Thursday, September 27, 2012

Praying in Strange Places

   Have you every thought of some of the strange places where you've had the opportunity to pray?

   My most meaningful prayer took place while kneeling on the steel deck of a ship back in November 1953.  That's when I received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  Since that time I have had the privilege to pray in a number of strange places.

   One time I ran into a friend at a Walmart store.  He shared with me some of the difficulties he was facing with his family and right there in the middle of busy Walmart I put my arm around him and we prayed together.   Another time I was shopping in the Value City furniture store at Mid-Rivers and the saleslady shared how her husband had deserted her.  We stopped in the aisle and I prayed for her.

   The latest occurrence took place at the Home Depot store in O'Fallon.  My handicapped grandson (who can't speak) and I were getting some paint supplies.  Mr. Jim, the paint man, saw the tractor picture on Jonathan's T-shirt and pulled out a couple pictures of his own tractor to show him.   As we were about to leave the store, Mr. Jim came over and asked, "Would you mind if I said a prayer for Jonathan?"  We stopped and Mr. Jim put his hand on Jonathan's shoulder and asked God to bless him.

    You never know when or where God will open the door of opportunity to pray for someone in need  Be prepared -- it may happen in a very strange place.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sharing Christ

It is more blessed to give than to receive -- Acts 20:35

   One of the gifts of the Spirit is the ministry of helps.  God has a special blessing for those who go out of their way to help others.  It doesn't have to be dramatic or eye-catching.  Nobody need to see you do it.  Sharing Christ by giving used clothing, furniture, or foodstuffs to the poor is a blessing to others.  No big splash.  No headlines.  No picture in the paper.  No recognition.  No appearance on TV.  Just sharing Christ in a humble, non-descript manner honors the Lord. You receive the joy and blessing of giving, and the recipients receive much needed help.

   What can you do to bring joy into another person's life?  Maybe it's bringing a can of food to a food pantry, or visiting someone in a nursing home or hospital.  No matter what you do God will bless you as you bless others.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Set Apart

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself.  I promised you as a pure bride to one husband -- Christ.  (2 Corinthians 11:2 NLT)

  A favorite pastime at my home in Colorado was to sit on the deck and watch the clouds slowly drift across the mountains.  One day a male mule deer came down the hill to a bush at the corner of my driveway.  I watched him shake the bush with his antlers and then lift his leg and make his mark.  He was staking his claim and saying to all other male deer, "Stay clear, this is my territory."

   Sixty years ago I staked my claim on Elaine Almgren by putting a ring on her finger.  That ring said to all other males, hands off, this person is set apart solely for me.  Do you know that God does the same to all who come to him by faith?  Pay close attention to what God says in Romans 1:1, "Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."  Did you see those words set apart?  God wants you and me for himself.  He has claimed us as his very own children.

   What God wants more than anything else is a love relationship with his children.  That's why he had set us apart and given us to his son, Jesus Christ, for a bride.  Are you one of his set apart ones?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Separation is Painful

When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.  (John 14:3)

   One of the most agonizing and painful experiences in a person's life is separation.  

   When I was a kid growing up I had a cocker spaniel named Captain Midnight.  She was my closest companion and best friend.  She cried when I left for school, and licked me to death when I came home.  One day when I came home Captain Midnight was no where to be found.  I searched and called throughout the neighborhood, but no one had seen her.  I was devastated.  I felt as if my little world had suddenly been turned upside down.  Who would play with me now?

   This must have been how Jesus' disciples felt as they watched him ascend up to heaven on the Day of Pentecost.  How would they survive without him?  Who would meet their needs now?  Did they, like many people, feel abandoned, hopeless, forlorn, and lonely without his presence?  I believe they felt must like I did at the loss of my best friend.

   Separation from the ones you love won't eliminate the longing for their presence, but that emptiness can be filled with God's promise that one day you will be reunited with them for all eternity.  In the meantime, let's get on about the business of living and serving.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Self Dies Hard

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, evil desire, and greed which amounts to idolatry.  (Colossians 3:5 NASB)

   Whenever a person comes to Jesus Christ and receives forgiveness of sins, he is given a new heart (Ezek. 36:26,27), a new spirit (John 3:3-6), and a new supernatural will power (Matt. 22:37).  The one area that is left unregenerated is the body -- the flesh.

