Friday, May 30, 2014

Compelled to Share Christ

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:27-38
Seeing the people, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36 NASB)
Have you ever struggled with the fear of rejection?
     A number of years ago I was engaged in door-to-door evangelism. It was my worst nightmare. I was so overcome with the fear of rejection that I had to literally force myself to knock on the door. On more than one occasion I had the door slammed in my face which multiplied the fear. I told the Lord, “I’m not cut out for this,” but the Lord seemed to say, “I will be with you.” What a struggle! The verse in Proverbs 29:25 could easily be applied to my situation, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.” (NKJ) I was guilty of the fear of man, and failed to apply faith.
     How can we overcome this fear of rejection? There are several options that we can choose from: (1) abide in Christ and let his words abide in you (John 15:5), (2) memorize appropriate Scripture verses to use when witnessing, (3) write out your testimony on how you came to know Christ to share with those you meet, (4) ask God to give you the same compelling compassion that was exhibited by his Son, Jesus Christ.
     There are a number of compelling reasons why I should share Christ with others: First, I am compelled to reach people for Christ because they are lost and without hope, Second, I am compelled to share Christ because hell is a real place and multitudes are going there. Third, I am compelled to share Christ because of what he did in changing my life, Fourth, I am compelled to share Christ because he paid the ultimate price for my redemption.
     Do you feel compelled to share Christ? What can you do? Here are a few suggestions: Invite neighbors to share a dinner in your home. Let them see Christ in you. Start a backyard Bible club in your neighborhood and share Christ with the children. When you eat out in a restaurant, leave a nice tip inside a gospel tract. Volunteer your time at a local thrift shop. Help with Meals on Wheels at a local senior citizens center. Offer to watch a neighbor’s pets while they go on vacation. Send cards of hope and encouragement to seniors and handicapped people.
     In order to overcome rejection, we all need to persevere and share Christ as the Holy Spirit gives opportunity.  The Apostle Paul encourages us by saying, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (NKJ)
Prayer: Dear Lord, with your help I can overcome the fear of rejection by putting into practice the compassion that Jesus Christ showed to those he met. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet-Savor Offerings

Scripture Reading: Leviticus 6:1-7
Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt. (Lev. 6:6-7 NLT)
My wife makes a savory dish called Sweet and Sour meatballs. It is a combination of meatballs, pineapple chunks, and Sweet and Sour sauce over rice. A little Kikkoman Soy Sauce adds to the flavor.
     The Israelites received instructions for sweet-savor offerings and non-sweet-savor offerings. The two non-sweet-savor offerings were required when sin had broken their fellowship with God. The guilt offering paved the way for restoration from the sins of touching an unclean object, making a foolish vow, cheating or fraud, while the trespass offering caused sins of injury to God and others to be forgiven.
     What do a dented fender, cracked windshield, and a white spot on your favorite pair of dark pants have in common? (Hint: they nothing to do with your spouse!) Give up? All three act as reminders of less than favorable experiences: the yellow steel pole in Wal-Mart’s parking lot that ran into your car, the rock the truck slung at your windshield. And the Clorox that splashed onto your pants.
     God has given each of us unpleasant memories to remind us of our sinfulness. None of them are a sweet fragrance to God because sin is never sweet to him. Sin requires repentance, forgiveness, and restitution. In response to confession God says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12 NASB).
     Have you given God a non-sweet-savor offering lately? He is always ready to listen to our complaints, forgive us our sins, and restore the joy of our salvation.
Prayer: Dear Lord I want to sent you a sweet-savor offering of praise for all the wonderful blessings that you shower on me and my family. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living in Anticipation of His Return

