruction?  ‘How to react  to a hungry python while in the jungles.

#1. Do not run away! (The python can out ‘run’ you.)

#2. Lie down flat on the ground on your back with your feet together, arms at your side, head well down.

Now then, the python will then try to push its head under you, experimenting at every possible point. Keep calm! (this was underscored).  ‘Allow the python to swallow your foot….it is quite painless, and will take a long time. Be careful not to lose your head and begin struggling, the python sensing your struggle will quickly whip his coils around you.

 However, if you keep calm and still, he will go on swallowing.  Wait patiently until he has swallowed up to about your knee, then carefully take your knife and insert it into the distended side of its mouth and with a quick rip, slit him up.’

The spiritual lesson when you are under pressure, being tested, is to what? Stay calm! wait until God opens a door of opportunity to walk out unharmed.  Walking out unharmed is really what the testing is all about.

Either way, whether you pass the test (calm, obedient) or fail the test (anxious, fretful) God will not allow the pressure to become so large that you become consumed by it.  Remember, (and I say this carefully to myself), this time of testing is more for ourselves, to see it as a barometer of where we are in regards to our faith and trusting that ‘He who began a work in us is faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:3-6.  God is a loving Father, and will not abandon you in the middle of a trial. “I have not lost one of those You gave to me’  John 18:9

 

A TEMPTATION

God Has given us 3 Extremely Powerful words of Encouragement when one is in a Season of Trial.

First Encouragement:      Despite popular belief… The Bible teaches us that God will bring us into Seasons of Trial……. in fact one of the best tests of Christian growth and maturity is trouble……….   When a believer goes through personal trials, they discover just what kind of faith they really possess. Trials not only reveal our faith, but they also help along to develop our character.

a faith

James writes in his Epistle, Chapter 1 how God is trying to produce in us the kind of faith that overcomes. “The trying of your faith worketh patience.”

Patience is enduring faith, faith with staying power.     This kind of faith will usually come trials and tests from outside circumstances.

I don’t know about you, I kind of like this kind of faith, with ‘staying power’.  Unfortunately, when certain things occur outside my normal circumstances….I have a difficult time gaining any appreciation for them at that moment..

Nevertheless, God is trying to produce in me a  “faith that overcomes,” that ‘endures,’ that has ‘staying power.’

a faith that overcomes

There is a pattern in our lives that when trials, testing , and temptations do come our way that we discover far too soon into the trial that the faith we thought was good enough  has been proven inadequate.   Sometimes I have several trials going on all at once. It doesn’t take me too long to see that I begin to adapt this mindset that cries out to God saying, “God, what are You doing to me?  Why are You picking on me?”   

a temp

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

‘Except that is common to man’……. I don’t know about you but I find great comfort knowing that I am not the only one who is going through things….  But I am especially encouraged that God is faithful!   ‘Faithful to complete the work He began in me, who will also do it.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Ia god

There is no trial that we may go through but such as is, ‘Common to man’ .   And so if you are at the point where you may not be able to make it, remain steadfast!  Hang in there, remain still, and wait for the opportunity that God will present to deliver you safely, and more stronger than you were going into it. Don’t back up because you’re being asked to endure what you may think that no one else has had to endure.

God is saying to you right now, Marty, I know that what you are going through is very hard for you, that it may even seem to be unbearable, but you need to realize that there are many others who have already gone through very similar trials like yours.  If I enabled them to get through it, I will also get you through it!’..….      

                                ‘ Marty…….. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you…..when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,nor shall the flame scorch you.
 For I am the Lord your God.”
 

a isaiah

When we are going through a time in our lives where the pressure seems unbearable and we haven’t the answers, our most common prayer is, ‘God get me out of here!’.  I can’t recall how many times I prayed that prayer….and nothing happened!   In fact, there is no escaping your turn when you find yourself in the middle of a fiery trial!   

A WAVE

 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  1 Peter 4:12

When difficult times come into my own  life and I find myself unable to comprehend or understand; its amazing just how  quick the enemy will begin to throw doubts and questions into my mind, and I soon find myself questioning God’s goodness, God’s wisdom in why He is allowing these things to happen.  I find that I may even be bitter and angry with God for allowing this to happen to me and wonder if He really understands….. when the truth is revealed that there’s no such thing in God’s economy as things happening haphazardly to us, with no meaning or purpose behind it.

There are times when I’m in the middle of it, that I find myself unable to see the good and purpose of why I’m going through it, Satan will cast some dirt of the past into my sight momentarily distracting me from the real purpose of my trials, to become more and more a child of God.  It’s moments like these when I need to remember that a trial isn’t a one way street. God wants me to talk with Him, to ask Him for wisdom, discernment.

Jesus said: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you, for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7)

a ask

It seems therefore that if nothing else, (that I can see) happens in a trial at least my personal relationship is growing in the asking of wisdom in a trial through my prayers……This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14

a cancer

God has been very good to me in allowing me to see the good….even in a difficult trial.  I can’t but remember back, one year ago where God delivered me to what I thought at the time to be the most difficult one of my life when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer.   I can still remember the words rolling off the lips of that doctor, and the thump as I took a deep swallow, not really seeing anything good about it.

But it’s fascinating as God walked with me daily, and into the treatment rooms where they have you sit on a recliner and begin to infuse this mixture of chemicals that would ultimately destroy whatever cancer cells were still alive.  How often the Holy Spirit would bring wave after wave of encouragement during those hours that there was good going on inside of me at the very time that it seemed that my body was betraying me.  I can recall all the people I met and prayed with there, how God would use this trial as a floodgate of light for Him to encourage others there.

a cancer sur

I remember specifically as I was nearing my last treatment after 8 months, when there was this elderly woman sitting next to me, who was also having her infusion. As the chatter began throughout the room and we would discuss God’s Word and share how it had become a mainstay for all of us; that this woman, (who always covered her face) spoke from underneath that covering and said that all these months, although it may have seemed like she wasn’t, ‘listening’., she was; and thankful that God would send people around her, to see the good of what He was doing in the midst of all this difficulty.

And so, you too, when you find yourself there, can begin to search out and discover for yourself the good He is doing through your trial, with those around you, how so much good comes from a trial!

a tempt

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) 

Remember when Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan River, and the Holy Spirit fell upon Him anointing Him for ministry?  What happened next? Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”   Jesus armed Himself with the Word of God.  This is vital if you’re in a trial.  You see, God wants to write His Word upon Your heart,  

In other words, His Word is all you need to pass the test in the trial, and memorizing His Word can prove to be so valuable when fiery trials are in progress.  Satan will not wait until you’ve got your open Bible, and paper, and pen, and THEN tempt you.  He will arrive at an inopportune time, when it’s not convenient time and begin to hassle you.  The more you know the Word of God, the more calm you will remain in the midst of your trial.   Maybe you know this, and if so, begin to ask God to send you as one of the ones spoken in the previous Scripture in Isaiah 43 where He says, “I will send men for you, and people for your life, fear not, I am with you”

a fear

When we are going through a fiery trial, it can help enormously if a friend can lay a hand on a Brother or Sister’s shoulder and encourage them, saying honestly, ” Hey, I know what you’re going through, and God brought me through it; I know it’s tough for you right now, I know when I was going through something very similar to what you’re going through, I thought that wasn’t going to make it through….but God got me through it, and I know He will do the same for you.”  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  James 5:16

a PRAYER

But even if there is not a specific  friend around me who is able to say those words to me, this verse reminds me that there is indeed others, remnant if you will, who have been given this beautiful gift of a Grace Ministry…. people called to help others out there to get through their season of trial…

The Second Word of Encouragement, 

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…”

a temting

There is a time, in the life of every man, woman when we are going through some difficult and challenging situations that we can become so entangled in our weakness and our inability to do anything about it, that we cry out to God, ‘help me God, I can’t take it any more!’  As a Christian, you are guaranteed troubled lives.  John’s Gospel Chapter 16:33, we see Jesus, teaching the Apostles before His greatest trial at Calvary that they would experience similar pressures, and that they would not be left to themselves in comfort and support but that God would send them the Holy Spirit.  He finishes giving them the reason for this explanation by saying that:These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

A PEACE

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…”

And so Secondly, God assures us in this verse that He will not allow us to be tested “above what we are able.”

I think back in my own life, and see often I felt in certain instances where I had reached the ‘end of my rope’……when in fact, I really hadn’t.   During those times, I would often feel that I could endure no more……. when I really could….only after all the smoke and dust had settled that I really could have …..endured more.  

Each time as God waited so patiently for me, I finally came to the conclusion, (at least that time) that God knows me better than I do myself.   God knows how much I can bear.  God knows exactly which straw it will be that will, ‘break the camel’s back!’  Not only that, but God promises me that He will never allow that much testing to come my way.

When I am tempted to cry out to God, ‘I can’t take anymore!’ ….He reminds me gently of these words:  ‘Marty, I will not allow you to be tested above what you are able to bear.”

The Third Word of Encouragement here is this:

“Will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

a way

There are times….when I am deep into what seems to me an excessively long trial, when I begin to convince myself that this is the one I was hoping would never come, there simply is no way out of this one.   Absolutely, no way out…..  When I have arrived here, at this point, it seems as if I had been pushed into a room, with no windows….no doors….  I go over and over in my mind that I just don’t see any hope whatsoever of getting out of this one!      And then, when I felt like the light was going to dim away, God steps in and says to me, ‘Marty, I have made a way of escape for you, come now!’

a peter

There is a story in the Book of Acts Chapter 12 where we are told that the Apostle Peter was in King Herod’s jail . Peter, no doubt had already heard that Herod was arresting and persecuting anyone who said they belonged to Jesus.  James, brother of John put to death by sword.    When Herod saw that this pleased the Jews, he went after Peter, arresting him at the time of the ‘Unleavened Bread’ handing him over to be guarded by 16 soldiers.  Herod’s plan was to bring Peter out after the Passover and bring him to trial.   So Peter was kept in jail, while the Church prayed for him.

Little did Peter know what God had planned for this trial he was going through. As it ended up, God sent an angel to Peter and provided a way of escape.

I AM BEHOLD

 At just the right time, in just the right way, God opened up those prison bars, with 16 soldiers securely fastened to him.    At the right time God made a way of escape by simply opening the prison door……“is I am the LORD, the God of all mankind, is anything too hard for Me?” ” (Jeremiah 32:27)

It’s amazing when we find our ourselves staring at a horrible circumstance in the face, just how limited  our vision is.  It is at these times we are subject to making terrible and regretful  choices, because our perspective was not God’s perspective, how we see things and how God views things can often times become contrary,  As a matter of fact the Bible makes this very clear:  ” For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord….. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

A THOUGHT

It becomes during these times when we must look away from the circumstances and onto God.   King David was all too familiar with this tendency of man that when he finds himself in a circumstance that he cannot solve, instead of looking to see where God is standing in it, we look to ourselves for answers, oftentimes coming up short. Psalm 121 has the answer, if you find yourself in this predicament, ” I lift up my eyes to the mountains—    where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of  heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip   He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  

However bleak the circumstances that you find yourself in today, remember the promises that God has given you, for being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I often marvel that when I am in the middle of a trial, how my flesh just loves to resist being told what to think, what to do.  How less confident I become in my own answers to the circumstance and leave me in a state of confusion at its end.   What a waste of energy this can be.  If I would only sit still, and hear His whisper of confidence for me : Marty, be still, and know I am God.”  Psalm 46:10.   In fact, the Lord commands us to not  have any confidence in what my flesh might be suggesting.  Philippians 3:4 ….and rightly so, because deep inside me, within the very chambers of my heart, I know what kind of confidence I had in my plans, decisions.  And when they fell through, how quickly my flesh would chalk it up to, ‘Well, at least you tried!’

A PSALM

When I come to the place where I know God has set a trial before me, I am reminded that one of the purposes of that trial is to let God burn away the failures of my own confidence and live in the light of His presence that will never fail me,

However the bleakness of your situation, you must cling onto the promises He has given to you, knowing that He will certainly and without doubt see you through victoriously!

I have always loved History, so when I came to know Jesus Christ as the only Person whom I could put my trust into and know that He would always keep His promises to me.  That’s important, because whether you like history or not, you need to know that your own life has become….history.   It becomes an account of who you were, what you accomplished, what you believed, where you lived,  your whole life has great historical value to God, your life means something to God.

Throughout History, God has raised up leaders. Men and Women who despite their frailties and weaknesses were used by God to bring a charge of hope and challenge in difficult circumstances to never give up.  Giving up is the fleshly perspective which separates itself from hope, and leaves you feeling desolate.

A NEVER GIVE UP

During the Nazi invasion throughout Europe in World War 2 , God raised up was an Englishman by the name of Winston Churchill. who would go on to lead Britain through what history books would record as the darkest hour of her history.  

All hope seemed to be lost….but this man, whom God had raised, “for such a time as this’(Esther 4:14) refused to allow his people to give up……eventually God gave then victory over their demonic Nazi enemies.

Years later, Churchill would be invited to give a speech; at a boys school, one which he, himself attended as a boy.   When it was time for him to speak, he quietly stepped up to the podium and spoke these words, slowly and with great emphasis.   He said, “Boys….never give up….never give up, never, never, never, never…”  and he sat down.  I have a feeling everyone in attendance carried vivid memories of that moment the rest of their lives.    So you see, you just never know, what God is doing through you as you are surrounded by a crowd of circumstances that ask you to step out and just trust God in it!

I like to remind myself that a trial is conclusive evidence God gives to me about my spiritual condition, and allows me to see in it, my capacity to look beyond them, and look to God who surrounds them.  ‘He that is in me, is greater than he who is in the world’.  1 John 4:4

A GREATER

 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

In closing, let us review what we have learned from this passage through the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit.

First, no one who enters into the realm of fellowship with God is immune from trials.  Everyone of us will see them this year.  Two, there is great design by a loving and caring Father who, while we are being raised up to become sons and daughters of God for eternity and earthly trials are a part of the process God uses to make us more like His Son.  A good prayer might be what John recorded in his Gospel from John the Baptist.“I must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

A GREATER HIM

And so when I am facing a trial, I need to remember that as I let go, as I decrease, God will work out whatever is keeping you from fully trusting in Him.  You will experience a contentment and peace.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:17.   When I am in a trial, my confidence in how it will turn out is to be put in Jesus Christ; and since He is the giver of that peace, you need to find Him in the trial. 

