Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts for the New Year

Is it just me or has 2012 flown by?  It seems to have come and gone in a whirlwind, and left many of us wondering at what all has happened over the past year.  Did we accomplish our goals that we set out to do?  Did we make a difference somehow in this world that we live?  Many times a lot of us make new resolutions for what we want to accomplish in the upcoming year.  Things that we hope will last more than a week, when in reality they don't.  Still, we have this hope for future things.  And as Christians, we sometimes find ourselves asking what can we do this year?  And, can we stick to it?  It all seems to focus around change.  Yet, there is always a fear of the unknown when change comes around.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
"For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."

This verse really rings true to any believer.  In whatever we plan to be different for this year, God already knows about it.  And as long as we are seeking His will in our lives as the driving force for the changes that we want to make, we have no reason to fear.  All of us were born with a purpose.  A purpose designed by God before the creation of the world.  He knows our beginning, our end, and everything in between.  And the plans are for our own good.  Contrary to what you may hear from some people, everything that happens in our lives is for our good.  God does not delight in bad things happening to us.  He has a future for us, and that should give us hope for what is to come.  And when we pray, He listens.  When we seek Him with all of our heart, we will find Him. 

So now that we have no reason to fear this new beginning, what now?  I have three things that I believe will help us as we look forward to 2013.

1.  Forget the Past  
Philippians 3:13-14
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Whatever has happened last year, be it good or bad, it is in the past.  We cannot go back and change what has happened in our lives.  Many people spend a lot of time dwelling on this.  A famous quote I hear a lot "If I knew then, what I know now" comes to mind.  That is a chapter in our lives that has come to a close.  We must leave it in the past and reach forward to the future and what God has prepared for us in it.  There are new challenges, new opportunities for service, and new blessings on the horizon.  In the end, there is a robe and a crown of life waiting on us.  That is what we are working toward.  We must live each day with the end in site.  Thinking of heaven makes every little thing that happens here seem not worth worrying about.

2.  Wait on the Lord

Isaiah 40:31
"Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." 

We must understand that things will happen in God's timing and not our own.  His plan has been laid out in our lives, and nothing is going to change that.  We must take comfort in that, and let God lead.  Many times we tend to take matters into our own hands.  Because lets face it, none of us are very patient people in this day and time.  I know that I am not.  And when we do, we tend to make a mess of things.  But God has a time and place set aside for everything.  And His timing is perfect.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
"He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." 

3.  Treat Each New Day as a Special Gift

Lamentations 3:22-24 
"The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” 

Each new day is just that, a new day.  And each new day is a gift from God.  His love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, grace extend to us brand new each day.  He is always there for us.  So, we likewise, need to be there for Him each and every day.  How can we do this?  We need to talk to Him, seek Him, and search for ways to serve Him.  We should be in a constant state of prayer.  Yes, He already knows what is on our hearts.  But, it is still important for us to pray.  Because our faith is based on a relationship.  And you cannot have a good relationship when one party is not communicating.  We seek His will in our lives by reading and studying our bibles.  The scripture is a written account of how He wants us to live.  If we try to model our lives based on these scriptures, we find ourselves drawing closer to His will in our lives.  Lastly, we need to serve.  Our main commandment is to witness to the lost.  This is not only done by the conversations that we have with others, but in the way that we live.  Our actions show who we truly are.  They are our biggest witness to this world.  We need to share the good news of His birth, and His death for all of our sins.

Perhaps you may be reading this today, and have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  If not, all of the hope that is mentioned above is not in your life.  For without Christ we have no hope.  I urge you to seek Him.  He can take anything that you are going through right now, and turn it around.  He can take your life and give you hope.

2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  

He is the only one that can do this for you.  If you are seeking, I encourage you to click the tab at the top of this page for the Plan of Salvation.  Read through this, as it explains the need that we have for Christ.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this devotion, and I hope that it helps with the hope of this new year.  I pray God will bless you all in 2013! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

We Three Kings?

I just love Christmas carols.  It is one of my favorite things to do this time of year.  I look forward to signing them at church, hearing them on the radio, and going Christmas caroling.  They really seem to lock in on the true meaning of this time of year.  We set aside time now to celebrate the coming of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Now was Christ really born on December 25th?  Probably not.  For more on that, you can read my post entitled Traditions for my beliefs and scripture about that.  However, there is one Christmas carol that I never did understand.  And that carol is "We Three Kings".  We're there really three Kings?  What does the bible say?  That is what I would like to talk about in this post.

Matthew 2:1-12
"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way."

Now there is a lot of good information here in this text.  My first question is, how many were there?  Actually, we don't know.  It just says magi from the east.  We don't know if it was three, or three hundred.  It never really said.  All we know is that they brought three types of gifts.  Gold, which represents his Kingship, frankincense, which represents His royal Priesthood, and myrrh, which was symbolic of His death that would come on the cross for our sins.  And because of this we traditionally say that there were three of them.  But, we don't know for sure.

