Thursday, January 31, 2013

As For Me and My House

Goldfinch in the snow

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15 (NASB)


And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15 (ESV) 

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WOW, what an impact those words have to Christians today. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Have I chosen to serve the LORD?  Does God get my undivided devotion.  Is He number one -- or do I put God somewhere after myself, my family, my possessions?  Have I chosen to be led by God's Spirit?  This is something I need to work on, I need to affirm this daily.

These words from Joshua followed his farewell speech. In that speech he reviewed the salvation history of Israel from Abraham down to that present time. He reminded the people of the many mighty acts of God on behalf of His people. God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He guided His people for 40 years through the wilderness. God fed them, and gave them victory over their enemies. Joshua reminded them that these great feats were not accomplished by their own power.  These great deeds were accomplished by God, for His people.  He then challenged them to put away their false gods and  to serve and fear the LORD.

He then allowed them to make their own decision. They could take up his challenge or continue to serve other gods -- those of the Amorites in whose land they were living.  Joshua was committed to the LORD. He spoke as the leader of his household and the spiritual leader of his family.  He chose to follow the LORD.  Joshua was an example of faithfulness for all the people of his day and for us today.





Joshua was a strong leader who knew where he was going, but he gave others the space they needed to choose for themselves. That's not only smart; it's an evidence of two admirable virtues: first, a security in self that comes from resting in God's will and second, a genuine respect for others.  — Charles Swindoll

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Draw Near to the Throne

Single roses


Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) 


Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NASB) 

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How amazing is that. The throne is where a king sits, it is place from where he rules.  But this King is not an ordinary King -- this King is the creator and sustainer of all the universe.  As Christians we can approach God without an appointment.  We can go to Him when we desire. We can have an audience with the King of Kings, the LORD of LORDS.  When we come to Him we will receive mercy, help and grace in time of need.

Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people.  As our High Priest, Jesus has opened the way for His people to enter God's presence boldly.  There we can obtain his mercy and grace to help us when we need it mostMercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. 


Our permission to approach God does not come from any merit of our own. We can come to the throne only because of Jesus. Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. By His grace, through faith can come to our Father, who loves us as his children.  We can depend upon God for our daily needs.  We can come to God in difficult times, times of adversities, temptation, times of plenty, times of indecision, times of joy. We can come to God and not be turned away. No request is insignificant, and no problem is too small. God will help us at the right time—His time. Every request will not be granted immediately or as we expect it to be. Neither will God erase the natural consequences of any sin that was committed. It does mean, however, that God listens, cares, and will answer in his perfect way, in his perfect timing.

We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.
____________

What is grace, "unmerited favor," "the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man"

Here is an acronym:

G=God's 
R=Righteousness 
A=At 
C=Christ's 
E=Expense 



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Impact of Grace

Scarlet runner bean

And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly:  that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 5:20-21 (ASV) 


Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 5:20-21 (ESV



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We know what is right and wrong from the law. We willfully break the law. With the Law we are condemned. Breaking God's law leads to death.  Jesus Christ came into the world, bringing a grace-gift to us. What flows from Jesus is not death, but life.  The surpassing excellence of Christ’s salvation is shown in that grace abounded over all our sins.


_____________

Allow the full impact of grace to flow through your thoughts, your attitudes, 
your responses, your words.  Open the gates and let those good things stampede 
freely across your tough day. You stand alongside and relax.  

—  Charles Swindoll 



Monday, January 28, 2013

Whatever your Work

Clematis




 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.  Colossians 3:23-24 (NASB) 

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Whatever work we do it should be with reverence for the Lord. We should be working with an awareness of God’s character and presence as we work. This enhances the dignity of our labor. As Christian employees we should serve our employers with genuine concern and as though we were serving God.  It is the Lord Christ whom all Christians are serving.

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It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. 

—  Unknown


Your work is a very sacred matter. God delights in it, and through it. He wants to bestow His blessing on you. This praise of work should be inscribed on all tools, on the forehead and the face that sweat from toiling. For the world does not consider labor a blessing. Therefore it flees and hates it....But the pious, who fear the Lord, labor with a ready and cheerful heart; for they know God's command and will.

