Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dining at the King's Table

And from that time on, Mehibosheth ate regularly with David, as though he were one of his own sons. (2 Samuel 9:11b NLT

   Believers in Jesus Christ have been invited to dine at the King's table.  David said in Psalm 23, "You prepare a feast for me in the presence of enemies.  You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil" (Psalm 23:5 NLT).  

   Sometimes God piles our plate with the good things of life and we have to loosen our belts.  At other time we are faced with broccoli and spinach.  Times of adversity are difficult to swallow.  When this happens we need to go to the garden and talk to God like his son Jesus did. Jesus was handed a cup of suffering and it was so bitter that he wanted to hand it back, but in complete submission he said, "If it is possible take this cup from me; yet not as I will, but as you will."  (Matthew 26:39)

   Have you ever been maligned and falsely accused?  Of course you have.  All of us have suffered at the hands of the accuser.  When this happens, remember you are seated at the King's table.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God, your King.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Words are Powerful Tools

Don't let people waste time in endless speculation over myths and spiritual pedigrees.  For these things only cause arguments; they don't help people live a life of faith in God. (1 Timothy 1:4 NLT)

   Paul in his instructions to young Timothy urges the use of words that encourage true worship and avoid the distraction of meaningless speculations that lead to false teaching.  Words are the medium by which the good news of the gospel is spread.  We all know that communication tools can be easily abused.  It is imperative, therefore, that our words be grounded in Scripture, and filled with love.  Such words must sometimes be strong and corrective, but never belligerent or domineering.

   All believers are called to ministry.  Each person in the body of Christ has a different role, but we all have the same focus: Jesus the Savior of all is our only hope.  All of us have the responsibility to share this hope truthfully with the world around us.

   Paul urged Timothy to stay faithful, be strong and fearless, and to encourage people -- advice well worth our following.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The Watchful Eye

Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me."  (Matthew 26:38 NASB)

   During World War II our small town in Montgomery, Pennsylvania organized a self-defense watch station.  Volunteers manned the station 24/7.  Our task was to report the number of planes and direction of flight to headquarters.

   There are many Bible verses that instruct us to watch.  The Psalmist David said, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Psalm 141:3 NASB)  The Apostle Paul said, "Be on the alert (watch), stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:13 NASB)

   Watching requires diligence, determination, commitment, and faithfulness to duty.  Men in the military know what it means to slacken off on a watch.  A whole unit could be wiped out by the failure to stay awake while on watch.  We all have the responsibility to watch out for the souls of our fellow believers, neighbors, and friends.

Are you faithfully watching?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Joy Stealers

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  (James 1:2,3 NLT)

   Beware of joy stealers!  Who are these thieves that want to steal our joy, and how do we win the battle against them?  They can be identified as unfavorable circumstances, discouragement from what people around us say and do, the overwhelming obsession for stuff, and a paralyzing fear of worry.  What will it take for you to keep these thieves from robbing you of your joy?

   Dr. Warren Wiersbe describes in his commentary on Philippians four attitudes of mind that will help you maintain your joy in spite of circumstances, people, things, and worry.  These are: The Single Mind (Ch.1), The Submissive Mind ( Ch. 2), The Spiritual Mind (Ch. 3), and The Secure Mind (Ch. 4).  "Be Joyful" pp. 18-21

   Living the joyful life is possible only when you have Christ at the controls and submit your mind to him on a daily basis.

Thought for the Day: Joy is a by-product of our daily walk with Christ.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Job - a Man of Integrity

No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity. (Job 1:8)

   Integrity is not an inborn trait.  It takes time, effort, and discipline to develop a life of integrity.  Many factors are involved in building character.  Job didn't achieve integrity in a day.  God watched him for years before coming to the point where he could say, "Job is blameless in all that he does."

   The world doesn't seem to care about character, but God does.  As God looks down at my character, what does he see?  Does he see a compassionate heart?  An obedient heart?  A heart that cares only for self?  Nothing is hidden from the eyes of an all seeing God.

   Would God be able to say of you, "Now there's a person of integrity who is blameless in all that he does?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Workers Needed

Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest is so great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields." (Matthew 9:37-38 NLT)

   If Jesus were to place an advert in the Jerusalem Post it would look something like this: "Men and women wanted for difficult task.  You will be misunderstood, even by those working with you.  You will face constant attacks from an invisible enemy.  You will be maligned by the media, accused of being an extremist, labeled as a fundamentalist, and shunned by your fellowman.  You may not see the results of your labor, and little recognition can be expected.  It may cost you your home, family, ambitions, even your life.  Faint in heart need not apply."

   How many from today's Christian community would apply?  Would there be a long line waiting to crash the doors once they were opened?  I'm afraid the applicants would be few and far between.  What has happened to the missionary fervor that existed a century ago?  Where are those who are willing to sacrifice and suffer hardships for the sake of the gospel.  Has the church turned inward and become soft?  Are our youth no longer being challenged and trained to serve?  Have we abandoned the "great commission?"

