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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/29/2016 in Stories

  1. 4 points
    Today’s post is the final devotion in my series on the symbolism found in my children’s book, “Finished: A Fictional Story With Heavenly Truth”. I am so grateful for the work of artist Terri Melia Hamlin on this project. Terri’s illustrations compliment the story and visually depict deeper theological truths. In today’s devotion, I share the final scene in the book, which shows Jesus sleeping and dreaming. So much of “Finished” is a foreshadowing of the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact, the book’s title, “Finished” reminds us that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross completed the work of forgiveness and restored the sin-broken relationship between God and man. It’s no coincidence that Jesus is sleeping as the story comes to a close. Sleep, after all, is a metaphor for death in the Bible. Make no doubt about it. Jesus lost his life to save people from their sins. Still, the story is not ultimately over, and death never gets the final word. The illustration shows Jesus dreaming while he sleeps. Jesus’ dream is of a better day, the Resurrection Day, when Jesus would rise from the dead. The lesson here is that brighter days are always ahead for the Christian. The empty tomb of Jesus assures it. I’d like to close this devotion by thanking you, the reader, for your investment in this project. I believe “Finished” has the potential to ignite conversations between young and old. My prayer is that both the reader and listener would grow in wisdom and in their relationship with the Savior, Jesus. May you and yours always be blessed.
  2. 4 points
    I woke up a few days ago with this faint echo in my mind. It went something like “fight tomorrow’s battle like yesterday’s war.” Being half asleep at 6 in the morning, I thought that sounded like a pretty catchy line, and I have to admit that I was rather impressed with my pre-caffeinated self. If a little puzzled. But the more I thought about this little sentence the more I realized that it carried profound meaning for me. Fight tomorrow’s battle like yesterday’s war.... because the struggles that you faced yesterday and today.... you will most likely face tomorrow or at least that Is how my long ongoing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts have been for me. Over the years the waves of melancholy that have clouded my existence have created a residual doubt in my mind. If I am so sad, am I even saved? If all believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and I am NOT joyful, how can I profess to know the Lord? Needless to say these thoughts have only fueled the sadness and worse still fed into the spirit of fear. Have I prayed for deliverance? You bet I have! Am I staying rooted in the Word. Confessedly, not always. But am I consistent now? You bet I am! Have I decreed that the spirits of oppression and depression have no power over me in the name of Jesus? Yes I have..... and still there are times when I can barely keep the constant flow of tears in my heart from pouring out of my eyes. But finally I seem to have come to a conclusion. It is OK to struggle and you know why? Because everyone has a thorn. It is Paul who related this when he stated that the Lord sent him a “thorn in the flesh” to “buffet” him (2 Corinthians 12: 6-7). This thorn troubled him continually until finally he too cried out to God for deliverance. And you know what the Lord’s reply was? “My grace is sufficient for you.” At first glance when you look at the Lord’s response it seems rather harsh. Surely the creator of the universe could come to the aid of his servant? Especially such a mighty man as Paul! But you know what God’s response means to me? It means that even in the midst of darkness we must keep out eyes fixed on the GRACE of God. Do you have a thorn? Do not condemn yourself for God has only grace and compassion for those in Christ. So comfort yourself in this....your inner turmoil does not dictate your salvation. Being saved does not mean that you are suddenly a finished work. Yes we should strive for perfection, the grace of God is not a free pass to sin or to let our “thorns” control our lives. But what it does mean is that “though we walk through the valley of the SHADOW of death” he is right there with us (Psalm 23:4). Once, while listening to evangelist Daniel Kolenda, he shared that early on in his ministry, he prayed to God offering him all of the assets he had to offer; any talents or money he had he would give to ministry. But in response to this “holy” prayer the Holy Spirit stated “I’m not interested in your assets, I’m interested in your weaknesses.” What a comforting thought! Much like evangelist Kolenda the prayers I have uttered consistently have been “use me God, if I have anything to offer, take it!” But....breakthrough has been illusive and the thought in my mind has been “I must not be good enough yet or I’m not truly ready to receive’: falling into the trap of believing that there’s some sort of checklist I need to complete before the Holy Spirit can rest upon me. When the truth is..... there’s absolutely nothing I can do because it’s already been completed by Jesus (see 1 John: 18-19). And I’ve realized that I have been trying to hide my weakness from Christ. I’ve said in my heart, “Lord I can do this and I’ve also got these gifts....but that stuff over there in the corner....just ignore that. But the whole time Christ has been saying “give me the stuff you wish wasn’t there” “Give me your brokenness and I will use it for my kingdom.” After all, when the Lord was looking for a man to lead the children of Israel into the promised land who did he choose? He didn’t select someone who’d been living among the people, someone they regarded with deference. No. He chose a vagabond living in the wilderness. Moses was an old man, slow of speech who had never really lived with the Israelites; in fact he was scorned by them. Not only was he an outsider, but he was a murderer. In his anger Moses killed a man and then he BURIED his shame before running away (Exodus 2:11). How many times have you or I tried to bury and run from our shame? And when God was searching for the man who would replace Saul as king. Who did he choose? A boy who was so insignificant that when the great prophet Samuel came to Jesse and commanded him to assemble all of his sons before the Lord, Jesse didn’t think to send for David his youngest. It wasn’t until Samuel asked if he had another son that Jesse remembered David (1 Samuel 16:8) and he must have remembered David with thoughts akin to “ Well yes but he’s just a boy who shepherds the flock. My older sons, these here are my assets!” But again here God expressed the fact that he’s more interested in weakness then strength. God says “send me the one you think is lowly and I will make him great.” And great indeed he made David. David was both a prophet and king, a man after God’s own heart, who went on to father the lineage of Christ. You see God works in us, not in spite of our weaknesses but because of them; because in our frailty God’s majesty is revealed. Look again at all the great men and women of the Bible. Abraham was a liar who put his wife at risk multiple times, Sarah a jealous woman who doubted God, Jacob a liar and thief, Rachel stole idols, Joseph a braggart, Rahab a prostitute, David an adulterer and murderer, Solomon a glorified philanderer, Peter denied Christ, James & John had such terrible tempers Jesus named them “sons of thunder,” and Paul was a wrathful persecutor of the Church!.... So if God can use all these problematic people, why can’t he use me? Why can’t he use you? Ultimately, what I’ve realized is that depression in itself is not a death sentence. Look at Isaiah 53: 3 “For he was a man of SORROW and acquainted with much grief. He felt it too. He felt lonely, isolated, overwhelmed. God felt overwhelmed! What a thought? Jesus himself prayed “Lord If possible let this cup pass from me.... but even so not my will but your will be done.” And even though God’s son cried out for deliverance, the Lord still brought him to the cross. “He was punished for our iniquities and bruised for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). ALL of our sin was laid on him. Imagine the burden? But despite the good news of the cross, the best news is that God did not leave him on it. NO Jesus literally walked thought the fire - seized the keys of sin and death - and came out the other side alive again! Hallelujah! So I’m here to encourage all of us my friends. Myself as much as you. Victory is ours even whilst we are still fighting. Christ is bringing us through because he’s already won and his grace is more than sufficient for us. Hallelujah! Amen.
  3. 4 points
    Still Living by Faith I ended up in Hebrews 11 this morning. I have a daily reading plan that I use, but I also like to venture off and just see what comes my way. But this really spoke to me, and I hope it does you as well. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation” (Hebrews 11:1-2). “It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did” (Heb. 11:4). “It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying - For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). “It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before” (Heb. 11:7). “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance” (Heb. 11:8). “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Heb. 11:11). Now this is the verse that really touched my heart and made me really think about a lot of things. “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.” (Heb. 11:13). Look at how faithful all of these people were. Abraham left his home and spent his whole life living in a tent. Living in a tent! They trusted God with everything in them. If this was you or I, we would not have done this. We would have given up so easily and just went back home. We would have returned back to what was comfortable for us - what we know. We do not like living life by faith. But when we experience Christ, we are confident and comfortable living a life of faith and trusting Him. We realize that this place we live in, we are exiles, because our real home is with Jesus Christ! We have a heavenly home. This is what drives that obedience and trust found in the people of old. I hope you are encouraged by this and reminded that everything you see before you will one day be gone. A lot of people work their whole lives because they want to leave behind something for their family - a house, a car, money, etc. I tell you that I have learned that the best thing you can leave behind for your family is your faith in Jesus Christ. Are you living a life of faith that will impact those around you? Do not get me wrong - there is nothing bad about working hard and making sure your family is taken care of. I do that myself. But the best way you can take care of them is to have a strong relationship and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be Encouraged, Chris
  4. 4 points
    “ For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians 1:17, NIV). Many people view the Apostle Paul as one of the greatest preachers of all time. Certainly, Paul was instrumental in spreading the Gospel like wildfire throughout the region of Asia Minor. Paul, however, recognized that he was hardly the most eloquent of speakers, nor the wisest of men, and that the power behind his words was not in his preaching, but in the cross of Christ. At times, we might be hesitant to share the message of God’s love in Jesus with those around us. We might feel like we don’t know enough about the Bible or that we won’t have the right words to say. Paul destroys this notion as he recognizes his own limitations in speaking about Jesus, but he does it anyway. Again, the power of God is not in the preaching, but in the cross of Jesus. As a pastor, I sometimes have people compliment me on a particular sermon. As a Christian author, people will sometimes remark on the message of my writing. I must admit that I love the affirmation! Still, I recognize that these individuals are not ultimately responding to me, but to the good news of the Gospel. And, while you might think that that’s humility on my part, it’s actually honesty. There is power in the cross of Jesus. The message of the crucifixion changes lives and saves souls, and we are privileged to share it. Therefore, let’s be bold in our witness and in our less-than-perfect delivery. God will use it to change the world!
  5. 3 points
    The Lord's long-suffering toward us is repentance for the fallen. The Lord's long-suffering towards us is salvation; for our restoration, being rebuilt through deep intimacy in Christ Jesus. God made us complete and fit for a position in His eternal kingdom. Because of death, we all are just fallen buildings to be rebuilt by Jesus. This is for a greater glory. We all are building blocks, a specific and unique part of God's kingdom building. We all are rooms in the Father's house to be prepared by our Lord Jesus Christ. However, intimacy, ( love ) is the only building material. How much do we love? Of what value is our love? We'll be measured in eternity by our love. How much we love God and how much His love is manifested through us unto others by His spirit of love will determine how much we become like God, because God is love. This is our restoration, to become more like Jesus, this is our eternal reward. How much we love God is measured by how much we spend time in fellowship, communion with Him in our heart; in prayers, thanks, In spiritual songs, in communion, every second in our heart. We talk to ourselves at all time, every second in your mind, but how much do we actually commune with God in our heart? How much God's love is manifested through us unto others is measured by our willingness to sacrifices unto the world according to whatever good spiritual gift, talents, ability God has given to us. When we love our neighbors, ( enemies, strangers ) willing to lay down our lives for the salvation of their soul, we love God. For the salvation of their soul, I don't necessarily mean from hell. Whatever God has given, use it in love ( sacrifice ). I don't know what God has given you, I don't know what He has predestined you before creation, but I'd always say; we all are given unique abilities and talents ( spiritual gifts ), but there's one thing we all have in common, a loving heart that prays for any and everyone. Nothing makes us love a person as much as praying for him. God's long-suffering is for our salvation, our restoration not necessarily from hell, no, but for a relationship, for intimacy. Intimacy is how much we spend in God's presence, in our heart and how much we sacrifice to be used by Him for His glory. Love Him, give Him your heart, your will, your all. This is our glorious restoration, this is our salvation, this is Love, God's will. This is God's long-suffering towards us, " Love," for our salvation, our restoration.
  6. 3 points
    Autumn Cry I cry when autumn lace comes in When things of life must cease and end; When air is colored with a hue Of turning yellows 'gainst the blue. And through my tears I seem to see The loveliness of every tree: How green has greened itself with rain And life respected color's pain. I scan the red, a nearer rhyme— Tho death it brings (Is this a crime?); And quest for love in stilling air, And find her in the light that's fair. Upon a hill I behold her face— This Love that's filled with nature's grace And solemnly I gather dear Her joy, her sigh, her quiet tear. Then following her wise design, I give my heart to bitter pine And cry a healthy rainbowed well As autumn comes on earth to dwell. —Dumas fils (Fall has touched me many times and many ways. There is no season that is so alone like itself. Yet so lovingly beautiful. I always pay attention to it. It is so much like people. It flushes, it dazzles, it rustles and then it winks just before the colder rains comes to spot its fallen palms with frost and snow.)
  7. 3 points
    How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted. I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.
