"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
Come On In!
“At that moment the curtain in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Matthew 27:51
It’s an open door, the one that leads to Jesus Christ and Gods forgiveness. The invitation has been extended to every generation since Calvary for all the wayward, hurting, burdened souls who know they need a Saviour. Jesus said, “I am the door.” He also said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) The Love of God reaches out to the needy of our neighbourhood and of the world. It has always been a part of His plan to save the lost, to restore new life and to give new hope to anyone who will come to Him through the Open Door. The message is out. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. His sins will be forgiven. We need to pass that message along. Too many people think of God as being far away from us and very angry. I think there’s something seriously wrong when we call earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanoes ‘an act of God.’ I know that we have no control over those things but we get the wrong picture of God if we believe that God only acts out of anger.
I’ve been the recipient of His love. I’ve known the touch of His forgiving hand and the blessing of trusting in Him. I’ve found Him a faithful friend in times of sorrow and despair. He’s been there with me in the valleys of deep sadness and mourning. I’ve seen lives changed from hopelessness and despondency to confident, joyful trust in His power. He’s been with me on the mountain peaks of great blessings many times in my life. He is a God Who lovingly answers prayer and gives more than expected. To me, that’s only some of the reasons why coming to Jesus is such a wonderful blessing.
The Open Door is set for everyone as an opportunity to make a choice for a change of lifestyle and better future. The choice should be simple; shall I choose to walk through it and accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour? Or should I walk by and hope another opportunity will be presented to me? The truth is, there are no other options. To not choose Jesus is to be the loser of the greatest benefit of eternity. To postpone the invitation to come to Him is to neglect the summons of the Love of God extended to us. You see, ‘God is patient not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9) That is to say, it is not Gods will that anyone miss the Door. However, He will not force anyone to make that choice and to do what He wants them to do. Our free-will was given to us to exercise that choice to serve God and to do His will as our own decision because that’s what we want to do. Make your choice and make it now! “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:11)
“I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8)
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16
He was supposed to, but he didn’t check his brakes before he took his loaded truck down the hill. It resulted in damage to many vehicles and the death of a young man as the momentum of his vehicle carried him into disaster. Some say it was a serious mistake of judgment that caused a series of tragic events. Some say that the mistake was simple neglect that could have been avoided had he taken a few moments to examine his brakes. He had driven his truck for many years, over many kilometres and had never had a problem before. The lesson is: be on guard. You never know when the unplanned will break into your life. Success may be our regular routine but it’s the surprises that can throw a wrench into our experiences. That’s true in the spiritual sense, as well. The writer of Proverbs reminds us: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) There may be some things that we can let slide and catch up to later on but the condition of the heart needs constant maintenance. That’s why we are admonished by the words “Above all else.” We need to establish some priorities and caring for the heart has got to be near the top of the list. Some terrible tragedies can occur if we neglect our responsibility in the welfare of our hearts.
That is not necessarily the medical aspect but definitely concerns the spiritual. Where we are in our relationship with God will be reflected in how we face the situations of life. Reading His Word, waiting in His presence in prayer, fellow shipping with other believers and being obedient to do His will are exercises that benefit a healthy heart. We need to guard those moments and plan definite periods of each day or they will be robbed from us by the time stealers. The reason the care of the heart is so important is that it is the channel for all the rest of ‘who we really are.’ Our attitudes, our reactions, our quiet times, our focus and our dreams all have the heart as their source.
For the Believer, we must be especially careful because the enemy of our souls will take advantage of our ‘neglect’ and sow seeds of disruption so that painful disasters may occur that could affect us seriously or do damage to relationships with others around us. The key to being ready at all times is to form good habits to establish a spiritual routine that will prepare us for the ‘surprises’ of life.
The early “Methodists” were called that because they established personal goals that reflected a real method in their service to God. Their routines may have bordered on strict obedience to rules and regulations but they saw this as their personal goal to keep themselves growing in spiritual matters. That’s being on guard and it’s a worthy example to follow.
“I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest..” Psalms 55:6
They call the hot days ‘the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.’ For many, it’s holiday time and a great time to unwind and get away from it all. We’ve all heard of the person who is called a workaholic. They have trouble leaving their work at the office and sometimes they will be found sacrificing family time to stay at the office. Perhaps their feeling is: “This place would fall apart without me.” The truth is, that is very unlikely. On one occasion Jesus said to His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31,32 ) Jesus knew that they needed to get away from it all. The solitary place is not a lonely location. It’s a place where the stresses of life and normal duties and responsibilities are left behind. Jesus knew that His disciples needed that kind of arrangement for a while. If there is anyone who knows the importance of holidays, it ought to be the One who designed us in the beginning and it was His idea. There are a number of benefits that result from ‘taking time off.’
Let me suggest a few.
- The rest will do you good. Everyone needs to be relieved of the common pressures we all face and that takes time. Don’t think that a week-end away is going to be enough time to unwind. If you are anything like me it takes two or three days before you can relax. A holiday is designed to refresh you and to renew your energies and strength. Setting aside your routine cares for a change of pace will serve you well. It’s like ‘charging up your batteries’ for future needs.
The rest will do everyone else good. You will find that when you have time to relax and take it easy that you are a better person to be with. Relationships are strengthened and attitude changes toward difficult situations will give you an opportunity to view things from a different perspective. People will notice that difference and be affected by YOUR rest.
The rest will do your family good. Some of the best memories of childhood will be the remembering of the times together as a family. Those are the times when you do things together. You laugh together. You become a full-time twenty-four hour a day parent for a number of days, away from the pressures of schedules and work-related responsibilities. Just spending the time together sharing a relaxed stretch of your busy life will add blessing to the whole family.
Let me add one more thing. Don’t forget to take God on your vacation! Share a devotional time together. Find a Church to take in a morning service. Sing-a-long as you travel the highways. God will add His blessings to your life as you do. Happy holidays to all that are going to be away during the summer dazes.
Rights And Responsibilities
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
We take a lot of things for granted. At the same time we know what our freedoms and rights are but we are not so clear on our duties and responsibilities. Truthfully, one of our self appointed freedoms is, “we don’t have to do anything if we don’t want to and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
This is not intended to be an exposition of my knowledge of civil law but I think I can speak from experience to tell you that people who live claiming their rights and are not willing to do what their duty require will soon lose their freedoms.
History dictates the stories of individuals and nations that tried to live above the law of the conscience and have paid severe consequences. Once in awhile we need to take account of our own actions and measure them in the light of the Word of God. That is the standard that was established to keep us in a proper balance of which freedoms we have inherited and what we must do to maintain them in order to pass them on to the next generation. When the Bible reminds us that it is not sufficient to be hearers of the Word but doers we need to accept that as more than good advice. It is a rule. We often stop at the blessing of hearing messages, sermons, words of counsel but neglect to follow through with the practical aspects of what we have heard.
It happened in Jesus day and the hearts and attitudes of people haven’t changed very much since then. He had multitudes that followed Him to hear Him speak but when He came to a message of being a cross bearer in order to follow Him, it wasn’t long before His congregation disappeared. Doing the uncomfortable or, for that matter, anything that requires a little bit of effort somehow loses the “call of the Spirit” in our human nature. Let me tell you that there is a definite reward to those who obey His direction. Not everything that the Christian is called to do is done on our knees nor ‘in the Spirit.’ Some things need to be accomplished by a combination of faith and determination.