— Martin Luther


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Whom Shall I Fear?

Cosmos - Cosmos bipinnatus



The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?   Psalm 27:1
  
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The Lord, is the light for the believer. He is the strength of our life. In God let us strengthen ourselves. He is always near. He is always ready to hear our prayers. With God on our side; with God in us, we have nothing or no one to fear. Not even death can conquer us. For even death was defeated by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.


FEAR

What room is there for untroubled fear?
I know my Lord, and he is near;
And he will light my candle so
That I may see the way I go.

Lord, grant to me a quiet mind,
That trusting thee, for thou art kind.
I may go on without a fear,
for thou, my Lord, art always near.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

No News Is Good News?

Morning News


No News Is Good News?


A short time ago my wife and I were awakened from our sleep by my daughter. She told us our granddaughter had become ill with stomach pain and an elevated temperature. She and our son-in-law and were taking her to stat care. They would keep us informed of the situation. Some time went by and there was no news from them.

No news is good news, right! The earliest version of this familiar saying was attributed to the English King James I, who wrote in 1616, 'No newis is bettir than evill newis.' This saying assumes that not hearing any news signifies that nothing is wrong. In most cases this is entirely untrue. No news is NO News, no information. No news means anxiety, and worry. Lack of information causes presumptions. These presumptions lead to wrong turns, and to poor decisions or no decisions.

We as Christians know the Good News. The good news is the Gospel. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10,11. If the shepherds had not been told the news, the Good News – they would have not know that Jesus was born. You have to hear the news. You have to know there is good news. Once they heard the news they were able to act on it. And they did. When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Luke 2:15 (ESV)

We are told by Jesus “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 We are to tell the good news. If we do not tell our friends, neighbors, family, coworkers the news how will they know? No news is not good news – it is no news, nothing on which to act. No decisions can be made, no choices to choose from. Tell them the good news!

After seemingly long minutes passed by, we heard news about our granddaughter. It was good news, information we could act on. We could pray and praise the Lord for His blessings.

Spread the Good News of Christ and His salvation. Then allow the Holy Spirit do His work in those that hear the Good News.
















Friday, January 25, 2013

Seek God

Lookin out my back door




A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. 

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; 
My soul thirsts for You; 
My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 

So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, 
To see Your power and Your glory. 
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, 
My lips shall praise You. 

Thus I will bless You while I live; 
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, 
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. 

When I remember You on my bed, 
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help, 
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. 

My soul follows close behind You; 
Your right hand upholds me.
But those who seek my life, to destroy it, 
Shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
They shall fall by the sword; 
They shall be a portion for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God; 
Everyone who swears by Him shall glory; 
But the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped. 
Psalm 63:1-11 (NKJV) 
______________________


In this song of David, we see that he seeks God earnestly. His soul and flesh yearns for God. It appears that David starts his day by seeking the Lord.  When David first opens his physical eyes, he also seeks God as he opens his spiritual eyes. David sets the tone of the day by starting his day seeking God. David understands that nothing in the physical world on earth can satisfy his immortal soul.

His need for God is compared to the need for water in the desert. God is his sanctuary. David also closes his day by meditating on the Lord as well. We will find our happiness in the Lord. This weary old world is a desert – our hope lies in our true home, heaven?

_____________


Reach up as far as you can, and God will reach down all the way.
John H. Vincent

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Benefits of Afflictions

teasel stem


Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Thy word.
Psalm 119:67  NASB
I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
Psalm 119:67 NLT  

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Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible. It is different from most other Psalms in both its length and content. It was also written as an acrostic. It may have been written to read, rather than to be sung. This mnemonic scheme also aided in memorizing the meditation; but it was a way of ordering the thoughts to provide a complete meditation on the word of God.  There 22 stanzas of 8 lines, each devoted to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The psalm is largely a collection of prayers and meditations on the Word of God.  the Word of God. In these meditations the Word of God is referred to in 10 different synonyms:  Law, Word, Saying, Commandment, Statues, Judgement, Precepts, Way and Path.

In this verse we see the benefit of discipline in one's life. The stanza 65-72 show the goodness of God. God is good at all times. Even in affliction and discipline God is good. Discipline will give us knowledge and good judgment from the word of God.

