"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
The Main Thing
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
In many countries around the world, November 1st has been established as a day to remember loved ones who have passed away. It was begun as a special remembrance day when family members would go to the grave sites and lay flowers and reminisce of past loving and enjoyable experiences. During the Middle ages, the Roman Church set aside the night before as an evening of prayer for the departed and it became known as holy evening or hallowed evening. From there it became known as Hallow-een.
I do not know how the ghosts, pumpkins and goblins became a part of the special occasion but it is interesting how the main purpose of so many spiritual celebrations has been manipulated to distract from the main focus that it was designed for. Christmas and Easter have been accepted as times for great festivities and family gatherings but the emphasis is now on snowmen, bunnies, candies, all kinds of food and decorations. Sundays, as well, were sacred times and respected, even in the secular world, but have been turned into, “my day off” and God is left out of the picture once again. The world has a way of taking the edge off of the things that are important to God. But, “we are not unaware of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) The enemy of our souls has always worked at making the important things seem unimportant and to replace them with things that appear to be so good. That’s why we need to be on guard. Somehow we need to see the things we do through spiritual eyes and know the purposes of God instead of doing ‘whatever’ out of habit.
Someone has said, “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing as the main thing.” Now, I’m not just talking about the special days we call holidays or holy days but I refer as well to all the choices of life.
I’ve discovered that it’s easy to be ‘busy’ but it’s not so easy to determine the difference between what is important from whatever is designed to look important but just occupies our time. We may have lost sight of the values of the Christian faith that other generations have esteemed so highly but let’s find out what God wants to do now and sincerely desire to do His will. That may take us out of the comfort zone that we treasure so highly and put us into some uncomfortable new experiences.
The sum of the whole matter is that we need to determine where our energies are being spent and are they being used to honour the Lord and bless others. We need to clean out the cobwebs of distraction and get back to the main thing. The whole aim of our life is to keep the Lord and His purposes clear before our eyes. Time is short! Let’s examine where the emphasis of our energy is going, know His will and do it.
The Promise in the Sky
“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.” Mark 13:34
There wasn’t a pot of gold but the beauty of the rainbow was to remain as a sign of the grace of God in fulfilling His promises. Noah had lived through the biggest storm the world had ever seen. The evidence of the flood waters still filled the horizons when he brought his family and all the specially chosen of creation out of the ark. This was a brand new world washed clean of all the evidence of the wickedness of man.
Noah and his family had an opportunity to begin again. He was a righteous man and had found favour in the eyes of the Lord. God knew the hearts of each of those of His creation. He was mindful of the things that were done in secret as well as the things that were flaunted in public and there came a time when ‘enough was enough.’ I know that the mercy of the Lord endures forever but when the time of repentance is passed and there is no turning back to God, He releases His protection and the action of the consequences of sin begins. Because He knows every heart, He also knows if someone will make the decision to return to God. If they have purposed to continue in things that are contrary to His will, He will allow the ‘wages of sin’ to come into effect.
We still have rainbows to remind us of Gods faithfulness. Some are in the sky and others are seen in the fulfillment of His written Word. We know that there are warning signs as well. We look up with hope for the completion of His plan for His Church.
At the same time, we need to be prayerful for those who deliberately turn their back on the Lord and ignore the warnings of a very patient and loving God. That’s one of the matters that causes me concern. "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” Luke 17:26 I know that the Mercy of God still gives us room to come under His protection and I also know that there are many in the world who are totally unaware that God still loves them, no matter what they do. However, God knows the hearts. Could we be living in the last days before the judgment of sin falls once again upon a sinful world? The law of consequence still applies.
When we humble ourselves and pray, God will hear from heaven and forgive and heal. He will not rain His judgment upon mankind indiscriminately. If there are righteous people praying and interceding, there will still be hope. Every Christian must hold on to the promises of God and work to share the message of the love of God to a wayward generation. The end of all things is at hand. This may be the generation that will see one of the most dramatic expressions of the justice of God poured out upon the world. Believers? They will be caught up out of harms way and then, ‘look out!’
See The Voice
“He must become greater; I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all.” John 3:30, 31
Those are Johns words. What a guy! Most of his life is uncharted history. One day he began to tell other people what was burning, deep in his heart. It was a hard message but God given. His call to repentance moved the hearts of people to hear the truth. He spoke with clarity and authority in rebuking the sins of his generation. He quickly became loved, despised, honoured, feared, sought out and hated. His message was undiluted, direct and often confrontational. He feared no one. He ministered to the whole strata of society without prejudice. He told it like it was. He had no time for the hypocritical attitudes of the temple courts nor the luxurious fancies of the Palace. He was a man sent from God with a very special mission. It was time.
It was time to clear the deck; to make room for the ‘Lamb of God.’ It was time to call a nation back to God. If you saw him in a crowd, he was the one with the index finger raised to make his point. He was anointed before birth for this moment in the history of man and he did his job well. He was not drawn to the pleasures of the world, its laughter, lusts, wealth and popularity. He caught a glimpse of the eternal and was willing, at great cost to himself, to sacrifice his own life, without compromise, so that the Lamb of God could come to deal with the sins of mankind.
This was serious business and John played his part well. It had been a long time since someone spoke publicly about the claims of God upon His creation. The voice of the Prophets had not been heard for more than 400 years until John stepped out of the wilderness and the silence of God was broken by the thunder of the voice of this man.
His was a voice to be reckoned with and his boldness made it hard to resist. He was a man of integrity and purpose; a man who sensed the urgency of his hour and was not prepared to back down in sharing what burned in his soul. There was a cost to such a life-style. Accepted and honoured by many, he died in the Royal dungeon as payout for a lustful dance of a beautiful young woman.
After all he did for the Kingdom of God it seems little reward to end it all this way. You see, we measure most things by the kind of benefits we receive here and now. He lived his life in deprivation, under some very austere conditions and circumstances. He was able to look beyond himself to the one who would come after him and humbly acknowledge his need to decrease that the Lord be seen above all else.
I have a feeling that if John had to do it all over again he wouldn’t do anything differently. What a guy!
The Moral Compass
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105
It seems a part of human nature that we look for the easiest way to do things. That is the success story of the fast food distributors. It’s easier to buy a quick lunch than to take the time to make a sandwich with wholesome stuffings and a piece of fruit. You better believe that students of commerce have discovered that flaw in our human nature.
Deep down you know that not everything that is fast and easy is good. Sometimes time and effort are necessary investments for the more enduring and healthy things of life. “Now,” you’ll say, “you’re sounding like my Mother.” Well let me tell you the truth; I’m trying to sound like the Apostle Paul who said, “Study to show yourself approved unto God a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV 2 Tim. 2:15) I’m sure that most of us are embarrassed when it comes to someone asking us about how much we read and study the word of God. It’s easier to sit in front of the TV, or busy ourselves with some kind of handcraft than to open the scriptures and read the message that is intended to equip us and make us better believers. The prophet Amos saw a day when there would be a famine across the land. Not a famine for lack of bread and water and the essentials of the physical life but a famine of the Word of God. (Amos 8:11) Obviously, the reference applies to a generation just like ours. We get after our kids for stuffing themselves with ‘junk food’ and, yet, spiritually speaking, we do the same thing by not putting ourselves up to a daily diet of the Word. Many years ago, we used to have Bible reading before our first class at school. In case you haven’t heard, it’s not happening any more.