  8. 3 points
    Genesis Chapter 40 Man Joseph had some extreme patience and trust in God. I could only hope that I had just a little tiny piece of this. Only a piece the size of a mustard seed will surely do! A couple of Pharaoh's high ranking officials did something to upset him and he put them in the pen. Even in prison they still got special treatment because Joseph was assigned to them. They had a couple of dreams, and Joseph's gift was - you guessed it - interpreting dreams. I love how Joseph's head didn't swell up. In verse 8 we see that Joseph brought all the attention to God: "Interpreting dreams is God's business." He completely pointed all of the attention to God and didn't let pride and possible recognition swell his head up. I struggle with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, so this is very hard for me to do. I love the recognition and the attention so it is a constant daily struggle for me to remain humble. Joseph was completely aware of God's presence in his life, but I can imagine he was starting to become impatient with his circumstances. Believe me, I would have been impatient the 1st day of being in prison, especially since he is completely innocent. After interpreting the dreams Joseph asks one thing from the Cup Bearer, a favor. He asks, "Please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I'm here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it." Joseph's response to God's promises have been amazingly led by faith and obedience even when he has been through the ringer. When God gives us a promise and it seems it is never going to pass, we must still react most responsibly. Our positive responses would include: prayer, faith, obedience, and EXPECTANCY! With positive responses, there are always negative ones as well. This is where my problem occurs and I mess up. See, even if we are 100% conscious of God's presence and His promise to us, we still may act in unbelief trying to make things happen ourselves. We see this with Joseph trying to run ahead of God by manipulating his way out of prison! I mean, I can say nothing here but I am thankful that God has helped me recognize this. I am so bad to try and take things into my own hands and run ahead of him in making His promises happen in my life. And I am so impatient. I do this only after a couple days sometimes, and Joseph has been trusting and waiting for a decade or better by now. Man O man, the things we can learn from this. I am hoping this will help me draw closer to God, and hopefully make less mistakes of trying to run ahead of Him. When I think about it, I am crazy for thinking that I can do anything to accomplish God's promises in my life. What I can do is completely trust in Him and be completely aware of His loving presence in my life. And hopefully I can grow to a point to where that will be enough no matter my circumstances. Be Encouraged, Chris
  9. 3 points
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NIV). I’ve always found the words of this first verse in the Gospel of John to be interesting. As a kid, it was one of the easier passages of Scripture to memorize for my church’s Wednesday night Catechism class. The verse had a certain rhythm to it. It didn’t have any big words, and it was relatively short. I could recite John 1:1 in short order to my teacher and receive my sticker on the memorization chart. I suppose, at the time, I didn’t realize the significance of the words I was articulating. One of the things to notice about John 1:1 is that the “Word” is capitalized. John comments that this “Word” was present in the beginning, that it was with God, and actually was God. The “Word”, you may know by now, is none other than Jesus himself. Yes, Jesus, was present at the dawning of all Creation. We don’t always think about the Jesus of the Old Testament, but he was there. In the New Testament, of course, Jesus would take on human flesh and live among people. Still, Jesus made his first appearance at Creation. John says that the Word was with God and was God. If you’re like me, you find the concept of the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – difficult to understand to say the least. Jesus was, at the same time, God, but he also had his own identity as one-third of the Trinity. Again, such understanding is challenging and doesn’t ultimately save us from our sins. It just makes us look smarter than we probably are. Perhaps you find additional difficulty in referring to Jesus as the “Word”. I, too, have struggled with this concept, intellectually wrestling with it, and have come to the following conclusion. I think John calls Jesus the “Word”, because Jesus is the ultimate message, the word, of God to mankind. Jesus is the Gospel message of God’s goodness and grace personified. In fact, if we want to truly understand the character of God, his justice and mercy, his love, and his kindness, we need not look any further than the “Word” that is Jesus. Yes, Jesus is God’s Word to mankind. He has freed us from our sins and has given us the promise of life, both here on earth and eternally in Heaven. God is for you, not against you. He loves you. He forgives you. He sets you free.
  10. 3 points
    Doubt comes when we fail to remember what the Lord has done for us. When we become Christians, God gives us a new heart and a new desire to love Him. Never doubt your salvation. Once you become a Christian, satan can never snatch you away from God. Many people in the bible whom we regard as pillars of faith had some doubt as well, not that they had less faith, but their faith was challenged in a new way. God does not mind doubt as long as we're seeking answer from Him in the midst of doubt. Allow your doubt to move you closer to God, not further away from God. Be patient and let God answer your question on His schedule not yours. Never doubt God's desire or ability to help you. When you're struggling with doubt, take time to remember the way and manner God has walked in your life. You know, you were once an embryo in your mother's womb, look at what you've become today. When David was right before the king, he simply testified how God brought him out of the mouth of lion and bear in his tender age. Take time to recall God's track record in your life To overcome doubts resist the temptation to isolating yourself, be humble and step close to other Christian, because doubt feeds on loneliness. When Daniel received the new order from the king, he simply went to his upper room, looking towards Jerusalem and said, “thank you Lord.” T.B. Joshua
  11. 3 points
    what is the Reason for Love your neighbor as yourself
  12. 3 points
    "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief" (Psalm 22:1-2). Prayer Father, as I read through you Word, I pray that you would speak to me. Help me understand and know you better, and help me apply your Word to my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen. Reflections As I was reading through Psalm 22, I was reminded of times in my life that I have felt abandoned by God. A few days ago, I was reading through my Understanding Theology, Volume One book, and I came across a topic called "The Betrayal Barrier." The "Betrayal Barrier" is defined as followed: It is when we experience perhaps the most acute manifestation of God hiding his face - when he appears to betray us. I was thinking about some of the times in my life when I experienced this. One of those times was when I turned back to my addiction and relapsed with alcohol. What happened was, I was experiencing depression and a lot of stress with just everyday adult life. I was looking for fast relief from the pain I was dealing with, and I looked to alcohol for that relief. I did get temporary relief, but only with a handful of consequences that only made the pain bigger in the long run. Reading through the negative responses to the "Betrayal Barrier," I relive these horrible moments. The 1st negative response is Rebellion (Hebrews 3:7-8). I hardened my heart and I was unable to hear the voice of the Holy spirit any longer. The 2nd negative response was Not knowing God's ways. It seems that I didn't fully understand or recognize what was happening and I tested God rather than letting Him test me (Hebrews 3:9-10). The consequence of me doing this led my heart astray. The 3rd negative response was Unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-19). The path that I had chosen to journey on once again 1. Turned me away from God, and 2. Led to being completely disobedient. The 4th negative response was Blaming God for it all! (Exodus 32:1). I felt like God owed me something and that He should prove himself to me. I now know the positive examples that I should have followed that would have led me down the right path to breaking "The Betrayal Barrier" that I was experiencing. 1. Obedience - Even when I didn't understand while I was going through the things that I was going through, I should have been obedient anyways. A great example of this is in Genesis 22 when Abraham's faith was tested and he broke this barrier. 2. The continued seeking of God's face - When I was experiencing this trial, I should have constantly been pursuing God and resting in Him instead of looking for temporary relief. 3. Consciously praising God, despite being misunderstood - Psalm 34 is a good example David gives us of doing just that. 4. Not questioning God but trusting Him completely - Daniel 3:18 is a great reminder of trusting God when otherwise you definitely would be raising an eye brawl or two. Application 1. Remember that God never betrays us - he only appears to do so. 1 Corinthians 10:13 2. Remember that breaking the betrayal barrier is God's idea - (2 Chronicles 32:31) 3. See every evidence of an apparent betrayal as a hint we are being tested. 4. Remember what pleases him most - Faith (Hebrews 11:6) 5. Pray more than ever 6. Walk in all the light God gives you 1 John 1:7 7. Remember that breaking the betrayal barrier is the greatest opportunity you will ever have to know God with intimacy. (Psalm 25:14). The most important thing to remember is that the Betrayal Barrier is one of the hardest of all experiences that any Christian will face. We need to understand the betrayal is apparent and not actual. God has not abandoned us, but rather He is seeking to test his sovereign vessels. What I need to remember not to repeat these same mistakes is to be led during facts rather than feeling when I am tempted. What I mean is remembering all the times that God has been faithful to me - and remembering all the promises that He has kept to me. Prayer Lord, thank you for your wonderful Word, and for helping me see the mistakes that I have made in the past. Please forgive me for treating you so poorly, and strengthen me that I may never do so again. I pray these things in the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen. Do you see any times in your life that you have had this experience? Feel free to share if you feel led to do so. Be Encouraged, Chris Reference Kendall, R.T. (1996). Understanding Theology, Volume One. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus.
  13. 3 points
    Look Ahead It seems that every time that I pray and ask God to speak to me through His Word - He does just that. I have to admit though; it isn't alway what I want to hear! I was in Genesis chapter 25 reading about Jacob and Esau. The birthright of the 1st born was a pretty big deal back in the day. I cannot believe that he gave it up so easily. I feel like he exaggerated a little. That makes sense to me because I have done that throughout my recovery. He said, "What good is a birthright if I am dead from starvation." That sounds like me when I say, "Oh, just this one drink won't hurt me." Or, "I am tired and going through a hard time. A drink will relax me." God showed me today that I am a lot like Esau. I am indifferent to the things in life that are really important. Like Esau, my primary concerns have been to satisfy my immediate physical needs - with little or no thought at all about my future! I can easily talk myself into any bad decision without giving much thought to the consequences or the way that it will alter my future. Recovery gets tough! Lots of times I know that I just want to give up. A bad day will make a bad decision look good and much easier to make. God showed me today that I need to see things in the long view. Before I make any decisions, I need to think about the consequences and the way it may alter the future. I definitely need to treat my recovery this way. I need to picture the positive, long range results that will come if I just hang in there. The hard work pays off in the end when you get the positive results. If you look ahead and think about that, maybe it will be a little easier to give up the momentary pleasures of the bad decisions that keep us from reaching the positive results at the end! Be Encouraged, Chris
  14. 3 points
    WELL OF LONELINESS By Norma Armand I’ll never forget that Sunday afternoon when I looked out of my window and saw the flashing blue lights of an ambulance. I opened the front door to investigate, and that’s when I saw Trudy and her husband standing outside Dorothy’s house. Trudy’s face was ashen as she told me her mum had been found dead in the bath. I was horrified as I had a close relationship with my elderly next-door neighbour and meant to pop over for a chat in the days leading up to her death. The thought, like so many others, had bobbed to the surface before sinking again. And I begin to feel guilty for not acting on God’s promptings, believing I must be a bad Christian for letting Dorothy down. Jeff, my husband, told me these things happened. Dorothy’s life had been long and fruitful, and she’d died because it was her time. I couldn’t have done anything to prevent it. But my negative thoughts and feelings persisted long after my neighbour’s funeral. I neglected to read the Bible, and my worship became dry. And as I sat in church one morning, it dawned on me they were all deluded. They believed in a God that didn’t exist, so I stopped attending services. Jeff wasn’t a believer, but he worried about my depression. He had his own health problems to deal with as he had multiple sclerosis and retired from work on medical grounds several years ago. However, he could walk short distances with crutches and drove a car, which gave him some independence. I worked full time as a telephone debt advisor. It’s the kind of job that requires excellent listening skills and a great deal of patience. After a while, I found I could no longer focus or function effectively, so I took sick leave. And the longer I stayed away, the harder it became for me to return. When my salary halved, money became tight, and I struggled to pay the bills. This put a strain on my marriage as Jeff couldn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t know myself. I only knew that darkness had descended and I couldn’t find my way out. My doctor continued to prescribe me with antidepressants, which made me feel listless and numb. A night, in bed, my mind turned to all the things in my life I was ashamed of. The wicked thoughts, words and actions. My inadequacies as a human being. My utter worthlessness. My father loomed largest. I found him physically repulsive, and I always wondered what my mother, who was slim and attractive, ever saw in him. I wanted him to die so that she could marry someone handsome. And death came suddenly one morning when my father went to investigate a roof leak. He fell off the ladder and broke his neck. I’d just turned twelve. My mother and siblings took it quite hard, but I was secretly happy. I’d got what I wanted, but mum never married again or took a partner, despite my encouragement. I was disappointed by her devotion to my father, and whenever l thought about him, it was always in derogatory terms, which persisted long after I'd become a Christian. It was a habit, a reflex action. Only later on in my Christian walk, did I repent of this sin and changed my thinking. Yet here I was, dredging up the past, and hating myself all over again. Even worse than this, I started to believe that Jeff’s illness was my fault. A punishment from God, and the reason why my prayers for his healing hadn’t been answered. It became too much for me to bear and I silently sobbed, so as not to awaken Jeff. But my body shook the bed, and his arm went around me. I started wailing then, and in between the tears, I kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.’ Jeff tried to comfort me as best he could, but my emotions were too strong to be assuaged. ‘You can’t go on like this, Marion,’ Jeff said. ’You’ve got to get some help.’ He was right, of course. I knew I needed help. I had put him through enough stress already. ‘I’m going to make myself a cup of tea,’ I said and got up. As I entered the kitchen, an inner voice spoke to me and said, Why don’t you kill yourself? It seemed like a good idea. What did I have to live for? It’s not as if I had a good relationship with Shelley, my daughter. She‘d turned against me as a teenager, and we rarely saw our grandson. Even Jeff would be better off without me, and maybe my death would bring about a reconciliation between them. That thought comforted me as I opened the drawer and took out the large carving knife. It glinted in the light. I only needed to switch the handle and plunge the point deep into my chest, and my life would end. ‘Marion, what are you doing?’ I jumped at the sound of Jeff’s voice. I turned around to see his concerned eyes shift from the knife to my face. ‘I was about to peel an apple,’ I lied. ‘I love you, Marion,’ he said. Shaking, I put the knife down and supported my weight against the work surface. Wrestling with my emotions, I looked up and said, ‘Okay.’ I swung my head toward the doorway and frowned. Jeff wasn’t there. I called his name but only heard a high-pitched ringing silence. Apart from the passage lights, all the others were off, and he wasn’t on the stairs as I climbed up them. I pushed open our bedroom door, and to my astonishment, Jeff lay in bed, fast asleep. I couldn’t believe it. Jeff’s legs didn’t allow him to move that quickly. Yet somehow he had. ‘Jeff?’ He stirred slightly as I slipped beneath the covers. I decided not to wake him. ‘I love you too,’ I whispered in the dark. I must’ve fallen asleep, for when I next opened my eyes, sunlight poured in through the net curtains. I reached for my watch on the side table. It read 12:30 pm. I sat up as Jeff entered the room and perched on the bed. I thought I'd better let you sleep,’ he said. ‘Half the day’s gone, already.’ I sounded as though I had something to do; somewhere to go. Not that I’d made any plans for months. Time mostly passed in a haze as I operated on autopilot, but today felt different. ‘I don’t know how you managed it,’ l said, swallowing hard, ‘but thanks for stopping me last night.’ ‘How do you mean?’ He looked baffled. ‘You came into the kitchen after I went down. Don’t you remember?’ ‘I know you were upset, but I didn’t get out of bed.’ ‘Of course you did. You stood in the doorway when I...’ ‘I did have a strange dream though,’ Jeff said. ‘I dreamt that you were in the kitchen, holding a knife and I told you that I loved you.’ ‘It wasn’t a dream, Jeff. It really happened. I was going to kill myself.’ ‘I’m glad you didn’t.’ He put an arm around me. ‘I think God had a part to play in this.’ I’d never heard Jeff give God credit for anything. ‘It’s a miracle,’ I said as the truth dawned on me that something supernatural had happened. ‘I suppose it is, ‘Jeff said and laughed. We both did, only I had tears in my eyes. ‘Can we pray together? Now?’ I asked, seizing the moment. He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘If you want to.’ I put my hands together, closed my eyes and gave thanks to God, for snatching me out of the enemies clutches. When I’d finished, Jeff joined me in saying ‘Amen.’ From that day forward, my faith in God was restored. I started reading the Bible, and the words came alive. I copied scripture from Isaiah 43:18–20 and stuck it on my bedroom wall. It read, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” I did indeed. I realised God had more for me to do, and I was ready and willing to embrace whatever lay ahead of me, knowing I would not have to face it alone. I reclaimed my life, which involved returning to work. And it was tough, especially on the first day. But having survived it, I knew things would improve, given time. And at home, the tensions eased in my marriage. Jeff and I didn’t talk about what had occurred on that fateful night, but it changed both our lives forever. I went back to church, and Jeff joined me, and not because I wanted him there. He made the decision alone, and I believe it was his way of giving thanks to God for saving my life and of course, to learn more about our wonderful, merciful Saviour.