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By afflictions God is spoiling us of what otherwise might have spoiled us. -- When he makes the world too hot for us to hold, we let it go.     
Sir John Powell.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pray for One Another

Resurrection fern - Polypodium polypodioides


Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.      
James 5:16  NASB

Prayer is the world in tune,
A spirit voice, And vocal joys,
Whose echo is heaven's bliss.

Henry Vaughan: The Morning Watch



In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.  
.......  John Bunyan 



Souls without prayer are like people whose bodies or limbs are paralyzed: They possess feet and hands but they cannot control them.
Teresa of Avila




My four-year-old daughter and I would always pray before she went to sleep. One night she volunteered to pray. She prayed and prayed and prayed—her voice getting softer and softer and softer, until only her lips were moving. Then she said "Amen."
"Honey," I said, "I didn't hear a word you said."
She answered, "Mama, I wasn't talking to you."   
 .......    Helen B. Poole










Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Take Time to Love

Wild sunflower with honey bee cropped

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 
1 John 4:7-8 (ESV)

Take Time to Love


An ethics professor at Princeton Seminary asked for volunteers for an extra assignment. Fifteen students showed up. He divided the group of fifteen into three groups of five each. He instructed the first group of five to proceed immediately across the campus to a certain spot; if they did not get there in fifteen minutes their grade would be affected. A minute or two later he instructed the second group to also proceed across the campus to the same spot; but they were given forty-five minutes to get there. After they left he instructed the last group to go across the campus to that spot too; but they were given three hours for the trip.

Now, unknown to any of these students, the teacher had arranged with three students from the Drama Department to meet them along the way, acting as people in great need: the first one they met covered his head with his hands and moaned out loud as though in great pain; the second, a little bit further along the way, was on some steps lying face down as if unconscious; the third, on the very steps of the destination, acted out an epileptic seizure. You know what the ethics professor discovered? Not one of the first group stopped, two of the second group stopped, and all five of the third group stopped.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Everything We Need

Gerbera Daisy

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  

 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

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God has equipped us with all that we need for this life. He has called us to serve Him. Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth. He has given us all that we need to serve Him in whatever task He has called us. As Christians we lack nothing.  We are fully equipped to live a life pleasing to God, to overcome any obstacle we might face. With God we can persevere under all trial.



__________

There are times when God asks nothing of his children except silence, patience, and tears.

— Charles Seymore Robinson



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Not an Afterthought

single roses



"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight"
Ephesians 1:4

Wow! Does that not blow you away. God chose you before the foundation of the earth. We are no accident. We did not just appear and evolve over a long period of time from some cosmic ooze. We were created by God. We are not an afterthought of God, we are His accomplished masterpiece. We were chosen before the creation of the world, before the fall, before our parents even met.
It's a profound mystery, but God's ways are not our ways. "How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" Romans 11:33.

We have been elected by grace. It has nothing to do with our merit. Lest we boast that it is ours by right, "But by the grace of God, I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10); "It is by grace [we] have been saved" (Ephesians 2:5).

This should make us want to be and to do the very best for Him who created us. We are to continue in faith and a desire to be holy. We are to glorify God in all we do.

liberally adapted from my friend - Walking Through the Darkness by Pat Nordman

I just found her blog - you really should check it out Light for the Way

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Love of God

New England Aster - closer
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 
1 John 4:7 
____________


All things that are on earth shall wholly pass away, 
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye. 
The forms of men shall be as they had never been; 
The blasted groves shall lose their fresh and tender green; 
The birds of the thicket shall end their pleasant song, 
And the nightingale shall cease to chant the evening long; 
The kine of the pasture shall feel the dart that kills, 
And all the fair white flocks shall perish from the hills. 
The goat and antlered stag, the wolf and the fox, 
The wild-boar of the wood, and the chamois of the rocks, 
And the strong and fearless bear, in the trodden dust shall lie; 
And the dolphin of the sea, and the mighty whale, shall die. 
And realms shall be dissolved, and empires be no more, 
And they shall bow to death, who ruled from shore to shore; 
And the great globe itself, so the holy writings tell, 
With the rolling firmament, where the starry armies dwell, 
Shall melt with fervent heat--they shall all pass away, 
Except the love of God, which shall live and last for aye.
       