It becomes a process of learning the principles of His Word and becoming obedient servants to do what He wants us to do. Let me tell you again, we know that heaven awaits those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; we know that we are ‘now’ the sons of God and that eternity awaits us but what should be the duties that we fulfill in order to pass those blessings on to others? I’ve heard it said that once you accept the Lord it doesn’t matter what you do because you have a sure reward and home in heaven. It sounds like, ‘come to the Lord, live like the devil and you’ll go to heaven.’ I don’t think so! ! ! His rewards are for faithfulness not sloth or neglect and that means that I exercise my faith to honour Him by doing things that demonstrate my gratitude for the liberties that He has given to me.
God Is In Control
“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:8
For all those who know that Jesus is in absolute control, there is peace in the midst of the storm. I think I’m like you, though. I look at everything that is around me and I struggle with the doubt, occasionally, that things have really gotten out of control. I wonder, sometimes, is it possible that in the silence of the Captain that He may not be aware that things are as rough as they are? Well, if He wasn’t in the boat with me, as He promised, that could be true; but His Word has assures me that He is with me at all times. I think every one of us has a little bit of the ‘back seat driver’ syndrome. We want to tell the Lord how fast to take the curves and to watch out for the crazy drivers. We want to tell Him to slow down and watch out for those bumps in the road. We want to tell Him to move faster ‘cause we’re in a hurry. And the list goes on. He probably likes our input in these matters of life as much as you like someone else in your vehicle telling you how to drive your car. Do you know what I mean?
I know He has a lot more patience with us than we have with others who always seem to have a better idea or a better way. Hey, God is in control! I said, “God is in control!” He’s an expert at all the traffic problems of our life’s journey. He knows exactly how much ‘my vehicle’ can take and what it was designed for. He knows where and how soon we will arrive at the destination if we continue at His speed. He may take an occasional detour along the route but rest assured, He knows what He is doing. We need to trust Him. By the way, we’re not just going along for the ride. He does appreciate our company and fellowship as long as we don’t get to criticizing and bickering like some little children in the back seat. Conversation with Him, along the way, brings great joy to His heart. I am persuaded that He appreciates our expressions of gratitude that we are thankful for His faithfulness and commitment to see us through the darkest of valleys.
Although we need to trust Him, I’m sure that He doesn’t want us to fall asleep on the way because we might miss something that will be needed when we arrive at His house. I’ve also noticed that He does have ways to make our journey exciting. It’s in those exciting, scary times that I am especially grateful that He is in control. I know that when we arrive at the end of the road we’ll look back and acknowledge that the trip was anything but boring. I have sometimes wished for a direct route to the Divine destination and I wonder why the scenic route has to take so much of my time. Because He is the ‘Captain of my Salvation.” Every moment of the journey is important to Him and not designed just to fill in time. Gods love for each of us is absolutely amazing. Even though there are billions of inhabitants on this earth, He has a special, particular road plan and purpose for you. Will you pledge with me to let Him have more control than ever before? I think I see the end of the road, just up ahead!
Godliness With Contentment
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
True godliness can simply be described as ‘God like-ness.’ That is something that most of us are not, naturally. However, it remains as a goal that we strive for. The truth is that we begin the journey to have His likeness observable in our daily living by coming to the cross and making the decision to having changes made in our lives. There is no other place to begin. Every one of us needs to start at that point and make the determination to allow the Lord to deal with the things of our past.
From there we need to move on to a willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to become more like Jesus. His inner promptings will speak a new direction into many of the areas of our daily routine that will demonstrate that God is at work in our hearts. For some people that is a simple task of willing surrender to please God. To others it is daily struggle with matters that want to keep us back in the old life and the old ways that were not at all pleasing to God. There still remains the partnership of ‘working together with God’ that the transformation be worked in our lives. We all begin the road to God likeness at the same point and we all need to check ourselves, from time to time, to assess our progress. At all times we must remember that God loves us more than anything else in the world and is available to guide us into making the right choices for our lives.
You’ve noticed that the beginning verse has a connecting attitude accompanying the matter of godliness. That brings us to contentment. Godliness is a great treasure. Add to that the grace of contentment and you are a wealthy person. Contentment is another expression of peaceful gratitude. It is gratefully appreciating what God has already done, where He has placed us and what He has provided for us. Absent are the characteristics of impatience, envy, jealousy and bitterness. Prominent is the joy of knowing that our lives are in His hands and that He remains a faithful supplier for all of our needs.
Someone has said, “Even on the worst day of my life, I am blessed!” That’s the key to contentment. God is in control! If He wanted other things for my life than I am experiencing, working through me, He would have made is so. It may not be that I receive the fulfillment of the deepest desires of my dreams, but I am His and He cares for me, therefore, I am blessed. This is a day to be thankful. Our gratitude clings to the fact that God, out of His deep love for us, has called us to Himself, to be part of His heavenly family and is pleased to work His purposes in our lives. One day, greater than our fondest dreams, God will bring us to a place where all discomfort and personal need will be resolved as we stand in His presence. Until then, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Fellowship With Man
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” 1 John 4:7
The Greek word is “Koinonia” and is used 16 times in the New Testament. It speaks of ‘fellowship’ as in a close relationship with those you greatly appreciate. It was part of the lifestyle of a loving relationship that existed in the early Church and was one of the marks that identified the Christians as being distinct from the world. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Someone has said, “How can I love my ‘brother’ if I don’t even know him?” Well, this is where it begins. At some point we need to meet the folk who are a part of the family of God. What better time and place than when the family gets together to worship the Father in the place of prayer?
The family of God is comprised of some very wonderful people. They come from all over the world, with various backgrounds and each has their own personal experience with the Lord. It’s as we get to know them a little better that we begin to understand the magnitude and power of the love of God that reaches into our world to rescue us from our sins and makes us one in Christ. That is one of the reasons why we take the time each Sunday Morning to give people an opportunity to greet their neighbours. Some of them are shy and need us to approach them in order to break the ice. It may take a little effort to do that but I believe that visitors will detect that we do love each other.
However, that is only step number one. A brief greeting is never sufficient to say we know each other because it takes time to hear about and share our lives with each other.
Step number two - is what we do with our friendships after the Church service has been dismissed. There can be the coffee times, the lunches and dinners together, the walks in the park and the camping times all are important in developing a real sense of “Koinonia.” We’ve discovered that one of the important functions of the Home Bible study program in cell groups is to bring the friendships to another level of maturity. It’s at Home meetings that we learn to seek the Lord together and pray for each other. It’s at this level that personal concerns can be shared and carried by a smaller group of people. Once again, the early Church has set a pattern in this matter. It appears that Home prayer times were an integral part of their spiritual life.
We may meet each other as strangers but we won’t be strangers for long. As we get to know each other on a more personal level we soon discover that we are family and each member is very important to us. It’s then that we understand that we are to bear one another’s burdens because we want to care for each other. Our interest in others increases because we are cared for as well.
Fellowship With God
“.. and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
In Gods eternal plan for His relationship with us, He has provided an opportunity to fellowship with Himself as a friend with a friend. We read about it in the book of Genesis when God came down in the cool of the day and met with Adam for their daily walk in the garden together. Those must have been very precious times of communion as God made Himself known to His creation. I’m sure, like any one of us, that there were a lot of questions on Adams bright, pure mind. We don’t know how long this personal friendship continued because there were no calendars in those days. Time was almost irrelevant, until the day Adam stood beside his wife under the shade of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and reached out his hand to take the forbidden fruit. He had been warned that his disobedience would be an act of suicide. He did not die physically but the desire to meet with God suddenly vanished. Fear filled his heart. He did what many of us do when we are caught in our wrong choices; he blamed someone else for his actions. What he did not understand was that he had died spiritually. He stepped out of the protection of God, by his disobedience, and stepped under the dominion of the evil ruler of darkness. His free will was not altered, but Satan had deceived him and robbed him of the position of authority that Adam once possessed as Gods representative on the earth. That was then.