  15. 3 points
    This story was told by my pastor to our church one Sunday, but I did hear it from it a few years before. I'm not exactly quoting everything he said, and I'm not actually sure who the author of this story is about or if this is a true story or not, but I am only publishing what I recall. I did not in any shape, form, or fashion write or assist in the writing of this story, and I'm not sure if it's a true story or not. Again, the credit of this writing goes to the anonymous author behind it. The story goes as follows: There was a little girl who had gotten saved in church, and she was around six to eight years old, I believe. Because she was saved, the next step was for her to be baptized to profess the outward sign of her belief to the church. However, the deacons and the pastor of that church were in controversy over whether she should be baptized or not because of how young she was. Finally it was decided that she should wait until she was older, and the pastor had the job of telling the little girl their decision. When she heard their choice, she began to cry. "But I'm not too young to die," she persisted in tears. These words pricked the pastor's heart, and he and the deacons changed their decision. She was then baptized as soon as possible. But then two weeks later, the little girl died. And on her gravestone, the words "I am not too young to die" were engraved.
  16. 3 points
    I looked at my phone. The time said almost an hour and half. I could not believe I had been talking for that long. Time flies when the conversation is great! It was toward the end of the night. I had decided to walk my dog, Romans, and talk at the same time. Romans needed his nightly walk before bed, so it all worked out great. I finished the walk, and went inside. I went to my bedroom, and sat in my chair. I took out my bible, and nightly devotion. I sat there enjoying God’s word for the night. As I closed the bible, I looked around for Romans who usually joins me in bed. He was nowhere to be found. I did a quick search of the house, and found him by the door. He was staring at his leash, and was ready to go outside. I thought. How strange, there is no way he has to go out so quick after an hour and a half walk. I did not want any accidents though, so we went outside. Just as I thought. Romans really did not have to use the bathroom. I then began to piece it together. I had changed up my routine. Every night I read my bible first, and then walked Romans. Romans saw me reading my bible, and was just waiting for the usual routine. Without realizing it. Romans began to be trained by me. For two years my dog saw me read my bible every night, and then walk him. He thought when I read the bible at night, the next step, meant he goes for a walk. He was just following the nightly routine. Routines are developed daily, and then weekly. Weeks turn to months, and months turn to years. I have been guilty of the desire to prove “how Christian I am”. I need people to see this, or understand this about me. I need to tell people I do this. I need to show people I do this. Then they will see what a great Christian I am. I think I was way off track with these thoughts. I developed the habit of reading my bible every night for a lot of reasons, but I was determined to make that a goal that stayed with me for the rest of my life. It really was between me and God, this goal of reading the Bible. I knew that if His word was so important to me, I would have to make it a priority to at least read part of it every day. I praise God that the habit has been developed. The things we create that are consistent do not need to be shouted out. They speak for themselves. Even a dog figured out that I can be faithfully relied upon to read my bible every night. Others have watched you too. They can see what you are faithful about. You don’t have to list them. It will show itself to others. I love when I can talk, and show others what I have done, and accomplished. I think this night though God was showing me something else. He was showing me that just by seeking Him, others will notice. I don’t always have to be focused on who is seeing, and who is listening, and who understands. I read the bible that night and saw God words. But the Lord used my dog that night to understand what his words look like in action. Luke 12:2-3 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
  17. 3 points
    “ ‘Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:9, NIV). In Old Testament times, God gave the Israelites several commands, the culmination of which was, “ ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV). God’s chosen people were not only to obey these commands, but they were to pass them on to their children and grandchildren. For this very reason, God told the Israelites to “ ‘Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:9, NIV). In this way, the Law of God would be remembered every time the Israelites entered their homes. I find it interesting that the Law of God was to be written on the doorframes of the homes of the Israelites. For just prior to this command, the Israelite’s doorframes were written upon, not with the Law, but with the Gospel. During their captivity in Egypt, in an event that would become known as the Passover, the blood of lambs was spread on the doorframes of Israelite homes so that death would literally pass over these families. Time and again, both then and now, the Law of God is covered by the grace of God. Such grace is found in Jesus at the bloodied frame of his cross. For on the cross, the Lamb of God was put to death on our behalf. Our sins are passed over and we are free.
  18. 3 points
    “…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him… Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem” (Isaiah 53:2-3, NIV). A small picture of Jesus stood on the nightstand near my childhood bed. Long, flowing hair framed the masculine features of the Savior. The look of sincerity and quiet contemplation adorned his lips. His eyes were kind and focused, his beard perfectly trimmed. I would fall asleep each night under his protective gaze. Life was simple then, long before the awkward years of adolescence and the endless demands of adulthood. But with age came struggle and temptation, sin and brokenness. The foes of anxiety and depression became my constant companions. Loneliness, fear, failure, and doubt attacked my mind and strangled my faith. I needed a Messiah to invade my mess of a life, a Savior to rescue me from my sin and from myself. That’s when Jesus became the most real to me. I realized that there was so much more to him than an artist’s rendering recalled from my childhood. I recognized him, yes, as true God, but as one who had taken on human flesh, and with that, my very sin. I learned to appreciate his rawness, his untamable Spirit, his unkempt appearance, and his humanity despite his divinity. He became to me a Rescuer, who was not afraid to save me from the darkest, most remote places of my rebellion. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty, even bloodied over my sin. The realness of God dressed in human flesh and the ugliness of the cross causes many to stumble. But true beauty is found in both. And when we get real with him, he becomes real to us.
  19. 3 points
    So don't be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31 (HCSB) As I am preparing this devotional, the price of gold is $1,467.25 per ounce. (Hmmm...I could use five ounces of it right now, but that is beside the point.) This price will go up or down depending on various economic factors that I will not discuss. Needless to say, gold is a valuable metal. Yet, there is one asset that is more valuable than gold. The value of this asset does not change with time. It is not platinum even though that is a reasonable guess. This asset is us. Us? Yes, us. Jesus makes it perfectly clear that we are more valuable than many sparrows. So, how much is a bunch of sparrows worth? It really does not matter. The key word in today's devotional verse is "are". We are highly valuable to God. So, how valuable are we to God? We are so valuable to God that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Then, God raised Jesus up from the dead on the third day to give us all hope of eternal life if we choose to believe in Him. I encourage you to thank God for seeing you as highly valuable to Him. May God bless you today and every day!
  20. 3 points
    I started walking for exercise and had set a goal for myself that each time I walked I would go a little further. As I began walking this woman was coming towards me, and I was going to ask her, if she knew where the trail ended, but I decided not to, because she never looked at me, and didn't appear to be friendly, so I didn't bother and kept on going. I recognized the place where I stopped the last time and continued to walk. I believed I walked another mile and decided that I would stop. I stood there for a few minutes before I started to head home. As I was walking, the woman that I had seen earlier was coming towards me and this time I decided that I would ask her. I began by saying, excuse me Miss does this trail end or does it continue around the entire park? She responded that she didn't know and began to express that she tries to walk at least 15 minutes everyday. She then asked, how about you, and my response was that I try to go a little further each time. I thanked her and we both said to the other, enjoy the rest of your day. I continued to head home, and as I was walking I became thankful that I initiated a conversation. Then I remembered the Scripture that encourages us to show ourselves to be friendly. The next day I learned a very valuable lesson, as I reached the point that I stopped at the day before. As I continued to walk, and to my surprise I had reached the end of the trail. I began to praise the Lord for the lesson I just learned. You see, we never know how close we are to where we want to be. I am not saying that I was too tired or that I wanted to give up, but what I am saying, is this, that if I had just kept going I could have celebrated my achievement the day before. But nevertheless, the Lord is good! I believe He ordered my steps according to His Word, and allowed me to stop where I did, so that I would learn this lesson. We never know what God will use to teach us. My brother always says, "we have to see God in everything." I am learning how true this statement is. My encouragement to you, is keep going, because you will never know what lies ahead, and how close you are to reaching your goals or receiving what God has promised you!
