Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our Strength, Our Rock, Our Fortress!

Reading from the Book of II Samuel 22: 32-33

32 32 32For who is God, except the Lord?And who is a rock, except our God?
33 33God is my strength and power,And He makes my way perfect.

God is our Strength, our Rock, and our Fortress. He asks us to put our faith in Him and to believe that we can do whatever He asks us to do. He is mighty to uphold us and make us stand. He will support us and keep us from falling.

God's strength is readily available to us, and we receive it through believing the promise He has made to give it to us. If we believe we are weak, then we will only manifest weakness, but the Bible says, "Let the weak say, I am strong!" (Joel 3:10).

When we can say we are strong with a heart of conviction--even though we are weak in ourselves--the Lord will be strong in us, and we will experience victory in our lives!

He is my strength when I am weak.
He is my rock when I am slipping.
He is my deliever when I am trapped.
He is my fortress when I an crumbling.
He is my refuge when I am pursued.
He is my shield when I am exposed.
He is my Lord when life spins out of control.
By Beth Moore

A heart that makes Him its own--one that can state, "He is mine"--is a heart that cannot help but love.
I love you, Lord!"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Be A Living Sacrifice

Reading from the Book of Romans 12:1
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Do you know what Paul is telling us here in this verse? He says that we are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God. Not just our possessions, money, time, energy, and efforts, but also our bodies, heads, hands, tongues, and even our minds, emotions, and attitudes.

We are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God as a "living sacrifice," holy, devoted, consecrated, and pleasing to Him. This is our reasonable, rational, intelligent service and spiritual worship.

Often we get the impression that to totally serve and worship God means to involve our bodies and spirits, but there is more. Here Paul says that we are to serve and worship God with our minds and emotions also.

We need to invite God to think and speak through us. This will let Him touch people through us. You can serve God with your face by smiling and showing yourself to be friendly to other people. You can serve God through your hands by helping or aiding someone who is sick, disabled, or homeless. You can serve God through your attitude, to someone who is depressed, angry or suffering a loss.

Allow God to use all of you. The more of yourself and your life that you release to Him, the more you will be full-filled and experience His peace and joy. Be a 'living sacrifice".

Friday, August 24, 2012

Are You Ready To Die?

 Reading from the Book of John 12:20-25
John 12:20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

At this moment, Jesus had just made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the foal of a donkey, something prophesied 500 years earlier by the Prophet Zechariah. Large crowds of Jewish people in the city for the Passover Week had just cheered Jesus’ entrance, celebrating the arrival of the prophesied Messiah. Amidst the commotion, a group of Greeks wanted to meet Jesus. When the Disciples informed the Lord, His response taught a profound lesson about His mission and the life of every Christian believer who ever lived.

Many of the people who were following Jesus expected Him to establish an earthly Kingdom for the Jews. This was the moment many had been waiting for. Jesus had performed many miracles, He had taught with the wisdom of the prophets. But the pinnacle would be taking back Jerusalem, which at that time was under Roman occupation and retuning it back to the Jewish people who had lived there for centuries. This would be glory! But when Jesus spoke of being glorified, He was not referring being an earthly ruler.

Jesus uses a simple metaphor to make a very profound point. When the “corn of wheat” or a kernel of grain falls to the ground and withers, the seed is released which brings forth new plants and fruits. This is what Jesus had to do as well. This was the ultimate mission of the “Servant".

Jesus had to die because in His death He took the punishment for our sins. It allowed the wrath of God that every person deserves and has hanging over them for their sinning, to fall on Jesus in our place. With every wound He received on the cross, He was bearing the guilt, shame and sin of all of humanity. And in His death we can be “healed” from the death sentence of Hell all people receive as sinners who are clearly guilty in the eyes of a just and Holy God.

In His death, we literally obtained a way to eternal life. And the fruit is shown in the people coming to seek Him. Who wanted to know the way to salvation. Who wanted to know the way to Heaven. The explosion of the Christian faith throughout the world following the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus are the amazing fruits of His death.

