Friday, November 21, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

The LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made.
                                                               Genesis 3:23 (NLT)

When we’re in the middle of the storm and don’t know how we’re going to get out or why it’s happening to us, it’s very hard to gain perspective.  The truth is though, life is hard, not because God likes seeing suffering, but because suffering in general is the punishment for sin.  (See what God says to Adam and Eve earlier in chapter 3 about what the future will hold for them.)

As long as this world exists there will be two constants.  We will all sin.  And we will all be under the punishment of sin created by humanity, meaning bad things will happen. This also means life will be hard at times and there will be storms that we will have to struggle through in our lifetimes.

BUT…God is there for us.  He’s gone through what we go through and even more through His Son Jesus. He took on the ultimate punishment of sin (death) for us so that even though we die (the ultimate storm of this life) we will live forever. 

The storms of this life will come because there is sin in this world.  But this world is temporary.  The perfect life that awaits those who accept the gift God has for us by turning our lives over to Jesus is eternal. 

In the love of Christ,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
                                                                 Acts 20:35 (NLT)

Is it more blessed to give than to receive?  I like it when people give me stuff.  Don't you?

Is it more blessed to give than to receive?  For many it seems not to be because they always got their hands out.

Is it more blessed to give than to receive?  It doesn't feel that way at the gas pump or when the bills come due.

Is it more blessed to give than to receive?  YES it is!  This is because we were created to give.  God created us first and foremost to give Him our love and Christ our lives.  I believe it's just in our DNA, which means we'll only be truly happy when we learn to generously and unselfishly give.

Love is the first thing that should be given.  When our love is given to God and to each other we find more satisfaction than when it isn't. 

Our time is another thing we can give.  Time worth spending is time worth giving.  And when we give this to others, we'll receive their time back.

Money is another thing that when given can bring us great joy.  It might seem like those who receive our money, or who have more money are happier.  But in fact, deep down we find more peace out of our giving than our receiving...even money.  This is because it truly "is more blessed to give than to receive."

In the love of Christ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
                                                 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (NLT)

Believe it or not, God wants us to feel sorrow.  He doesn't want us to hurt for just no reason.  His desire is that we have a sorrow in us that makes us feel bad about our sin. 

I was at a spiritual retreat one time sharing a testimony about my life when I told the group that God made me feel guilty about some things in my life.  One of the men there said that God doesn't make us feel guilty.  Well of course He does.  We call it our conscience.  And God uses this to help us see what we're doing wrong and to lead us to the sorrow over sinfulness that will then lead us to change. 

If we had no sorrow in life, we would feel no need for repentance.  If we were perfect people still living in the Garden of Eden this would be fine.  But we're not. 

So think about the things you do or say that later bring about a tinge of guilt or sorrow.  Find those things that you've learned to live with, looking past the guilt and sorrow, and repent of them.  If you feel even a little sorry or guilty about something, odds are that it's your conscience telling you that it's wrong and you need to repent. 

In the love of Christ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

O God, we give glory to you all day long
     and constantly praise your name.
                               Psalm 44:8 (NLT)

As I sit and think about this passage, I realize just how untrue it can be at times.  I want to strive to give God glory all day long and to constantly praise His name.  But is it glory that I give to Him when I get angry, act selfishly or neglect others' feelings? 

How many of us think more about "us" in a day than we do about God (whom we're supposed to love more than anything) and others (whom we're supposed to love at least as well as ourselves)?

My God wants more from me.  He loves me and just wants to see me succeed.  And when I fail, He lifts me up.  No matter how selfish I seem or even superficial I can feel, He is there waiting for me to bring glory to Him simply by coming to Him for help.  He's the ultimate Parent that never leaves our side, who cheers us on like a dad at a kid's soccer game and cares tenderly for us like a mom after we've scraped our knee.  If anyone deserves my praise today, it's Him. 

"Lord, I love you.  Thank you."  This is my prayer today.  I hope it will be yours as well.

In the love of Christ,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer to everyone.
                                                                 Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)

On the surface I see Paul trying to teach us to be different from non-Christians.  We must use our time with them as opportunities to minister and evangelize.  This doesn't necessarily mean that we ask them if they're saved or try and preach to them.  Instead, we are to live and act like Christ would around them.  We are to care for them and teach them about Christ whenever possible.  We are to show love to them by what we do and what we say and how we say it.  We are to lift them up, being gracious to them.

This is just as important in our daily walk with other Christians as with non-Christians.  In today's world there is so much falling out in our churches and denominations.  One person believes this and another believes that.  One person does this and another doesn't like it.  And when this happens, I wonder just how much of the conversation is "gracious and effective"?

Maybe it's not fighting over beliefs or actions.  A lot of us may just be critical or rude or negative.  Maybe this is you or me and we don't even realize it.  Do you know how many times that you make someone think to themselves "I wonder what side of the bed he/she woke up on this morning?"  Do you realize that you might be turning some people off by what you say to them?  I've wondered that about myself at times.  Maybe it would be a good idea if we all stop and really think about how we come off to others.

And then let's never forget that the original purpose of this passage was for our conversation to "be gracious and effective so that (we) will have the right answer for everyone."  We want our answers to those who are non-Christian to be positive instead of negative.  And our answers may not come after we've been asked questions.  Many times we may answer their questions by how we speak to and show respect for each other as Christian brothers and sisters.

So today let's focus on how our conversations with each other (Christian and non-Christian alike) can be more gracious and effective.

In the love of Christ,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

     After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him.
     Jesus repeated the question: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you." "Then take care of my sheep," Jesus said.
     Once more he asked him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, "Lord, you know everything. You know I love you." Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep.
                                                                      John 21:15-17 (NLT)

Three times Peter had denied knowing Jesus on that fateful night.  Peter had to feel like an utter failure.  He was the one who was supposed to be the "Rock".  But all he had done was hit rock bottom.  

There's a good thing Jesus doesn't have a three strikes and out policy.  For Jesus offers Peter the same number of chances to reclaim his love for him as the number of times that Peter failed him.  This is a great thing about our God.  The number of times we fail is the exact number of times we are offered reconciliation.  

Know that no matter how far away you get or how many times you fail your Lord, He's still willing to take you back and forgive you.  That is what's so truly amazing about God's grace.  

In the love of Christ,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
                                              1 Corinthians 12:7 (NLT)

This verse is a reminder of two things.  First of all, Paul tells us that we are all given a spiritual gift.  I believe that there could be more than one, but Paul reminds us that we all have at least one. 

So often people will tell me that they don't have any spiritual gifts.  They don't sing well, play a musical instrument or are not able to preach.  In their minds, this obviously means that no spiritual gift is available to them.  Some look to the scriptures that list a few of the spiritual gifts and say that this small list does not have anything that they are good at.  And so, obviously, they have no spiritual gifts. 

But Paul never mentions that his lists of gifts are exhaustive.  He never says that spiritual gifts are few in number.  The fact is that any gift given to you by God for the purpose of ministry is a spiritual gift.  Some use their wonderful cooking as a spiritual gift to feed those in need.  Some use the gift of being able to listen to people without interuption as a form of ministry.  Some use the gifts of time or writing or giving for ministry.  These all become spiritual gifts.  Find out what you're good at and use it for ministry.

The second thing this passage reminds us is that spiritual gifts are not given to us to keep to ourselves.  They are given to us to be used to show our love of neighbor.  Again, I urge you to find out what you're good at and use it for ministry.

In the love of Christ,