"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
‘Just A Moment’ is a reflection of the learning experiences of Garry and Jean, both in Canada and abroad, as God provided and protected in difficult situations.
Happy New Year
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
Although time flows continuously like a river, our calendars indicate breaks that suggest new periods in time. We have entered a New Year. What lies behind us with all the lessons we learn by experience we call history. What lies before us with all the potential and possibilities of our greatest dreams we call opportunity and that is one of the good things about a New Year.
We distinguish the line, clearly between the Old and the New. We can’t change the past with its failures and disappointments or its victories and successes but we must leave it behind and press on to a brand new day that has never been used before. Gods grace will cover our weak points, when we ask Him and we should be grateful for the blessings that He has shared with us already.
I believe that God has great things in store for each New Year. There are many promises that He has made that fit our changing times. One that I receive today, I pass on to you. “I have placed before you and open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8) God is the door opener. The old Television program, “Let’s Make A Deal” used to offer their contestants 3 doors of opportunity. They could choose whichever they thought was best. Some found riches and others a wheel barrel with a shovel. But God chooses the door for our lives. With each, He has promised to be with us and to guide us under His blessing as we trust in Him. We need to be confident that He does all things well and will be there, whatever the situation may be.
We want Gods best for the coming year for every challenge and opportunity. But there is a very important principle that we need to remember. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) You can make a personal investment in the spiritual welfare of your family, our church and the nation from knee level. We have a brand New year to enjoy Gods promises but we will only be rewarded for what we put into it and the best way to begin with God is through prayer. We want His direction and blessing for our lives. We are getting close to the end of all things and I believe that it is really important that we be involved in seeking the Lord, together. Many Churches have a special prayer focus at the beginning of a New Year. Be a part of the prayer emphasis to seek the Lords blessings upon yourself, the Church and the Nation. God bless you.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
Prayer changes things.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
It’s a brand new page; a brand new calendar; a brand New Year! At a time when everything else seems to be the same, it is refreshing to enter into a New Year with a sense of newness that comes with the celebrations of family and friends. It’s like sitting in a brand new car. The aroma and cleanness of it all leads to visions of potential and possibility that new opportunities will bring. Like the Children of Israel as they stood on the banks of the Jordan River and viewed, before them, the Promised land. Behind them lay the Wilderness and the desert wanderings. Behind them were the conflicts and miracles that led a fledgling nation into becoming a dynamic force for God. Before them, like a New Year for us, lay the promises of God. This was the Promised land. It belongs to the Children of God. No question, there would be problems and difficulties ahead just like in the past.
The enemy would do His best to hinder and destroy the advance of Gods people into His will but God has promised that, “No one will be able to stand up against you, all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:3) Take that as your motto into the coming days. It is time that the family of God arose to the reality of the victory that is ours because of His promises. The past has become history but it is not intended to be an anchor that holds us back for advancing in our spiritual growth with God and the fulfillment of His plan for our lives. We are called to be more that conquerors through Jesus Christ. There is a battle to be waged. Please don’t think that because you are His that all the problems will go away. Let me suggest a couple of things that will help ‘us’ for what lies ahead.
1. Be prayerful! There is nothing more important in your Christian walk than that you communicate with your Leader. He needs to know that you are prepared to take time to hear what He has to say about your life and what He has in store for you. He wants to hear you express, personally, your needs for each day.
2. Keep yourself clean! I mean, on the inside. Don’t allow the enemy any opportunity to plug into things we do that are not pleasing to God. Examine yourself, from time to time and allow the Holy Spirit to show you things that need repair or forgiveness.
3. Get involved in areas that you can serve the Lord. Check out the opportunities that God brings your way and volunteer. If you need help in this area, talk to your Pastor or other mature Christian for guidance.
There is so much to do for the advancement of His Kingdom on earth. Every person is important because He has given each of us special talents to serve Him in a special way.
Happy New Year!
The End Of Another Year
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
We’ve come to the end of another year. We have cultivated experiences, habits and memories, throughout the last year, that didn’t disappear at the sound of the midnight bells and whistles. We’ve discovered that not everything that happens in life makes us feel good. We, along with some of our family and friends, have gone through some absolutely horrible things this past year that we hope we will never have to repeat. To some, the advantage of seeing with hind sight allows us to rejoice that God was there all the time and that we made it through the deep waters. Now we can laugh. To others, the problems has just not gone away. Let me assure you of two very important things that every Christian needs to know.
1. God cares! I can say that with absolute confidence born out of experience and founded in the Word of God. The promise of His Word is plain. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” ( 1 Peter 5:7 ) It is true, that the problems may not go away immediately but the fact remains that God will never leave you nor forsake you as long as you trust in Him. Be patient. Be Persistent in prayer. Be joyful. But in everything, do not lose your confidence that God will see you through. He is Faithful. He is able to give you a calm assurance that you are not alone. The fact of the cross of Calvary should serve to remind us that ‘Someone’ went through a tremendously frightful and forsaken experience to demonstrate the length of His willingness to carry upon Himself the things that cause us distress. He has promised to be with you.
2. Gods Church cares! Those that worship with you are a part of your spiritual family. They may not understand exactly how you are feeling under the pressures that you are experiencing, but they are there to support you. Find someone you can relate to and sit down with them and bare your heart. You’ll find that most people are willing to be a listening ear and a helping hand. Some may even give you more advice than you want to hear but listen; there are people who care. If we only believed that, we would not feel like we were intruding on the privacy of anyone else. At the same time we need to be available to share in some of the tragedies of life that aren’t necessarily of our own making. There are people that need to know what it means to be a part the Church, the greatest project of the plan of God.
In another 360+ days we’ll come to another time of review and laugh together. Until then, God bless you and have a very Happy New Year!
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
Jesus often used illustrations to impact the truths He was teaching. There were lilies of the field, birds of the air, foxes of the fields, yeast in the kitchen, sunsets, mustard seeds, weeds in the grain, a lost sheep, marauding wolves, rain, rock and sand. Each reference drove home the teaching that Jesus was giving. I think it’s interesting that when Jesus wanted to teach on the dynamics of humility, His example was a little child:
“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the
kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
As far as Jesus was concerned, the humble attitude of the child put him in a category with Moses: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
In the illustration of Jesus, it was the little child who would have a sure heavenly reward. In the story of Moses, God demonstrated that He would judge anyone who stood against His humble servant. God would be the Mediator and the Judge. Meekness is not weakness. “In honour preferring one another..” is a good way to please God because in the ‘giving in’ process God always adds more to us in return. As far as God is concerned, being meek and humble is an attribute that pleases God.
One of the reasons that the Children of Israel were kept wandering in the wilderness was to learn the lessons of humility. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you...” (Deuteronomy 8:2) It took them forty years to learn their lessons. That’s more time than it takes to get a doctoral degree. But then, it could be like the little boy who spent three years in grade three before he was allowed to move on to grade four. He had a hard time learning his lessons so it was back to the old stuff again and again.
Learning how to surrender when you know you’re right has got to be one of the hardest lessons in the world. To let someone else be first when you’ve been waiting so long is tough. Giving in and taking the place of the servant is an important characteristic that has kept a lot of Christians from maturing. We all want to excel but God wants us to learn to be submissive and sensitive to the needs of others.