If you want to know why it is so easy for kids to go wrong, let me explain. ‘There’s a famine of the Word.’ Our kids aren’t getting the moral teachings of scripture. They’re not hearing that anger, brutality, abuse/self abuse, respect for authority, matters of sex and other serious issues all have very dangerous consequences. That’s not their fault. We have got to get the principles of Gods Word into their hearts and one hour in a bible class on Sunday is just not going to do it. Everyone of us, as parents, needs to get the Word into the lives of our kids on a regular basis. If we don’t have family devotions or at minimum a reading of a devotional book at the level of our children that is used every day, we are not giving our kids an adequate spiritual diet to help them when the time comes for the important decisions on the real issues of life. Please listen to me carefully! ! The spiritual heritage of the next generation is at stake. We’ve got to take this matter seriously and make the time and invest energy in directing our kids to what God is saying to the world today. There is no better time to begin a new program than right now. Visit your Christian book store for ideas on devotional aids.
There are Shadows in the Valley
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
I’m the motor behind the shopping cart. My main responsibility is to weave between the boxes and the people as we meander down the aisles between the stacks of groceries. It was one of those days when I was faithfully doing my duty and we had arrived at the bakery area. I stood by the pastry table while my wife made a selection nearby. At first, our eyes did not meet but I watched an elderly man checking out the pies. He lifted one after the other and carefully examined them. Finally, with a real sense of victory he said, “This one is mine.” To make sure that I heard him, he repeated, “This one is mine. Do you want to know why?” I knew I was going to hear his reason whether I wanted to or not. “If you notice, this one is smaller than all the rest and it’s only $2.50. You know it’s hard to buy for yourself, alone, after so many years of married life.”
I saw that his eyes had suddenly filled with tears and I caught the meaning of his words. I soon discovered that his wife had passed away just a couple of weeks before and now all the children were gone and he was left by himself. The motor on the shopping cart came to a quick stop. I was beside a man who had not found satisfying comfort in these past weeks. Suddenly, this stranger became my friend. We spoke of the joys of a happy lengthy marriage with three healthy and prosperous children. He had retired a long time ago and was committed to being with his life-long companion even after the stroke, six weeks ago, that laid his wife in the hospital and then to a special bed at home.
Walking through the valley of the shadow of death is not fun. But for the person who believes in the Lord, there is a wonderful resource for peace and comfort. After we’ve asked the “Why me God?” questions, we can get on to the fact that death is an awful reality that everyone must face but that it does hold a bright side to it.
For example, I would never wish that my Mother nor Father would return to this world when I know that they are in the Everlasting Presence of the Lord who loves them much more than words could say. He has prepared for them a place of beauty beyond description where neither sickness, pain nor sorrow will ever touch them again. They are free in a greater sense than ever before and, praise God, one day we will meet again.
What a day that will be! No more tears in the market place and no more sorrow in the heart. What a wonderful hope we possess!
Our shopping trip took a little longer than we had planned but I came out feeling blessed because years ago I had received a real bargain through Jesus and I shared that with my new friend.
“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35
It’s funny that when we talk about giving, our thoughts often run to thoughts of finances; how much do I have in my wallet or in my bank account or how much is the Pastor going to ask us for today? I acknowledge that money is a very important matter for the ministry of the Gospel but I want to talk about a different kind of giving today. In part it concerns a bit of giving of ourselves. That obviously is always a necessity for getting the message out to others. Most of us believe that the Great Commission of ‘Going into all the world’ is a message for others who are more qualified concerning the ‘going’ process. We are happy to confess that we are followers of Jesus, some at a greater distance than others, but there are not many who would profess that they are leaders for Jesus. That kind of commitment takes us out to where Jesus would go if He were here once again and that requires dedication and recognition that we are the holders of the most wonderful story that should ever be told. That’s where I would like to focus our talk today about giving. It’s the passing on of a wonderful message of the love of God. That message tells the world that God has not forgotten us and that He wants to welcome all to come to an awesome relationship with Himself.
When we see the world in the terrible circumstances that we see, we should realize that there isn’t a lot of good news out there. But we know that our sins can be forgiven; that Jesus has promised to be with us through every situation and that heaven is our eternal home. We can talk so freely about many other things that may be of interest to the world but it’s the message of the Good News that needs to be broadcast around the world today.
Let me remind you, there is a place of peace; there is a place of hope. In the Church, we share in wonderful fellowship with others who believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He cares for us. Pass the word along. Speak blessing to your neighbours and the people you work with. Let your conversation reveal what you really believe down in your heart. Let your mouth speak it out! Don’t be shy! It is true, it’s a work of faith that needs your decision to do. Let me remind you that every time you speak about the Lord and things that He has said or done you are planting seed under the direction of the Holy Spirit. You become an instrument under Divine care. The words that you share will go into the hearts and minds of the hearers and are guaranteed to accomplish the purpose for which they are sent. “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) Now that’s the kind of giving that’s a fail-safe investment. The process involves sharing the greatest treasure the world will ever see and the promise is that it will bring you eternal dividends.
“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1 Samuel 23:16
We are living in awesome times. Supposedly, we have more ‘helps’ to make life simpler and to allow us more time for ourselves and our families because of the advances of modern technology. We have fast foods, cell phones, computers, catalogue ordering systems, calculators, airplanes, cars and the list goes on. But truthfully, who has more time to enjoy life now than before? You’ve heard the saying, “We’re in a rat race and the rats are winning.”
I’m not sure that we do more things now than we used to but where does all the spare time go. We are living in a world of pressure and stresses that other generations did not know. People expect more to happen and more quickly than ever before yet the idea of rest times and more time for relaxation just doesn’t seem to be happening. Road rage is a scourge of the roadways. Some, in a hurry, have blown a fuse in anger at the doddling of other drivers. When will we see the calm times that we thought would come to us because of the expansion of technology?
We all get caught up in the same pursuits of life but let me advise you that we need the times of refreshing that only the Lord can give. Even Paul, back in the olden days, expressed this need when he wrote to Philemon. He said, “Refresh my heart in Christ.” (Philemon verse 20) That sounds like he was feeling overwhelmed with the pressures he was under and he needed someone to care enough to help him find that place of rest.
We need to be careful that we don’t run down our spiritual systems by being stuck in the influences of the world. There has to be a shut-down period for all of us when our focus is readjusted and we relax to catch our breath. That is one of the reasons the Father designed the Sabbath. He rested on the seventh day as an example and we ought to take one day out of the week and do the same. But let me remind you that the New Testament calls that special day ‘the Lord’s day.’ It’s not my day. It’s the Lords day and it is intended to be a day of refreshing, rest and blessing. In effect it belongs to the Lord but He wants me to share it with Him. We need the kind of refreshing that not only brings rest to the body but uplifts the spirit as well. That can only happen when we take time or make time to read, pray, fellowship and honour the Lord. The summer season comes to us when the warmth of the sunshine and the longer days tempt us to let go of everything. Let’s plan to spend some time in the sunshine and the Word; at the beach and in Church; in the garden and in prayer. Those are always good combinations to restore us physically and spiritually.
“He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3
He Gave Himself
“Jesus… gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” Galatians 1:4
The highest, most valuable gift that anyone could ever give was what Jesus shared on Calvary. He gave Himself! A number of young men thought they were doing something similar when they flew the planes into the public places of New York and Washington on September 11th. Based on hatred, they gave themselves with selfish, misguided motives. I find it hard to imagine that anyone could hate to that extent. In the process they took many unwilling, innocent lives with them leaving scars of pain on so many others around the world. The effects of their efforts brought destruction on more than the famous buildings of two American cities. The suffering of broken dreams and destroyed families will not go away quickly. In the words of one observer, “A little bit of all of us died that day!” Absolutely no one benefits from this atrocious crime against humanity.
Jesus’ way was different. His motive was love for others. His sacrifice was to deliver people from the consequences of sin. What He did was provide a way to lift people from pain, despair, guilt and condemnation and to give all of us a better life. The price that was paid was charged completely to His personal account. No one else was involved in paying the price. He was alone. He broke through the Kingdom of darkness and the powers and authorities that had exercised spiritual bondage over the hearts of mankind. Jesus, alone, and in the kind of love that knows no bounds, provided a way that all who come to Him in simple trust would find that a loving God has been reaching out to all of us. He gave Himself, “a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:2 )
The benefits are many:
1. We have access to our Heavenly Father. Prayer becomes a channel of communication to express our need of Gods assistance with our personal problems and a process to strengthen our confidence in Him.
