On Wings Of Eagles

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Repay Good for Evil.

Romans 12:17-21 (New International Version)
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The story is told of a man in Massachusetts many years ago who found his neighbor’s horse in the middle of his field. He was so angry about it that he took the horse to the public pound.

Meeting the owner soon after this, he told him what he had done and added, "If I catch him there again, I will do the same thing."

The neighbor replied, "Well, the other night I looked out of my window and saw your cattle in my field. I took your cattle and drove them over to your house, and put them in the barn, and fixed the gate. If I catch them there again, I will do the same thing."

The man was reportedly so struck with his neighbor’s soft reply that he at once took the horse out of the pound and paid the charges himself.

Perhaps the most difficult commands given to us by Jesus and his apostles involve our attitude toward those who are our enemies. It is hard to restrain ourselves when we have been mistreated or when a hateful attitude has been shown toward us. The natural response is to repay evil for evil.

But we will only be able to make an impact on the world around us if, by following the example of Jesus Christ, we are willing to repay good for evil.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would not get wrapped up in the evil of the world. We pray that we would be able to show the good in our actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Maker of All Things

Ecclesiastes 11:5 (New International Version)
As you do not know the path of the wind,
   or how the body is formed[a] in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
   the Maker of all things.

Francis Crick is best known for his work in the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. DNA is the building block of all life forms. For his work, Dr. Crick earned a Nobel Prize in medicine in 1962.

Dr. Crick calculated the possibility of a simple protein sequence of 200 amino-acids (much simpler than a DNA molecule) originating spontaneously to be 1 out of 10,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000 (quadrillion, 10 with 26 zeros). This is virtually an impossible number.

So what do those chances equate to in everyday terms? British scientist Fred Hoyle, who helped develop the "Big Bang" theory of the creation of the universe, gave the following analogy of the odds against evolved life. It would be like a tornado suddenly touching down in a junkyard and taking all of the metal lying there and turning them into a Boeing 747. It might be possible for two pieces to be naturally welded together, and then two pieces more in a later whirlwind, but production of even a simple organic molecule would require all of the pieces to come together at one time.

No one can look at the extreme complexity of the simplest life forms and not appreciate the intricate design made by the Creator. Today in prayer, and give Christ praise that He is the Maker of all things.

Dear Lord we thank You for being not only our creator but the creator of everything. We thank the Lord that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made"We thank You for being in control of everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Second Note of Encouragement.

Hebrews 4:16 (New International Version)
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Douglas Maurer, 15, of Creve Coeur , Missouri , had been feeling badly for several days. His temperature was ranging between 103 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally, his mother took him to the hospital in St. Louis . Douglas Maurer was diagnosed as having leukemia. The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn’t sugarcoat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body would most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression.

His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who has leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said:

“ Douglas – I took your order. I work at Brix florist. I had leukemia when I was 7 years old. I’m 22 years old now. Good luck! My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley.”

His face lit up. His whole outlook changed. It’s remarkable! Douglas Maurer was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars worth of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling in the hundreds of years. But it was a salesclerk in a flower shop, a woman making $170 a week, who – by taking the time to care, and by being willing to go with what her heart told her to do – gave Douglas HOPE and the WILL to carry on. *

It is encouraging and comforting to know that no matter what you are facing in life, there is Someone who CARES and who can RELATE to what we are going through. That Someone is JESUS...

Dear Lord we pray that today You would use us to touch somebody that really needs a touch today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Keep Working For the Harvest

Galatians 6:9 (New International Version)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

What follows is a story I read the other day that has great meaning to each of us. We may never see the fruit of our witnessing, but God can use it. If you are discouraged today take heart and know that God will use the seeds that you plant in the souls of man.

His name was Ronnie and he would continually come each day faithfully and share his Baptist belief about Jesus Christ to me. I had known Ronnie for many years in my boyhood town but through the years we became separated and went our own way in life. Now here he was preaching to an alcoholic and drug addict about this Jesus.

