Posted in Assurance, Bible, Christianity, Devotional, Digital Images, faith, photo, Photography, Prayer

How Fickle

“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in every thing He might be preeminent. ~ Col. 1:18

Father, do I live in the deeply rooted knowledge that You control everything? In this verse are a few of Your true characteristics, the very fibers of Your being: You are the beginning, the conqueror of death, You exist in everything, and nothing is outside of You. I place my hope and trust in all manner of fickle things such as medicine, science, money, and myself.

Lord, there is nothing on this earth that protects me but You. If You reign over all things and have set a course for my life, then You are my sole protector and protector of my soul. Lord, help me turn to You with the “little” things: What present should I give a friend or loved on? Should I volunteer for that event? Is it right to stay late and get ahead of my work? All these decisions I take into my own hands because they seem so insignificant, yet You purchased my life with Yours; therefore, nothing is insignificant to You.

Father, reveal to me the fickle things that I place trust in and help me turn to You with my “little” prayers and questions. When storms arise, the little moments and short trials secure my trust in You. Thank You that You are steadfast. Thank You that You are not fickle and You cannot deny Your holiness and justice, or compassion. Amen.  ~Prayers for an Anxious Heart

Posted in Bible, Bible Study, Christianity, Devotional, faith, God, inspiration, Jesus

Where Is My Passion?

“Rejoice in the Lord always” Philippians 4:4

            If I had loads of money would my life be better or more satisfying? Am I looking for God’s guidance, wisdom, and direction each day or am I hoping for a miraculous change—a heavenly rescue.

            Do I think I will be more useful to God and others if I strike at rich, win the lottery or write a best seller? As a Bible-believing Christian, how does God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit impact my life as it is? Has Jesus Christ become nothing more than Fire Insurance to me?

            Last weekend brought forth the culmination of the NFL…The Super Bowl. Millions of people spent several hours cheering, yelling, hoping against hope that their favorite team would win. Beginning with the first kickoff, passion exploded across America with people cheering, screaming, shaking fists and raising arms in excitement, hoping for victory. All this for something temporary, something that will fade into obscurity at the last trumpet blast when Jesus Christ comes in glory!

            And what of the believer? Where is our passion? We have a treasure hidden in our hearts, the greatest gift ever given, a gift never to erode or pass away. The gift of forgiveness, redemption and eternal life. So where are our tailgate parties and festive, cheering meetings? As receivers of the greatest gift given at the greatest price, where is our football-like excitement and passion? It seems as though it is hidden. Rather than telling our workmates and neighbors about life eternal and the Salvation of Jesus Christ, we would rather take off our armor, set aside the grace of Jesus Christ and join in Monday morning sports talk.

            “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”  ~Revelation 3:15-16

            1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

 9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~Romans 12:1-21

            Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Posted in Bible, Bible Study, Christianity

The Spirit of God

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”  Joel 2:28

          After the Bible study, Chuck sat down with Peter, the teacher, and said, “I have a friend who tells me about being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” which enables him to speak in tongues. I definitely want everything that God has for me but I’m not sure about this experience.”

          “Have you looked for your answer in the Bible?” said Peter.

          “Well no, not really. But I have asked several other Christians what they think.”

          “Funny, isn’t it, often we seek opinions of friends instead of heading right to the Bible. Believe me, Chuck, I’ve done the same thing. But I’ve learned to find the answers to Biblical questions in the Bible with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I begin by asking God to give me wisdom and understanding.  He never fails to answer that prayer.

          “Let’s look at some verses that tell us about the Holy Spirit.”