2. We have peace in our hearts because our sins are forgiven. Jesus paid the price that would have been the consequences of our bad choices.
3. We have an inheritance that will never fade, eternal in the heavens. As sure as Jesus died, arose from the grave and ascended to the Father, so shall we rise to be with Him in the future.
4. The barriers of division, whether colour, culture or language have been broken down. We are on universally equal ground as brothers and sisters in a very large family of faith. We are made one in Jesus Christ. And the list could go on.
There was nothing selfish in what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary. When we remember his death during each communion service, we should express our gratitude for that kind of surrender that flows from the love of God.
Cleansing Lepers and Me
“But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 17:7
He was a leper. He knew, as did generations of lepers before him, that there was a special ‘protocol’ that people like him had to follow. There were laws, rules and regulations that placed him and his disease at a disadvantaged position. Lepers were expelled from their homes and their families. They were obligated to cover their faces and sound out an ominous warning, “unclean, unclean’ lest any one approach them and be contaminated with their disease. Many regarded them with fear and some with disgust. Some supposed that these people were caught under the judgment of God for sins they had committed. Those who did have compassion on them could leave gifts of food and clothing for them but only at a distance. Communication was limited to shouts and charade actions. Contact, by lepers, with those who were healthy was totally forbidden. These ‘unclean’ lived in the shelters of caves and some in the open tombs in the graveyard. Their dreams, hopes and desires for family, business and personal enjoyment could never be fulfilled. Theirs was a hopeless existence in exile with a sentence of an early death. Yet, to these, the pleasure of death always seemed so long in coming. What was there to live for?
Then Jesus came. The leper saw the crowd in the distance and a glimmer of hope began to glow in the depths of his soul. Ignoring ‘the rules’ and the displeasure of the multitude he came and bowed before the Master. “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2) Jesus replied, “I am willing.” To the great surprise of all who observed, He touched him and said, “Be clean!” The story teller expresses simply: “Immediately he was cured.”
It was the Masters touch that changed the direction of that mans life. Jesus did in a moment what no other person could ever do. The exiled dreams, hopes and desires were released to find fulfillment in the possibilities of a brand new day because of the ‘something new’ that flowed into his life.
Jesus still does that kind of thing in lives today. Too many live on the border of life but have not come to know the fullness of Gods promises. Theirs is a bleak existence with little hope of change unless the Master comes by and does His thing in their lives. I could never possibly express the love of Jesus in His willingness to touch the lives of everyone who comes to Him. I know that His longing to draw men and women out of the tragedies of life has always been the desire of the heart of God. He wants to make a difference in me and you and all those around us. It becomes a personal decision we all must make, that we will not be satisfied with anything less than the fullness of His plan for our lives. There is no other solution, no other person, no other way than coming to Him to be touched by His gracious hand. Let Him touch you, too, as He has so many others!
The Standard of Freedom
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Who really knows what ‘Freedom’ is? I know that our Canadian forces have fought in a number of wars throughout the young history of our nation to defend it. They went into the fields of conflict to protect Democracy and the freedoms of peoples in various parts of the world.
I’ve discovered, however, that we don’t always understand what this matter of freedom is all about. We once thought that freedom was decided by the majority decision of electors but then we were introduced to such things as the protection of the rights of the minority. I understand that some minority rights need to be protected but I wonder when the decisions of the minority groups should determine what the majority must do or accept as normal. Is that freedom? I believe that true freedom must have an unchanging standard of reference and that rules and regulations that forbid certain activities must be a part of the process of freedom. I know that I am not free to drive down the highway anyway that I want. The police protect us when people think they can speed, drive over the lines or neglect to stop at red lights. I know that I am not free to take your possessions. That’s called stealing and there’s a consequence for that. I don’t believe that people should have the freedom to teach my kids things that I do not agree with. That’s stealing my authority and right as a parent and there ought to be a law against it. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to change the meaning of marriage to mean anything other than what has been the historical significance since the beginning of time. Call it something else but don’t compare it to what a husband and wife have. Don’t even try to tell me that it’s the same thing and don’t try to sell that package to my kids.
Our nation is called “The Dominion of Canada.” That title was taken from Gods Word, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 72:8) Obviously, the Fathers of Confederation understood the significance of using that passage of scripture as the foundation of our nation. Their dream/desire was to see the freedoms of our nation based upon the authority of God. There is a lot of latitude in interpreting the rules and regulations of His commandments based upon His grace and mercy as long as the principle is guarded. But complete disobedience to what He has established as right and wrong is not one of the freedoms that we should consider. Besides disobeying His purpose and plan for humanity, there is a consequence as a result of not following ‘the rules.’ Will we continue to be a vibrant, healthy nation if we rebel against the standard that God has established? You and I are the ones who will help to determine the direction that this generation will take. What will you leave as your heritage for your children? It’s time to learn that true freedom is a gift of God and is related to fulfilling Gods will, every day.
Remembering The Fallen
“Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.”
Once a year we remember the sacrifice of many who through two world wars and the Korean conflict were willing to lay down their lives for the defence of freedom and democracy. On that day it is also an opportunity to give special recognition to the many throughout Church history who were willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel. Jesus told his disciples that he was sending them out, “.. as sheep among wolves.” He told them that they should be willing to carry their cross and follow Him. There is no doubt that He knew that although the message of Gods love for the lost sinners of the world was the most wonderful, good news ever told, that many would hate the believers to the point of persecution. Unfortunately, history relates the stories of the deaths of many of them who traveled around the world at great personal sacrifice to tell the story of Jesus and His love. Every one of the disciples of Jesus, except John, was put to death in terrible ways.
We have been told that there have been more people put to death for their faith in this last century than in all of the preceding years to 1900. Statistics report that more than 150,000 Christians are killed every year for their faith.
We live in a land of freedom, where we can worship the Lord whenever we want and however we want with total liberty. But we often forget that in other parts of the world, Christians today meet in hiding places and in constant fear of harassment and fear of death. Yet, in these places, the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is being shared with humble believers. Brave men and women risk their lives to teach the Bible and to preach the good news. They have responded to the call of God to be willing to lay down their lives in order to reach the lost. Their lives are not as important as the message they preach and live. Their example is Jesus who came into the world to lay down his life for the lost. “They are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”
Recently, in the Sudan, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were brutally slain. In Sri Lanka and Indonesia churches are burned and pastors fear for their lives. The leading violators of religious freedoms in the world are: China, Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq, Serbia and the Sudan.
In spite of the persecutions, the Church is continuing to grow, often at the cost of the leaders who give themselves, unreservedly to spreading the gospel message. Let’s be prayerful to support the Believers in these countries that God would bless His people and give them signs and wonder to follow their ministries.
Do All You Can - Plus Faith
“If you can?” said Jesus, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Mark 9:23
The story of what a little, very sick lady had done had reached the ears of the people on the other side of the sea of Galilee. That’s one of the stories that is told in Mark 5 that concerns the faith and effort of a lady who worked her way through the crowd with the intention of just touching the hem of His garment. She had spent all that she had looking for remedies from many doctors but was no better for her efforts. Through the word picture we can imagine her, sick and very poor but with a hope that Jesus could bring the solution to her problem. She pressed through the crowd until she was close enough to reach out and touch Him. Perhaps out of concern that her efforts for healing had failed so often before she purposed to not bother the Master but to just reach out and touch the hem of His garment, with faith. “I will be healed,” she thought. (Mark 5:28) She had tried all the other remedies and options that human intelligence and science could offer. Now she was prepared to risk a step of faith. I imagine, with arms and fingertips extended she passed her last obstacle and touched the hem of His robes. She was healed instantly of her blood disorder. Jesus noted, instantly, that faith was in action through someone in the crowd. Among the multitude of people jostling for a position for a better look at the Master there was one who had exercised exceptional faith.
