"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
Be a Hero
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20
It is a fact, that the sight of blood makes some people sick and others faint. Doctors and nurses get used to seeing wounds and abrasions and have learned how to stem the flow of this very valuable resource of our lives.
The Canadian Blood Services holds clinics for people that are willing to give blood to be used in giving life to others who have been involved in serious accidents or in need of surgery. Their motto is: “Be a hero. Give life.” Many rise to the challenge and take the time to give a part of themselves, for others they do not know.
If that is the description of a hero, then I know the greatest hero of them all. Jesus gave His life-blood to grant life to every man, woman and child through His death on the cross almost 2000 years ago. The truth is that only His precious blood can deal with the issue of sin that is a plague upon all of mankind. There is no other medicine that offers a cure for the problem of sin that lies within every one of us. The Bible says, “... the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
That is intended to be a ‘Good News’ announcement. There is a solution to deal with the greatest issue of life. Jesus said that He came into the world, “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) The lost are those who need His forgiveness in order to live life, “and that to the full.” (John 10:10)
The blood of Jesus Christ is a remedy that will wash away all our sins and grant us peace with God with eternal life as a result. The key is that we need to apply to Jesus, personally, for the cure that will give us these benefits. At some time, we all need to face the fact that without Jesus there is NO hope for us until we ask Him to wash away all our sin. The Bible makes it clear that we, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (John 3:23) But there is a life changing experience that we receive when we invite Jesus Christ into our lives. That’s where the blood of Jesus comes into effect in our lives. God declares us clean of all sin when we ask for His forgiveness.
He’s the real hero.
Sharing Our Faith
“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
Reaching the lost has always been the great interest of the Heart of God. I think it’s important to continue to keep the ‘reaching out to sinners’ in proper focus because this is the reason that Jesus came into the world. There are people ‘out there’ who need to know the Lord in a personal way. We have the experience and we need to make it known. Here are some things we can continue to do:
1. Pray for those outside of the Church. Jesus said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38) Almost everything that God does is begun with our coming to Him, first, telling Him our concerns or asking Him to intervene. We need to intercede for the lost with compassion as Jesus did for us in John 17. Winning souls has always been His hearts desire.
2. Be prepared to speak of the things that God has been doing in your life. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1Peter 3:15) Think about it beforehand. You don’t need to speak a lot of theology. It is most practical to relate your personal experiences with the Lord.
3. Watch for opportunities to express your faith. Your life and your speech are the best sermons that most people will ever hear. How you live and your reactions to all kinds of situations will tell a very important story of what God means to you. Be attentive to the prompting of the Spirit of God to speak a kind word in brotherly love. Let them see the joy that Jesus gives.
4. Don’t cut yourself off from the un churched people. Most Christians lose contact with the Mission field of the unsaved by cutting off any friendship with those who need the message of Gods love. We must learn how to be friendly in worldly situations without compromising our example and our message. We don’t have to agree with the position of the world to reach into it to rescue those who will respond to His call to repentance. There are many who are looking for answers to the ache of their hearts and we hold the key to finding those answers. God loves them more than we could imagine and it’s time that the people in the world recognized that. We need to express our love and friendliness in a stronger way. We may be the only Gospel that they will ever meet in their world of confusion. Jesus left heaven to come to our world to rescue us. Now it’s our turn to do the same for those who are lost.
Trusting in Pain
“When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust. I will not be afraid. What can mortal me do to me?” Psalm 56:3, 4
Everyone heard the call for help. The crowds that gathered around the Master all heard her cry, but “Jesus did not answer a word.” Matthew 15:23. I suppose you’ve wondered, occasionally, as have I, whether God is deaf. I know that there have been many calls to Him for assistance in some pretty important matters to us, and God does not seem to respond. The truth is that the testing of our faith sometimes carries a lot of inner pain. We struggle with our own self-worth, our standing in Christ and our ignorance about, “What is God doing, anyhow.”
Let’s learn to rest in a number of very basic principles.
1. ‘God is love’ - He cares and is concerned about every detail that comes into our lives. He feels the pain we feel and He knows the battles of the mind that tend to bring us down, but we need to learn that some of the discomforts that come to our lives are for our good. It may be like the visit to the Dentist who needs to jab us with his needle in order to do what must be done to relieve the pain we’re going through. He might as well say, ‘You’ve got to get worse before you can get better.’ We understand that kind of reasoning until the Doctor is God. Let’s be patient in affliction because He has a way of making, “all things work together for the good.”
2. ‘God is love’ - and His desire is that we often meet with Him because He has so designed us for fellowship with Himself. Even if the pain does not go away, many will report that His presence and blessing in time of need have developed a new trust and confidence in God that made it all worthwhile. His delays in responding may be His method of prolonging the process of communion in prayer. A relationship with Him is better than getting the answer to our prayers.
3. ‘God is love’ - and it is important to Him that you appear sincere and ‘real’ with those around you. There are too many good time believers who are happy to serve God when everything is going right. However, it takes a real man/woman of God to stand strong in faith when it seems that God is not answering prayer, today. The lesson learned may not be for you but for someone who is watching you. So, let the whole world know that you serve a wonderful God, Who is Awesome in the things that He does, even when He doesn’t do anything. That’s a real test of faith.
Let’s Get Excited
“Then Miriam, the prophetess, Aarons sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.” Exodus 15:20
The Gaithers made famous a song that goes like this: “Get all excited, Go tell everybody, that Jesus Christ is King.” There is nothing that attracts a crowd like genuine excitement and I believe that we have a lot to be excited about. God has been good to us in so many ways, in our own lives as well as in the life of the Church. I’ve discovered that excitement is not only because of what has happened in the past but also for what we anticipate is going to happen in the future. We have both kinds. We get excited about what He has done, Who He is and what He will yet do. I don’t think anyone in the world can express that kind of joy and excitement like those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Sometimes it takes great faith in order to believe what you do not see. That is what is meant by ‘glorifying the Lord.’
Let me remind you of some of the wonderful benefits of knowing the Lord:
1. Your sins are forgiven.
2. You’ve been adopted into a wonderful family.
3. You personally have access to the awesome presence and power of
4. Your future has been a part of Gods eternal plan and heaven is your
Hey! If you can’t get excited about that you should remember that Jesus, Himself, said, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 That is a wonderful fact, a present joy and our future hope and it is worth getting emotional about the things that God has done.
Besides that, it’s time to get excited about what God is going to do in our world and in His Church. His Spirit is moving in very precious ways. You have a Church family who are absolutely wonderful and who are desiring to see the Lord do what only He can do. Let’s be excited with them. Let’s be expecting. Let’s be faithful to do what God wants us to do and sensitive to what He is saying to each of us.
We can be anticipating a real visitation upon us as we catch the vision of what God wants to do in our Community and through each of us. Please, be prayerful because we want to reach out with the joyful message that God loves our world and every hurting and heart-broken person that we meet. Let’s get excited!
Come On Back
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
There was a generation in Biblical history that had forgotten their responsibility to the Lord. After many years of blessing and Gods intervention in the matters of their nation they left God and His directions and began to trust in themselves. “Everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)
It seems that commitment to the plan and purposes of God had become irrelevant. The people decided they didn’t need anyone, God or king, to tell them what to do. They were prepared to make up their own mind about important matters and, unknowingly, live with the consequences.