My next question is, were they kings?  That is not what the scripture says.  In the scripture above, it says that they were magi.  Now, historically, magi were known as wise men.  They were experts at astrology with there beginnings in Persia.  These were men, who spent their lives studying the stars and there movement to try to predict what was going to happen.  They were by no means kings.

My last question is, how did they know that the star in the sky was significant to the birth of Christ?  They were not Jews.  They were from Persia.  So how did they know?

Daniel 2:46-49
"Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. And Daniel made request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king’s court."

I just love how God can take a bad situation and turn it good.  Daniel was taken from his home when Judah fell to the Persians almost 600 years before the birth of Christ.  During that time, he was a part of interpreting many prophecies about the coming of Christ and the End Times.  And because of this, he was made the ruler of the "wise men".  WOW!  I am sure that he took the opportunity to share the prophecies with the wise men under his charge.  Including his 70 weeks prophecy, which talked of the coming of the King, and the Tribulation.  At the end of the 69th week, Christ would enter the gates of Jerusalem.

I know that at the time of the birth that it was getting close to the time of that entry into Jerusalem, and the magi, that at one time were under Daniel, must have been looking for a sign of the coming of the King, which was His star.

Numbers 24:17  
"I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,
And shall crush through the forehead of Moab,
And tear down all the sons of Sheth."

So, were there really three kings?  No.  But, there story is still a true sign that He is our Lord.  And I will still sing the song for that reason alone.  I hope that you all enjoyed this little study.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this Christmas season.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Getting Older

WOW!  Time sure does seem to fly by.  There are so many things going on in our lives that we sometimes forget to stop and look at what is going on around us.  Two weeks ago, I hit a milestone in my life.  I graduated into a new decade in my life.  I finally turned 30.  I will be honest, it was not something that I was looking forward to at first.  But, then I realized that it was just another marker in my life.  Something that I could definitely use as sort of a window to my past and to my future.  So what I am going to do in this post is to examine the decades in which I have lived, and then, look to the future as to where God would have me go.

0-10 years

Luke 18:15-17
"And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

These were the great years.  These are the days that we all as adults wish that we could go back to sometimes, because life was simply and easy compared to what we go through today.  There was no worry on bills to pay, no job to rush to, no "responsibility" whatsoever.  I had a pretty good childhood.  I did not have as much as everyone else did.  But, my parents worked hard to provide a good life for us.  There was never a time that I had to wonder whether I was loved or not.  I also did not have an understanding of the world that my parents had.  Everything seemed so simple and easy to me.  Much the same as a new believer.  The concept of faith in Christ is not truly a hard concept to understand from a child's perspective.  Many times you can tell a child that something is true and they will just blindly trust you.  We need to be the same in our walk with Christ.  We need to be at a point that we put our full faith and trust in Christ, and all that He teaches.  And we cannot try to put our own spin on our salvation.

11-20 years

Psalms 25:6-8
"Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.  Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.  Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way."

These were the hard years.  This is the time in my life where I truly started to question God and His promise.  No longer was I satisfied with the "just because it says so" answer.  I lost my childhood faith as I grew.  I found that this was a time of many mistakes and repentance.  I rebelled against what I was taught, and surly gave my family some sleepless nights.  But such is true of all those that are of the world.  It wasn't until I was 14 when God truly opened my eyes to who He was.  And how bad that I needed Him.  And I gave my life to Him.  And it was at this time that I failed the most.  I was pulled by the things and temptations of the world.  Much is the same for a new believer.  There are going to be many trials in the beginning.  Temptations seem to be stronger as we begin our faith.  But, those mistakes are not necessarily a bad thing.

21-30 years

Philippians 1:6
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." 

This was a time of growth for me.  I had matured out of the foolishness of my thoughts and actions.  I moved to a point that I knew that I was responsible for my faith, and I knew that I had to act on it.  Did I still make mistakes?  Yes, numerous.  However, I found that my mistakes were important to me.  They showed me where my sins were.  They showed me the way in which I needed to turn.  It is much like the Old Testament Law.  It is not there to condemn us, but to show our sins to us.  I saw the sins of my youth, and I worked hard in these years to learn and increase in my faith.  My mistakes were also a way to show that God was still there.  Because no matter the sin I committed, God was right there with me.  I felt conviction from the Spirit inside of me to repent.  With all this in mind, I began to grow.  I began to study more to seek out God's will in my life.  I also looked to find where my shortcomings were, based on past experience, so that I could make the necessary changes.  This represents the time in a believer's life where they begin to need the meat of understanding.  They have moved on from the milk as described in 1 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 5.

30+ years

Philippians 1:9-11
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

And I still have a lot to learn.  I find that there are new ways that I can grow everyday.  Our journey never ends while we are here on this earth.  What does the rest of my life hold?  I have no idea.  But one thing that I am certain in is that I will never be alone.  God has brought me this far, and no matter what, He will always be there for me.  Why?  Because I have put all my faith and hope in Him, and not in anything else.  I depend on Him for everything.  I need His guidance, and His forgiveness.  And my job is to keep on serving to the best of my ability until it is time for me to go home.  As I look to the future now, it is not in fear, but in hope, and anticipation.  What is God going to show me?  What is He going to help me through?  When I look back on these years, what will I have learned?  It is rather kind of exciting now.