A SHADRACH

I remember the story in the Old Testament of  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego who in the midst of a referendum given by King Nebuchadnezzar II, of Babylon, who had commissioned that a nine-story high statue, made of gold be built.     When the project was complete, he prepared a dedication ceremony to this image ordering all surrounding inhabitants to bow down and worship it. The consequence for not worshiping the idol, upon hearing the cue of instruments, was execution in a fiery furnace.

During the dedication ceremony of the golden image, certain officials took notice that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego  were not bowing down to the idol.

Upon being told this, The King was enraged and demanded that these three men come before him.  Nebuchadnezzar knew of these very men, because it was not too long ago when Daniel had petitioned the King to assign Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon.

 Daniel was also very special to the King because he was able to interpret his dreams unlike any of the Chaldean wise men. So it is of no surprise that the King would offer one more chance for these three Jews, who held honorable positions to the King, to show their patriotism to Babylon.

a shadme

Their response: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

Nebuchadnezzar demanded that the execution furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. Valiant soldiers of the King’s army were ordered to firmly bind the fully clothed Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and cast them in the blazing furnace. Upon approaching the mouth of the furnace, the fire was so hot that the soldiers perished while attempting to throw in the three tightly bound Jews (who then fell in)

When the King saw what appeared to be four men in the furnace, unbound and walking about, he called to them to come out. King Nebuchadnezzar then acknowledged the power of their God, even going as far as to make a decree, whereby any nation who says anything against the God of the Jews is an act of war. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were then given promotions to their positions over the province of Babylon.

a nother

 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I read this, and wonder out loud, ‘Marty what would you do in a ‘real life’ situation , where your faith is being stretched?’   We are being called to not panic when this stretching of our faith comes.  Sometimes I feel some of the little things I go through are so important and fretful, until God places someone along my path, to remind me that this too is ‘common to man’.

‘But God is faithful”  This so important to remember, especially when we allow ourselves to ponder on someone, or something that is coming to make everything go away.  God is always faithful….you can count on Him to always come through!

“who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

I cannot begin to overcome my difficulties until I look at the Cross at Calvary, where physical and emotional suffering took heights unimaginable to mankind.  For me this becomes my standard, that God laid all my empty confidence on the Cross and walked me through victoriously when Jesus arose from the tomb.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been left alone to suffer in my difficulties and remember that God has not forgotten me. ““Your thoughts for me are more than the sands of the sea”  Psalm 139:18  I meditate that my life has purpose, and this trial is bringing me closer to the truth of that purpose.

A THOUGHT FOR ME

make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

There are times in my trials, when I begin to take on the burden of that trial. As I try to convince myself that if I would just pray a little harder, maybe if I would just give a little extra in that tithe, that through my actions, God would spare or lessen the severity of the trial., struggling to make a way out of the difficulty, sometimes even lightly persuading someone to help out in my circumstance…… “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Romans 7:24

A WRETCHED

You see, the longer I live, the greater the trials. That is why God through His grace brings these challenges to me, that I might be convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that, this is not my eternal home. In its present condition, this body is not going to live forever. And thank God, because as I get older, I’m beginning to see all its weakness.  My struggles in a trial are becoming to be more evident that I myself will never find a way of escape as long as it lives in its temporary state!  But praise be to God that He knows this condition and has a plan that will  “make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

A BUTTERFLY

There is a wonderful story about a  man found a cocoon of a butterfly.
One day a small opening appeared.
He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours
as it struggled to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped, as if it couldn’t go further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and
snipped off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily but
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge
and expand enough to support the body,
Neither happened!
In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness
and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon and the struggle
required by the butterfly to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body
into the wings so that it would be ready
for flight once that was achieved.

Sometimes struggles are exactly
what we need in our lives.
Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us.
We will not be as strong as we could have been
and we would never fly.

A BUUTER

And so, in closing, it becomes quite obvious to me that trials through difficulties in my life are for good, not evil.  They eventually draw me nearer to God and help me develop a closeness with God as I trust Him , having confidence in His ability and promise to ‘make all things work together for good, to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose”   Romans 8:28

A CALM

Lord, thank You that You always know what is right for my life. Give me wisdom and discernment through these trials, that I might be a shining light in a dark world so full of uncertainty at what is going to happen next.  May Your Words of truth about me, and Your plans for me, be motivation enough to make me know that Your loving-kindness wraps each trial, that I might love You more each day.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

MUSINGS……..  Keep souls in prayer as God uses His Word shedding the truth about Jesus Christ and His amazing love and sacrifice for the sins of all mankind!  Keep also the UK in prayer, it seems like God is working a revival there.  Also keep my wife and I in your prayers as we prepare for a step a faith in the ministry God has given us.  Enjoy today’s video from Matt Redman,…..   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b61wsBdqrKM

‘See you all around the bend, or up in the air!’

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‘What Are Your Plan’s For Today?’

A SANFRANCISCO TROLLEY

This morning, I was checking into the Walking the Berean Road site to check up on those who are reading these devotionals; who they are, where they’re from, and what posts God is ministering to them through.  Well, as God is, He prompts me to ‘RE-READ’ this particular one I posted a year ago on God’s Plans for us.

Needless to say, I was a little hesitant since I almost never ‘Re-read’ my own devotional posts. Well, guess what? This one really ministered to me!

My wife, Patty and I have been praying and planning, praying and planning over things in our lives for awhile now. I have to say that we’re learning that God is not in any big hurry in meeting our own time plans!  We are learning to quietly and prayerfully not only to consider God as the Captain of this ship, but to let Him run it!

I am always amazed how those Cable car captains drive those Trolly cars in beautiful San Francisco. They have a load of passengers who climb on to get them from point A to point B. The difference between this kind of ride and taking a bus, or driving your car is that passengers choose to board based upon their desire to just watch and enjoy the beauty around them, without any worry or fret.  They have planned from all points of this world to ride on this because it is a joyful experience!

That is the way God wants us to plan our days, lives. Just hop aboard and let Him steer and take us to heights so beautiful and breathtaking, that we come away blessed, and happy that we came and let His plans lead the way!

What a great reminder to us all, that yes, we should make plans; but it is God who will fulfill what we plan and yes, the timing according to what He sees is right for us individually, and will bring us the greater reward.

How about you today? Can you say with confidence that your plans are bringing God all the glory as you wait quietly and patiently that He may be able touch others lives in a powerful way?

Don’t hesitate another moment, give Him your plans and ask Him to perfect them.

I hope  you enjoy this ‘reblog’ as much as I enjoyed the friendly reminder from God that despite what appear to be difficult or maybe even dire circumstances, remember, even though you may feel things are moving fast enough; God is at work in His plan for you.

Personally, I need to be reminded that He is in my plans as much as I allow Him. Maybe you’ve been waiting for that ‘mountain’ to be moved, and it just appears to be getting bigger.

Not allowing God into our plans will eventually leave you discouraged, and discouragement will find you with your head down, not seeing that God has already moved that mountain.

As I shared earlier My wife, Patty and I  have been experiencing ‘growing pains’ in our spiritual walk with the Lord. It seems that everything we’re praying for in regard to one area seems to be at a standstill. No matter what we do, and  plan, it doesn’t seem to be making any difference in moving this mountain the Lord has set before us.

The Lord wanted me to be reminded, that His plan is in full effect; continue to trust in His plan for you….. He is simply working out details in me and my wife, and in the direction He is leading us to. As I read it, I was prompted by Him to re-post this devotion, adding to it some new thoughts, one year later. I do pray it will be inspiring for you or someone you know as well.

Remember, God’s Word says that, ‘Every good and perfect gift comes from above.’. Above…. ..
Psalm 121 speaks of how important it is to keep our eyes up, so we not discouraged when our plans are not moving fast enough…

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day,nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

And so maybe today, is the day the Lord has brought you. here….  You might be saying, ‘Wait a minute Marty, today is not Sunday!’  Well I believe that you turning to this site and taking the time to stop and read it says to me that this is no accident you are reading this, you are here by Divine appointment and God is speaking to you personally, saying; ““Come, all you who are thirsty,come to the waters;
and you who have no money,come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,and your labor on what does not satisfy?    

 Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.  Give ear and come to Me
listen, that you may live.   I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David.” “Seek the Lord while He may be found;call on Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.   “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. 

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,that will endure forever.”

And so, what about you? What are your plans for today?

Thinking about your plans is good, praying for those plans is better; but knowing those plans are going to be blessed by God, is most excellent! Make your plans matter, bring them to God for a ‘spiritual tune-up’….you’ll find yourself running again; just like new!

Why not take a moment and let God into your plan, and begin to experience the” peace of God that surpasses all understanding”. Who knows, it may just be the one thing that will lift your drooping head, and you will see the plan God has prepared for you, one ‘exceedingly more, than you could ever ask or think’. …..and don’t forget to take the time to read the original post  that personally inspired me by the Spirit of God to re-post this message….be blessed!

I found this video, I hope it ministers to you deep, as it did for me.

Walking the Berean Road

commit 2

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3

What are your plan’s for today?    Plan’s for us are so important.  How much would we get done if we didn’t have some form of plan?   I was talking with my wife today and one of the many plans we could have laid out was what are we doing for dinner?  Ironically, earlier in the day today, I begin to develop some kind of plan for that dinner.  The first thing in a good plan is order.  If you’re going to barbecue meat, you will need charcoal, lighter fluid to fuel the plan. Next you will need ingredients to bring the plan together; so I drove over to the store and picked up fresh bread, tomato, lettuce, and oh yeah the part of the plan that makes it all so good, the chocolate…

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‘The Fool In His Heart’

“The fool says in his heart there is no God.”  -Psalm 14:1

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already; because he has not believed in the Name of the only Begotten Son of God…… for God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16 & 18

This blog is no doubt the longest of any I have written, and yet while writing it, the most thought-provoking piece based upon today’s Scripture theme.  All of us can stand to gain in patience, not only in the reading and especially the viewing of the ending video; because every one of us can relate to this thought; coming from it, and seeing loved ones and friends around us stuck in this thought that can lead to an eternal devastating conclusion of a life.  That said, please pray before you read on, and ask the Holy Spirit to draw near and teach you to understand just what the will of God is for you today, this moment.

“The fool says in his heart there is no God.”  -Psalms 14:1

The Holy Spirit persuades and enables men to not be as a Psalm 14:1 who see God as emblem on a shirtsleeve or bumper sticker on a car, good for whoever needs it, but not foe their own lives, to answer all the questions of the heart.  The Holy Spirit enables a fool to accept Jesus and begin to enjoy the benefits of the Gospel message right now!  But….if anyone refuses to submit to the gracious constraint of the Holy Spirit, and prefer to call good evil, and evil good….how can the Gospel mean anything to him.  To him Psalms 14:1 becomes that bumper sticker, that emblem on his shirtsleeve.

A deliberate refusal of the grace of God is the One sin which by its very nature is irremediable.    According to Matthew 12:32   anyone who rejects the Holy Spirit’s convicting influence and does not repent will not be forgiven, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

When Jesus taught and performed a number of miracles at Capernaum, in the end, most of the people there remained unrepentant. Like the religious Pharisees, they persistently rejected the conviction of the Holy Spirit who was bearing witness of the true identity of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.  They turned away from the abundant light graciously provided to them, and chose to remain forever in their unbelief.

They persistently refused to listen to anything the Holy Spirit was telling them. they chose self-imposed blindness. For this reason, they were strongly judged.  Luke  12 :48 says: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”   Capernaum was mentioned in Matthew 11:21-24 by Jesus about their absolute rejection of Him: “It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.”

a fool

“The fool says in his heart there is no God.” -Psalm 14:1

As we read these words today, we might picture an atheist someone who has come to believe, most likely for just ‘Philosophical’ or ‘Scientific’ reasons, not in the sense of a Supreme Being.

Hebrew scholar Jon D. Levenson describes this type of fool as “not a harmless simpleton, but rather a vicious, materialistic, and egocentric misfit”  Professor

Marvin R. Wilson  characterizes the nabal as a “practical atheist” not so much someone who says there is no God as someone who “says no to God.” The nabal, in his self-centered arrogance, refuses to acknowledge a higher authority in his life.

The Bible is a most incredible and marvelously written book inspired by the Holy Spirit reveal Himself to a fallen man, providing instructions and examples through a way that has befuddled the fallen nature of  a Natural man for thousands of years; even in this statement, that only ‘a fool says in his heart there is no God’.

I Samuel 25,  relates an example in the story of a man whose name was Nabal.  God uses this man Nabal to reveal a vivid personification of the vile traits of a God-denying fool. In His mercy, and loving-kindness, with a sharp contrast, God gives this God denying man a courageous wife Abigail who embodies the true wisdom of one who walks with God.

a FOOLS WIFE

When King Saul of Israel sought to take David’s life, David took refuge in the Judean wilderness. There he was joined by a group of about four hundred men who were “in distress or in debt or discontented” (I Sam. 22:2, ). While trying to stay a step ahead of Saul, David and his ‘mini army’ provided protection for people in the area, including the shepherds of a wealthy rancher named Nabal.

A CAVE

 I Samuel  25:2-3`A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband, a Calebite, was surly and mean in his dealings.”

Nabal was a wealthy man, and as we read on we see that this wealth was what mattered most to him; he even seems to have valued it above the priceless treasure of an intelligent and beautiful wife. And in spite of the great blessings he had been given, he had what we might call  a ‘disagreeable personality.’

Sheep-shearing Season was a season of great celebration and thanksgiving. David was hoping that since his men had protected Nabal’s shepherds and sheep from harm, Nabal would see fit to reward them with some much-needed provisions. And so David sends ten of his men to Nabal with a request for a suitable compensation (vv. 4-9). However, sadly, Nabal answers their polite request with a stinging rebuke:“Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?”