Now that sounds a lot like our generation. Respect for God and His requirements and respect for people in authority are definitely not at the top of the list of peoples priorities. Could that be true in the Church as well? Whatever happened to the call to, “Seek first the kingdom of God…?” Why are we so caught up in doing things that please us and give little thought to what God thinks about our lifestyle and our worship? I am grateful for those who are faithful to seek the Lord and who live their lives honouring Jesus as Lord. There are still many of them. But when Jesus said, “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) Why would Jesus pose such a question unless it was meant to stir some individual soul searching on our part? You be your own judge.
The people that know God ought to be responsible citizens of His kingdom and recognize that there needs to be a brand new resolve to putting Him first above all else. We live in a very immoral and materialistic generation whose philosophy is, ‘If it makes me feel good can it be bad?’ You would think that we would learn some of the lessons of history. When Israel decided to make their choices with selfish motives they paid an awesome price. They became dominated by other nations. Their children were taken as slaves. Their wives and daughters were abused and sold in the market. They lost ownership of the things they called house and home. Their personal pride was driven from them and they became a distraught and discouraged people.
Maybe the parallel to our time does not fit all those terrible details but I send out a call. Come back! “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6) That’s a call to submission and obedience. That may not always be the expectation of the world. It may not even be comfortable to you but God will honour and bless that kind of confidence in Him.
Sometimes it will be a step of faith because we learn to obey before we see the results. But God will not fail. He is faithful and more willing to give than we are to receive.
Walk In The Light
“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.” Psalm 89:15
No one turns on the darkness. It just happens when the light goes out. Night comes when the sun goes down. The darkness is the result of the absence of light.
We used to get after our children for leaving lights on when they left a room. For a time, we had to bribe them with rewards for turning out the lights and being more considerate of the bills that we had to pay. However, I do not remember once telling them, “When you leave the room, turn on the darkness so we don’t waste the light.” We know what happens when the lights go out on a stormy night; we search for matches and candles so we can see something. Free activity is very limited. Vision and direction are stunted and stumbling results. It may seem funny but in absolute, total darkness it’s easy to be disoriented and lose your balance. It’s easy for your imagination to play tricks on you when the lights are out. We are creatures who are made for the light. For millennia, we have looked for options that will help us deal with the darkness. Fire, wax candles, oil lamps, gas lanterns, glow material, batteries and bulbs and electricity all become tools that we use to fight back the gloom and shadows.
It is true, though, that darkness does serve a very positive purpose. We sleep better when the lights are out. Rest comes easy when our eyes are no longer effective. However, darkness can be used for very evil purposes as well. The Bible says, “But men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19) That describes the base nature of humanity. People would prefer that no one see what they are doing when they are practicing what comes natural to them. When the light comes on and reveals the things that people do in their darkest hours it can be very embarrassing and uncomfortable.
That is what the gospel message is all about. The light of the truth of the Word of God helps us to see where we are going. It even helps us to see where we have been. The Light of the world can shine in our hearts to challenge the darkness of sorrow, discouragement and despair and drive it away. It is the presence of God and His love that invites us to step out of the Kingdom of darkness into His marvellous light where purity and wholeness, through His forgiveness, become realities. It is also in His presence that we understand the true purpose of why we are alive and where we are going in the future. We don’t need to feel our way around, guessing at probabilities. We have the assurance that a life surrendered to God is a life that can experience the light and freedom of His love. Invite the Light of the world into your life and let Him teach you His ways.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” John 10:9
It does concern some that we might be very narrow minded when we say that, “there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) We have learned that Salvation is through the name of Jesus and no other. Some would like to widen the road to heaven to include the name of Jesus along with other gods and prophets. They argue that there are a lot of good people in other religions that believe they are going to a heaven of some kind. They would insist that we should be open to encouraging them to continue on their path of choice to their ‘hoped for destination.’ After all, as someone has said, “Every coin has two sides.” That is but when you’re talking about the eternal soul of man, to live in heaven or hell, I believe that it’s very important to know that there’s only one way to get to heaven and a thousand ways to go to hell.
And someone else has said, “All roads lead to heaven.” The truth is, any other road is the wrong road and it may lead you to many places but definitely not to heaven.
When Jesus came into the world with the full intent of dying on the cross it was because there was absolutely no other way to bring salvation and eternal life to mankind. He came because He is the only way! We don’t need to be embarrassed to declare that truth anymore than a fireman needs not to be embarrassed who points the way to the only available exit from a burning building. He is doing us a great service in giving us good directions that will lead to a longer, safer life.
The truth of the matter is that there isn’t a lot of time to debate the fact of how to be saved or whether there are other possible options. We must believe the Word of God and respect the directions that He has given us. The philosophers, wise men and those with good intentions who think about eternity have got to stop trusting in their ideas and come to accept the plan that God has given for us to follow.
That’s the message that needs to be told. We should speak it with confidence because we are living in a world that is seeking for solutions to what happens to us when we leave this world behind. At some time in each persons life each one needs to have an adequate presentation of the Gospel message shared with them. This is the message of the Church to the world today. It is not shared to exclude others but rather to welcome all to be a part of Gods solution to the real necessities of mankind. Jesus is the answer to our world in need; there is no other and we are the ones to tell that story. A world of lost souls should have the opportunity to hear the message and then to make their choice.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
“Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them..” Luke 16:27.28
Did you hear the story of the young couple in India, believers in one of the religions of the Orient, who in their quest for peace sought the counsel of their priest? They had tried everything they could think of that would satisfy the desires of their heart. To them, no sacrifice would be too great. As they shared with their spiritual leader they were shocked and dismayed to hear him say, “If you really want true peace, you must take your little child and throw him into the Ganges river as an offering to our god.” Broken hearted, but willing to risk their all to gain the satisfaction they were longing for, they made their way to the riverside. On the banks with a final wail and a sob they cast their little newborn treasure to the murky waters of the Ganges. They clung to each other in sobs hoping that the depths of their sorrow would birth the peace that they long had sought after.
A stranger, seeing their tearful embrace but ignorant of what had just transpired, approached them. “May I pray with you? I serve a God who loves you and understands your sorrow and who longs to give peace to every man.” He shared his own testimony of how Jesus Christ had come into his heart and washed away all his sins and that it is Jesus who continues to add His blessings to his life. His life was now in the Lords hands and he had a peace that passes all understanding. He asked the young couple if they would like to ask Jesus to come into their hearts. He bowed his head and prayed the sinners prayer with them. With the amen, the young lady, wiping the tears from her face and with a pleading look at the stranger, asked the simple question. ‘Why didn’t you come sooner?’
That’s a big question. The truth is, there are multitudes who stand on the banks of life searching for peace. Some are prepared to do anything to find the peace that we know. It takes a heart that weeps for them in their loneliness, in their sorrow, in their addictions and in their broken relationships to reach out to each; not with a sermon but with a story, the story of Gods love. Someone has said that the biggest obstacle to Missions is the lack of concern of the people in the Church. That couldn’t be true of a people who have experienced the Grace and Mercy of a loving God, could it? Is it possible that we have been satisfied so long that we do not see the pain of others? Jesus saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd and He wept over them. They still need to be told the Good News. Will you look, see, go and then tell your story before it’s too late? Look today.
