Monday, December 14, 2009

The Brevity of Life

Things have been busy and hectic for the last several weeks...and I may not have an opportunity to post on this blog for another week or two, but tonight there is something else on my mind.

As everyone is getting ready for the Holiday Season, buying Christmas gifts, planning festivities, etc., we need to be mindful that what matters is not whether we receive (or can give) a huge pile of gifts, and how well we can decorate our houses, but whether or not we have received THE gift - God's gift of eternal life - offered through His Son, Jesus.

This past week we had a reminder of the things that matter most in the Christmas season. The wife of our Senior Pastor died suddenly and unexpectedly. We all know that our days are numbered, and we all know that we need to love and appreciate those in our lives now while we have the opportunity. What we don't know, or at least, what we so easily lose sight of- is that everything can change in a moment's notice.

As in the case of our Pastor's wife- who was at church last week, looking healthy, and seemingly fine. And a few days later she died. She will never know how many lives she touched- and how much she will be missed.

Her life has been fruitful- a testimony of God's love and faithfulness. Is there someone in your life that has touched you in an immeasurable way? Is there someone you value and care for in such a manner that your life wouldn't be the same without them? If so, I urge you to make sure that they know this- tell them what they mean to you- tell them how they have impacted your life. You never know when the opportunity will suddenly be gone forever.

Joyce's family will be celebrating Christmas with one less family member this year. There will be an empty spot at the table- and at church. There will be an empty spot in their hearts. And they will decide what to do with Christmas gifts that will never be opened by the one they were intended for.

Some year, some Christmas, this could be you- your house, your empty spot, your unopened gifts.

Make sure, that those you love this Christmas know and feel your love. Make sure they know that as far as you are concerned, you value them- not just their gifts. Don't hold a grudge- but like Jesus, be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to forgive.

And most importantly, make sure you have personally received God's gift- of eternal life through Christ Jesus- just in case YOU may happen to be the 'empty spot' at someone's table.

God keep you all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do Not be Anxious About Anything...

There is one message that is repeated over and over in God's Word, and because it is so comforting, I go back to it again and again. The message is always the same, but it's phrased in different ways - the bottom line is "don't worry - just pray!"

Philippians 4:6:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God...

How often do we walk around anxious and stressed out because of things we have little or no control over? And why do we continue to worry, when we have learned from past experience that worry does nothing to help the circumstances, and in fact, only raises our blood pressure, causes insomnia, headaches, and illness?

God does not want His children to be anxious and troubled.

Over and over in His Word, He invites us to cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7), and He promises that when we do, He will deliver us out of all our troubles (Psalm 34:4-7, 17,19).

When we have God's written guarantee that not only can we come directly to Him with our troubles and anxieties, but we can expect Him to deliver us and provide our needs, why in 'heaven's name' would we prefer to hang our heads, slump our shoulders, and still insist on struggling on trying to bear our own burdens?

All we need to do as His dearly loved children, is go to our Father in prayer and tell Him what is troubling us. When we do, we have His guarantee that He will hear us and help us - and as we come to Him, presenting our requests with thanksgiving, we are promised that His peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Just an Opportunity" Romans 12:18

Have you ever struggled with everything in you to get along with someone, and did it seem that no matter how hard you tried, there just was no way to keep peace with that person?

Or, have you had times that something you said in conversation was misinterpreted and you were thought to be making inuendos that truly hadn't even entered your mind?

No matter how hard you try to get along with others at home, at work, and in your neighborhood, the fact is that there will always be someone that you just can't get along with no matter what you do.

And it doesn't help that people are so inclined to "speak their mind" when the things that are on their minds are often things that don't need to be spoken at all. People tend to blurt out whatever insults cross their minds when they have been offended, usually without stopping to consider whether or not offense was intended, or what the consequences of their actions could be.

What can you do when you encounter that spouse, neighbor, colleague or stranger that you
just cannot get along with?

Romans 12:18 tells us:

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

The phrase "If it is possible," suggests that the writer was well aware that there are some people who love a fight...and love to be 'right' whether they are or not.

In the eyes of these people, they are not at fault and no matter how unfair or unrighteous their actions are, somehow they always feel justified in what they do.

"As much as depends on you,..."

Strive to be at peace with everyone. But know that sometimes it doesn't depend on you. When you have done all that is in your power to maintain peaceful relations with those in your life, and you still find that conflict is inevitable, know that by doing your part to keep peace, you not only maintain a pure heart and clear conscience, but you have an opportunity to demonstrate the forbearance and love of God through your conduct.

You understand also that by striving to demonstrate forbearance and the love of God to such a person, your failure to rise to the bait may be construed as 'weakness'- but remember the true strength that was demonstrated by Jesus during his crucifixion. He was beaten, mocked and insulted by the soldiers before he was nailed to the cross. But He did not respond likewise to them. He did not insult them in return, nor threaten them. He responded by praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34

He repaid their evil with the ultimate kindness- His prayer and the offering of His body for their salvation.

*Photo courtesy of:

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Righteous Requirement...

Life has a way of testing the believer's resolve to walk in love. Though we know that we are called to walk in love - not just toward those who love us, but also to those who are our enemies - there just are times when we fail miserably.

