Sunday, March 28, 2010

False teaching...

If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. (I Timothy 4:6 – NLT)

Nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed… it is very disturbing to me that this country was founded on solid biblical principle and for over two hundred years this country thrived, sure we went through some difficult times, but we stood, for the most part, on Godly teachings, we prayed together and alone. We were a community of believers that worked, played, went to school and church together. We were welcome in each other’s homes; we knew one another intimately, we truly cared for one another.

Over the last 20 or so years it seems that we have become more concerned with our self rather than others, we read how to improve our existence here, which is short and will end before we know it, we are not interested at all about our life with Christ which is forever. We are obsessed with our comfort now, how we feel, how we dress, how we live, what we eat, and what the stranger walking past us on the street thinks about us.

We have to start being concerned what God thinks about us, what God says about how we should live, what we should do. Who’s teaching are we following, the Holy Spirit or the demons that run wild on this earth. Who is our idol, Christ or Satan? Are we following false teaching!?

Look at what Paul says to Timothy about this very subject in his first letter to Timothy in 1 Timothy.

Paul’s apostolic career is coming to an end, recognizing this Paul sees a somber disturbance upsetting a long established Christian church. Some of the church leaders have become false teachers, something Paul has warned would happen. The impact of these false teachers began to threaten the life and well being of the Christian community, some one skillful was needed to restore order to God’s household, Paul believes Timothy, his trusted delegate, is the person for this task.

In this first letter to Timothy, Paul is very concerned for the well being of the church in Ephesus, some of the leaders had begun teaching contrary to scripture. Paul starts right away talking about the false teachers and encourages Timothy on how to deal with false teaching, how false teaching leads “to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.” (Verse 1:4)

In chapter 4 Paul talks about the warning from the Holy Spirit about false teachers. Paul explains, “the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” (Verse 4:1) Very boldly Paul states in verse 3; “These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.” Strong language coming from Paul here, he understands that truth is most important, not money or fame, not even our feelings, truth!!

In verses 6-16 Paul is telling Timothy that he must respond to the false teachers. Training worthy servants involves a whole pattern of conduct which is modeled by Paul and based wholly on sound doctrine. Good teaching unifies word and deed, belief and behavior. (Phil 4:9)

We have become a people more concerned with “political correctness” over “biblical correctness” we have to ask ourselves, what is more important, saving someone’s feelings or saving someone’s life? Are we doing a person any favors by sparing their feelings here and now or by giving them truth that could save their life?

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

My question is are we going to do as Paul instructed Timothy by teaching truth in Christ, are we going to be nourished by the message of faith and good teaching or are we going to be fooled into believing that our feelings and needs here and now are more important? Do we refer to scripture or do we just blindly follow whatever we are told? Do we study scripture or rely on what others say scripture says? Are we followers of Christ, followers of the Truth and Life, or are we one of the false teachers Paul talks about in his letter to Timothy.

Father, the giver of truth and life, You have given me instruction on how to live here and now and for endless life with You. Give me the wisdom to use scripture, Your words Elohim, to live by, to follow and to lead by. Guide me Abba, through this life that I may be Your light, Your example of truth, Your message of faith and good teaching. Father keep me in Your word daily, help me study it, meditate on it, digest it as if it were the most important nourishment I have, because it is Lord. I trust in You alone, You are the Wonderful Counselor, I trust that You will speak to me through Your Holy Word, I trust You will speak to me through Godly leaders, I trust You will speak to me through the Holy Spirit. I ask Father that You and You alone guide my steps, my thoughts, and my actions. I lay this prayer before You in the name of Your Son, the Lord of Lords, the One You Anointed, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Be accountable, we will all answer one day.

We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For He called you to share in His kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12 – NLT)

The first letter from Paul to the Thessalonian church is a letter of thanksgiving to God for the faith, love, and hope of this young church. However in chapter two Paul is defending his visit to Thessalonica, in this day there were many traveling orators (preachers if you will) who only sought money and fame. Since Paul and traveling companions had come to the city and preached the Good News then left suddenly and had not returned, even though they had tried to several times, Paul deeply cared for and loved the Thessalonians and wanted to insure them that his intentions are true and he was a “messenger approved by God” (2:4). That his concern is to please God not man; God is the examiner of our hearts. Paul explains how they did not try to flatter them or to take their money; in fact they worked hard to not be a burden on them.