Telling the Good News
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
Jesus asked the question, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) That could be the answer to the question, “How much is a soul worth?” Have you ever given that much thought? I’m sure that you know and understand the price that was paid to freely provide your Salvation. We are reminded often, in times of worship and under the sound of Gods Word, that Jesus gave His life on the cross so that we could be part of the Divine family of God. I’m sure that you understand that the story and the application of those facts are Gods gift to us, not based on anything more than the truth that God loved us while we were still sinners and enemies of God. We can’t boast of any accomplishments that would make us worthy of receiving that marvellous gift.
The principle is simple. When we realize that God gave so much and that all He asks of us is to accept that wonderful offer, we are welcomed into a brand new relationship with an Awesome God.
But let me press this a little bit further. We could never repay what Jesus did for us on the cross. The cost was too high. But I want to remind us all, we owe a debt to Him that should be repaid by our loyalty and commitment to do the things that He wants us to do. That’s a call to faithful obedience.
The thing that is closest to His heart is to broadcast the message of His wonderful love and what He has done, that more would come to love and trust Him. In other words, we need to tell the story; to reach the lost; to share His life with this generation; to be bold in our living because we have been made a part of His heavenly family. We dare not hold back the truth. There’s a world ‘out there’ that has read all the bad things about “Christians.” It’s time they learned the truth. We’re a body of believers who have had our sins forgiven and have a regular relationship with our living Lord. The experiences we live are joyful and exciting. We’re not long-faced morons. We care for the wounded and hurting of our generation. We’re sorry for the bad impressions that some have made who claim to be what we really are and we want to make it clear, ‘Serving God is wonderful.’ That’s what the good news is all about.
“But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1John 1:7
It didn’t matter what we were doing during the day, one of the rules that we learned as children was: “You don’t come to the dinner table until you’ve washed your hands.” For a long time I was sure that was a verse in the Bible. It was preached often to us as kids but I never learned where, exactly, it was found. I think it’s in the book of Hezekiah. (Don’t look for it!)
Cleanliness and strict rules of separation were principles that the Nation of Israel had to learn as they walked through the desert wilderness. That is primarily the lessons that the book of Leviticus deals with. To us, it seems like a lot of rules and regulations that touch almost every area of life. The clear message through all of the details was that God is ‘holy’ and requires that His people be ‘holy.’ ( holy – without sin, righteous, clean )
I’m not going to get profoundly theological on you at this time, but being holy is what being clean is all about. God has a treasure house of blessings that He wants to share with His people every day. But the problem is that we need to be clean when we come into His presence or we will remain unable to receive and understand what His blessings are all about.
You see, my Mother wasn’t way out when she insisted that I have clean hands before I ate my dinner. Her principle is easy to understand. You should never eat good, wholesome food with dirty hands. Gods principle should be received in the same manner. If we sincerely want Gods blessings we need to come in a way that is pleasing to Him because, in the end, it’s good for us. The psalmist asked the question, “Who may ascend to the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3,4)
God wants to meet with every sinner in the whole, wide world to let us all know that we can be made clean and pleasing to Him. All the things that offend our wonderful, loving Lord can be washed away under the precious blood of Jesus. That cleansing agent is what takes care of all the spots, stains and uncleanness of a life that is not pleasing to God and brings us to holiness and “..without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
The process is free for the asking. No matter where you’ve been or who you are, God loves you and invites you to come to Him and be made clean.
God longs to share His Divine presence with us. But the requirements must be met. Simply, we must believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He provided a way that we can all be made clean of the things that displease the Father.
“The blood of Jesus Christ Gods Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:7
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1
You’ve got to keep your eyes wide open all the time. I mean, it’s a dangerous world out there. Now I’m not trying to scare anyone, but I do want to encourage us all to be on the lookout for our brother. You see, we are our brothers keeper and the Lord has advised us, “To be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)
You’ve heard it said that the proper order of service is ‘Jesus first, Others second and You at last.’ That is how you spell JOY and it is totally contrary to the way the world thinks. Sometimes we get caught up in making our own lives comfortable and our agendas according to what is convenient. Think of others. It’s a fact that we are not all at the same level of maturity in our walk of Faith. There are a lot of folk who are a couple of steps behind us. We could scold them to hurry up. We could berate them because they take so long to enter in to the worship the way we do; or we could condemn them for their being distracted by their struggles against the enemy. The fact remains, we need to look out for them as loving brothers. We must care for their condition and help them in their growing experiences. It’s care they need, not lectures. It’s love not rules. It’s patience not insistence. What do we gain by making them angry because they are not like we are? They need to know that we love them right where they are.
We do a great service to the Kingdom of God if we will take time to call a word of encouragement to the stragglers; or give a warm embrace to the discouraged; or just a plain, sincere, ‘How are you?’ Someone has said that the best medicine against personal depression is to be an encourager of others. We need to practice that kind of remedy for ourselves.
It is shameful to think that many people only come to Church to get a blessing. No, I didn’t say that wrong and I’m not swinging on any chandeliers. Somehow, we need to learn that people are blessed when we are a blessing. That is, we come together to give a blessing and to serve people and the Lord. It is a fact that more people become committed to a Church because someone cared to demonstrate love to them than by many of the great sermons of many preachers. We need a change in attitude from “serve us” to “service.”
Reach out and touch someone today. It’s a dangerous world out there and we need to be on guard...... for our brother.
Becoming Little 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.” Mark 10:14
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 as a child you’ve been there and done that, too? After all, we argue, we have become mature adults and we put away all childish things. Maybe that’s the key to the major problems of our world. We have become independent and self-sufficient. We are educated and capable of working through our own problems. We are strong enough to defend our rights and we’ve arrived to where we are by the sweat of our brow and our ingenuity.
Hey, that’s not 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 supply for the burdens of life. Worse, we have arrived to “maturity” and don’t need God anymore.
Society is the proof, most people believe they can make it to heaven on their own. We need an attitude change. Jesus said that we needed to become like little children. Look at the innocence and the trusting beauty of the little children as they walk hand in hand with a parent or skip along the street to the beat a children’s song. Visit a playground or a park and watch the lively antics of these little treasures who bounce with boundless energy, until bedtime.
There are lessons to learn:
- We need to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need the help of our heavenly Father. He’s waiting for us to call
- We can’t get to heaven unless we come to the Father as trusting little children and commit our ways to Him.
- There are times when we need to drop our guard and let those around us have access to what is happening in our lives.
- 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.
You Too, Are Famous
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
Word has it that a famous hockey player is worth 9 million a year. That’s probably more than all of us combined will make in a life time. I wonder, do you think that God is impressed by his hockey prowess? Do you think the angels in heaven will stand in line for his autograph, if he makes it through the pearly gates? In Gods eyes, how many of you would it take to make the value of that famous hockey player?
Hey, let me remind you that when the last puck is shot and all the hockey sticks are returned to their place in the dressing room and the role is called up yonder, that you will stand in the presence of God as His own son while any famous sportsman, unless he’s born again, will stand on his own. You see, the transition from the dressing room to the Palace of the King has a way of changing a lot of things that seem to be valuable and important. The King of hockey or the fastest racer has no more honour in the courts of heaven than the lowly beggar on Granville street in Vancouver.