He would daily tell me of the love Jesus had for me and that unless I received Him I was going to hell. My answer to that was typical, I didn’t care and besides all my friends were going with me.

Every day he came and every day I embarrassed him, was rude to him and humiliated him. Then one day Ronnie stopped coming and I was so relieved.

As time passed I became introduced to the Christian life style and one day I accepted Jesus into my life. I then proceeded to go to Bible College, became ordained and today am a Pastor of a Congregational Church in London Ontario, Canada.

During this time in my walk, God spoke to me and told me to find Ronnie and let him know what had happened. This urging was so great that I just could not deny it nor ignore it. I called my mother to see if she could get me Ronnie’s phone number and she did. I then proceeded to make the call and got Ronnie on the line.

I proceeded to tell him how the seeds he had planted in my life had borne fruit and that I wanted him to know that he truly was a blessing to me and my family.

There was a pause on the other end and then I could hear Ronnie crying. I wondered what I had said to make this man cry. He came back on the line and told me that he was just sitting at his kitchen table feeling kind of down because he had been questioning God as to whether he had been used to bring anyone to Christ and he had felt like a failure.

He then proceeded to tell me that he had just returned from the doctor that day and had been diagnosed with cancer and could not be operated on. He had a very short time left.

Ronnie told me that that phone call had made a difference to him and he could now feel good because he had brought one bad character to the Lord.

When the voice of the Holy Spirit is so loud, so persistent, never ignore Him. You never know whose life you will make an impact upon.

Dear Lord help our life, our actions and our words make an impact on somebody today. Help us always be faithful and to take the opportunity to share the Good News with those in our life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Encourage & Empower

Colossians 3:23 (New International Version)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

It came naturally to her. She started singing at a very young age. She would hear the sounds of the birds on early Spring mornings and make up a song only she understood.

Her Grandma would always encourage her.

"Sarah, sing sweetly!" Grandma would say and young Sarah would break into song.

"She has a natural voice," the minister said. "Have Mrs. Ellsworth work with her. We could use another tender young voice in the choir."

And so she joined. In fact, she grew up with the choir and through the years often led them with feature solos.

As Sarah climbed the stairs to the choir booth, she always scanned the congregation for Grandma. She wasn't hard to find. She always sat up front. As Sarah walked by she'd whisper, "Sarah, sing sweetly!" Sarah smiled knowing that she would.

Her high school and college years brought her talent into school musicals and local theater productions. Sarah knew she had a special gift from God and wanted to share it with the world.

"Sarah, sing sweetly!" she'd hear her Grandma say even when Grandma could not attend in those later years.

Yes, Sarah sang sweetly before thousands of people through her life, never once turning down the chance to make her Grandma proud.

That is until her Grandma passed away.

"Sarah, you know Grandma has requested that you sing at her funeral," her Mother reminded her.

"Oh, Mom. I can't. I could never get through it. I loved her so. I....I miss her Mom," she said as she cried the tears of a lost child.

But it was what Grandma wanted.

Dressed in a simple black outfit, seated in the front row where Grandma always sat whenever Sarah sang, she nervously awaited the moment.

The organist began to play, the choir joined in softly. Sarah took her place and stood there motionless, looking out the stained glass window near the alter.

The organist stopped. The church was silent. For the first time in her life, Sarah could not sing.

The minister waited for a moment hoping that she would gain her composure.

Suddenly, from within the choir, almost hidden from view because of her size, a young child emerged. No more than 6 years old, an almost mirror image of Sarah when she first joined the choir, this innocent, blonde haired beauty walked up to Sarah tugging on her skirt to get her attention.

"Sarah...Sarah!" she said.

Finally responding, Sarah turned and looked down.

"Sarah, sing sweetly!" she said and returned to her position in the choir.

If I were a betting man, I'd bet that all the angels in heaven stopped that morning to listen. For the song that Sarah sang for Grandma was heavenly, indeed.

To find the strength to face the present, we sometimes need to face the past.

"Sarah, sing sweetly!" She did. Grandma would be proud.

