Monthly Archives: October 2014

Uncertainty

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. -1 John 4:18 (NKJV)

Most of us have heard the expression “when one door closes, another one opens.” It’s usually said to us by a friend right after a door has shut in our lives. It seems that my wife has reached one of those moments where a door has closed in her life and there is some uncertainty as to when and where the next door will open. I recently watched Rick Warren (Saddleback Church) teaching on the subject of worry. One of the things that struck me was the simple fact that worry is a choicenot a necessity. While I cannot speak for God in all things (only what He makes clear through His Word), I suspect He gets pretty sad when He sees His children worry after He has promised to take care of them.

I share my wife’s concern as what happens to her affects me on many levels. Although not to the same degree, I still have concerns that I must learn to leave in the hands of my Father. As her husband, I am obligated (and privileged) to share her burdens and be as supportive as humanly possible. What we face together is the unknown. How has that changed since yesterday? It hasn’t. We face the unknown each and every day. When we encounter tragedy in our lives, I am sure that we don’t normally have any idea that it’s on the agenda for the day. As a Christian, I know that what must be on my agenda each and every day: prayer and time with God in His Word. Spending time with God will remind me of His love for me and increase my love for Him.

Is God Fair?

How long, Lord, must I call for help
and You do not listen
or cry out to You about violence
and You do not save?
Why do You force me to look at injustice?
Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?
Oppression and violence are right in front of me.
Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.
This is why the law is ineffective
and justice never emerges.
For the wicked restrict the righteous;
therefore, justice comes out perverted

-Habakkuk 1:2-4 (HCSB)

Recently, I heard a preacher on the radio teaching from the book of Habakkuk. As he taught on the fairness of God, I realized that it was something I need to be constantly reminded of in my Christian walk. What seems unfair to me is not always unfair– especially if it comes from God. My sense of “fairness” is limited to my human understanding.

I never gave much thought to the book of Habakkuk, to be honest. It’s one of those short books near the end of the Old Testament that doesn’t get quoted a whole lot. It doesn’t offer elegant, comforting promises like one will easily find in the book of Romans. However, if it is in the Bible, then it is important that I read it and make it a part of my life as I walk with Jesus. Once again, I find myself surprised by the uncanny ability of Scripture to strike me where I live and convict me of things I must work on in myself as a child of the most high God. Speaking of Romans, I know that if I persevere, good things will happen. I must remember that God’s calendar and mine are not always the same.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28 (HCSB)

Affordable Education

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. -James 1:5 (HCSB)

It’s almost election time here in Connecticut and one of the issues that is apparently up for discussion/debate is that of education. Specifically, I believe it is about improving the quality of it in our public schools. Of course, affordable college education is also a hot topic of discussion– as more and more young people abandon the idea of being able to afford an institution of higher learning.

While I’m all for education and think we’d probably be better off if more people had some of it. I also must say that it depends on what exactly that education is. Much of today’s secular education is very one-sided and prone to agree more with the popular thought and philosophy of the day than it is with the tried and true facts of history.

God makes us this offer through His Word for an education that is tried and true and offers eternal benefits. it’s about more than preparing the student for a career, it’s about preparing us for eternity. By the way, I’m not just talking about the “sweet bye and bye” either. Eternity begins right here and now when we accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior. My prayer is that a wonderful eternity has begun for you!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. -Proverbs 1:7 (HCSB)                                      

Daily Quiet Time

The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit,
but anyone who is reckless certainly becomes poor. -Proverbs 21:5 (HCSB)

dil·i·gence1
ˈdiləjəns/
noun
  1. careful and persistent work or effort.
    synonyms: conscientiousness, assiduousness, assiduity, hard work, application,concentration, effort, care, industriousness, rigor, meticulousness,thoroughness; More

I get daily email messages from Rick Warren’s organization and today’s dealt with what it means to spend daily time in quiet study of God’s Word and reflection on its meaning for you in your life. I can tell you that, since I personally started doing that a couple of years ago, it is a discipline that has really paid off in my life. I encourage the reader to read his Word and meditate on it each and every day (first thing). I have come to really cherish my morning quiet time with my Lord, the Bible and a good cup of coffee. It sure beats awakening to anger, worry and frustration as I tried to orchestrate my life on my own for so long. A small amount of diligence in beginning your day will take you a long way.

Good Morning!

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. -Acts 2:38 (KJV)

Recently, a preacher said something on T.V. that really caught my ear: “Every morning, maybe you need to say hello to the Holy Spirit…” (or words to that effect). That got me thinking about my walk with Christ and the carnal nature I still struggle with all too often.