Never again will I look at aging as something to be afraid of.  Yet, more of an adventure that is continuing in my life.  My story is not over.  Now, I do know how the story ends, and I take comfort in that.  What is exciting now is what is going to take place between here and then.  Because nothing is more important than my relationship with my Lord.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless You all this week. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Real Black Friday

I simply love this time of year.  Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday.  Taking a specific time out of the year, and yes away from work, to do nothing more than to be thankful for all that God has blessed me with.  I also enjoy this time of year because I was born on Thanksgiving day.  It always seems nice to mix the turkey, dressing, and all the fixings with birthday cake!  And as much as I had dreaded my next birthday this year (saying goodbye to my 20's), I felt the need to look at my life and see all the ways that I had been blessed these 30 years.  And with those blessings in mind, look to the future at what God may have in store for me in the next 30 years.  I am truly thankful for all the things that I have been blessed with.  Most importantly, my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, who is my Lord and Savior.  Now I know you may be thinking, where is he going with this since to post is titled about this coming Friday.

Psalms 95:1-3
"O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, And a great King above all gods,"

It is an odd thing to me at what happens this time of year.  Now I will admit that my wife and I do get a lot of shopping done on the day after Thanksgiving.  But we do not let it take away from the joy of this time of year like many people do.  It is amazing that the people in this country that I love will spend an entire day being thankful for what they have, and the next day act like rabid animals to try to secure what they want.  It just seems peculiar to me.  Now I am not including everyone in this, because I have friends that view it just the same way I do.  It is a good chance to get a lot of gift shopping done for a low price.  My wife and I usually make a date day out of it.  A time to enjoy being with each other away from the kids.  But for a lot of people, where is the thanks?  The only conclusion that I can come to is the lack of Christ in their lives.  One who is truly saved has the mindset of the psalm above.  Singing, whether aloud or just in our hearts, for the joy that we have in our salvation through Christ Jesus.  These are one of the things that should be foremost in our minds, not just one day a year in Thanksgiving, and then truly forgotten the day after.  So I would like to turn attention to what I feel is the real Black Friday of Christianity.

Luke 23:33-49
"When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”  It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent.” And all the crowds who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts. And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things."

I will be honest with you.  I was lead to this idea over Facebook last night.  My wife found a picture on Facebook referring to this idea, and when I checked my own page, I found that quite a few on my friends list had shared it as well. These events that took place on a Friday are the fundamental basis for all that we as Christians should be thankful for.  For if it were not for his death on the cross, we would have no hope of eternal life.  He paid the ultimate price for us as a gift of life.

Romans 6:22-23
" But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

Our life no longer belongs to us.  By being declared sanctified, and receiving eternal life through His sacrifice we must become slaves to His will.  Now I know that term "slave" is not a popular one.  However, it is repeated all throughout the scriptures.  Some versions have made it sound nicer by using the phrase bond-servent.  But the original Greek word there in those places is literally translated to slave.  Which, in essence means that we live to serve Him.  It does not matter how it may affect our live styles and the things that we want.  It is all about Him.  And if it were not for Him, we would all go to Hell.  As Paul wrote to the church at Rome above, the wages of sin is death.  Death is the only payment option valid for the sin in our lives.  Jesus paid that price for us.  And for that, we should be forever thankful.  Thankful that we have the opportunity to go to heaven when our time comes.  It is the only way.

It is my prayer that I and those around me will be thankful everyday for this gift, not just this Thursday.  However, I also pray that each of you that read this make it a point on Thursday when you are with family and friends celebrating this time, that you would openly voice your thanks for the sacrifice that was made for you on the Christian Black Friday.  Even if you have family there that are not believers.  What greater opportunity does that provide us to share the gospel with those who do not believe.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you have a very enjoyable and "Thankful" Thanksgiving.  May God Bless you all!

Friday, November 9, 2012

What is My Job as a Christian?

This is a question that I feel that a lot of professing believers may not be clear on.  I have on occasion asked this question to those around me and that I have contact with, and they have a hard time coming up with an answer.  Some have said that their job was to go to church every Sunday morning.  And I think to myself, is that all?  What about Sunday and Wednesday night? (Or whatever other services there are in the week)  Along with this answer I hear a lot of things that are jobs of the church.  They say their job is to be an usher, sing in the choir, or teach a class.  Now, do not get me wrong, we are called to serve.  And all of these things are necessary.  But, how do these things truly separate us from the world?  I am sure that most religions have people that do the same sort of things in their religious meetings.  What makes us different?

What we need to do is come to an understanding of what it truly means to be a Christian.  It needs to be clear every hour of every day of who we are, not by just what acts people see us do once or twice a week.

Philippians 3:7-11
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."