   Satan cannot touch our new heart and spirit because that is where God resides, but he sure can play havoc with the flesh.  When problems arise, our minds shift into a processing mode.  As long as I process and face my sins honestly, all goes well, but if I suppress and shove them down into the subconscious mind (thinking no one sees, no one knows), they are easy targets for Satan's ploys.

   You and I have the option to either make faith choices (Godly decisions) or emotional choices (Self decisions).  Emotional choices lead us into sin and are used by Satan to defeat us; whereas faith choices lead us into the paths of righteousness.

   What kind of choices will you make today?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Secret Places

Then he said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images?"  For they say, "The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land."  (Ezekiel 8:12 NASB)

  The hidden chambers of Solomon's temple were designed to hold the articles of worship and the temple treasures; instead they held the idolatrous articles of the priests.  They thought no one will see, no one will know, ignoring the all seeing eye of God.

   We also have hidden chambers that are filled with unresolved hurts, doubts, animosities, and fears.  We shove them down into the subconscious and pretend they don't exist.  Countless numbers of people including believers are burdened down with spiritual garbage.  Satan can't get to the new spirit or heart, but he can concentrate on digging up unresolved issues that reside in the subconscious part of man.  How do we deal with all the spiritual garbage that plagues our soul?

   A good old fashioned spiritual housecleaning would be a first step.  David knew this when he said, "Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin...purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean..."  (Psalm 51:2,3)   Spiritual housecleaning takes place when we honestly confess our sins to God, receive his forgiveness, and fill the void with the word of God.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Secondhand Truth

Pilate said, "So you are a king?"  Jesus responded, "You say I am a king.  Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth.  All who love truth recognizes that what I say is true."  John 18:37 NLT

   On my book shelves are many books written by world renown writers, but they are merely secondhand truth.  They contain facts not originating with the writer and opinions that are flawed by human reasoning.  The only way to get firsthand truth is to go to the originating source.  The bible is the only book that contains truth from an original source -- God.

   When Jesus was arrested and taken before Pilate, he tried to explain that he was the embodiment of truth, but Pilate didn't get it.  People today still don't get it.  Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"  Isn't it strange that all the while Pilate was asking this question that the TRUTH was standing before him?  In an earlier exchange with his disciples Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

   Instead of relying on secondhand truth from books, newspapers, TV, or radio, why not go to the originator of truth and check it out in his source book -- the Bible.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bullying Tactics

But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”  (Matthew 12:2 NASB)
            Outside my living room window are two birdfeeders.  One is filled with sweetened red liquid for hummingbirds, and the other with seeds for song birds. 
            I love to watch the various birds coming to the two feeders.  Over the course of time, I have noticed some aggressive behavior at the hummingbird feeder.  There is one hummingbird that loves to sit in a nearby tree and dive at the others when they come to get a drink.  His bullying tactics cause these little creatures to tear away at lightning speeds only to return and try again.  The same thing occurs with the other birds.  There always seems to be one bird that wants it all for himself.  The larger birds force away the smaller ones and a virtual battle takes place for the right to eat from the feeder. 
            We see this same scenario played out in society over the years.  Since the beginning of time angelic and human beings have set upon a course to rule over others by forceful (bullying) methods to gain supremacy.  It began with Lucifer (a created angelic being) who one day decided to force his will upon the entire angelic realm and take over the throne from the great Creator God.  His bullying tactics went for naught as God Almighty subdued and cast him and his army out of heaven.  (Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-15) 
            The Old and New Testaments are filled with accounts of men and women who have attempted to follow in Satan’s footsteps.  History reveals that individual men and governments have been successful in “bullying” their way over others, but there is always someone standing in the wings ready to subdue them and take over at the slightest sign of weakness. 
            Jesus came into this world to offer an alternative solution to the problem of sin, aggression, and violence, but he was rejected.  The Pharisees made every attempt to bully him and his followers into adhering to their traditions and interpretation of the law, but were unsuccessful.  They finally managed to have Jesus crucified, but even that was a part of his plan of redemption.
            Believers today who desire to walk according to Jesus’ teachings are harassed and bullied to remain silent about their faith.  Threats, intimidation, false accusations, mis-leading statements, and outright slander are some of the bullying tactics used by those who want to suppress the freedom of religion. 
            We must ask ourselves – where and to whom do we owe our allegiance?  Is it to man or God?  It all boils down to who is the “object of our affections?”  God is calling upon us to take a stand for righteousness.  Are you and I willing to make the necessary sacrifices to remain true and loyal to Him?