Scripture Reading: John 7:25-39
When everything is ready, I will come and get you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly.” (John 14:3 NLT)
Dad, are we there yet? How I dreaded hearing those words over and over again from the back seat of the car as we drove along the highway leading to Niagara Falls. How do you explain time and distance to a small four year old child? My normal response was, “It’s only a little farther, Mike.” I found the usual clichés don’t seem to work with children. They might satisfy for a few moments, bit then I would hear it all over again, “Dad, how much longer?” “When will we get there?”
     I believe Jesus had the same problem with his disciples. On more than one occasion Jesus told his disciples that he was going back to the father, but his words fell on deaf ears. In John 7:33 Jesus said, “I will be here a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me.” And in John 16:5 He said, “But now I am going to the one who sent me, and none of you has asked me where I am going.” (NLT) What do you think was going through the disciples minds? Were they wondering what he meant? Were they confused, skeptical, doubting, discomfited, or in denial? I have no doubt the same kind of questions that were going through the minds of my children in the back seat of the car were flooding their minds. When will this happen? Can we go with you? How long will you be gone? When will you return? What will be the signs of your return?
     How many times in my life have I been in denial? Denial is an escape mechanism that we often use to avoid having to face the truth of our sin. I remember witnessing to a fellow sailor who kept telling me that he had never sinned or done anything wrong. How do you deal with a person who denies he is a sinner? Finally, I said to him, “That’s so sad, I really feel sorry for you.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Because the Bible says in Romans 5:8 that Christ died for sinners, and if you aren’t a sinner then he didn’t die for you and you can’t go to heaven.” He thought for a moment and then said, “Well, maybe I did do some bad things.” You see, he was only using denial as a means of escaping the truth.
     Jesus said, “I am going away, but I will return.” Do I really believe that promise, or am I living in a state of denial? If I truly believe, then I will be living in anticipation of his return. Every day when I wake up the question will be on my lips, “Will it be today, Lord?”
     Are you patiently waiting in anticipation of the Lord’s return? Jesus said, “Occupy till I come,” We need to be busy serving him while we are waiting.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me live in the expectancy of the soon return of the Savior. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Conflict Strategies

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:1-23
I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. (Ph 4:2 NIV)
Conflicts between individuals are inevitable!
     A conflict occurs when two or more people disagree on a given subject. Parents and children are often in conflict over use of time, choice of friends, school reports, test scores, and social activities.   Missionaries find themselves in conflicting situations over priorities, work ethics, and job assignments. Pastors and lay people suffer conflicts over choice of music, worship formats, and use of finances.
     How can we manage disagreement in a way that enhances relationships rather than severing them? The Website: Missions Mobilizer suggests five strategies that are worth considering.
·       Collaborating—I win—you win.
This strategy employs teamwork and cooperation to solve differences. One drawback is the time involved in achieving the goals.
·       Compromising—You bend—I bend.
This strategy is based upon the theory that you win a little, while losing a little. Each person bends to achieve a common goal, while holding on to his/her original position.
·       Accommodating—I lose—you win.
With this strategy, one person sees the common purpose as more important than the conflict. He/she protects the relationship by downplaying the conflict.
·       Competing—I win—you lose.
This strategy forces the issue of rightness. Power is used to gain one’s goal.
·       Avoiding—No winners—no losers.
Avoid the conflict by withdrawing, sidestepping, or postponing.
     Christian confrontation should always stress the truth—but in love. Practice using the I word, instead of the accusatory you word. Avoid sayimg, “You are at fault!”
     Obviously, the most successful resolutions to conflicts are those when the two or more parties are in earnest about bringing a solution that will be honoring to God, and promotes the welfare of all parties involved.
     Let’s put into practice the words of the Apostle Paul, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.” (2 Cor. 5:14 NASB)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me put into practice the compelling love of Christ.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Comforting Others

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.                 (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT)
The older we get the more comforts we desire. When we were younger we enjoyed camping, sleeping on an air mattress, eating burnt bacon and eggs over an open pit fire, and pulling a tarp over us when it rained. We laughed through it all. But now we want a nice motel, with elevators, a comfortable king size bed, a color TV, hot showers, and a full size breakfast. Oh, where has the pioneer spirit gone?
     In the Scriptures, God presents a different perspective on comfort. His emphasis is not on plush surroundings and creature comforts. His comfort is in the spiritual realm rather than the physical. Human comfort often comes with a hug, holding of hands, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness. God never promises to remove all difficulties, pain, and suffering, but he does promise to stand with us in our hours of trial.
     It is never easy or pleasant to stand by a hospital bed and watch a person die. My son’s wife was in a comatose state and there was nothing we could say or do to help her. I remember feeling so helpless. The only comfort I could give my son was to stand beside him with my arm around him and let me know that I was “there” for him. In times like that there are no comforting words that could be spoken. Uttering time worn clichés would only deepen the pain he was suffering.
     Moses said in Deuteronomy 33:26,27, “There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.” (NLT)
     God promises to be your refuge and help. As you embrace him—he embraces you. What a wonderful mutual promise. Have you felt his loving arms around you? As an act of worship, you might want to thank him for his divine comfort.
     Look for an opportunity to offer comfort to someone today, give them a hug, offer to pray with them, or offer a word of comfort. They will be blessed of God and so will you.
Payer: Dear Lord, you are the God of all comfort and you have given us the responsibility of passing your divine comfort on to others in need. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Come and See