On the Cross, Jesus took the judgment of the sins of mankind upon himself. In His death as our substitute He paid the penalty that should have been ours so that we could come to God as did the very first Adam in Eden. That opportunity to have a restored relationship with God has been extended to all men. The offer is made to all freely as Gods gift, through His Son. But it does not happen automatically. Each of us must make our own choice to either return to Gods plan as in the beginning and enjoy fellowship with Him, or to remain under the canopy of the god of this world. It seems foolish to even suggest that there is an alternative to serving God and fellow shipping with Him. Anyone can see, in the world around us, that any other choice is suicidal. We and our families need Gods forgiveness and His protection against the evils that inhabit our world today.
God extends His love toward us with a Divine welcome to leave behind our guilt and condemnation in order to enjoy the peace of sins forgiven and the rich promises of heaven as our home. Even now God bestows upon us His wonderful blessings through the precious work of the Holy Spirit. Let’s learn to acknowledge that God has done so much for us through His wonderful Son, Jesus.
Let The Nations Know
“Make known among the nations what he has done.” Isaiah 12:4
From the beginning of the revelation of Himself in the book of Genesis, God is known as the powerful Creator who calls into existence, from nothing, all that we see today. The world was designed as a beautiful Island in the vastness of the Universe where the stage was set for man to grow into a personal relationship with God.
The theory that man has developed by a series of fortunate accidents, from a fleck of dust that self-adjusted, to becoming a human being, is absolutely preposterous. God has made us in a fearful and wonderful way. There is no question in my mind but that, in Gods sight, the greatest thing that He ever created was Man.
But there is a difference. Everything else in all of creation turns and functions from laws that govern orbits and conditions; but man was brought into existence with a free will to make decisions and choices. God has entrusted to us a sacred privilege. That is the ability to choose the direction of our personal orbits of life. That is to say, we can accept His rules and laws and function in the way He wants us to, or we can break His rules and laws and move in different circles than He has designed for us. Nothing else in all of creation can do that.
Unfortunately, we see the effects of what some of our wrong choices have done in our personal lives. The heartaches, diseases, catastrophes, plagues and pressures of life are all the result of moving in the wrong circles where even the innocent, sometimes, suffer the consequences.
Somehow, it must be made known to the nations that what is acceptable in our world today, is not always pleasing to God. Jesus came into the world to reveal the insights of the Father in heaven, to not be conformed to this world. His death on the cross was to give us a new opportunity to begin again; to do the Fathers will by our own choice.
Throughout the generations, He has been calling mankind to return to Himself and to submit to His Rulership. He has been both patient and faithful because He does not want to lose even one person. Each is of inestimable value to Him. He loves ALL of us in a way that is beyond satisfactory explanation. Once we’ve committed ourselves to serving Him the way we were designed in the beginning, we soon understand that one of the duties or privileges that we have is to become a roadblock to others who are on the road to destruction through their disobedience. There are many out there who are ignorant of the perils of our choices and they need to be told. That’s what Missions and Evangelism is all about. Tell the nations. Call them back to God. He has done marvellous things in answer to prayer.
“Show me your faith without your deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do.” James 2:18
Centuries of reformation battles have argued the intent of these words. Some have said that James was adding the need of works to the gift of Gods grace in order to be saved. I don’t think the matter of Salvation is even a part of this discussion. What I hear James saying to the Church is, “If you are saved by faith then that same faith should be seen in the things that you do.”
Jesus put it another way. He said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16) My personal interpretation would be something like, ‘what you’ve got inside should be demonstrated on the outside.” James adds strength to the statement. “... faith by itself, ... is dead.” (James 2:17)
You see, our faith in God should be reflected by the things we say and don’t say; by the things we do and don’t do; by how we treat people or don’t treat them. If no one can tell that there is something different about us, then there is something wrong. Faith in God becomes a lifestyle. Besides the joy we have with an Awesome God is balanced by the sense of duty to serve Him faithfully, under all circumstances.
Here’s a Bible example. Peter and John were taken to court because of the overflow of their faith to the people in Jerusalem. After a lengthy examination it was determined that these were ordinary, (like us) uneducated, (like us) people but, “they took note that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) Besides all the stuff that made them so much like any of us, what was the observable difference that amazed their critics? I can only surmise that when they were being judged, there was a Peace on their countenance and an obvious expression of Wisdom in their words. I’m sure that they responded firmly but in love; that there was a confidence in their faith as they declared what God had done and what they had personally witnessed. God was to be honoured because it is God who answers prayer and who heals the sick today. Their reactions made them appear to be just like Jesus.
I wonder if the memory of the Sanhedrin judges were shocked to see others that were exact replicas of the man they had condemned to death, on an old rugged cross, just months before. Would they be able to understand that the resurrected Jesus was alive and living in the hearts of His followers?
Now that’s the demonstration of real faith that James is talking about. What would Jesus do if He worked where you work, lived where you live, met the people you meet and worshipped where you worship?
Let’s exercise our faith and strive to be more like Jesus.
Worn and Weary
“I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.” Psalms 69:3
Take heart! Although He is Divine, Jesus knows what humanity is all about. During His earthly sojourn two millennia ago, He went through some of the same kind of situations that you and I experience. The writer of the book of Hebrews states that He, “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” (4:15) He felt the limitations that hold us prisoners to our human frame. He knew what weariness was all about.
When He and His disciples arrived at the well at Sychar He stayed to rest and relax while His friends went to get something to eat. The record says, “Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well.” ( John 4:6 ) Besides the matter of sticking together for security while they traveled in Samaria, they realized that there were special stresses upon Jesus that were greater than the average. It showed upon His body. One of His critics commented, one day, “You are not yet fifty years old.” (John 8:57 ) Well, you know the truth. He was just a little more than thirty years old, but looking at Him one would have guessed that the stresses that He felt added twenty years to His physical frame. Possibly the wear and tear of His ministry had left their mark on His outward appearance with lines of concern and compassion upon His face and a weariness in His walk. Some of the pressures that He went through were mental and spiritual demands that took their toll of energy on the inside. For example: He understood, by experience, what it feels like to be despised and persecuted when His intentions were to do good. He knew that some people hung around in His congregations just to catch Him in disagreement over something that He said. He knew what it was like to be watched with a critical eye and for some to condemn Him as being the prince of devils when He was sharing the blessing of the Life and Power of God. To some in the crowds He was treated as the King in waiting, while others looked at Him with suspicion and fear. He knew how to handle the successful moments of life as well as the disappointments but it all took a toll upon His humanity. He tasted what it is like to live as a human being.
What inspired Him to keep on in spite of the negative drag on His life? I believe there is one clear message to all of us. By experience, He understands how you feel. When you know you are doing what God wants you to do; when you are being what God created you to be, then you need to trust and find your approval in Him. Jesus relied on doing the will of the Father is spite of His physical limitations and the outward conflicts that waged against His soul. That truth was like food to His soul. I believe there are many living today who go through some of the same kinds of situations in life who will one day hear our Father in heaven say, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” I believe the end of the journey is not too far away.
Let’s be renewed in His presence and get back to do what pleases Him.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
Missionaries are very human, like the rest of us, but they have a very special call upon their lives. Each time I hear one speaking and challenging our hearts I believe we are hearing the matter that makes the heart of God tick. After all, that is the main reason Jesus came into the world in the first place. He was interested in the lost souls of men all over the world who were dying without hope. Many are entangled in the bondages of the enemy who holds their lives in addictions, in diseases, in fear and torments. Let your heart be wide open to the messages of the missionaries of our time. Hear what burdens them in their ministry. Feel the unfinished challenges that carry them back to other parts of the world in obedience to the call of the Lord of the Vineyard. Capture the confidence of these loyal ‘soldiers of the cross’ as they lift up the gospel message in areas that have not heard the good news before. Some of you may hear the summons of the Lord calling them into full time service to a foreign land. Others may be challenged to serve the Lord in a new way through prayer, upholding the hands of those who are on the front lines of ministry. Others will feel the tug to give to our Missions programs in a more faithful manner.
