Saturday, February 24, 2018

A close examination...

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11 
A Cubic Zirconia or a beautifully cut diamond... which would you prefer? Given the stone was free for the taking I am sure most people would choose the real thing. From a distance you might be fooled, but under close examination, there is always a difference. Our world is full of knock-offs and fakes that catch the eye and skillfully mimic the original. To know the difference you need a close examination.
In the days of Paul, there were many traveling orators; some brought truth and some deception. As a result some people became very cautious as they listened to visiting speakers. Some were of far more "noble character" than others and carefully compared Paul's teachings with Scripture. These were men and women who wanted the real thing, so they made time daily for a close examination. 
In the same way today, there are charlatans who mimic true preachers of the Word. They look slick and they are enticing. Their words are smooth as they smile their way into your heart but, are they giving you the truth of the Word? Which would you prefer... a Word from God or a word from man? To know the difference we need to be in the Word daily for a close examination.
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A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY 
  
“Sadie,” a Labrador retriever belonging to the Charles Thurber family in Terra Linda, California, was ordained as a minister of faith by the Hilltop House Church in San Rafael. The dog’s name and $15 were submitted by the Better Business Bureau of San Francisco through a newspaper ad. By return mail Sadie received her “Certificate of Ordination.”

Anyone can be ordained...
but only those called of God will have a word from God.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Don't get bit...

"Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house" - Proverbs 5:7-8
I worked my way through college and held a number of jobs of interest. For quite a while I worked with guard dogs on the night shift. I noticed that whenever most people saw me approach with the dog, they would avoid us like the plague. They knew the dog had teeth and were afraid of being bit.
Solomon gave very practical counsel in how to deal with temptation and sin. He knew the best way to fight temptation was to avoid it at any cost. The sin nature is most vulnerable to the taunting and tantalizing of sin's temptations. When we know the source of such temptations, it is wiser to "keep a path far from her" for fear of being bit.
Sin has a way of wooing us into its lair. We often find ourselves wondering how we ended up so far from the path of righteousness and in so much trouble. The lesson is simple: sin is subtle and enticing, but it has teeth. Be wise... learn the source of temptation and "do not go near the door of her house". Avoid it like the plague for fear of being bit
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A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

John Burroughs, the naturalist, says that when a hawk is attacked
by crows or king-birds, he does not make a counterattack, 
but soars higher and higher in ever widening circles
 until his tormentors leave him alone. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Our Divine GPS...

"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them." - Acts 16:6-10 

I recently used MapQuest for directions and learned a new meaning for the word "lost". The stories are unending about wild and woolly experiences brought on by internet map usage. Using such maps is like using our own heart for spiritual guidance. The chances of our arriving at the wrong place are most often guaranteed. If we want to find the right road to take in life we need to use our Divine GPS.
Paul and his team were passionate about reaching their world for Christ. They were truly "on a mission" that drove them forward with great energy. They were careful though, to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If He said "no" to one direction they considered other ways until He said "yes". When they followed the Lord's leading, people came to Christ. They were wise and therefore blessed when they faithfully followed the directions of their Divine GPS.
Are you using a flawed "map-quest" today by following your heart? Where will your passion or drive lead you in the decisions of life? The Lord will lead you in His way, and His way is always best. Be wise and therefore blessed by following the directions of your Divine GPS.
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

At a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bobby Richardson, former New York Yankee second baseman, offered a prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy: “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Just as you are...