Scripture Reading: John 1:35-51
Then John’s two disciples turned and followed Jesus. Jesus looked around and saw them following, “What do you want?” he asked them. (John 1:37-38 NLT)
The question that Jesus asked the two disciples of John who were following him was almost identical to the question that he asked the blind beggar along the road to Jericho, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41) As he turned to the ones following him he asked, “What do you want?” (Jn. 1:37-38)
     When I come to the Lord, whether in prayer or reading of his word, I need to ask myself the same question, “What am I seeking?” Am I coming to him seeking material or spiritual blessings? What is my greatest need today? Is it greater knowledge, fellowship, understanding, assurance, or forgiveness? What is motivating me to approach his throne?
     What did the disciples who followed Jesus want from him? What were they seeking? Jesus obviously wanted to know what was on their hearts. That’s why he asked the question, “What do you want?”
     The disciples asked, “Where are you staying?” A time may come when we’ll really need you and we want to know how to get in touch with you. Do you have a 911 emergency number? Are you available 24/7, or do we need to take a number and wait in line? They needed to know whether Jesus would make himself accessible in time of need.
     Jesus responded by saying, “Come and see!” The invitation is given for John and Andrew to become partakers of his life’s work. The same invitation comes to you and me to join his team of harvest workers. Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send out more workers for his fields.” (Mt. 9:37,38 NLT)
     There is a greater need for more workers today than ever before. Many missionaries are serving well beyond their retirement years and the work isn’t getting any easier. We need young people who will commit their lives to Christ, and older people who are willing to mentor them. The lure for the almighty dollar is a tremendous detriment to the work of missions today. The culture shouts that making lots of money is the road to happiness, but is that the purpose for which God has created us?
     What are you seeking? Is it to be a harvest worker? Are you willing to give up the luxuries of this life to follow the Savior? Will you give Jesus your time, energy, and abilities to meet the needs of the worldwide harvest? Jesus is still saying to you, “Come and see!”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sharing Christ With Others

Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:27-38
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36 NASB)
Have you ever struggled to turn a conversation to spiritual things? I look upon every meeting as though it were an appointment set up by God. To me, the easiest way to connect with people is to get them on the subject of travel. Here’s an example:
     I met a friend at Walmart and he said, “I’m bushed. I just spent a week at an International Conference in North Carolina.” I responded, “I know what you mean. I just came back from prison.” His questioning look gave me the opportunity to tell him about our mission trip to Angola State prison in Zachary, La. Of course, there was more to the conversation, but you get the idea. If you have done Christian service assignments there is always an opportunity to share your spiritual service with others. Just get the ball rolling and let the Holy Spirit direct the conversation and you’ll be amazed how doors open to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     The biggest hurdle that I have found in sharing Christ is the fear of rejection. What if someone shuts the door in your face? What if they totally reject what you are saying? Be polite! Thank them for allowing you to bring up the subject of Christ. Do not be discouraged. The Holy Spirit knows when a person is ready to listen to the gospel. Trust in his timing. Try to end the conversation on an amiable note. There may be other times and opportunities down the road to speak to that person again.
     Jesus used lots of different ways to get the attention of people. On the seashore he sat in a boat and taught them about his relationship to God. On a hillside he proved who he was by using the multiplication five loaves and two sardines. At a gravesite he used life giving powers. At a wedding he used six water pots of water. On the road to Emmaus he used the Old Testament Scriptures. In the Temple he used a whip. On one occasion he put a coin in a fish’s mouth, and on another occasion the hem of his garment got a woman’s attention. He even used a sycamore tree to get Zaccheus’s attention. In the final analysis, what do all these different ways and means tell us? Simply this, there is no one set method of sharing Christ with others.
     Whenever you go out into your mission field, ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your thoughts and conversations with those you meet. Every person you encounter is an appointment waiting to happen. Be prepared to give a reason to every man for your faith in Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be like the Apostle Paul who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Rom. 1:16a)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rainbows in Your Life