1. It was the kind of faith that had been persistent to get past all the obstacles.
2. It was a faith that was humble, to stoop to touch the fringe of Jesus’ garments.
3. It was a faith that worked ‘one on One’ with the needy and the Master.
4. It was a faith that confidently believed, “I will be healed.”
Jesus called attention to the simplicity of the faith of this dear lady who had done something that day that no one else in the congregation had done, and she received the reward of faith. She demonstrated another characteristic of faith.
5. It was a faith that was thankful. She bowed, reverently at His feet and confessed what she had done.
What this woman did and the results of her faith were soon broadcast around the area. On the other side of the Sea of Galilee word arrived that Jesus was to make a visit to their cities. They brought the sick on mats to where He would pass by and ‘begged him to let them touch even the edge of His cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” (Mark 6:56)
Let me tell you that faith in action has a way of multiplying blessing. Out of all the crowds that will be attending Church this Sunday, it only takes one person to believe who can be instrumental in leading many others to believe that Jesus can make a difference in all our lives. Let that be my faith! Let it be your faith!
Walking Through the Shadow
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
Paul wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Most people in the world don’t look at the end of the road with that kind of attitude. Paul was clear on his priorities. His life was to be lived in such a way that everything that he did would somehow bring praise to the Lord. I imagine he purposed, each morning, that his words and actions would show the very nature of Christ. I know from personal experience that self-discipline must be used to guard the thoughts, the lips and the actions from doing things that could be misinterpreted and care must be used to make the right choices. That was Paul’s goal. When you read about his journeys and the trials that he went through you understand that there sometimes is a high price to pay if you are not prepared to compromise the message of faith in Jesus Christ. After all, that’s the message that the world needs and that Jesus commissioned every one of us to proclaim. Everything else became a secondary matter in Paul’s life. In the words of another great man of God, “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30) That strikes a blow at our self-importance. It’s got to be all about Jesus or it really isn’t of any permanent value.
Now I notice that the Apostle Paul realized that his earthly life would eventually come to an end. After serving Jesus all the days of his life, he could look forward to whatever lay beyond his death. He called it gain! You could never say, “The Apostle Paul lost his life in the defence of the gospel.” He viewed death as an added benefit to serving the Lord. You can sense the joy of that kind of faith when he says, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” (Philippians 1:23) He wasn’t in a hurry for that appointment because he recognized that the Lord sometimes has special things for us to accomplish before that date of departure. As long as that task remained unfinished, Paul had a job to do. But that didn’t take away the anticipation of the moment that he would join the Lord on the other side of the gates of death.
Now I know there are a lot of folk who don’t desire that exodus from this life and many still fear the dark shadows of the valley of death but I want to assure you, once you purpose to make Jesus the priority of your actions and your thoughts you’ll find that there is a very special peace that He gives to those who put their trust in Him. We treasure the fact that there is life beyond life and that it is a life without the pain and problems, the sorrows and sickness, the failures, frustrations and frailties that we experience today. Our hope is sure, because Jesus rose again from the grave we too shall rise to be with Him in a freedom that is hard to imagine. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
I believe, for some reading this article, that moment is very near.
According To His Calendar
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
The Summer of each year is officially over near the middle of September. The seasons continue to come and go right on schedule as planned more than 6000 year ago. How’s that for keeping an agenda? That just reminds me that God is never late in the things that He does. To confess, He doesn’t always work according to my calendar, and I can’t explain why not, but History and scripture teaches me that His ways are not our ways. The Psalmist did say: “My times are in your hands.” (Ps. 31:15) Just as sure as God has performed His plan for creation through the thousands and millions of years, He is just as faithful to develop what He wishes in each of our lives. You can count on it!
However, as much as that speaks of Gods committed faithfulness, He has prepared His plan to give room for our free-will. How often through the centuries has that been a snag in allowing God to move through humanity the way He wants. I can definitely say that God is going to have His way, anyway, so I should work along with Him; not because I’m forced to but because His ways are the best ways and I should stop any kind of resistance that would delay the inevitable. Knowing that what He does is based on His loving nature should be incentive enough for me to learn that surrendering to Him is really no loss to me.
It’s a strange thing but we often believe that God always does things in a dramatic and dynamic way, therefore, that is evidence that God hasn’t done anything in most of us. That’s definitely not the truth. I believe that God works in the routine, the mundane and the common times of our lives as well as in the exciting times. Our problem is that we don’t always recognize how interested He is in the details that make up the smallest moments of our lives. “Our times are in His hands.”
Peter writes: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” (1 Peter 3:12) Is there any better way to express how God is observant and interested in what happens in the daily experiences of our existence? He is with you and me, all the time!
One more thing, we all know that He has promised to come back again to take us to be with Himself. We don’t know the date of that appointment but as sure as God has kept to His schedules of the past, I am confident that He has His heart fixed on that date. There are times when we soooooo passionately long for His return to terminate the sorrows that are a part of humanity. How much more must He be longing for that moment to arrive when we will be caught up to be with Him forever?
While we have today, let our prayer be, “Lord what do You want me to do?”
Obedience in Baptism
“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15
The old Prophet spoke with authority as he declared, “To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) What could be more important to God than any sacrifice we make? God says that obeying what He has already commanded is more important than any other gift or praise that we could give Him. As much as we may express our worship and praise with clarity and fluency, the matter that pleases God most is that when all is said and done that more is done ( in obedience ) than said.
The first basic principle of training in the military service is to get the new recruits to obey, immediately, the commands of the officers. This is true of every member of a great team in sports; each member of the team must do what he has been trained to do. The process requires doing the same thing over, and over until it becomes a natural reaction. The process often requires that a persons ability is stretched to his limits. In that arena, you will often hear, “Sacrifice your body; sacrifice your body!” The lesson is, you’ve got to surrender complete obedience to what your coach says.
That brings me to remember that our Heavenly Coach has a training plan for each of us in order to be successful in the ‘Game of Life.’ We must learn the importance of reading the rule book, the bible. We must apply ourselves diligently in the matter of Prayer as we seek to learn to hear and understand His voice and His commands. Then we must apply our selves, with all our hearts to obeying His commands. One of Jesus’ last commands to His disciples was, “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The main direction He gave us was “GO.” No bench warmers. No hesitant members. Obedient to His last command. That’s obedience.
Peter on the day the Church was begun, preached a sermon that caused conviction in the hearts of many. The question the people asked was, “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized.....”
The significance is clear. It is the Lords will that everyone who comes to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour should be obedient to follow the Lords command and be baptized. You may already have discovered that every act of obedience to the purpose and plan of the Lord brings a blessing to us. The Lord wants us to learn that many of the steps of faith that we take require an outward expression that is visible to the world. It is most important that the spiritual experience precede the outward confession of our faith by way of the waters of Baptism. That is, we do the act of sincere repentance and then follow His command to be baptized. Again, it’s obedience to His command.
“My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long… “ Psalms 71:24
Modern technology has propelled us into a brand new world. Who could have imagined how communication would change over the last 100 years from the first wireless conversations to what almost everyone carries in their pockets or purses today for personal use? There are all kinds of messages that are invisibly zooming past us every moment of out lives. There are TV images, radio voices by way of AM and FM, walky-talkies, microwaves, telephone conversations, prayer, fiber optics, infra-red signals, radar, lazer beams and who knows what else. Every one of these has become imperative to our modern lifestyles as invisible messages slip by us continually each day.
