May 20, 2013
Your Will be Done?
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10
Most of us recognize this Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew and we know it to be part of the “Lord’s Prayer.” Many Christians pray this each week during church, but do we truly embrace and understand the instruction to submit to God in full obedience? In short, do you really trust God with your life?
Consider the story of David and Saul in the caves in 1 Samuel 24:1-22.
There was king Saul in the back of a cave, hidden from his guards and from all eyes. There was David, knife in hand, being urged by his men to take out the threat and become king once and for all. So David approached, he raised the blade...and cut off the corner of Saul's garment.
David remembered to obey God, to trust God and recognize He is sovereign above all. David remembered these things and remained faithful and obedient no matter the consequences...
“Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.”
We have a chance every day to see God's sovereign presence in our lives. It is our choice to obey God or turn away from God. Remember – as David did in the caves – that obedience equals true faith no matter what the circumstances in your life.
May 13, 2013
“These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Chances are you see some things you like, but you may also focus on perceived faults. Whatever it is you see, know this truth: God sees more. God will work you and push you until you fulfill the glorious purpose He has called you to do. He will make things uncomfortable. He will cut away relationships. He will chip away at your pride and sand down your rough edges. He will put people in your path to irritate you, exposing character traits within you that need to go, so that you can become a reflection of Jesus. He loves you too much not to. He sees too much potential in you to let you stay the way you are.
Why do we go through adversity? Instead of answering that question, I will leave you with this thought:
A life without adversity is a life lacking true strength, earned wisdom, and an empathetic heart.
Heavenly Father, we may never understand why we go through the things we do, but we know You are sovereign, and we know that nothing happens outside of your watchful eye. We also know that You love us enough to send Your Son to endure the worst persecution, the worst hurt, the worst betrayal, the worst torture, and ultimately, the worst kind of death so that we might be reconciled to You. God, thank you for seeing something worthy in us. Thank You for never giving up on us and walking with us through adversity. Thank You for the eternal life set before us. Help us, God to pass the tests in our lives and we pray that these trials strengthen our faith. Let us shine Your light brightly in all that we do, whether it be a season of blessings or trials. We ask these things in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May 6, 2013
Is it about time?
“'You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.' When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up his hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” – Luke 24:48-52
What a blessing it must have been to see and touch and speak directly with the resurrected Jesus. We know Jesus told Thomas – after Thomas got to see and touch the wounds left in Jesus from the nails – “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The story of Thomas is one of a handful of stories about the resurrected Jesus we have in the Gospels. In John 21:25, the last sentence from the Gospel says, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
How long did Jesus Christ walk the earth after the resurrection? Two weeks? A month? Many biblical scholars say it was 40 days. What is more important than the amount of time spent on earth is the profound impact Jesus made on His disciples which has spread throughout the world.
Each Gospel makes different points about Jesus’ time on earth – from birth to His teachings to His crucifixion and resurrection – but there is one point that is always the same: the story of Jesus is not over. He continues to fulfill His mission wherever His name is confessed and His teaching is obeyed, the faith of Christians is that He will do so until He comes again.
April 29, 2013
The Power of Hope
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5
There is a two-sided reality to Christian life. On one side, Christians are like royalty spiritually-speaking because we have given our lives to Christ and our salvation is secure. On the other side, our salvation turns us into servants because as Christians, we are called to become more like Jesus.
We are Spiritual royalty bound to earthly servitude. Jesus was a servant to the end. As the Gospel of John tells us…
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.
We feel the loving presence of Christ in our lives daily and at the same time we feel the pressures of our earth-bound life. If we remember these two sides, we will not become discouraged when faced with temptation and problems. Instead we will learn to depend on the power of hope available to us from the Holy Spirit and then we can turn the problems, the trials and the tragedies we face in life into opportunities to serve others and bring glory to God in the highest.