To each of us, let our hearts be challenged with the urgency of the hour because, Jesus is coming soon and the harvest is not completed. We can share in the gathering of lost souls as we are faithful to be involved in some area of Missions. We may not stand on the front lines of ministry but we are equally a part of the outreach as we go, give and pray. When the Lord returns may He find us faithful to the commission to, “Go into all the World.”
Missions and outreach programs are what gives the Church strength and vitality. A lively congregation grows on the vision of reaching the lost while the opportunity still exists. We need to tell the story of Gods love and expect that hearts and lives will respond to the message. We need to believe that God will quicken the Word that is shared and begin a transformation in the lives of the hearers that will lead them to know the Lord as their personal Saviour.
The early Church was scattered abroad by persecutions but they moved from place to place with an enthusiasm of Gods love to reach others. Each generation, since then, that has made ‘outreach’ their purpose has prospered in blessing. Let’s not let the past generation down but maintain an increasingly greater enthusiasm for our common outreach ministry. The best way to receive blessings is to do what God wants us to do. Jesus said, ‘The fields are ripe for the harvest.”
Share a Little Love
“But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
How wonderful it is that we were created with the capacity to love. It is a part of the nature of God that He has committed, in trust, to His creation. We have inherited so many bad characteristics from our human nature that have brought nothing but pain and distress to our world. The fact that we can exercise love is evidence that God wants something of Himself to be seen in all of us. Loving is a choice that we must make on a regular basis. It needs to be exercised particularly in the difficult situations when the pressure is on and tempers flare. Strange, to introduce such a special quality of Divine nature into the “ugly” of life, but that’s exactly what Jesus came to do. He not only taught about love but He lived it. To the sick and diseased, to the poor and downtrodden, to the one caught in the very act of sin, Jesus practiced what He preached and demonstrated sincere concern, patience and forgiveness. He brought a piece of Heaven to the rougher areas of the world because that was what God was like.
There is a very special privilege that we all, particularly those who know the Lord, must exercise. That is to re-direct our thoughts and actions to demonstrate that we are created to be channels of the Love of God. We would never doubt that in the romantic settings of a Valentines dinner or such, but we sometimes squelch when a real demonstration of love means, ‘take out the garbage,’ or help someone with their coat or opening the car door.
Someone has said, “True charity begins at home.” The fact is that one of the greatest opportunities to show love to the world is to live and encourage the practical expressions of love in the home. We used to feel that a mans pride was in his ability to be in control and be stoically emotionless in relationships. But true strength is in the ability to exercise love in a healthy fashion. One of the deepest revelations of the concern of God in His love for mankind is recorded in the shortest verse of the Bible. “Jesus wept.” He wasn’t afraid to show his emotions in public. Those who were standing there said, “See how He loved him.” John 11.
Building on your love relationship is our committed duty in honouring God in our homes. Jesus charged a Church with the accusation that, “You have forsaken your first love.” It is clear that He meant that in order to maintain a loving relationship it must be worked. That is, when the glow of love diminishes, you can’t ignore it. You need to do something about it. Walking away is never the answer because the very act of caring is the gift of Gods love and that’s what serving Him is all about. You can’t wrap love in ‘Chocolate boxes.’ Love needs a human container to confirm the real meaning of love through day to day actions.
Made In Gods Image
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” Romans 6:5
Consider the fact that everything that is, was made out of nothing. There are no factories on earth that can duplicate that process one more time. God simply spoke His will and His Word brought everything into existence. What a wonderful thing He did! ! We admire His handiwork in the sunrises and sunsets, the majesty of the mountains and the endless prairies. We stand amazed to view the starry heavens and understand that the closest star to us is 93,000,000 miles away. The rest of the heavenly hosts are beyond that. The magnitude of it all is overwhelming. It is all beautiful to the eye and astounding to the mind. God is the initiator of it all.
But when God wanted to make something on earth that would resemble Himself, He made a man. Out of the dust and soil of the earth He fashioned the human frame and then breathed life into his nostrils. Something of the Divine was deposited into mankind that was not placed in any of the other creatures that God had made. It was this man who was designed to represent God throughout all of His creation. It was this man who was given authority to have dominion over all the things that God had made; except for the one solitary tree in the middle of the garden that was to remain under the jurisdiction of God and God alone. Everything else in the whole, wide world was designated as free to Adam to use and administrate. Everything but that one single tree. In spite of all the other options, Adam and Eve stole from Gods tree. They trespassed where they were not supposed to go. They blew it! The very ones who were to represent the Great Creator of all things became thieves; trespassers; satisfiers of selfish desires; disobedient servants and breakers of the laws of God.
If you had someone working for you that deliberately disobeyed your instructions and stole from you, you would probably fire him immediately. You might even lay a charge against him and take him to court and have him thrown into jail. But God didn’t. Sure, there were consequences to the disobedience but God designed a way that His likeness could be restored in the lives of every man woman and child. Jesus came into the world to re-plant His nature in every one of our hearts, by His Spirit. Members of the early Church were called Christians because when the people watched the believers in action, they were reminded of Jesus. That’s what the world needs to see again. The Church should be a body of believers who live in such a way that the world will take note that we have been with Jesus. Just as Adams failure was his personal choice, so our returning to God must be by personal choice. It is time that we talked with the Creator and let Him know that our intention is to honour Him the rest of our lives.
The Heart Of God
“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him….” Nahum 1:7
One of the things that is so obvious throughout the gospel accounts of Jesus ministry is the fact that He loves people. He was moved with compassion for them. He wept for them. He ate with them in their homes and attended their funerals. He took their children upon His knees and blessed them. He healed their sick and consoled the discouraged. He knew the stresses and difficulties that were common to the average person of the day. He understood the temptations and weaknesses of humanity but He didn’t condemn any that came to Him. Even the people who were societal misfits and outcasts were accepted by Him. By contrast, the religious leaders treated the Publicans and ‘sinners’ as though they were a different kind of animal but Jesus treated them as real people whom God loves.
That has always been the heart of God. He loves us. He loves you and me more than words could ever tell. He loves us in spite of our failures. He cares for us in spite of the fact that we have neglected Him and have not given Him the respect that He is worthy of. He has always wanted to give us His blessings and to demonstrate His concern for every detail of our lives.
It’s interesting that we don’t read anywhere in His life story that He ever had a real good laugh with His disciples concerning the events of His day. His humour was not recorded. But His concerns for the needs and the pressures of the people are often mentioned. That has not changed. To this day, the things that happen that are real concerns to us are very important to Him and no laughing matter.
But the thing that is the greatest concern to God is to deal with the matter of Sin. I’ve told you, already, that He did not come into the world to condemn anyone. He came to provide forgiveness and pardon to anyone who calls on His name. His coming to earth was to fulfill a rescue mission that would reach the whole wide world and bring peace to the heart and soul of every man, woman and child.
This was so important to Him that He was willing to die on the cross, on our behalf, so that we could be forgiven. He stated His reasoning. “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13) He proved that through His life and then cruel death on the cross of Calvary. Some of His last words were spoken on our behalf. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
He’s seated on the right hand of the Father in heaven in a position of power and authority and He still cares for you and me.