Dear Lord we pray that the things that we do would be encouraging to those around us. We pray that in all things we would bring honor to You through the way we help those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't Wait to Encourage Somebody.

Hebrews 10:25 (New International Version)
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous 19th-century poet and artist, was once approached by an elderly man. The old fellow had some sketches and drawings that he wanted Rossetti to look at and tell him if they were any good, or if they, at least, showed potential talent.

Rossetti looked them over carefully. After the first few he knew that they were worthless, showing not the least sign of artistic talent. But Rossetti was a kind man and he told the elderly man as gently as possible that the pictures were without much value and showed little talent. He was sorry, but he could not lie to the man.

The visitor was disappointed, but seemed to accept Rossetti's judgment. He then apologized for taking up Rossetti's time, but would he just look at a few more drawings - these done by a young art student?

Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately enthused over the talent they revealed. "These," he said, "ah, these are good. This young man, whoever he is, has great talent. He should be given every help and encouragement in his career as an artist. He has a great future, if he will work hard and stick with it."

Rossetti could see that the old fellow was deeply moved. "Who is this fine young artist?" he asked. "Your son?"

"No," said the old fellow sadly. "It is me - 40 years ago. If only I heard your praise then . . . for you see, I got discouraged and gave up - too soon."

Dear Lord we pray today that we would take the time to encourage the person You bring into our life. We pray that we will make a difference. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Promises seen through a Dove

John 1:32 (New International Version)
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

It was snowing in the cold Pennsylvania pre-dawn as Caryl Baum's limousine made its way to the airport for her flight. She was going to her goddaughter Kelly's funeral in Tallahassee. The girl, whose heart had unexpectedly stopped after jogging, had been only 22, and Caryl was inconsolable at the loss. Somehow she would have to be strong for Kelly's parents, to carry some sort of message of hope. "During the drive I prayed that God would inspire me," she says.

As Caryl stepped from the car in front of the terminal, two gorgeous white doves suddenly flew out of the snowy sky, directly toward her. "They swooped down in front of me, then soared up into the air and disappeared into the snow," Caryl recalls. "I felt it had to be some kind of sign, since I had never seen doves in winter. I thanked God, and felt a rush of warmth through me."

After she arrived in Tallahassee, Caryl tried to tell Kelly's distraught parents about the doves, and their untimely appearance. They could barely concentrate. "I'm not sure they believed me, and of course it could have just been a coincidence," she says.

The service began, and those in attendance mourned deeply. How could anyone find something hopeful in this situation? But as the mourners were coming out of the church behind the ministers and the casket, someone cried, "Look!" Another pair of snow-white doves appeared. This time, they glided up off the grass into the sky, swooped back down in front of everyone, then circled up and over the casket. "They were so close, we could feel the air from their wings on our cheeks," Caryl says.

Everyone stood there, astonished. "Were those birds--or angels?" one man asked.

"I have never felt such heavenly energy," the minister added. Kelly's parents smiled through their tears. Doves, they knew, were a promise of new life.

Caryl felt graced. It was just a little sign, she knew. But God had cared enough to send it not just once, for her, but again, thousands of miles away for the whole congregation.

Dear Lord we thank You for the reminders that You send our way, even in the shape of a bird. What a great sign it is. We pray that our eyes would be open to see Your wonders. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

You Have One Minute? You Can Make a Difference.

Hebrews 10:25 (New International Version)
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

He almost killed somebody, but one minute changed his life. The beautiful story comes from Sherman Rogers' old book, "Foremen: Leaders or Drivers?" In his true-life story, Rogers illustrates the importance of effective relationships.

During his college years, Rogers spent a summer in an Idaho logging camp. When the superintendent had to leave for a few days, he put Rogers in charge.

"What if the men refuse to follow my orders?" Rogers asked. He thought of Tony, an immigrant worker who grumbled and growled all day, giving the other men a hard time.

"Fire them," the superintendent said. Then, as if reading Rogers' mind, he added, "I suppose you think you are going to fire Tony if you get the chance. I'd feel badly about that. I have been logging for 40 years. Tony is the most reliable worker I've ever had. I know he is a grouch and that he hates everybody and everything. But he comes in first and leaves last. There has not been an accident for eight years on the hill where he works."