You probably noticed that I snuck prayer into the middle of the list. Most people don’t realize that it is one of the most important forms of communication that the world has ever known. It has nothing to do with electronics but for your interest, it has been the form that God honours since the beginning of creation. In spite of the simplicity of His prayer program, His system has never been tested to the maximum. There is no monthly payment plan and you don't’ have to invest in any ‘high falooten’ technical stuff in order to become a part of His company. Communications with God begins in the name of Jesus and ends, generally, with an ‘amen.’ Although, I know there are a lot of people who often forget the formalities and just tell God whatever is on their mind. He is open to that kind of call as well. You see, you pay a lot of money to call long distance and the more secretive you want your call to be the more expensive it is. But with God, you can let Him know your most confidential, hidden secrets and He gets the message right away, unscrambled from obtrusive emotions and clear as a bell.
There is no question that He takes pleasure in keeping His lines wide open for your call. Night and day, He’s prepared to respond to the urgent requests and cares that cause all of us concern. It would do us all very much benefit to open a line of communication with Him more often, just to let Him know that we appreciate His kind attention to us and that things are going O.K. You might like to let Him know, while you’re at it, that He is Wonderful and that you are grateful for the health and strength that He gives you each day and that His plan to save you out of the darkness of sin through the kindness of His grace is the most fabulous gift you’ve ever received.
Then again, while you’re at it, you might like to let Him know that you are available to accept and obey His commands for the schedule of your day because He has a lot to do with what the results of our lives will be. Somewhere along the conversation, we could slip in some words of love and adoration because, after all, He is the Lover of our souls and He is blessed by those kinds of expressions.
The Best Gift
“… God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ…” Acts 11:17
They’re singing carols in the malls again. It’s that time of the year when a lot of people are bargain hunting for the special gifts for their loved ones. There is always excitement in the air, in spite of the extra stresses that crowds give to all of us, because we look forward to being together with family and friends and the special things that happen at Christmas. I guess there are still some grinches in the world who struggle with the ‘giving’ aspect of the season. Maybe it’s not the spirit of the grinch as much as the resistance to the offensive commercialism that goes on in the name of Christmas. It is a fact that many businesses stand or fall according to the amount of sales that goes on over the counter during the next few weeks. Christmas has become ‘big business.’
You probably noticed that before the end of October; stores already begin to advertise the importance of getting your Christmas shopping done early. Then there’s the count down of the shopping days ‘til Christmas that reminds us daily of the nearness of the 25th. Forgive me if I come across sounding like ‘old Scrooge’ but I do get concerned that some how, through the years, we’ve lost the true significance of the Christmas season. A lot of intruders, from Frosty to Santa, have made us digress from the purpose of the celebrations that we are intended to enjoy. It seems, in these last few seasons, that a new Christmas character is born each year to promote a fresh commercial interest that will attract the attention of our children, but “Jesus is still the real reason of the season.” This is supposed to be a time to remember that God gave His One and Only Son who came as a Baby, born in a manger in the city of Bethlehem. It is Jesus who came to heal the sick not Santa. It is Jesus who came to bring peace to the anxious not Frosty. It is Jesus who came to speak pardon to the sinner not Rudolph. It is Jesus who came to grant hope to the hopeless and be the Saviour of the whole world.
The kind of gift that the Father gave goes on giving from year to year and never at any cost to us. It was Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) He not only said those words, He actually provided an example by living His life in practical service to meet the needs of all people. The Good News is that He still makes Himself available to any who will call upon Him through simple prayer. As Christians, we know the real significance of this season. It is a time to rejoice and be glad and with great joy we can let it be known that we have received the most awesome gift that anyone could ever receive. If you have not yet received Him into your life, you could not possibly understand what a joy it is to know Him as your personal Saviour. Don’t let this Christmas pass you by without receiving Jesus into your life. He will make an eternal difference in you!
Important To God
“For God so loved…" John 3:16
Our God is the Creator of all things. He makes them beautiful and with great purposes in mind. Our universe attests to that. He is Visionary for out of the nothingness of pre-time, He designed our universe. The details are minute and delicate. Distances are unbelievable and objects, such as planets and moons, are immense. Yet of all that has been made by His Word and Powerful Hand, the thing that He loves most is the finite creature called MAN. He set all of creation into their orderly path and spoke His Word to maintain it in its proper orb and away they go; but He chooses to visit with man. He speaks to us in more endearing terms than most gardeners speak to their plants.
He watches with Fatherly love, each moment of our existence. We are the object of Divine attention. Nothing under heaven is more important to Him than you and me. But let me remind us together, there are others who as yet have not committed their lives to Him. They bear the guilt and condemnation of Sin. Their lives are being wasted in the service of self and the pursuit of pleasures. He loves them as much as He loves you and me. Someone needs to speak, on His behalf, to each of these. They need to be told that God is not an enemy to be feared but a friend to be loved; that He is ready to forgive our sins and grant us special privileges in His presence; that NOW is only preparation time for the future. We are all important in His plan. The gift of His only Begotten Son is absolute proof. He came to pay the penalty of our sins. "He that spared not His own son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things."
Questions Hard to Answer:
How high is up? Why is it that if you keep going north that you eventually will go south but if you keep going west you never go east? Inquisitive kids invent these kinds of questions. Then there are the “deep theological ones” like, ‘can God make a stone so big that He can’t throw it?’ ‘ When the Bible says, “In the beginning God…” what year was that?’ Isn’t it great that you don’t have to know all the answers to survive in life. It is wonderful that God does bless us with enough assurances to give us peace that He has all of the mysterious unknown, under His control. Why do Christians suffer? Why do serious accidents happen to those who trust the Lord? Why do catastrophes hit upon the believers just like on the unbelievers? Why does God allow the innocent to suffer in wars and revolutions?
I don’t profess to know all the answers but I’ve learned that God is a good God, all the time. We have all learned that as we go through difficulties we are sometimes almost overwhelmed. But after a time, we can look back and laugh at what actually occurred. Like the warp and woof of a tapestry, different coloured threads become a beautiful design. The Master Weaver does the same with our lives as He weaves all kinds of experiences, trials and tests into a beautiful reflection of Himself. Let’s learn to have confidence in His love for us. Don’t become bitter, nor a complainer. He will make it all clear to us some time down the road of life. TRUST HIM! !
Please And Thank You
“Give thanks in all circumstances….” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
It’s one of the first lesson that parents teach their children. “You must say thank you!” But then, some people never learn that important lesson. Jesus told the story of 10 lepers who came to Him for healing. He instructed them to go and show themselves to the priests for their examination. As they made their way to the city, they suddenly realized that they were healed. Well you could imagine the joy of being a living, walking miracle. Suddenly, by Divine decree, their whole future was changed. What would you do with your life if you were raised from a death bed to stand in perfect health and that you knew who was responsible for the change? You know the story. One out of the ten came back to thank the Lord. To him, it was very important to give an expression of humble gratitude before he did anything else with his life. This fresh beginning commenced with THANKFULNESS. The others were not in the crowd that day. They may have thought that they had better things to do than be at a religious meeting. It is interesting to note that Jesus was aware of their absence and drew the attention of the Congregation to that fact. When you read the story, do you get the feeling that Jesus was sorrowful that they didn’t all return? It’s a story that has been passed down through the centuries. Did their Mother not teach them to say PLEASE and THANK YOU? Then again, gratitude is a choice we all make on a regular basis.” In everything give thanks.” The Lord has done so many good things for us as routine for our lives. His Protection, Provision, Presence and His People are all wonderful gifts to us. We express our thankfulness and gratitude in a special way on Thanksgiving Day.
At each Holy Communion service, we remember, with gratitude, that Jesus died on the cross for each of us. It was the fulfillment of a plan designed in the Wisdom and Love of God from long before the world was made. His provisions are many. Jesus’ death:
- satisfied the justice of God; that the wages of Sin had been paid through the sacrifice of His life.