Scripture Reading: Genesis 7:1-17
I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my permanent promise to you and all the earth. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on the earth. (Gen. 9:13,16 NLT)
Children delight in rainbows. Nothing delights a child, and parents, more than to see the beautiful colors of a rainbow in the clouds. My children always loved to take their crayons and water colors and paint rainbows. To see a double rainbow is a special treat.
     One summer as we approached the city of Frisco, Colorado on our way home from vacation in the Rockies, the boys in the back seat shouted, “Dad, pull over and look at that beautiful rainbow.” Sure enough, there was the arch of a colorful rainbow. We could see both ends of the arch, and I recalled the words of my mother who always said, “Bob, there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.” We looked on with amazement as one end of the arch settled right on top of the Pizza Hut restaurant. To my boys the “pot of gold” was a pepperoni and cheese pizza. Let’s go get that pot of gold the boys cried. To my way of thinking this was a providential happenchance, but in the boys’ minds this was definitely a God thing.
     Sometimes we see God’s providential love and care expressed in other ways. On one occasion while attending Bible College in St. Louis our family food pantry consisted of one can of baby lima beans. The G.I. bill money had not arrived and I didn’t as yet have a job. Was God testing our faith? We took the matter to the Lord in prayer and that afternoon I ventured over to the school office and found an envelope in my mail box with a five dollar bill. We rejoiced in answered prayer.
     On another occasion I made a stupid subtraction mistake in my checkbook, but found that God had foreseen the problem and put a $500 dollar check in my account from the IRS. All those who trust in the Lord, and seek to honor his name will find that he providentially cares for their every need.
     Recently, we were preparing for a mission trip to Cameroon, WA and God supplied the needed financial funds through various means. One person walked up to me after church and handed me three one hundred dollar bills. Another person gave a donation of $500 for a baby sweater set that my wife had knitted. 
What rainbows are taking place in your life?  Where do you witness God’s faithfulness to you? Look for it in the small needs met just at the right time. God’s timing is always perfect.
Prayer: Dear Lord, you are so faithful to us. We lift our voices in praise to your holy name. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Clothed with Beauty

Clothed with Beauty
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25-34
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29 NASB)
I live in an over fifty-five senior community. We have a clubhouse activity center, swimming pool, and beautiful lake (great for fishing and paddle boating) surrounded on three sides with single and double-wide manufactured homes. We have two main streets with side streets branching down to the lake. Many of our seniors (including my wife and I) love to take a leisurely stroll around the lake. As we stroll along, we can observe the creative hand of God at work. It is springtime and the yellow jonquils have bloomed. This was followed by the opening up of the red buds, flowering dogwood, and the ornamental crabapple trees. Now the white, yellow, and blue irises are blooming along with the purple climbing clematis. Before long the buds on the roses with open. It won’t be long before the d
affodils will be blooming.
     One of the ways I have to let other people see the handiwork of God is to plant a flower garden under my crabapple tree and around my security light each year. I have red and yellow creeping phlox, day lilies, petunias, geraniums, iris, cineraria, pansies, dianthus, wallflowers, salvia, and an assortment of others types. Some are annuals while others are perennials. An elderly lady on an electric wheelchair came by the other day and commented on their beauty. I told her that they were clothed with beauty by our Creator God.
     The Psalmist David said, “In that day of battle, your people will serve you willingly arrayed in holy garments, your vigor will be renewed each day like the morning dew”(Psalm 110:3 NASB). When I accepted Christ as Savior, God clothed me in his “holy Garment” of righteousness. Each new day I am renewed by the power of God’s Spirit that resides within.
     When the time arrives, and only God knows, for Jesus Christ to return to earth to set up his kingdom, the Bible says that we will come with him riding on white horses and clothed in the finest pure white linen. White in the Scriptures is a symbol for purity. Just as God clothes the landscape with the beauty of his holiness, so also he clothes you and me with the cloak of Christ’s righteousness.
     You, too, see God’s creation every day. Do you relish in the glory and beauty of all you see? Do you praise God for his majesty and creative powers?
Prayer: Dear Lord, open our spiritual eyes so that we can behold the glory of your presence in the beauty you have prepared for us in nature. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Clogged Fuel Lines