  21. 3 points
    I thought I'd share with you a very special story that has become my annual post. It was read on a Christian radio program. May it bless you. Oh, and bring tissues! ***** The dark, gray skies overhead threatened an early snow. Rushing shoppers, all bundled up to ward off the cold, crowded the sidewalks, lost in their to-do list for Thanksgiving. Oblivious to their surroundings, no one noticed a small, shivering boy standing in front of the shoe store, his nose pressed against the window, barely dressed and only flip-flops on his dirty feet. However, one man did see him and stopped, dead still in his tracks, causing others to bump into him. He didn’t notice the bumps and grumblings, but he did notice the small boy because he had a son about the same age. Thinking how he would feel if this were his son standing there, barely clothed, the man quietly slid next to the boy, the man stood there for a moment, and then said, “They have some nice shoes here, don’t they?” “Yeah,” came the soft reply. “Which ones do you like?” “That pair over there…the cool running ones.” “Oh, I’ll bet you could run fast in those.” “Yes, sir. I sure could. Like the wind!” “You know, I have a little boy just about your age.” “Oh, yeah? I’ll bet he has shoes like that.” “Yes, as a matter of fact, he does. But I have an idea.” “Yeah? What’s that?” “How ’bout I take you into the store and buy you that pair of shoes?” The boy stood there motionless. After a few moments, with tears in his eyes, he looked up at the man. “You want…to…buy…me…shoes?” “I sure do. Your feet must be freezing and I’d love to buy them for you.” The boy couldn’t speak another word. The man took the boy by the hand and walked into the store. Finding the manager, the man described the pair of shoes and asked the manager to please get a pair in the boy’s size, along with some socks. Then, he said he and the boy would be in the restroom and would he please bring the shoes and socks in there. The manager gathered the shoes and socks and, upon entering the men’s restroom, found the man on his knees washing the young boy’s feet. “Can’t stick dirty feet into clean, new socks and shoes, now can we?” The young boy just stared at the man as he lovingly washed away all the accumulated street-dirt and gently dried his feet. Feeling he was intruding on a very special moment, the manager quietly placed the shoes and socks on the floor without saying a word and backed out of the restroom. After placing the socks and shoes on the boy’s feet, the man stood up, and with hands on his hips, said, “Okay. Let’s see how they look. Walk around.” The little boy couldn’t move. He just stared down at his feet that felt glued to the floor. He looked up, tears now streaming down his little face, and said, “Mister, are you Jesus?” The boy’s words took the man’s breath away. So overcome with emotion, the man could barely speak. Finally, he muttered, “No, son, I’m not. But I know Him very well. And this is a gift from Him.” “This is the greatest Thanksgiving ever. Would you tell Jesus thank you for me?” “Well, let’s go for a walk and I’ll tell you how you can do that yourself.” ***** May your thanks-giving be one for which others may give thanks! Thanksgiving blessings to you...Lynn
  22. 3 points
    Full Story with photos at https://tiaspage.com/my-story-pt-1/ I planned to climb out of my castle and ride my white horse to victory. To me, it sounded simple. Unfortunately, no one told me that a leap from the tallest tower makes for a great fall. I was born into a Korean-Japanese family. I think the best word to describe my childhood is: extraordinary. My parents met in Tokyo, Japan, and my dad fell madly in love with my beautiful mom. They were 18 years apart in age, but my dad was persistent in getting to my mom’s heart. Soon, they tied the knot and had over a dozen miscarriages before they had me at seven months, as the “miracle child.” My mom became a businesswoman and my dad, a high-ranking political leader for the Republic of South Korea. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out between them, and by faith, my mom remarried her long-lost friend from high school who was the youngest son from the Japanese Mafia Family. Fortunately for me, my parents remained great friends. My stepfather looked up to and respected my biological father. I loved them both and was their princess. My biological father was always on TV, and the whole nation paid great respect to him. His words were like gold in many people’s lives, though I never knew why till years later. My stepfather, on the other side, was a very handsome and powerful figure, too. Strangely, I looked very similar to both of them and people often couldn’t guess which one was my birth father. The unique life got me living in Taiwan, South Korea, and eventually, Hawaii. We had many properties. Our family friends who were famous and noble—including the presidents—would come over for parties at our homes. My friends, however, were only allowed to come over to three of our homes: one in Honolulu, the other two near the Paris Park and Hyundai Tower in Gangnam, South Korea. My life was above average, but not to the extent that some of my relatives were. To give you an idea, one of my cousins received an entire temple with a golden Buddha for her birthday. Still, I grew up with butlers, nannies, drivers, and bodyguards who treated me like a princess, and I indeed always got my ways. I was also protected from the outside world, but I desired my own freedom...
  23. 3 points
    My father was born in 1891, 12 years before the Wright Brothers flew. He lived his entire life in New York City from the horse-and-buggy era to the age of jet-airliners and tall skyscrapers – a very transformational period. I was born in 1946, and was the only child from my parents’ late-in-life union. Mom was 43 at the time, and they told me many times that I was a “surprise baby.” Dad was a respected supervisory mechanical engineer. He worked until 1954 when he was ruled disabled because of quickly deteriorating eyesight. As a young lad, he took me for outings on many of the city’s far-reaching elevated and subway lines. By the time I was 11, my father was no longer able to navigate the city and transit system on his own. But he still took me out exploring to both show and teach me. My father held his cane in one hand and my arm in the other, telling me how to get where we were going, and it was my job to get us there safely. It was a sight to behold – a youngster leading a blind tour guide on sightseeing trips! On the many forays around the city, I saw bridges, buildings, trains, railroad facilities, museums, ships, and a lot more. My blind father gave me a passion for railways and engineering, which led me into a very successful and enjoyable career. Photo - Stephen Sr. and Catherine McEvoy with “Surprise Baby” Stephen aka Me I was told little about Dad’s earlier life before my birth. But my father did share that he was put in an orphanage when he was just 4 years old, where he lived 10 years. There was never any mention of my paternal Grandparents James and Emily (Foster) McEvoy. And, in spite of asking many times, I never learned why my father wound up in an orphanage at such a young age. It wasn’t until many years after his death that I realized how great of a man and father he truly was, and I recently learned that I only knew half the story. My family gave me a DNA kit as a Christmas gift. It included a box, vial, instructions, and seemed high-tech and complicated. It sat on my desk for six months before I finally read the material, which turned out to be quite simple. I spit some saliva into the vial, completed a short form, put it into the provided box, and mailed it back for DNA analysis. Nothing complex at all. I had no idea what the DNA results would be. The only significant question I had about my heritage was why my father found himself in an orphanage at 4 years of age. A few weeks later, I received the results – Great Britain 45%, Ireland 34%, Iberian Peninsula 9%, Scandinavia 8%, and a smattering of other geographical regions. I also received a list of 159 possible 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th cousins, but I never reached out to any of them. However, two of these relatives contacted me – David, the grandson of my Uncle Henry, and Patricia, the great granddaughter of my Uncle William. They both confirmed that my father was one of seven siblings. Interesting but nothing earth shattering. Then I raised the long-unanswered question whether they knew why my father wound up in an orphanage at a young age. They were surprised that I did not know about the family tragedy. Rather than tell me the gory details, they briefed me about the basics and explained how I could research the sad events for myself. I quite easily found the tragic story in many newspapers. I was shocked to learn that on July 6, 1895, my Grandfather James McEvoy, during a drunken rage, shot my Grandmother Emily in the head and torso. The shooting occurred in front of two of their children. The other five children immediately ran into the room after the gunfire. As reported in the New York Herald, “The seven children were screaming and yelling. The flat was in the wildest disorder.” James penned two suicide notes before the deed, but he yielded to the children’s pleading that he not turn the gun on himself. Police officers soon arrived and took James into custody. “Only the clubs of six policemen kept James McEvoy from being lynched by his frantic neighbors…” Emily was taken to a hospital where she died two days later. My grandfather was a premeditated murderer. The day after Emily’s death, James was being transported to court for legal proceedings via Manhattan’s Third Avenue Elevated Line. While handcuffed and waiting on the 59th Street Station platform, James pulled away and threw himself onto the track in front of the approaching train. He was mortally wounded and died in a hospital an hour later. Within three short days, my father and his six siblings (ranging from 2 to 19 years of age) violently lost both parents. James’ family helped the seven children transition through the aftermath of the terrible tragedy. The three eldest needed minimal assistance, while my father, the second youngest, wound up in an orphanage. I spent my entire career in railway operations and engineering, and it was bizarre for me to learn that my grandfather died in Manhattan after being run over by an elevated train, hauled much less by a steam locomotive. And I walked through the intersection of 59th Street and Third Avenue many times over the years totally unaware that such a horrific family tragedy occurred there just one long generation ago. Photo - New York’s Third Avenue Elevated Circa 1878-1895 before Electrification There are many events in life that we cannot foresee or prepare for, and learning this sad family history was certainly one of them. And yet, as terrible as the tragedy was, I felt prepared for the bad news to a significant degree. I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior 54 years ago on simple blind faith, without thinking it all through. Almost immediately, I struggled with many “whys” – why God allows pain, suffering, disease, death, and dozens more. After 10 years or so of wrestling with God, I still could not understand or rationalize the human condition, and I gave up trying. I simply decided to yield and accept the Biblical explanations – we live in a fallen world where free will prevails, sin permeates, and stuff happens – both good and bad. While I still do not like or understand why things are the way they are, I stopped trying to make sense of it all. I reaffirmed my faith in Jesus and His Sacrifice on my behalf, and I also firmly embraced God’s Written Word, regardless of my feelings and unanswered questions. So, learning about my family’s tragedy did not jar or rattle me to any significant degree, but the sad story did slowly cut to my heart in a number of other ways. I have been unable to feel any sympathy for James McEvoy. He had a history of drunkenness and violence, and was arrested several months before the murder for attacking his wife Emily while intoxicated. I do have an immense empathy for Emily, who gave James seven children only to be slaughtered by him. The story generated much emotion in me about my father overcoming such a turbulent and tragic childhood, and excelling in life in spite of it. Dad never complained and never seemed sad, even after he went blind. Dad’s oldest brother William stirs even greater emotion in me, because he unexpectedly became the family patriarch at the age of 19. He stepped up to the plate, providing love and assistance to his youngest siblings. My father recounted that William visited him many times during the 10 years spent in the orphanage, after which William took my father home to live with him and his family during my dad’s teenage years. However, the greatest emotion and discomfort I have felt about the tragedy is not about James, Emily, William or my father, but about me. The story has reminded me about my sinful nature, failures and shortcomings. As strange as it sounds, I feel blessed, enriched and even healed by these sad introspective feelings. While I cannot change history, I can still change myself and also allow God greater control over my life. A touching side story to the tragedy was that the Plasterers’ Union of which James was a member contributed $150 towards the funeral cost. When adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $4,167 today – not a trivial amount. Considering that James was a drunken murderer, such a sizable donation was a remarkable showing of fraternal love, and also an important reminder that the Second Great Commandment to love our neighbor applies even when we hate what the neighbor did! The moral of the story may seem to be that before spitting for a DNA test, be prepared for the possibility of bad news. However, that is just a “catchy” title; the lesson is much deeper than that. There are many other far more likely possible tragedies that could befall us tomorrow, which would more greatly test and challenge our faith, and rack our emotions. The promises in Revelation 21:4 make clear that we currently live in a fallen world where bad stuff happens even to the best of Christians: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 ESV) The sheltered “bubbles” we live in might burst tomorrow. We could prematurely lose a loved one, have a heart attack, be diagnosed with cancer, or become paralyzed! I have seen these and other tragic life-changing events happen to the finest of Christians. Although rarely preached or dwelt upon, such sad possibilities are well-established Biblical truths. As much as I do not like or understand it, living the Christian Life still subjects us to significant risks and uncertainties every day, because we live in a fallen world. Every person deals with some measure of obstacles, problems and even tragedies in life. However, Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection provide promise, hope, grace and power to rise above and overcome the worst of events. The larger moral of my family story is Before Going to Bed Tonight, Be Prepared. I am reminded of Ephesians 6:13: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV). And what is “being prepared?” Nothing more than trust and faith in Jesus Christ, not only for salvation, but also for all our tomorrows; and, obedience to the Word of God, and actively living out God’s desires and plans for our lives. Not only will this prepare us, these “actions of faith” (regardless of feelings) will also allow us to live victoriously.
  24. 2 points
    In today’s devotion, I continue my discussion of the symbolism found in my book, “Finished: A Fictional Story With Heavenly Truth”. In the story, Jesus has constructed a small wooden cross, which he holds in the light of Joseph’s workshop window. Jesus speaks of the project he and Joseph have constructed by saying, “It is finished.” These words of Jesus are meant to remind us of much more than the completion of a project. Indeed, they tell of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus will one day perform on the cross of Calvary. According to the Gospel writer John, one of Jesus’ real-life statements from the cross was “…’It is finished’…” (John 19:30, NIV). With this simple, yet powerful, phrase, Jesus was announcing that the work of forgiveness was complete. Everything that had once separated sinful people from a just and holy God had been forgiven. Notice again the window in the illustration. This time the clouds are gone, and the sun is shining. The hope of a new day has come. Darkness has been dispelled by the light of Jesus’ accomplishment. The finished work of Jesus means that we are no longer considered enemies of God. Neither are we condemned. Jesus did everything to restore our broken relationship with God. Salvation was a price we couldn’t pay, but it was paid in full by our Savior. We are forgiven! Heaven awaits!
  25. 2 points
    Integrity I was reading Genesis chapter 43, and something really came to my mind. Do you want to know what came to my mind? Integrity. Made me think back to my Grandfather. He was one that would say, "A man doesn't really have anything but his word." That just makes me think how much our morals have declined over the generations. We live in a time now where a lot of people don't care anything about their word. They will straight lie right to your face and seal the lie with their word. Jacob made a lot of mistakes throughout his life, as we all do. But it shows a lot about his character in the early verses of Genesis chapter 43. His boys went down to Egypt to buy some grain during the famine. On their way back home, they realized the money had been put back in their sacks. Now honestly, how many of us would have acted like that never happened and kept the money? I know there was a time in my life when I would have been like, "There wasn't any money in my sack." There have been times when I have found money in a parking lot and thought nothing of it except - now this is my money. That was me at one point in my life. Recently, I found a twenty dollar bill in the parking lot at work. I went to the office and asked them if anyone had said anything about losing any money. I didn't say how much, because there were other people around. I knew that if someone had lost it, they would definitely know exactly how much it was. The lady in the office seemed amazed at my honesty. That is crazy isn't it! We are seriously at a point in time where someone is amazed that you would be honest in a situation like that. Anyways, she said, "You just hang on to it and I'll let you know if anyone comes looking for it." I kept that twenty dollar bill for two weeks and never heard anything. I'm definitely not trying to brag as if I am this awesome man of integrity. All I'm trying to say is that we live in a period where integrity really doesn't mean anything to a lot of people anymore. We can help change that though by being honest in every situation that we are in. That is definitely something that I struggle with. But I am at a point in my life where my name definitely means something to me. When people talk about me I would like them to say, "Chris is an honest and responsible person." If anything I want that to give God credit and glory rather than myself. What would people say about you? Are you a man/woman of integrity? Be Encouraged, Chris
  26. 2 points
    The storms go spinning one by one Hoo-ah, hoo-ah The storms go spinning one by one Hoo-ah, hoo-ah The storms go spinning one by one The little one stops. A shear to its top! And they all go spinning, swirling Around the globe To stir up The ether.