You see, when Peter says that we are bought, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect, he was talking about real value. Dollars and cents could never buy my Salvation nor does being worldly famous give me extra credits in heaven. God was willing to let His own Son die as the only price that could set me free from sin and give me access to His Divine presence. That means, in Gods sight, my personal value has increased an awful lot by the value that was necessary to pardon my transgressions. You see, because of what Jesus did in my place, the Father in Heaven looks upon me as one of His family. That puts me in line for a tremendous title and inheritance plus a very special relationship with our Heavenly Father when I finally go to His house.
However, the day of accountability will call us to report on what we’ve done with what we’ve got and how we have related our lives to His plan. The famous and the not so famous will have to stand before Him to give account of our Spiritual worth not our monetary worth. The bottom line is that He loves you and me, not for what we do nor have done, but because we trust in Him. The Bible speaks of the day of rewards as including crowns and laurels and commendations for running the race faithfully. You are worth a lot more than any famous sports person on earth because Jesus is your friend.
He Gave Thanks and Broke It
“Therefore, as Gods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12
He... “gave thanks and broke it...” It was one of those very special occasions when Jesus was alone with His disciples, eating, teaching and just visiting with them; and then,... “He gave thanks.”
He gave thanks because He was grateful that His daily needs were met by a wonderful, Heavenly Father who cared. Anyone who has been without food for any length of time knows how blessed we are to be able to eat, whenever we want. But His gratitude went a lot deeper as He gave thanks. Holding the bread in his hands, knowing that within hours those hands that had been laid upon many a sick and weary person, would be pierced by Roman spikes, He gave thanks.
He gave thanks that salvation could become a reality to a world of lost humanity. He knew the price that must be paid and the pain that would be involved but He looked forward to that moment with joy, because He would be able to present each of us to His heavenly Father, pardoned through his sacrifice on the cross. He... “gave thanks and broke it...”
The bread had to be broken to be shared. He wasn’t just thinking about Himself. He had the needs of all of those around Him, on His heart. A selfish person would have thought only of Himself, but He broke the bread and passed it to His disciples. Each one must have a share of what He gave. It was a gift from Jesus, to be received, held and then to be personally taken. He did not come as a relic to be revered, studied and relegated to some book-shelf. Could you imagine the disciples putting the bread in their pockets to be consumed at some future date? It was to be eaten......NOW.
There are some who know all there is to know about Jesus and the cross and have treated those facts with dignity and respect because they believe they’re an expression of a true gift of God. But their lives have not been changed. Jesus wants those principles of His life giving sacrifice to be acted upon and received personally. In those moments with His disciples it was as though He held his own body in His hands and broke it to give Himself to His followers.
There are some who know all there is to know about Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross and have treated those facts with respect because they believe they’re true. There is another step to take. That is to live like He has become a part of our daily routine; at home and in the work place. He gave Himself. Have you received Him?
God’s Peace Gift
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Don Richardson , one of the first Missionaries to reach into unexplored Papua, New Guinea, tells us of his experiences in reaching the Natives and adapting to their culture. He discovered that deception was considered a virtue to these very primitive people. Their greatest pleasure was in befriending members of other tribes and leading the new friends into a trap, under the guise of goodness and kindness, where the unsuspecting person would eventually be murdered. Needless to say, the details of the process that led to the homicide was recounted, again and again, around the campfires amidst the laughter of the men in admiration of the killers astuteness in accomplishing the “wonderful” deception. The problem was that the other tribe was not content until vengeance was measured upon the perpetrators of the foul deed. Thus, the history of the tribes was often stained with the blood of innocent victims who died in the execution of the virtue of deception.
However, in their unwritten laws, there was a provision to stop the carnage. By mutual agreement of the leaders of the warring tribes, a newborn son was taken from each of the tribes and a ceremony exchanging the “Peace Child” was celebrated. Peace would rule with the understanding that one of “ours” now lived with the other tribe and therefore harmony should be respected.
The Holy Spirit quickened the heart of Don Richardson as he recognized that the ceremony of the Natives had a clear application in the gospel message that he had struggled to convey. God gave us His only Son for the very same reason that the tribes exchanged their children: to make peace with mankind. Suddenly, the truth of the reason Jesus came into the world was seen in a different light. He was Gods “Peace Child” who came to be the expression of Gods love to each of us. The war is over! The Son of God came to live among us that we could be reconciled to the Father.
Once a month, we remember the Lords death through the holy Communion emblems. Without Jesus sacrifice, on our behalf, we remain at war with the will and purpose of God. There is nothing that we can humanly do to stop the war because we can not offer God anything that would justify a peaceful relationship with Himself. However, God took the initiative and extended a Peace offering to us in Jesus Christ. The moment we take the step of faith and accept Jesus into our lives the war comes to a conclusion. We are brought into His family by virtue of the Gift of His Son and welcomed to live under His pardon and forgiveness.
Invite Jesus into your life today and allow the Holy Spirit to be your Friend, Guide and Helper each day.
Part of the Team
“To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” Ephesians 4: 7
Missions is very important because reaching the lost has always been the plan of the heart of God. The amazing thing is that He invites us to participate in His project to bring all men to Himself. Without exception, we are all drafted into His service. Our areas of personal responsibility may be very different from each other, but like a well prepared and trained army, if we all do what we are supposed to do, when He asks us to, there is no enemy that can stand in the way of the Church of Jesus Christ. We need to learn the value of each one of us doing our part. We often feel like we are very insignificant cogs in the great workings of God. The fact is that without everyone carrying part of the load, the work will only be delayed. Without exception, everyone is important to the working of Gods purposes in the world.
What you and I do may appear to be very small in the overall picture of Gods plan; but all that the Lord asks of us is to be faithful with what He has committed to our responsibility and care. It may take the form of concentrated prayer, or special giving of our finances, or going to someone, in love, to tell them that Jesus died for them or just being a loving, available shoulder to cry on. We must work in cooperation, as one body, or the task would be too gigantic to tackle. There is great power in the unity of a body of people who are moved to become a part of the program of God. God does add His blessings as a reward for our faithfulness.
As one giver to another, we need to pool our Missions offerings with other congregations in other places, to meet the needs of those who are ministering in foreign lands because, “… how can they preach unless they are sent.” (Romans 10:15) Our giving helps to meet the needs of those who are on the front lines of the battle to take back the world from the enemy of the souls of mankind. Missionaries are not our substitutes as we’ve heard some describe them. They are another part of the team that are depending on us to fulfill our part on the home front. We shall all get our rewards, in due time, because we share in the harvest of the lost. Let’s also remember to pray for these who have become our extended family and are serving the Lord far from their homes and the comforts that we enjoy. They need to know that we have not forgotten them. Our prayers for courage, comfort and strength may be necessary to keep their hearts focused on their goals. They also need our prayers because they rely on the power of the Spirit of God to drive home the message of the Grace and Mercy of God.
God bless you as you remember the reason for the Cross of Calvary was to reach the Lost.
The Master and The Cook
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
A PARABLE OF A FAMILY
In ancient times there was a great and wealthy Master who was blessed with many wonderful children. He loved each one of them very much and desired nothing but the best for them. He provided his shelter and protection as they grew up and made himself available to them whenever they needed his counsel or assistance. Because he wanted only the best meals for his children, he appointed a cook who had received special training in order to provide the very best food, properly spiced and cooked so that his children would grow up to be healthy and strong. Each day he personally gave directions to the cook on the progress of the development of his children with personal recommendations to help the cook do his appointed task with all diligence. It so happened that the cook was very obedient in following the Masters instructions and very committed to doing the work that was his responsibility. He applied himself conscientiously because he, too, had come to love the Masters children.