The reply showed that Nabal no doubt lived up to his name. It is thought that it was more of ‘an outburst, then a speech”   Through this we see not one, but two Biblical statements about Nabal’s personality.

a mad

 Proverbs 17:7: “Excellent speech becometh not a fool.”

 Isaiah. 32:6:  “For the foolish person will speak foolishness,
And his heart will work iniquity: To practice ungodliness,
To utter error against the Lord, To keep the hungry unsatisfied,
And he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”

As I compare Scripture with Scripture it’s interesting what we get when we compare Nabal’s response with that of Moses when he received this from the Pharaoh of Egypt in Exodus 5:2:   “Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”  I do not what?  “I do not know the LORD…..”    This is so compelling when we look at those around us who do not know the LORD, and as a result, end up doing the things contrary to what God wants for our live.   And so we see that Nabal sees in David only what Pharoah saw in this ‘uppity’ Hebrew slave.   Pharoah, in his refusal to acknowledge God’s authority was actually a Nabal in the same way here in Psalms 14:1.   In the same way, Nabal defied God in the way he went about treating David, by not providing for the needs of David and his hungry men.

Additionally, Nabal’s words can also be compared to those of Gaal son of Ebed (which literally means something like `Loathing son of a slave”) against the judge Abimelech in Judges 9:28:            Look what the Word says; `Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should be subject to him?”   As a result of Gaal’s mouth it ended up  prompting retaliation from Abimelech, and much bloodshed resulted.

The ten young men returned to David and `reported every word” of Nabal’s wicked response. David was  inclined to leave retribution in God’s hands, but this time he lost his temper and looked like he was following the same  footsteps of Abimelech.  Just like  Proverbs 15:1 says, it often happens that `a harsh word stirs up anger.’ With four hundred men, David sets out for Nabal’s estate, vowing to kill Nabal and all of his servants; yikes!

a angry2

It doesn’t take a genius to look around this world, universe, the complexity of life in general and see that none of these things could possibly have happened by an accident, and that kind of thinking is portrayed here as, “The fool who has said in his heart, there is no God.”

         # 1   “The…fool” is essentially a person who disregards there is a God and denies that a God had anything to do with his own being or anything else or things around him.

LISTEN

Proverbs 1:1-7 describes the fool as one who despises wisdom and instruction.

A fool does not listen to or heed the Word of God.

Matthew.7:24-27: Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. but everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The Wise man who hears and obeys the words of Jesus is compared to a man building his house on a rock so that it survives the storms, while the Foolish man who does not listen to Jesus and his life is like a house built upon sand and is destroyed by the storm.

SPEAK

In Luke 12:13-21 the Rich fool was not prepared to meet his Maker and in Matthew:25 the five foolish virgins were not prepared for the arrival of the bridegroom.

RICH FOOL 1

Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “Sin is always folly, and as it is the height of sin to attack the very existence of the Most High, so is it also the greatest imaginable folly. To say there is no God is to belie the plainest evidence, which is obstinacy….”

#2   “…The fool says in his heart”

Saying with his lips one thing, but his heart says another.

HEART

The heart is considered the seat of the will of a man, the place where the very essence of our desires reside behind all of our choices……Many people go to church, get to have a knowledge  about God, but inside have no regard for the things of God.

 “This people draw near with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, while their hearts are far from Me…”     Isaiah 28:13

a lie

Truth be known, we each have the capacity to tell lies to ourselves and believe them. We choose to believe what we want to believe at the time. Have you ever had a long conversation with yourself to convince yourself that you could sin and get away with it? As if God won’t know what you are doing! This is exactly what the fool in vs. 1 is doing. We can justify all of our wrong actions and attitudes in this manner; we tell ourselves, No God!

CAUSE AND EFFECT

#3    “They are corrupt…”    The word corrupt means to destroy, spoil, ruin. ”   

Kind of sad that this , of all Biblical Doctrines is the one that every day we awake and go about our regular routines proves itself true, and yet we deny our condition and present ourselves as anything but what we are.

GRAHAM

Billy Graham, now in his 90’s, was honored for all his achievements, and was quoted as saying, “Some people look at my life and say that Billy was a great Evangelist, and a great teacher, but I say no, ‘Billy is a sinner, still in need of God’s forgiveness, there is no other way of salvation except through the Cross of Christ.  Jesus said, “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh to the Father but by Me, the only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus Christ, He’s the only One born into this world without sin,  but more than that, He was the Righteous One; and when you come to Him, you’re clothed in His Righteousness.   God no longer sees your sin. He no longer sees your own heart, He sees Jesus.

a jesus

Every day in the lives of every person Jesus is denied. Not many people will look at themselves and say, “I am a corrupt sinner!” Yet this is exactly what is needed in order for us to repent and follow Jesus every day. Our society likes to use this word, corrupt, but usually only in relation to politicians. The fact is that spiritually, we are all corrupt by nature, we all need to ask God through Jesus for forgiveness.

Many celebrities dismiss the truth that Jesus is the only Way by which man can come to God. Grammy winner Sheryl Crow, once a church youth group leader, told the New York Post in September of 2005 that she “believes in Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and all those that were enlightened.”

a crowe

Celebrities have also treated the teachings of Jesus with a pick and choose approach – take this principle, leave that one. “I like this. I’ll take it and apply it. But I don’t like these others, so I won’t worry about them.” Mel Gibson, director of The Passion of the Christ, defied that school of thought in an interview for ABC when he told Diane Sawyer that a person either believes the entire Gospel, or they believe none of it. I applaud Gibson’s boldness in making that statement.

a mel

Many people in Hollywood fail to understand Jesus because they’ve never really been exposed to the truth about who He is and what He did or did not teach. Others may have had negative experiences with church early in their lives. And then there’s the narcissistic environment in Hollywood. Fame and fortune, coupled with acclaim and praise, breeds self-absorption, which ultimately breeds self-worship.

The presence of Christians in Hollywood today could be viewed as being very much like the arrival of Jonah in that ancient city. It is my prayer that God uses these people and their message to shine a light in a dark place to reach many people within the entertainment industry, and that many lives will be changed by the power of His Spirit.

And so just WHAT has History said about Jesus?

Famous French General Napolean was quoted as saying about Jesus:

a napolean

“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”

a gandi

Mahatma Gandhi, Indian political leader about Jesus:  A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.”

a sholem

Sholem Asch, Jewish author said about Jesus: “Jesus Christ is to me the outstanding personality of all time, all history, both as Son of God and as Son of Man. Everything He ever said or did has value for us today and that is something you can say of no other man, dead or alive. There is no easy middle ground to stroll upon. You either accept Jesus or reject Him.”

a kenneth

Historian  Kenneth Scott Latourettesaid about Jesus: “As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by His effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.”

a ophra

Oprah Winfrey when asked about Jesus said: “There couldn’t possibly be just one way . . .” [Lady in the audience: “What about Jesus?”] “What about Jesus? . . . Does God care about your heart or does God care about if you call his son Jesus?” 

a leo

Leo Tolstoy, the great genius of Russian letters was quoted that:  For thirty five years of my life I was, in the proper acceptation of the word, nihilist, a man who believed in nothing. Five years ago my faith came to me. I believed in the doctrine of Jesus Christ and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation. Life and death ceased to be evil. Instead of despair, I tasted joy and happiness that death could not take away.”

A FYODER

Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Russian Author spoke these words about Jesus and faith: “Even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it, in their inmost being still follow the Christian ideal, for hitherto neither their subtlety nor the ardour of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old.” ……and…   “The most pressing question on the problem of faith is whether a man as a civilized being can believe in the divinity of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for therein rests the whole of our faith.”

A EINSTEIN

Einstein – Scientist and Mathematician said about Jesus:  “I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrase-mongers, however artful¡¨. He further added: “No man can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.”

A WALLACE

General Lew Wallace wrote “Ben Hur”  was quoted:  “After six years given to the impartial investigation of Christianity as to its truth or falsity, I have come to the deliberate conclusion that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of the Jews. the Savior of the world and my own personal Redeemer.” — General Lew Wallace, one-time atheist, military general and literary genius, who along with Robert Ingersoll agreed together they would write a book that would forever destroy the myth of Christianity. Mr. Wallace studied for two years in the leading libraries of Europe and America for information to destroy Christianity. While writing the second chapter of his book, he suddenly found himself on his knees, crying out, “My Lord and my God.” The evidence was overwhelmingly conclusive.

A DICKENS

Charles Dickens, British writer said: “I commit my soul to the mercy of God, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I now most solemnly impress upon you the truth and beauty of the Christian religion as it came from Christ Himself, and the impossibility of going far wrong if you humbly but heartily respect it.”

A LEWIS

C.S. Lewis – British author said: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

A NEE

Watchman Nee – Chinese Bible Teacher said: “God will answer all our questions in one way and one way only. Namely, by showing us more of his Son.”

A NIGHT

Florence Nightingale – “People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.”

A PLASCH

Blaise Pascal – French mathematician, Physicist, and Religious philosopher says: “Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.”

A MORRIS

Henry Morris, known as the father of Creation science:  “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.”

A SHAFF

Philip Schaff – Swiss-born theologian said:  “Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohamed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”

AUNKNOIWN

Unknown: “Buddha never claimed to be God. Moses never claimed to be Jehovah. Mohammed never claimed to be Allah. Yet Jesus Christ claimed to be the true and living God. Buddha simply said, “I am a teacher in search of the truth.” Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” Confucius said, “I never claimed to be holy.” Jesus said, “Who convicts Me of sin?” Mohammed said, “Unless God throws his cloak of mercy over me, I have no hope.” Jesus said, “Unless you believe in Mme, you will die in your sins.”

A VINCENT2

Vincent van Gogh was quoted:   “It is a very good thing that you read the Bible… The Bible is Christ, for the Old Testament leads up to this culminating point… Christ alone… has affirmed as a principal certainty, eternal life, the infinity of time, the nothingness of death, the necessity and the raison d’être of serenity and devotion. He lived serenely, as a greater artist than all other artists, despising marble and clay as well as color, working in living flesh. That is to say, this matchless artist… made neither statues nor pictures nor books; he loudly proclaimed that he made… living men, immortals.” 

A GRISHAM

John Grisham writer“The Firm”, “The Pelican Brief”, “The Client”,: “I came under conviction when I was in the third grade, and I talked with my mother. I told her, ‘I don’t understand this, but I need to talk to you.’ We talked, and she led me to Jesus. The following Sunday I made a public confirmation of my faith. In one sense, it was not terribly eventful for an eight-year-old, but it was the most important event in my life.”

a korn

Former guitarist and co-founder of the nu-metal group Korn, Welch’s guitar skills were enough to land him at No. 26 on Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of all Time” list in 2004. But fame and fortune weren’t enough for Welch, who developed addictions to alcohol, methamphetamines and sleeping pills. Finally, in 2005, Welch found God. He was baptized in the River Jordan in March 2005. As he later explained in a Full Armor of God radio interview. “I was walking one day, just doing my rock and roll thing making millions of bucks, you know success and everything, addicted to drugs and then the next day I had Revelation of Christ and I was like, everything changes right now!”

“The fool says in his heart there is no God.”  -Psalm 14:1

all have sinned

#4  “…Finally a Fool does abominable deeds…” Deeds are the out working of our hearts. If our hearts are corrupt then all our deeds will be abominable.

Abominable means loathsome, detestable, abhorred and rejected by God.  Apart from God’s grace, when we are not in Christ, prior to our conversion, all of our deeds are abominable in God’s sight.

Paul writes in Rom.14:23 “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Prior to our salvation we have no faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, none of our actions or thoughts proceed from faith and are sinful. Apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ all of our deeds are abominable in God’s sight.

Isaiah writes that “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

Ezekiel  writes in 36:17 describing how God viewed Israel’s deeds“…there is none who does good.”

In Mark 10:18 Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone.”

And so the very words of God, Himself is today speaking to those who, in their hearts, say that there is no God, the practical and philosophical atheists, those who have no faith in Jesus Christ, that all you do outside of a relationship with Jesus Christ will all amount to any good deed in God’s eyes.    It will not be all the works of philanthropy, that will remove the stain of corruption, your money will not remove it, your wealth and giving away will not change it; only acknowledging God and His Son will make the difference.

Good deeds between hell-bound sinners whose minds never acknowledge God do not impress God; they are still corrupt, abominable and not good in the ultimate sense of the word.

Truth be known, poor people are just as corrupt and abominable as the rich. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness, to remove the yolk of corruption in our minds and hearts.   The deeds of the poor practical atheist are equally not good right along with the wealthy atheist. The point that Paul makes in Romans 3 where he uses Psalm 14 is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs.23).

MAN GOD SIN

No one is exempt from falling short in our understanding, acceptance, and obedience to God.  This verse must first apply it to ourselves, to we who are already believers. To the fullest extent we need to understand that we disobey Jesus Christ when we are saying, “No God!, not right now, I’m busy crafting evil through my sins.

Sin is inconsistent with our calling, with our new nature, and with the Spirit of Christ who indwells us.    It’s high time we as believers stand from our ‘lazyboy’s’ and get back into running this race we were callled for.  There are brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, friends, and yes, strangers who fall in line with this passage today; and they need to be told, that all those deeds, will not get them to heaven!

Therefore, when we see or meet someone who is obviously apart from Jesus Christ, and who is living their life in a corrupt and abominable manner, we should have compassion on them by sharing the Gospel with them. All too often we shun or shy away from notoriously bad sinners, forgetting that our heart, apart from Christ, is also corrupt.

How shocking it is also that our largest mission fields is the Church itself. Many within our congregations are lost and have no saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, living their lives as practical atheists.

There are so many denominations that have slowly drifted away from obeying simply what God spoke and accepted practicing sins and deny the authority of God’s Word, and yet tens of thousands of ‘believer’ still attend those ‘churches’.

The Church is a mission field. And don’t forget the young people! The teenagers may be cute and be raised by godly parents, yet until they repent and trust in Christ they too are corrupt sinners.