- conquered the powers of darkness and evil that had taken undeserved authority and control over the hearts of all sinners.
- provided peace for all those who trust in Him.
- made us subjects worthy to be adopted into the family of God.
- provided us an access to the Heavenly Fathers presence. We are invited to come with “boldness and confidence” to Him.
- seals our eternal destiny with an inheritance in heaven that will never fade.
- places us in Himself, His Church, of which every believer becomes a part. We are welcomed to be involved in what He wants to do in the world today.
- prepared room in the hearts of all believers to personally receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to be a Guide, Teacher, Comforter and resource of Power.
The price for all of these benefits was Jesus’ death on the cross on our behalf.
Change His Mind?
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into His courts.” Psalm 96:8
Do you think that you can make God change His mind? Some people believe that is the purpose of prayer; to make God do what we want Him to do. If you had to arm wrestle with God, guess who would win! Prayer is designed with two purposes and neither of them are intended to demonstrate our powers of persuasion.
Firstly, God wants us to pray because it is His desire that we meet with Him and spend time in His presence in an endearing relationship. His intent is to allow us to experience His personal affection and to demonstrate His willingness to bless us for spending the time with Him. We forget that we were designed for this kind of contact with the Lord. Of all the things that have been created there is nothing that is more valuable to God than each of us, individually. He is ever waiting for us to express our dependence upon Him and our commitment to love and honour Him. At the same time, I am confident that we bring joy to His heart when we learn to catch ourselves, in the rush and bustle of each day, to spend time in prayer in fellowship with Him. He is blessed, which ought to be the main reason for praying. Too often we measure the success of our prayers by the visible results. But just being with Him ought to be reward enough even if we don’t hear Him speaking back to us.
Secondly, there are things that He wants to do in our world today that He will not do unless we are willing to become a part of His plan. He holds in reserve all the power of His ability until we come into agreement with Him to see His purposes fulfilled. He does that by His own choice. The truth is God is calling the shots, not me nor you. It is also true that He wants to effect changes in our world. That is why He will lay burdens upon our hearts, or lead us into situations that blatantly show us that things must change in order to conform to His will. The fact that He gives us an opportunity to become those ‘Agents’ of change is a great honour. But, I think it’s also true, that there are many things left undone in our world because of our unwillingness to spend the time in His presence. Somehow, we need to get a grasp of the fact that God is Supreme and in absolute control over every detail of our world all the time. We can’t change His mind for the simple reason that His will is to “make all things work out for the good of those who love Him.”
More than anything else, He wants us to know that He loves us with an everlasting love, through all circumstances, and will not turn any away when we come to Him.
Make Him Pay
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18
It is a fact that every criminal will have to give account, someday, for the crimes that he has committed, whether it’s simply a parking ticket or multiple murders. We expect those kind of principles of justice, that are important for the proper functioning or a healthy society, to work for our benefit all the time. Our problem is that sometimes the officers of the law don’t have enough clues to capture the offenders. Then there are other times when the offender is very influential or a smooth talker and he is able to persuade the judge to drop the case. In both situations, the law-breaker goes free and gets away from paying the penalty for his crime and justice is not served because of the failure of our system.
However, there is a flawless court in eternity that not only is fully aware of the crimes and offences that are made against society and God but also has the power to unerringly prosecute every offender, without exception. No one escapes that day of judgment.
I’ve learned a few lessons from the ‘handbook’ of the Judge.
First of all, the wisest thing that anyone who has offended God can do is to turn himself in. There are very severe consequences to anyone who has to appear before Him without a prior confession because His justice is swift and sure on that day. (Hebrews 9:27) However, He has provided a way that the matter can be settled today; right now, out of court. You see, God sent His one and only Son into the world to stand in the place of each one who asks for forgiveness. (John 3:16) Jesus not only hears our plea but He also takes upon Himself the complete punishment for every crime/sin that the guilty person confesses to Him. (1 John 1:9) He becomes our substitute and He willingly submits to pay the absolute consequences for the actions we have committed that are offensive to God. (Romans 5:8) Justice is satisfied because the penalty is paid in full upon Jesus. The price is paid through the pain and loneliness that He endured. The agony was very real and the benefits for us are very great. We may not grasp all that is involved in the transaction that brings us deliverance from condemnation and the day of judgment for those who do not receive Jesus forgiveness. We are made free of fear and guilt because He took our place in judgment. There is no cost to us for the process. It is a wonderful gift of Gods love extended to everyone who believes. The Father welcomes us into a loving, family relationship with Himself because the obstacles that require His judgments are removed and completely eradicated. That was the reason that Jesus came to die on the cross. He paid the absolute penalty for sin.
The Old Rugged Cross
“If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’” Zechariah 13:6
It’s too bad that the cross has become such a beautiful symbol in the Church. We have lost sight of the awful consequences that the original cross was intended to convey. It was a tool of execution. To those who stood to be judged by a Roman court it was a fearsome thought that sentence could be passed for one to be nailed to the cross as the penalty of their crime. It was generally a public, open, execution where crowds could observe the shame, agony and suffering of the criminal. It was designed to be a deterrent, as well as a sentence of death. It provided a slow death of lingering suffering and pain and gave the cruel soldiers an opportunity to play agonizing games with their prey.
It would be very difficult for us to fully understand the degree of suffering that was inflicted on the prisoners. So severe was the prolonged agony that the means of execution has been eradicated from a civilized society. But what amazes me is that Jesus knew, well before He came to live in our world, that He had an appointment with the nails and a cross on a hill outside of the city of Jerusalem, yet He willingly came. There were no surprises to Him. I understand, from the human perspective, why Jesus dreaded the cross and why His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was so intense. Just hours before the Garden experience He said to His disciples, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” (John 12:27)
It was obvious throughout His ministry that He was in charge of every situation and had a way of taking control under difficult circumstances; but to die on a cross, He needed to surrender His authority to the fury of an angry mob and the cruel hands of the Roman soldiers. That was the decision that He had made well before He came into the world. He affirmed that decision when He told His disciples, “I lay down my life…. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)
Now I don’t know about you but I do everything possible to avoid pain. I don’t like shame either. There are very few circumstances that would cause me to consider enduring painful situations for the benefit of others. But Jesus, knowing that His suffering and death would open an opportunity for ALL men Everywhere to find forgiveness of sins and an opportunity to become heir to the promises of God, was willing to lay His life down. Without His willingness to go to the Cross, we would have no hope of pleasing the Father. The writer of the book of Hebrews caught the feelings of the heart of Jesus when he said, “.. who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2) His joy was to provide hope for each of us by dying on a cross in our place.
Duties and Benefits of Love
“But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
We all know, by now, that true love is not an emotion. It’s a decision. We all enjoy the spark in the heart when we are ‘in love’ but that is not the true proof of love. Love has been the theme of poets and authors through the centuries and each of them has difficulty in putting words together to describe what love is. It probably would take pages to describe what love is all about.