“If we have been united with Him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.” Romans 6:5
Water Baptism was practiced in Old Testament times as an act of Dedication and Commitment to the Lord. It came to special prominence throughout the ministry of the Prophet, John the Baptist. He was a preacher of righteousness who called the people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. His ministry grew in popularity, not because he did any miracles, nor because of the way he dressed, nor because of his classy diet, but because he called people back to God. The act of Baptism, to Him, was the outward sign of the sincere rejection of sin and a commitment of the heart to serving God in a brand new way. He didn’t mince words when he addressed his wandering congregation. It was always a clear message of condemnation against the things that drew people away from God. He was not content with a show of hands for those who wanted to repent. He instructed about the necessity of letting others know their decision, by a step of faith, into the waters of baptism. The process signified death to the old way of life and rising to serve God in a new beginning that the Lord extends to all people who come to Him.
Jesus was one of his baptismal candidates. John understood that fact that the One who stood before Him to be baptized was far greater than he was and that he was not worthy to serve the Lord this way. Jesus made a statement that down through the ages has reminded us that, “.. it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) In my own translation, Jesus was saying, “Let’s do things right.” Although Jesus had no sin to repent of, His act demonstrated what every person who ever wants to serve the Lord ought to do. So much so, that before He ascended into heaven He instructed His disciples to, “.. go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) Rather than doing away with an Old Testament ceremony, He insisted that it should be continued by all believers who sincerely commit themselves to the Lord. Is there another option?
As far as I can understand in scripture the procedure should always be:
1. Repent of your sins by trusting in Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
2. Follow the Lords example by being Baptized as an outward testimony of your inward experience.
Jesus always called people to take steps of faith as a witness of their trust and confidence in Him. Come, arise, go, do, stretch out your hand etc. were statements that Jesus often made to people who wanted something from Him or had received something from Him. Water Baptism is one of those requirements that Jesus makes of all those who believe in Him. If you have not been baptized in water, it’s time that you gave serious consideration to obeying the Lord’s command.
Signs of the Times
“There will be terrible (exceeding fierce) times in the last days.” 2 Timothy 3:1
I think that every mother and father who took their little boys and girls to school on Wednesday April 21, 1999 was thinking of the holocaust of Littleton, Colorado. The tragedy of the events threw a nation into shock. The thoughtless brutality that launched so much pain into the world is almost unbelievable. Our hearts go out to those who lived through these terrible events and especially to the parents of the young people who lost their lives.
Then, we look across the sea to another continent where warring nations, like uncivilized tribal warfare, shed innocent blood in selfish aggression. It is reported that 100,000 young men have disappeared, taken from their homes and workplaces. Their crime? They could have become soldiers that would fight in the opposing army. Mothers, wives and girlfriends mourn together as they await final notice of their loved ones.
There is despair everywhere. It’s like the devil knows that his time is short and he’s getting one last kick at the can. He is described as ‘a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.’ He is revealed as a wolf out to destroy the flock. There is nothing nice about him. Even the things inspired by him that bring us excitement and pleasure, have very serious consequences. His greatest joy is to rob, kill and destroy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s fun to toy around with anything related to the kingdom of darkness. He’s an eternal terrorist. He’s not hanging around for any other reason than to lash out in violent anger at Gods creation. He may try to disguise himself in ways that hide his intentions, but don’t be deceived there is nothing good about him. He is violence, hatred, lust and murder all wrapped together in his wicked nature.
But remember this, “Greater is He (Jesus) that is in us than he (Satan) that is in the world.” The power of the name of Jesus and the Word of God are still available for every child of God. Perhaps the most dreaded weapon that the devil fears is to see a humble believer on his knees, for God hears the cry of our hearts. Our Lord has stopped the mouths of lions before and has made the enemy giants fall. And He will do it again. He is our protection in times of trouble. He cares and answers prayer.
The Bible reminds us that when you see these things coming to pass that we should lift up our heads because our Redeemer is coming back again. These are signs of the times. That does not relieve us of our responsibility to intercede on the behalf of those who struggle, while at the same time taking a strong stand of commitment to serve God in these days when people are expecting a compromise of standards. It’s time to seek the Lord.
“Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid..."
David was caught. The enemy was all around him and he had no way to escape. It was a sure death situation and no one was there to show him any compassion. His own people had turned on him after years of committed service to the king and his nation. David was in the home town of Goliath and his brothers. Although he thought people wouldn’t recognize him, the message was soon taken to the king of Gath that David was visiting their city. (1 Samuel 21:10) With the sword of Goliath strapped to his waist, he should have realized that it was a give-away. He thought he could get away from his friends by hiding with his enemies. Some chance!
But then, where do you go when no one seems to care or understand and everyone is quick to judge and condemn? Your friends are unfriendly and your enemies hate you. Well, to make a long story short, David played the fool as though he were some insane impersonator of the famed Warrior of Israel. and he got himself out of a life threatening situation When he escaped and found a place to meditate over the happenings of the day, he wrote a psalm. Knowing where he was coming from, I can appreciate his emotions as he penned the words:
“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1)
What a guy! He remembered that the Lord had placed His hand upon him for some very important purposes. From the deepest point of his despair and utter loneliness he lifted his voice in praise to God, who never fails; who is always there; who is mindful of our deepest distresses; who is available as our Helper, strength and protection.
Maybe you’ve never been in a jam that bad or rather, maybe you have. What an awesome peace the Lord can give you when you have only Him to fall back on. He has proven himself through the ages as the God who can resolve the impossible or give us the grace to see our way through the problems. Even when we don’t gain the victory the way we think we should, He moves in to turn things around and make them work out right. “... and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28)
One thing that is very clear in the Bible is the fact that, when we think we are alone, we are not alone. He has promised: “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) There may come times that you’ll need to reach into the depths of your soul to believe this and then praise the Lord. Even though the circumstances don’t change, God is still in control. The truth is, we will understand it better by and by. Meanwhile, trust God.
Like a Little Child
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7
Jesus used many things as object lessons for His sermons. He spoke of yeast and its infiltrating powers; of the tiny mustard seed that grows to be a large tree. A coin became a lesson on values between the kingdom of heaven and Caesar’s on earth. He taught about laying good foundations on solid rock not shifting sand. He used salt, candles, foxes, birds, lilies, and sunsets each to convey a special message to the people He taught. But one day, He took a little child and with the attention of every Mother and Father, brother and sister focused on Him, He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
Do I hear you say that you were ‘once’ a child but you’ve passed that stage of life? After all, we argue, we have become mature adults and we put away all childish things. Maybe that’s the reason for the major problems of our world. We’ve lost a basic trust and confidence in people. We believe that people have ulterior motives in their actions. We have become independent and self-sufficient and somehow we’ve lost the simplicity of trusting our heavenly Father for His supply for our need. We are educated and capable of working through our own problems: just give us time. We are strong enough to defend our rights. We’ve arrived to where we are by the sweat of our brow and our ingenuity and we don’t need anyone else to help us.
Hey, that’s what Jesus wanted us to see. How far we have fallen from a total dependence on Him. We’ve lost sight of the Father and our need of His resources for the burdens and cares of life. Worse, we have arrived to “maturity” and don’t need God. Society is the proof; most people believe they can make it to heaven on their own. But Jesus said that we needed to become like little children. Have you noticed the innocence and the trusting beauty of little children as they work and play, sing and talk? What simplicity!
They teach lessons like:
1. We need to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need the help of
our heavenly Father. He’s waiting for us to call.
2. We can’t get to heaven unless we come to the Father as trusting little
children and commit our ways to Him.
3. There are times when we need to drop our guard and let those around us
have access to what is happening in our lives.
4. But most important of all, we need to exercise simple faith and trust in our
Heavenly Father who loves each of us as His own children.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Good and Faithful Steward
“For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16
Who’s running this world, anyway? I know that there is someone who is called “the god of this world,” 2 Corinthians 4:4 who seems to have a lot of influence over the hearts and lives of people who live on planet earth, however, is he really considered the final authority on Gods creation?