In conclusion we must understand that all of us were natural-born atheists and so to remain in that condition until God’s grace overpowers our unbelief and we see the condition of our hearts and do the right thing, ask God to fix it.     It’s amazing how when we get sick physically, how fast we run to the pharmacy to get a solution to our illness and hope it will get better.     It’s the same way with so many within the church, still sick spiritually, and yet living foolish spiritual lives with a ‘form of godliness and no power therein’.  As we look at witnessing to those who claim to be atheists, agnostics., we can do so confidently because we know that Scripture says this kind of person  is a fool.

But instead of holding the atheist in contempt, we need to identify with him/her because we know that at times, when we choose to sin, we too are proven fools by denying God who has saved us.   Remember the fool is a man who is dominated by his pride The person of pride also has desires, even as we have desires, but his thoughts are not related to God.

pride

What does a fool, who say’s ‘there is no God’ like?

“The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” He cannot relate his thoughts to God, and so his needs are not related to God and His purpose.  This kind of person is one where God is not in all of his thoughts, and as a result, there is no gratitude and thanksgiving to God.    He thinks with all his being that he did everything himself,  Paul says, “What do you have that you did not receive?”  1 Corinthians 4:7   This kind

He challenges us to try to think of something that has not ultimately come from God. that is how corrupt our hearts are, pride does this. Pride forces a person to think only about himself, his world, and what is important to him.    Pride can blinds us to the reality of God’s intimate involvement in our individual lives.

In closing, we have so much to consider, and reconsider, especially when we remember what the Holy Spirit says about His written Word in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The fact is that people reject belief in God due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints He requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them … men are without excuse … their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools … Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie”   Romans 1:18-25.

scripture

‘The fool says in his own heart, there is no God’

The sobering aspect of all this is that ‘any of us can fall into this state…   Look at how this passage is summed up in verse 5.   “There they are in great fear, for God is with the generation of the righteous”     Just like us, the fool can’t help, but be aware of God around him.   Sadly, when the Judgment of God does come, then….the fool, because of what he knows of God, will also know great fear.

Even more sad will be the throngs of those religious in line that day of Judgement who will hear the words in Matthew 7:22: “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works?   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

Like us, the fool being aware of God. when the punishment, the curse, for sin comes—when God begins to reveal Himself as the Judge of sinners—then the fool, because of what He knows of God, also knows great fear. If he only had thought, “There is no God,” the fear would not exist, but he knows that there really is a God, though his life belies it.

mercy

Luke 18:10 is a good starting place for us today as Jesus said: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

condess

Maybe there are some of you, who happened to be browsing the worldwide web, and stumbled onto this reading today.  You know who you are, you know the pride that has held you back from being free of the confusion in your life.  God is ready to forgive you, ‘As far as the East is from the West…..He is ready to forgive your sins and cast them into the depths of the ocean, never to be remembered by Him again.”  The Bible says in Romans 10:8  that: “ The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved……for with the heart man believes  unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation……For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed…….For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”     

You can pray this passage, and ask Him, “God I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was born sinless, and bore my sin on His cross, I believe,that He died for all my sins.and that He was raised from the dead, and lives today, giving me eternal life. I confess all my sins and give my life unto you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit, and write my name in the book of life. Amen.    The cool thing is that the Bible says that when you prayed that prayer, ‘all the angels in heaven were rejoicing over the repentance of your sins.”

search me

For those of us who know God, and need to keep on being reminded, as I do; and recognize that you need help remember this as God has promised to help you if only I would ask…. according to Your Word in Psalms 139:23:  ” Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This video is MUST SEE!  Please take the time to look at it.  If there is someone you know who has the characteristics of a fool in his heart, there is hope!

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”  1 Corinthians 1:18

a cross

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoHPB5OeZ0M

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‘Wisdom Has It’s Way’

wisdom master builder

“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.”
Proverbs 24:3-4

There’s a story about a husband cooking his first roast. Preparing the meat he cuts the end off of the roast, and puts it on a pan and then in the oven. A friend visiting asks him “Why did you cut the end off?” he replies “Because my mom always did.” The next day the man calls his mom and asks “Mom,why do you always cut the end off of the roast before putting it in the oven?”. Mom replies “Because my mom always did.”       So the both of them go to Grandma and asked the same question. “Grandma, why do you cut the end of the roast off before cooking it?” Grandma replies “So it would fit inside the pan!”

I don’t know about you, but I find myself so many times doing things without knowing why but I do it any way. When people ask me this question, my answer is usually because that’s the way I’ve always done it.   I confess that in most of these cases I just haven’t taken the time to find out why, if for anything for myself!  How many things do you find yourself doing with no real idea why you do what you do?   I think the reason may be, that we’re just, ‘creatures of habit’;  it’s the way we’ve always done it, finding ourselves content and comfortable with it.

I believe that’s why God has given to us this neat 31 chapters in this book about how to go about living in this world; revealing His own way on doing things right the first time.

WISDOM

“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.”

My wife and I often take a walk together at the end of the day throughout the neighborhood we live in, and we saw an example of what happens when you go about doing things, without really thinking it out; applying wisdom to our labor of love.  Just recently I was sharing with her about the in’s and out’s of painting a house. Since I was just completing a project, the subject was fresh on my mind.  Examining the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ we began to see how important it is to study a matter before you do it.   Anyhow, we were passing this house with what appeared to be a cinder-block exterior wall.  I pointed out how the paint was bubbling and peeling off.  She asked me why it was doing that.  I replied that the bare cement blocks should have been water sealed, primed with a masonry primer, and finished with a masonry paint finish.  By just applying a latex house paint alone, that wasn’t formulated for this application, the project was doomed to failure, before it was ever applied!

“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all involved in a building program. The things we say, the action we take and the thoughts we believe all go into the pot to shape the kind of house we’re constructing. A New Year brings with it a new chance to “remodel” our house if we don’t like the way it looks.
HOUSE
What type of structure are you building with your life and what do people see
when they look at the construction?
This passage is saying that “through wisdom a house is built”. Ecclesiastes 9:18 tells us that wisdom is better than weapons of war. Wisdom was there at the beginning of it all…through wisdom God founded the earth.    Proverbs 2:10-12 says that: “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil”   ‘Knowledge will fill you with joy; Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe; Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted.

And so, ‘Through wisdom a house is built’…it takes time, its not prefab…its board attached to board, brick laid upon brick, line upon line, precept upon precept.

wisodm

James 1:5  tells us:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  
I really like the way the Hawaiian Pidgin translation spells this out:  “If one a you guys donno wat fo do, aks God fo help, fo give you da smarts you need! He no goin give you guys hard time. He goin help you guys. God give plenny to everybody, you know.”
DIRECTION
“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.”
Solomon is simply saying that Wisdom is a requirement if you’re going to build a house and/ or keeping it in good shape, keeping up the repairs.
SOLOMON HOUSE

Solomon knew firsthand that you need wisdom to build a house, as he was asked to build a house by his father, David ; whom God Himself, gave the construction plans for the temple in 2 Chronicles 28: 11-12.

SOLOMON TEMPLE

“And by understanding it is established”

Being involved in numerous other building projects,Solomon gives his sons a warning to use God’s wisdom in building a house.

Not only do you need God’s wisdom to build a house; you need His wisdom to Upkeep, or Take Care of your house    It takes planning, effort, thought, skill, and understanding to maintain a house.    It requires non-stop maintenance… planning and work.    You can’t just build a house (or bring kids into the world; or start a business, a school, or a church) and expect that it will run itself… maintain itself and stay in good shape.      Upkeep requires ongoing effort, skill, wisdom, and discernment.

wisdom einstein

Albert Einstein, seen and known by Natural man as a wise man  was once quoted as saying:  “Before God, we are equally wise and foolish
Have you ever heard the phrase,
“Out of the mouth of babes?” Certainly you have. It comes from the simple truth
that sometimes it takes a child to reveal lasting wisdom.

It seems foolish but you know what? It isn’t!   For example, look at these quotes from children ages 9-14 on their take of what wisdom is to them .

First there is Patrick, age 10, said, “Never trust a dog to watch your food.”

Next we have Michael age 14: ” who said, “When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him.”

Then there is Michael age 12 who declares “Never tell your mom her diet’s not working.”

Randy, 9 years of age said, “Stay away from prunes.” One wonders how he discovered that bit of wisdom.
·
Kyoyo, age 9, said, “Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.”

Funny, yes! Nobody ever said that learning wisdom doesn’t come from experience

POLICE

 Sometimes it takes an incident in your life to learn from it.  I can still remember when I was driving my first car, one of those older ones where the ‘button’ for the ‘high beams”was to the left of the brake on the floor.  Well, I came to KNOW that by experience…you see, as I was driving, an approaching car ahead was flashing his ‘high beams’ towards me.  Knowing how to drive the car, I didn’t KNOW where the switch or button was to turn them off.  As the approaching car buzzed by me, I looked in my rear view mirror and guess who was coming with red and blue lights flashing?  You guessed it, a Highway Patrol!  The Officer proceeded to come to my window and advise me that I had broken the law that states, “Failure to dim your lights within 500 feet”.  Oh,, I knew ABOUT that law, I just wasn’t WISE enough to know ahead of time where the button was to turn the high beams off.   Needless to say, he cited me, (my first ticket) and left me with words of WISDOM I have not forgotten to this day; “Son, ignorance of the law is of no excuse!”   I learned that day that having wisdom of the fact of knowing the car had a high beam button, and not being able to find it, was like having an ice cream cone and not knowing what to do with it….

“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches
..”

WHAT KIND OF WISDOM IS THIS….

James writes in 3:17:  ” But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

WISDOM 4

WHAT DOES WISDOM LOOK LIKE?   Like the most desired and complete garment one could ever wear.  It’s pure, gentle and reasonable.  It’s peace-loving, willing always to get along with others.  It’s considerate, allowing room for discussion.  It’s submissive, Willing to yield to others.  It’s full of mercy, overflowing. Full of Good Fruit, known for good deeds.  It builds not destroy, never two-faced, showing no favoritism.  Finally, wisdom is sincere, Treating each other with dignity, and honor…saying only what you mean.

WISDOM PURE

To have the wisdom of God is to say, today I cease to live the life of a Natural Man; living a life incomplete, unfulfilled; in exchange for the characteristics listed above that set you apart from the world, and becomes an example of a person who is doing and saying the right things because their lives reflect who they are inside.  God’s wisdom becomes something of value, worth more than a mink coat, an expensive suit, a mansion on a hill, instead, wisdom is worn like a precious apparel that everyone longs to have.  All the things the Natural man desires but cannot attain without God.  peace-loving, Considerate, Submissive, Full of Mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere.….a picture of humility put into practice.

wisdom god

 “By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.”

Once the house is built, it needs to be furnished…  Solomon is saying that by knowledge all the rooms of the house will be filled.   Material possessions are not spoken as evil in the Scriptures; God made everything…  The warning is against loving them, hoarding them, being selfish with them,  making idols of them.  Having a nicely built, well maintained house full of things can be the result of wisdom and discernment.    When you see someone with a beautiful, well constructed, well furnished house, don’t assume they have it because they were dishonest and greedy; that might be the case.  But, it also could be the result of hard work, God’s wisdom and understanding.

God has given Solomon His wisdom to build a physical house, but these truths are even more important as they apply to our lives.  Jesus used a metaphor in Matthew 7:24 of building a house on sand or upon a rock to illustrate ones life.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.       But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

In our own lives, as believers, our own lives are referred to in Scripture as being built up, as we learn to apply Godly wisdom in sharing Scripture to those around us, who are feeling sometimes like a broken down house, that was neglected, and not loved.   Paul set an example for us by praying for spiritual understanding for the saints.

Ephesians 1: 18-19~ “18  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Ephesians 3: 14-19~ “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

Colossians 1:9-10~  ” For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”

From Paul’s example,  we learn that we can ask God for ourselves and others to impart Wisdom and Understanding, that mine and people around me would have:

1.  Hope and the understanding of God’s purpose for their life

2.  Knowledge of the amazing plans God has for our eternity

3.  Experience/knowledge of God’s power within us.

4. Personal spiritual strength

In closing, building a physical house, a marriage, a family, and a single life can be made easier if we would just humble ourselves before God and confess that we don’t really know it all; and what good things we do know, we received it from God.  I know for me, as i was developing this blog, I found myself going back to the Word of God, not only for wisdom of direction and focus, but that I would learn myself how to apply this Proverb into my daily living and interaction with my wife, and those around me.

Patty and I have been seeking the Lord lately for wisdom on how to go about doing the things God has been revealing to us.  As we pray to understand His will, we are seeing a myriad number of ways He is giving out His wisdom for us; mixing in His perfect timing. It seems that wisdom without His perfect timing can put you in the wrong place either too soon or too late. Wisdom and Timing, what a mess we would be if it wasn’t for God doing the hard part, and asking us to do the easy part.  I kind of like this exercise in Godly wisdom!

gift

I have discovered that the more I seek God’s wisdom before I do or say anything, I have a great peace and contentment in knowing that: ” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1;17.   As I rely on the Word of God for how to live my life, I will know how to respond to difficulty and circumstances that find their way into my life; ‘sent by God’ to help me develop confidence every time I apply His wisdom.

For my wife Patty and I, my request from you is that Marty & Patty would know:

1. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection”  Philippians 3:1

2.  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

wisdom3

TODAY’S VIDEO- ENJOY! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-22E3dWPUk

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‘When God Does Something New!’

isaiah 43

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old, Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”               Isaiah 43:18-19

Do you find yourself trying to relive the past? Maybe re-assessing past behavior or events? Maybe thinking how it would have been, if you acted differently.

Isaiah’s writings to the children of Israel came at a bleak period of their
history. They are in captivity, they have lost everything they thought they
would keep forever, and they were home sick for the land and the blessing God
had promised them.

The children of Israel had a rich history of God giving them victory in their past; Leaving Egypt, Conquering Canaan, but now they find themselves in captivity.  All their previous victories would do nothing NOW, to set them free….they needed a new work, new victory, a new miracle.    The big question for them wasn’t, what God did in the past, but what was God going to do NOW?