  27. 2 points
    Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
  28. 2 points
    To get to Heaven, you must follow the way of the cross. The highway to Heaven starts on this side of death and the entrance is very easy to find. Paul Apostle declared that the road to heaven is not difficult to find nor to access. It is right in your front, in the word of God. You need not fear where you are going when you know Jesus is going with you. Death is not a period; it is only a comma, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Any day, even today, may be our final day on earth. We need to be sure that we are ready to depart. If we are prepared to die, we are prepared to live. Whether you are young or old, what matters is the grace to continue living hereafter. A man may die young get be satisfied with living, but a wicked man is not satisfied even with long life. T.B. Joshua
  29. 2 points
    Today, I’m continuing my series on the symbolism found in the illustrations of my children’s book, “Finished: A Fictional Story With Heavenly Truth”. I’ve had the privilege of partnering with artist Terri Melia Hamlin, and together we’ve put together a story that is both appropriate and entertaining for the youngest of readers, yet contains deep theological truths for adults. In the illustration above, we see the hands of Jesus holding nails as he continues work on a project. The picture is meant to remind us of the nails that would pierce Jesus’ hands and feet as an adult. Jesus’ childhood hands are open as he submissively accepts the fate he must one day endure. Think about it. The same hands of God, that formed man from the dust of the ground, would be punctured by nails as he died to forgive man of his sins. The hands that healed adults and held children would be held in place by such cruel and rudimentary instruments. The very hands that spread wide to embrace the most wayward of sinners, were extended fully in love and sacrifice on the wooden frame of the cross. Our hands, by contrast, abuse our fellow man, bruising his body and shedding his blood. They are far too often clenched in fists. Our hands steal and destroy and point accusing fingers at others. The amazing news of God’s grace, however, is that Jesus solved the problem of our sin. He took our spiritual dilemma into his own forgiving hands along with the nails that pierced his flesh. He died to free us from our inability to keep and shear defiance of his perfect commands and rose again to offer us a new way of living, forgiven and free and held in his resurrected and nail-scarred hands. We are his people, both created and forgiven by him.
  30. 2 points
    Genesis Chapter 39 Prayer Lord, I know that I mess up every single day. Multiple times a day. I am a mess trying to make it through this life. I thank you that you are always here with me. Today, I ask that you speak to me through your Word, and empower me by your Spirit to turn your Word into action in my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen. My response This Chapter reminds me of a lot of my failures and shortcomings. Joseph was much closer to God than I feel that I am. What I mean is that Joseph was much more aware of the presence of God in his life than what I am. Joseph easily walked away from temptation. And that is one of the reasons that he so easily did this is because he was completely aware of the power and presence of God in his life. That definitely makes a difference on how we handle things. For being obedient and doing the right thing, Joseph received prison for his reward! Joseph picked up his cross and carried it with pure joy in the toughest of situations. He didn't complain, he didn't get angry at God, or give up because of the negative consequences he was experiencing for being obedient to God. I truly believe that when God sets us apart for great things, there are great trials that are ahead for us to face. If we are completely aware of God's presence in our lives, and we are obedient and prosper through any situation because we trust God - then God knows we can rightfully take the spot of privilege that He has raised us up to take. I believe that is what I am seeing through this chapter. I need to remember that in my own life. I am so quick to blame God, or I'm quick to give up when things get tough. I sometimes do not finish things that I start - especially when they get tough or hard. Joseph reminds me that no matter what I am going through that I should always do my best. And one way that I can be encouraged to do my best is to be aware of God's presence in my life. Fully trust Him and be obedient through every single thing that I may face (The blessings - and the struggles)! Application Old habits die hard to me, so I really need to drive what I wrote into my mind. I see that Joseph was completely aware of God's presence in his life, but everyone around him was aware of it also. Verse 3 says, "Potiphar noticed that the Lord was with Joseph." Potiphar probably didn't even know anything much about God, but he was aware of God's presence in Joseph's life. That is powerful to me, because I don't think many of the people that I'm around would say that about me. So my application is that I am going to start trying to turn my words into action. What I mean is that, I talk to God, I study my Bible, but when it comes to living the Bible - not so much. I am reminded that for some people, I am the only Bible that they may ever have the chance to read. So, it is extremely important for me to be aware of the presence of God in my life. The more I become to realize that and to trust that, the more I will be able to be obedient. Be Encouraged, Chris
  31. 2 points
    We have prayed and hoped, but the thing that is yet to be applied is “Love.” In 1 Corinthians 13:13. There are only three things on this earth that'll last - faith, hope and love. The greatest is love. Since the greatest is love. We need to make the greatest sacrifice. Jesus asked Peter three times, “ do you love me?” Peter answered, “ you know that I love you.” There times, Jesus responded by giving Peter a responsibility “ keep my lambs, shepherd my sheep and keep my sheep.” Before we can be responsible to Jesus, it must be because of our love for Him. If you help your fellow brother, then you help Jesus. If you dupe your fellow brother, then you dupe Jesus. If you care for your fellow brother, then you care for Jesus, if you ignore your fellow brother, then you ignore Jesus. Jesus asked Peter one of the most significant and penetrating, In fact, one of the most dangerous questions ever asked, “Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” He asked him this question three times before giving him the commission to shepherd his sheep. Whether you're educated or not, whether you are a farmer or a professor, there's hope, the hope, “loving Jesus,” in other words, loving others. Jesus repeated the question so that the concept to be crystal clear, “ Do you love me?” T.B. Joshua
  32. 2 points
    Whatever is your gift, that is what God will use to bless others through you. Works of charity and righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus complements each other to get us a place in God's kingdom. Works of charity alone, only helps to measure our level of kindness. We make a living by what we get and we make a life by what we give, because turning the other way when your fellow brother is in pain, in trouble, is equally rejecting Christ Himself. You begin to succeed with your life when other people's trouble, pain, begins to matter to you. This is the surest way to reactivate your love, by showing more love and Faith to the society of which we are a part. You're a part, I am a part, may God bless His words in your hearts, in Jesus name. Thank you lord. Apostle John Chi
  33. 2 points
    The Opposite of What We Deserve Today I was reading in Genesis chapter 33. The time that Jacob has been dreading is now approaching. His brother Esau is coming and Jacob expects the worst. The Scripture says, "Jacob divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and his two servant wives. He put the servant wives and their children at the front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last" (Genesis 33:1-2). If he was thinking that Esau and his 400 men were coming to slaughter them, he straight lined them up for a slaughter. Am I the only one seeing that? Looks like he put the least important people to him 1st, and the most important last. If Jacob really expected this why wouldn't he have kept his family behind and went ahead completely alone. I mean, that is what a real man would do isn't it? Jacob definitely received the opposite of what he deserved. Esau embraced him, shedding tears of joy to see his brother after 20 years. This is a classic example of the saying, "Time heals all wounds." Esau wasn't worried about what had happened in the past, he was living in the moment. The thoughts of killing his brother were long gone. What if we could see this without the bitter feelings and all the lost time we lose during a conflict? 20 years is such a long time to lose a friendship. Definitely losing a brother. They made up. Should have done it much sooner. We see old habits die hard though, because Esau told Jacob to follow him on - he would lead the way. Jacob straight lied to Esau saying, "Go on ahead and we'll travel behind at a slow pace because of the little children and animals." Jacob had no intentions of following. Why deceive his brother again? I know with me, I am bad to lie like that when there is no reason. Someone may ask me to do something and if I don't want to, I should just say, "No man, I'm good." Why say yeah that sounds great, but inside you already know it doesn't. You already know your answer is going to be no, but instead you give maybe even false hope to someone else. That is a good recovery principle for me, and maybe it is you too! Think about anyone in your life that you have had a conflict with and have never really made things right. Don't wait 20 years like these 2 brothers did. Don't even wait until morning. Don't go to bed tonight without resolving the conflict, or at least sincerely trying! Be Encouraged, Chris
  34. 2 points
    Acts 6:1-15 Giving Up = Getting Full I know that I have plenty of chances to share my faith - but I always clam up. I feel ashamed for some reason. Maybe it’s because I haven’t yielded all areas of my life to the Lord yet, and I know it. And I know that is what is holding me back! Even when I had the special privilege of teaching and sharing the Word, I still hadn’t yielded all areas of my life to the Lord. That is what I am seeing here in this passage. Stephen was full of faith and the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). I am guessing that he was able to fully surrender to God, that is why he was able to be “Full of God.” Everything that I do is a witness. Every word that I speak, every move that I make. When we say we are following Christ, it really should look like we are following Christ. I know a lot of times, I’m sure people around me think I am definitely not following Christ. The people around Stephen knew that he was following Christ. What would those around you say about you? Our witness doesn’t just happen when we are around other Christians. It should happen when we’re not around other Christians. I’m just saying there have been times that I have been at church or an event and have been on FIRE sharing Christ. Then when I’m out anywhere else just in this old ordinary world, I’m just regular old Chris that looks just like the regular old world! I see what I need to change in my life, and I hope that maybe you see what needs to change in your life as well! Is there anything in your life that you are unable to lay down that is holding you back from God? Be Encouraged, Chris
  35. 2 points
    Finding Refreshment "It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed" (Exodus 31:17). In the original language the word for refreshed means to take a breath, to refresh oneself. I have been having long weeks at work. I work Monday through Saturday with only Sunday off. It starts to catch up to you after a while. So today I decided that I was going to do something different. I did it for my wife, but to my amazement I actually enjoyed it quite well :) She was sleeping this morning and I gently woke her up and said, "Are you going to sleep all day?" She got her phone to look and see what time it was. Then she rolled over and looked at me and said, "I would have liked to have slept just a little bit longer." I said, "I just want to ask you a question. What are you doing today?" "I'm not quite sure," she said. "Would you like to go out with me, on a date?" She smiled and said, "I'll think about it." So, I went to the kitchen and made her coffee while she got up and got ready. I didn't tell her where we were going - I wanted it to be a surprise. I pulled up outside of Sequoya nail and spa, in Clinton TN and she just looked at me. I said we are getting pedicures and you're getting a manicure too. She said, "Chris! I ain't even shaved my legs." hahaha ... I mean they weren't that bad. I had the picture of Michael J. Fox in my head from the movie Teen Wolf. But anyways, we went in and I was nervous. I felt like I had to turn in my man card for entering into a spa for a pedicure, but dude! They had the reclining chair with the massager ripping my back a new one. And my feet. They didn't even feel like my feet. It's like they just took them off and put on a new pair for me that had never worn steel toe boots. And a leg massage too. I told Angie, if I am doing this, I am getting the works. When I went to pay the bill though I felt like I got worked. It was $170. But we were there for an hour or more and I mean I can’t even tell you what all they did to my feet - but I can tell you that my feet love me a little more now :) It made her really happy that I did that with her. I could tell by the look in her eye. But shoot! I believe that I am the one that scored. My feet still feel like there is an air conditioner constantly blowing on them. It was super refreshing and I mean I think we both really needed that today. I was able to just sit back, relax, and take that breath that I so needed all week long. I will admit that I almost kicked the nail tech in the chest a few times. You know how when you scratch a dog's belly their leg starts jerking. Well, when he was scratching the bottom of my feet with that cheese grater looking thing I was just like a dog. My leg was jerking all over the place. Man that tickled so bad lol. But through all this, life wears me down sometimes. And I know it does you too. We always need to have time to catch our breath through the daily struggles that we face. This is from my NET Bible First Edition Notes: "Just as a drink of water would bring physical refreshment to one's body, trusting in God and turning away from evil will bring emotional refreshment to one's soul." Just as I found refreshment relaxing and getting a pedicure with my wife, I am reminded that I can always find this same refreshment in God every day. Be Encouraged, Chris
  36. 2 points
    This is a poem describing my battle with progressive sanctification if you will. Chris I've been made new but yet to be made whole I find myself each day, every moment fighting to stay How can things be this way? The fear and anxiety overtake me and throw me to the floor My thoughts become my worst nightmare as the sun sets and the light fades Where will I go from here What will become of me Who knows that man that existed far beyond my grasp The wind feels warm but yet i feel cold Take me back to where Love was once my home! Take me back - i dont want to be alone! Desperate I fail, weakened i fall Into the trap that beauty has set above all Forgive my sins forgive my desires Change my heart and i'll be yours
  37. 2 points