Talking To Stones
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Talking to wood and stones is a common practice in many parts of the world. I’ve done that occasionally, too, for example, when the nail won’t stay still just as I swing the hammer. “Stupid nail!” I’m sure that you’ve never done that but I know some people who do. My point is, when there are serious, troubling issues and people bow before a carved image to bear their hearts with pleas for assistance, I know there’s something wrong with that picture.
We talk to a living God! He’s the Owner and Ruler of all of creation. He can change the order of events, far beyond anything that we could do for ourselves. He is the Master of resolving problems that trouble the hearts of His people. He is not like wood or stone that have no ears to hear nor heart to be moved with compassion. Generations since the garden of Eden have testified that God has heard their petitions and intervened in the matters of concern to those who reach out in prayer to trust Him. Seas have parted, storms are calmed, the sun and moon have stood still, enemies have been defeated, fire has fallen from heaven, the sick have been healed and peace returned to troubled souls. The psalmist reminds us that, “As a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” And “From everlasting to everlasting the Lords love is with those that fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13,17)
Love is the great difference that the Lord extends to those who come to Him. Needless to say a block of wood or stone will never, ever give you those kinds of benefits. That’s why we ought to be people of prayer. God is a living, loving God. It brings great joy to His heart that we would choose to seek Him whether it’s for fellowship or because of our need. The fact that we come to Him is an acknowledgement of His Greatness. We fail miserably when we think that we don’t need to talk to Him. It appears that there are more stones in the world that get worshipful attention than the living God. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We need to plan purposeful times when we will respond to the Lords invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Many of us have trouble focusing on the Invisible and speaking to Him as we would to a friend. However, faith overcomes our trust in the senses and brings us into the Court of the King of kings. Prayer is the key to a deeper walk with God. There is no substitute! I just wonder, how many things we endure because we fail to pray! I wonder what God would do if we were more diligent and ‘religious’ about our praying!
Lest I forget, let me remind you that one of the main purposes of prayer is to worship our Lord. Without complaint or petition we need to spend time thanking Him for His faithfulness, for His love, for His provision, for His creation, for His Son, for His promises, for His Word and for His…. and the list goes on. Prayer is a wonderful privilege that God has given to us.
God Loves The Sinner
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
You’ve heard it said that, “God hates sin, but HE LOVES THE SINNER.” That has always been a description of the heart of God. Time and time again He has been faithful to send prophets and messengers to declare this fact to each generation. From the experiences in the Garden of Eden and the days that followed the ejection from the Garden, God Himself, spoke to Adam and then to his son Cain concerning the matter of sin. To the generation prior to the flood, God sent Noah, a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) to warn his generation. Sodom and Gomorrah had Lot as their prophet, who “lived among them, day after day.” (2 Peter 2:8) They didn’t listen then but God was faithful just the same because God is love.
The question is who’s speaking for God now? Followed by another, does anyone care what God is saying about sin today?
I suppose that brings us all back to self-examination and to an understanding that the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of men today to indicate the basic needs of the heart. Some have misunderstood what the ache inside the heart is all about and have turned to solutions in the needle or in the bottle. Others begin to occupy themselves in the pleasures of this world as though the joy and laughter of their activities would resolve the hidden turmoil inside. To all of us, God is speaking and it’s time that we recognized that our world is in real need of an attitude of repentance, where we sincerely humble ourselves and seek His face.
Our world needs God! That’s what Evangelism and Missions is all about. However, unless we seriously get the goods ourselves, what hope does the world have who do not know how to speak to God. It’s a principle of scripture that our lives may be the only voices that the world will hear concerning how to reach God. It’s time that every born again child of God, lived our lives in such a fashion that the world would be influenced for change. It was a man of history who stated the fact that evil succeeds when good men do nothing.
We have a part in sending out the message to various parts of the world by way of the voice of people in our congregation. Whether the message is shared in far off countries or to our next door neighbour, it is our responsibility to let the whole world know that God loves them right where they are. It is His desire to help them face their struggles and to make them ‘Overcomers’ instead of ‘Victims.’ Someone may be waiting to hear what you have to say as God speaks to your heart and you are faithful to speak to them.
Depending on Others
“And how can they preach, unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” Romans 10:15
It was a life or death situation. The plans were made; the men were ready; all that was necessary was to get Paul at the gate, as he left the city of Damascus, where they would kill him and leave his body in the trash. (Acts 9:23) That would terminate the ministry of the believers of the Way. If they could only get the Preacher, their problem would be solved.
But others had plans, too. In the darkness of the night, with ropes and a heavy woven basket, Paul was lowered down the wall to escape to freedom to continue his ministry for another day.
Obviously, he couldn’t have made this escape by himself. He depended upon others to hold the ropes and gently lower him to the ground. The others are not named, but they have served as examples through the generations, as the working supporters of the ministries of the Gospel. Many a godly service is dependant upon someone holding the ropes in compassionate concern that the Pastor, the Missionary or the Evangelist be granted the liberty of continuing his work.
We, too, stand on the wall as others go to foreign fields to carry the message of Salvation to the lost and dying. We stand on the wall with a firm hand on the value of intercessory prayer on the behalf of others who are carrying a message beyond our borders. We, too, stand on the wall as we give of our finances to support someone else in their service for the Lord. We are a part of the team. Failure on any one of our parts makes it difficult for the rest to fulfill their responsibilities. Willing and sometimes sacrificial effort is absolutely necessary if the task is to be performed.
It was four men, who chose to make it their duty to bring their helpless friend to Jesus, through the roof of the house where He was preaching.
It took thirty men to lift Jeremiah from his private prison in a muddy cistern. (Jeremiah 38:10 - 13.)
It took an Andrew to bring a Peter to Jesus. (John 1:41) It was a Barnabas who brought Paul into fellowship and into a wonderful life of ministry. Philip brought Nathaniel to meet the Lord. It was a couple of servants who brought Peter to Cornelius’ house. And on and on go the stories throughout history.
The question is, “How many undiscovered precious people continue on their hopeless journey through life for lack of someone to show an interest in them?”
We are a part of an important team and there are many who are counting on our support and involvement. Reach out and touch someone for Jesus!
Jesus Is Coming
“Look, He’s coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him….” Revelation 1:7
He said that He would be coming back again! There were reasons why it was necessary for Him to go away. He’s gone to prepare a special place for each of us. He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for each of us. But at the same time He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us. That means, we will never, ever be out of His thoughts.
But His plan was to leave a clear representative of His kingdom on earth until He completed what He had to do. He commissioned the Church to spread the news of His love and to work for Him until He comes back again. It's true, He did not tell the day nor the hour of His reappearing and setting dates is an absolutely foolish exercise. He expects believers to be obedient to His commission and faithful to spread the message of His offer of forgiveness and the promise of His return.
However, He did declare a number of signs that would precede His coming. Let me list a few from Matthew 24:
1. many will claim to be Christ (Father Divine, Jim Jones, David Korash)
2. there will be wars and rumours of wars.
3. there will be famines, earthquakes...
4. believers will be persecuted. (try to take a stand against abortion, homosexuality or freedom to read the Bible in school)
5. many false prophets will appear and deceive many (have you ever seen so many promotions for psychics, horoscopes and palm readers, etc. If they can really tell the future, how come they don’t win the Million dollar lotteries every week?)
6. the love of most will grow cold ( the word love speaks of commitment, perseverance and loyalty.)
7. there would be a proclamation of “Peace and Safety” ... and the list goes on.