Allow me a little bit of liberty to tell you some things that you already know. Love is more than words and feelings. Its expression is in action and waiting. Its best demonstration is in the doing and in patient waiting. It is putting others first. It is not proving yourself right, all the time. It is serving, submitting, in honour preferring one another and sometimes enduring for the sake of another. Love is quick to forgive and to let go of hurts. Love does not hold bitterness nor provoke to anger. Love is careful to guard the words that are spoken so that verbal injury will be avoided. Love prepares the truth to be soft and gentle in the face of weakness and failure. Love seeks to bless instead of looking for a method of retaliation. Love does not remind others of the errors of the past. Love delights in the hope that another opportunity will bring victory to one who has failed many times before; perhaps as much as seventy times seven. Love may be abused and taken advantage of but will continue as ‘love’ no matter the situation. Love seeks the best in others and freely expresses appreciation for successes and victories won. Love is giving with no thought of return. It is freely sharing time, energy, finances, hopes and dreams. Love does not use people for personal enjoyment or advancement. Love seeks the best for the rest and is willing to sacrifice to see that come to pass. Love is watchful protection of the weak and frail and a guardian of the right. Love seeks to do what is right before God and man. Love stands firm against foolish decisions. Love draws lines of discipline that will bring correction and a re-evaluation of personal choices. Love will not serve foolish appetites and desires. Love will be prompt to lift up and bless the discouraged and the forsaken. Love will accompany the frustrated, the lonely and the heartbroken and bring comfort to the sorrowing. Love believes that God is able to make good to come out of the most impossible of situations and that He is able to change the heart of the most vile. Love believes that forgiving the offences of others is Gods loving plan for all mankind. Love will not gossip about others weaknesses but cover up the flaws of those who stumble. Love embraces all who come within reach and shares the joys of the victorious. Love seeks to minister to others at any cost at all times. Love is willing to go the second mile, turn the other cheek, surrender ones coat to the needy and accepting abuse for Jesus sake. Love is of God for “God is love..”
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7
Godly counsel is a valuable treasure that God has given to the Church. It comes in various forms.
1. There are mature believers that God has blessed with Wisdom and a devotion to have Gods will performed in all our lives. If you ever require assistance, God has granted a wonderful encyclopaedia of resources in His Church that are available to minister to us in our time of need.
2. There is the Pastoral staff whose desire is to be a blessing to Gods people and to guard and protect them from the snares that the enemy would use to damage or retard their spiritual growth.
3. How could we ever put a price on the input that the Spirit of God administers every day in His prompting and gentle correction and reproof?
4. But the most available and consistent tool of advice comes from the Word of God. Almost everyone has this Guide book that helps in times of choices, opportunities and temptations.
God does care about the day to day routines that each of us goes through right where we live. He is mindful, too, of the tactics of the enemy who works at destroying our love relationship with God as well as the consequences that are sure to affect our lives because of wrong decisions. He made a special promise that we all need to exercise at some point in our lives: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Let me remind us, together, that we can avoid the consequences of wrong choices by listening to good advice. We might reason that we have other solutions that disagree with the wisdom of other sources but there is nothing in the world that will bring us through the storms of life like trusting in Gods direction. The Apostle Paul was about to be tossed overboard with the whole crew and cargo of a ship when he made this simple statement, “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.” (Acts 27:21) He may not have understood much about the weather nor what a sailor does at sea but He knew God and that was his source of guidance. There are a lot of people that have suffered ‘shipwreck’ and serious hurts because of sincere but bad choices. I believe that God has designed us in such a way, to have confidence in each other. We are like the body that depends on other joints and ligaments next to us in order to fulfill the purpose of our being. Take heed! God does have a special plan for each of us but independence is not one of His giftings. We are in this together. Loving each other must carry with it the fact that we will trust each other and communicate matters of concern for the wisdom that God supplies. Be wise!
Thankful For His Purposes
“I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.” Psalm 35:18
An attitude of gratitude is the first step toward enjoying life. We have often heard the admonition that we should learn to be content whatever the circumstance. (Philippians 4:11) That clearly means that we may not get everything that we want but it does convey the healthy view of being grateful for whatever happens in life. Most of our discomfort in life comes back to the fact that we don’t always get what we expect or that, sometimes, we get what we were not expecting. Can I remind you that God is the One who is in control of all the details that come to play on our lives? He is a loving God. He is a Caring Friend. It is His wish that good things would come to us. “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11) Yet, it is strange how some of the things that are meant to do us good come wrapped in disappointments and hurtful situations. If we could see the end of the journey as He sees it we would be more appreciative of the kind of things that God allows to come our way. When you don’t feel happy about a circumstance, remember that He has promised to be with us through every moment of our lives. You are not alone.
Paul, whose experiences were not always greatly appreciated, learned to give thanks for the thorn in His flesh that caused him much discomfort. You see, the difference between a Believer and a person who does not know the Lord is that we believe God does have a perfect plan for our lives. That should be a great encouragement to us. It is a firm promise that will see us through every situation in life. Soooo, “..give thanks in all circumstance for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ) ‘All’ is a small word but it is extensive in meaning. There are no exceptions to that ‘rule.’ All is everything. Whatever the experience, we need to believe that there is a lesson to learn, or a new part of our character that needs to be developed that we had not recognized before. It is possible that through the rough times we will meet the Lord in a brand new way that the road of pleasure and comfort may not have revealed. Learning to guard our peace and to be joyful in those kinds of situations are lessons well learned. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) The world needs to see us as people of patience and peace because our faith in a loving God will not allow us to become anything less than appreciative for the work that He is doing in our hearts.
At the same time, we have so much to be thankful for, in the blessings that the Lord shares with us each day. We are a very blessed people and we will not forget all His benefits. (Psalm 103:1) We are grateful for the things He has done and for the promises of things yet to come. To whatever experience we have with Him we know that it is covered in His precious love because He has honoured us with His friendship and His wonderful gifts.
Master Of The Vineyard
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15
There is no way that you are going to win all the lost. The task is too big and God knows that. You see, He’s the Master of the vineyard and He’s aware of the magnitude of the task that lies before us. The truth is, we are catching up on the neglect of past generations to do what the Church is supposed to do. Let that be a warning to all of us. We don’t want to pass any more responsibility than is necessary on to the next generation. Here’s the key to getting the job done in the time that is allotted to us. We each do what we can. God has given us an area of opportunity to reach the lost and they are everywhere. We meet some of the lost at the breakfast table, at the place of our employment, where we do our shopping, on the highways and on public transportation. It’s strange that we think that the Mission Field is on some other continent on the other side of the world where the lost speak another language and eat ‘funny stuff.’ The truth is, they can be members of our own family or members of our neighbourhood. Jesus was concerned about the lack of vision that His generation had for the needs of lost humanity. He described two serious flaws in the reasoning of those that follow Him.
1. “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’” The attitude of His followers was simply, ‘there’s lots of time before the matter is urgent.’ Jesus was reminding His disciples that the timing of reaching the lost is ‘right now.’ Any delay is to lose an opportunity. What we don’t do today will be postponed to our Childrens generation because the task must be done. If it’s a matter of timing, now is the best time.
2. Jesus said, “They are ripe for harvest.” We may feel that the world/individuals we know are not quite ready for the message of Gods love; but Jesus was saying, “They are ready!” Now, we may have difficulty facing our responsibility but that does not take away from the urgency that Jesus wants to impress upon every one of us.
Let me make a few suggestions:
Firstly, we need to be people of prayer who are moved with the same kind of compassion that Jesus demonstrated when He saw the multitudes burdened and frustrated. God help us to be concerned that people are not things. They are eternal souls that need a Saviour Who cares for every detail of the humdrum routine of all of our lives.
Secondly, we need to put feet and hands, thoughts and words to the message of what God has already done in each of our lives. He can do the same for anyone else who calls upon the name of the Lord.
Thirdly, we need to learn the importance of giving to the cause of Evangelism and Missions. It is never wasted finances when it is given to the Lord. It is one of the important tools that God uses to extend His Kingdom on earth.