Each child became very special to him and his efforts for their provision and sustenance were labours of love. He applied himself in understanding the individual needs of each of the children and prepared meals that were designed to help them in their growth and development. He knew that sometimes he would have to prepare things that the children would not like but were necessary for a balanced diet. He even tried new recipes, occasionally, so that they would have a variety of good things that were provided by the Father.
However, he noted that although he worked very hard at his duties, from time to time some of the children were not coming 'home' for their regular meals. This caused great concern to the cook and also made the Father very upset. The Father felt very strongly that meal times were meant to be shared with the family and that it would be the duty of each child to respect the wishes of the Father, to be at home when the meals were prepared. He knew that the cook had worked very hard to do what was expected of him and that both he and the cook had only the best interests for the children upon their hearts. He knew that no one else could possibly care for them as well as he, although the children might believe otherwise. He did expect his children to be at home in their proper place, on time, as a part of the family. The children realized that what their Father wanted them to do was for their own good, because he loved them so much. And because they loved him too, they were willing to honour his request.
Pastors/ministers/priests often work many hours in the preparation of a Sunday sermon only to find that some of their congregation is not there to receive what God has laid upon their hearts. Let’s be diligent to be at the meeting place at the appointed time.
A Shot In The Air
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
He was still a young man. He had grown up in the home of a caring, loving father and mother. He and his younger sister lacked nothing in this world. They had the security of a home, food, clothes, education, and fellowship with a Bible believing Congregation. But, privately, his father described him as “a shot in the air.” As far as his father was concerned, his son was a waste of a life. He would never amount to anything. In spite of the monetary investment that was intended to bring a healthy young man into the world of maturity and responsibility he had turned out to be nothing but ‘a bum.’ After 24 years, his father gave up on him. He was a hopeless loser. It was a heartbreaker for the parents who felt so frustrated in the situations that had captured their son and denied them the fulfillment of their desires and dreams.
But I’ve also learned that God does not give up, under any circumstances. People may deny His existence and curse His name, mistreat His Son and malign His message of love; but God does not surrender when the situation seems impossible. To God, no person is “a shot in the air.” There is value in each one. He patiently works upon the hearts of the rebellious and the prodigals of life. He still reaches into the hearts and homes of people who have been written off by society. He cares for the bitter, the hurting, the angry, the proud and the worldly mighty. Until life’s final breath, He will consistently and persistently be on their case; neither in judgment nor condemnation, but in love.
There is a powerful potential in the life of every individual that God sees and longs to develop. That is why the lost must be found and the wayward brought back to a loving relationship with the Master. God is industrious as our Creator and Developer. If He can take a lump of clay and make it one of the most beautiful things in all of creation, you better believe that He can work that same miracle in the rejects of our world. There is hope. Some of us have loved ones who have shown absolutely no appreciation for spiritual matters. That person could be your spouse, your child or a close friend. God knows and He cares. But let’s remember that God calls us to work together with Him.
1. Our praying for others is one of the main processes to prepare the hearts of people to receive the work of God.
2. It’s our watching for opportunities to speak Gods Word into their lives that is the process of sowing good seed that will result in the transformation of others.
3. Our example of a living faith makes a clear pattern for others to follow to know the same Lord we know.
4. And finally, our trust in God, in spite of the passage of time, demonstrates our confidence that a life placed in the hands of a loving God through our spiritual commitment will always result in a benefit beyond our understanding. God is faithful!
Fight Like A Real Man
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12
During these days of wars and rumours of wars, of economic unrest, of terror in the streets throughout many communities around the world, people living in fear of a diseases that, as yet, have not cure, we are smelling the breath of the dragon. He’s the one behind it all. We don’t see him but we see what he does and the effect of his actions on all of humanity; and he’s not finished yet. More than anyone else he knows that his time is short. I don’t know if he seriously thinks he has a chance to win this war but I see the evidences of his malignant intent to destroy as much as he possibly can while he has time. His efforts are not just in the realm of the physical but much of what he does is intended to hurt the spiritual of every one of us. His intention is to distract us from trusting God; to overwhelm us with the sorrow and tragedy so that we begin to lose the reason of faith.
There are three options for us to follow under these circumstances.
1. We can just ignore the situation and hope that it will go away. ( I think this is the option that most of the world is choosing.)
2. We can try to hide by withdrawing from any public activity and being very selective in our friendships.
3. We can call on God to intervene in all the matters that are such a grave concern to our society and then, live in confidence that He is still in control and that He is going to show Himself through all the situations that cause us apprehension.
From our vantage point it appears that we are totally helpless in resolving the present world crisis. Not so!! We may feel insignificant in light of the monstrosity of the world-wide effects of our enemies actions but prayer is a resource of power that equips the weakest saint and makes him a giant killer. Someone has said, “Get down on your knees and fight like a real man.” The Bible reminds us that, “The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Strongholds include the foxholes and caves of the physical enemy as well as the shadowy side of Satan’s habitation. God knows them all.
There are groups of believers, around the world, who are becoming aware of the need of seeking the Lord in earnest intercession as a call for His intervention in earthly affairs. We have neglected prayer as a weapon of war. It is a powerful tool that plugs into an unlimited resource, across unlimited distances to accomplish unlimited tasks, in the name of the Lord. Do you want to see what God can do? Do you want to see a resolution to the international problems that have gripped the world? If there ever was a contribution that believers could make in a spiritual conflict it’s through prayer and it’s now!
The Guide Of The Future
“Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Luke 12:24
Ira Stanphill wrote,
“Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know He holds my hand.”
Those words were born out of a quiet confidence in the power, protection and provision of our Lord as Ira went through some difficult times. God has purposed, in His wisdom, that the future be a mystery to us. There are many details that are hidden from our understanding that are well known to Him. You see, He knows all the happenings of every tomorrow because, to Him, they are just as clear as this present moment. (Jeremiah 29:11) That’s why it is important to trust Him and not to fear what may come our way. Of course there may be things that will be concerns to us that we are totally unaware of at this instant. There will also be the wonderful times that make such great memories for ‘future reference.’ Throughout all the experiences to be discovered in these coming days, let’s be assured that God has never surrendered control of His creation and that ‘our times’ are in His hands. (Psalm 31:15)
He has promised that He will never abandon us but will always remain as a Loving, Heavenly Father faithfully caring for our every need. (Hebrews 13:5) For people who don’t know the Lord their search for answers to future situations has led them to consult teacups, palm readers, horoscopes and other kinds of fortune tellers. But there’s nothing that gives the kind of peace of heart and mind as a growing faith that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28)
As believers, we have an additional matter of blessing for the future as we live in expectation of the return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He has promised a latter rain experience for those who hunger and thirst for Him and for those who are willing to seek His face that His promises may be fulfilled in our time. I believe that when the Church leaves this old world behind that we are not going to leave with our tail between our legs but in Triumph because the purposes of God will be accomplished according to His plan. We’re on the victory side and the enemy knows that. Let’s believe and live like the conquerors we were designed to be. I count it a great joy to be in fellowship with others of His Church who get excited about the opportunities to serve the Lord in these days.