Paul stated in verse 11 “you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children.” Then verse 12 where Paul reminds them of how he pleaded with them to live God centered lives. “For He called you to share in His kingdom and glory.” Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this prospect, we have come face-to-face with our Creator, we swallow hard because we know it is time to be called to account for all our actions on earth, both good and bad. Our individual history is not secret to God, He knows everything, but I imagine that the extent of our past activities may be a jolt to us. Some of may be pleasingly astounded, but I envision the majority of us will not be.

We need to be positively certain that whatever we do today, out thoughts and actions are pleasing to Our Righteous God (Jehovah Tsidkenu – Jeremiah 23:6). Be assured that some day in the future, which may be sooner than some of us think, that we will be called into account for our lives.

Father of All Things, I pray that you make my words and actions show everyone who sees me the changes that You have made in my life and in me. Your Prince of Peace came from You into this world so that I would have a chance at abundant life and unending life with You. All praise and admiration to You Adonai (Lord – Genesis 15:2), for my Morning Star, my King of Kings, Jesus Christ, Your Word made Flesh. I will pursue You, Messiah, with Your strength and courage and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will honor You, and extend the Good News of the Light of the World, today and always. I offer this prayer in the name of Your Son, the Alpha and Omega, the Life Giver and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Victory through Faith, by way of the Holy Spirit

For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 - NLT)

The 5th chapter of 1st John teaches about living in fellowship and about having faith in the Son of God. The 1st verse states very boldly, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God.” This belief comes from the Holy Spirit, by accepting (or receiving) this as truth we become empowered by that same Holy Spirit to love Jesus and other Christians as Christ loves. Also, by our faith we are enabled to obey God and overcome the evil temptations of this world. Through faith we can love God and live in obedience to Him (verse 4).

We all face adversity in our lives, believing in Christ, having faith that our Creator is in control does not shield us from the woes of this world. We must at times face disappointments, tragedies, and senseless death, we sometimes endure/witness the harshness of how men treat other men. I find comfort in God’s words here in verses 4 and 5, when we have accepted God’s grace we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the passing hardships, (I stress passing here because this world is passing and we have a promise, from God, that these things will pass), by relying on Gods strength, Gods love, and Gods promise of eternal life with Him.

It strikes me as strange that as humans we are ready to accept the testimony of other humans, but struggle with the testimony of God. Verse 9, John states that “God has testified about His Son.” And verse 10, “All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about His Son.” I do not want to take that path, calling God a liar seems to be a very dangerous statement.

We know God has promised all believers eternal life, verse 11, “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” If we have Christ in our lives we have life! On the other hand if we do not have Christ we do not have life. We talk about what God has promised from the point of life I rarely here about the promise of death if we do not have Christ.

Reading further in verse 14 and 15 we learn that if we talk to God He will hears us when we ask for “anything” that pleases Him. Knowing that He hears us gives us knowledge that He will give us what we ask for.

Now comes a subject most Christians prefer not to talk about, verses 16 through 21 talk about “keeping from sin.” Whew, touchy topic, but John writes that if we see a fellow Christian sinning in a way that does not lead to death, we should pray for that person and God will give them life. But if there is a sin that leads to death, “I (John) am not saying you should pray for those who commit it,” (Verse 16). “All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.”

Exactly what is John saying here? Lets see what Jesus had to say in Matthew 12:31-32: “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven – except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.” Wow, strong statement here from Jesus! What does He mean, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”? The Pharisees’ had just accused Jesus of using the power of Satan to cast out demons, knowing that the Holy Spirit was the true power of Christ. We may stumble of Jesus revelation about Himself being the Son of Man and be forgiven, but we cannot be forgiven for attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. We cannot outright reject the convictions of the Holy Spirit concerning Christ; we cannot ultimately reject the Good News! Jesus Christ Himself states that we will NOT be forgiven if we reject Him period!

We know that God people do not make a habit of sinning, God’s Son, Jesus Christ, hold us securely, Satan cannot touch us. We know that we are God’s children and the world around us in under the control of Satan. We know that God’s Son has come and has given us understanding through the Holy Spirit, giving us the true knowledge of God. We can now live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son. He is the only true God and He is eternal life.