"No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” - Acts 15:11 
Shortly after we married, my wife and I adopted a little dog. Her name was Jenny and she was the sweetest pup anyone could ever have. We went to a rescue shelter one afternoon and looked around until we came to a litter of pups that had just arrived. One small pup... the "runt" of the litter spotted us and kept coming to us wherever we moved. We couldn't imagine what she would look like when she grew up, but she won our hearts and that day we took her home... just as she was.
Paul pleaded with the church leadership to stay on point concerning the work of salvation. No one is saved and adopted into the family of God because of what they bring to the table. The Lord takes us into his family through his grace alone. The day we come to Jesus, he saves us from a homeless and hopeless future, out of a heart of grace and love... just as we are.
Becoming a child of God is far more significant than being an adopted dog. But in a way, the simplicity of the process is similar. Have you come to Jesus, saddened by, and repentant of your sin? Have you come with nothing to offer but a heart cry for mercy? He will save you and love you with an everlasting love. You don't have to be the "Best in Show" to win the heart of God. He will take you into his family by his grace alone... just as you are!  

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A HYMN FOR THE DAY

JUST AS I AM

Just as I am, without one plea but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, tho tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind—Sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in Thee to find—O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Charlotte Elliott, 1789–1871


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The perfect duet...

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." - Psalm 19:14
What makes a beautiful song? Every song is made up of both words and music. Some songs have very thought provoking words, but a lifeless tune. Other songs have a haunting melody, but the words are empty in meaning. The song that has timeless quality is one that has just the right combination of words and music... the perfect duet.
David was a man of insightful words, as well as a gifted musician. He understood the importance of both qualities being in tune with each other. He also realized that his words and the meditations of his heart needed to complement each other to be pleasing the sight of the Lord. Just like a good song, the life that has the right combination of words and heart is... the perfect duet.
How is your life-song today?  Do your carefully chosen words come from a well guarded heart? Do the meditations of your heart fully compliment the words that you speak? When the Lord looks upon your life is he pleased with the words of your mouth and music of your heart? Does he see... the perfect duet?
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

   "We cannot measure spiritual force by rules of philosophy or definitions of theology any more than by a carpenter's rule or chemist's scales.  It is "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."  And yet, the character of a man's thoughts has much to do with success or failure in the spiritual life.  He is influenced by what he thinks." 

   -- T. Henry Howard in Fuel for Sacred Flame


Monday, February 19, 2018

Olympic Christians...

"Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said." - Acts 14:19-22
At the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, Team USA's gold medal hopes in gymnastics came down to one final vault. Kerri Strug failed to stick her first vault attempt, and in doing so, landed awkwardly and tore ankle ligaments.  Fighting through pain and pressure, an 18-year-old Strug nailed her second attempt to capture the gold medal for Team USA. This is what being an Olympic athlete is all about... you never give up.
Paul was an Olympic Christian... he took a beating and kept on ticking! Not only did Paul continue on his mission trip, but he chose to return to the same towns that participated in his stoning. His passion for the gospel message and believers was undaunted by any amount of persecution. He knew that believers "must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God". Therefore... he never gave up.
Are you an Olympic Christian today? What will it take to stop you from fulfilling your mission for Christ? There may be pain and persecution of all kinds, but press on my friend. The leading of souls to Jesus is the greatest reward and the building up of believers is a valuable prize as well. But these rewards only go to Olympic Christians... that never give up.

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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY
  
Have you ever noticed that world-class runners have a "kick?" A kick is a technical runner's term that means when they get to that last one hundred yards or so, the runner can still sprint. No matter how much he's run before, he can sprint that last leg to the finish line and win that race. God wants you to have a kick. No matter what your circumstance, God wants you to finish strong.
-- Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish,"

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Make the time...

"In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." - Acts 13:1-3
With the advent of cell phones the question "when will it be convenient to call?" has become more significant than ever. When will we be best prepared to receive a call from someone? The real issue is when will we have the time to listen and respond? But for some special people in our lives we are always willing to "make the time'.
The prophets and teachers of Acts 13 had gathered together to worship the Lord. Even in a busy ministry schedule they slowed down and stepped aside to worship and fast. It was in this setting that the Holy Spirit extended a fresh and challenging call to Barnabas and Saul. They heard his call and responded because they had "made the time".
When will it be convenient for you to take a call from the Lord? Is there time in your daily and weekly schedule when you simply stop the busyness to worship? In those quiet moments you are saying to the Lord "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10) God always has a fresh and challenging word for you if you will "make the time". 
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A QUOTE FOR THE DAY

 "To stand by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask?  Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth.  I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him."   