And here is the challenge for the reader or listener. Are you in love with your life on Earth? Are you clinging to living life your way, continuing in sinful behavior and following your own personal desires over pursuing God and His righteousness? If so, then Jesus gives a strong warning: you will lose your life. Many people claim to “follow Jesus” or that “I’m not religious but I follow the teachings of Jesus” but being a true follower of Christ takes more than that. We are to “hate” our lives. What does this mean? It means realizing that we are sinners who have repeatedly and willfully violated God’s laws and as a result stand guilty before Him. And all sinners are destined for eternal damnation. Thus being willing to give up our personal agendas to put faith in Jesus and let His desires take over our lives. To let what pleases God become what pleases us. It means choosing a life of Biblical purity over casual sinning. We do not have to literally die. We have to crucify our former sinful past that only seeks worldly pleasure.

This is what Jesus commanded to strangers who desired to see Him and His glory. And He asks the same of you. Not only will faith in Jesus give eternal life, it gives the new believer a chance to help save the souls of others because now that person can go into the world and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Living a life for Jesus is the “death” that we must all be willing to endure. This is how Jesus is glorified. And the seeds of the Gospel that we can then share with others can bring in much more fruit to the Kingdom of Heaven. So beloved, are you ready die?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Of Mountains And Valleys

Reading from the Book of Isaiah 40:4-8
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

We all have "mountaintop" experiences and valleys (low moments) in our lives. We all have crooked places that seem confusing, times that are uneven (up and down), and situations that are rough and difficult. These verses teaches us that the flesh (people like you and me) is like puffs of smoke or blades of grass. We are here on earth for a very short time. We tend to be fragile, unsure, and shaky during our relatively brief lifetimes. God knows that and has no problem with it, because He is willing to work through us and to show Himself strong in our weaknesses. Actually, the Bible teaches that God's strength shows itself most effectively through our weaknesses (II Corinthians 12:9). Our weaknesses and shortcomings are like magnets for His power.

God can handle knowing what we lack and knowing that we fail. We, on the other hand, tend to beat ourselves up over our imperfections. We try to make excuses for them, try to compensate for them, and try to keep other people from seeing them. Instead, we need to admit our weaknesses and face them, not feel badly about them. We need to be honest about what we can do, but we need to be equally honest about what we cannot do, recognizing that those things are great opportunities for God to work through us.

Remember that God is not surprised by your inabilities, imperfections, or faults. He has always known about those areas of your life, even if you are just now discovering them. Only God is perfect. He chose you anyway, and He loves you in spite of all your shortcomings. 

We need to encourage each other to get up every morning, love God, and do your best in every situation. God has control of all of our mountains and valleys!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Joy Of Your Master

Reading from the Book of 1 John 1:4
I John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

It's been said that most folks are so busy trying to find happiness, they never find joy.  What is this strange little three letter word that can mean so much in your life?  What does it really mean?

Jesus spoke many times of our "joy being made full", expressing His desire that we share in His joy.  (John 15:11; 17:13)

John the Baptist found joy in being the "friend of the bridegroom", vicariously participating in the joy of Jesus in establishing His relationship with His followers.  (John 3:29)

Joy is listed as one portion of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  And we are even told to consider it joy when we are faced with trials (James 1:2-3).

John said in 1 John 1:4 that they were writing the letter so that their "joy might be made complete."  The word translated "our" might also be translated "your."  What did John mean?

The joy that the Bible talks about is a sure and certain knowledge within that you are a much-loved, chosen and adopted child of God… that He will cause all things that happen in your life to work for your good – even those that seem bad or that are bad – because you love Him and are called according to His purpose… that the trials you face come to pass, not to stay… that when things are the roughest, He is not just walking beside you, but instead, He is carrying you… that you are so important to Him that Jesus would have gone to the cross if you were the only one who needed to be saved.  That is joy.  Happiness is fleeting, but joy is permanent.  Happiness can elude you, but joy is right there in you. The joy is that of your Master.