   The harvest fields are still white and opportunities abound for meaningful service.  Many missionaries are nearing retirement age, and replacements are needed to carry on the work.  Let's all pray that the Lord of the harvest will raise up the necessary applicants to reap the harvest before it all spoils.

Thought for the Day: Helpers are needed and only God can raise them up.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jesus is MIssing

Then after three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.  (Luke 2:46)

   Have you seen Jesus?  Mary and Joseph went from group to group in the caravan looking for their son.  He was nowhere to be found.  They went to a group of children thinking he might be playing with them and asked, "Have you seen Jesus?"  They replied, "No."  They became frantic with worry.  Where could he be?  After searching for three days, they found him sitting in the temple listening and talking to the teachers.

   The world today is looking for a savior.  Unfortunately they are all looking in the wrong places.  He can't be found in the market place, the media, the world of leisure, on the internet, or in Hollywood.  The only place you can find Jesus is in the Word of God.

   Are you looking for a savior?  Go to John 3:16.  You will find Jesus there offering himself as a sacrifice for your sin.  The free gift of salvation is waiting for you.  Grab it while you can!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Light in a Time of Darkness

For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping.  So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.  (Psalm 56:13 NLT)

   When I was a boy living in an old two-story farmhouse, the nighttime darkness was a scary thing.  No electricity.  No street lights.  Only a small candle to light the way.  A trip to the outhouse after dark was a fearful adventure.  Shadows from the candle danced like living beings.  Sounds in the night were magnified, and I made it a point not to venture outside.

   Have you ever faced that kind of darkness?  A child is deathly sick, a loved one is dying of cancer, severe back pain has distorted your body, you're facing foreclosure, or your job has been terminated.  Darkness overwhelms you and all hope seems lost.  Where do you turn?  What do you do when you don't know what to do?

   Jesus came into the world to light the way for mankind.  John tells us in chapter three that, "the light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light because they wanted to sin in the darkness.  But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants."  (vv 19 and 21 NLT)

   Have you come to the light?  If not, turn to Jesus today and ask him to shine his light of salvation in your life today?


Friday, November 18, 2011

Jail Break

But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out.  Then he told them, "Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life."  (Acts 5:19-20)

   The sirens wailed and red lights flashed on and off as the a loudspeaker squealed Jail Break.  Guards rushed to and fro shouting, "Where are the prisoners?"  This scenario could easily fit into the passage recorded in Acts 5:19-20 as stated above.

   This passage reminds me of my first experience in a jail -- not as a prisoner, but as a servant.  I was part of team that went once a month to share the gospel with prisoners at the jail in Belleville, Illinois.  We took a portable organ to each cell block and held a worship time with the prisoners.  I had the privilege of witnessing to an alleged murderer in a maximum security cell.  It was a scary but awesome experience.

   Did you know that God is still in the Jail Break ministry?  The Bible tells us that Satan has blinded the minds of those that do not believe, but Jesus died to set them free from the bondage of sin.  Now that's a glorious Jail Break, wouldn't you  agree?

 You can be set free from the shackles of sin by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Thought for the Day: Jail Breaks are a-okay when God is the liberator.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Words of Affirmation

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to respond to each person.  (Colossians 4:6 NASB)

   Affirmation in the form of encouraging words inspires me to help build the esteem of my fellow man.  Each day I have the opportunity to use words that bring joy or sorrow, comfort or pain, victory or defeat.  I must as ask myself, "Will my words build up or tear down the person who hears them."

   The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Philippi to "agree with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose."  (Philippians 2:2 NLT).  This can only be accomplished by offering inspiring words to affirm and build up the family of God.

   The next time you meet someone on the street, in the super market, at the gas station, or in the workplace why not speak to them a word of encouragement.  God will use your words to enlighten their day.
It takes more muscle effort to frown than it does to smile.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

In the Waiting Room

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

   The gnawing pain persisted as we waited patiently in the emergency room for the doctor to appear.  Time seemed to be suspended as the minutes slowly ticked away.  Finally after several hours, my name was called.

   Waiting on God to keep his promises can be a painful and exhausting experience.  Abraham waited until he was 99 years old before realizing God's promise of a son.  Joseph spent 13 years in prison before being elevated to prime minister of Egypt.  Mary waited 9 months before the promised Messiah could be born.

   Have you ever been in God's waiting room?  Weighed down with trials and circumstances, you cry out to God for help.  Now you are in the waiting room hoping for a positive response.  How did you react while in the waiting room?  Did you become anxious, lose hope, or question God's love, care, and concern?

   Waiting may be unpleasant and painful, but is a necessary step in the development of our faith.