   -- Jim Elliot in The Journals of Jim Elliot

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Little faith?

"When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished." - Acts 12:12-16
There are some people who hear the weatherman announcing rain, and choose to leave for work without their umbrella. Why are they so quick to reject the news? Why not take the update seriously and prepare for the storm? The answer is simple... they have little faith in the report.
The disciples were gathered together in prayer, but did they believe that God would answer? At first blush I am sure they would claim a great confidence in the Lord. But, when Peter came to knock, they were overwhelmed with shock. They had little faith in the Lord.
When you pray for rain, do you bring your umbrella? When you ask the Lord to intervene and provide for your needs, do you expect great things? Or are you surprised when He suddenly does the impossible? When you pray, are looking for real answers, or do you have little faith?

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QUOTE FOR THE DAY

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand 
that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
 - Augustine

Friday, February 16, 2018

"Pay Attention"...

"Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding." - Proverbs 4:1
There was a time that I could hear things that went bump in the night. I could hear most anything, anywhere at any time. But, as the years have passed I could probably miss a 747 landing in my front yard. My hearing has slipped away and I have to be very intentional in my listening. To understand what others are saying I have to "pay attention".
Solomon recorded great words of wisdom that he received from his father. He learned much at the feet of David by listening. He learned that understanding, insight and wisdom do not come to the careless. One must be intentional if they are to ever learn. Throughout this chapter we are encouraged to think, walk and talk wisdom, but if we don't listen, we won't learn. We need to "pay attention".
I want to hear what others are saying and I need to learn more every day, so I make every effort to listen. Whether we have good hearing or not, we need to be intentional in listening to our Heavenly Father's instruction. If you want to "gain understanding", you need to "pay attention".

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why "Christian"?

"...The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." - Acts 11:26
I attended a college in Tennessee during the seventies and worked full time to pay the freight. When I spent time with fellow workers from the area I was often tagged a "New Yorker". I spoke a little different than they did and I had an urban lifestyle that reflected where I was raised. It was simple; I was called a "New Yorker" because I was!
There are three occasions in the New Testament that believers are called "Christians"; in the above passage, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. The term was originally a derogatory tag. But it was a term that expressed one truth about the believers... they were "Christ Ones". Their speech was different and their lifestyle reflected the One they followed. It was simple; they were called "Christians" because they were!
Today people are called "Christians" for the most unwarranted reasons. To many, it is nothing more than an empty religious tag, but, what about you? If you are called a "Christian" or "Christ One", is it true? Is your speech different and does your lifestyle reflect the One you follow? Are you called a "Christian" because you are?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Changed?

"The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends...  Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people... “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." - Acts 10:24, 27, 47

The holidays have passed, and with them are gone the gatherings of family and friends. There will be other times through the year when you will invite people to your home to celebrate holidays, birthdays, graduations and even sporting events. At the end of the night everyone will leave, well fed and filled with fond memories. But, have they been changed?
Cornelius was a man with great social prestige. I'm sure that he had many occasions to entertain family and friends.  Yet, this gathering was different than any other before. People didn't gather to eat, drink and be merry. They came together in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord had commanded Peter to tell them. (Verse 33) At the end of the night no one wanted to leave, because... they had been changed.
This is the question: Is your home open for others to gather to hear the good news of Jesus? Do you make plans through the year to invited family and friends to hear a missionary, see a Gospel movie or have a Bible Study? Cornelius wasn't even converted yet, and he filled his house to evangelize. When was the last time someone left your home having been changed?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Are you a Barnabas?