    Genesis 6:9-22 Faith Like Noah "Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God" (Genesis 6:9). We have to understand that the only true blameless person to ever occupy the flesh was Jesus Christ. We are all filthy so to speak. This verse does not mean that Noah was completely and totally sin free. It means that he loved God, he tried his very best to do what was right in God's eyes. And he believed God - Faith! It is your faith that makes you blameless and righteous before God. When we screw up, we are determined to do better and try harder. We are determined to stamp God's Word on our hearts and let it flow through our minds producing an outward change of the inward change that faith has played! We live in a world filled with evil today just like Noah did. Things can go two ways. We can influence others, or we can be influenced by them. Are we standing firm in our faith like Noah, or are we being slowly pulled into the waves of the corrupted world? "Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt" (Genesis 6:11-12). I try to imagine how bad things actually were at that point in time. We see horrible things happening around the world everyday. Almost daily on the news, you see murder, theft, assault, sexual assault, etc. And we have a government with tons of police and we still see all this corruption. Imagine what it would be like just for a second without the law and the police. Our government may be corrupt along with the corrupted world, but yet - we should all still be very thankful for the protection that they provide us. "So God said to Noah, I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth" (Genesis 6:13). Put yourself in Noah's shoes (even though he probably wasn't wearing any), for a moment. What in the world would you have thought if you received this kind of announcement from God? Can you imagine telling people this to have them just laugh in your face and ridicule you? His faith and trust in God outweighed his pride and prestige from this world. "Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Leave an 18 - inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat - lower, middle, and upper" (Genesis 6:14-16). Sheww! I would be completely overwhelmed with this. I remember when I was a little boy. I got interested in models for a minute. I say a minute because literally I was over them that fast. I tried to put together this pirate ship one time, and I completely lost all of my sanity. And this was no model boat you just stuck together with glue. This thing was the length of one and a half football fields and as high as a four story building. The ark was six times longer than it is wide. Here is a little something for you to chew on - That is the same formula that modern day ship builders used to build! There were no engineers designing ships back in Noah's day. The accuracy of the Bible and God's Word is Infallible! God was and is the engineer! "So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him" (Genesis 6:22). Noah got right to work gladly with what would have driven me into the ground just thinking about it. He tried his best to warn everyone, but only his family was saved. "Those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood" (1 Peter 3:20). Things haven't changed much from Noah's day. Thousands and possibly even more are warned every single day of God's inevitable judgment, but just like the people that were swept away by the flood - they do not believe that it will happen! Don't expect people to accept your message of God's coming judgment on sin - but be faithful and obedient anyway! This story reminds me a great deal about faith. I think how God's instructions to Noah must have not made very much sense to him at all. He told him to build this big monster of a boat out in the middle of nowhere. There wasn't even any water around. Can you image building a giant boat like this just out in a field somewhere? During my time at Celebrate Recovery I have learnt that is one of the secrets to the success of Celebrate Recovery. We usually won't understand how everything works, but we have to do what God tells us is necessary for a successful recovery. That is the secret. And believe me - it works. Noah stepped out in faith, and that is what it takes - that is what we have to do as well. I am no better than anyone else. I struggle with everything that anybody else struggles with. I have struggled with alcohol for years. I had a few years clean and relapsed, but now I can happily say that yesterday was 7 months since I last had a drink. If we step out with faith, God will step in and lead us to the success that we seek! Be Encouraged, Chris
  38. 2 points
    A “Far Away” God Every Christian will go through “desert experiences” in life. Perhaps you are going through one right now? When I speak of “desert experiences,” I am not referring to momentary discouragement or the usual ups and downs of life. These are all natural occurrences. What I am speaking of is a continuous spiritual period of time when we feel God is far away. These are the times when the Christian says, “Lord, where are you? I am facing hardships and difficulties on every side and I need you – now!” There are several reasons we go through “desert experiences.” One is sin. When we are in rebellion against God we often feel He is far away, and, in actuality, He is. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 5:25). Another reason for a “desert experience” could be that a hope we have clung to – perhaps for a job or a relationship – has not become a reality. Or, a “desert experience” could simply be the point God has brought us to for a specific purpose; for something He wishes to accomplish in our lives. Always remember that one of God’s purposes in our lives is to teach us and to change us. He desires to bring us closer to Him that we may learn more about Him, and in the process, more about ourselves. It is in these spiritual wildernesses where everything we have thought, everything we felt, and everything we have built our lives upon is stripped away. And when everything has been stripped away, all we have left is the Lord. These can be the darkest times in our lives, times when we feel like we’re walking in circles in a dark room. But never forget: God has brought you to this place for a specific purpose! Finding the Exit It is inevitable that Christians will undergo these “desert experiences” at least once in their lives. This is a given. The question then is: How do we get out? If you find yourself trapped in a “desert experience,” here are a few things to remember: 1. There is no formula. There are no five steps and you’re out of the fire. Life doesn’t work that way, and neither does the Christian life. 2. Remember who God is. Remember what He’s done in history, and remember what He’s done in your life. He has rescued His people from the brink throughout history, and He will do so again. He has rescued you from the brink when He saved you, and He will be there again for you when you need Him most. 3. Be brutally honest with yourself by asking God: “Lord, what in my life needs to change? What is causing this ‘desert experience’ I am in? Is it something I have done? Is it sin? Have You brought me to this place for a specific purpose?” 4. If God reveals sin in your life, confess it and repent of it. If it is something else, keep praying and be open to what God wants to show or teach you. 5. Don’t go through it alone. Generally, when Christians go through “desert experiences” they don’t want to talk to anyone; rather, they tend to isolate themselves. This can be a very dangerous place in which to be. Find another believer to confide in and share your concerns with him or her. 6. Accept and embrace reality. This is often very difficult to do; but this is the very reason God has brought you to this place. You may need to grieve over the loss, which may mean that you need some time to accept what has taken place. 7. Learn about God’s amazing grace. Be open to God. Allow Him to work in your life and mold you into the man or woman of God He wants you to be. 8. And finally, pray and study God’s Word. Stay focused on God and again, never forget who He is. If you are angry, hurt, or sad, tell God – He already knows what you are going through. Cast all you cares upon God, for He deeply cares about you (1 Peter 5:7). If you find yourself in a “desert experience,” never forget that God is with you in it – even if you don’t feel His presence. And not only is He there with you, you can rest assured of something else: He will bring you through it! The challenge for you is to remain faithful while you navigate your way through this wilderness journey!
  39. 2 points
    Guilt "When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees" (Genesis 3:8). We have all experienced what Adam and Eve just experienced in this passage. We have all felt ashamed when we have done wrong and we ourselves have tried to hide. I have done people wrong a number of times and have tried to avoid them. I won't answer their calls, I won't open the door if they come and knock, and if I see them out, I will turn my head and pretend as if I didn't see them. That was the old me anyways. I now try to face the consequences of my wrongs and make them right. It isn’t right to play with people's feelings. See this is interesting. Even before I knew Christ, I still knew right from wrong. I knew when I wronged someone because I had the feeling of guilt. It just sits with you uneasily and drags you down. With me, it caused a feeling of anxiousness , stress, and anger. A mental cocktail that raised my blood pressure and soon, it overflowed into an angry outrage on some undeserving individual. I would become angry at other people because I was dealing with undealt guilt. 90% of the time we want to blame others for our guilt and sometimes we even try to blame God just like Adam and Eve did. Adam said, "Well, if you hadn't given me this woman, this would have never happened." And Eve said, "Well, it was the serpent's fault - he tricked me." When we know we are wrong and we accept and own what we have done and show general remorse - the outcome has a quite different effect. Remorse leads to genuine repentance. It seems that we could never recover from this horrible tragedy that took place on that day. Sin brings a violent hurricane along with it that impacts everything and everyone through its path. Life was changed that day for everyone. The consequences of sin became a living reality for everyone. Verses 14 - 24 further explain what had to be done because of disobedience. Everything that Adam did wrong that caused separation from God, Jesus did right and restored it! That is why we now can have a relationship with God! Jesus Christ is the 2nd Adam who became that curse in verses 14 through 24. Jesus Christ is the one who sweat great and mighty drops of blood in bitter agony. Jesus Christ wore the thorns on His head, and was hanged on a tree, until he breathed in last - and then he was placed in the dusty dust of death! Because of Jesus Christ, when we experience this guilt, we don't have to be completely separated from God. We can recognize what we've done, ask forgiveness, trust in what Jesus Christ has done, and be united with God - Amen! Be Encouraged, Chris
  40. 2 points
    As, the world’s evilness continues to unfold, it highlights God’s truth. A point often overlooked by sin destroys the spirit of men. This reality started in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). From, that day forward, humanity struggles with good and evil. In these trying times we face sin’s destructive power. Yes, behind the violence is Satan’s plan to destroy man’s relationship with Christ. Evildoers recruited by the devil ensures his scheme to sever man’s ties with God. It’s hard to accept sin because it shows the evil side of our existence. And the moment original sin entered the equation, humanity’s relationship with God fractured. Remember, God created man in His image and deemed it good (Genesis 1:31). But Lucifer convinced Eve she wouldn’t die from disobeying God giving birth to sin (Genesis 3:4). In the Old Testament several accounts reference man’s inequity. One of the severest times came during Noah’s existence. In fact, wickedness overtook the world and as the result from this evil, God eradicated sin by flooding the earth (Genesis 6:5-6). The Lord wiped out humanity but spared Noah and his family. And when Moses returned with God’s commandments, it angered him because sin engulfed the Israelites. They caved into temptation and worshiped a golden calf (Exodus 32). Those are but two recorded details of sin before God delivered Christ as His New Covenant. But the most offensive transgression toward God is blasphemy (Matthew 12:31-32) and the New Testament fills itself with evidence supporting this violation. Christ often showed the Pharisees their hatred for God. Jesus pointed out their misrepresentation of God’s law by creating unrealistic traditions to enhance one’s union with God (Matthew 23 4). Other sins during Christ’s existence on earth included judging others, hating enemies, and divorce (Matthew 5). Apostle Paul clarified sin by leaving us this truth. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 Paul’s powerful knowledge of how inequity produces evilness shows us the reason for repentance. I think you’ll agree with me when I say God’s incredible forgiveness for sin is awesome. How do I know? From my relationship with Christ. Yes, it’s in Christ I find the truth about sin. His wisdom through the Holy Spirit teaches me the reason transgression opposes God. In my darkness, before the Lord saved me, sin ruled my heart. In fact, alcoholism consumed my being. My soul filled with resentment, bitterness, and self-hatred. I couldn’t love others because forgiving others stayed elusive. And agnosticism blinded me from God’s light. I’m sure you’re with me on this one, God loves humanity and gave Christ the power to save sinners (Matthew 9:13). This is important because without Jesus the door to salvation stays shut (John 14:6). For this reason, our Father sacrificed His Son Christ Jesus to show the world He forgives sinners (Matthew 26:28). Amazing, isn’t it? Make no mistake about this my friend, trusting Christ pleases God. And the best part of salvation is the receiving the Holy Spirit. It’s in the Spirit of Truth we know Jesus. This ensures our consciousness with God sparing us from eternal condemnation. As shown above we see sin’s fruitless works. For it’s in our suffering from sin that God graces us with Christ. And once we accept Jesus, breaks our bondage with inequity. What are your thoughts on sin? https://achristianmindset.org/the-devastation-of-sin/
  41. 2 points
    The Nature of Christ “Though he was God he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges and took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). As I was reading this, I was thinking, “How would I behave in this situation?” I would have been shooting lightning bolts at people and levitating them straight up off the earth that I created. We could not possibly control a position of such power. We would be completely overcome by it. Jesus, he did not selfishly grasp hold of the position he had like I would have. Instead, he was willing to give himself over to serving our needs. Maybe if Jesus would have behaved in a manner likewise, the Jewish leaders would not have been so infuriated with Him. He was claiming to be God but seemed as a weak little man. If Jesus would have blasted them with a lightning bolt or two, I am sure their minds would have quickly changed about Him. They probably would not have plotted to kill Him, but instead would have worshiped Him. But that is not the way God wants to gain our attention is it? Jesus set the example of what God is like – not a dictator, but a loving, serving, father. Jesus did something that is extremely hard for me to do. Verse 7, he emptied himself. He emptied himself of all self-interests. He came here to do one thing, and one thing only and that was the will of the Father. For God to become a man was extremely humbling, but he did not stop there. He completely took himself the extra mile and took the role of a servant. When Jesus came, we all should have fallen to our knees in complete worship and praise – our Lord is here. Instead, the Lord fell to his knees to serve us. The Creator served His very creation. Wow! Man, Oh man! A lot of days I ask myself, “How should I live as a Christian?” No better example of humiliation and a complete selfless attitude could possibly be given than that of Christ. That is the example the believers in Philippi were being encouraged to follow. That is the example we are encouraged to follow today. Verse 2 - be like minded – live humbly before God, and each other. God sent Jesus on a mission. This is His briefing – “1. That He should assume human nature by being born of a woman, and thus enter into temporal relations; and that He should assume this nature with its present infirmities, though without sin. 2. That He, who as the Son of God was superior to the law, should place Himself under the law; that He should enter, not merely into the natural, but also into the penal and federal relation to the law, in order to pay the penalty for sin and to merit everlasting life for the elect. 3. That He, after having merited forgiveness of sins and eternal life for His own, should apply to them the fruits of His merits: complete pardon, and the renewal of their lives through the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. By doing this He would render it absolutely certain that believers would consecrate their lives to God” (Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (p. 269). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co). Jesus perfectly accomplished all these things that we could not. So, what is your response to this. What is your response to Him? Be Encouraged, Chris
  42. 2 points