The One True God, I humbly come before you know to give you thanks and praise for making provisions for us to have eternal life. Jehovah Jireh (the Lord Provides – Genesis 22:14), I ask that when we are troubled you heal us. I ask that when we are afraid you protect us. When we are discouraged to lift us up. Lord when we are in the midst of adversity please allow us to trust in you and your plan for us. Father make us humble and patient await your will for our lives. Abba Father, whatever we find ourselves in give us heart to always give thanks and praises and glorify you. In the name of You Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Abundant Life (Rich and Satisfying Life)

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10 – NLT) “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – (John 10:10 – NKJV)

Driving home from Phoenix with Cassie and Allen’s wedding over gave me three days to reflect on everything that transpired over the last two weeks. I am extremely confident that Cassie and Allen are off on the right path together as husband and wife. I could see it in their interactions together, how they consulted each other and most significantly how they included Christ in all their decisions.

So I am trying to get readjusted to the time zone, along with the time change, and back into some kind of routine, I started this morning with this verse for my devotion time. I have spent most of the day contemplating this verse and how it ties in with what is happening, or has happened in my recent life. I think God is telling me as long as He is the center of our lives and all we do, He will be there to watch over us, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth. That being Christian has nothing to do with our comfort or happiness here in this world. Being Christian has more to do with spiritual welfare, with eternal comfort and happiness, and until we realize this we will never be happy, comfortable or satisfied. Please continue reading to see if you come to the same conclusions.

Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Jesus is speaking to why he came, to give life. Jesus is using the illustration of a shepherd and his sheep because it is deeply embedded in the culture of Jewish people of that day. He is also referring to Old Testament scripture where God is the shepherd of Israel.

Verse ten Christ says that the purpose of “the thief” (Satan) is too steal, kill, and destroy, and that He came to give them (us) a “rich and satisfying” (NLT): “more abundantly” (NKJV) life. I do not believe that Christ is concerned with “the thief” stealing our belongings or killing His sheep (followers) physical bodies, or even destroying our (His) physical property, homes, church buildings or anything temporal.

Christ is concerned with something much more valuable, US, His sheep. The rich and satisfying (abundant) life Christ is concerned with is our spiritual richness that extends far beyond the temporal limits of this world.
The endless wealth that Christ offers to all those that seek it and claim it, is offered abundantly!

As Christians (followers – believers- of Christ) we must claim the riches of Jesus Christ every day. We also need to share His wealth (blessings) with everyone that we come into contact with. After all this was His last command to us!

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19:20 - NLT)

Bill Hybels wrote:
Instead of living a black-and-white existence, we’ll be released into a Technicolor world of vibrancy and emotion when we more accurately reflect His nature to the world around us.

Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd – Psalm 23:1), the One who gives us the treasured gift of life abundantly through your Son our Lord and Life Giver. Thank You Father for the bountiful life that you have given to me. Assists me Father in accepting Christ gifts, sanction me to use these gifts to always exalt You. Father, as Cassie and Allen begin their life together I beseech you to always be in their hearts, to be in the middle of all their life. Here in a few days Lord Allen will be returning to Iraq, I beg you Elohim (Powerful God) to watch over him, to bring him home safely to reunite Cassie and Allen to give them a long and Christ centered life together. I know Father all is in your hands and for your purpose, in the midst of my calling out to you I ask that these things come to pass if it be Your will, but in the end Most High I pray for Your will, Your kingdom. Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Useful or Useless?

Cassie’s Wedding Day

But Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

I am setting here in my room in Phoenix, dressed in a tuxedo, waiting for the hour Cassie and Allen will be joined in marriage. Yesterday after the rehearsal the pastor, who is also Allen’s uncle, ask me if I would be willing to close the ceremony with a prayer. What an honor and privilege Pastor Greg has bestowed on me. I have been going over in my mind, and praying as to what I should say in this prayer. So this morning I set here in the room watching Lynn do all the last minute stuff, and people coming in and out of the room, and nothing was coming to me. Lynn left to get her hair and makeup done with the girls and I decided this would be a good time for me to get showered and dressed. Still nothing then I read my devotion for today and this is the scripture that God chose for me to read today.