"When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus." - Acts 9:26-27
I well remember the first year or two after Bible College. I was seeking the Lord's direction for ministry and looking for any opportunity to preach. My pastor was a kind and gracious man who took me to ministerial fellowships and introduced me to fellow pastors. As a result, I was invited to preach at different churches and one eventually called me as their pastor. My pastor, George Bogan, (who later became my father-in-law) was a true "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36) to me. Everyone needs a Barnabas.
Paul shook his world for Jesus. He had the courage and tenacity that very few men have. He traveled throughout his world three times with the gospel message and debated with the wisest men of the day. He wrote volumes of deep doctrinal truth that even Peter found hard to understand. (2 Peter 3:15-16) Yet, Paul needed an encourager to come along side and introduce him to the disciples in Jerusalem. Paul needed a Barnabas.
Be wise my friend, and don't try to go it alone. We all need someone who will be an encourager on the road of life. At the same time, there is someone that the Lord has brought into your life that needs you to be their encourager. Will you answer that call? Just remember... Everyone needs a Barnabas.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Poetry in motion...

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights." - Psalm 18:32-33

Nothing quite compares to the grace of a white-tailed deer cutting across the meadow on a cool autumn day. She can leap over every encumbrance and make her way up the hillside with very little effort. She has been born with a most unique strength and agility. With his most creative skill, God shows us... poetry in motion.
David was a man of the field and stream. He was also a man of war and depended on his God for strength and agility in battle. God armed David with strength and made his feet like the feet of a deer. Because of God's enablement, David stood on the heights in victory over all his enemies. God made David's way so perfect it was... poetry in motion.
Were I to run across a meadow today, it would be motion, but it sure wouldn't be poetry. It's the same with every challenge of life. If we try to do it alone, we can easily predict fumbling and stumbling. But when we depend on God and seek his enablement, he will give us the feet of a deer and make our way perfect. Then we will experience... poetry in motion.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Changing for gain...

"On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria... Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." - Acts 8:1, 4 

Over a period of forty years, our family has moved to new church ministries twice. Both times the change has been quite a shock to our lifestyle. Yet, each change brought spiritual challenge and significant growth. This summer my wife and I will make another move into retirement, with a new challenge of growth. When the Lord is in the change, it can be of great value. Change for change sake can be a real pain, but... change for God's sake will bring great gain.
The intriguing truth of this passage is found in this fact; Acts 1:8 begins to unfold in Acts 8:1. Persecution brought change in lifestyle and led to many believers moving to new and unfamiliar regions. Yet, wherever they went, they preached the Word and people came to Christ. While the change was frightening and very unsettling, it was for God's sake and... it brought great gain.
Great persecution may not be breaking out in your life, but events may be occurring that are bringing unexpected change. Since God is always in control, you can be sure that this change has divine purpose. Will you pray for the Lord's wisdom to get the most spiritual value out this change? Remember, when God is in the change, there will be great gain! 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Forgiveness...

"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:59-60
I remember choosing my senior ring in high school. I could have a plain stone or one with a Cross that appeared to be within the stone. As the school colors called for a red stone, the added cross made quite an impression. The little Cross was to be evidence of one's faith in Christ. The real evidence of faith though, would be found in a life forgiven and changed by the Cross. If your faith is alive... your forgiveness will thrive!
Stephen had every reason to be angry at the unbelief and rejection of the Sanhedrin. He might have cried out for God's condemnation and wrath to fall upon them. But Stephen's life  had been changed by the forgiveness of the Cross.  Spirit enabled forgiveness welled up from within his heart as evidence of his faith. His faith was alive, so his forgiveness thrived!
What is the evidence of your faith in Christ? How do people know that your life has been changed by the forgiveness of the Cross? A little Cross in a ring will never serve as true evidence of faith. The real and lasting evidence of a Cross changed life is... a living faith shown by a thriving forgiveness.

Friday, February 9, 2018

YOU are an MVP...

