Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.
                                                                         Ezra 3:3 (NIV)

The people of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the people of the Southern Kingdom (Judah) have been conquered and exiled into foreign lands.  The Babylonians, who conquered Judah, where Jerusalem and the Temple were, have now been conquered by a Persian king named Cyrus.  And just as Jeremiah had prophesied, he is allowing the Jews to go back and rebuild their land.

That brings us to Ezra 3:3 when they get to Jerusalem.  These people have come back to a destroyed city where the people of the surrounding lands are not faithful to their God and would love to have the riches that were brought back to Jerusalem to be used in the rebuilding process.  In other words, it's not necessarily safe there.

The first instinct might be to fortify, to build a wall, to make a means of protection for themselves and all the riches that have traveled back from Persia.  But instead, they do something else.  They build the altar.  They worship the Lord their God.

Our God should come first before all things in this world.  He is the one who can protect.  He is the one who can sustain.  He is the one who can provide.  But even though we're not in physical danger every day, there are many things that take precedence over our relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

Let us seek our God and His righteousness first.  Let us seek out Jesus as Lord of our lives each and every day.  And let us live our lives for Him.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD "— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
                                                            Psalm 32:5 (NIV)

They say that confession is good for the soul.  And whoever they are, they're right.  But in most cases I would presume that people are talking about a mental or emotional well-being.  In other words, when we confess to one another, it can make us feel good.  

But confession to God is good for the eternal soul as well.  God knows what we've done.  He doesn't need us to tell Him.  But when we confess we take the first step of repentance and we humble ourselves before God.  

So confess before God and God will forgive you when you do so with the right attitude of humility and repentance.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
                                                                 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

Have you ever thought about the message of the cross?  I mean today we speak of Jesus and God the Father, even the Holy Spirit.  We wear crosses around our necks.  We place them in important places in our homes, have pictures of them on our walls.  But how often do we look at them and wonder about the message that it has for us.

When Paul spoke to the Corinthians about the message of the cross being foolish to those perishing, he was meaning that the idea of a condemned criminal (which Jesus was in earthly terms) dying so that the world could be saved was ludicrous.  And all who believed this idea to be a crazy made up fairy tale would perish, never knowing the Truth.

The message of the cross is all about how Jesus, the Son of God, gave up the greatness of Heaven to come to this earth and die for our sins to give us a way out of our imprisoned lives.  But it doesn't end there.  For you cannot have the cross without the resurrection, at least not if there is a powerful God.  The cross showed the love of God in sending His Son.  The Resurrection showed the power of God over death. 

Has the message of the cross (and subsequent resurrection) changed you?  It is easy to say that it has saved us.  We can claim Jesus as Lord and Savior and say that because of the cross we are saved.  But has it changed us?  You see, when the Holy Spirit enters in and Jesus truly lives within us, it's not just that we believe that we must be morally better people.  The presence of God in us changes us.  Have you been changed?  If so, then Christ resides in you, and the message of the cross is alive in you.

In the love of Christ,
greg

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?  Does this mean nothing to you?  Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
                                                            Romans 2:1,4 (NLT)


When we judge others or are intolerant of them, we should remember how kind and tolerant and patient God has been with us.  If we are Christians, then our goal should be to be more and more like Christ.  And if this is so, we should remember to treat others as He has treated us. 

In the love of Christ,
greg

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

   Then the commander [of the Assyrian army] stood and called out in Hebrew: "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you.  He cannot deliver you from my hand.  Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, 'The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.'"
                                                                  2 Kings 18:28-30 (NIV)

This might seem like a strange passage of scripture to study.  It comes after Assyria has conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and taken the inhabitants off as slaves to Assyria.  It is the word of a pagan king's emissary that is trying to convince the people of Judah to give up on their king Hezekiah, and even more importantly, on their God.  It's a voice coming to God's people saying, "your God is not sufficient".

Do we not continuously hear these same voices today?  Are there not people in our own lives who try to convince us that if we want to be safe that we must lock our selves up and not go around certain people.  Surely our God is not sufficient to protect us.  Are there not voices that tell us that if we don't work harder and longer hours to prove to our bosses that we are worthy of bonuses, raises and promotions that we cannot provide the extra things that will make our families happy?  Surely our God is not sufficient to bring us joy.  Are there not voices that tell us that if we give our possessions away to those who don't have that we ourselves will be without?  Surely our God is not sufficient to provide.

This is what happened to the people of Judah during Hezekiah's day.  They were protected from the Assyrian army.  One night the angel of the LORD killed 185,000 men in their sleep.  The next, day those who remained, got up and went back to Assyria.  God had protected Hezekiah and his people. 
If our God is sufficient to protect King Hezekiah and the people of Judah from a much stronger army, is He not sufficient to protect us, provide for us, bring joy?  Is He not sufficient to care for the needs of those He calls His children?

Call out to the Lord today and seek His ways.  Like a good Father, He will provide, He will guide, and He will care. 

In the love of Christ,
greg

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn't obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash."
                                                                      Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)


The sand along the Sea of Galilee would become very hard during the hot summer months.  But a wise builder wouldn’t be fooled by this and would dig down…sometimes as much as ten feet…to find bedrock.  This is what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of the wise person building on solid rock.

Picture this image in your mind.  The storm is coming. Long hours have been spent on the strengthening the Levees to handle the floods.  But alas, too little too late.  The levy breaks.  The sandbags do little against the massive push of water, which makes its way down street after street until it comes to your house.  It’s vacant because everyone’s been ordered to evacuate.  And the water rises and rises and rises.  Pretty soon all the surrounding areas are under water.

Weeks later you go back to find everything in your house destroyed.  The house is a shambles and must be torn down.  And you know that you will have to start all over from scratch.  Water, though a life-giving agent, can also be a destructive force.  That's why problems in our lives are sometimes referred to things flooding us. 

The rains come on both the wise and the foolish.  God doesn’t shelter Christians from life’s storms (illness, accidents, death, job loss, etc.)  So we must be prepared to live through the storms and tragedies that are common to humankind.  Putting our faith in Jesus and listening to what God has to say to us will make us wise so that we can live through the storms of life.  But Jesus doesn’t only say those who listen will be wise.  He says that those who listen and follow are wise.

How will you choose to live your life; wisely or foolishly?

In the love of Christ,
greg

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thought of the Day !!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
                                                                     2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
 
Often times we Christians can be too timid.  Of course the opposite is true too.  We have been know to beat people over the head with our Bibles, go on Crusades (or wage war) in the name of Christ, and to condemn folks for their sins while hiding our own.  So we can go too far in either direction. 
 
But in the things that Paul is speaking of here, we can never go too far.  God gave us a spirit of power.  If we have God's Holy Spirit in us, then we have a power unparalleled by any other.  We have the power to serve, to forgive, to love.  This kind of power knows no bounds and is greater than any of the negatives that the devil tries to throw at us.
 
God gave us a spirit of love.  This means that we are capable of loving no matter what.  Here is one of the places we are too timid at times though.  Many feel embarrassed to show love in today's world.  It's not the "manly" thing to do.  Or even for women, it may not be proper in places.  But we have been given the spirit of love of neighbor, and the Bible teaches us to use this gift generously.  I've seen this in several ways in the past like after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.  But don't let it come down to a disaster occurring to give you a reason to show love to others.
 
God also gave us a spirit of self-discipline.  Look deep inside yourself.  It's there.  For some of us though, we just have to look a little harder. 
 
In the love of Christ,
greg