Jesus is coming back again!
a) Jesus said that and He is true to His Word.
b) The angels believed that and told the disciples that He would return just like He went away.
c) The Apostles believed that with all their heart and some of them died after proclaiming that message to a lost world.
d) Each of the New Testament books contains some reference to the blessed hope of Jesus reappearing with a tone of confidence that would cast out all doubt. He's coming back again for a people who are watching and waiting. That date .... could be today.
Not Unclean Anymore
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” Acts 13:38
It was His love for the lost that inspired the decision to leave His Heavenly home to come to this world. All the beauty and splendour of His Palace and the host of attendants in their orderly function of ministry to Him could not change His mind. It was purposed that He would come to this earth; the earth that was made by His spoken word thousands of years before.
The object of His Infinite interest? Me! You! Us! The reason? We needed help. That is, every one of us needed His help. You see, the sin of the garden of Eden has infected all of humanity and creation with a deadly virus. There is no earthly, scientific antidote to the plague that has befallen us. In spite of all human efforts, we have only succeeded in making a real mess of our world and of our lives but have been unable to find a human solution to the dilemma that came into existence through the bad choice of our forefathers. Add to the problem that we have compounded the problem by our neglect of God and our own bad choices. That is a general statement that fits every one of us.
Sin has done some terrible things with the mind and heart of mankind. We have fallen short of the real purpose of our being on this beautiful planet, originally created for the glory of God. We need to acknowledge that as a personal fact in each of our lives. But Jesus came. He alone possesses the power and resources to deal with the Sin problems that plague our world.
His death on the cross assures us that our sins can be forgiven because,
"... without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Hebrews 9:22) At each communion service we celebrate, we remember the Lords death through the emblems of His broken body and shed blood. The cost of our salvation was paid by Him on the cross of Calvary.
But let us remember one very important fact about the provision of His forgiveness; each of us needs to confess our sin to Him, personally through prayer. He has been waiting for us to turn back to Him. He is prepared to give us His forgiveness and to cleanse us from the sin that has been plaguing humanity. His plan is to bring us to His Fathers presence pardoned and free of condemnation. The key to the cleansing power is within us. We need to ask Him for forgiveness, personally. He will wash away all the stains that have kept us from enjoying the goodness of God and fellowship with Him. Let me advise you, don't put it off. His love reaches out to you today.
It Pays To Listen
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” Revelation 2:7
A Financial Investment Institution spent a large amount of money advertising through the media of Television and printed periodicals with the following main line: “When *..…..* speaks, everyone listens.” As you can see, that is no small boast. But their desire is to have everyone listen to their advice when it comes to making investments for the future.
I’m sure they have a lot to contribute to novices who are searching for ways to prepare for retirement and future days of comfort and ease. There must be a lot of people using their informed counsel as they make a profitable business out of their experienced resources. “Everyone listens,” is quite a statement.
But let me ask, what happens when God speaks? I wish that it were true that, “When God speaks, everyone listens!” Now that is a resource that we have just begun to appreciate when we come to the Lord in prayer and in the serious research of His Word.
The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made all things.” (Hebrews 1:1, 2)
God has spoken; God is still speaking. Is anyone listening? Some have said that they have heard God speak in an audible voice. Others have said that God spoke to them through a dream. Some have said that God used an individual to share with them and it was as though God was speaking through them.
But let me tell you the sure word of how God continues to speak to our generation. The Bible is His Word. It is the ultimate reference for what God wants to say to us today. Reading His Word gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to make the words come to life as a personal message for each of us. The Holy Spirit works in cooperation with the written word to make the will of God known to us. The power and authority of that word will give direction, protection, encouragement, and hope for our future.
God wants to make His message available to each of us for the variety of experiences that we all go through each day. When we remember that God is Love, we must realize that He wants to speak to us to make His loving presence known. How much we want to hear what He has to say is determined by the amount of time that we are prepared to invest in the reading of His Word. That requires the need for us to make time/to make the effort/to apply ourselves to listening to His voice through the written Word. God is still speaking to us, if we will only listen.
Taste It Again For The First Time
“Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.”
1 Chronicles 16:8
It’s a great day to be alive. We have so much to be thankful for when we review the details of our lives. Oh, there are those times when we aren’t sure which direction is up, the finances cramp our dreams and the other ‘nitty gritty’ things just don’t come together the way we want. But it’s still a great time to be alive. We are living on the edge of God’s rich blessings and the promise is that He has more in reserve for us than we could ever imagine. Let’s learn to let go of some of that stuff that makes us feel depressed and disappointed and look to the goodness of the many blessings that we share in every day. We can become indifferent to the good things that we have because they are just a part of our ‘normal’ living. We have homes, warm beds, special kitchen comforts that more than satisfies our daily needs. We have friends, family and good wholesome fellowship to mention just a few of the blessings that we take for granted. Just imagine what it could be like if we had been born in some desert village where famine, AIDS and where terrorists roam freely. See, we do have a lot to be thankful for.
If we could only step out of our comfort zones, from time to time, to get another ‘first look’ at what we have become from where we began I think we would have a greater appreciation of how blessed we really are.
If you know your Bible history you’ll remember there was a time when the nation of Israel was taken away from their homeland to live as slaves in Babylon. After more than 70 years in captivity they were allowed to return ‘home.’ Could you imagine the joy of the return. Most of the people had been born in captivity and only heard the stories from their parents of the land that God had given to them. The old stories would tell them of the land that was flowing with milk and honey; where each family had their own home and a piece of property. What a dream! ! After days of crossing desert and wilderness they finally arrived at the row of mountains on the other side of the Jordan. Can you envision their delight when they came over the mountain top and saw “their land” for the very first time? Listen to the words of one of those pilgrims: “When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” (Psalm 126:1 – 3)
Let me tell you once again; we need to see what God has given to us through the time of our spiritual growing as though it was for the first time. It’s something worth getting excited about. We are a very privileged and blessed people!
We Are Blessed
We are blessed! There is no question about it. God has been good to us. The Psalmist listed some of the reasons to praise the Lord in the 103rd Psalm. Listen to some of them:
1. He forgives all your sins.
2. He heals all your diseases.
3. He redeems your life from the pit.
4. He crowns you with love and compassion.
5. He satisfies your desires with good things. ..... and the list goes on! !
Those who know the Lord, have found that He continues to be a Friend. He’s not made of stone or concrete. He is moved with compassion, He cares for the needs, the problems of each of us. There’s no doubt that He’s interested in every detail of our lives. (Romans 8:32) “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.” He is a loving and giving Friend and blessing us brings Him great pleasure. We are the objects of His Divine love. When things don’t go our way, rest assured, He never leaves us nor forsakes us. We may not understand why some things come our way, the heart of the Father is pained by things that hurt us and He will provide what is necessary. He is an awesome God and worthy of our praise.
Come In To Worship
We ought to remember that coming into Gods presence is an awesome privilege. The fact that the Creator of all things would tolerate our presence is an absolute miracle. The truth is, He longs for us to meet with Him. Our times of Worship ought to leave us a sense of His blessing yet, it’s an honour to know that we bless God when we come together to worship Him. Can you imagine doing things for the simple fact of bringing joy to the heart of God?
Jesus said, “I always do what pleases Him.” (John. 8:29) ALWAYS! We don’t often think about the privilege we have to come into His Holy Presence. We gather together with other believers each Sunday to Worship Him.
1. Let us praise Him for Who He is! King of Kings and Lord of Lords; Author and Finisher of all things; the Lord God Almighty.
2. Let us praise Him for what He does! Saviour, Healer, Provider, Protector, Friend.
3. Let us praise Him because of His promises! He will never leave us nor forsake us; that He will pour His Spirit upon ALL; that He will be found of those who seek Him.