"So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”... So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. - Acts 6:2-4, 7

The football season is over and the MVPs (Most Valuable Player) have been recognized and honored. What about those players who were not so valuable? Would any game be won without them? Where would the quarterback be without an offensive line to protect him? Who would run with the ball if there were no wide receivers or running backs? And how would the ball get through the uprights without a kicker? The simple truth is... every player is an MVP.
The disciples were not better than others, nor were they too good to wait on tables. They had been assigned a certain task for the growth of the church. They needed others, who were spiritual and wise to carry out other tasks. It wasn't a matter of who was more valuable; it was a matter of each team member doing his or her part to grow the church. The simple truth was... every player was an MVP.
What task has God assigned for you to do in building his church? Do you feel less important than the next person as you labor for the Lord? Do you think the pastor, elders, deacons or teachers are more valuable than you? Maybe you are one of those mentioned but someone has more responsibility than you. Keep this in mind; God has strategically assigned each one of us to achieve his purpose. That makes YOU quite important in the growth of His church, so remember... every player is an MVP.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Think before you speak...

"Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin." - Psalm 17:3
Teleprompters have often been real life savers. Some public figures are masters at using these tools for their speeches. There are those who are well spoken when given pre-written words, but when they're on their own, watch out! The difference is the time and thought behind the spoken word. My Dad used to say time and again... Think before you speak.
David was a man of words. He wrote a wide array of Psalms and expressed his faith in many ways. He also spoke to many people as a military leader, king, husband, father and man of God. It was imperative that he speak well and carefully. How did he accomplish this monumental task? He simply "resolved that my mouth will not sin" David was most careful to... Think before he spoke.
Today you will talk to many people. I doubt that you will be using a Teleprompter when you speak. So, do you have a plan of action to speak in a God honoring manner? Have you resolved that your mouth will not sin? Take a word of advice from David and my Dad... Think before you speak.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Get in the Game...

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." - Acts 5:41-42
This last Sunday, two football teams locked horns for the Superbowl championship. One team lost. Those players returned home saddened, but determined to play again next season and will be focused again on the big prize. They are passionate about the competition and willing to suffer the pain and even the losses to play. They want to be in the game.
The apostles were persecuted for their faith and threatened. They suffered the humiliation with joy and pressed on with passion. They were determined to reach others with the good news at any cost. They would continue to experience setbacks of opposition, but they would never stop speaking for Jesus. They wanted to be in the game.
Are you passionate about your faith? Are you determined to tell others the good news about Jesus? Paul said there is a prize to press toward... "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Don't sit on the sideline; make a choice today... get in the game!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Beauty out of ashes...

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness"  - Acts 4:27-29 
When my father retired, he had no health insurance and my mother had a major stroke that left her partially paralyzed. At the time, I needed to set aside my academic pursuits and help my parents through a very discouraging process. But, as a result of my being with them during those days, I began ministering in our church with a lovely young lady, who eventually became my wife. From our marriage, came two fine young men who are both serving the Lord. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
The events of our Lord's crucifixion  were devastating if left by themselves. The hours that followed the Lord's death were frightening and distressful for the disciples. But, in this passage we see a new boldness that found courage in the Sovereign work of God. As a result of Calvary, came the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
Are you in the midst of ashes today? Have the events of life left you discouraged and confused? Remember, the path of the cross was followed by resurrection, Pentecost and the power to serve.  David said it right in Psalm 30:5, "... weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Pray for courage and walk in faith, believing that... God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.

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TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Monday, February 5, 2018

God grows the flower...

"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." - Acts 3:16
My wife loves to plant flowers in the spring. She makes plans and arranges everything in her garden to look a certain way. She plants, fertilizes and faithfully waters the little guys. After a while our house looks like "Better Homes & Gardens". While Jayne does a lot of work and learns better gardening skills every year, the truth remains... God grows the flower.
When Peter spoke to the man crippled from birth, he jumped to his feet and walked. People came from all around to see the miracle. Did Peter call attention to himself or the Lord as the healer? Peter was given the privilege to plant seeds of faith in the Lord's garden, but... God grows the flower.
As you venture into the Lord's garden today, keep in mind that you are serving with the Master. You will be given opportunities to plant seeds of truth and faith, and people will be greatly blessed. Some lives may be dramatically changed and blossom in beautiful ways, but after you've diligently labored, remember... God grows the flower.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Cut to the Heart...