God’s history with them was obvious, He was always faithful, He always came through for them, despite what they were to themselves…  the fact was that they had a history of failing God miserably…

God Gave them a Temple….they gave Him idol worship.  God gave them Himself, they gave Him rebellion and rejection.   In all reality, the children of Israel didn’t deserve to receive anything from God….and yet He earnestly loved them, and wanted to help them to change.   God here was giving them a hand of hope, a fresh start, a new opportunity.

crossing

The children of Israel had experienced great spiritual blessings throughout
their history. From the first Passover, to the crossing of the Red Sea, to the
conquering of the Land of Canaan, to the building of the temple, the children of
Israel had seen the hand of God at work in and through their lives. Yet their faith in what God had done was doing nothing to deliver them from their present
situation. Their old faith was not sufficient enough to de-liver them from their
present problems. They needed new faith, a new vision for what God could do.
They needed a new portion of the faith that had brought to pass all the
victories from before.

I’ve come to a place where I think there are two kinds of people; some who live in the present, eyes wide opened, not wanting to miss anything, to see what will happen today in their lives; and then there are those who find themselves living in the past, living sheltered, predictable lives, living on past experiences.

If your past experiences of relationships were pleasant and positive, that is how we’ve been ‘programmed’ if you will to think about your future relationships. If the experiences were negative, that is how you are going to visualize your future. It is always seems to be the past recreating your life.  We are so influenced by what people around us say, and think about us, and to their credit, some of it may be spot on, others well?  Do you ever find yourself thinking about what someone told you, or how someone treated you, how you did this or that?   It’s always about something in the past.

This can be a dangerous way of living in this world and walking our spiritual lives with God.  If left unchecked, you can let your past captivate you, and influence your behaviour, and especially what and where God may be leading you.  Reliving the past is really just recreating something constantly, that blinds you into not letting the necessary changes God is doing in your life.   2 Corinthians  5:17 teaches us that: ” If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

This is not to say that it’s not okay to remember things in the past; if it was a good work God did through you, of course; if it brought Him glory, absolutely. But if it leads to dark stretches of our past which no longer exists, it can be harmful to our growth in our relationship with God.   “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive’”   Luke 20:37-38.

There is a story about two friends traveling by train. One was very nervous, restless and full of complaints the whole trip. He was impatient to reach his destination, and disliked every moment of the trip. He did not pay attention to his surroundings, as his mind was full of impatient, restless and grumpy thoughts.

His friend, on the other hand, enjoyed the scenery, drank a cup of coffee, ate a piece of cake and chatted with the other passengers. He enjoyed every moment the trip. He lived in the present moment and made the most of it. On arrival he was fresh and felt good. His friend, as expected, arrived exhausted, tired and unhappy.

isaiah 43 two

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old…..”

God doesn’t want us to be backward looking, going through life looking in the rear vision mirror. But we so often can’t help ourselves. We remember the hurts of the past and the mistakes we made.     There comes a time when NOW becomes the time we start looking ahead at all God has already prepared for us, all that lies before us…But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?’   It’s time for us to rise up to our full potential in Christ, because hasn’t He called us to do a mighty work in our lives?

The children of Israel had a choice. They could view their past and the
prob-lems of their present, or they could focus upon what God wanted to do in
their lives.

I can still remember how this past year, having what was the most challenging trial and testing of my life, I would find myself dwelling upon the things and events that would hold me captive to them, obscuring the future hope that was present in the Word of God, that held out a promise of a bright future ahead.

The idea of me having cancer, and the images my mind would paint of me, desperately holding on to something that no longer had any real meaning of my life in Christ.  My new life, as a new creation in Christ was being held out as the prize, with the past, seen as a cancer of old things, no longer needed in my new life. God promised that He would ‘restore all that the cankerworm had eaten away’ and that He would make all things new‘.   My challenge was no longer straining to reach back to times way back that are now hidden in Christ, but simply to take the hand of my Saviour, and walk ahead.

new thing 3

Last Friday was a Marker-stone for me in the new thing that God promises shall spring forth… I had my colonoscopy to determine whether or not all the chemo I had done the job of destroying active cancer cells.  I’ve got to tell you that the week going into it, I found myself looking behind, wondering out loud, IF that past was long dead.

As I was wheeled out, the results by my doctor were given and God has kept His promise, once again!  Everything ‘looked excellent, no cancer, not even one polyp’.  I can’t begin to tell you just how excited and relieved I was, truly God kept His promise to me, and I marveled out loud, if He kept His promise in this, then my future in Him looks bright!  I am looking forward to all the new things He has in store for Patty and I.    We have to keep moving forward now.  It’s only moving forward  that we are ever going to accomplish what God has called us to do.  No staying where we’re at, no going backwards.  The only direction is forward.

  • What is God doing in your life right now?
  • What is it that you want Him to do in your life right now?

    For God to do the new thing in your life today, you cannot allow your past failures  take possession of you, … do not dwell on the past.

    possibile

  • What do you see when you view your life? Do you see possi-bilities or problems?
    Notice what God said: “I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

    The children of Israel felt as though they were getting just what they deserved because of the way they had lived. Some even believed that God would never have
    anything more to do with them. Boy were they ever wrong!!!    There are times when i feel like my past has made my life a wasteland…..but God!  I’m reminded that my new life in Christ can become a stream of life.    Jesus said in John 7:38 that: “Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

God is able to transform the desert areas of your life into fields of blessing
and abundance. God can take a dried up useless life and trans-form it into a
life of purpose and grace:

2 Corinthians 3:17,18   “Now  the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being  transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the
Lord, who is the Spirit.

God had already set into motion the events and people who would lead Israel out
of captivity and back into the land of blessing. But it was still up to them to
decide if they wanted what God was offering. If they refused God’s plan, if they
refused to follow where God was leading, then they would be doomed to remain in
their captivity.

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old, Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”   

wilderness   

And so, here we are, leaving January 2014, speeding towards February.  God has wonderous wonders and miracles awaiting you this year.  Some could be trials and testing, but wait, on the Lord before you cry out disaster!  What may look like disaster most likely is God at work, making preparation for the new thing He is raising up! Be on the lookout, ‘shall you not know it?’.   I don’t know about you, but Patty and I are taking our God at His promise, and with all the strength and faith we have, He has free rightaway to accomplish all of the New Things He has in store for this year.

NEWY

 Here’s Today’s Video, Enjoy!

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AalRrWPxMso

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Happy New Year 2014, ‘Unto A Place We Have Never Passed Before’

joshua

“You have never passed this way before” Joshua  3:4

In 1519 the Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez led an expedition of 600 men to conquer southern Mexico.  One by one he had  11 ships sunk, until there was only one left.  When his men found out they loudly upbraided Cortez. He asked his men what kind of men would need the ships, except cowards.  He said if any man was cowardly, he could board the last ship and leave.  Cheers drowned the complaints, and he then suggested that they sink the last ship.   By that single action, Cortez committed himself and his force to either succeed or die trying, for they had nothing to go back to.   For all practical purposes last year is behind you….there is nothing to go back to.  You cannot undo a single action. You cannot take back a single word.  Before you is a new year, full of hope and promise if you so desire.

Can you think back and remember a day you waited for a long time with great anticipation and excitement? Most of us can. As a child, Christmas and birthdays were such days. Later it may have been graduation day, your wedding day, or maybe earning the right to compete in some great competition like the Olympics.

Depending on the nature of the day and what it might hold, such a time might also bring about a certain amount of anxiety because of the challenge you might face. For months, weeks, and days you waited, and then finally, the day arrived. Can you imagine the anticipation and excitement the children of Israel faced as they stood before the River Jordan the evening before they were to cross over into the land?

The earlier generation had failed to enter because of unbelief and the new generation had waited a long time, for some it was close to forty years. Joshua and Caleb, who were now about eighty years old, had waited even longer. According to the promise to the Patriarchs, Jewish anticipation went back some five hundred years. But now, Joshua tells the people, “You have never passed this way before….consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (3:4-5).

After the days of mourning for Moses, the people of God prepared to cross over the Jordan river.  They were told to keep the Ark in view.  Inside the Ark were Aaron’s rod, that budded and represented God’s miraculous power.  Also inside were the tables of stone that represented God’s Word, and finally there was the pot of Manna that represented  God’s Providence.  Altogether they showed God’s presence with the people; and so as Joshua would lead the Israelites across the river of Jordan, into Canaan, he instructed them to follow the Ark of the Covenant from a distance so all of them would be able to see God’s hand at work, parting this river. The Ark would be hand carried by priests, and they were told , ‘You have never passed this way before.’

 JOSHUA 4      

Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan river on a path chosen by God, a path never walked by anyone before; a direction no one else had taken into the land of Canaan; through a river and yet as on dry land.

JOSHUA FOOTSTEPS

They had to have been discussing among themselves the historical aspects of this path, how that Moses, challenged the Israelites just before his death about this path, and their entrance into Canaan. How he might have talked with them about the giants of the land, and yet encouraging the people to be, “Strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them, for the Lord, your God, He is the One who goes with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6

ARK

Aside from the miraculous way the river was crossed, the most important feature of this chapter is the Ark of the Covenant. Its prominence is stressed in the number of times it is mentioned in chapters 3 and 4 (nine times in chapter 3 and seven times in chapter 4) and by the nature of the commands and statements given in its regard.

What made the Ark so important for them was what it represented.   The Ark first off represented the Person and Promises of God. All along their God chosen path the Ark was pointing to the fact that,  as the people of Israel set out to cross the river Jordan, to invade, and possess the land, they must do so not in their own strength, but in God’s for it was God Himself who was going before them as their source of victory.

JOSHUA 3

This Ark, the same one since the making of the covenant, was representing the special shrine and the Seat of God’s Presence.   He would go first; before the people, to show them that He, Himself would be their leader.   And they were to follow at a distance, that they might observe and see for themselves how the Miracle that was coming was accomplished. This, they would do while coming down the heights of the mountains, and through the ravine that would be cut by God. Oh, there were many before who had crossed over the Jordan river in ordinary times, but never through the river when the banks were overflowing.

joshua

Only the swollen rivers of the Jordan River separated the children of Israel from the Promised Land. After forty years of wandering in the desert, they were ready to cross over into Canaan, only to have their plans frustrated by a flooded river. So near, yet so far.

 JOSHUA 2

After they sat on the banks of the Jordan for three days, their new leader Joshua gave them very specific instructions. They were to follow the ark of the covenant. The Ark represented the very presence of God. It would be Jehovah who would lead and guide them into the Promised Land.

JOSHUA 4

Whenever God is visibly with us, supernatural occurrences are seen and experienced—there are only a few occasions in the scriptures where God visibly exposes Himself to the naked eye……  Remember that He did so as He led the Hebrews out of Egypt; He showed Himself as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day…..they could visibly see and feel God’s presence with them.

Israel had wandered around in the wilderness for forty years because of their disobedience unto God—He promised them a rich land flowing with milk and honey, and they were in the vicinity of the land, and the only thing that stood between them and that land was the Jordan River.

This was a time for happiness and praise of the Lord—

happy praise

 

But some of them were discouraged….

discouraged

 

Some were disheartened…

dishearten

 Others were frustrated……

frustrated

 

 

While others were elated and fired up and ready to go…

 

elated

 And still others were afraid and apprehensive…….

apprehensive

There were mixed emotions running through that crowd about tomorrow, for they were going to cross Jordan River and enter the Promised Land soon!

You could imagine all these emotions  in the Israelites that day….and yet I  see that same emotional upheaval in and around our lives today—we don’t exactly know where we are going in this New Year and for some of us we are somewhat apprehensive,  frustrated,  afraid, disheartened, and thank God there are some of you who are fired up and elated, about it.

These  Israelites, did not exactly know where they were going, and their emotions were all over the place, their feelings  mixed with both joy and fear.

But it mus have seemed like they understood the Lord saying to them, ‘the Ark, which is a symbol of My presence, is going on before you, meaning that I am going before you, and if I go before you I will take care of you……but there are some rules, don’t get ahead of Me, stay two thousand cubits behind Me……..It’s important for you to stay behind Me and let Me lead the way…….for you have not passed this way before……Oh I know you think you know the way, but you don’t know this, you have never been here before, you have never experienced what you are about to experience before……’

And so it is with us today, only two days left in our journey of 2013.  For some their river where they have never passed before could come in the form of obstacles, challenging the very core of your faith, leaving you to reassess where you are and how close or how far you have been from God, as He sets the path in front of you that will lead you through the crisis, past the storms, but eventually; leading you to the land He has promised you.

As we stand at the river, we have had many experiences this pass year, and in other years that have passed and gone, and the tendency is to think that……‘ I made it this far, and I can make it through this year.’   Paul was in this same place as were many others before us, as he cried out when contemplating the challenges and trials of his life…  “And who is adequate for these things…..and such confidence we have through Christ toward God, not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

 “You have never passed this way before”

No matter what you faced in 2013, there are some things coming at you this year that you never dreamed of .   Some will frighten you, Some will make your knees weak, Some will cause you to cry, Some will get you angry, and some will leave you to become frustrated…but just as God promised, He will be with you.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee……For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee……Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life……Fear not: for I am with thee’ Isaiah 43

While we are here, we must expect unusual events, to pathways that we have not passed before: and much more , but we have the assurance of God’s presence, what have we to fear?  We will not be afraid of the future and will face un-traveled pathways with confidence, trusting the Lord in every situation.

Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear”. Hebrews 13:5,6. A very comforting truth.

May the coming year be a truly blessed one for you as you experience the comforting presence and guidance of the Lord and His provision for each step of the way.

 

I have to tell you that when I come to New Years I feel a little apprehensive… why? because  God has been so good to me that He would lead me to my Rivers, to a way I have never passed before.  Sometimes, It appears my wife, Patty and I don’t have sufficient resources, sometimes I become well aware of how frail we can be physically, and all along we know we need to continue to grow spiritually, that when we arrive to the place where God has led us, we can rejoice and be glad to know, ‘this time we know we have trusted God with all we have, because He always shows His faithfulness!’

I have to confess that I am not there yet, I still need the assurance of seeing God with my natural eye, but as true as he has been to me without my seeing him with my natural eye, I still sometimes find myself in the place Paul was at as he faced an uncertain future.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:11

 Facing the future can be inspiring, challenging, and exciting. It can also be awesome, fearful, and dreadful. The fact is that in two days we all will have a blank page to be filled by the passing of time and events in our lives. Tomorrow means hope, and opportunity.