  • John 14:16-17  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
  • John 14:26  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
  • John 16:13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.
  • Acts 1:5, 7-8  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • Acts 2:2-4  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
  • Acts 2:38-39  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
  • Romans 8:26-27  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
  • 1 Cor. 12:1, 4, 7-11  Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
  • Romans 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

“So, according to the bible, speaking in tongues (unknown languages) is one of the gifts of the Spirit, given as He sees fit. It’s ok to ask God to reveal your gift or gifts, but remember,” Peter said, “these are gifts, which means God gives them according to His plans. Don’t worry, when the time is right, you will realize that you have whatever gift you need. There is no secret password, Chuck. We can’t earn spiritual gifts, they are given to us according to God’s perfect will and pleasure.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” ~Philippians 2:13

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Digital Images, encouragement, Essay, faith, MONEY

Just A Dollar

            The cries for help cascade down with unceasing frequency. Newsletters, celebrities, radio talk-show hosts and TV commentators point out unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon ordinary people around the globe. We are inundated with the verifiable cries for financial help in places we cannot even find on the map. Our hearts break. And just as we are about to send money to an organization, headlines scream of corruption and fraud. Plastered on newspaper’s front pages and TV screens are images of charitable foundation CEO’s, accused of theft. What can we do?

            We have probably all heard of or read the Bible story about the poor widow who gave a few cents in her offering box. This seemingly insignificant act may have passed unnoticed except for the watchful eyes of a nearby man. Jesus. His observation is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12:

            Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins [worth about a penny]. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

            And now what? How does that story help us give or determine to whom we should give? Or perhaps some of us may be thinking, how much to give.

            I believe we can glean at least two important lessons from the sacrificial giving of this legendary Biblical widow: 1.) We are without excuse when it comes to sacrificial giving, using her as our example. 2.) The smallest amount will do, as long as we give.

            Combining sacrifice with giving opens new doors of opportunity for us. Do you have a local Food Bank organization or shelter in your area? How about the Kiwanas or Lions club who both offer free services? Perhaps you’ve heard of a church who feeds the hungry and poor. Now you can help by giving the smallest amount or volunteering.

            Say you live in an area with a population of 10,000. What if everyone gave one dollar per month to a charitable organization? Yes, that would amount to $10,000! There is truly power in tiny contributions.

Posted in Assurance, Bible Study, Christianity, Devotional, encouragement, Essay

Time To Choose

 

Do not be conformed to this world. . .be transformed ~Romans 12:2

Do you find yourself wrestling with your old nature, your sinful thoughts and selfish decisions every day? In your innermost thoughts, those no other human can know, do you often give in to behavior and thoughts that you would be horrified if everyone knew? Well, you are not alone but God reminds us that our love affair with the world is what brings us down. He alone is the answer. The more time I spend with Him the less time I spend loving the world. Perhaps God would like to hear, “I love you, Lord” more often.

James 4:4

“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

2 Peter 1:1-4

“This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

James 1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

1 John 4:4

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

 The couple had been married 35 years when the wife asked her husband, “Honey don’t you love me anymore? You never say you do.” To which he replied, “Of course I love you, I told you so when we got married. If anything had changed, I would have told you.”

Does this describe our relationship with the Lord?

Posted in Bible, Bible Study, CHRIST, Christianity

Book of James

James 1:1-4

 

  1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

  1. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3. because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Matthew 5:11-12  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad…

1 Peter 1:6-7  …though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold. . .may be proved genuine

1 Peter 4:12-19  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ…

Romans 5:3-5  …We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 8:18  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

When I was young and foolish…ok, stubborn and self-serving too, I often suffered for my choices. Typically, when caught, I cajoled and moaned, smiled or cried, and begged for mercy. Most often, mercy was in short supply. But behind it all, I knew I deserved whatever punishment came my way.

After accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, of all the differences I may have anticipated, suffering for my faith was certainly not one. Suffering for doing wrong is expected but suffering for doing right? And then considering those sufferings as light and momentary? Can I be stretched that far? Won’t I explode? But Lord, aren’t you satisfied with my expressions of faith and times of prayer and reading your Word?

And then I began to see that by accepting trials and tribulations as an element of faith I was simply following in the footsteps of Christ. He suffered for me and now I can imitate Him. And, oh yes, no complaining please. Count it all joy!

By the way, He knows we will have worlds of trouble accepting sufferings joyfully, that’s where His mercy and grace come into play. He loves us that much.