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 
I cut my finger. Yes, I wasn't being careful and with a slip of the hand a very well sharpened knife sliced right into the little digit. I always make sure that my knives are sharp as razors and when they are properly used they are great tools. But this time, with a misguided flex of muscle, the blade literally "cut to the bone".
When Peter spoke the Word of God in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, people responded. They were moved to conviction and knew a decision was needed. When the Scriptures are used with God empowered precision, they are "... living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." (Hebrews 4:12) With a well guided flex of the Spirit, the Word will literally "cut to the heart".
Paul counseled Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do his best to rightly handle the Word of truth. Are you doing your best in the study of the Bible? Are you skilled in using it to bring truth to bear in your life and in the lives of others? Remember, the Word of God is a sharp tool of spiritual value, intended to "cut to the heart". 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Be "Pray-pared"...

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:14
The first phrase I learned as a Scout was "Be Prepared". According to the Scout handbook, the idea is: "Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best." Big moments in life come without warning and it's too late to prepare. So, the best plan of action is to always "Be Prepared".
One of those big moments was coming for the disciples. They had been through so much over the previous months, but they still needed to get ready. They were instructed to wait for power from on high and they did just that. But, how did they wait? They joined together constantly in prayer. What were they praying for and why did they pray constantly? Above all other considerations, they joined together in prayer to "Be Prepared".
Is your prayer life just a matter of asking for the needs of the moment? Do you just "put out fires" through prayer? Or do you spend time seeking spiritual wisdom and strength "to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best."? The best plan of action is to "Be Pray-pared".

Friday, February 2, 2018

Love and Faithfulness...

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man." - Proverbs 3:3-4

My wife's grandfather, William Carter, was a true man of God. He was a teacher and preacher of the Word and he was a respected business man in his community. He dreamed of going to the mission field and saved for years to make this possible. Then his business was washed out by the 1938 Hurricane and he used all the savings to rebuild, so the men who worked in his plant would have jobs to provide for their families. His mission field had come to him and he responded with love and faithfulness.
This passage gives wise counsel for practical daily living. If we will show these spiritual qualities in our actions and store them in our hearts, we will make a difference for Jesus wherever we are. Being a man or woman of God is not as much doing as it is being. Then we will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
On the day of William Carter's funeral, the better part of New Bedford, Massachusetts came to honor him. The lines went down the street, around the corner and out of sight. He never went to the mission field... because he stayed in his God-appointed mission field and made a difference for Jesus. How about you? Are you being a man or woman of God where you are today? Are you determined to show love and faithfulness to the mission field that God sends your way?

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Integrity...

"LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken." - Psalm 15

Our first car was a 1979 Dodge Aspen, with a 3.7 L slant six engine. That car ran like a top for over 100,000 miles because the engine was unbeatable. There was one problem; the body of the car rusted out underneath us. The quality of the engine was outstanding, but the quality of the body was substandard. It was all about integrity; the engine had it, but the body didn't.
The spiritual life is like a car... it's built to travel, not to sit in the garage. When the Lord saves us and seals us with the Holy Spirit, our future is secure, but our journey is just beginning. We become bodies that possess and are driven by a holy God. Psalm 15 is a guide book that will help produce a body of equal quality. It's all about integrity; the Lord of holiness and the life of holiness.
How do you begin each day? Do you have a plan of action that will keep your body from rusting out from underneath the Lord within? This Psalm provides a number of areas to evaluate on a daily basis. The promise is simple... "He who does these things will never be shaken". It's all about integrity!