Clogged Fuel Line
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:1-13
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Heb. 12:1 NLT)
Spring has finally arrived. It’s time to begin mowing the lawn again. Out came the self-propelled Lawn Boy. I checked the gas, oil, and spark plug. All was in readiness for the season, or so I thought. After filling it with fresh gas, I held the safety lever and pulled the starter cord. NOTHING! I primed it a few more times and pulled again, NOTHING. Again and again I tried to get it started, but to no avail. I promptly took it over to the local lawn service shop only to find that the tiny carburetor jet was clogged. Apparently a tiny piece of dirt was preventing gas from getting to the engine. After spraying a small amount of gas into the carburetor, the engine started fine.
     This incident reminds me of my spiritual life. Like my lawn mower, my spiritual life gets clogged with dirt from the cares of this world. The little sins that go unconfessed, keep me from functioning spiritually. Outwardly I appear calm, but within, a raging fire is burning. The joy of the Lord is blocked and no matter how much effort I put forth, my faith engine won’t run. Nothing is more discouraging than a spiritual engine that won’t function.
     In order for my physical lawn mower engine to run smoothly, I had to take it in for an overhaul. The dirt in the carburetor had to be removed and the little jet replaced. If I want the joy of the Lord to return and my spiritual life to function smoothly, an overhaul by God is necessary. This means identifying the sin that is causing my clogged spiritual life to malfunction. Then I must be willing to confess and turn away from that sin which so easily besets me. Once that is accomplished the spiritual flow of God’s grace will be able to fill me and renew my spirit. A revived spirit within me will enable my spiritual life to function effectively.
     Are you having difficulty getting your spiritual engine to function? Is there something that is coming between you and your Savior? Sin has a way of clogging our engines and keeping them from running. Do you need a complete overhaul or just a little tune-up? Whichever the case may be, rest assured that God is ready and willing to meet your needs. Confession is the cleansing agent that will enable your spiritual engine to restart and run smoothly.
     If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:8.9 NLT)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me keep my spiritual life running smoothly as I confess my sins to you

Monday, May 12, 2014

Good and Bad Choices

Good and Bad Choices
Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:1-24
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land your are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh. 24:15 NASB)
Life is a series of choices and consequences. Step in front of a car, and you will face the consequences of that choice. Refuse to obey your boss’s order and repercussions will follow. If you choose bitterness because of something someone said or did, you will suffer the by-product of bitterness—a dried up soul. On the other hand, faithfulness to a colleague or friend results in deepened relationships, and obedience to God and others often brings blessings in disguise.
     Consider for a moment some of the “could haves” of Joseph’s life. Joseph could have been bitter for what his brothers did to him with good reason—but he wasn’t. He could have shaken his fist at god for the injustice of prison—but he didn’t He could have displayed an angry tantrum because of the trials and difficulties—but he didn’t. He could have been angry with God for not answering his prayers the way he thought He should—but he wasn’t. But instead, in each case he chose to do something else. He gave God the glory for bringing good out of bad.
     Joshua was faced with a choice either to follow God and lead the people into the Promised land, or to stand aside and let someone else do it. He was God’s chosen leader to take the place of Moses, and he chose to fulfill his commission. At one point he said, “If you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).
     Life is a matter of choices, not chances. The choices we all face today may be similar to those of Joseph and Joshua. Bitterness or forgiveness—serving self or serving God. Self-pity over the past or putting the past behind you. Let’s practice making faith choices instead of selfish ones. Chances are good you won’t find yourself standing before the world’s most powerful leader. But then again, you will ultimately stand before God and answer to Him.
     Where do you stand on the issue of good or bad choices? Are you willing to look past the bad and choose the good? Are you willing to put aside self-gratification and bring glory to God?
     Choose today who you will serve!
Prayer: Dear Lord, you are Almighty God creator of heaven and earth and all that is therein. Help me to make the kind of choices that bring glory to your name. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Children--Our Heritage