Rogers took over the next day. He went to Tony and spoke to him. "Tony, do you know I'm in charge here today?" Tony grunted. "I was going to fire you the first time we tangled, but I want you to know I'm not," he told Tony, adding what the superintendent had said.

When he finished, Tony dropped the shovelful of sand he had held and tears streamed down his face. "Why he no tell me dat eight years ago?"

That day Tony worked harder than ever before -- and he smiled! He later said to Rogers, "I told Maria you first foreman in deese country who ever say, 'Good work, Tony,' and it make Maria feel like Christmas."

Rogers went back to school after that summer. Twelve years later he met Tony again. He was superintendent for railroad construction for one of the largest logging companies in the West. Rogers asked him how he came to California and happened to have such success.

Tony replied, "If it not be for the one minute you talk to me back in Idaho, I keel somebody someday. One minute, it changed my whole life."

Effective managers know the importance of taking a moment to point out what a worker is doing well. But what a difference a minute of affirmation can make in any relationship!

One minute. Have you got one minute to thank someone? A minute to tell someone what you sincerely like or appreciate about her? A minute to elaborate on something he did well? One minute. It can make a difference for a lifetime.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would take the time, that one minute to tell somebody we appreciate them. Help our eyes be open to see the good things all around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Will You Encourage Someone Today?

Hebrews 3:13 (New International Version)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

During the 1870's, a red-haired, talented Polish lad wanted to be a pianist. However, his teachers at the Warsaw Musical Institute gave no encouragement. He was told that his fingers were too short and thick for the piano. Later he bought a cornet. The same answer was given to him with the statement that he should try another instrument. Passed around like a hot potato, he went back to the piano.

Embittered and discouraged, he chanced to meet the famous composer and pianist Anton Rubinstein. The young Pole played for him. Rubinstein praised and encouraged him. The lad promised to practice seven hours a day. Words of praise changed the entire world for Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

By 1885, Paderewski swept the musical world with his playing and his dynamic personality. For the next fifty years, Paderewski was acknowledged as the world's greatest pianist. He also excelled as a composer, writing more than two dozen compositions including two operas.

Writing about the composer in his book entitled The Story of the Modern Immortal, Charles Phillips says of Paderewski: "It is difficult to write of Paderewski without emotion. Statesman, orator, pianist and composer, he is a superlative man, and his genius transcends that of anyone I have ever known."

One of the greatest ministries you can have is being an encourager to others. Without the encouragement of Barnabas, there would not be an Apostle Paul. Do you know someone who needs to be encouraged in the Lord?

Dear Lord we thank You for the hope You give each of us. We pray today that we would seek to encourage those we come into contact with today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We are a Box of Crayons

Leviticus 19:34 (New International Version)
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

It is 1936. American Jesse Owens seems sure to win the long jump competition in the Olympic games. The previous year he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that will stand for 25 years.

As he walks to the long-jump pit, however, Owens sees a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens feels nervous. He is acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority." And as a black son of a share cropper, he knows what it is like to feel inferior.

On his first jump, Owens inadvertently leaps from several inches beyond the takeoff board. Rattled, he fouls on his second attempt, too. One more foul and he will be eliminated.

At this point, the tall German introduces himself as Luz Long. "You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he says to Owens, referring to his upcoming two jumps.

For the next few moments, the African American and the white model of Nazi manhood chat together. Then Long makes a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance is only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens does and qualifies easily.

In the finals, Owens sets an Olympic record and earns the second of four gold medals. But who is the first person to congratulate him? Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again sees Long, who is later killed in World War II.

"You could melt down all the medals and cups I have," Owens later writes, "and they wouldn't be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long."

Perhaps unknowingly, Luz Long taught the world a valuable lesson. Someone else put it like this: "We can learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp...some are pretty...some are dull...some have weird names...and all are different colors... But they all have to learn to live in the same box."