Here Paul is telling the people of Corinth, who were asking questions like; “How will the dead be raised” and “what kind of bodies will we have.” Paul says these are “foolish” questions. He then proceeds to talk about how we are now in earthly bodies that are dying and cannot inherit the Kingdom Of God, which will last forever. We will be given spiritual bodies that will last forever. Paul also explains how some of us may not die they will be transformed in an instant, “in the blink of an eye” (verse 51). In verse 55 Paul quotes Hosea 13:14: “O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?” Showing that we have nothing to fear from death when we have accepted Christ as our savior. Paul says in verse 56, “for sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.”

I am so thankful that Christ has given us victory over death through His death and resurrection. What a powerful statement that Paul is making here. Just imagine for a moment that you are alive at the time of the end when God chooses to bring Satan and his world to an end where in the “blink of an eye” you are transformed into a new being, a spiritual being, what a wonderful blessing. As I am thinking about this the idea came to me that at the moment Pastor Greg says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Allen and Cassie will be instantly transformed, they will no longer be a single being but a joined being, joined together in marriage where just an instant before they were separate, single. As they moved forward in this transformed state as one unit, with Christ at the center of their lives and their main focus is on Christ, then on each other. If they continue to seek God’s will for their lives even though they will experience disappointments, detours, set backs, and failures. If they do not become discouraged realizing the God is not finished with them yet. Remember life is a marathon not a sprint. A smart traveler chooses a wise traveling companion one who does not tire or falter this companion is of course God, then our spouse. So pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends you, trust God to do the rest. God will use you and all you do for His glory, nothing you will ever do for the Lord will be considered useless.

Loving Father, when we want to throw in the towel and give up, remind us how important it is to keep trying. Father when we worry or become upset remind us to talk to you. Father when we fear the future remind us that you are already there waiting for us. We love you Father, help us to feel your love. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Patience.!?!?

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. (I Thessalonians 5:14)

Here is that word again, patient, usually when God repeats something to me it means he is trying to get me to work on something, or trying to tell me something. I left for Phoenix yesterday (Wednesday, March 3rd), and could have made it into Phoenix tonight, but decided to stop about 50 miles east of Flagstaff and get a room for the night. I thought it would be good to spend some time in the word before we go head-long into Cassie’s wedding, plus Allen arrived from Iraq today and I wanted to allow the kids to have some personal time.

So I got into my room, got everything setup and opened my journal to this scripture. I’m asking, “Ok God what are you trying to tell me?” Then I read the verses before the 14th.

(Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.) (I Thessalonians 5:12-13)

Paul here is telling the church body to recognize the emerging leaders in their church, to honor the true leaders who are working hard and who are governing to serve, they are not only presiding over the church but they are also protecting the church. They both corrected moral and scriptural errors in the church. They were to be honored, not for their high position in the church but for their work. Live peacefully, this topic was the focus of much of the teaching at this time, harmony and peace between the leaders and believers was of extreme importance because of the persecution going on.

Then we get to verse 14, the focus of my devotion today. The message to me here in this verse is that the moral development of the church community is not the sole responsibility of the church leaders. Here Paul urged us to warn the lazy (those who were being disorderly), and did not live according to the apostles’ instructions. Paul also instructs us to “take care of those who are weak,” meaning those who have no social or economic power, the Greeks ridiculed the weak. Be patient instead of irritable, as believers we should be patient in all our relationships. (Read Galatians 5:23 and Ephesians 4:2)

These two scriptures, on patience, are talking about two kinds of patience, on is waiting for something or on someone to do something, the second, today’s devotion, is talking about being kind to someone, to encourage and help those who need help, praise those who need praising and encourage those who are in need of encouragement. Both are needed from everyone in the church, both leaders and believers. After all we are the body of Christ.