Thought for the Day: God's promises will never be broken and waiting is just part of the tests of faith.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Carried in the Arms of God

Praise the LORD; praise God our Savior!  For each day he carries me in his arms. (Psalm 68:19)

   The young teenager dove into the shallow pool striking her head on the bottom and fracturing her spinal cord.  Instantly she went from living a normal lifestyle to being a guadriplegic.  The rest of her life would be spent in a wheelchair.  Similar tragic accidents, genetic birth defects, Dementia and Alzheimer's leave individuals incapacitated.  Some of them are terminal.  How are they able to deal with these kind of life threatening maladies?

   David faced what seemed like insurmountable obstacles in his pursuit of kingship; yet he was able to praise the Lord because he knew that God carried him in His arms.  It takes a strong faith and assurance to be able to carry on when tragedy overtakes us.

   If you are facing some tragedy and overcome with grief remember, like David, that you are safely being carried in the arms of God.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm All In

Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you, for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.  (Ruth 1:16 ASV)

   While reading the first chapter in the book of Ruth, the Lord addressed a need in my life.

   As stated in verse 16, Ruth made a momentous life changing decision to cast her lot with Naomi and the people of Israel.  She declared her allegiance with the God of Israel.  In essence Ruth is saying, "I'm all in!"  Her decision was a total commitment.

   As I meditated on this passage, the Lord seemed to be asking me, Bob, are you ALL IN -- will you give everything to me?  Will you trust me to lead?  Are you willing to step up to the plate, or are you going to sit back in the stands and remain a spectator?

   Perhaps the Lord is asking you the same question.  Are you willing to cast your lot with the Lord and say, "I'm all in?"

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God Has My Vote

Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, "How long are you going to waiver between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow him~  But if Baal is God, then follow him!"  But the people were completely silent.  (1 Kings 18:21)

   We are approaching another general election on November 6, 2012.  Citizens will have the opportunity to go to the polls and make a choice.  In 2008 sixty-four percent of the populace turned out to vote.  What will take place in 2012?

   During Elijah's reign as prophet in Israel, God decided it was time for the people to make a choice.  The Almighty was not willing to accept the role of default deity.  No false god or idol dare take his rightful place.  Elijah asked them, "How long will you waiver between two opinions?"

   You and I are faced with the same choice every day of our lives.  Just as in the case of the Israelites, God has given us adequate proof of his right to rule our lives.  Each day we must choose to affirm his leadership.

   What choice will you make today?  How will you vote?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn Leaves

Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice (1 Kings 11:9 NASB).

   Autumn leaves don't turn red, orange, yellow or rust all at once.  The leaves at the top of the tree turn first and slowly work their way down to the bottom.

   In the latter years of King Solomon's life, he began to lose his appetite for the things of God.  His life spiraled downward as he neglected spiritual disciplines.  The influence of ungodly wives and their false gods ultimately took its toll on his relationship with God.

   When our lives begin to unravel we must ask, "What negative influences are we allowing that shuts off the operation of the Holy Spirit?"  Failing to remain diligent weakens our resolve and leaves us susceptible to the godless activities around us.

   But that isn't what we want, is it?  Our intimacy with our heavenly Father is vital.  Staying connected to the vine is imperative if we want to be fruitful in our service to the Savior.

Thought for the Day: God supplies all the nourishment we need in his Word.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Simon Says

Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are his dear children...(Ephesians 5:1 NLT).

  While I was a kid we loved to play the game "Simon Says."  Our leader gave commands prefaced by the words Simon Says and we responded.  If we didn't hear Simon Says, we were to stand still.  Anyone moving without hearing Simon Says would be disqualified and had to drop out of the game.  Simon was in control of the game.  In the same way, Jesus is our Simon who is in control of the game we call life.

   All believers are part of the game called Jesus Says.  He expects us to follow his commands without hesitation.  If Jesus says, "Be kind," (Eph. 4:32), we are to respond with kindness.  If Jesus says, "Be forgiving," we are to forgive seventy times seven (Matt. 18:22).  Many other such commands can be found in the Scriptures. Failing to comply when Jesus says can lead to disqualification.  The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, "I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

   I urge each of you to listen for the voice of Jesus Says and then follow the directions that he gives.  He is our leader and won't give us any command that is not wise and good.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Unchangeable God

I am the LORD, and I do not change.  That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already completely destroyed.  (Malachi 3:6 NLT)

   It never ceases to amaze me how simple things tickle the fancy of small children.  The mere mention of the words playground, swings, merry-go-round, and sliding board bring shouts of glee.  Little hands tug on my leg saying, "Please daddy, can we go now?"  

   Then as the years go by and the playground idea wears off new words come into view.  Vacations are planned around words like camping, swimming, fishing, backpacking, and traveling.