4. Let us praise Him that we could be a part of His Church to represent Him here on the earth; that He would put His Holy Spirit into our lives, to strengthen, to lead and guide; to grant special power and abilities for special situations.
“The unfolding of your words gives light: it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
What is the bottom line of our FAITH? Is it based on what we ‘see,’ what we ‘feel’ or what we ‘know’? Jesus expressed concern about last day Christians when He asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Faith is a wonderful blessing that comes to us in either of 2 ways:
1. It comes as a direct gift of God, that allows us to believe for our Salvation as well as for other special miracles, or
2. It comes as a day by day experience of hearing the Word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
The first process occurs when we are in a state of total dependence upon the intervention of God to help us in our inadequacy. The other puts some responsibility upon us to grow in our experience with God. We must do something. Effort and discipline are necessary to be strong in Faith.
I am dismayed at how little the average Christian is willing to invest in becoming a better believer. The fact of the matter is that most of us feel that if God wants us in heaven He’s got to get us there. Allow me to ask the question, “How bad do you want to assure that heaven is where you are going and that you have pleased God in the process of getting there?”
I am concerned that some very naive and innocent people are going to be deceived by someone who has a lot of good answers and does a lot of special miracles but whose goal is to lead people astray to serve false gods and arrive at false goals. Most of us would say, “Not me! He won’t fool me!” Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect, if that were possible.” (Mark 13:22)
Please let me give you some advice... Know what you believe and do not trust your feelings nor the things that you see that cause amazement. We need to get back into the Word of God. Read your Bible. Meditate upon it. Let the Word be your final standard of life for all you say and do. God is doing some very wonderful things in our world today and many are beginning to run to this place and that because of the message that God is here or there. That is exactly the kind of setting that the Enemy of our souls is waiting for. He is about to imitate a move of God with His deceiving tactics but “... we are not ignorant of his devices.” Let your Faith be grounded in the Word of God, not in experiences, however great and wonderful they may be. Be strong in the Lord and don’t lean on your own understanding. Let’s get back to the Word of God.
“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
You know that those are the best kind of friends to have. Acquaintances are great and partners are tremendous assets but there is nothing that beats a real good friend. Perhaps our view of a friend is different in this generation than in the times that the scriptures were written because almost all relationships, today, seem to be built on superficialities. The standard that the Bible establishes for a ‘friend’ is clearly more exacting.
1. He is someone who will stand with you, through thick and thin; ‘a friend loves at all times.’ (Proverbs 17:17)
2. A friend is lovingly able to bring correction and reproof that is not viewed as criticism nor condemnation but as a solution to better a situation. ‘wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses’ (Proverbs 27:6 )
3. A friend is one who sincerely cares and always looks out for the betterment of those he loves. ( ‘the pleasantness of ones friend springs from his earnest counsel.’ Proverbs 27:9)
4. A good friend would be willing to lay down his life for his friend. (John 15:13)
It’s hard to find that kind of friend today. We are all caught up in our own routines and have not worked at building the kind of relationships that the Bible speaks about. I believe that the computer generation has found faster ways of doing things and bringing solutions to life’s business world but at the cost of personal, lasting friendships. It’s a fact that we need to work at that kind of inter-personal commitment. That’s what kept the early Church together.
- They met together often.
- They shared meals with each other and went from house to house.
- They had confidence in those of their fellowship. They could share their deepest problems with others and have the assurance that their group of ‘friends’ would be available to help them through every difficult situation.
- Their intercession for each other was one of action and not just words. As the saying goes, “Words are cheap.” In a more colloquial way, “ A friend puts his money where his mouth is.”
It is interesting how often the Bible speaks about our human relationships as being a measuring rod for how deep our relationship is to God. For example: “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:14) and again “For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) Let us love one another.
Calvary Covers It All
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
“Calvary Covers It All” was a hymn that was sung in the Church more than two generations ago. I appreciate that truth as I grow in my understanding of the Grace of God that reaches out to us in our weaknesses and failures. The fact that God would extend His forgiveness to us so freely is a wonderful gift of His patience and kindness that goes beyond measure. Awesome as it sounds, He will never turn anyone away who sincerely seeks to be restored by His pardon. We would be fools to not take advantage of that every day because He could return to earth at any moment, to receive His own to Himself.
But let me make it clear, it is possible for a believer to sin in offending God and not seek the Lords forgiveness, which obviously is a very tragic mistake. Of all the people on the face of this earth we, Christians, ought to understand that God does not want His people to harbour sin or rebellion against Him and His purposes described in His Word. Can God fill a person with His presence if there is disobedience in the heart? Does His Grace reach into the lives of people who deliberately choose to do things contrary to His will and who are not willing to repent of their ways? Isn’t that abusing the Grace of God and shouldn’t we expect that there will be a consequence to that kind of action?
Jesus dealt with this issue many times during His ministry. There were times when people came to Him for healing and He extended forgiveness first and then the healing afterwards. We want to switch the process around. We want to be whole to serve Him but we’re not prepared to go through the process of getting right with God first. We shouldn’t try to change the order. When our hearts are in a right relationship with Him, many of the difficulties that we face will lose their power and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Allowing matters to build up walls against the Grace of God is to allow a toe-hold for the devil to climb up and rob us of the fullness of the Lords blessings. I believe that’s why there are bitter, angry, frustrated Christians today who struggle to know the presence of God.
But God doesn’t stop loving us, ever. He patiently waits until we open our hearts and dump out the garbage and allow Him to fill us and refresh us with His blessings. We’ve got to learn to let go of hurts and offences. We’ve got to turn away from things that we know are displeasing to Him. In plain and simple terms, we need to repent and seek His face. It’s not too late! God wants to do more in and for us than we have begun to dream. We need to make ourselves available for His blessings.
“Be on your guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” Mark 13:23
Reminiscent of the ‘Titanic’ at least 65 people lost their lives this week in a tragedy off the coast of Greece. Survivors said that they couldn’t find the life jackets and in the inky darkness of the stormy night, they didn’t know where to go and no one was there to tell the passengers what to do. Ignorance is not bliss, as the saying goes, sometimes it’s deadly. Our hearts go out to families who have lost their loved ones under such terrifying circumstances. It seems that the whole situation developed because of a total disregard for the rules and laws of the sea and a failure to heed the warnings that were planted centuries ago. There was a lighthouse on the rocks to caution of the obvious danger. But the crew members were busy; very busy…. they were watching a football game on TV. Charges of murder were laid against the Captain and many of the crew of the vessel. Such negligence in the face of danger is criminal. They should have known better. The Captain should have left strict orders to be on guard throughout the darkness of the stormy waters. His commands should have defined the possibility of tragedy should the rules of navigation be ignored. There are no acceptable excuses because lives were lost.
Our righteous indignation boils inside at such incompetence. But hold on! I don’t mean to upset our padded seats in our comfort zones as we see this kind of atrocity occurring but do you realize that this same process is happening around us every day because we are not sounding out a warning with clarity to our own generation. Souls are dying, without hope and few are weeping over the tremendous tragedy for the loss of so many lives. The ignorance of many and the wilful disobedience of others are going to have terrible consequences. Now I know that there is no way that any one of us could get the job done by ourselves but somehow we need to realize the importance of doing what we can to get the message out. “This ship is sinking and it’s soon going to be all over.”
There is some good news in spite of all the bad news. God is love. He has designed a plan that will rescue every passenger riding the face of this planet. He has sent a life preserver Who is capable of saving those who reach out and up to Him. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17) That message has got to get out. We need to live our lives in such a fashion that men and women who are in the area of our influence will see the difference that the Lord has made in us and then we need to let them know how it happened. God, indeed, has a wonderful plan for each of our lives and that includes having the security of His kind provisions for His blessing upon us, forever.