- William Cullen Bryant

Friday, January 18, 2013

God's Word

Water lily






So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 (NASB) 
__________

God the Creator sends his word (Hebrew dabar). 
In the context of this verse, dabar means his will or plan. 
God's written word, as an expression of God's plan. God always accomplishes His purposes, He is sovereign.
 God is always effective in whatever he does.
__________


If the Word can hold the sun and the moon in place, then I believe it can answer any need that you and I may have in our families.
M. Hickey 





_____________



Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Sacrifice

Humming Bird Praise

The Sacrifice

No other sacrifice would do.
God sent His son to die for me and you.
Let this cup pass from me, Jesus cried,
It wasn't enough though, until, He died.

On the cross again Jesus cried,
He had suffered enough so He died,
Now God was fully satisfied.
Never again, would He be tested and tried.

Now we come to God, in Jesus name,
The One that was and will always be the same.
How would I have ever known the way.
If Jesus had not come and died that day.

God thought His plan out very well,
Because He knew without His Son's death, I would go to hell.
Then the time came and He died for me that day.

Many years have come and gone,
And things are certain to go wrong,
Satan sees to it that it happens that way,
But sacrifice was sufficient for me on that day.

Now, no other sacrifice is needed,
My life according to His word I have heeded.
His word now always shows me His way,
All because He sacrificed His life for me that day.

So now the only sacrifice I ask of you.
Is to give your life to me and I will show you what to do.
And I will keep you as you go down life's pathway.
As I listened to my Father and died for you that day.


Philip C. Vinson 11/1/99

Ransome

Duck down on spruce

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28

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Ransome is the price, or paymen,t made for our redemption, as when it is said that the Son of man "gave his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28)  (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:23,24; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; Galatians 3:13; 4:4,5; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14) (1 Timothy 2:6; Ti 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18,19) In all these passages the same idea is expressed.

The Greek word for ransome (Gr.lutron) was used most commonly for the price paid to redeem a slave. The debt is not cancelled but as fully paid.   Christ paid the ransom price of his own life to free us from the slavery of sin. We are not liberated by a mere gratuitous favour, but the entire ransom price has been paid. We, slaves to sin, can now be set free. We have been "bought with a price." This price is Christ — His blood, His death. He secures our redemption by the payment of a ransom. It was "Paid in Full ."  That is the Good News!  Don't keep it a secret, go tell it on the mountain.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Remain In Christ

Forsythia blossom

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6 NIV


Apart from the Way there is no going . . .

Apart from the Truth there is no knowing . . .

Apart from the Life there is no living.

God says, "Remain in Christ, and rest yourself.  He is the way and the truth and the life."      Living Insights NIV Study bible


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Rose 


It's only a tiny rosebud – 
A flower of God's design,
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I –
The flower God opens so sweetly
In my hands would fade and dry.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I think I have wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust him for his leading
Each moment of every day,
And I'll look to him for guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

For the pathway that lies before me
My Heavenly Father knows –
I'll trust him to reveal the moments
Just as he unfolds the rose.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Molten Moment - Bruce Thielemann

The Right Molten Moment

My first pastorate was in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, which was famous at that time for having the world's largest steel-tube rolling mills. They created a seamless tube there which was unparalleled. Many was the time I stood in one of those great machines (the command module was called the pulpit, incidentally) with the man operating the machine.

I'd see a great serpent of molten metal come slithering down into the machine, and it would be chopped off. Then the machine would grab it by its ends and begin to spin. By centrifugal force, that bar of molten metal would open from the inside out, forming a perfect tube of steel without seam and without blemish.

Many times I asked the men directing those machines, "What's the most important ingredient in the process?" The answer was always the same: "It's the temperature of the metal. If it is too hot, it will fly apart; if it is too cold, it will not open as it ought. Unless you catch the molten moment, you cannot make the perfect tube."

Unless we catch those molten moments when character can develop, we miss our opportunity just as the disciples did.

— Bruce Thielemann, "Tide Riding," Preaching Today, Tape No. 30.