One of the biggest things we have to do as a Christian is to show where our priorities lie.  As the Apostle Paul taught in this set of scriptures, he counted everything that he lost as rubbish.  Another word for that is dung or manure.  Paul was a wealthy man.  He was a Pharisee and a Roman citizen.   He gave up everything that he had and was to follow Christ.  And it did not phase him to do so.  Why did he do it?  So that he could "know Him."  How many times do we gladly offer to give up the things that mean the most to us in order to serve our Lord better.  So I would say that job number 1 is to sacrifice.  Jesus paid the greatest price when He died for us.  So what right do I have to put things that I want ahead of what He wants?  What right do I have to take time set aside to worship Him at church to enjoy some other fun activity with the ones that I love or are close friends with.  If they really mean that much to me, I would want them to join me in worship of the Lord.  And this is not just about church meetings.  This is in everyday life.  The marquee at my church read a couple of months ago "What gets more of your time Facebook or the Bible?"  So, do we sacrifice on a regular basis, in order to serve Him better?

John 15:5
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
This is a big one.  Job number 2 is to produce fruit.  What are we doing that shows our faith?  What is the evidence that we are who we say that we are?  Are we going out and sharing the gospel?  Are we loving our enemies?  Are we obeying His commands without regard to how we are seen by the world?  All of these are questions that I think that it is good to ask ourselves everyday.  It helps us to keep our focus on Christ.  There are a lot people that can talk about going to church and even quote scripture in a comfortable situation.  But are we actually living it everyday?  Are we looking for opportunities to serve and honor Christ at all times?  If we are, there will be evidence of it.

Matthew 28:19-20
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 

Job number 3 is to witness.  If we truly believe that Christ is who He says He is, then we should have the desire to share the gospel with others.  We should feel the need to go out and share the message of Christ whenever possible.  He did not say to go and get lost people and bring them to the church so the preacher could do.  He said to go and make disciples.  I think that part of this is almost foreign in some churches today.  I have talked to many people who believe that church is for the lost.  And I always respond then why do you go?  You see it is what my English teacher friends call an oxymoron.  There is this stigma that many people are lead to believe that it is all up to the pastor to do it and there is no support for that way of thinking in scripture whatsoever.  The pastor's job is to shepherd the flock.  The flock being the body of Christ, those that believe.  He is the one that is to make sure that we are getting taught the necessary tools to go out and witness.  It is our job to take what we learn at church and apply it to our lives, and to share with others that are lost.  Once that lost person comes to the point that Christ calls them because of the revelation of Himself to them, and they respond, then we bring them to church so they can learn as well.  Bottom line, it is up to us to do the witnessing.  Both by our words and our actions.

These are our main jobs.  This is what we have been called to do.  Many times it is uncomfortable and even scary.  But if Christ truly is our Lord, it will be worth it.  Nothing on this earth can compare to the glory of sitting at the feet of God in heaven when our time is up. We must be willing to sacrifice and even suffer in order to be truly His.

Thanks for reading, and I pray that God will bless you all this week! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Survive

Hello again to you all.  I am thankful once again for the opportunity to write again.  As I stated in my last posting, there are a lot of things going on in my life.  There are many new challenges that have to be faced, as all of us have.  And it seems like it never ends.  There always seems to be something changing or going wrong that we have to deal with.  And when it seems like nothing else could possibly go wrong, it does.  And many times in the heat of the moment we may question why God allowed certain things to happen.  We question that if He loved us, that He would not let those things happen to us.  But this is simply not the case.  Sometimes God uses those instances to get us to lean on Him more.  The question that we have to ask ourselves, is what do we really place our trust in.  And I am not saying this flippantly like I know that many do, but I want you to truly ask yourself, when the struggles of this life are upon you, what is the first thing that you do?

Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

How many times in our lives do bad things happen, and the first thing we do is try to figure it out on our own?  Or we turn to that friend, or family member for support and guidance.  Yet we systematically tune out God in the situation.  Or the thought of what God would have us do completely slips our minds.  And when the situation is bad enough, we crack under the weight of it.  But, for the one that has his/her foundation fully settled on the Word of God, we find comfort in the midst of the storm.

About a month ago, our school was shaken with the tragic death of one of our students.  Thanks be to God that he had been saved before the accident.  But the school was in shambles.  It forced all of us to take a good look at our lives in light of eternity.  For no one thought that death could come to them because of their youth.  Many of them had no idea of where to turn for comfort.  No one could fathom the reason for his untimely death.  But was his death "untimely"?  Or was it something that God allowed for a purpose?  I was able to share with a large group of students about the importance of a relationship with Jesus.  About who He was, and what He did for us.  Many of the students that were believers had a certain peace about them that was evident.  They were sad, but at peace knowing that their friend was in the presence of God.  And some of the students took note of how they spoke and acted.  The deceased student's pastor was there with me, and though I had to go teach he stayed.  Later own he told me that a couple of students repented, and gave their lives to Christ.

God has a purpose for all the things we go through.  He had a purpose for taking that student home when He did.  I firmly believe He did for those few that were saved because of it.  But it is not for us to question Him.  We just need to trust in Him.