So often, as Christians, we struggle with issues that we feel intense shame over and are afraid to talk to other Christians (let alone our Father) about, for fear of rejection. It is a lonely place to be and the devil loves to see us there, because he knows it renders us ineffective and agents for God in proclaiming the Gospel.

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. -Genesis 1:26 (AMP)

To live healthy, productive lives as Christians requires that we yield to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In so doing, we discover the meaning of being made in the image and likeness of God as described in Genesis 1:26 as we partake of His power. Sadly, many of us Christians can’t even honestly say we feel any power over our own lives– let alone this world.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

All too often, we get caught up in the things of this world (which I would remind the Christian reader will eventually burn up) and forget to keep our “eyes on the prize” which is eternal life with Jesus in His Father’s kingdom. But it’s not just about what happens after we depart this world, there is much available to us now as we await His return. Read the verses above form Galatians and know in your heart that it’s true. Open yourself up to the Holy Spirit and you can have all of this today! Say “good morning” to God right now!

A New Day

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

-Lamentations 3:22-24 (KJV)

So begins another day. God’s grace is [once again] new for this day! Don’t let Satan work you over for things you may have done in the past– focus on today and the opportunities it presents to work for Jesus in spreading His Gospel message. If you’re tempted to sin, turn to Jesus in the midst of it and He will give you the strength to resist it!

Challenged by James

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

 -James 2:14-19 (ESV)

As followers of Christ, we are expected to lead lives of self-examination, aided by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I think I have it all together as I wind through life– embracing [what maybe] some sort of “easy-believism” that is to be seriously shunned by any who call themselves disciples of our Lord.

Recently, I caught a preacher on the Roku box who was teaching on the book of James and talked about the disturbing trend of “easy-believism” that seems to be almost pervasive amongst our Christian culture these days (at least in the U.S.). I found it challenging and somewhat disturbing. Do I really care about my fellow men and women and where they will spend eternity? Do I act like I believe?

I think it is possible to have religious experiences, but not be born again. I also think it is possible to believe in the existence of God and His Son Jesus Christ, but not be saved. After all, Satan and his evil minions believe in His existence. I am pretty sure I had some religious experiences in my life early on that I may have regarded as times of conversion that were simply times of succumbing to the “religious fervor” of the moment.

So the question remains: do I just believe or do I also follow? I pray that I am challenged each day to give the right answer to our Lord.

Spending Time Wisely

Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter. -Colossians 4:5 (VOICE)

Recently one of my favorite T.V. Bible teachers (Joyce Meyer) taught on the subject of “making the most of your time.” She reminded me that God never commanded us to be ‘busy.’

My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples. -John 15:8 (GNT)

What God does require from us is that we bear fruit. Being busy is not in the recipe necessarily (it may be, but not a prerequisite).

You did not choose Me. I chose you, and I orchestrated all of this so that you would be sent out and bear great and perpetual fruit. As you do this, anything you ask the Father in My name will be done. -John 15:16 (VOICE)

We should be forever grateful that our Lord has chosen us for the task at hand. The payoff is beyond our wildest imagination– of that you can be assured!

What is this “great and perpetual fruit He refers to? How about the “fruit of the Spirit” as described in Galatians 5:22-23?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. -Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Live like there’s no tomorrow.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

People beginning recovery from a substance addiction are often encouraged by fellow addicts to “keep in the day” and to stay clean for just 24 hours at a time. People that have been in such recovery programs for years will usually tell you that it took them a few years to really understand the concept– beyond just staying away from a drink or some drug for a day.

Obviously, we know as Christians that it is not just a good idea for addicts and alcoholics to look to the day [and not beyond] in living their lives– it’s good advice for anybody. When I look at the reality of the spiritual warfare I am faced with each and every day– and the call from Christ to be His follower and not just a fan, it is all I can do to try and live up to the task with the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all my prayerful focus needs to be in today and not tomorrow. Besides, there is no tomorrow– it’s always today. At the stroke of midnight, a new today begins once more.

Treated well by your Father

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11 (ESV)

God is the best parent ever. It is important to remember that human parenting, at its best, resembles God’s loving parenting of us. Our best imitation must be nothing more than a dim reflection of His love for us. We are fortunate to be adopted as God’s children, which sets us apart from the rest of creation and assure us of a wonderful inheritance that will last forever!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. -2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NLT)