As we enter a new day/month/year, let’s do it with confident faith that these are going to be wonderful days as we experience the power of God released into the world in the preparation of His return.
The Good News Is Still Good News
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1
There’s not a lot of good news in the papers these days. Besides the trashy stuff, the papers are full of accidents, murders, robberies, reports of wars, bad political decisions and the list goes on and on. You might get the impression that nothing good is going on in our world today. The truth is that you don’t sell newspapers with good news. People are more interested in the blood, gore, crime and deception. Society wants to find out, ‘who else has been victimized today.’ That’s what makes the news.
If you want to hear some good news, you’ll have to go to Church. There you’ll hear that it’s the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that will give you a life changing experience. If we could take the time to interview the folk that gather there I’m sure you would hear stories of deliverance, healing of body, soul and spirit and the faithfulness of God to supply our needs. There are folk there who have gone through deep trials but have a new story to tell.
The message of the Gospel is a message of hope and new life. Jesus Christ came into the world to make a difference in our lives. His word promises that ‘old things will pass away and all things will become new.’ Jesus said that He came to “bring us life and that more abundantly.” There are transformations that occur when Jesus Christ comes into our lives. Our Sunday gatherings are times of celebration where our joyful praise and worship expresses our gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful things that He does in each of us. Sometimes we praise Him by faith because we believe that He is going to answer our prayers in spite of how we ‘feel’ today.
God is good --- all the time! Even to the discouraged and depressed, the message of His wonderful love and power encourage us to leave the stresses and strains all around us and find a place of rest in Him. There is good news in the house of God. He knows us best but He still shows us He loves us the most.
This same gospel message can change our society. Drugs, alcohol, thievery, murders and rapes will become a part of history as one by one the heart of each citizen responds to the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is coming a day when Jesus Himself will reign over all the earth. There will be universal peace and harmony because all of creation will be under His direction. What a tremendous day that will be! But even today we can begin to know the power of His presence as we give ourselves to Him. There is Power to Change in the message of His love. If you haven’t discovered that, yet, give your Pastor a call and have a little chat with him.
Don’t delay. Do it today. God wants to make this a day of Victory for you.
The Value of Faith
“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
How much would you be willing to pay for a kilo of Faith? Well, if an amount the size of a mustard seed can move great mountains I imagine a kilo would be worth quite a bit. Faith is what brings the hand of God to intervene in the matters around us. Someone has said that faith is the coin of heaven; but it’s made to be usable while we live here on earth.
When Jesus was teaching His disciples about end time events, He asked them a rhetorical question. “When I return shall I find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) That’s a good question that only the last generation can answer. I guess the best way to ensure that there will be lots of faith is to exercise the faith that we already have and pass the Word along so that others will do the same. That becomes a heritage to the next generation. As we read His Word, believe, trust and test the promises of God, our faith increases. Let me remind you that it doesn’t just happen by itself. There is something that I must do. Like exercise that builds good muscles and strengthens the bones, so the exercise of our faith builds a strong spiritual body. I heard someone say, “I gave up exercise because it makes me tired.” What he didn’t say was that the lack of exercise is also fatal. We need it to grow and keep strong and healthy.
Where does faith come from?
1. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) It comes through the ear gate on the message of the Gospel. Presenting ourselves to being attentive to the Word as it is preached puts us in a place where our faith is built up.
2. God has given everyone a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3) That is a heavenly gift that will bring us heavenly blessings when we invest it back into His kingdom. You’ve got it, already. What we do with that gift is up to us. Let me suggest a couple of things.
.. Get into the Word. There is no way that a 2 hour dose of Church on Sunday is enough to keep us growing in God for the rest of the 166 hours of the week. We need to be into the Word every day.
.. We need to press in to prayer earnestly believing that God has a perfect plan for our lives and we need to get to know Him better to understand what that is. Prayer is one of the means of exercising faith. As our needs come to us, we lift them into the Fathers presence and believe that He will answer as He said He would.
These are exciting days to be alive and to see the gracious hand of the Lord doing so many wonderful things for us. Let’s learn to be people of faith. Not living off the faith of others but being people of faith. There is a difference.
Above All Else
“For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Psalms 97:9
We need a move of Gods holy presence upon us. There is absolutely nothing that can take the place of His blessing upon our lives and in our Church. We need Him! It’s strange how our focus can be so altered by the things and experiences of the world that misdirect us from seeking His face to seeking our comfort and our good. You see, most of us have issues that the devil drops into our laps that are seemingly important. It could be hurts or temptations. It could be financial or relational. To every one of us, we need to learn to lay them all before the Lord and remember that we are designed to seek Him. The confusion comes when we seek Him for what He can do for us and not for Who He is. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is worthy of our praise, all the time. The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it concisely when he says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” 12:1 Did you hear that? Our eyes fixed on Jesus not on any other thing that could distract us in our service for the Lord.
How do we do that in a practical way? Let me give you a few suggestions.
1. The Lord loves us with an everlasting love. That is an unchangeable. There is no one who cares for our eternal welfare like Jesus. We are ‘the apple of His eye.’ He is not simply interested in us because of our beauty, intellect or financial status. He loves us because He is love.
2. He has created us to develop a relationship with Himself. He wants us to understand that no matter what experience we face in life that He is most interested in building a trusting confidence in His ability to work out all things for our good than in simply answering our prayers. Jesus asked the question, one time, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’” (Luke 5:23) To Jesus, the healing problem was nothing compared to the relationship that the forgiveness of sins would bring.
3. If we have trouble reaching out to God it is possible that the enemy has dropped a few things on us that have become the cumbersome stuff that entangles us and hinders our vision for Him. The answer? A simple but sincere prayer. “ Dear God, I love You and want You to help me through the obstacle course of life so that I never lose sight of You through all the twisting and turnings of my journey.” Then, trust God!
4. We need to put ourselves in a place where we can open our hearts to worship Him, in spite of feelings, and tell Him that we love Him and need Him more and more each day. Worship is the key. We are blessed when we practice the art of worship.
Smile A While
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
Our ‘faith’ is worth getting excited about. We’ve got good reason to be enthusiastic about what the Lord has done for us; for what He does in each of us and for what He is about to do in this world. We are a very blessed and privileged people. I heard someone say, one time, “Even on the worst days of my life, I am very blessed.” Isn’t that the truth? We have so much to be thankful for and so many reasons to be joyful in spite of the disappointing things that happen in our world today. The most important things that the Lord has done for us are done inside of our lives where no none notices. I believe it is time that we showed some of the joy and the peace of His kindness on our countenances. We are the book that the world reads concerning the practical aspects of believing and trusting in God.
As people watch us, they ought to see something that would attract them to Jesus by the things that we say and do. It’s not right that we should hide His grace in our hearts and keep the world guessing about what it is that is so important to us. The Psalmist said, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9) The image that many in the secular world have of “believers” is not very complimentary. But then, they can’t be blamed, totally. Check out some of the folk around you and see if they are any different than those that don’t know the Lord. Aside from the fact that we are ‘human’ and have our problems like everyone else, we do have a resource that the world does not possess.