Psalms 46:1-2
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change"

I urge you to check your foundation.  If it is based on the Word of God in Christ Jesus, you will be able to stand firm.  If it is based in something else, it will not last.

Thanks for reading, and I pray that God will bless you all this week! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What lies ahead

Hello again to all of you.  It has been a long time since I have been able to post some of my reflections about how I have seen God work in my life.  This new school year has presented me with more challenges than I ever knew existed in education.  There have been many nights that I just could do no more, and just had to accept the fact that I was not going to be able to finish now and would have to put it off to later.  I have been overwhelmed here lately with all that was going on in my life, both at work and at home.  How can I separate the work from home when I have to start bringing it home?  How can I fit in time with my family with all of the new struggles that I have to combat?  And sadly, I had allowed myself to sink into that cynical attitude of not caring any more, and ready to give up.  Then I got an email from a friend through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, in which I am the adviser at my school.  In it contained a set of scripture that I have read many times before.  And after reading it, I knew that God was trying to get my attention.  He was trying to get me to see that who I was becoming was not who He intended me to be.  I needed to get back on track.  I shared this thought at bible study with my students before school today.  Here are the verses.

Hebrews 12:1-3
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

 There are a couple of key points to this verse.

1)  There are always people watching.  This cloud of witnesses are all those around us that are watching all that we do.  Some look for encouragement from us, and some look for reasons to criticize us for what we believe.  So what are we showing them?  When we allow ourselves to get down and depressed, and succumb to the pressures of the world, what do the see?  The ones who are looking to us for encouragement are not getting it, and we are giving the world more ammo against us.  I was doing damage to my witness with my actions.  This is not who I am.  And it needed to change.

2)  Because of the witnesses, we need to strive to fight through all the things that bring us down.  No matter what is going on in our lives, we need to look at the big picture.  Where are we going?  What are we doing along the way?  We need to rid ourselves of everything that would separate us from the love, joy, and blessings of Christ our Savior.  That is what all of those around us need to see.  Will we fail?  Yes, because none of us are without sin.  But, as my pastor says, someone who is truly saved will not stay down long.

3)  Life Happens.  We need to understand that life is not easy.  There are going to be problems and issues all of the time.  That is why we must endure.  If we allow ourselves to stop and break at every obstacle, we cannot finish our purpose and we have no hope.  <a href="">Romans 5:3-5</a>

4)  We get through by fixing our eyes on Christ.  Everything that happens to us is not foreign to Christ.  He knows every step we will take.  The race has been set before us.  He knows what we will encounter.  And when our race is over, for those that are truly saved, He is waiting there at the end for us.  And He should be our example.  He suffered.  He took on our sin and shame.  He died to pay the price for us so that we could spend eternity with Him.  What greater hope do we have than that?  When we look at what we go through here in this life and compare it to what we have in eternity when we leave, it makes what we are going through seem not all that important.  

Sunday night at church we talked about Romans 8:28.  It tells us that God causes all things to happen for our own good.  Even the bad things that come in our lives are there to help us grow.  They come to teach us to depend on Him more.  I am resolved now that even in the midst of my current circumstance, God's grace is sufficient for me.  Things are hard, and life is always a mystery.  But God is there with me each step of the way.  And if you are saved as well, He is right there with you too.

Thanks for reading, and I pray that God will bless you this week!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Going for Olympic Gold

I love watching the Olympics.  Some of my favorite events are volleyball, soccer, track and field, and gymnastics.  But I have found myself this time watching whatever event that was showing my country compete.  I take great pride in seeing the American flag fly when we win an event.  I love watching my fellow countrymen and women work their hardest to represent our nation well.  There is a lot of training and preparation for them in their pursuit for gold.  And to see it pay off for them in the end is a wonderful site.

This makes me think of how we serve our Lord.  Are we going for the Gold Medal at the end of our lives for Him?  Even the Apostle Paul likened his life to a course that is run.

2 Timothy 4:6-8
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."

The crown of righteousness is  our prize, or gold medal if you will.  We have to make sure that we stay on course through our lives.  So, the question now is how to run the race to gold?  First, we have to have the right preparation.  We must be saved!

John 3:3
"Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”"

Salvation is key.  Before we can even reach the podium at the end of our lives we must be saved.  As Jesus Himself said, we must be born again.  We must repent from our sins.  That word repent means to have a change of mind about sin.  We must turn from those sins that ensnared us, and live for the Lord.  And we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our life.  That means that we no longer live our lives in what we want, but in what He wants.  We must put Him first in all things.

After this, we must train for the race ahead of us.  How do we do this?  We study God's Word.  We must continually devote ourselves to scripture.  For that is the best way to get to know Christ, and seek His will for our lives.  And along this, we need to pray.  We need to commune with God on a regular basis.  We need to seek His guidance in all things.  This builds our relationship with Him.  This is where our religion is separate from the others.  It is about a relationship with Christ.

Lastly, we need to live what we learn.  We need to be that witness that everyone sees while we run this race.