    Ephesians 6:12 - For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. KJV Jul. 2, 2020 Jeremiah 17:9...The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it. KJV Last month, The Holy Spirit dropped the word Righteous in my Spirit. I asked Him what is it you want me say about “Righteous”? He told me to look at what is going on in my peoples heart, it is disturbing because too many are falling away from my moral right. Choosing to instead to follow the crowd. I asked Him about the message for this month, He led me to the 17th chapter of Jeremiah which deals with two kinds of people...the wicked and the righteous. Jeremiah was warning the people about their sin even though they had the Law, prophets of God and history filled with God’s miracles. Just like us today. He said in verse 9...the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. When the Bible speaks of the heart, it is not talking about the one that pumps blood through our body...It is our mind. It is amazing how we allow our minds to consider everything contrary to God’s Word. Sin is what the Bible calls it and that is exactly what it is. The comparison between the wicked and righteous begins in verse 5...Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusts in man and not Me. We know the evil in man goes back to Genesis and by the time we get to Genesis Chapter 6 verse 5 we find out what God's penalty will be...And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6...And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7...And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repent me that I have made them. The stain of man’s evil was so devastating to God that everything paid for it. The animals, birds and beasts ...everything God said was good when He created it, paid the price of death and they had nothing to do with man’s evil. There was however redemption and it is in verse 8....But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was not perfect but verse 9 say’s...he was a just man and he walked with God. Biblically, the contrast between the Righteous and wickedness can be found primarily in Proverbs. The Righteous are hopeful., the wicked are fearful Proverbs 10:24...The Righteous are concerned about the welfare of God’s creation, the wicked’s kindness is cruel, Proverbs 12:10. The righteous are showered with blessings, the wicked are covered in violence Proverbs 10:8. The Righteous understand justice, the wicked do not, Proverbs 28:5. The Righteous seek out the honest, the wicked hate the honest...Proverbs 29:10...The Righteous care for the poor, the wicked are unconcerned about the poor...Proverbs 29:7...The Righteous are bold as lions, the wicked fear constantly...Proverbs 28:1...The Righteous are protected by God, the wicked are destroyed by God...Proverbs 10:29...The Righteous have a refuge when they die, the wicked are crushed by their sins...Proverbs 14:32… Man will trust in other men, military, business and other entities he created, for their success as they see it but the Righteous have faith in God. They are called the underdogs, the ones struggling to get by, the ones who are crazy with this faith in God thing but in reality they have the peace that surpasses all understanding which is only found in God. God has stopped the world with Covid 19 yet many want to diminish it’s severity in peoples lives. The evidence of God’s hand in this is the fact the atmosphere has been cleansed, the land has been restored, the waters are cleaner, families have spent more time together and those who recognize God’s work have given Him their Praise and Worship. Gas was under $1.00 per gallon and we had nowhere to go. Then He sent a dust cloud formed in the African desert, across the oceans taking the same path hurricanes do that has hit the United States creating a breathing issue. Most recently flooding in the south and many still refuse to recognize Him sending His message to us. It is amazing to me that due to the death of George Floyd, not only have the Righteous in America taken a stand against evil but people from all over the world are standing with those marching and not one person has contracted or been affected by the virus. We have seen the huge throng of people but they have had Divine Protection. There will be a price to pay, we will reap what we sow...Galations 6:7-9... Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8...For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9...And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10... As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. In the final analysis the questions will be...Whose side will you be on? Mark 2:17 - When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Paul wrote in in his letter to the Philippians Chapter 1:9...And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10...That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11...Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. The Apostle John, The Beloved Disciple whom Jesus loved wrote in 1st John 2:1 & 2...My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2...And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. My brothers and sisters. I will be praying for your strength and determination to follow God's call to righteousness...though it may be difficult, walk away from the crowd who chooses not believe. Thank You Lord for Your Word.
  43. 2 points
    Nothing can be more edifying than to repose in the love of the Lord Jesus when it is known, and the heart set free to rest in it. The soul may have a long journey to reach it experientially; there may be needs and exercises to be met and removed on the way; the old man and the world may have to be learned; but the great end of all our exercises—and, I may add, of all our deliverances is that we rest in the thoughts of divine love, and that love becomes a very real way the portion of our hearts. If our hearts are not in the circle of divine love they have nothing, for as Christians we have no portion on earth or in the world (majority of mankind—NC); our portion is in divine love. Thank God!—it is a satisfying portion (Christ is our “inheritance” and we are His inheritance – Eph 1:11, 18—NC). For some years I thought that John 10 was written to make the believer sure that eternal blessing was secured to him. I rejoice to know that it does this, but there is far more to it than this. The Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep that He might have the joy of securing them for Himself and for His Father. The Father and the Son wanted the sheep for Themselves, and the death of Christ is the righteous title of divine love to take possession, and to keep possession of them (inherit—NC). They wanted a company whom They might introduce into the circle of divine love, with a nature suitable to the circle, and capable of appreciating and responding to it (Col 3:10; 2Pe 1:4 – man only is in God’s image and in whom only His nature dwells—NC). Much may have to be done for us. We shall need support, preservation, discipline. If we are left here a little longer we shall need grace, mercy and forbearance of God in a thousand ways, but all which will be needed in the future to keep us for the Father and the Son is small compared with the stupendous cost at which loved secured us. “Hereby perceive we love, because He laid down His life for us.” The Lord Jesus came from God alone, but He has gone to God as the Head of a new and blessed race (not even angels are in His image and nature—NC), and as the One who has secured everything for God. He is the perfect contrast to Adam the first, who came from God, secured everything for God, and went to the dust. The last Adam came from God, secured everything for God, and has gone to God as the glorified Head of a new race (only One presently in heaven with a redeemed Body—NC) brought into divine love in association with Himself, the Head of a new creation in which all the thoughts of that love will be effected and displayed forever. The Father has “given all things into His hands” (Mat 11:27; 28:18; Jhn 3:35; 13:3; 1Co 15:27; Eph 1:21, 22; Phl 2:9; Heb 1:2). Think of the greatness of it. The Lord Jesus stepped into the midst of all the ruin and moral chaos which sin had caused, and so secured everything for God that the Father has given in His hands. He has acquired the right the be Head of the new creation—to be the Center and Sun of that universe of bliss which He has secured for the Father, and which He will fill with divine glory. Those far-reaching realms of light and glory are fitly inherited by Him who has put them all in suitability to divine love. In such a circle our souls are lost, dazzled and bewildered. The expanse of divine gory is too great for us. We cannot yet comprehend divine greatness, thank God; the portion of our hearts is divine love. The saints are His own by the Father’s gift. “Thine they were,” says the Son, “and Thou gavest them Me” (Jn 17:6 – which was to show that of all Christ received was from His Father (v 7), to manifest love to us was first from His Father—NC). Before time began the Father took possession of us by making us the subjects of His gracious thoughts and counsel, and His purpose and object in thus taking possession of us was that He might give us His Son. (Conversely—NC) In the thoughts of divine love we are of such value as to be a suitable gift from the Father to the Son—a gift worthy of the Giver and the Receiver. We shall be forever the expression to the Son of the Father’s love for Him! — C A Coates (1862-1945) MJS devotional excerpt for February 4: “The believer can never overcome the ‘old man’ even by the power of the ‘new’ apart from the work of the Cross, and therefore the death of Christ is indispensable, and unless the Cross is made the basis upon which he overcomes the ‘old nature,’ he only drops into another form of morality; in other words, he is seeking by self-effort to overcome sin and self, and the struggle is a hopeless one.” -C.U. http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/
  44. 2 points
    Pardon me, we won't go deeper into this, but we'll be trusting the holy spirit to help us along the way as we walk this life in Christ Jesus. First and foremost, it is the desire of our Lord Jesus to see us being restored back to our original relationship with God which we had once lost as a result of sin. Jesus bringing us out of sin and death actually isn't just for us to escape hell, rather it is for us to build a relationship with Him. He desires our relationship. And as we grow deeper in Intimacy in God, through His word, prayers and our lives lived in holiness as a living sacrifice, we then begin to experience more of His life. Every relationship begins small, but in time, as you persist in faithfulness, you become so close enough to know in details about that person and whatever such person plans to do, he reveals to you. So it is with us and God. We can't have a relationship with God, if we've not yet known Jesus in spirit, it is our acceptance of Jesus as Lord, that enables us have the holy spirit, which brings us into a relationship with God, through Jesus, by the holy spirit. Meanwhile, the only way we can build our relationship to hear from God is firstly, and always by the holy spirit. The holy spirit is the one who guides and advises us on what to do and how to draw closer to God. He's like a relationship counselor. If you're not closer to God, you can't hear from Him clearly, the reason why many forget revelations, is because they're not prayerful enough to trap spiritual message from God as a result of the flesh. And, as a result of being denatured by sin, we had once lost the spirit of God when we get back to Him. It is then by the holy spirit given to us on acceptance of God's word ( Jesus ) we're being taught and governed on how to please God. We must do everything to spend time in God's word to be filled with the holy spirit. The more you spend time feeding on God's word, meditating on it slowly, attentively and repeatedly, the more you're being filled with the holy spirit. And the more you're being filled, the more you're being drawn closer to God. You then begin to have encounters, like revelations, visions, or even see Him face to face. He does as He wills. Now we know the main helper of our hearing from God is the holy spirit, let's get to the basis. And oh, don't forget to pray to sanctify your heart for the holy spirit to remain. The first hearing of God begins in our heart. Actually, God only speaks to us in our heart as the contact point and so we must put our heart in order for God to come in, we must be sanctified through the word and constant prayers. Now a pilot wouldn't want to land a craft on a dead runway, it has to be cleared of every debris and reformed. As we Journey deeper in Intimacy, His voice becomes more audible. The thoughts of good and to live fully for God is the first voice of God by the holy spirit, it comes as a whisper in your heart, or like an uncomfortable feeling when you're about to do something wrong. In other words, every thought of good in your heart aren't yours they're of God, it's like a telepathy you have to obey. The second basis and also, authorized medium we hear from God is through His word, either by hearing from a genuine child or servant of God or from the Bible, but I'll always suggest the Bible as there are many false teachers, you'll need discernment to know the true ones. And the only way to have discernment is by dosing our heart with life, not God's word as knowledge substance, but as life substance. It is this life the holy spirit will feed on in other to expand in us, then we can discern that which is of God. Before you start running to men or doctrines first have the filling of the holy spirit. God speaks to us always through His word, even if you can hear from Him audibly, you'll still need the bible to draw from God's life. And as you come to Him through His word, do come with a free heart without impurity and ask the holy spirit to teach you. Then, He'll begin to teach you according to your spiritual height, so you can grow in spirit to be closer to God and hear deep things from Him. Meanwhile, the Lord can speak to someone who is ungodly, but there is a difference between speaking and relationship, even if Jesus does speak to one audibly when he's still a child in the spirit, he still needs to grow to make it into a relationship. For example, if the president talks to you on monthly basis through restricted calls, you can't call that a relationship until you've become close to Him, close enough as a family. As you feed on God's word, His word which are life are sealed in your heart, and so whenever God wants to act in or through you, it is His word sealed in your heart the holy spirit will act upon to do God's will. God speaks to us by the holy spirit, and the holy spirit act on God's substance word in us to do God's will unconsciously and naturally and to hear from Him. God's word are life and as you're filled with His life, the nature of spirit of death is being destroyed, your spiritual senses begin to open to be able to hear from God clearly. And thirdly, we hear form God through, quiet speaking in our hearts, revelations, visions, trances, or audibly in our heart and even seeing Him face to face. But the only way to access these is to embark on a life of ceaseless prayers. Jesus taught us to pray always. Not because of our needs, but rather to build a deeper level of Intimacy with God. And Jesus always prayed not because he wants to pray, but as a God wearing flesh, man has to pray to reconnect back to God. Jesus didn't just begin to talk with God, because He's the son of God, no. Because He wore flesh he had to follow the law of the physical and the spiritual set by God, we ought to pray to restore that relationship. You'll have to spend more time with someone in other to know Him more. So also, we must pray as an act of Intimacy to know God more. Prayer is the fastest way to hear from God. Just as the men of old made sacrifices to hear from God, so also Jesus came and made our heart an alter of sacrifice, that through prayers by the holy spirit, sacrifices are risen unit God as incense to invoke God's presence in our lives, this is when we begin to get feedback or hear from Him. A man who prays more will hear God on time than he who prays less, why? Because prayer is a Journey unto God. Sin has thrown us farther from God and so we have to Journey back to Him through Intimacy ( prayers and His word ). God is always speaking, but if you're too far, If you pray less, you won't hear Him clearly. Untill you get close to him through prayers as an act of Intimacy then, you'll hear Him clearly and He'll begin to reveal deep mysteries to you, His mind, His will, will be made bare before you. Things known only to few men or specifically only you. For this, I'll teach you how to pray ceaselessly; Just as it is good to pray with our mouth, the only way to pray ceaselessly is to pray in the heart. This is why the Apostles and every great men of God did. Here are some scriptural references before we begin; I'll give some scriptural references, then show you also, how i do pray without ceasing. 1Corinthians 14:15. " What should I do, then? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray also with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing also with my mind." Colossians 2:6-7 " So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Ephesians 5:18-20 " Do not be drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the spirit. Speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 " Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Praying without ceasing is of heart, it's not in the mouth but in the heart, for me I meditate on these constantly in my heart; - Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord - Take more of me and give me more of you - Jesus, ( continually in my heart ) - Locate me Lord in your mercy - in the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus - in Jesus name - Then I switch to spiritual song at times You can add yours if you feel like. These are all prayers, as long as you are communicating with God. What do you think happens when you're disconnected from a dear one for a long time, there be a decline in relationship, so it is with God. I did get these excerpt from a message actually. For me, I pray these prayer in my heart continually, when I'm eating, while I'm walking, as long as I'm not meditating on the word, I'm praying, even as I'm writing this, I'm praying. This is the only way to hear from God quickly. I say these continually in my heart to journey closer or rather become more intimate with God. With this, then you can hear from Him. Then you'll see and know Him in greater dimensions Everything, starts small, it takes a little getting used to, but if you're faithful the Lord Jesus will help you. And I pray and believe He'll help you rapidly in Jesus name Amen. As I earlier said, man was once fallen because of sin and so the spirit of God was removed, but finally restored to all who accepts Jesus as Lord. Reconfiguration and transformation don't happen in a day, it's a gradual process.