We are reminded, again and again, that he did a terrible trick on Adam and Eve, in the garden of Eden, that appears to have opened the door for him to continue his deception and to undermine our influence in creation. Let me advise you that Jesus Christ came into the world to set things straight. He came to demonstrate that Satan’s power is a lot of bluff and blow. That he speaks with the ‘noise’ of a roaring lion and that he’s dressed as an angel of light are facts that are confirmed by scripture. But he has no authority, whatsoever, over our lives, because of Calvary, except in the areas that we surrender to him. So.... let’s take control.
It’s time that we used the things of this world to glorify our Father in heaven. After all, the Lord has called us to serve Him by being wise stewards over His goods. Any time we have something in our control or influence that we do not convert to bringing glory to the Lord, that stuff remains under the control of the god of this world.
I need to recognize the areas of responsibility that God has committed to me to serve Him as a wise husband, father, neighbour and friend. I need to be godly and wise in my deeds and my example. What I consider as ‘my’ time, ‘my’ things, ‘my’ business, ‘my’ money if it is not under the obedience and submission of His standards, remains a part of ‘the kingdom of this world.’
The truth is, that Satan doesn’t mind how much I prosper or possess, as long as I don’t give any of it to God. That’s what bugs him the most. He does not want any earthly thing to be used for the glory of God. He doesn’t want to hear any credit for blessings given to God. He wants us to think that we have accomplished our goals, have beautiful homes and cars and other possessions simply by our own investments. He wants us to think that it makes God happy to see how well we’ve done without His help. So let me lay out a challenge. I call us to obedience of Gods Word, to search for times of prayer, to give back to Him a tithe of all we receive and to speak the witness of our faith to others who do not know Jesus Christ as we do. Satan is the god of this world only as long as he has subjects that choose to not obey the Lord and the moment you submit to Gods authority you upset the devils plans. Let’s be people who live to please God with all out hearts.
Power In Prayer
“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire….he is God.” 1 Kings 18:24
There’s power in prayer. We don’t see it’s action as in an atomic explosion. We may not even feel its benefit at the moment of prayer. (I enjoy it when I do.) It’s more like a seed that is sown in the ground that immediately changes from inert potential to an active though unseen life force. That’s what prayer was designed to do as our hearts and thoughts are lifted to God. To many, the possibilities of what our prayers can accomplish lie latent in the packages of our hearts because they have not been released, by faith, to God.
Prayer is both a privilege and a responsibility.
The privilege is that we have freedom at any time, any place and under any circumstance to come into the presence of the Most High God to express our needs and worship. As a matter of fact, God wants us to relate to Him as a loving child relates to a loving father. Think of it, the God of all creation and the upholder of all things wants me to talk to Him. What an honour!
The responsibility is that God has called us to ‘work together with Him’ in matters related to His purposes on earth. Our greatest work is the work of faith that brings us to Him with our view of matters and the sense of burden to have His will accomplished. That’s what prayer is all about.
... That’s why we are told that we should pray for our leaders ‘that we might live peaceable lives.’ (1 Timothy 2:2)
... We are called to pray for the Lord of harvest to send forth reapers into the harvest fields. That’s a call to intercede for those without Christ that the Holy Spirit would work on their hearts. (Matthew 9:38)
... We are instructed to pray in spiritual warfare because our enemy ‘like a roaring lion’ is seeking to destroy and devour those that the Lord loves. We are told to put on the whole armour of God and then “to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of requests.” (Ephesians 6:18)
.... We are to pray for our enemies. Now that may be a very hard task because it’s easier to surrender to thoughts of vengeance and reprisal than of blessing upon those who have offended us. Jesus said, “Pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
... We are taught that we should pray for the sick that they might be healed. (James 5:16) That’s me and you called to be a part of Gods miracle working power to remove discomfort and to restore health and strength.
There’s a lot more involved in prayer that we learn about as we pray. Let’s be a people who are known for our prayers.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
He stood up from His kneeling position, placed the wash basin aside, put on His clothes and sat again with the rest of the men. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” They had just been humbled by the actions of their Lord. In silence they reviewed the scene as Jesus bowed in lowly service before each of the disciples and did the task, relegated to slaves, of washing feet. Jesus said, “I have set you an example.”
Some churches continue with a regular foot washing ceremony to this day. It serves as a personal humbling process as well as a reminder that believers are called to be servants. The truth is that most of us often feel we have progressed beyond that stage to higher purposes of service. Humbling oneself is viewed as part of the slave/master relationship of times past and is no longer a part of our world today. It is more common to hear people proclaiming their ‘rights’ than it is to see them surrendering their ‘rights’. We know that there are classes that teach self-awareness, self-assertion and self-esteem but I have never heard of a class on learning how to humble oneself. Perhaps that is the reason there is so much aggression and anger in our world today. Instead of turning the other cheek it has become, ‘you asked for it!’ and then pow, pow.
But Jesus set us an example. Equal with God He made Himself nothing, took the nature of a servant, made like us. He came to serve His Fathers interests and He came to serve the greatest needs of men. Only He and the angels in Heaven could understand what a gigantic step that was. What an example! He gave His all. If He would have stood on His rights as the Son of God, King of kings this would be world without hope of pleasing God. He surrendered His position to come to our world and live His life in the ordinary routines of our lives. He brought no angelic servants to wait on Him. Nor did He wear His Royal crown and robes to impress us.
He said, “I have set you an example.” An example is only an example if it is duplicated, otherwise it is just an ornament or monument. It’s a sample to be imitated. Jesus fully intended that we should do the things that He has done. It may be difficult for our human nature to comprehend but it must become a part of our life of faith. The Word reminds us that “your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” There aren’t a lot of people scrambling to be servants these days, but that is one of the most important personnel positions in the body of Christ today. We’re called to serve. Let’s serve with loving patience. One day you’ll find that the rewards are tremendous!
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10
Argentina is a country that has been touched with great sorrow. It is a nation of people who are very sensitive, industrious and scholarly. They have faced years of economic struggles through poor administration, yet because of their abundant resources and the ingenuity of the people they have surmounted tremendous obstacles. Through the last 70 years, the Evangelical message was shared through missionaries from various parts of the world but was not always welcomed. Early missionaries often had their faith tested by the persecution and opposition of both political and religious leaders of the country. But seed was sown! Labours of love made an investment in the nation through the missionary servants that the Lord sent to that land. Small congregations met together, prayed and believed that God would break through upon them. During the '70s and the early '80s, the Nation was bruised and torn by the 'dirty war' where urban guerrillas robbed banks, kidnapped the wealthy and murdered anyone connected with the government. They were like an invisible enemy who reacted with impunity in the secret places of the night. A military government came to power and began to purge the nation of 'reactionaries'. Many young people disappeared from college and university campuses as the military sought out any who had potential leanings toward an anti-government doctrine. Thousands of young people disappeared during those years and the hearts of mothers and of the nation was broken. A military government sought for a way to regain the confidence of the people and launched into the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands.
Again, hundreds of young Argentine boys were sacrificed for an impossible cause and the Nation was in mourning. It was a kind of mourning that God could not allow to continue. To this wonderful, humble people, God sent a mighty revival. Tens of thousands of broken hearted God seekers began flocking to places where the gospel was being preached. Miracles of healing and deliverance swept across congregations as the Spirit of God did a faithful work of healing. God began to do things that were beyond the expectation and the imagination of the people. From the ashes of sorrow was born a Mighty visitation of the power of God as the sick were healed, relationships were restored and strengthened and repentance swept across the land.