Hebrews 12:1-3
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

The race that is our life, is a long one to run.  That is why we are to run with endurance.  Will we sin?  Yes, of course we will.  We will fall along the track.  But, a true believer will rise up.

James 1:22-25
"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

And when things get hard, keep your eyes on Christ.  For what we have waiting on us in heaven is far greater than anything we have here on earth.  And it is worth so much more than a gold medal here.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this week! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chick-Fil-A and the Bible

There has been a lot of controversy these past few weeks concerning the stance of the owner of Chick-fil-a.  The owners of this franchise have always based their business on biblical principles.  One of which is that they are never open on Sunday.  This is one thing that I have admired them for.  They stay closed to give their employees a chance to go to church if they want to.  Recently the head of their company and son of the founder of the Atlanta based company, Dan Cathy, made these comments for the Baptist Press.

"But as an organization we can operate on biblical principles. So that is what we claim to be. [We are] based on biblical principles, asking God and pleading with God to give us wisdom on decisions we make about people and the programs and partnerships we have. And He has blessed us."

"We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that."

"We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that."

"We intend to stay the course," he said. "We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

So what is the biblical definition of marriage?  All of the scripture that I have read teaches me that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.  A husband and a wife.  Here are some examples from the old testament.

Genesis 2:21-24
"So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “ This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."

Genesis 34-8
"But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage."

1 Kings 3:1
"Then Solomon formed a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her to the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem."

If you want something from the new testament, check out Colossians and Ephesians where the Apostle Paul teaches about how the family unit should work.

Colossians 3:18-21
"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart."

Ephesians 5:22-33
"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband."

There is no where in the scriptures that teaches that marriage can be of two people of the same sex.  As a matter of fact the bible does teach that homosexuality is wrong.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."

Leviticus 18:22
" You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." 

Romans 1:24-27
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error."

And this is the reason behind the attacks.  People have turned their backs on God.  There are many out there who do not believe and do not want to.  And further more they attack everyone who speaks about their Christian beliefs.  But why are we surprised?  Christ foretold this while He was on earth.

Matthew 10:22
"You will be hated by all because of My name,.."

John 15:19
"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

But, this is also how we know who truly belongs to Him.  This is where we get some of that eternal security.  If we are hated and mistreated for trusting and putting our faith in Him, we belong to Him and will be blessed.

Luke 6:22
"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man."

Matthew 5:10-12
"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

I am very proud of the stand that the leaders of the Chick-Fil-A company is taking based on their faith.  I will continue to support them and eat at their restaurants as often as I get a chance.  I pray that other business leaders who believe the same way will let their voice be heard as well.  And I also pray earnestly for all those out there that hate this company and us Christians for what we believe.  I pray that God will open their eyes to the sin in their lives and they repent before it is too late.

Thanks for reading, and God bless you all this week! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dropping the Stones

I have felt under a lot of conviction the last couple of months.  It seems that Christianity has been under attack from all sides here lately.  And I have been on the attack back.  But not in the way that I should.  I have used phrases such as "They will get what's coming to them", "They make me sick", and even "Society would be better without them."  However, my feelings and words towards them was way out of line.  They do not fall into line with my Christian beliefs.  What was in my heart towards these people and individuals was hatred.  I began to have a change of heart with some study.

John 8:1-11
"But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “ He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “ I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

What I had done, was carry a stone in my hand.  I looked at the sin in peoples lives and allowed myself to be judgmental of them and their lifestyles.  And I began to realize, what do I expect them to do?  It is obvious they do not have Christ in their lives.  They are unable to see the sin in their lives.  And they do not understand when we debate them because there is no way they can understand.

1 Corinthians 1:18
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

To enter into a debate with them is of no use.  Even scripture teaches that they cannot understand.  Does it make it okay for them to live in this lifestyle.  Absolutely not.  Everything that we know and believe teaches that it is wrong.  But, are we truly any better?  We have sin in our lives and sin everyday.

1 John 1:8-9
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

The only thing that separates us from the ones that hate and persecute us is that we have confessed our sins and asked forgiveness for them.  Every time that we pray, we ask forgiveness of our sins.  We want Christ our Lord to look at us through grace.  And by grace receive forgiveness.  And yet when we look at the lost that continue to persecute us, we look at them through the law.  We do not always see them in the same light as Christ saw us before we were saved.  Christ loves us, all of us.  Not just His church, but all of the world.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

He loved the entire world.  Those that would believe and those who would not.  Christ died for everyone.  We need to see that it is the sin in their lives that makes them this way.  It should break our hearts for them when we see them, because we know what they do have.  And we know where that will lead them.  And that is never a good thing, no matter who they are.  We need to love them, show compassion to them, and most importantly, share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This needs to be our mission in life.  We need to share with them His birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection.  We need to pray for them daily, and make Jesus the center of all conversations with them.  And we need to let the stones fall from our hands.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this week! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Happy Christian Marriage