In the 15th century, Mariner’s charts would outline the shores of Europe and Africa; each map showed a spot in the Atlantic ocean, beyond which no ship or sane sailor dared to venture. Written in on those maps were the words: “Here be dragons, , here be demons, here be death.” We’ve come a long way in our World concepts since the 15th Century, but there is still an apprehension about venturing into the “Unknown”.

 In the days ahead, we too, will encounter many new experiences. For some the coming 12 months may be the best we’ve known. For others, they could be marked with sorrow and disappointment.

The reality for all us all is that not one of us knows what lies ahead, simply because “we have not passed this way before”. That fact can strike fear to our hearts, but need not, if we are trusting the Lord for direction in the following days and months.  For our Lord Jesus, is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever.  Happy New Year everyone, and let’s start this New Year, following closely behind the Lord…. ‘unto a place we have never passed before.’

 Here’s Today’s Video & Song…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd6zYQPCgsc

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‘The Real Meaning Of Christmas’

nativity 2

 ‘And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them…..and the angel said unto them, ‘fear not, for I bring you good tidings, of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born today this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord”

‘I’ve waited all autumn for winter to come
I have watched the dark evenings surrounding the sun
I have lighted my fire, the season’s begun
Because Christmas is with us again
Yes, Christmas is with us again

The fine decorations, they light up the town
It is crowded and bustling with thousands around
And it’s all a big business, though profits are down
And Christmas is with us again
Yes, Christmas is with us again

And it’s tatty and tawdry and shabby and stale
And the spirit of Christmas is lined with fine ales
And we spend all our money, complain at the price
Forgetting the reason, the birth of the Christ

But we’re swimming in seasonal goodwill and cheer
It’s the finest, the very best time of the year
And we’re bound to enjoy it all now that it’s here
Now that Christmas is with us again!
Yes, Christmas is with us again!

And it’s tatty and tawdry and shabby and stale
And the spirit of Christmas is lined with fine ales
And we spend all our money, complain at the price
Forgetting the reason, the birth of the Christ

I have waited all autumn to celebrate birth
When the one Son of God became flesh on this earth
But we’re milking the season for all it is worth
And Christ is forgotten again
Yes, Christ is forgotten again
And Christ is forgotten again
Let’s remember Christ this Christmas!

 

a-christmas-he-came

Let’s remember Christ this Christmas!

 

It’s that time of year again, my favorite time of the year which is highlighted with the joys of Christmas.  For many of us it is seen in gifts under the tree, lights in the windows, cards in the mail, dinners with family and friends, and shouts of Merry Christmas’ to those who pass is in the street.

Christmas time once again, the perfect time to remind ourselves and others of the true meaning of Christmas.   

But, is it really Christmas this year, 2016?  One thing I have taken notice of this year is how much more the world has distanced themselves from any symbols of Christmas joy. Shopping malls, local shops that used to have all those goofy painted messages on their storefronts are no where to be seen this year; instead being replaced with ‘Black Friday’ buying frenzies without the need for Christmas reminders and just what it all means. Is this really Christmas?

For many people this year Christmas will be  a time of sorrow. I know for Patty and I, we are mourning the loss of Patty’s father, Hugo just a couple of weeks ago.  Another friend just last week loss his son. No doubt these are difficult junctions in our lives that affect all activities going on around us.

Even though we may see many people driving 80,000 SUV’S and living fancy lifestyles, it’s a reminder that this is not ‘norm’,  There are families that don’t have ‘extra monies’ to meet the demand of buying presents, leading some to spend money they don’t have.  

And yet Christmas can be a Season of great joy, by simply getting off the ‘train going nowhere’ with all it’s commercialism and take another look at the most amazing gift in life, here and hereafter.  That ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.‘  

And so, what then can be said for the meaning of Christmas this year, 2016? How can I be expected to have joy in the midst of it all, when the world has said, No to the love and joy expressed in celebration of Christmas?

Christmas can be a season of great joy when we pause and examine what God has done for us to overcome the drudgery of this hectic, loss, empty life on earth. God gave Jesus that we would have life! What a statement.  And yet so profound, when it’s all said and done what is the true meaning of Christmas?  That we would have the joy that we have been given a Savior in Jesus who gives us life and joy to begin living it now.  

Christmas is when we put all the trappings of Christmas-like joy and celebrate the greatest gift, the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, Wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement that night of knowing and experiencing the birth of the greatest event in history!  You have to know that they knew this was no ‘ordinary’ baby, but one that Old Testament prophets had wrote about hundreds of years before His coming.  

.
And so the real meaning of Christmas is the story unfolding of God’s becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ fulfilling His promise in Genesis 22:8 when Abraham said to Issac, his son, that ‘God will provide Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world.’  God provided a way….He gave His only Son to take our punishment for our sins, paying the price in full, and as a result we who believe, are now free from condemnation when we accept the free gift of His love expressed in His own work through His grace. “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

a-celebrateShould Christians celebrate Christmas?

There is a debate among ‘believers’ about whether or not Christians should even be celebrating Christmas.  Actually it’s not something new but has been raging on for….centuries.  It should be noted that there are equally sincere thoughts on both sides, each raising reasons why, or why not believers should or shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas; but what does the Bible say? Do our Bibles give us any clear direction as to what to do, how to respond.

The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

a-another-treeFirst, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have Origins in Paganism.

Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are all mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism.

While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem.

Arguments against celebrating Christmas

a-salvationBells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world.  (John 1:4-9)

A star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem.

Gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

a-christmas-treeeAnother argument against Christmas, having a Christmas tree, is that according to Jeremiah 10:1-16, the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them, refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it.  However, reading the context of the passage we see it is a difficult argument against Christmas trees.

 

a-ignoreThere are Christians who choose to ignore Christmas to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born.   In fact arguments on both sides are more alike than not.

Some relate the 1. Climate in Israel  2.The practices of shepherds in winter and 3. the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of merit, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible really doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

a-treeThere are some Christians that say since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to not celebrate it as Christmas but refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often use the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we examine the Biblical facts we see that there really is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either.

a-personalIn the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.

That said, Patty and I sat down this past week to gear up for the Christmas Season.  We enjoy the inspiration behind several of our favorite Christmas Specials to ‘kick off’ the season. Beginning with ‘It’s a Wonderful Lifefollowed by  ‘The Nativity’ and then ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Special.’ Back in ‘the day’ I recall looking forward to seeing these every December.

a-life

“It’s A Wonderful Life

All throughout It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey makes a lasting impact on people. For better or worse, every person impacts the lives of those around them.

Your life has purpose 

“Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” says the angel Clarence to George Bailey. One of the obvious points of the film is that, without George around, so many things would have been different. We learn that Bedford Falls, for example, would have been Pottersville. Of course, Zuzu and the other children would never have been born.

But the impact would have stretched far beyond this small town. “George saved his brother’s life that day,” says the ‘angel Joseph’, recalling when George’s younger brother Harry fell through the ice of a frozen pond. Years later, Harry would become a war hero, saving the lives of others. The point is, we have no idea how significantly our lives affect others.

 

a-jumppBut that’s only part of the reason to value your life. Aside from serving others, our lives should be viewed as a gift. As the ‘angel Franklin’ notes, “At exactly 10:45 p.m. tonight, Earth time, that man will be seriously thinking of throwing away God’s greatest gift.”    If you’re just ‘living out your life’ and forgetting the hope and future God has given you, sometimes He will use a movie like this to help turn your perspective around, at what really matters at Christmas.

a-nativityThe Nativity Story

    This film is amazing, both from a biblical standpoint and an artistic one. Other than “The Passion…,” I’ve not seen biblical films that felt like big screen productions.       Reverent is the best word I can use to describe this movie.   I just want to say, we were moved in our hearts, and you could sense the Holy Ghost awakening in your spirit at different times during the movie. I wanted us to see this film to set the tone for our Christmas season of celebrating the birth of our Lord, the Christ! I’m going to rate this film as excellent, in spite of the late biblical omissions (only errors if the writer intentionally deceived). People need to learn what Christmas is really about! I say this because we will be very fortunate to see a film about Jesus, and our worship of him, made with quality and accuracy, again in my lifetime! The devil can’t be happy about this movie! We loved it, and will use it to keep the focus of our Christmas season celebration on the true reason for the season, Jesus! “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

 An excellent, excellent movie! Painstakingly paying attention to detail, you feel transported into the times when the birth of Christ took place. For the most part, it doesn’t stray too far from the Bible, and where it does, it’s not going to make or break the positive impact of the movie. The nativity is a reverent portrayal of the birth of Christ. Sometimes I feel that too often, the evangelical church has become a little too familiar with God and lack the reverence that the Catholic church has maintained.

Finally, we have a movie that shows the true meaning of Christmas. Forget all the rubbish movies that Hollywood has churned out over the years this time of year, this is a movie to see this Christmas! The story starts well, setting the scene with a verse from Jeremiah, which revolves around the prophecy of Jesus’s birth

I found the movie simply Amazing! It brought me right into the story. I felt like I was there. They paid tremendous attention to historical detail in the actors, the dialogue, the settings, the music. I was there, up close and personal, with Mary and her parents and Joseph and all of those involved. I am very impressed.

         

The ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Special’ for me was one of my favorites. Upon release Network executives,  were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing writers,  Charles Schulz and Ray Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision. Evidently the executives did not want to have one of the characters,  Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; they assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Version of the Bible.  Happily, there was a story reported on a documentary about the making of the program  stated that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking,      “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”

This spoke volumes to me as I was preparing this Christmas edition of Walking the Berean Road.   Marty, if you don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas….who will?

The best place to start is right there in Luke 2:9-11...  

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said to unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Three easy observations here.

1. God brings Good News in a time where hope can’t be found.

2. God brings this hope, to all people.

                                3. God brought Good News that we have help in the Name

                                   of Jesus, who will deliver us from whatever is opposed                                      against you, whenever you call Him for this Good News.

 

Indeed, we are living in perilous times. We seem surrounded at every side; do this, where that, become this, a form of good news, until we stop and realize, we need something this Christmas more durable, reliable, trustworthy.  Yes, the true meaning of Christmas this year is wrapped up all in Jesus!   You see, He really is….the reason for the season!

 

I couldn’t think  of a better ‘true meaning of Christmas’ than that delivered by Linus, of Charlie Brown fame.  Patty and I hope you enjoy these video clips from, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ as you and your families all across the world celebrate Christmas time this year.


It’s Christmas time once again, the perfect time to remind ourselves and others of the true meaning of Christmas.   After setting up our nativity scene outside the front of our house, and putting aside the shopping, and parties, the boxes and bags, the gifts and bows; my wife (Patty) and I sat down the other night to watch the Annual  Charlie Brown Christmas Special.
Upon release Network executives,  were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing writers,  Charles Schulz and Ray Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision.
The executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; they assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Version of the Bible.
A story reported on a documentary about the making of the program  stated that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?”
This spoke volumes to me as I was preparing this Christmas edition of Walking the Berean Road.   Marty, if you don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas….who will?
The answer is pretty obvious isn’t it?  And yet having a strong conviction to stand up in giving out the Good News of Jesus Christ, I was challenged to ask you to join me.
The best place to start is right there in Luke 2:9-11…  
Three easy observations here.
1. God brings Good News in a time where hope can’t be found.
2. God brings this hope, to all people.
3. God brings such Good News, that it will leave a smile on your face!
4. God brought Good News that we have help in the Name of Jesus, who will deliver us from whatever is opposed against you, whenever you call Him for this Good News.
Indeed, we are living in perilous times. We seem surrounded at every side; do this, where that, become this, a form of good news, until we stop and realize, we need something this Christmas more durable, reliable, trustworthy.  Yes, the true meaning of Christmas this year is wrapped up all in Jesus!   You see, He really is….the reason for the season!
I couldn’t think  of a better ‘true meaning of Christmas’ than that delivered by Linus, of Charlie Brown fame.  Patty and I hope you enjoy these video clips from, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ as you and your families all across the world celebrate Christmas time this year.

The opening scenes begin with a Charlie Brown who just can’t get a handle on the true meaning of Christmas, and it takes his close friend, Linus, to bring reason for the ‘down and out’ feelings Charlie Brown is experiencing.  Linus to Charlie Brown: “Among all the Charlie Browns in this world, you’re the ‘Charlie Browniest!’

And so the story goes something like this:  Charlie Brown and his friends are all out skating on a frozen pond, when Charlie Brown begins to confide in Linus, that even though Christmas is just about here, he finds himself depressed. despite the Presents, cards, Christmas tree decorations and outdoor lights.
charlie confiding
In Charlie Brown’s eyes it seems Christmas had gotten to be too much about money and things.   Charlie Brown’s depression and aggravation only got worse by all the various ways people were celebrating Christmas, right in his own neighborhood.  He trods through the snow to the mailbox outside his house to see if he could find some Christmas cheer.   He runs into Violet and sarcastically does his best at trying to thank her for the card she ‘sent’ him, even though Violet took his sarcasm literally.
charlie mail box
charlie and violet
Eventually, Charlie Brown pays a visit to his friend, Lucy who just so happens to be operating a, ‘Psychiatric’ booth outside in the snow laden neighborhood.  Lucy listens to Charlie Brown’s predicament and recommends that he needs to quit being a ‘bystander’ during the Christmas season and become more involved, maybe even directing a Christmas play she’s putting together.
On the way to the auditorium, Charlie Brown drops by Snoopy’s doghouse, and what does he find, but Snoopy busily decorating the outside of his place.  Snoopy hands Charlie Brown a flyer describing a Neighborhood Lights and Display Contest.  Charlie Brown gets even more upset because even his own dog has gone the commercial route of the meaning of Christmas!
snoopys dog house
On the way to the Christmas Play rehearsal, Charlie Brown runs into his sister, Sally, who goes on to ask her brother to write a letter to Santa Claus for her, telling her brother as he writes her request that she wants money!  “In Tens and Twenties”!  You guessed it, Charlie Brown is even more depressed in his search for the meaning of Christmas.
charlie and sally
charlie and sally 2
Finally, Charlie Brown arrives for the rehearsal of the Christmas Play that Lucy recommended he direct and giving him something to get involved in.  He walks in and sees a room full of lively music and everyone dancing, especially to the song Linus is playing with Lucy leaning on the piano. Unable to control the uncooperative kids who are more interested in the dancing and music, Charlie Brown thinks out in his mind that what they need for the ‘proper mood’ of Christmas is a Christmas Tree.
charlie brown singing
Well, Lucy, takes over and quiets down the crowd and sends Charlie Brown to go out and get a Christmas tree, but not just any tree, a ‘big, shiny…..aluminum tree’.
CHARLIE BROWN LUCY
Charlie Brown leaves the auditorium and brings Linus with him on the ‘Quest for the perfect tree.’   Upon arrival at the Christmas tree lot, Charlie Brown is zeroed in on a tiny little tree which would be the only ‘real’ tree on the lot.
charlie linus tree

Linus, doesn’t seem to agree with Charlie Brown’s choice, but Charlie Brown is absolutely convinced that with a little decorating, the tree will be just right for the Christmas Play.