The Key? God was at work in the lives of many in spite of the tragedies of their history. When they learned the value of humbling themselves God appeared and revival swept into their homes, churches and communities. God made Himself known to a people who began to seek the Lord.
Times of Prayer
”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
We make prayer complicated! God has always wanted it to be plain and simple, easier than conversing with your neighbour over the back fence. From the beginnings in the Garden of Eden it was obvious that the Lord had a desire to be with the people that He had made. There is no question that He wanted to demonstrate His eternal love in ways that He had not done before. The angels in heaven must have been amazed at the fact that He would design man in such a way that they could have a mutual appreciation of each other. That God would consider man as being worthy of such great attention ought to make us appreciate, more than ever before, the magnitude of His Grace and Mercy. I’m sure He had a lot of other things He could have done with His timelessness but it was His choice to meet with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. Look into the heavens on a cloudless night and measure the expanse of all the things that He had created and yet He purposed to a regular schedule of meeting in the Garden of Eden. He was always there on time although we know that Adam was not that committed. I believe it’s still in the heart of God, with great desire, to meet with you and me.
We ought to learn the importance of prayer. We need to practice prayer by ourselves, each day, in humble gratitude for His faithfulness and abundant blessings. We ought to be gathering together with others of like faith to focus our attention upon Him. He is worthy to be worshipped and adored beyond anything we have done in the past. We confess that we want His blessings and guidance upon the things that happen in our homes and in places of our occupations. In this country, we have been gifted with ample church facilities, wonderful congregations and a potential in our community that both challenges and excites the heart of faith. But most of all, we want Jesus to be honoured through our lives. That doesn’t just happen by itself! The Lord has promised that those who seek Him will find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts. That means that we need to make the effort or make the time to be in His presence. We become concerned, too often, about the things that we have or do not have but there is a simple promise that Jesus made that we need to take to heart. Listen, we need to, “seek first the kingdom of God then all these things will be added to us.” (Matthew 6:33)
Please don’t take it for granted! Let’s rise to each prayer meeting opportunity to be together to call upon the Lord. He has promised to draw near to us when we draw near to Him. He has promised that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled. Let’s follow the Biblical pattern to humble ourselves, to pray and to seek His face. We can be the generation used to bring revival to our land.
”I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” Philippians 4:11
Learning the art of being content is definitely a walk of faith. Paul wrote, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
There are two parts to that statement.
- Godliness is something that God works in us as we walk by faith and trust Him. That requires the humble cooperation of each of us with the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit. Being godly is the expression of our desire to do things that please God in spite of the direction of the world or our peers. There is a measure of effort implied as we learn to discern between the things that please Him and the things that don’t. Godliness – looking like God.
- Contentment is learning to be satisfied with the plan and purpose of God. That means that we may not always have our way and we may not see our desires fulfilled the way we expect. However, we demonstrate by our submissive attitude that we understand that God is still in control of all the details and, somehow, He lovingly is supplying our true needs with His bountiful provisions of peace and joy. We learn not to lament the fact that we don’t have what others may possess. We do not allow envy to drive us beyond the purposes of God for what we think we deserve. We can be at peace about that.
She was 96 years old. A little hard of hearing but very sharp. As I sat beside her in her room in the Seniors residence she told me about Mary, down the hall, who was always complaining. Mary was 94 years old and obviously was considered her junior. “Yesterday,” she said, “I told Mary, ‘Listen here little girl, you’ll get nowhere in this world by always complaining.’”
I laughed with her as I pictured the scene. The truth is, we all have things that displease us in life. Trials, tests and hardships come to all believers at some time and they are real trials, tests and hardships. God allows them for reasons that are best known to Him. Trusting God for answers and victories in spite of the pain is what contentment is all about. No one likes a constant complainer. We need to look at the bright side of the promises of God as in: “all things work together for good to them who love God,” and “I am with you always,” and “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” Paul set an example. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians. 4:11)
As God works His wonderful blessings in us and sustains us through every trial and test, we ought to express our trust in Him with contentment. After all, He’s still in control, whether we recognize it or not.
“In fact the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22
It was the blood. Everything else that was important in the ceremony and ritual was secondary to the shedding of the blood. The sacrifice met stringent requirements and must necessarily be healthy, whole and natural. When the Jewish Priests brought the lamb to the altar, it must have passed the scrutiny of many eyes in order to qualify and ‘good enough’ wasn’t acceptable. It had to be a perfect lamb in the completeness of what a lamb was expected to be. Impediments, frailties, sickness or scars were sufficient reason to reject a lamb. But when all was said and done it was the blood that was to be the covering for the sins and offences of the people. It was imperative that the regulations be strictly followed.
In the ceremony the important ingredient was the blood that was carried in a small basin, sprinkled before the Priest as he made his way into the place of worship in the tabernacle and finally sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant inside the holy of holies. It was through the blood that the Priest gained access to the throne of God. Only through the blood could the people expect that they would be accepted before God as His specially chosen ones. Only through the blood was there forgiveness of sin and a welcome to a living relationship with God. There is no other provision established that would give them those kinds of privileges.
And finally, it was His blood, shed on Calvary, that became the only sufficient covering for all the sins of the world, for all time. Jesus went through the same kind of examination as the lamb for the requirements of the law. People listened to Him; watched Him critically. They discovered that He was a flawless man, without sin. Even Pilate made that discovery after a few moments of interrogation. “I find no fault in Him,” he said. Pilate’s wife warned him as well, “Don’t have anything to do with this innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal in a dream because of Him.” (Matthew 27:19) But it was Jesus blood that was accepted before God as the sufficient price for the sins of all men. The writer of the book of Hebrews in Chapter 9 reminds us that Jesus, “... entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood.” It pleased the Father that His own Son would provide the perfect covering for the sins of the sinner and give us freedom of access into His presence.
The devil may remind us that we are unworthy of such a price for our Salvation. But we don’t need to be concerned about the scrutiny and condemnation that he may bring against us because we come to the Father, by faith, through the blood of the perfect Lamb of God. That is the guarantee that He will pardon our transgressions and make us welcome as His children into the family of God.
”May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.” Psalm 67:4
The Psalmist David had his share of problems. He was appointed and anointed to serve God in an exceptional fashion but his life was no bed of roses. In spite of the delays and setbacks to the fulfillment of God’s call on his life David was able to keep focused on the fact that his God is Almighty and able to resolve all situations. He maintained that confidence because He believed that God had a bigger plan than he could comprehend in the moment. In Psalm 5, he begins by expressing reality in the fact that things sometimes press hard and heavy upon him just like they do upon us, but he ends that Psalm with a call of victory. “..let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” I’ve discovered that in most of our trials, the first thing to go is joy. Our faith may not be moved; our confidence in God does not change but somehow we lose our joy.
Sometimes good advice is like the proverbial pill; it’s hard to swallow. Let me give it to you anyway.
1. “Don’t let your heart be troubled,” Jesus said.
2. “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice,” wrote the apostle Paul.
Keep your eyes on the fact that God is still on His throne and that He loves you through every situation. That may not take away the pain, discomfort or urgent need right away but it will be the foundation of faith that believes that God is still God and that He cares for His children. We sometimes need to subject ourselves to an attitude check and fill up the level of trust in the Lord that we should keep that way for emergency moments. A secular song was made famous through a simple tune and an equally simple message, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Check your joy level. The Word reminds us, “In your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” There’s not a lot of joy in the world but the Lord is the One Who can give us peace in the midst of the storm and satisfaction when there’s nothing around to encourage us. Jesus said that one of the reasons that He came was to ‘give us life and that to the full.” There’s no question that He is not honoured by droopy mouthed followers. But when people see that we react differently than those who don’t know the Lord it can make an impact on them. We do serve an awesome God who has promised to be with us through all circumstances so lift up your smile and rejoice in the Lord. Let’s keep close to the Lord where we receive the kind of pleasure that lasts and lasts.