April 22, 2013
Hope for a hopeless world
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:13-17
Through the teachings and the life of Jesus Christ in the New Testament Gospels, we learn that Jesus Christ is the true source of hope for our life. From the letters written by the apostle Paul, we see how the hope found in Jesus Christ helped change “the worst of sinners” – into one of the most effective disciples of Christ in history
Right now – pray for that person and for Jesus Christ to work His miracle of forgiveness in that person’s life.
Paul was writing to Timothy – an eager young man determined to serve God by spreading the Word of Jesus Christ, but Timothy was timid and he lacked confidence. Who knows for sure if it was fear or worry or doubt, but at some point, a feeling of hopelessness probably crept into his heart as he tried to minister in Corinth.
More than 2,000 years later, we all face the same doubts, fears, worry, and feelings of hopelessness that Timothy experienced from time to time as we try to share our faith with others.
If you read further in 1Timothy 4:10, you’ll find that Paul reminds us to “put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” Christian, there is someone in your life that needs the gift of mercy and forgiveness you have already received, which is the salvation found in giving our life to Jesus Christ. Pray for the strength and the wisdom to share this hope with someone and do not lean upon your own understanding but allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life and in your actions and attitudes today. Take to heart what Paul told Timothy…
“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”- 1 Timothy 4:11-12
April 15, 2013
Taking back hope
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” - Psalm 25:4-6
Hope is a powerful word. Hope evokes strong emotional and psychological responses. We all have an insatiable need for hope because we always need redemption from our fears, our worries, and the troubles in our lives. People, desperate for answers, turn in so many different directions searching for solutions to their problems that they make themselves dizzy and disoriented. In most cases, the solutions they choose cause them to stumble and fall.
If you take one thing from this devotion, make it this fact: Only Jesus Christ can truly give us hope…a hope that will never leave you or disappoint you.
The Scriptures tell us this very fact:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble,and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 1:5-11
It’s time to take back the word “hope” from the false teachers in our lives – the politicians, the media and the ad agencies – and start spreading the real meaning of hope to everyone around us through our loving words, positive attitudes, and our caring actions.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. - Romans 15:12-14
April 8, 2013
Flashlights, radios and bathtubs
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:10-17
Just over a year ago, tornados tore through North Texas, leveling houses, uprooting trees and tearing away years of memories from the victims caught in their path. The weather predictions were accurate that day, but no one had any idea how destructive the storms would be or where they would strike. The same can be said for the tests and trials we face in life…Jesus tells us we will be tested but you never really know for sure when or where the tests will occur or how hard it will be to endure.
Many lives were spared in April 2012 because of the early warning system broadcast over the radio. People listened to the warnings and took action to "get out of the way" or seek shelter in closets or bathtubs. After the storms passed and the victims were without power, they had flashlights to help light their path in the rubble.
People made sure they had a basic emergency kit with them to survive the storm. This is a great lesson and we should apply it to our Spiritual life. We will endure trials and tests in life, but don’t be afraid because He has given us a spiritual survival kit laid out for us in Ephesians 6:10-17.
April 1, 2013
Hope for a Hopeless World
“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” – John 20:17-18
On Friday, we crucified God's Son -- our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and He died and was laid to rest. Saturday had to be the darkest, most hopeless day in the history of mankind. The disciples knew this to be true and we suspect others who witnessed the crucifixion realized an emptiness and remorse and regret unlike anything else in their life.
…the stone was rolled back…the tomb was empty…Mary Magdalene ran to Simon Peter…they returned to the tomb to find the burial cloth folded and separate from the burial linens… Mary stood outside the empty tomb crying, comforted by a stranger– only to be amazed when she turned to see it was Jesus Christ in the flesh!
“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. – John 20:17-18""
Glory to God in the Highest, Jesus Christ conquered death and given us ever-lasting life. Joy to the World!
This is the real hope – this is the real change - for a hopeless world. Christian, put your faith and hope only in the forgiveness, the strength, and the peace that passes all understanding that is the grace we receive from Jesus Christ.