Finally, Charlie Brown and Linus get back to the auditorium where everyone was gathered to practice the play.  As Charlie Brown enters with the tree, everyone begins to laugh uncontrollably at what Charlie Brown had brought back.

CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS TREE LAUGH

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CojUP5nRidA

Charlie Brown , reaching the end of the rope on his search for the true meaning of what Christmas was all about, begins to wonder if he really understood himself what Christmas was all about

 CHARLIE LINUS WHAT2

Up steps Linus, blankie and all, telling Charlie Brown, that he knew what Christmas was all about, he begins reciting by heart, from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2 :8-14.

CHARLIE BROWN LINUS WIDE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQeKdvXliIU&feature=player_detailpage

charlie LINUS WHAT

“‘8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'”

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Charlie Brown quietly picks up the little tree and walks out of the auditorium, intending to take the tree home to decorate and show the others it will work in the play.

On the way, he stops at Snoopy’s decorated doghouse, which now sports a first prize blue ribbon for winning the display contest. He puts an ornamental ball on the top of his tree; the branch, with the ball still on it, promptly flops over to one side instead of remaining upright, prompting Charlie Brown to declare “I’ve killed it” and runs off in disgust at his perpetual failure, of him finding the true meaning of what Christmas is all about.

snoopys dog house

The rest of the gang follows Charlie Brown quietly followed from the auditorium. Linus goes up to the tree and gently props the drooping branch back to its upright position, wrapping his security blanket around the tree.

CHARLIE TREE 5

After they add the remaining decorations from Snoopy’s doghouse to the tree, the kids then start humming ” Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’.

When Charlie Brown sees what they have done with the tree, he is surprised and the kids give him a Christmas greeting before singing the song, as Charlie Brown joins in.

Special thanks to Charles Schulz and the whole Peanuts gang for having the courage to put the true meaning of Christmas in their animated film. It has become a true Christmas classic.
A great little story, that even a child could understand.  And yet, what can we grab from this Christmas Story and make it our own?  Well, I saw quite a few, but briefly, understanding what Christmas is all about. can be a very lonely road.
Charlie Brown, as he looked around at how others were seeing what Christmas was all about, saw many different expressions of it.  For some, it was about doing something, (Christmas Play).  For others, it was about getting, (Writing a Christmas list of what they wanted).   For some it was about the biggest, shiniest Christmas tree,  For someone else it would be Christmas lights and contests. Finally, for some it was just simply enjoying it in song and dance.
But for a few, it was a search for the real meaning of Christmas.
At this time of the year, people run through a gamut of emotions. Some , happy, sad, depressed.
For me this year, it’s about choices.  One thing is certain, there is no lacking of places to go, friends to be with, and how to spend the time where you can keep something more than the frills of the season.    For me, it’s all about Jesus.   When Jesus came into the world, things were upside down.  The world needed some good news, and yet sadly, no one at that time paid much attention let alone hear about the birth of God’s greatest gift to mankind, His Son.  It would be through this little baby that He would grow up to be a man, and become a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
I find things aren’t much different today, where this world needs to hear some good news for a change.  And yet when we go out and share the love of God through Jesus Christ, the response is the same as when Jesus was born. They don’t have the time, and are consumed with the trappings of this world. Jesus Christ to many homes is no longer a priority, replaced by all kinds of electronic gadgets and devices.  We don’t seem to want to just sit still and hear from God.
The Shepherds, the Wisemen, they knew and understood about the Coming of the Christ, and they celebrated it by worshipping Him.
Today, my biggest question this Christmas is, now that I know about Jesus, am I celebrating His coming, has He become my principal object of worship and adoration?  And, if Jesus were to come back today, as the Bible teaches He will, for His church, will I be ready? Or will I be like the people’s in those days, who were doing this and that, and were not prepared to receive Him?
This year has been a unusal year for Patty and I to be sure. Facing eight months of it head on with the Chemotherapy treatments I had, the day-to-day challenges that go along with it.
One thing we can say for sure, God was good to us this year.  We were able to take the ‘Good News’ of Jesus Christ into areas I would never have imagined. The numerous people we met, week to week inside the Chemotherapy offices who were struggling with cancer, and the waves of its trials.  For sure, many people from doctors, to nurses, surgeons, family members, all were touched by the gift of  His testimony we were privileged to give out.    From the struggles of finances, and a myriad of other things, God proved faithful.   We are forever thankful to God for all the friends He sent our way, the surprise checks that were written.  Great is His faithfulness!
Maybe you’ve also had struggles throughout the year, and yet when we pause and look the year over, you too can see the hand of God in it all.
Maybe this year is one where you too need to hear some ‘good news’.  And maybe your thinking on what that ‘good news’ could be was caught up in the things of this world. But, maybe, just maybe, this Christmas would be a good time to start, bringing the good news to a dying world.  The best news you can give is what Jesus Christ did for you.  We are rich in Jesus, why not put the good news He brought as a gift to us, and give it out to others?  Let’s make Jesus the priority this Christmas.  In word, in deed, when Jesus is walking with us, we can’t help but have good news!
On behalf of my family; my beautiful wife, Patty, and our two ‘kids’, our little doggies, Libby and Buster, we wish you and yours, a Merry, Merry Christmas indeed!

 NATIVITY

Why did He come? Why did God send His son to this sometimes cruel and hard world? He sent Jesus to us so that one day, He would grow up to become a very important part of history. His story (history) is one of truth, love, and hope. It brought salvation to all of us. Without Jesus, we would all die in our sins.

Jesus was born so one day the price could be paid for the things we have done that are wrong. The Bible says that all have sinned. We are all born with a sin nature. We do things that do not please God. Through the sins of Adam and Eve, we have all inherited that sin nature. We need to have that removed. The only way is through Jesus. Jesus came so He could die on the cross for ALL of our sins. If we believe that Jesus died for our sins, we can ask Him to come into our hearts and forgive us. Then, we are clean and made whole. We can know that heaven is a place where we can go to when this life is over.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 (NLT)

We can truly be happy at Christmas! No matter what may be happening, we can know that we are His children. We then become sons and daughters of God. Heaven will be our home one day.

Look at Christmas in a new way this year. This is the year to invite Jesus into your heart. You will then have a “Merry Christmas.” The joy and peace you will receive will last all year as you look to God for all your needs to be met.

Jesus Is The Reason For The Season! Rejoice!

Copyright © 2007 Martha Noebel. Used by permission.

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Where Is God?

WHERE IS HE

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lHtKEUs3ao&feature=player_embedded

“Now one day, all of Job’s children were gathered together under the roof of Job’s firstborn for their usual celebration—feasting and drinking wine— 14 when a messenger came to Job.

Messenger: We were in the field. The oxen were plowing, the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and out of nowhere, the Sabeans attacked. They stole your animals, all 1,000 oxen and donkeys, and as for your servants, they put their swords to us, and everyone is dead—every last one, except me. I am the only one who got away from the fields to tell you.

16 And while the words were still leaving the messenger’s mouth, another messenger arrived.

Second Messenger: Lightning has struck! The fire of God fell from the sky and burned the 7,000 sheep alive . . . alive! Shepherds, too—all of them burned; everyone is dead—every last one, except me. I am the only one who got away from the pastures to tell you.

17 And while the words were still leaving that messenger’s mouth, a third messenger arrived.

Third Messenger: Chaldeans! Three groups of them attacked us. They converged on the camels and stole your 3,000 animals, and as for your servants, they put their swords to us, and everyone is dead—every last one, except me. I am the only one who got away to tell you.

18 And while the words were still leaving that messenger’s mouth, yet a fourth messenger arrived.

Fourth Messenger: All of your children were gathered together today under the roof of your firstborn to celebrate—eating a feast and drinking wine— 19 and then a powerful wind rose up from the other side of the desert, and it struck all four corners of the house. It collapsed! Everyone is dead—all of those young people—every last one, except me. I am the only one who got away from your son’s house to tell you. Job 1:13-19

All of Job’s 10  children died in a natural disaster. There was a wind storm that blew  down the house. Job was confronted with the fact that because of a  natural disaster, there are 10 fresh graves on the hilltop. So now what  is he going to do?

His wife says to curse God and die. But Job said, “The Lord gave and  the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job shows us  it is possible to worship God even without explanations, even when we  don’t know all the reasons. Those who worship God under those conditions  are especially blessed.

In the wake of such incredible loss and disaster, we struggle to  understand how a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing can also be  considered good and loving.

Here we are again, and yet another disaster.  We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur.

The increasing number of natural disasters and terrible storms have many people wondering, who controls the weather, God or Satan? An examination of Scripture reveals that Satan and his demon angels have no control over natural disasters. The Devil, our “adversary,” must be taken seriously, however, by acknowledging his reality and his limited power over the secular world. Satan, a defeated fallen angel, is super-human but not divine, having only that power that God ultimately allows him.

If Satan could impact the weather, it would only be by God’s permission, though restrained, as in the case of Job. Satan was allowed by God to torment Job in order to test him, and this included “the fire of God” (probably lightning) which “fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants” . This was followed by a “mighty wind” (possibly a tornado) that destroyed his home and killed his children (vv. 18-19). So if the fire from heaven and the tornado were somehow caused by Satan, they were still under the ultimate control of God for His purposes.

As these events of this Typhoon in the Philippines were going on this week, I couldn’t help but think, and pray for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LtSWzZaiL7g

Ironically, one of our pastor’s at our church headed out last week on a pre-scheduled Missions trip.  I have to believe that God ordained their going out, at the Divine appointment calling for their lives.  Their presence, led by Pastor Dennis Marcado, has kept me busy this week, lifting up their mission, that they would know the perfect will of God during their stay, and that the Gospel would be shared at every turn.

Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people?

For one thing, These kind of events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant.

What we do know is this: God is good!    Romans 8:28 says that: “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose”.

Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies.

It’s amazing, as I read through news reports on-line followed by a “Comments’  section that allows the reader to interact with the news story.  It has become more consistent that immediately, there are those ‘haters’ of God who will clog up the space, and invoke a tirade against believers, and God Himself.

I use to get in the flesh sometimes because of the hatred being spewed out against Christian’s specifically.  But this is the kind of world we are living in, darkness seems to cover much of the land.

And yet, it does give us an opportunity to come to God with our petitions, recognizing that we have a truly Sovereign God, who does care about His creation.

When I’ve reached the ‘end of my rope’, if you will, I gather all my thoughts and take them to the Lord in prayer.   I firmly believe that our prayers can and do make a difference; not in changing or steering God to do things our way, but to take advantage of the privilege given to us, to become involved with God, and see His loving-kindness manifested.

praying woman

PRAY PHIP CHILD

We don’t have the answers on why God allows things like these to happen, but we know one thing, God does answer prayer.  I believe God answered Daniel’s prayer when he was in the lion’s den, full of hungry lions. I believe his prayers ‘changed the lion’s appetite’, that they waited until morning, after Daniel was let out.

Won’t you join me in praying for the people’s in the Philippines disaster?   Pray for Pastor Dennis, and his team.  Pray for food, water, clothing, housing, for the people. Pray for the faith, and salvation of souls in the midst of all these things; that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

Here’s Today’s Video; A Special Update from Samaritan’s Purse….Please take the time to view it and pray, and if possible to support their humane cause to help the people.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig6gOLrE4Ec&feature=player_embedded

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‘Mercy And Grace To Help In A Time Of Need’

“Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”   Hebrews 4:16

By now I’m sure most of us in the United States have heard of, or about the horrendous Typhoon that struck the Philippian Isles in the last couple of days.  The storm was  one of the most powerful ever recorded.  It slammed into the Island of Leyte early Friday morning, November 9 with what they call ‘sustained winds as high as 195 mph, and gusts up to 230 mph.   It triggered landslides, uprooted trees, and destroyed homes and entire communities.   As of this afternoon, Monday November 11, Officials are estimating  over 10,000 people could be dead in one city, Tacloban alone. As many as 750,000 people are without homes.

The storm as I had said earlier was classified as a Typhoon Class 5.   It was reported that for a time, storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, covering an area of 1,120 miles, the distance between Florida and Canada, with tropical force winds the size of Germany. 15-19 foot waves rolled repeatedly leaving widespread devastation.

philipprans 8

Les Tilka, a church pastor who is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse said, “It was utter devastation, especially on Bantayan Island which is already very poor. Their form of livelihood is ‘egg production’ and ‘dried fish’.  As of now, all the egg farms and fish processing plants were leveled, along with 90 percent of their homes.”

A Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team is in the Philippines to help in the aftermath of one the strongest storms, Super Typhoon Haiyan  ever recorded.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told reporters after landing in Tacloban, ” The devastation is, I don’t have the words for it….it’s really horrific, it’s a great human tragedy.”

philippeans9

The stories coming out of the Philippines are unimaginable. Rushing water and wind tearing children away from their parents’ arms. A city of 200,000 in which no buildings appear to have survived intact.

Two days after one of the most powerful storms ever recorded flattened entire towns across part of the Southeast Asian archipelago, desperate survival tactics created fresh horrors.