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)
Loving The World
”Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) We call it Missions. God calls it, “loving the World” that is, loving the lost.
We are warned that we should not love worldly pleasures nor the worldly system but that we should love people who were made in God’s likeness.
There is no thing that has ever been made that means so much to the Lord as does the soul of every living human being. We sometimes find it difficult to relate to some people as part of the consequences of the choices they have made. We view the results of alcohol, tobacco, immoral living, and the abuses of mankind with each other. There is no question that what we see and hear can cause us much concern and sometimes pain, but God sees them too and He loves the people apart from their actions. That is one of the great differences between God and people. He is able to see what each one could be through a changed heart, lifestyle and in a right relationship with Himself. That is why we need to look by FAITH at people who do not know the Lord as their personal Saviour. There is a potential in each one that is far beyond the visible. The very fact that through the Cross of Calvary we receive the privilege of being called the “sons of God,” that we receive eternal life, and that we are given liberty to come into the very presence of God with “boldness and confidence,” demonstrates what the love of God can do. If it works for me and you, I believe it can work for anyone.
We need to see beyond the exterior of an individual and see what God is able to do on the inside of a persons life when He is given the opportunity to work in their hearts. But it comes down to the basic pattern that God, Himself, established. God “...sent His one and only Son.”
God needs messengers. That’s where you and I enter the picture. Our world needs to know that God still loves the lost; but how shall they hear unless someone tells them. You and I hold in our possession, by experience, the wonderful story that God cares greatly for every one of us no matter our status in life or our geographical location. Now, we need to think with the mind of Christ and share this marvellous experience with others. That’s what Missions and Evangelism are all about. We are all called to be people with a Mission. Don’t be sidetracked by any of the tricks that the devil might put in your pathway to deter you from the project that is closest to the heart of God. He uses fear and busy-ness as tools to keep us from doing Gods will. Let us be people who pray, give and go to obey His command to, “... go into all the world.”
Investing in the Kingdom
“But store up for yourselves, treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in.” Matthew 6:20
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25) Our Society believes the myth “that he who has the most toys when he dies, wins.” That’s the materialistic generation we’re living in. There’s a striving for possessions, for security and the things that will make our lives more comfortable. It seems that our comfort level depends on our accessibility to finances or things that give us immediate pleasure. We are prepared to do almost anything to assure that we will be in control of our destiny by the way we prepare for our earthly future.
Jesus was warning his generation, at a time when his nation was under the authority of a foreign power, that there are more important things in life than things. As far as Jesus is concerned anything that takes away from the development of the soul or the reaching of the lost doesn’t rate with God. When we stand before Him at the judgment throne, He’s not going to be impressed with how much money we have in the bank or the amount of stocks and bonds we were able to invest in prospering businesses. He will ask us all, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus?” As far as God is concerned ‘the sole issue is the issue of the soul.’
That is a progressive process. It begins within ourselves in building a relationship with the Lord in committed obedience and prayer. Then it reaches to others to help them into the same experience that we have. Those are the things that are more valuable than the whole world. Jesus told the story of a wealthy farmer who planned a period of time in his life where he would set aside his spiritual development and be committed to his farm and the profit that he could gain. The story concludes with a simple principle; it is far better to commit ourselves to loving and serving God than spending our energies for things that will not last.
Someone said to a very busy man, “You must take time to smell the roses.” Imagine, after working your heart out to grow a rose plant and you never had time to enjoy the fragrance of your efforts.
Laying up treasure in heaven, (doing Gods will) provides an opportunity to enjoy the dividends of your labours for eternity. Somehow, we need to get our priorities in line with the purposes of God. Don’t let anything bend you to compromise your commitment to serving and honouring the Lord. You’re giving away a chunk of yourself if you do. We need to be keenly aware that God gives us many opportunities, during these days, to invest in His heavenly kingdom. It’s time to work for the Lord, wherever we are.
Imitators of Jesus
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
It was a natural result of their Faith lived in everyday situations and especially in the way they served the Lord that, “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) It was not the decision of some important committee or conference that made the choice for the name. It was the consequence of their conversation and their actions. When people heard them speak and the compassion they had for the real needs of mankind, it made them think of Jesus Christ. It was as though they were seeing an absolute proof of the resurrection of the Lord because He was alive before their eyes. By their own observation, Jesus was living through each of the believers. It was as though Jesus had been cloned, many times over, and they were seeing a community who acted and reacted just like their Master. It was natural that they should be identified by calling them, the Christ like ones. (That’s what being a Christian is all about.) It’s a chosen lifestyle.
I wonder what the world sees in us. I’ve heard testimony of some in our congregation who are respected for their Christian witness because they are believers who are lovingly, living their example of faith in their place of employment. We may be far from perfect but our goal is to be like Jesus as much and as often as we possibly can. We are careful to be loving and patient, generous and diligent so that our example will be a clear witness of what a Christian ought to be.
For our own personal assessment, does the world even know that we are different? You have heard the saying, “How does a lion eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It may not be by dramatic things that the world sees Jesus in us but through the small details of each day. How can we change the world, to bring about a transformation in the attitude of the hearts and minds of men who are far from Him? One person at a time. Small as it may seem that’s all that Jesus asks of us. Each soul needs a witness. God has placed us in certain areas of our world and delegated a great responsibility to be like Him in that area.
When we touch the lives of others in the normal routine of our activities, lets be aware that we can leave behind a sense of the presence of Jesus. We don’t need to obnoxious by pushing a brash witness upon others but rather through the gentle, kind and courteous things we say and do, we can make a deposit of the Kingdom of God in their lives.
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
It has been said that when a Potter takes his vessel out of the fiery kiln that he performs a simple test to see if it has been burned enough. He thumps the side of the vase. If it is done, it gives a firm ring that he recognizes. If it is not done and needs to be returned to the fire, it gives a sound like a dull clunk.
Have you been thumped lately? It is part of the testing process that the Master Potter uses to see if you are well on your way to being the finished product. It is interesting how different people respond to the different tests of life. Try this test on yourself. How did you respond the last time you were thumped by a tough situation? What was your reaction? Most often we retaliate against people or we become groaners, looking for the sympathies of others who, we are sure, have never had a problem as severe as this one. While it may be true, the fact of the matter is that it is important to pass the test first, by our attitude, or it will be back into the fire until we become the kind of people we ought to be. This may not be the kind of message that will make us jump up and down with great excitement but it is a fact that once the lesson is learned, it is easy to pass the test. Let me tell you a few things that we all need to learn before we get into the fire:
1. We need to learn how to endure. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3) It is important that we be prepared to put up with some things that we may not particularly enjoy. We all have to learn early in our childhood that not everything we like is good for us nor is everything that is good for us what we like.
2. We need to learn to stand fast. “Be on your guard; stand firm in your faith.” (1 Corinthians 16:13) Don’t run from your family, your Church, your marriage, your job, just because things don’t happen the way you want. We need more ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ in all aspects of our generation. The accepted process of our times is... just get out.
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) Situations and circumstances will or may not change, but Jesus is still Lord of all and is able to change the whole scene if He wants to. If he doesn’t, I know that He will sustain me.