Made To Be Like Him
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Christians are different than those who do not believe that Jesus Christ is their Saviour. When we commit ourselves to the Lord there is a deliberate action that occurs. The Bible teaches that the moment we invite Jesus Christ to come into our lives and to forgive us of our sins, the Holy Spirit comes into us and takes up residence. “Don’t you know that you, yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
He comes into our lives as an absolute Gentleman with a specific purpose of teaching, leading, guiding, inspiring, empowering us as well as many other things so that we can live the Christian life in a way that is pleasing to God. He is faithful to let us know when we do things that are displeasing to God. But He’s not there to accuse; He’s there to help us through our frailties and failures to restore us to a position that will please the Father. He’s definitely there for our benefit. You see, as much as God loves us ‘just as we are’ He has no intentions of leaving us this way. We look too much like humanity and not enough like Jesus. That does not alter the fact that God’s immense love reaches out to us ‘just as we are.’ The truth is that we are not able to make all the changes alone so that we become more like Jesus. We need Divine intervention and that’s why the Holy Spirit has come into our lives. God was willing to give us all the help that His love could offer in order to make us fit for heaven. It’s important to realize that the Holy Spirit will work with us but He’s not prepared to do all the work by Himself. He depends on us to ‘work together’ with Him in making the important changes in our lives. He does His part by prompting us with a still small voice that no one else can hear. It’s His way of giving directions from the inside and avoiding embarrassment to us. Learning how to listen in order to understand and then to obey is a process that may take some time but is necessary if we intend to do things right.
The problem with most of us is that we can do so many things to muffle His gentle voice and either wilfully or unintentionally we postpone the progress of His will. I believe that the Holy Spirit has been actively involved in our lives in more ways than we would give Him credit. What would our world be like if every believer was truly led by the Spirit of God? That is not reality but God is still faithful and continues to work in every one of our lives in a very patient and gentle manner. He’s not going to give up on this project of working His grace in us until the day the trumpet call is sounded and saints from all over the world are caught up to be with the Lord in the air.
Until then, let’s be open to the leading of the Lord so that a Christ-likeness may be seen through us to a world that doesn’t know the Saviour.
Was It Worth It?
“For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.” Psalm 94:14
The story is told that during the second world war a number of young men were on patrol when they were suddenly caught in an ambush. The soldiers dived for cover but one of them was hit and lay seriously wounded on the ground out of reach of the rest of his platoon. He groaned in pain and called for someone to come and help him. After some time, one of his friends decided to make a try to rescue him, against the counsel of the rest of the soldiers who huddled together in sheltered security. He made a quick dash to the side of his wounded friend and began to drag him to the safety of their hiding place.
All was quiet for those few moments until they reached the edge of their temporary fox hole when another shot cracked the air and the young rescuer fell to the ground, mortally wounded.
When the war was over, the rescued soldier decided to try to meet the parents of the young man who had saved his life. He called and made an appointment for a certain day and time. He arrived at the door in dirty clothes and obviously in a drunken, slobbering stupor. He was invited into the beautiful living room and sat himself in a posh sofa across from the Mother and Father of his hero. His conversation was full of curses and blasphemies. He spoke in gross terms and vulgarities that would make any bar crowd blush. It was painful for the parents to maintain their composure as hosts to this man. When he finally said his farewells, the heartbroken Mother, sobbing, turned to her husband and said, “Can you believe that our son would die for him?”
We often measure whether the goals we reach are worth the efforts we make. Things that we treasure as matters of great value are worth the investment of greater effort. Things that are not so important don’t get the same interest. You can measure how much people value the projects they are involved in by the energy and enthusiasm they exert to see their goals reached. When all is said and done it’s the One who has a true perspective who will assess whether what we did or did not do is of any eternal value. It would be a good idea to seek His advice and His guidance so that what we do will receive the reward of a faithful servant. On the other hand, it is interesting to see how much interest the Lord has in rescuing us and preparing a permanent place for us to dwell. “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” I’m sure that the angels in heaven stand amazed that the Son of God would be willing to lay down His life to redeem the prodigals and the wayward sons of men. God was willing to give His best; His treasured and only begotten Son. That is a great perspective on the value that He has placed on each of our lives. One day, we’ll go to the Fathers house and personally offer our gratitude to Him for sending His Wonderful Son who saved our lives.
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop.” Luke 8:15
Most people know that the biggest personal characteristic that a fisherman needs to possess is patience; drop your line and wait and wait. One of the greatest personal characteristics of a farmer is patience; sow your seed and wait and wait. Winning people to the Lord isn’t that much different. The biggest part of convincing a person that Jesus is a wonderful Saviour is planting the thought and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Perhaps our missionary vision and soul winning process needs a revision. That is, although we are in a hurry to see people come to Christ, we need to learn that saving souls is not our business. Witnessing is. You do know the difference, don’t you? You see, there’s a lot of pressure put on Believers to feel that getting people into heaven is our main job while in fact that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our part of being workers together with God is when we live our lives, speak about our joy in serving Jesus and do our deeds in such a fashion that people will recognize that we have a very wonderful experience in God. If people don’t see the difference in our lives, then we are in big trouble. That would be time to get back on to our knees and get charged up afresh in order to feel the urgency that God feels, concerning winning souls.
But, we need to learn to practice patience. Dropping a line and sowing seed may just be the beginning of a great ingathering at some future time and that is all the Lord asks us to do. Take courage! Be brave! Be bold to tell your story and to demonstrate that your God is Awesome. There are so many people with personal problems that are looking for the answers that we hold. We need to share the wonderful treasures of a life in Jesus Christ, and then be patient. God can do some wonderful things in peoples lives if we will only do our part by sowing the seed at the appropriate time. Sometimes, we feel like we have to keep on insisting until the unbelievers surrender to the Lord. We need to learn that there does come a time when we have to let go and let God do what needs to be done in their hearts. That’s where we need to be prayerfully, perseveringly, patient.
Each Missionary Sunday we are reminded that we are a part of a wonderful team that is reaching out to a lost generation, in various parts of the world. Everyone needs to know that God loves them. Only by uniting our efforts would that be possible. Although some may not surrender their lives to Him the message needs to be told. The team is made up of the some who go; the some who give that others may go. At the same time we all can pray. This is the purpose of Jesus’ coming to this world and the matter that is closest to His heart and God bless you, as you do your part.
“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22
Before He was born in Bethlehem the goal He set for His life was the cross of Calvary. That’s the reason that Jesus came into the world. The plan was to deal with the sins of men. That required a perfect Lamb to pay the absolute price for all sinners. The ceremonies of the Law of the Old Testament were all designed with the purpose of painting word illustrations of Jesus through the acts of sacrifices where the blood of animals and birds were poured out in order to provide an approach to God. Under that Law, it was not possible to come to God with empty hands. That law was important to teach that coming to God had a price; but that the real price for permanent access to Him was humanly impossible. Even the design of the place of Worship with the heavy Veil of separation where the High Priest alone could enter once a year, demonstrated the separation that sin had created. It is a serious matter, this drawing near to God. Many of the rules and regulations that were prescribed in the Law were designed to demonstrate that our sin had created barriers of division that made it difficult to come to God. That was what our sin justly deserved because we chose to be separated from the Most High God by our disobedience.
... sent Jesus Christ to be the perfect Sacrificial Lamb Who by the shedding of His precious blood, satisfied every demand of justice that held us in condemnation. His death on the cross was sufficient to provide a permanent covering for all of our sin, that is, every person’s sin for all time. At His death, on the cross, the heavy Veil of separation in the temple between the holy place and the most holy place was torn in two. It was as though God was saying, “We don’t need this anymore! Let’s open the door into my presence.” The way to have access to the Father was opened because Jesus died on the cross for us.
We now can approach Him, by faith in the precious blood of Jesus and with the confidence that He hears us and welcomes us into His presence. The barriers have been removed and a new relationship has been extended to us. Jesus has taught us that our God is like a Heavenly Father and we are His sons and daughters. What a pleasure it is to know that we do not have to go through any ceremonies nor rituals to come to Him. He has provided access to Himself through His Only Begotten Son. The cost was covered by Jesus. We are encouraged to come to Him with boldness and confidence because He opened the way.
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©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.