Dear Lord we pray that we would treat all those around us with love no matter how different they are form us. Help us always show Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Somebody Needs Your Hug

1 John 4:7 (New International Version)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Our deeds and words, both good and bad constantly ripple out affecting others in ways we may never see. Although one Canadian woman had the opportunity to see exactly what her actions caused.

At a bus stop in Toronto, Paula observed a woman who appeared distraught and was soon crying. Not accustomed to walking up to strangers and injecting herself into their affairs, Paula was caught off balance by her own thoughts. “That woman needs a hug!”,

“Something in me just pushed at me”, says Paula, “and so I walked up to her and said, you look like you need a hug.”

Gratefully, the stranger accepted the offer.

The two ladies ended up sitting together and through the conversation Paula asked what was happening in the stranger’s life that was tearing at her so.

The woman spoke of the rough times she was experiencing, mentioning her heartache regarding her children. Her son was not only on drugs but was molesting his younger sister.

Paula comforted and offered advice. One of the things she said was, “I take a paper and place a line down the centre. I put on one side all the things that are troubling me and on the other I place all the things I am grateful for. Often I find there are things I can soon move over to the positive side.”

When the two ladies parted, Paula thought she would never see the stranger again. But life moves in strange ways. Paula was out with a friend and happened to spot the stranger in a crowd. She rushed over to say hello and when she did she was astounded by what she discovered.

The stranger was overjoyed to see Paula and was soon explaining her joy. “That day when you saw me I had intended on going home and killing my son, my daughter and myself. Your hug changed my perspective Paula. I felt hope. I went home and I reported my son to the authorities. He was taken away where he could get help. I just want you to know that because you hugged me, I didn’t kill myself, my son or my daughter. With that first single move of getting help for my son, my life began turning around. Today my son is better and is soon to be married. Thank you so very much Paula!”

With that, two sets of eyes filled with moisture and another hug was called for!

Dear Lord we pray that our eyes would be open today for those that need a hug. We thank You for all You do for us help us share that love with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

He Will Never Leave Us

Hebrews 13:5 (New International Version)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you;
   never will I forsake you.”

Maktu, a Moro Christian, testified about the truth of Hebrews 13:5: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." He was caught by government forces in 1996 and thrown into prison. It is not clear if it was because of his Christian beliefs or simply because he was a civilian caught up in the ongoing civil war. Either way, the ordeal was a severe test of his faith.

As he lay in his cell, tied up so tightly that he could not lie down or sit properly, the pain and discomfort was intense. Then thoughts of doubt started to creep into his mind. Where was God in this time of need? Why should he continue in his faith when it only brought him problems?

He was on the verge of denying his faith when he suddenly heard a voice speaking clearly to him. The voice asked him why he had those thoughts and continued by saying that many people in the past had suffered for God's sake. He should not be surprised that this was happening to him as well. Then he saw a vision: Known and unknown Christians comforted him and praised God. There was such a joyous worshipping atmosphere that he forgot for a moment that he was still tied up in a prison cell! In fact, he desired to die so that he could join their ranks permanently.

God in His great mercy took this man through the crisis and put new strength in his faith. After he was eventually released from prison, he continued to follow God with fresh dedication and also blessed many others with his testimony.

Dear Lord we thank You that you will never leave us, even when things look the worse. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

They Don't Come to Me.

Luke 10:2 (King James Version)
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

A man went to a barber shop to have his hair and his beard cut as always. He started to have a good conversation with the barber who attended him.

They talked about so many things and various subjects. Suddenly, they touched the subject of God.

The barber said: "Look man, I don't believe that God exists as you say."

"Why do you say that?" asked the client.

"Well, it's so easy, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God does not exist. Oh, tell me, if God existed, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be no suffering nor pain. I can't think of loving a God who permits all of these things."

The client stopped for a moment thinking, but he didn't want to respond so as to cause an argument. The barber finished his job and the client went out of the shop. Just after he left the barber shop he saw a man in the street with a long hair and beard (it seems that it had been a long time since he had his cut and he looked so untidy).