Most Patient Father, allow us to live according to your plan for our lives and the life of the Church. Help us to live according to your timetable and with the peace and loving patience that you have shown us Father. When we are tempted to be in a hurry or become short with someone remind us of who we belong to, remind us of the patience you have shown us, and the price you have paid for us. Father please make us patient Christians, help us to trust in you and your master plan. Father give us eyes to see when we can be of assistance to our church leaders, and then to strength and courage to provide that help. We know Father that you are our only hope, if we are not willing to devote time and energy into your kingdom here and now, what hope is there for us. Lord we need your strength and your patience to live Godly lives now, to focus on promoting Your kingdom now. Please give us that strength and patience. We pray this in the name of your Son our example of your patience, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wait for the Lord?

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

As I prepare to leave for Cassie’s wedding I find myself reflecting back on our lives together and looking forward to many blessings God has in store for us and especially Cassie and Allen. As I reflect I can remember times of being in a pit of despair, bogged down in the mud and mire.

I was not always so patient waiting for the Lord, I can remember times of moaning and groaning and wondering why God would allow this to happen to me, my family. Wasn’t I doing enough? Was my sin so great that I deserved this to happen? Now looking back after coming through the despair, the trials, I see that God was with me (and continues to be) every step of the way, carrying me most of the time. What I learned is that He is faithful! He does hear your cry and will lift you out of despair! But you have to call on Him.

Its so easy to set back, complain and belly ache about what life has dealt you instead of looking at what God has given you and be thankful. Look around you, look around the world, if you are making more than $1.25 a week you are rich in many people’s eyes. Look at the people out of work, that could be you, if it is you look at the people out of work with nowhere to turn, no food pantry’s, no churches to turn too.

No matter how bad we think we have it there is someone out there that needs more than us. We need to be thankful for what God has given us and more importantly we need to be thankful for His Son, Jesus, who has made a provision for us to beat death and live in His kingdom (His paradise), forever, hallelujah.

Take the opportunities of life’s inevitable disappointments as opportunities to learn more about yourself, your world and most importantly you Heavenly Father.

Most caring and loving Heavenly Father, I humbly ask that you forgive me for the times I am inpatient with you. I do not know your plans Father, I do not know how it all fits together, but I am confident that you are in control. You have shown me time and time again that you are with me, that you hear my cry and you answer. You lift me out of despair, out of the mud and mire and put me on solid ground time and time again, you hold me to steady me, and you hold me to comfort me. Father, make me grateful for the blessing you have given me and not to grumble over the things I do not have. Father you know my needs and I ask that you fill those needs and show me my needs from my desires. I want to know you more Father, help me to grow each day in wisdom, in faith and most importantly in my love for you. I pray these things in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Love, the very nature of God

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Here we see that faith, hope and love are elevated above spiritual gifts because they “will last forever.” It seems that almost everything I have read in the past few weeks has talked about love and how this is a commandment from God. Faith and hope are indispensable but “love” is the “greatest,” we are commanded to love one another just as Christ has loved us (read, John 13:24). We are not advised to, or encouraged to… we are commanded to love. This is an enormous responsibility, but as Christ followers we are obligated to live according to this command from God.

I have learned through scripture that love is the quintessential nature of God himself. Jesus Christ demonstrated this at Cavalry, when He gave His life on the Cross opening a door for us granting us access to the Father. We are called upon to return His love by sharing it. Starting today, let us share the love of Christ with our families, friends, lets even share it with total strangers! If we do this others might come to know Him, who chose us. What a powerful way to love God, allow Him to reach others through us. I can think of no better way to bring glory to my Savior than to share Him.

Loving Father,
I understand that loving you and one another is a command from you. Father, I do not have the strength or the wisdom to carry out this commandment on my own. Please Father; help me to always remember that love is a gift from You, a costly gift, and one that I can never earn or repay. Give me the guidance I need to cultivate love and to treasure this precious gift, now and always. I pray this in the name of the one who showed us how to love, Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Joy through Obedience

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:9-17)

Jesus is preparing the disciples to continue His work once He has returned to His Father. Jesus is describing His commandment to love each other and how this love needs to manifest. In the verse just before this paragraph, verse 8, Jesus says, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” True disciples experience transformed lives bearing fruit as a direct result of living in a relationship of love with Jesus and the Father. Therefore if we live a life in a loving relationship with Jesus and the Father, this will transform us into fruit bearing disciples.