Let me remind you that we used to sing a little chorus in Sunday school that goes something like this: “Smile a while, and give your face a rest…” There’s not much theology in those phrases but some good counsel just the same. There is a saying that a smile given away will receive a smile in return. Paul wrote to the Philippian Church and exhorted them to “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) I think it’s interesting that Christians need to be told to be a joyful people. Come on! There is too much sadness in this world and we need to get our society back on track. There is a reason to have joy in the Lord. There is a wonderful benefit to possessing a trust and confidence in a Mighty God who loves and cares for those who believe in Him. The unwritten gospel message that is read on our faces ought to be a message that attracts enquiring interest in what makes us tick. A loving smile can make the difference. Someone has said, “You have a face that would stop a clock.” That can change, with a little effort. The telephone company has given courses for receptionists and one of their bits of advice is that people can tell if you are smiling when you talk on the phone. That is a pleasant conversational tool, especially for Christians.
He Sees The End From The Beginning
“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalms 56:13
He is an Awesome God. History tells the story of His loving investments in the needs of humanity. It stretches our minds to think that the Creator of all things, the Maker of heaven and earth, would take such profound interest in any of us. After all, as human beings, our track record for good behavior is atrocious. I’m sure that if we had the authority of God we would have taken the fast, easy way to bring a solution to the constant bickering and waywardness of mankind. But not so with God; because even in our personal rebellious ways, He is still a very faithful and loving friend. After all, He is love. That never changes with the emotional swings of mortality. He is the unchanging rock of commitment and affection that plans methods of restoration and not destruction. That’s why the stories of history demonstrate His very special interest in each of us.
Even the times of judgment are written lessons of His loving correction that would serve a dual purpose:
1. to get us back on track in ways that please God and
2. to develop things that are best for us.
It may appear that God is selfishly imposing His will upon us and exercising His power and authority over us against our free choice. The truth is, that all of Gods choices are first of all, for our good. He sees beyond the reasons of our choices to the final result and knowing the end from before the beginning He exercises His will for our good. Sometimes that may be sorrowful for us but the end result will always be to benefit us for timeless eternity. To encourage your heart listen to this: “If the Lord delights in a mans way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23, 24) God knows all the details and the derails that are involved in the decision processes that we go through and will affirm what is best for us. Now, that ought to bring encouragement to us.
It is sometimes hard to explain the fact that Gods intervention in the matters of our lives are not with selfish motives but with an eye to increase our joy. His very character would not allow Him to be anything less than a very loving, patient and caring God. We need to trust Him! Although we do not take pleasure in all the things that come our way, there are, sometimes, unseen purposes that God wants to develop. The bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) Many of the miracles that He has done prove that He is God and at the same time they demonstrate His compassion for each of us. There is nothing impossible for Him to accomplish and He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10
He’s the Lord of glory! He has all power and wisdom to do whatever He wills. That may be a mystery to us, sometimes, because we don’t understand why God does some things and doesn’t do other things. That is the side of God that we may never fully understand until we reach heaven. It’s in those kinds of situations that we need to trust Him and believe that He is righteous and does all things well. We may have a lot of questions when it comes to some very personal dealings with Him because He doesn’t always do what we want Him to do. To be honest, it may be confusing to us but we need to recognize, that’s His privilege because He is God. Trusting Him, when we don’t know what He’s doing is the hard part of the walk of faith. Knowing Him in a personal way does bring a settled assurance that He does what is best. That’s the lesson we need to learn.
Now I’ve heard it said by some ‘influential’ speakers that ‘whatever you declare and believe that’s what you’ll receive.’ I’d like to think that is true but I’ve discovered that it doesn’t always work out that way for the simple reason, I don’t know all the details involved and God does. So, His not answering some of my prayers is because He is a merciful God who will not give me what is not good for me even though I think otherwise. That brings me to the big issue of healing. If there is any area of mystery and controversy in modern theology it lies here. Why are some people healed and others not? Why do some good people die young and some bad people live long lives? Why is pain and suffering so common when we know that Almighty God has the ability to speak a word and remove all the discomfort that has invaded our society? Why are there so many plagues and other such problems in the world that cause universal concern? Who knows the answers to these questions? I would like to tell you that I do! I said, I would like to….. but I don’t understand all these things either. I have learned, however, that God has never lost control of any situation. He still is all wise and all powerful and even though He does allow some things to happen that look like disasters He is always a merciful and compassionate friend to those who trust Him.
In a more personal way, whatever situation that comes our way, delight in the good experiences and learn to trust God in the uncomfortable ones. He loves you with an everlasting love. There are lessons to learn. The biggest one is to trust Him when the road gets rough and believe in Him when we can’t see the end of the journey. I can assure you of one fact. God is a Wonderful God and the journey is almost over. He is bigger than all my problems; bigger than all my fears; bigger than all the tornadoes that sweep this globe; bigger than all the worries that I can’t resolve. He is an Awesome God!
“Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day.” John 11:24
I’ve never seen it happen. From our human perspective, Death is the end of the road and the possibility of someone coming out of the grave is unbelievable. I think I’m pretty safe in saying that you haven’t seen anyone come out of their tomb either, no matter how good their life was and no matter how much money they had in their bank account. We all expect that one day we’ll take the route that leads to the cemetery and be carried by six strong men who will deposit our remains into the empty spot especially prepared for that moment.
Personally, I haven’t made up the details of the schedule for those final moments of my earthly existence, yet, but I do know this one thing; (hang on to your hat): I will rise again! Now I want you to know that I’m not bragging when I let you in on that little secret, but I do know my rights. Paul said that Jesus was, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) He was Number One in the process of the resurrection and after Him come the multitudes who believe that the plan of Salvation provided by Him on the cross of Calvary includes the hope that we shall rise again when the time is right. This earthly journey is very brief at best but it is only a painful pilgrimage in time until we begin to live eternally. You see, when Jesus came into the world His intention was to bring us through the valley of the shadow of death into a timeless eternity of life in the presence of God and under His full blessings.
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the full price for all our sins. He took the consequences of our mistakes upon Himself which made me free to enjoy my new liberty in Him. You remember way back in Genesis that Death became one of the natural results of Sin. Adam and Eve could have avoided death if they had been obedient to Gods Word. From their initial sin, death entered into the life-span of humanity because all have sinned. However, when Jesus paid the price in full through His death, that meant that Death has no permanent claim on my life any longer. I view “Death” as a doorman who must open the way to eternity as I pass through his territory. Death is not a final resting place. Jesus changed that. Death has become a gateway that leads to the Fathers eternal presence.
But then, I’ve neglected to tell you that some will not walk ‘through’ the valley of the shadow of death. When Jesus returns to this world, there will be the sound of a loud trumpet and the shout of an angel that will call all Believers, living and dead, to a meeting in the air and we shall all be caught away. (1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18) I’m looking forward to that moment with great anticipation. That’s one of the reasons that Easter is my favourite time of the year.
Among Many, But Alone
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.” Genesis 32:24
God deals with us in personal ways. We are not all bunched up like a can of sardines. We do appreciate the times we are together and are able to unite our voices in praise and worship and assent to the Ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives through the preaching of the Word. But it is interesting that we can all be a part of the worshiping body and yet each one receives something personal through the ministries. That’s because God knows our hearts and what we require and He is able to give one message that meets a variety of needs. The Holy Spirit is the One who enlightens us and distributes the blessings according to the openness of our hearts. Each one is special to Him and how He ministers to you will be totally different from the brother or sister sitting beside you.