Then the client again entered the barber shop and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say they don't exist?" asked the barber. "Well I am here and I am a barber."

"No!" the client exclaimed. "They don't exist because if they did there would be no people with long hair and beard like that man who walks in the street."

"Ah, barbers do exist, what happens is that people do not come to me."

"Exactly!"- affirmed the client. "That's the point. God does exist, what happens is people don't go to Him and do not look for Him. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Dear Lord we thank You that You are there. We pray today that we would allow You to use is today to bring somebody to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Home in Heaven

John 14:1-2 (New International Version)
 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

The British novelist and playwright David Lodge was watching one of his own creations, a satirical revue, the evening of November 22, 1963. The theatre audience chuckled as an actor in the play showed up for a Job interview with a transistor radio clutched to his ear, demonstrating his character's blasé indifference. The actor then set down the radio and tuned to a station, letting its news, music, or commercials play in the background while the play went on. This night, however, a voice came on the radio with a live news bulletin: "Today, the American President John F. Kennedy was assassinated ..."

The audience gasped and the actor immediately switched off the radio, but too late. In one sentence, the reality of the outside world had shattered the artificial world of the theatre production. Suddenly, whatever action took place onstage seemed superficial and irrelevant.

The city of God and cities of this world exist in parallel universes (from our perspective, at least), with low-level signals transmitted back and forth between them. The risk is that we may feel completely at home on earth, unaware of another world. Like the people in the theatre, we live inside a reality so engaging that for a time we can forget about any other-until the outside world abruptly intrudes.

Dear Lord we thank You for the home You are preparing a home from us. We pray that as we live here on Earth that we would work diligently to bring others to You so they may also have a home with You in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Mercy of God

Micah 7:18  (New International Version)
Who is a God like you,
   who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
   of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
   but delight to show mercy.

A man lay crying in his bed at night. He was in deep despair because, through his own sins, he had lost his marriage, family and job. He was carrying on what he thought was a quiet affair with another employee, but was not as private a matter as he perceived. When his wife found out, she left him. When the children heard the news, they lost respect for him, and weren't sure they ever could trust their dad again. Lastly, the man was given his termination of employment papers.

That night, in his hands he sobbed the most heartbreaking tears of anguish and remorse. "Oh God!" he cried out, "What have I done? What have I done?" It was ironic the man had called out to God, since, after all, he was a self-proclaimed atheist. Since he had not seen enough proof of God's existence, he simply went about his life, not giving further thought to the matter.

That night, in his broken and pitiful state, the man called out to God. He didn't know why he felt compelled to cry out, but he simply followed what seemed to be the right thing to do. "Please forgive me, God," he whimpered in humility. "I have been so selfish; only thinking of my own needs, and not concerned with how my actions could affect others. In fact, what I thought was a need, turned out to be simple lust. The lady I was sneaking around with just seemed so pretty, and I enjoyed the attention she gave me. I guess I was just flattering my own ego, and feeding my own selfish desires. Can you ever forgive me, God? Can you ever?"

The man was desperate to repair the damage he had done, but he didn't know if it was possible. Once his tears has dried, he spoke to God again, "I have acted despicably, and I want to be a better man. I don't want to be selfish and uncaring anymore. I want my wife back. I need my children in my life. I love them so much! Please God, help me! Please forgive my past sins, and help me be that better man."

Seven years after the above scene, this same man sat in a cafe talking to the pastor of his church. "You know, Pastor," he said, "It wasn't easy to repair all the damage I caused, and it was most definitely an uphill struggle, but God was merciful, and thankfully, so were my wife and children. It took us a long time and many small steps to get where we are today, and the broken trust and pain did not disappear overnight, but I can only thank God that we are a family again. If I didn't believe God was real and had the ability to show mercy, I don't know if I would be here today. He has been so good to me when He didn't have to be. I spit on God and turned my back on Him so many times in the past, and yet, when I cried out to Him, He still came to my rescue and showed me mercy and love."