Let me advise you, if you’re getting thumped, it really means there is some checking up going on. I want to see you passing the test with flying colours.
Setting Kids Free
“… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
When the Father embraced his son, after the prodigal journey, it was obvious that in spite of the selfish wanderings of a thrill seeking young man, the Father still loved his son. The boy remains nameless although I’ve heard speak of him in times of prayer when parents, reaching out to God on the behalf of their loved ones, have mentioned a name.
It is always interesting that love is willing to hold on and persistently wait. Listen to what the Bible says: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ( at the proper time or in the right moment ) (Galatians 6:9) It is important to keep our eyes fixed firmly upon the gracious, kindness of a loving God who will never fail. Our families are one of the most valuable treasures that we may ever hold. They are important to us and absolutely important to God.
Even though it is difficult, there does come a time when we need to let go of our kids, physically, and allow them to make their own choices. However, we never let them go spiritually! We must maintain a guard for their spiritual welfare all the days of our lives. It would be easy to let them go completely with the thought that they have to grow up and make their own choices but I am confident that true love will hold them always close to the throne of God. It is difficult to measure the value of our contribution into the lives of our Children. We would probably be the first to question whether we have done a good enough job or not. We want to see the evidences of their understanding and trusting in their commitment to serve and honour a loving, heavenly Father.
Though some may not express the growth in their spiritual lives that we, as parents, would like to see, we ought to remember, “After I’ve done my best, I let God do the rest.” But don’t let go, completely. Your love, through prayer, can span any distance to wherever your loved one may be. God may allow some to walk a distant highway to learn some awful experiences before He brings them back to your waiting love. His watchful eye will not let them get too far before He will send a person, a circumstance, a memory that will be the instrument to bring him back home.
Patience and prayer seem to go hand in hand in many Bible situations. The praying part is difficult but it is the easiest; the waiting is most difficult. But God is God and has promised to hear in heaven and answer prayer. Don’t give up when things seem to be impossible because that’s where God shines best. I think it’s fair to say, someone waited for you at one time in your life. Let’s learn to pray and trust God to work out the means to bring the answer. But don’t stop praying. God is still on the throne.
The One and Only Way
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is not other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
We may be called ‘narrow- minded’ and insensitive to the beliefs of others but we stand on what Jesus said. “I am THE way, THE truth and THE life.” I can’t offer any other solution for those who are on their quest for eternal life. Jesus is the answer. He is the only answer. There is “no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) That’s a specific absolute. It is not a matter to debate. We don’t need to apologize for believing what the Word of God teaches. The Bible makes it clear that works will not get us there, nor will any other gods or prophets. We acknowledge that there are a lot of good people who serve other gods who think that they’re doing what’s right. I believe that there are others who are sincere in their efforts to worship in ways that are different from my ways and who guard themselves on moral issues but Jesus is still the only door that will open to heaven. I know that it sometimes is difficult to explain to others who think they have the truth in religions that do not acknowledge that Jesus is the Saviour of the whole world, but the truth is still the truth.
I hope that Christians will not think themselves superior because we hold that principle. We are a very privileged people who have experienced the Grace of God apart from personal efforts; but the gospel message is for everyone in the whole world and they need to be told. How do we get that message out to them? We are an exclusive group of people because we hold to the principle that there is only one way to get to heaven but we also believe that everyone can come. That’s not exclusive. That’s as wide open as the heavens. The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Jesus answer to the reality of hell and the judgment of sin is to offer heaven as a free gift to all who would believe.
The whole purpose of His coming was to make a way for us to come to the Father and to live in His presence for all of eternity. It doesn’t happen automatically. We each must make a decision. What would you choose? As sure as hell is the destiny of everyone who dies without Jesus Christ so heaven is the sure destiny of all those who believe that Jesus Christ is the ONLY answer to our eternal future.
I think we need to deal with two major problems that people must resolve in order to make the right decision:
1. There are those who think they are too good to go to hell and that God already knows that so He will receive them just as they are.
2. There are those who think they are too bad for heaven and that God would never accept them just as they are.
Both reasoning’s are wrong. No one is good enough to go to heaven apart from faith in Jesus Christ and no one is too bad that the Lord won’t forgive them if they will only call on His name. The world needs to know that.
The Value of One
“You also go and work in my vineyard.” Matthew 20:7
He stood on the highest arm of the Hydro tower at the farthest point of the cross bar. One full step more would be fatal. The crowd gathered below in anticipation of the impending tragedy. Emotions stirred in the crowd as some wept and prayed while others shouted, “Jump.” This was real life! The police negotiators began their gentle persuasive conversations as Hydro crews rushed to shut down the power lines, locate a crane that would reach the top and standby for whatever reason. Ambulance crews were at the ready. A mans life was at risk. No expense was spared to halt the tragedy and rescue the life of one man. The value of one human life was demonstrated. He was a stranger to everyone but for nearly 5 hours he stood as the focus of attention in our community. Something must be done to halt this terrible waste of a human life. That’s Missions! The example is of a secular society involved at great sacrifice and expense, in the plan to rescue a hurting man.
Millions each day walk the road to tragedy, oblivious of the concern and compassion that the Church should have for lost souls. Let’s learn the lesson and stand in the gap with prayerful interest. Souls without Christ are lost! Scripture reminds us that, from the side of eternity, there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some may even be our own loved ones. I guess the real tragedy of this is that we don’t take it seriously. The truth of the matter is, if we don’t show some heartfelt concern, who will care? Jesus said, “Go! He said, “The harvest is great... pray the Lord of harvest that he will send labourers into the harvest fields.” His word says, “How can they hear without someone preaching to them.”
The Heart of God
Missions expresses the heart of God. The lost must be found while the opportunity avails. The broken and bruised must be healed. The rebellious prodigals need to hear that there is forgiveness for everyone who returns to the Father. The Father knows the terrible consequences that will come upon mankind for their bad choices and He, too, grieves for the lost. Those who have never had an opportunity to hear the message of Gods love need to be told that they are loved. Every man, woman and child should be given the choice of accepting or rejecting the most wonderful story ever told. That’s the project of Missions and the call for service to carry the message goes out to everyone who calls on the name of Jesus. Someone has said, “If you aren’t involved in Missions, you are a Mission field.” Your faithful giving and committed praying and if necessary your willingness to go are ways that God has designed for each of us to be involved in the matter that is the closest to His heart. It’s a love story and His focus is upon every person from the deepest jungle forests of Africa to the highest Himalayas. That’s the heart of God and it’s Missions.
Following For Fun
“Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’” John 21:22
Walking with Jesus wasn’t always fun. There were those special occasions when He reached out to the sick and infirm and brought complete health into their bodies. They could laugh as they remembered the looks on the faces of those who didn’t know what to expect when this stranger touched them. And there were those moments when the sound of His voice stilled the restless crowds as He taught the principles of the Kingdom of God. Then there were the many quiet walks through the countryside as they traveled from village to village on the meandering paths following the Master to His next destination. No question, these were moments to treasure.
Then there were the other times, that you could almost cut the atmosphere with a knife. Many of the old teachers of the law came to hear His message with a critical ear. They had their minds made up and were not prepared to exchange the traditions of the fathers for any message from God or man. But it wasn’t just a matter of argument; it was a matter of life and death. Anyone who disagreed with the religious leaders in those days was taking his life in his hands. I mean, this was serious stuff. Remember His first sermon in His home town. Somehow, He was able to escape through the angry mass and make His get-a-way. It was probably after that experience that He moved to Capernaum in the province of Galilee. But that kind of situation was not uncommon.