Children—Our Heritage
Scripture Reading: Psalm 127:1-5
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. (Ps. 127:4,5a)
What is your perspective of children? Are they a burden or a blessing? Are they to be valued or discarded? Where do they fit into your family heritage?
     I remember reading a story about three men planting grass. A passerby asked the first man, “What are you doing?” “I am laying sod,” the man replied. He came to the second man and asked, “What are you doing?” “Making a fairway,” the man responded. Going a little further he asked the third man, “What are you doing?” “I’m creating a golf course,” he answered.
     In the process of raising children, it is easy to feel like you are just laying sod, but what you are really doing is creating a life. Children are divinely placed gifts; not accidents. God always has a purpose for all that he does. Nothing slips beyond his sovereign will. Our handicapped grandson was not an accident. He was divinely placed in a home that would love and care for him. Jonathan has taught his parents and grandparents more about the love of Jesus than all the sermons ever preached.
     I am reminded of how David took the crippled boy Mephibosheth under his wing, fed him at the king’s table, provided a room in the palace, assigned a servant to care for him, and restored to him all the lands of his grandfather, King Saul. If a man of David’s stature could show compassion on the crippled grandson of his arch enemy, certainly we as parents can treat our children as divine gifts on loan from God.
     Jesus loved the little children. He showed how much he loved them by saying, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. (Matthew 19:14-15 NLT)
     As parents we have the privilege, duty, and responsibility under God to raise our children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” teaching them to love the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is never too early to begin presenting to them the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. Reading the Bible and praying together are good ways to start your day. Never underestimate the ability of children even at a young age to understand the meaning behind the gospel.
Prayer: Dear Lord, your word is presented in simple terms that even a child can understand. Help us to raise our children to revere the word of God.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Bright Side of Loneliness

The Bright Side of Loneliness
Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 1:19-28
She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Sam. 1:18 NASB)
How many of you have ever experienced loneliness? If every experience of loneliness were written down in a book, we’d have volumes upon volumes.
      When I was a teenager, my father died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis. He was forty-nine years old, and the breadwinner of the family. Even today, some sixty-five years later, I can still recall the unearthly scream of my mother on that fateful morning. The feeling of loneliness, emptiness, and despair are still vivid memories. We were a religious family (my father and mother were active in the Masonic Lodge), but the name Christian could not be hung over our door. It took ten years before the bright side of loneliness made its appearance in my life, and that happened as a result of coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ through faith in his death, burial, and resurrection.
     There were a number of Bible characters who suffered from loneliness, but in the end got to see the bright side of loneliness.
     Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, experienced the depths of loneliness. She wanted a child in the worst way, but the Lord had closed her womb. In the midst of her loneliness Hannah made a vow; “O LORD Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you…” (1 Sam. 1:11a NLT) The bright side of her loneliness was God’s answer to her prayer. She had a son and dedicated him to the Lord.
     Sarah, Abraham’s wife, experienced the pain and grief of loneliness. She was barren and had no children. All that she had to cling unto was the promise that Abraham would have a son who would be his heir. They waited and waited but nothing happened. She became so distraught that she tried to usurp God’s promise through her handmaid, Hagar, but that too failed. God declared that Ishmael would not be the son of promise. The bright side of her loneliness was God’s keeping his promise. The Bible says, “And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter! All who hear about this will laugh with me. For who would have dreamt that I would ever have a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” (Gen. 21:6-7 NLT)
     Perhaps you are experiencing a period of loneliness. It is quite normal to waste valuable time having a pity party, but God wants you to see the bright side of loneliness. How are you going to deal with your loneliness? Remember the promises of God and lay claim to them.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help each of us to lay hold of the bright side of loneliness through your word.