Believing With Confidence
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
There was a time when almost everyone believed that the oceans beyond the western horizons dropped off to nothing. However, Christopher Columbus was sure that the world was round and he set out to prove his point. His crew was not always convinced of his sanity and almost persuaded him to return to Spain. But then, you know the rest of the story.
We look back and remember that we too, have crossed a new frontier, past the date of Y2K of the doomsday prophets and into a brand new millennium. Like Columbus, we passed into the unknown to chart our course where no one had ever gone before. I’m sure that each day of our future will carry similarities to each day of the past and that life will go on as ‘normal’ as could ever be expected. The transition from the 1900’s to the 2000’s does remind us that time is marching on and that we have been privileged to live at a time of history that has brought the world through some tremendous technological advances. Scientists have learned how to map the genetic code of living things and are working toward reproducing mankind from a single cell. They are now exploring how to create life.
Let me remind you that there is one very special dramatic change that is soon about to take place that is often mentioned in scripture. Jesus is coming back again. Some may make light of that because He has delayed His return these last 2000 years.
But I would like to restate what the Bible clearly expresses concerning this matter.
1. Jesus said that He would come back again. He said that it was necessary that He go away but that He would return and ‘catch’ us to Himself. (John 14:1 – 4)
2. The Angels said that He would come back again. They said, “This same Jesus which is taken from you up into heaven shall come again in like manner as you have seen Him go up into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
3. The apostles preached that He was coming back again and were willing to lay down their lives because they sincerely believed it. Throughout their letters they remind the believers that Jesus is coming back again.
4. The signs that point to His return are being fulfilled in our time. The Bible teaches that the Lord would give warning signs to let us know when He is about to return. Many of these signs have been fulfilled already and others are seen as coming to pass.
This may sound like a crazy idea, to some, but those who have trusted in the Saviour, until now, will not be taken by surprise. He is coming back again. What a change that will make for all of us. Be Ready!
Making Wise Investments
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2
I didn’t mean to spoil his day but I knew a little about his finances and the limitations that his income could provide for the needs of his family. He drove up to the Church in an old, huge Cadillac (about the size of a Boxcar). “God gave me this Cadillac,” he bragged, meaning ‘he got a good deal’. Pardon me but I admit my response was not very gracious. “I’m glad that God did not give me that Cadillac.” The truth was, I knew that I could not afford the gas bill that the machine needed to keep it running. A couple of weeks later he decided the same. Was that really Gods gift to him? And aren’t you glad that God doesn’t answer all our prayers the way we want.
Listen to me carefully. I believe that God wants us to be wise stewards of our finances. He has given us abilities to choose between our foolish wants and our real needs. Most of us have a wife/husband/father/mother or good friend who can help us assess the things that we think are real important and would be happy to advise us on the wisdom of our choices.
But it is God who is most interested in seeing us prosper because we learn to make wise choices. As a matter of fact, He has designed some guidelines to help us make proper investments. For example He said, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10)
I don’t think that anyone is more committed to bringing blessing to us than our Heavenly Father and I know that if He said He would bless those who follow His advice then He WILL.
We sometimes struggle to believe and practice the principle of tithing. God knows that. He is aware that we feel more comfortable with a dollar in the hand than holding on to ‘a promise of blessing’ that we cannot see. For that reason He said, “Test me in this.” The real test of tithing is whether we can trust God or not. Let me tell you from experience that when we obey God, He does some very wonderful things for us that we could never dream about. He is Faithful.
He said, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” Jewish people of that day had no difficulty with that. The ‘storehouse’ is where you worship. There were rooms in the temple that were reserved to receive the tithes and offerings to be used in the services of the Temple and the maintenance of the Priesthood. But it was given as an offering to God. He is the One who returns the Blessings for those who are faithful to obey His command.
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
It is very foolish to not fear God. The Bible teaches us that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10) It is wise to remember God and to reverence Him, after all, everywhere you walk, all the air you breathe, all the water you drink and all the food you eat belongs to Him. He could arrange to keep you from enjoying the things that He has made by His simple, spoken Word. We ought to live in appreciation of His kindness and in total respect for Who He is, for He is the Most High God.
I’m grateful for His willingness to allow a lot of these things to be so freely shared with each of us here in Canada. However, I must respect the fact that it all belongs to Him and that I can’t take liberties to focus selfishly upon the abundance about me to the disregard of the title of ownership that belongs to Him, alone. All of creation speaks of His power, glory and wisdom in ways that even the wayward, worldly person can understand.
I need to remember, as well, that I will be held accountable on a day of judgment for how I have treated the life He has given me. He is the Owner of that, as well. In all that I think and do I use the faculties that He gave to me. I may not possess the talents and abilities that I see in others but that does not change the fact that I eventually have to tell Him what ‘deeds I’ve done in the body’ that He has loaned to me.
I need to reverently, before God, acknowledge daily that my life is in His hands. The principle of fear is not the terror of thinking of Him as being a monster God, but rather the clear understanding that our God is an awesome God, Majestic and Powerful but also Loving, Gentle and Kind. The very fact that He has patience with me, knowing who I am, ought to stir my respect for Him. That is the beginning of wisdom.
Did you notice that it is the ‘beginning’ of wisdom. The end, obviously, is the result of the choices I make at the beginning. Once I’m on track with a clear understanding of Who God is, and I begin to serve Him faithfully, there will automatically be some changes along the way. For one thing, the destination of my eternity will change. (from Hell to Heaven) For another, my value system will change. (spiritual matters become more important than the material.) And again, who I am will change. (I become the habitation of the Holy Spirit, with authority to be called a Son of God.)
Make the choice to respect and honour the Lord in all your ways throughout your daily routine. That is something that you have the ability to do that will bring great joy to His heart. Besides, He grants great blessings to those who put their trust in Him.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14
There are famous battlefields on every continent. Hardly has a generation been without the threat of war in some parts of the world. Today, we are saddened by the visual scenes of the conflicts on our television screens, in some distant foreign country. We sorrow at the thought of the brutality and greed of the human heart and the lack of compassion for the innocent ones caught in a war that they did not invite. Remembrance Day or Veterans Day has been set aside to remember those of our own country who stood for the cause of justice and freedom and were willing to lay down their lives for these basic principles. As young men they stood on the front lines or close to it and saw what a real war is all about. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
At the same time, we need to be aware that a war of a different kind has been raging across the world in waves of iniquity for centuries. Sin abounds on every hand as mankind is swept onward in a tide of despair. But Jesus came! He came to take away the power of the enemy through His precious blood on the cross of Calvary. The tool that the enemy uses is sin. If he can influence any to succumb to temptation and to disobey the will and purposes of the Lord, he gains an advantage in the battle. His strength is in the fact that our guilt would drive us away from the God of love and leave us lost in enemy territory. However, when Jesus took our place, He successfully provided the only cleansing agent that effectively cancels all sin. That leaves the enemy with no options to defeat us. We are cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.
We remain a part of the family of God, adopted by the Father, with title power that is superior to any guise or snare that the enemy may use against us. For us, the Battle is over. It was won on the old ‘rugged cross,’ a strange battlefield, where all the frailties and failures of men were heaped on the Son of God. He took care of them all. But let me remind you, if there is something brewing in your own heart that you know is not right, let me advise you to come by prayer and confess it to the Lord. There is absolutely no reason under heaven why you can’t live in the Victory of the cross. You were not designed to live with guilt and condemnation but to be full of the joy of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17) Please, please do not be satisfied with anything less than being right with God. After all, the battle is over and we are made ‘Overcomers’ by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Claim your freedom in Jesus name.
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.