Do you remember when the Apostle Paul was sharing his testimony with an angry crowd? He told them how Jesus came to him as a bright light on the road to Damascus. Listen to his words: “My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.” (Acts 22:9) All that were in Paul’s group had a fantastic experience that day but it seems that Paul was the only one who got the message. God had a personal matter that He wanted to deal with in changing the attitude of Paul from an angry persecutor to the call of serving Jesus Christ in a very special way. The congregation may have been small at that moment but God was there and He saw exactly what Saul of Tarsus needed in order to bring him into the ministry and to commission him into His service. The others could say that something strange had happened on their way to Damascus but Paul, alone could say, “Lord what do you want me to do?”
Let me assure you, God knows your need. He understands the stresses and pressures that you go through and He cares for you. When we come into His house to worship and learn of Him, we should keep our hearts free and open to hear what He has to say to us. There may be many others around us who are ‘there’ but none will receive exactly the same message that the Lord wants you and me to hear as the Spirit applies the Word. The key is to guard ourselves so that the channel of communication with God is kept clear and open. We can quickly plug up the lines that feed our hearts with spiritual food simply by thinking that everyone has to be on the same page as we are. Our God is a personal God. If you were the only person in the world that needed a Saviour He would still make Himself available for you. If you come to a Church service and you are the only one that has a longing to meet with Him, He will be there to meet with you. I can say that to everyone that comes under the sound of the Word of God because I believe that God has more to say to us than we are prepared to hear. Open you heart and let His Word speak to you.
God Knew It All Along
“He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire.” Psalm 46:9
It happens over and over. We pray for peace but it looks like war, again. There are always serious decisions that have to be made at those times. Some e decisions may involve the lives of the Youth of our nation and the horrors of open military conflict. With the terrible implements that may be used to destroy the lives of so many, so quickly, we need to be people of compassion and intercession to invest some of our prayer time in asking God to intervene.
We understand that what we are seeing lived out in our world today was foretold centuries ago. “There will be wars and rumours of wars, but do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” ( Mark 13:7) It is a sign of the time of the end. Another military conflict is not a glitch in the plan of God. He knew it was coming and that it could be used as a warning sign for the believers.
The war to end all wars is yet to come. We read about Armageddon in the book of Revelation as one of the final conflicts between righteousness and evil. I believe we are seeing the alignment of loyalties that will come against the nation of Israel for that battle. Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe the nations in Old Testament terms that will form their alliance to come against the nation of Israel. (Check it out for yourself.) This will be time for the nation of Israel to remember the words of their prophets spoken almost 3000 years ago. God will be their defence. The Bible says, “My hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord.” ( Ezekiel 38:18)
It appears, today, that Israel is not involved in the debate concerning other countries in the Middle East. They are preparing for a defensive war but are not at all a part of the discussions related to the whirlwind of war around them. Let the people of God be aware that in such serious moments of history we ought to guard ourselves in preparation for the grand exodus that is sure to come. God has promised that His signs would be a signal for His second coming. We don’t know the day nor the hour but obviously we are in very dramatic times that have been accurately foretold and are coming to pass before our eyes. You need not be surprised.
What should the righteous do in times like these?
1. Let’s be people of prayer. Let’s pray for righteousness to prevail in every area of conflict. Remember the innocent ones, the children, who have no choice in where they can be that Gods comfort and protection will surround them.
2. Let us watch for opportunities to tell the world that we are not surprised at what is going on although we grieve for peace as well as any other.
3. Let’s be people who live our lives knowing that God is on His throne and in absolute control of the events of our world today.
Let’s remember that a generation that forsakes their God will be a generation of people who will pay the consequences of that choice
Deeds of Kindness
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
In Luke 16, Jesus told the story of the man who wanted to send a ‘Special Delivery’ message from Hell. His life on earth had been one of affluence and pleasure. During his earthly existence he appeared to be oblivious to the needs of the people who lived around him and especially the one who occupied the space as a beggar, by his front door. He shouted back his warning from the searing flames of the torments of Hell. Although there is no crime mentioned in the brief account of this mans life it becomes unmistakably obvious that there were at least two things that Jesus wanted to make clear to those who heard the story. These were matters that were recorded as warnings to anyone who thinks ‘they’ve got it made.’
Lesson # 1: You can not expect to ignore the needs of others and not pay a high price yourself. It is possible to shut ourselves in to our sweet and precious comfort zone and disregard the pain, hurt and suffering of so many of those who would be pleased if we would only cast a crumb of concern and recognition their way. The truth is, for many people it doesn’t take much to encourage them. Jesus is addressing the problem of selfishness that excludes any concern for the needs of others. In one of His stories Jesus expressed this sentiment through the words of a King; “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 24:25)
Lesson # 2: The important things in life are not things. As important as things may appear, there never is a time to neglect the welfare of the soul. A personal experience with the Lord is a far greater treasure than all the accumulated wealth of this world, and that experience is free! As rich as this man may have been, he took none of his wealth with him. He had somehow neglected the true riches that the Lord offers to all. To some there is a personal sense of accomplishment in knowing what it is that we are leaving behind. As laudable as that may be, where we are going, after we are through in this world, is so much more significant. We need to confirm that location before we leave this one.
In summary, it is so important that you have the outward look, to the needs of others. It is also very important that you have the inward look, in preparing your own heart to meet with God. It’s the in between the outward and the inward look that causes us the most problems. Take care! We are people on a Mission.
Not Our Plan, But His
“Give and it shall be given unto you….” Luke 6:38
Paul heard the call, through a vision, from a man in Macedonia, “Come over and help us!” (Acts 16:9) It was an urgent call that redirected the missionary heart of Paul to a new field where people were hungry for the gospel message. It was a long way from where he was, where he intended to go and would require weeks of traveling on foot to reach that area. But there were people there who needed to know that Jesus came into the world to save all sinners. Paul pulled out all the stops and immediately headed in the direction that the Lord had laid on his heart.
Times have changed, but the real need of mankind remains the same. Without the message of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, what hope does anyone have? There are multitudes, today, that can be reached through the means of modern technology if the support of prayer and finances would be directed toward a concerted effort to reaching the lost.
We have heard of recent climatic catastrophes in many parts of the world. Stories are told of the failure of crops and of increasing unemployment that causes many financial difficulties for the Pastors and Evangelists who live by faith. It has been reported that some are surviving by making a stew out of blades of grass in order to find some nourishment.
The average Canadian is living a very prosperous life compared to the standard of living in many parts of the World. With the economic situation as it is, the Canadian dollar is in a favourable position so that a Pastor can live, fairly comfortably on $25 (Canadian) per month. The call, as clear as the Macedonian of centuries past, has caught our attention. These may be unprecedented opportunities to reach out to a people who are looking for answers to their personal and social problems. Equipping the national pastors with our support, at this time, may be the beginning of a great revival as they give themselves completely to preaching the gospel message.
Remember, occasionally, to share in a special gift offering (above your tithes) for the ministries of so many to reach the millions of people living on the edge of poverty today. You may not see the results of your investment until you stand at the judgment seat of Christ and hear of how much was accomplished by your generous gift.
Let us learn how to make ‘sacrificial’ giving a part of our worship and believe that God can increase our gifts. It’s wonderful what God can do when we place our offerings in His hands. He has a way of multiplying it to become useful to multitudes and satisfy the hunger of many. Let’s continue to pray that God would add His abundant blessings to what we do today!
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.