  45. 2 points
    I believe that as children of God this may be one of the hardest things for us to do. We say that we trust God, but when the storms of life come, man that's another story. It's easy to say, God I trust you when things are going great, but let me tell you those words that we speak will be tried. So when the time of testing comes, we show that we really don't trust Him as much as we say we do. Everything shows up in the fire! We immediately go into worry mode, and begin to fall apart when we lose our jobs, or suffer some type of loss. I believe that it is during these times, that many of us come to realize that our dependency is really not in the Lord, but what we are use to trusting in. God our Father wants us to know that we really can depend on His Word, that His Promises are true. I have come to the conclusion that He will allow us to go through times of financial difficulties. Where we no longer depend on our paycheck to meet our needs, for the sole purpose of bringing us to the place where we come to know Him as Provider. He allows things to happen, in order to prove how faithful He really is, and that He will do exactly what He says, He will do. I believe that we have to become like little children again, who naturally trust, rely, and depend on their earthly parents for everything. It is that same childlike faith that we must have in our heavenly Father, Who has shown us time after time, that He can be trusted!
  46. 2 points
    My soul doth wait on You My heart quickens to Your word My mind gulps Your endless rivers of knowledge My body trembles at my infinite faults in the face of Your glory May I call upon Your name May I beg Your Mercy What right can I claim to You I give You my heart willingly I possess nothing else to offer I am but a weakend vessel, spilling out from pierced sides Even in the darkness, I can hear the echoing of Your name In death, You breathe In me
  47. 2 points
    While the world sleeps He can hear the weeps Of the suffering, crying at His feet As He carries their burden of defeat Comforting those who have been made weak From the brutalities of this world and the things we seek For the lost and destined souls There's hope for those He knows'
  48. 2 points
    What really killed Jesus? Was it the nails that pierced his wrists and feet, or maybe the spear that punctured his side? Was it the cruel words that echoed in his ears, their shouts to crucify, crucify? Maybe it was his gasping for breath, or his thirst, or his breaking heart. Whichever of these it may have been, I’m pretty certain that I played a part in why someone so innocent, so good, so young had to die? I am quite sure that I know why. They scourged him and mocked him and stripped this man. I looked away, only to see his blood on my hands. Naked and bleeding and paraded by men. He carried the cross. He buried my sin. As I look more closely, I finally see. It’s not what really killed Jesus, but who? It was me.
  49. 2 points
    I want to remain readers today of Luke 7: 36 - 50; the story of a woman who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. The Bible states; that while he was eating, she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. She honoured him.This action however did not please his host Simon, because the lady was know as a sinful woman. Luke 7: 39 "When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7: 44 "Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” At this point I want to share something that changed my life. Lord Jesus Christ did not condemn her, He ignored the physical appearance, He did not judge her, He ignored the condemned faces of men around Him and did not condemn her. The King of Glory looked at her heart and saw a repentant lady. He commended her for receiving him warmly and told her to wipe her tears, her sins are forgiven. Before the eyes of men, her act was judgmental, before the eyes of God who sees the heart, it was service. Today's message is about a sinful woman willingly to repent, a very powerful message of redemption, a signal that no matter how low one has fallen, its never too late to turn back. Sociologist claim nothing happens without a cause. Before judging another or condemn another, find out what makes the person tick. Does condemnation correct the worst attitude? SYMPATHIZE WITH THE SINNER, as Christians we are instruments of change, Christians are stewards, the character of Jesus attracted her to Jesus. The lady who was caught in the act of adultery, when asked, Jesus replied in John 8: 6 : “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” . He who was without sin (Jesus Christ) loved sinners and did not condemn them, God of second chance. We are children of love, loved by a loved God. We are born of love, show love to others. Shalom!!!
  50. 2 points
    The Promise Anna sat in the temple entrance; shady now: the huge stone slab that supported her aching back still held the heat of the day. The warmth helped to ease the troubling pain in her stooped frame. She liked this time of day. Late afternoon, when the sapping heat of the day had given way to lengthening shadows, for Anna was ancient, tired, and spent, with only a fragile wisp of life left within her. As Anna sat watching the occasional people still mounting and descending the wide stone steps leading to the temple, she mulled over her readings for the day, taken from the Torah of Micha. Micah 5:2* – “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past.” Anna revered the ancient history and the story of deliverance that God had wrought for her people. She believed the promises written on sacred scrolls by men of God who had heard God’s voice and had applied quill to parchment. For God had kept his word. He had taken the Israelite’s from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and He had brought them safely to a home land of their own; hadn’t Anna’s life in this land been a fulfillment of that promise? These very walls that Anna leaned against had been built, destroyed and rebuilt, each time with numerous men of God foretelling what would happen next. God’s promises had been fulfilled. Anna laid her head back, mumbling “Bethlehem, Bethlehem,” to herself, like the old are sometimes apt to do when some cloudy thought trails within their muddled heads, unravelling like yarn, knotted with age. It was true that her life hadn’t been easy. Only married for seven happy years, and then a widow for let’s see, Anna examined the worn flag stone entrance, polished smooth from the tread of countless sandals, while she counted in her head: 84 years, yes, 84 years she had spent living in the temple. Married instead to God, her Lord, at least that’s how Anna liked to think of it. Never leaving the temple complex, Anna had found a quiet joy and fulfillment in praying, fasting and listening. For God still spoke; of that, Anna was certain. Anna’s thoughts trailed on; this time to the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah, had lived around the time of Micha, almost 800 years hence, and he had echoed Micha’s words telling of a child who would be born. Isaiah 9:6-7* – “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on His shoulders. These will be His royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Some might say 800 years was too long a time to wait for the fulfilment of a promise. For the past 400 years God had been silent. Not a word had He spoken through his prophets or Godly men. Yet, in Ann’s ancient heart, in the inner most chambers of her being God had indeed spoken of a Saviour who would come in the Royal lineage of King David, to reign, and to save his People, Israel. From the base of the steps Anna glimpsed, Simeon, weaving his way through the people to ascend haltingly, his left leg visibly paining him. Now and then he’d stop and view the remaining steps. “Back again, Simeon? And so soon,” Anna said, chuckling, “you’ll soon be residing at the temple like me, for didn’t you just leave less than half the hour hence?” Simeon, dear Simeon, what a good friend he was to Anna. Often running errands for her, making sure she didn’t go without, even though he himself was getting on in years. He, who had been so sick this past winter. She’d thought he was lost to her then. He stood before her now, panting through the thickness of his brown beard that fell to his chest. “Ah, yes Anna, it’s true, but I was still some measure from home before I felt the stirring to return. Why now, I am not sure, but here I am, for when God calls I listen.” Simeon’s lips curled upwards with a warm smile that Anna knew so well. His serene countenance glowed down at Anna, who with watery eyes, almost hidden between deep furrows of skin, nodded back. They were both familiar with the promptings of God. Once, many years ago now, Simeon had confided in Anna. He had assured her with the boundless expectation of youth that God had spoken to him, assuring him, Simeon; that he would not depart from this life without a glimpse of the promised Messiah. Anna had basked in Simeon’s secret with joy, knowing that the reaction of others would have been doubtful at best. Why was Simeon so special to think that after 800 years of waiting, God would fulfill an ancient promise, they would have certainly inquired? Simeon and Anna would have had no answers. But this one thing they both shared: they’d been looking, they’d been waiting, and they’d been expecting; 800 years or not. “Well, whatever the time of day, I’m always glad,”……Anna’s words trailed off as her countenance shifted from Simeon to a spot on the steps behind him. There below, a young couple climbed the steps, he with two turtle doves in a wicker cage clasping a shepherd’s crook in one hand, with the other hand resting on the small of her back. And her? a very young woman, not much more than a girl, with a baby cradled in both arms. Ah, said Anna, a firstborn son, and the young parents, here to present him to the Lord according to the Law of Moses. But Simeon wasn’t listening. He stood intently, watching. “Careful. Mary, mind your step,” the man said, passing Anna and Simeon. The young couple stepped into the shadows of the temple entrance. Simon turned his gaze back to Anna. A speechless look of wonder and expectancy glimmered across his face. Simon, turned into the temple and watched as the priest carried out the ancient familiar rituals passed down from Moses: the offering of two turtle doves, the dedication of the firstborn baby to the Lord. With the presentation before the lord complete the couple turned from the priest. Simeon was already striding purposefully towards them. “May I?” Simeon whispered, stretching his aged arms towards the woman. The mother glanced up at her husband who nodded his consent. Simeon took the bundle tenderly and laid the baby in the crook of his arm. Moving the rough hempen cloth aside he gazed into the watchful brown eyes of an eight-day-old baby. A wisp of dark hair curled on his forehead. The baby lie contently secure in his embrace. And in that moment, Simeon loved him, as pure and as completely as if this child had been born from his own body. Lifting his eyes and the baby heavenward, Simeon’s gravelly voice cut through the stillness: “Now dear God, Now, your servant can depart in peace for as you promised, I have seen the redeemer of Israel with my own eyes. He is your light of revelation for all peoples and the glory to your People, Israel.” The parents exchanged a glance of surprised wonder. As Simeon reluctantly handed the baby back he asked: “What is your name, dear woman?” “Mary, and this is my husband, Joseph. Simeon placed a hand on the shoulder of Joseph and the other he laid on Mary’s arm, then, drawing them into the circle of his presence he blessed them saying, “May the God of Israel; the God of heaven and earth be with you as you raise this little one, for he is no ordinary child. Your son, is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign to all those who are oppressed, and Mary, Simeon added, my dear Mary, your own soul will be pierced through with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Anna appeared, shuffling forward, calling to those in the temple, “come everyone, come,” she beckoned, “and see this child.” Anna strained forward to see the baby’s face. “What is his name,” she asked, tracing a gnarled finger across his soft baby cheek. “Jesus, Mary said, simply.” Then Ana lifted her shaky arms heavenward and cried aloud saying look upon this child, you people who have come to the temple this day, for God has intended that you meet with him here in the presence of this, his most holy child: his own son, Jesus. All those that gathered were amazed at her words, for she was respected by many, but it was Mary and Joseph who marvelled the most. As they turned to go, Simeon and Anna stood watching them. Anna suddenly jumped and calling after Joseph, she cried, “So your trade is a shepherd then, young man, and from where do you come? “No mother,” Joseph replied turning once more to smile at Anna. My trade is that of a carpenter, from Nazareth. Joseph continued on, taking just a few more steps before halting once more, as if, with an afterthought, he turned again to Anna saying: This staff was a gift from the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem, who came to greet our newborn son. Ah, yes, replied Anna, nodding and mumbling to herself, as her teary eyes glowed with a renewed flame of love. “Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem!”
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