"Pastor," he continued, "It is my honor and joy to be able to share my story with the rest of the congregation this Sunday. I don't want anyone else to ever endure what I went through. I want all people to know that God IS real, and DOES forgive when we genuinely hunger for a better way."

The pastor smiled and nodded his head, and the two finished their lunch; the afternoon sun shining upon them both.

Dear Lord we thank You for being a God of forgiving and restoring. We pray that we would not put ourselves in the position to fail. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Are You Giving the Devil a Foothold?

Ephesians 4:27 (New International Version)
And do not give the devil a foothold.

The following story is from a book by Ben Alexander entitled, Out From Darkness. The book is about one man's extra-ordinary escape from satanic power.
"The phone rang and the voice on the other end said, "Mr. Alexander, would you be interested in debating a Spiritualist medium on primetime television?" The caller identified himself as Lee Tabor, host for a program at 10:30 p.m., Sunday on KOIN television in Portland, Oregon. I agreed and the time and date were set. It was July of 1973.

"It was exciting to anticipate hundreds of thousands of viewers not only hearing the exposure of the Devil, but also the Good News of Jesus. My stipulation was that we had to settle on a basis for discussion. I told the moderator I would debate only if the Bible was the final authority. The spirit medium agreed to this. The debate was well-advertised and many Christians were praying that souls would be reached because of this venture.

"My strategy for the debate was to treat the whole affair like a prize fight. I would get as many points as I could by quoting the Spiritualist manual and showing where the Bible refutes their doctrines. I planned to eliminate Satan in the last round by a knock-out.

"The debate went according to plan. It became apparent early on that the man I was debating knew nothing about the Word of God, and yet he was being interviewed as a "Reverend." (All spirit mediums in America who run a Spiritualist church are called "Reverend.")

"The medium, Satan's pawn, was reeling from the might of God's Word. With about five minutes left it was time to deliver the knock-out blow.

"I came into the final round with an admission, saying that I realized that séances were held in the Old Testament times. King Saul went to a spirit medium at Endor and asked the witch to call up Samuel from the dead.

"My opponent took the bait and said, "That proves that the Bible condones Spiritualism." He was exuberant but his joy was short-lived. I retaliated with, "King Saul died because he went to a spirit medium."

"Not in my Bible," the medium said. The moderator then asked him for his Bible, but he medium did not have one with him. I told the moderator, "It's in my Bible," and as I was about to quote I Chronicles 10:13, the moderator snatched the Bible out of my hands and said, "Let me read it," He then read, "So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it."

"The message from the Bible was a devastating indictment against Spiritualism. The moderator turned to the spirit medium and said, "Look, it is true. God says those who do go to mediums will die." The medium's Adam's apple bobbed up and down. He was red-faced and speechless. Jesus was victorious!"

This actual story is from a book by Ben Alexander entitled, Out From Darkness. The book is about one man's extra-ordinary escape from satanic power. A few months ago, I was blessed to be able to spend a few days with Ben as he shared in our fellowship. I highly recommend this book because it opened my eyes up to the very subtle ways satan tries to lead people astray. The Bible is my greatest handbook! But Ben's book guides me to the actual verses in God's Word about subjects like fortune-telling, witchcraft, demon possession,

E. S.P., astrology, hypnosis, yoga, reincarnation, karate, ouija boards, dungeons and dragons, Halloween, pornography, and much more!

What goes on in your house? What things are working against your Christian growth? Satan is so shrewd in sneaking subtle messages into our minds. Let’s ask God to make us sensitive about the areas where Satan is gaining a foothold.

Dear Lord, thank You for living in us!  We pray for your wisdom, insight and discernment in identifying the subtle ways in which Satan tries to trip us up. In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where is Your Foundation?

Matthew 6:19-21 (New International Version)
    19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Last Summer when we were at the beach and the sun was high in the heavens, and we ventured down to the beach we noticed families building Sand Castles. Later in the day we noticed the rising tide. As the tide rose it became obvious that the sand castles was soon to be washed away. Then they were gone.