His words were often challenged by men who had murder in their hearts and early in His ministry He became a marked man because His teachings were upsetting the status quo. On one occasion, He told His disciples that He wanted to go to Jerusalem. Their quick response was, “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there.” (John 11:8) There was serious stress and tension among the disciples. They didn’t feel the liberty of going wherever they wanted. They soon discovered that a price had been placed on Jesus’ head and anyone connected to Him would be condemned as well. You can imagine the pressure that they all felt when they recognized the Jewish leaders were also in the congregation. I’d probably find a seat close to the door, wouldn’t you? On one occasion, Jesus told His disciples, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” (Matthew 10:23) Does that sound like fun to you?
As much as some may think that living with Jesus was a glamorous and exciting thing, there were the many times that they had serious concerns about the length of their lives. But things haven’t changed a lot. There will always be wonderful times as we serve the Lord and fellowship with others who believe in Him but we also face an enemy that isn’t happy with our message. He uses subtle methods to enter our thoughts and bring depression upon us but Jesus provided a way that we could defeat Him. In spite of the ‘down’ times, lift up your heart in gratitude and worship the One who has overcome the wicked one. Be strong in the Lord! Be not afraid!
The Call To Worship
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”
1 Chronicles 16:8
The message that Moses had to convey to Pharaoh was plain and simple. “Let my people go, so that they may worship.” The children of Israel had lived 400 years under the leadership of the Pharaohs. Many of those years they lived as slaves to the Egyptian people. It didn’t begin that way. They were once regarded as a people of great spiritual influence under the direction and wisdom of Joseph. But something happened during those 400 years that took away the godly inspiration of the sons of Jacob and left them as slaves in a foreign land. How they lost their freedom is not told us. We do know that the godly authority of Joseph was soon forgotten and that a new generation came to rule on Egypt’s throne that was unaware of the deliverance that God had brought to Egypt through Joseph. What God did through the sons of Jacob and especially through Joseph was not remembered. Egyptian children were not told the fascinating story. Mothers and Fathers didn’t think it was an important part of history that was worth repeating. The sons of Jacob stopped telling their friends and neighbours that God had delivered this nation through a miraculous experience.
It appears that the lesson we need to learn is that when we neglect or forget to give credit to the Lord for His wonderful works, people will soon forget what God has done. Even the specially chosen lost their freedom because they were not faithfully giving honour to the Lord. The message of Moses was Gods call to return to worship. “Let my people go, that they may worship!” True freedom is all about worship. It’s all about giving honour to the Lord and proclaiming His goodness and greatness faithfully. It is more than a weekly service at an altar. It’s a call to come out of the things that hold us back from serving God. He becomes the centre of the plans and purposes of men.
We should want to learn how to live each day of our lives in such a way that the Lord feels that we are honouring Him and that people around us will know that we serve a wonderful God. Perhaps now, as never in the history of mankind, it is so important to get our focus on the Lord and away from the things that would hold us down so that we do not feel free to worship. All kinds of pressures and stresses are cast along our pathway but let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s worship Him with all our hearts. Let me remind you that not everything that we need to leave behind is painful. There are some of the comforts of life too, that aren’t bad, but they occupy our time and thoughts so that there is no room for the Lord to speak to us. Let’s be free of the petty and the pleasurable things and come back to worshiping the Lord. He is worthy to be praised. We need to be the judge in our own lives. God is calling, once again: “Let my people go, that they may worship.”
God Still Loves Sinners
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
The sign was clear, to be read by national and international television viewers: “God hates fags.” I took exception to that because that is not true; God doesn’t hate fags. Never, ever does the Bible speak that way about the homosexuals. I confess, that I have trouble with their lifestyle and some of the gross things that they propagate. And I am aware that it appears that one of the principle reasons for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra was because of the persistence of the people of those cities to permit homosexuality within their borders.
But I am still persuaded that God doesn’t hate fags. Yes, what they do is an offence against God like every other sin that we could list. God does hate sin, but He loves people in spite of their sin. For that reason the Gospel message of His love and forgiveness reaches out to all who have done anything to displease Him. That may be a concept that is hard for us to comprehend but that is what His Grace and Mercy are all about. He gives us all an invitation and opportunity to turn from our wicked ways and to do the things that please Him. But He doesn’t come to us in hate; never, ever. It is obvious that He cares very much about all of us. Again and again, He extends an summons for us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us; to seek His face and He would be found; to call upon Him and He would hear.
It is very unfortunate, that we cannot grasp the depth of Gods marvellous love. We are very quick to expect Gods judgment to fall on everyone who does things that offend God. I, for one, am very grateful that God is patient and merciful to all who have failed Him or else there would be no one in heaven. Let me show you something.
Manasseh of 2 Chronicles 33 is noted as being the most vile, wicked, perverse, brutal king of Judah. The things that he did in his lifetime are listed as a living indictment against him. His crimes knew no boundary. But, he repented, (33:12, 13) and God forgave him and restored him to his throne as King in Judah, because he humbled himself.
To get back to the beginning, I believe there is hope for every sinner. Our Lord is a God of love and is able to save, “completely those who come to God through him, (Jesus) because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Although God loves us, just as we are, He is not prepared to leave us, just as we are. He has higher purposes for us than to remain in things that will destroy us or cause us distress. His plan is to change us and to deal with the issues that displease Him. The Bible does list a number of sins that we need to avoid because they have consequences. But God always speaks to us in LOVE.
Getting Things Into Focus
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10
When the news of the death of John the Baptist was brought to Jesus, the story tells us that He, “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13) We all need those quiet times in peaceful places occasionally in our lives. I’m sure that the sorrow for the loss of a very powerful voice, for the kingdom of God on earth, was heavy upon His heart. The fact that another terrible injustice had touched the life of a wonderful servant of God, whose sole desire was to be no more than a steady, consistent voice in our world, made that loss so much greater.
Hey listen, bad things sometimes happen to good people. I guess you’ve discovered that already. How we handle our hurts and disappointments demonstrates the measure of trust and confidence we have in God. In some cases, it would be so much easier to take things into our own hands and do something about it as we judge the situation. That is one way to work towards a solution. Another way is the process that Jesus used: He just stepped back for a season of solitude and then came right back to do what He was sent to do. Things may never change around us, to our satisfaction, but we need to get it clear in our hearts and minds that God wants to use our lives in spite of everything else, and get then get back to doing what we know He wants us to do.
The passage we quoted above goes on to say that Jesus saw a great multitude, “and was moved with compassion.” To Him, it was time to get back to work. There were people out there who were looking for someone to care for them. It wasn’t time to bemoan that He, too, was hurting; that He, too, could not reconcile the injustices around Him with the will of God. His focus turned out from Himself to the needs of others.
I think that He established a pattern for the Church. The fact that there will always be problems in the Church is based on the fact that the Church is made up of people. (human and ordinary) But it’s when we look out at the needs of those around us and get involved in reaching out to those that need the Lord that the problems inside the Church fade into insignificance. If we resist the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be a caring people, we’ll become introverted and possessed by the problems around us.
That’s what kept Jesus ministry so alive and vibrant; He didn’t let persecution and problems hinder the direction of His life. He was prepared to do the Fathers will and do what He had to do whether He was acclaimed as a wonderful teacher or otherwise. The souls of the multitude are too precious to be sidetracked by feelings and emotions. The lost must be found. The bruised must be bound up. Those in bondage must be set free. That’s our world too.