When we look at our conduct and attitudes, and know that we have failed to respond as Jesus would, it is easy to assume that The Father's response to us changes accordingly. But there is good news! I John 3:19,20 tells us that if our heart condemns us, God is greater
than our heart and knows all things. God knew before He called us, that we would struggle to maintain the right attitudes, and walk in love and yet do something different than we had intended. This is the reason Jesus gave Himself for us. His death on the cross accomplished what we in our human frailty cannot.
Romans 7:15-20:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do: no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Here Paul explains the dilemma of the believer who delights in God's Word and determines to live his life in a manner pleasing and acceptable to God- yet finds himself doing the very things he hates. This is the problem for every believer- but the good news is that God saw it coming and had the perfect solution- He condemned sin (not the sinner) in the body of His Son Jesus on the cross, so that we could be forgiven completely and our righteousness would not be dependent on our own actions and goodness, but on the actions and goodness of Christ Jesus!

Romans 8:1 - 4:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Thank God that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in Christ Jesus!

photo courtesy of:

Friday, November 13, 2009

How well does God know You?

In these troubled times we live in, there are so many who feel alone and abandoned. Whether the abandonment is an actual fact or just a feeling does not make it any easier to live with, and these feelings directly affect the way we view ourselves and others. It also directly affects our beliefs about how God sees us.

Men and women of God throughout history have also felt forsaken - abandoned. Even Jesus as He died on the cross cried out "My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken Me?"

If you have been feeling like you are abandoned- maybe even by God Himself, let me reassure you that while people may abandon you, He hasn't and never will.

I watch my daughter with her baby (in the picture on the right), and I see a glimpse of the Father's love for those who are His. My daughter constantly watches over her baby girl- sometimes just smiling and watching her as she sleeps. So blessed that it's her baby- so proud of every milestone that is passed...writing every event on the calendar;

  • today you laughed for the first time!
  • today you had cake for the first time!
  • today you stood up all by yourself!
  • this month you will have your first birthday!
She is intimately involved in her daughter's life- continuously loving her, teaching her, playing with her, always enjoying her. Her daughter hasn't done anything to deserve this love. She didn't need to. All she had to do was be born into the family.

Likewise, we don't have to try to earn or somehow deserve God's love and care. We are His- born into His family...and because we are His dear children, He is intimately involved in our lives and acquainted with us.

Psalm 139:1-4 gives us an idea of just how intimately God is involved in our lives and how well He knows us ;

"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue,
You know it completely, O Lord."

Just as I know that my daughter could never abandon her little girl, likewise God would never abandon His children. Isaiah 49:15 says it this way:

"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
and not have compassion on the son of her womb?

Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you."

Rest secure in God's promise- that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"And When They Were Alone..."

Mark 4: 34

And when they were alone He explained all things to His disciples.

Jesus chose parables to teach His disciples about the Kingdom of God. Often, Bystanders didn't understand his speech - or why He used parables. But those who had a heart to listen and understand, did. Jesus made sure of it. He often withdrew from the crowds and sometimes even His disciples so that He could take time to pray. It was during these times that He received the strength and direction He needed from the Father.

We also need to withdraw at times so that we can spend time alone with Him. It is when we are alone, that He ministers to the deep needs and anxieties of our hearts, reveals His secrets to us, and 'explains' what we don't understand.

Jesus could not have accomplished all He came to accomplish if He had not yielded to the Father's leading to "Come Away" for a time to pray. Neither can we accomplish His plans and purposes for our lives apart from Him.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Distractions - Mark 4:3-9,13-20

I had my whole day planned out. Last night I had gone to sleep thinking of what needed to be done today and when I was going to do it all.

Of course, the first thing I had planned was to start the day of right- in God's Word. That was the plan, anyway.

But before my second cup of coffee this morning, events took another turn. It started with the discovery that my daughter would need a new bed- before tonight. Right after that was the accidental discovery that the cat has worms. Both of these little surprises happened before I had had a second cup of coffee, or even had time to get dressed.

Suddenly my meticulously planned day was shot. Ready or
not, the day had begun and we sprang into action. My thoughts immediately went from beginning my day with my focus directed toward the Lord, to scouring the ads and the internet for a new bed for my daughter (after all, she needed it by tonight)... then there was the cat crisis. I had to deal with finding a vet that could see the cat and get rid of the worms (and figure out how she got them in the first place when she never goes outside). It was not the peaceful beginning I had planned for the day.

How easily we get sidetracked from the things that are truly important...from taking the time- however limited that time may be- to acknowledge the Lord in our daily lives. To spend a few minutes reading His Word, or to offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and ask His direction for our day... or even to remember His interventions on our behalf and the times He has answered our prayers.

No wonder Jesus felt the need to warn His disciples not to let the cares of the world choke the Word out of our lives and make us unfruitful.

Mark 4: 3 Begins the parable of the sower who went out to sow the Word. The seed that was sown produced varying results. Not because of the sower's actions, but because of those who 'heard' the Word (which was sown).

Beginning in verse 13-20, Jesus explains the parable to the disciples:

There are those who hear the Word, and Satan immediately steals it from their hearts (before it can produce fruit)...then there are those who hear the Word and receive it with gladness, but having no root in themselves, they quickly fall away when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word. Next are the ones "sown among thorns," and this is what Jesus said (warned) about them:

Of course, there is also the seed sown "on good ground- who hear the Word, accept it, and bear

Now I know that in Jesus' time, life was much more 'relaxed' than it is now. Much simpler. And yet, Jesus knew that those who loved Him were in danger of becoming so weighed down with the cares of life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the love of other things, that if they weren't careful, His Word - and its intended fruits- would become choked out of their lives.

Consider this -if even they- who lived in much slower, simpler days than ours were in danger, how much more so are we who live today in this world of overtime, 'on demand' entertainment, shopping malls, pandemic pornography, amusement parks, and electronic toys! How much more vigilant we need to be in order to make sure these things don't choke His Word out of our lives!