On the outskirts of Tacloban, a coastal eastern city of 220,000 where tsunami-like waves destroyed many buildings, Edward Gualberto accidentally stepped on bodies as he raided the wreckage of a home.

  Wearing nothing but a pair of red basketball trousers, the father-of-four and village councillor apologised for his shabby appearance and for stealing from the dead.       “I am a decent person. But if you have not eaten in three days, you do shameful things to survive,” Gualberto told AFP as he dug canned goods from the debris and flies swarmed over the bodies.  “We have no food, we need water and other things to survive.”

 

After half a day’s work, he had filled a bag with an assortment of essentials including packs of spaghetti, cans of beer, detergent, soap, canned goods, biscuits and candies.

“This typhoon has stripped us of our dignity… but I still have my family and I am thankful for that.”

philippean 6

“The huge waves came again and again, flushing us out on the street and washing away our homes,” Mirasol Saoyi, 27, told AFP near the city’s seaside sports stadium that withstood the typhoon and where thousand of people had gathered. “My husband tied us together, but still we got separated among the debris. I saw many people drowning, screaming and going under… I haven’t found my husband.”

Samaritan’s Purse immediately deployed disaster response specialists, including water and nutrition experts, to the region. The multinational team is coordinating relief efforts on the Leyte and the neighboring island of Samar, working with local Christians to deliver relief to those most in need. Community water filters, protective tarps, blankets, hygiene kits, and emergency family food packets are being rushed to affected areas.

“We’ve seen the kind of devastation storms like this can bring to lives,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. “We will do everything we can to provide for their needs. We’ll be there not only to provide survivors with physical aid, but also to share God’s love and bring hope to their communities.”

 Here is link to see recent footage shot by a Samaritan’s Purse worker.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkwFDenZbWE&feature=player_embedded

 

sam1

 Truly, this is a time of opportunity for the church to stand together and support the work already going on there to bring help to all these people.   Sadly, it takes disasters like this for God’s people to rally together and seek the Lord, and ask Him what we can do to be a helping hand.  In moments like these, we are comforted by the Word of God which brings hope and direction by God for guidance on how we can become effective volunteers whether in our prayers, and financial assistance to those on the front lines.

“Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We can sit back and be unaffected by this horrific disaster or we can become involved. We can sit idly by or we can roll up our sleeves and, “come boldly to the throne of grace”. Proverbs 28:1 says we should be ‘bold as a lion’. But we’re not coming to just ‘anywhere’, we can come right before the King Himself, Jesus Christ, and ask Him for help, to show us how we can extend His grace out in this time.  Jesus said, ‘We receive not, because we ask not”  How many times do we hear about these kinds of tragedies and do nothing at all?  God, give us, Your heart!  Make us a church of compassion for those who are in need.  Grace, God’s unmerited favor. God, help me to be as gracious with all you’ve given me, that i can be a blessing to those in need.

“that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

 Thank You God, that You have withheld what easily could have happened to us, to our families, thank You for Your mercy!  Thank You God, that when we come to You for help, we find first, grace.  We need your help God. We see the need of those in the Philippines and ask for Your help…in this time of need!

‘ Grace does not veil itself from the people. Grace does not hide itself in a tent.’

Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, is enthroned in heaven, and ready to minister mercy and grace to those who come for help.  God we ask for that help.

Maybe today, your heart is stirred to bring the Mercy and Grace of God to these needful people, by way of hands and encouragement through Jesus Christ, and you don’t know where to turn.  I recommend the SAMARITAN’S PURSE INTERNATIONAL RELIEF efforts.  They have an excellent history as a Christian Outreach that stands ready to respond at a moment’s notice whenever and wherever disaster strikes.

sam3

They  specialize in meeting critical needs for victims of conflict, disaster, famine, and epidemics throughout the world, often working through ministry partners on the ground.  They provide food, water, shelter, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ.   You can contact them at: www.samaritanspurse.org

Here’s Today’s Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6-m1I1_xsc

 

 

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‘Prayer And Clouds’

 

“And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there arises a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and get you down, that the rain stops you not.”      1 Kings 18:44

The Old Testament prophet Elijah had just spoken to King Ahab who was governing over Israel, about a few things the Lord had spoken to him.  Specifically that the Lord would be judging Israel once again because of their repeated practice of idolatry.
The judgment would be no rain  would be falling upon the land.  Later on in Chapter 18, God uses His prophet, Elijah to draw back the nation, once again back unto Himself.
I found it most interesting the Omnipotence of God seen here in determining when and where life giving rain would fall.  It is a careful reminder that God is in control of every aspect of life, in this case man’s life.   Water, without it, we’re dead.  We wouldn’t be able to plant or harvest food without it. We couldn’t raise cattle, chickens for consumption.  We would have all kinds of sickness and disease without being able to wash ourselves.  And life itself, as humans God made us 2/3 water.
Maybe, taking a second and watching this video by Rick Decker  will help us to get a little clearer picture of..”Where would we be without WATER?”

Water is the most common substance on Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet’s surface. Water is also an important element, other than air and moderate temperature that makes the Earth realm an inhabitable place.

It is also undeniable that all life on Earth, from the microscopic bacteria to the gigantic whale, depends on water to survive and continue their existence.

Human beings are also not excluded. In fact, two-thirds of the human body and about nine-tenths of human blood consists of water. Not to forget that water is also needed by trees and plants to grow and to produce their own food through photosynthesis. Water also helps to shape the Earth’s physical appearance. This is proved by the fact that two-thirds of the Earth is covered by the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.

It is a fact that a normal human can only live for five to seven days without water and die of dehydration after that period of time. This is because water is needed to carry consumed food, nutrients and oxygen all over our body to live. Furthermore, water is needed by Man to maintain our body temperature as well as to keep our body clean. Water is also used widely by Man to do their daily activities, such as house chores, farming and manufacturing. This shows how essential water is to mankind.

The process, called the water cycle, in which God in His dilligent maintenance of His creation is vital  to maintain the amount of water on Earth. There are many sources of water, such as oceans, rivers, lakes, glaciers and so on. Most of our water comes from rivers. The purest form of water is rainwater. This is because other substances that are mixed in water will naturally be left behind when water evaporates.

So then, ‘where would we be without water?’     There is only one word to answer this question. DEAD! There would be absolutely no life on earth without it. The earth would be a giant, dry rock with no life upon it. No plants, No animals, No humans. It is impossible to live with out it, and it is the most important thing we have on the earth.

We need to have at least 70-80 ounces of water every day to keep our body properly hydrated, so within one day, our body would already be suffering from lack of water. Consistent failure to drink enough water can lead to Chronic Cellular Dehydration. This is the condition where the body’s cell are never quite hydrated enough to leave them in a weaken state, vulnerable to attack from disease.

It weakens the body’s overall immune system and leads to chemical, nutritional, and pH imbalances that can cause a host of diseases.

It is needed for almost every bodily function to properly take place. H2o is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption,.

Without water in the body, we wouldn’t even be able to eat. We need saliva to digest our food, and without water saliva cannot be produced.

Another vital part water plays on the body is that it is needed for proper circulation. It makes blood flow easier through the veins and arteries. When we eat, we have to get rid of our waste some how. Water helps remove toxins and waste from the body, particularly from the digestive tract. Humans also need to stay at a certain temperature to stay healthy. Water is also what regulates our body temperature.

When it is hot out side, our body releases water from inside and it comes through the pores in our skin, cooling us down. This is the process known as sweating. Without this, we would over heat and most likely die a slow and hot death. Just like plants are important for humans and animals to exist, humans and animals are important for plants to exist. We are what make the carbon dioxide that they breathe, and without us there would be no plants at all.

44 The servant did as Elijah requested each time; and on the seventh time, he told Elijah, “A minuscule cloud, as tiny as the hand of a man, is ascending from the sea.”  Go quickly, and give a message to Ahab for me: “Prepare your chariot, and leave quickly before the rain gets torrential and keeps you from traveling.”

Now then, getting back to this passage of scripture today and gain a greater appreciation of not only where this precious commodity, water comes from but who gives it, and what our role it is in procuring this important part of our life.

It was God, who spoke to Elijah, his prophet about getting the attention of His chosen people to pay attention, and worship something meaningful. Instead of worshiping the ‘creation’ worship the ‘Creator’.  Sure doesn’t sound to me like things have changed much in our own ‘modern’ world thought…
Now an important point to note here is that in 1 Kings 18:1 the Lord told Elijah that rain would come.

Elijah, being a bonfied believer in what God say’s, and a believer in prayer began once again to show, by example how to get God’s ear.  It would be through God’s Word and His promise, and Elijah’s compassion for his people that would lead him to persistently pray for rain.

He climbs Mount Carmel, and begins his prayer.  As he starts to pray, he tells his servant to look toward the sea for any sign of rain.. I like the idea Elijah left for us that he didn’t just pray, but he looked for results.

I think there are times when we need something to happen in or around our own lives where we are going through the motion of prayer, without really expecting anything to actually happen…… and so we see that Elijah made sure his servant was looking for something to change……….I think that we too need to be looking for change actively as we pray.

For me, when I’m praying for a situation to change, I like to look for confirmation. This comes to me when my prayer lines up with the Word of God.  Is what I’m praying for in line with His will and what He has promised me?  And…. is my prayer in agreement with what the Bible is saying?

Elijah’s prayers were answered because God already told him rain would come.   Like Elijah, I also need to keep taps on a regular basis of what I’m praying…. am I looking for it to develop?   Every time Elijah’s servant would check, he would come back saying, ‘Not yet’ ‘Nothing’s happening quite yet’.   There are times it seems  like nothing is happening…

The fact is, that this happens a lot for me.  Nothing seems to be happening… that’s why it’s so important for me to not be discouraged when it happens.  Be assured that God is hearing us.

daniel 10-1

‘ Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.”
Daniel 10:1

Did Elijah give up? No, he just kept on praying, saying to the servant “go back”.  In other words he was saying “I will keep on praying, you keep on looking – something will happen.”

How many times did Elijah send his servant out to look, to ‘Go back’ ? Seven times! I have a feeling that was not easy…. but you know what?  There are times when it is necessary to pray over something…over and over.  There have been times when my prayers took days, weeks, even years to be answered.  At the end of it, God showed me it wasn’t because He was too busy to answer my prayer at all….All along He was making preparation for the answer and for me to accept the answer.

 Eventually change comes. Elijah’s servant “sees a cloud as small as a man’s hand arising out of the sea.”

This is so important. When I pray, I need to train myself to looking attentively for change. Notice that the reain didn’t come all at once……..  The fact is that the cloud the servant saw wasn’t very large….and easy to see….. It was what? ‘the size of a man’s fist.”   The servant could have easily missed it if he was not vigilant…… I need to be careful  to see the answer when it comes!

When I’m praying for something, I shouldn’t be surprised if the breakthrough I want to come, suddenly arrives as something small.  Maybe you are praying for a better job, and when an opportunity does come….it isn’t really what you were expecting.. maybe out of you ‘comfort zone’.  Think twice before you shove it away…. it could just be a ‘small cloud’ that the Lord is sending you.

It could very well be that this ‘small cloud’ is a sign that a season of abundance is coming into your life!   It is soooo important that we develop a grateful attitude of whatever size cloud is coming…..before the answer arrives.

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As soon as Elijah was told a ‘small cloud had come’ , he knew his prayer was answered. That’s why he instructed his servant to tell Ahab to go to Jezreel before the rain stopped him.

The rain came, and it will come for us too! Let this passage be an encouragement for you today and use the example God has given to us about the value of prayer.  Elijah had confidence in the Lord.

He prayed the same prayer over and over and over again. Yet he never waivered. He kept sending the servant back to look for a change to come. If we will seek to hear from the Lord and pray as Elijah did, we too too can experience great answers to prayer.

This passage was inspired by a recent letter from Patty and I’s missionary friend Joetta Smith , whom God has called to serve Him in Kenya, Africa.  She shares their need for water and dependance upon God to supply their needs.  Here is part of that letter.

JOETTA-KIDS

Hello Marty and Patty,
     Mama Junior and I went for 3 days of prayer and fasting and it was so good!  Haven’t been able to go for quite a while and to have uninterrupted time with the Lord in prayer and reading His word…SO refreshing!!  I read mostly in Luke, John, and Acts….So encouraging and sure reminds me why I am here!!  May HE be glorified in all we do!
We had discussed getting a large water tank to catch the rain water as we have such difficulty getting water any more.  The river doesn’t dry up but it seems since the dry weather that people are bathing in the river and just doing their laundry right in the water instead of taking water in basins to do the wash.  It is pretty dirty now is stagnant in some places.
Pastor Hosea’s family has really had a lot of sickness.  Well, can you believe that we may be able to have a well started very soon!  It will be a dug well but for us it is like a miracle!!
We even have to drink the river water and treat it with Water Guard.  We will buy a smaller tank now and God willing, we can have the fundi begin to dig the well very soon.  You don’t appreciate water until there isn’t any!!
We have to pay someone to bring it, too, so the well will cut that expense.  God is always on time.
     We are planning to get the matt and 4 foam mattresss plus mosquito nets so pastors can start coming to spend a few days at a time for studies.  They are so excited about this!  It is SO refreshing to see these dear men of God SO enthused over the word of God!  They are more like my sons that God has blessed me with!  Of course, some are older…could be my brothers!!  Well, in the Lord we ARE related!
     I do pray to live long enough to see this ministry going stronger and stronger as pastors grow in their faith and in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
     I pray all is well with you and Patty.  No matter what life may hold we KNOW who holds our life!!
     Love you both so much, Mama Jo / Joetta
What a wonderful work God is doing through Joetta in Kenya. If you’d like to write her an e-mail, I’ve included her address below. Most of all, won’t you please join Patty and I in praying for that ministry, for her needs, and equipment to fulfill this great calling upon her, just like He called Elijah!
Here is a verse maybe you could pray with us before you leave today. As our beloved Pastor Chuck Smith said in his prayer to those who listened in to the Word of God, “May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and comfort you, and may His face shine upon you!”
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Here’s Today’s Music Video: Enjoy!

 

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