A Real Treasure
“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.” Colossians 2:9
Family treasures are very precious. They are things that hold special memories or extraordinary values such as hard won medals, jewellery, crystal, gold or silver. Generally they hang on walls, sit on a shelves behind glass doors or hidden from view in a storage trunk or secret safe; but they are not to be used lest they be damaged, lost or stolen.
Generations ago, the Father shared the greatest treasure of heaven to our world. He did not come to put on public display but to become a part of our everyday living. The wealth of heaven was wrapped up in Jesus, Gods gift. In comparison, there is not enough earthly treasure to measure up to the price of Gods one and only Son. There is infinite value in Who He is and what He does. The marvellous mystery of Gods grace is in the fact that Jesus was given to be received by all men, regardless of their status in life and regardless of their willingness to receive. This gift was not meant to be hidden in some cloistered hall nor in the shadowy niche of private devotion. He has been shared with us to be publicly displayed through our daily lives and in the streets of our cities. He will never lose His value; He can’t wear out; He cannot be stolen nor damaged any longer. He is enduring and as beautiful as the day He first came to dwell among us. His friendship and love continue to inspire our devotion and to strengthen our faith as we journey toward His home. His Presence changes the sorrows of life into moments of hope and peace in anticipation of what will yet be a part of our lives.
It was His precious blood that ransomed us from the slavery of sin. It was His precious blood that pardoned us from the condemnation and guilt that gave the enemy the power to have dominion over us. It is His precious blood that gives us access to the Fathers presence where our communion is not blemished by our weaknesses or failures of the past.. It was His blood that brought us into the adopted membership of the family of God with all the saints throughout the ages who have come to Him by faith and who together will inherit the rich promises of the Father.
It was the stripes on His back, dispensed in an unjust judgment hall, that still provides healing for our mortal bodies for all the sicknesses and diseases of all time. And it was the teasing and the torment by His captors that became the means of our sanity and peace in heart. (Isaiah 53:5)
These are the kind of treasures that we can pass on to this generation. They’re the kind of things that don’t wear out and can be shared, freely, with everyone. His words were, “I came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give my life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
“Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.” Genesis 18:4
Waiting is always difficult. That is, the kind of waiting where you don’t know what is going to happen next. It is difficult to shift the mind into neutral and idle for a while. It is especially most difficult in our “instant” generation where waiting must be for only brief moments. Our world is geared for speed and hurry. We want all our activities to happen with “Rush” signs on them. Everyday, you can have a full meal prepared for you in less than five minutes, or your cars oil changed and a lube job in less than seven minutes. We have instant coffee, cereal, pizzas, pastries, you name it and it either comes in a ‘microwavable’ package or appears by means of a drive-through window. Our methods and speeds of transportation have converted the continents into a ‘small, small world.’ Time, to accomplish our routine tasks, has almost become insignificant compared to a couple of generations past. Waiting has become a waste of time.
I want to call us back to a very important principle, tremendously important to the growing and maturing of our faith. We need to retrain ourselves to be more patient in spiritual matters. I know it goes against the grain of our worldly system, but we need to pause and reflect on the goodness of God and His many promises. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Hush yourself and wait on Him.
The Psalmist adds, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) Isn’t that a hard thing to do? I mean, waiting is against our nature. We have so many other things that capture our attention. Catch yourself and believe it when the Bible tells us that it is for our good. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, ...” (Psalm 37:7) The truth is, that as fast, efficient and innovative as our society may be, it is running low on spiritual energy. The depressed and discouraged are looking for people that have a strong faith. Let me advise you that we need to make time for a walk in the park or to do nothing. I mean, it is important for our mental and spiritual health to eliminate a lot of the pressures around us; to spend time in prayerful meditation and thoughtful quiet conversation with the Lord. I wouldn’t want you to think that all your problems will go away if you develop this kind of routine but I can assure you that you’ll be better equipped to face the difficult situations after waiting on the Lord.
The Wonderful Gift of the Holy Spirit came on a Pentecost Sunday, after a waiting process. We need to be refreshed again but we must take the initiative and pause to wait on the Lord.
“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35
Jesus said He would come back again. The News Hour of television reported that a group in Quebec had announced the date, some time ago, they had determined for His return to earth. So, if you are one of them and you’re here to read this article today, something went wrong.
But listen carefully, the Bible says that we will not know the day nor the hour of His arrival to this world. The errors of mans guesses only proves that point. The fact remains that the Lord has given us enough warning for us to be prepared for that very important date. Most of us receive that news with mixed feelings. I am delighted at the prospect that our Saviour has promised to come and receive us to Himself and that we will spend the rest of timeless eternity in His presence and in His heavenly Kingdom. The other part of my mixed feelings is to recognized that there are still soooooo many who have not received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and haven’t a hope, under heaven, of being a part of that exciting voyage. They aren’t going anywhere when He comes back for us. The sad thing about this is that some of those people are very important to us. I can imagine that some wives will be separated from their husbands; some parents from their children; some of our good friends will not make the trip. It is going to be a very sad day for each of them.
My recommendation is that we should do one of two things every day.
Firstly, we can seek every opportunity to talk to them about the Lord and His love for each of us, because the hour is late and He is coming soon. Let it be known that the invitation to be a part of that exciting moment has always been open to any that will put their trust in Jesus Christ. Then, let’s follow that up with concerted prayer. The Holy Spirit can do a work in the lives of those we love.
Or, secondly, we could say good-bye.
You see, there is a real finality to all our earthly relationships when it comes to the day of separation. We need to have a restoration of the seriousness of that moment. The devil would have us think that the Lords delaying of His coming is proof that He isn’t coming. Don’t forget that the prophecies from Old time concerning His coming to Bethlehem, were fulfilled in every detail, yet missed by so many. I wouldn’t be surprised that some of us sit in our comfort zones today with great plans for some other day, soon, to do what God wants us to do. We may not have ‘til midnight before the Trumpet call of God and the voice of the Archangel’ summons us into His presence. (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
So, it’s either now or good-bye.
Signs in The Heavens
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” Matthew 24:42
Can you ever remember a time such as this when the weather was the main news of the evening. We see pictures of the awesome floods in China that leave families and communities in devastation. We all watched the new broadcasts as the ‘Tsunami’ wave hit the coastal villages of Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. We follow the winding pathway of Hurricane Bonnie as she approaches the American East coast to vent her power upon a fleeing and hiding population. We’ve heard of El Nino and its universal effects on the weather patterns and understand that La Nina, to follow, may cast opposite results upon the world. We hear of the Heat Wave that has swept across the Equatorial countries with temperatures that have broken records. India and Indonesia face famines as their crops sizzle in the searing sun.
The Prophet Joel spoke about these kinds of things to happen in the last days, almost 2500 years ago and the Apostle Peter repeated his prophecy on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:19 “I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below.”
Let me remind you of two things from this passage.
1. WONDERS does not mean wonderful in the sense of excitement. It’s one of those words that has changed through the years and literally means ‘strange, different to the point of frightening.’ That’s what happens when God bares his mighty arm. We need to tremble at the recognition of His power. Some call it Mother Nature but I call it Father God. These things don’t just happen by themselves. It was Elihu in the book of Job who paints this Awesome picture of God to his friend Job. “Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge? You who swelter in your clothes when the land lies hushed under the south wind...... The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power...”
2. The things that are happening in our world today are no surprise to God. But they are SIGNS to us. They speak about the direction of the plan of God and His interest to let us know that He is actively involved in our world, although we do not honour Him as we should. The Signs tell us that He is coming soon; that there is a judgement day coming and that life, as we see it today, will not continue. Signs are important and speak valuable messages to us. Let’s read them carefully.
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.