Verse 13 has always been one of my favorites Jesus says, “There is no great love that to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” Although Jesus is preparing to literally lay down his life for us, here I think Jesus is telling us that we need to put ourselves last, that we need to put our lives aside for others. Starting with our friends and family. Are we prepared to give up that Sunday golf game to go watch our son play baseball or soccer? Are we enthusiastic to give up that $4 cup of coffee every morning to give the homeless man on the corner a $20 or, are we eager to give up an evening of watching television to go to a bible study? Are we willing to “lay down” to put aside, ourselves for the good of another?

Through out this passage Jesus uses’ “obey…commands” several times. Do you think He is trying to tell us something? If we follow Christ command to love Him and the Father, then to love one another, all other commands will fall into place and we will be His disciples and we will bear must fruit and bring glory to the Father. Straightforward to say, difficult to follow!

Jesus goes on to talk about how we are not His slaves, back then a rabbi’s disciples were considered servants or “slaves”, but here Jesus has elevated us to friends. Jesus says that we are His friends because He has shared with us all that the Father has told Him, and we did not choose Him but He chose us! I don’t know about you but when I read this I get goose bumps! God in flesh says that He chose me! The Word from the beginning that was with and was God chose me! Hallelujah! No I must go and produce lasting fruit so the Father will give me whatever I ask for in Christ name, and obey His command to: LOVE EACH OTHER!

Father, you have given me so much to be grateful for that I just want to celebrate my life in you. Your gifts and blessings make me thankful, I need your strength to make me loving and wise. Make me responsible; fill me with your joy! Make me a loving Christian, a valuable example to all who I come into contact with. Lord I want to be your devoted servant this day forward. In the name of Your Son, my friend… Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spiritual Maturity

When I was a child. I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:11-13)

One thing I have learned is that spiritual maturity is a life long progression we have to continue to grow in the love and knowledge of Jesus Christ until we have the benefit of meeting him face to face. Here in the 13th chapter of Corinthians, Paul is telling the people of Corinth that love is what defines our worth to God and the church, not the spiritual gifts we have received from God, in fact without love our spiritual gifts are of no value. Verse 11 Paul explains the process of maturity and how as God’s children we must be ever growing in our faith and knowledge, or as Norman Vincent Peale put it, “Ask the God who made you to keep remaking you.”

As we read on into verse 12 Paul talks about how our knowledge of God is limited here in this life, but how we will know everything once Christ establishes his eternal kingdom, then we will see everything with perfect clarity. Verse 13 Paul explains to us that faith, hope and love are more important than spiritual gifts because they last forever and of these three the greatest is love, because love is the exemplary nature of God himself. Read 1 John 4:7-12.

Abba Father, I have so many more things to learn, I ask that you give me the will and courage to never give up, to never stop want to learn more about you and to know you more. I need you to keep me yearning to grow Father and I need your strength to develop me into the man you desire me to be. I pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God loves

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

I find great comfort in the last four words of this passage “he cares about you.” The creator of EVERYTHING cares about YOU! Just take a moment and meditate on those four words.

This is not the only time scripture talks about how God cares for us, in Deuteronomy 1:31, “just as a FATHER cares for his child.” Deuteronomy 11:12 “HE CARES.” Psalm 116:15, “The Lord cares deeply when his loved one dies.” Matthew 6:30, “…he will certainly care for you.” There are more, just look them up.

God cares deeply for us, this is why he sent Jesus to live among us, to suffer and die for us. We have a never-ending source of support, courage and strength in Christ. All we have to do is ask, if we become tired and weary, ask for strength he will give it to you. Find hope in God’s promises when we are at the end of our rope, in our grief look to God for comfort, remember he grieved too.

When we find ourselves overwhelmed with the demands of this life we must turn to and rely upon the promises of our creator, our loving Father in heaven that “cares about you.” When things get tuff trust in God in Heaven, as we are reminded many times through-out the Bible, God’s faithful love endures forever!

I love this quote by E. Stanly Jones, “Faith is not merely holding on to God – it is God holding on to you.”

Loving Father, I find great comfort in knowing that you care for me, personally. I know from Your word that you never leave me that You will never abandon me. Thank You for loving me, protecting and encouraging me. Father I ask for Your courage, that whatever happens this day that I remember to thank You for Your love and Your strength. I pray this in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.