   How many times have my wife and I made plans only to change our minds?  Brochures are received, videos watched, and plans made.  Then reality sets in and the exotic plans are shelved or put on hold.

   I'm so glad that my Heavenly Father is not like I am.  He is unchangeable.  His character never wavers in spite of my misgivings and questions.  I can count on his providential care to determine what is right, true, and in my best interest.  Most of all his promises never fail.

   Thought for the Day: Put your trust in a God who never changes.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Working Outside the Box

"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus....." (Ezra 1:1a)

   We are not surprised when we witness God using believers to accomplish a divine task.  In fact, we rejoice with them and praise the Lord together.  A much different reaction occurs when we learn that God has used a person who appears to be outside the mainstream of Christianity.  Can God use someone who is purely secular, an unbelieving friend, or even a pagan ruler to fulfill his plans?  Would he use someone who was his enemy?  What do the Scriptures reveal about God "working outside the box?"

   Jesus worked outside the box when he chose the disciples.  Among his choices was Matthew (a hated tax collector), Simon the Zealot (who was noted for stirring up trouble with Rome), and Judas Iscariot (who was an unbeliever and traitor).  He also chose Simon Peter who has a bad case of "foot in the mouth disease".

   Since God is Sovereign, he has the right to work through whatever means available.  On one occasion Jesus said, "If they (followers) keep quiet, the stones along the road will cry out." (Luke 19:40 NLT)  This proves that nothing is outside God's power to control.

   It behooves us as believers to "think outside the box."  We are so prone to operate through sacred rituals, formats, schedules, programs, and traditions.  The Lord is not restricted to our set way of doing things, and loves to accomplish his purpose by working outside the box.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Promises Made and Kept

For what does the Scripture say?  Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness... and being fully assured that what God has promised, He was able also to perform.  (Romans 4:3 and 21 NASB)

   Have you ever had a promise made to you and then broken?  Was that a "yes" answer?  I'm sure this has happened to most of us.  Now for the tough love question:  Have you ever made a promise to someone else and failed to keep it?  Was that a weak "yes" that I heard?  I have to confess that I am guilty as charged.  Fortunately, I was able to make amends and the relationship was not severed, but that isn't always the case.

   Promises should not be made hastily or without full intent to keep them.  God has a way of testing our resolve. He tested Abraham's faith in his promise by time ( he had to wait 13 years), by obedience (take your only son Isaac whom you love and offer him on Mt. Moriah as a sacrifice to Me, and by love (whom do you love the most).

   Keeping the promises we make are a signature of our character before God.  Let me encourage you to be a promise keeper! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I B I J?

For we speak as messengers who have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News.  
(1 Thessalonians 2:4 NLT)

   When I first saw the letters IBIJ I thought: What in the world could that mean?  The letters looked like hieroglyphics to me.  Then someone said, "That's a text message."  Yes, but what does it say?  It stands for I believe in Jesus, they replied.

   I've never done any text messaging, but I'll have to admit that I can see the value of text messaging to reach people with the Good News.  Texting can be used of the Lord to encourage others.  A simple abbreviated phrase like GLU can bring joy and a smile to a needy heart.  Texting is a non-threatening way to send a word of hope.

   Have you ever tried to encourage someone through a text message?  Or are you like me who has never used this medium of communication?  I am willing to acknowledge the value while understanding the limitations.  Can it be used of the Lord?  Can it be abused?  The answer to both questions is -- Yes!

   Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and send a message of hope to someone that encourages and honors the Lord.  

Thought for the Day: God used a text message when he said, L1A.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Heavenly Silence

O Lord, you are my rock of safety.  Please help me; don't refuse to answer me.  For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.  (Psalm 28:1 NLT)

   There is an ancient proverb that says, Silence is golden, meaning saying nothing is preferable to speaking."  I know my mother spoke those words to me when I was a youngster, and I'm sure I spoke them to my children.

   Have you ever felt as if God were saying to you, silence is golden?  How many times have you bombarded heaven with loud cries for help and found your prayers bouncing back as if the walls and ceiling were ten feet thick?  Certainly David felt this way as he cried out to God in Psalm 28.  No answer came to his cries.  He was left with only his faith to sustain him.

   I wonder what the saints and angels in heaven thought "when the lamb broke the seventh seal, and there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour."  (Revelation 8:1)

   Can you begin to imagine silence in heaven?  I can'ts.  Total silence is unthinkable!  No angel choir singing, worthy is the lamb."  No "Holy, Holy, Holy" is heard from the four living creatures.  No worship from the twenty-four elders.  TOTAL SILENCE!

   Why did God do this?  Why the silence?  May I suggest that God quieted heaven so that he could concentrate upon hearing what you and I have to say.  He doesn't want to miss a single word of our prayers and praise.  Keep on praying and praising the Lord.  Never stop!