Hello everyone.  It has been a long time since I have shared some encouraging thoughts and devotionals.  I apologize for my absence in writing.  I have been on a much needed vacation, helping deal with sick babies, and working on a bible study of my own.  I also have been blessed with another anniversary with my wife.  We have been married for 8 years.  She is the love of my life.  And not a day goes by that I do not praise the Lord in heaven for sending her to me.  Other than my salvation, she has been the biggest blessing in my life.  Now I know that I might be sounding mushy and all, and it sounds like we have the perfect marriage.  But we still have our issues.  A good marriage needs constant work.  And it is hard sometimes to find time to work on it.  With work, children, and responsibilities, it can be hard to find time to work on that marriage to make it better.  And where there is a lack of work, marriages can sometimes become strained.  And both individuals need to come to the table to work.  Listed below are some things in my life and study that I believe that are essential to understanding what a marriage is and means.  Now, I am no expert.  I do not have a PhD in counseling or anything.  These are just my opinions and scripture to go along.

1.  The Marriage is About Husband and Wife
One of the biggest things that can cause problems in a marriage is involving other people in things that are between husband and wife.

Genesis 2:22-23
"The man said, “ This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”  For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."

I know that a lot of problems can be compounded by running to mom and dad when things are going like you planned.  And sadly, most parents will side with there child, and cause a larger strain within the family.  The same is true with siblings or anyone else in your family.  If there are issues, you need to keep them within the marriage and work them out.  Now, if you need someone to vent to occasionally,  find a friend that will be honest and objective about all situations.  A pastor may even be a good choice.  But going to your family with all your problems is not a good thing.

2. Follow the Bible Plan
I am amazed at the people who say they have a good Christian marriage, but have no sense of the biblical aspect of that.

Ephesians 5:22-30
" Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body."

Now this is the big one.  Let me start off by saying that I do not believe in the putting down of women and they are not slaves to us men.  Allow me to extrapolate these verses.  First of all no one can understand what a true marriage is, and be happy unless they are saved.  I get this reasoning from the scripture.  Every time it tells something for the wife to do, or the husband, it gives a reason based on God and Christ.  So the first thing we should do is look at our relationship with the Lord, before we focus on our spouse.

Lets start with the wives (men I will get to you in a moment, so no snickering).  Wives be subject to your husbands as to the Lord.  What does that mean?  It means that you are to be willing to serve your husbands the same way the you do our Lord.  Why?  Because the husband is the head of the wife just like Christ is the head of the church.  How could you truly understand how to serve the Lord properly if you do not try to do the same for your husband?  Now, this does not mean that you are a slave to your husbands.  But your role in the marriage is to serve and support your husband.  He is the head of the family.  You took his name, not the other way around.  You should look for ways to serve your husband the same way that believers look for ways to serve our Lord.  Instead of looking at the faults of your husband, because he definitely has them, look for ways to make him happy and feel respected.  For respect is the thing that most men crave.  If a man feels happy and respected in his own home, he is more apt to be a stronger man.  Both in his place of work, and at church.  He will have the confidence to make good decisions for his family, and will seek to keep that happiness at home.

Men, it is your turn now.  You should love your wives just as Christ loved the church.  How much did Christ love the church?  He sacrificed His life for it.  Now I know it would not be hard for you to jump in front of a bullet for your wife.  I think most of us would.  But do you love her enough to sacrifice other things for her.  If she were to ask you to stay home with her one night instead of hanging out with the guys, would you do it?  If she really needed your help one day, would you give up your golf game that day?  Are you willing to sacrifice what you want, in order to make your wife happy?  Do you want your wife to submit to you willingly?  What have you done to show her the love that she needs?  Do you love her like Christ loves you?  How could you really understand the love Christ has for his church if you do not try to do the same for your wife?  Women need to be shown love.  Saying it is great, but what have you done to show her.  They have things that are important to them.  When you show her, show her in a way that she will see it, not the way you would see it.  There are things that say I love you to you, but it may not say I love you to her.  Sacrifice for your wife, and show her how much she means to you.

3.  How to Properly Change When Change is Necessary
One of the biggest complaints that I hear from friends and other people when they complain about their spouse is how much they need to change.  What does the Bible say about this?

Matthew 7:3-5
"Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

I know it is common place for people to look at the faults in their spouse and try to tell them how to change.  Why?  It is definitely not biblical.  If you want your spouse to change something that is problematic in the relationship, then you need to change yourself first.  We all have our issues.  We all have things that we know bug our spouse.  What we need to do is sit down and make an honest list of the things that we do that we need to change to make our spouse happier.  And we need to make every effort to do that first.  If our spouse sees that we are trying on our own to change ourselves for the betterment of the marriage, they will be more apt to do the same themselves.  We must take a proactive step in the right direction, not tell the other how to get started.  No one likes to be told all the ways that they are wrong, and they will probably tune you out.  So, remove the log in your eye first.

4.  Stop the Arguing
Nothing can kill a marriage and stop the flow of love more than an argument.  So why do it?

Matthew 7:12
"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

Do you like to be yelled at?  Do you like having all of your faults brought out?  Do you like being put down?  I was reading some of Gary Chapman's work on marriage.  He said that in an argument, everybody loses.  Someone will win the argument, yes.  But, then that person has to live with a loser.  Feelings get hurt, words are said that should not be, and you tear each other down.  And for what purpose?  To prove that you are right?  Whoopie!  Arguments never solve anything.  They just create more problems.

So what do we want?  We want to be listened to.  We want others to consider our opinions.  We want harmony and love.  So, do it.  When there is a disagreement, talk about it.  Listen to each other.  And I mean listen to each other.  Not sit there and wish the other would be quiet because they don't agree with you and think of a quick comeback that would further drive home your point and drive the other person away.  Listen to what your spouse has to say.  Repeat what they said and make sure that you understand their feelings and point of view.  Then work to a compromise.  Show your spouse the love and respect in times of disagreement that you wish to receive.  Then your spouse may be more likely to do the same for you.  And if they don't, do not fire back at them.   You still show them that love and respect, and it will become contagious eventually.

Now with all of my opinions put together, the biggest thing to keep in mind, is that these are not quick fixes.  These are things that we should continue to do in order to have a happier marriage.  In the Ephesians verses above, the Apostle Paul taught about the similarity between husband and wife and Christ and the Church.  Christ will love the church forever, not just for a short time.  We must do the same with our spouse.  We must look at these things daily, whether times are good or times are bad.  You get married for better or worse.  Sometimes its better, and sometimes its worse.  And we should be looking at all times in how to make our marriage the best that it can be.

I would love to hear your feedback if you would like.  You can comment below.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

Sorry that I have missed posting last week.  It was a very busy time around my job and house.  Closing out the school year, doctor's appointments, preparing for Vacation Bible School, and many other things have just seemed to swallow up the time.  But, life goes on.  And boy does it go on when you have four children in the house.  Now, I do only have three, but we have been watching a baby for a friend of our lately that has made life more interesting around the Boyd residence.

One of the problems has been my son this week.  For some reason, he has been very testy with his listening this past week.  I usually do not have this problem with my son.  I don't know if it is a trait that he picked up at school this year, or what.  Maybe since his birthday is today, he has felt that he is old enough to make his own decisions, even if they contradict mine.  And it seems that I have had to repeat myself numerous times to get my point across.  I have even had to be tough on discipline with him lately.  Why has he been so difficult these last few days.  Then, last night at bible school, I was hit with a message.  You know, there is a difference when a lesson from the bible moves you and when it HITS you.  Well, I got hit.

John 11:1-3
"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Now, this family was well known by Christ.  It is recorded three times in the bible where he went to see them and spend time with them.  We also know that there was a special bond with them based on the message that was sent to Christ. "The one you love is sick."  So what do you think Christ did?  He stayed where He was.  WOW!  Why though?

John 11:4-16

"When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”  Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”  After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”  Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”"

Jesus said Himself that this would not end in death, but as a way to glorify God.  So, He waited.  And two days later, He was ready to go.  Then the disciples did it again.  They questioned Him.  And he then rebuked them for their lack of faith.  When Christ then told them that he had died, they thought he was just asleep and needed someone to wake him up.  How frustrating this must have been to our Lord.  So He made it plain and clear.  Lazarus was dead.  But there was a purpose.  There was a plan for the glory of God.  And yet, even after they were told that God would be glorified, and that it would not end that way, Thomas had to go and say, "Well we might as well go to so we can die too.  But it was not just the disciples.  Mary and Martha had their doubts too.

John 11:17-32
"So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “ Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha *said to Him, “ I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”  When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “ The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she *got up quickly and was coming to Him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”"

Now, this was not the first time that Mary and Martha had spent time with Christ and learned from Him.  They knew exactly who He was and what He taught.  They had had a meal with Him one time before, in which Christ rebuked Martha for wanting Him to send Mary to the kitchen to help here work.  And yet again, they questioned Christ like the disciples did.  They both went to Him and said that if you would have been here, Lazarus would not have died.  Jesus Himself had to reiterate who He was and asked her if she really believed.

John 11:33-44
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”  So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, *came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus *said to her, “ Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “ Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice,“Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”"

Here we can see the distress of our Lord.  When it says that He wept, was deeply moved, was troubled, if you study those words and how they were used, Christ was not sad because of the death of His friend.  Remember He said earlier that this would not end in death.  He was upset because of the disbelief of the people.  So many people that He had taught, and spent time with, still did not believe in totality in who He was.  If they did, they would not be questioning Him.  Even Martha again questioned Him when he said to move the stone.  His reply was "Did I not just say....?"  Just a few verses earlier, he rebuked her for her lack of belief.

How many times do we question God?  How many times do we seem to forget His promises to us in our situations?  How many times does He have to remind us who He is.  We have a problem in which we try to find our own way when we are in times of trouble.  We try to fix things ourselves instead of trusting in the promises of God.  And just like Martha and the disciples, we need that reminder over and over.  It is my prayer that I place my full trust in Him, and that I will stop questioning Him when I am in time of stress and struggles.  I hope you will do the same.

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this week!