We can build our lives on many things. Possessions, money, business, identity. They will all, one day, be washed away. We didn’t bring anything into this world, and we can’t take anything out of it – except our relationship with the Lord. That is forever.

As I watched the sand castle crumble before us it reminded me of a song based on Luke 6:47-79 I used to sing growing up in Sunday School. - The wise man built his house upon the rock… ……and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came up….…. and the wise man’s house stood firm. But- the foolish man built his house upon the sand…., and the rain came tumbling down. The rain came down and the floods came …, …..and the foolish man’s house went SPLAT!! So -build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.........and the blessings will come down. The blessings come down and the prayers go up........so- build your life on the Lord!!

As beautiful as the sandcastles of our lives may be, they are still just that: sandcastles. What a great blessing it is that  we can build our lives on the love and faithfulness of our Lord and the principles of His Word. Take a minute today to start building the foundation that will stand through life’s storms.

Dear Lord today we thank You for the foundation we can build our life on.  We pray that we wouldn’t build our life on the sand of life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Are You banging on Bombs?

Romans 5:16 (New International Version)
Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

Thankfully, there were no tragic results in Cebu City, which is in the Philippines.

It could have been different.

Using bars and picks workmen were excavating the foundation of a four-story building. They ran into some complications when they discovered a very large, very stubborn piece of metal in their way.

The workers pounded on that stubborn bit of metal. They pounded with a vengeance. They pounded, I mean pounded, until one of them stepped back to get a better perspective on what they were doing.

He got it. Realizing what they were working on, he shouted one word and he ran. The word he called out was "bomb!" And so it was. It was a 500-pound, live bomb, which we used to call a "blockbuster."

The sight of those workers scrambling out of the foundation's hole must have looked like a cut from a Keystone Kops silent film.

Thankfully, the bomb didn't go off.

That's not always the case, is it? Every day we Christians see people pounding away at spiritual bombs ... bombs that sometimes go off with a loss of life.

You do know the kind of bombs I'm talking about, don't you? There are bombs like envy, lust, greed and idolatry.

When those bombs explode, they can do horrible things. They can ruin an individual's outlook on life; they can turn a person away from the Lord.

This is why we need to be ready for the explosives the devil puts in front of us. At those times, at all times, we need to be relying on the Savior who put Himself between us and the forces of these killer explosives.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would always have You between us and the bombs of life. We pray that we would never let those bombs destroy us. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Are You Resting in God's Grace?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (New International Version)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

When the first permanent settlers to Iceland initially arrived in the area now known as Reykjavik, they must have been quite surprised. Remember in 874, cigarettes didn't even exist until centuries later! They must have wondered if they had reached the doors of hell. Smoke and water vapours poured forth from the ground, the hillsides, everywhere, to the point that it even looked like the bay was smoking. It made the surroundings surreal as well as unique. Their name for the region? Reykjavik: Smoky Bay.

They must have been quite determined to build their houses in a place where smoke and steamy vapours poured forth from everywhere. It was only later that they would discover the advantages of that smoke. It came from the many geo-thermal areas in the region, and this made many of the hot springs ideal for bathing and washing, even in the middle of the winter! They must have been the cleanest Europeans of their time!

Much later, someone wondered if the region was rich in gold, and they bore a hole. What did they find? Only more smoke. What use could they make of all that steam?

It was early in the 1920s when the Icelanders first conducted that mysterious smoke that came up from the ground to their homes, providing themselves with an abundant source of free heat.

It sure was a huge success, and in our day and age, the island is primarily powered by geo-thermal energy. In fact electricity is the cheapest commodity in this country! No worries about leaving the windows wide open during the winter! Energy really is that inexpensive over there! If the early settlers to Iceland had been scared away from the "smoke" of Smoky Bay in 874, we might never have discovered geothermal energy!

The same is true with salvation. As humans, our tendency is to try to work out our salvation. In days of old, human sacrifices were used to appease the angry gods. Now we've discovered that the Creator is our true God, but we still tend to try to use our own good works to obtain salvation. Just like the Icelanders were on the wrong track when they bore holes for gold, we are also missing the point.

And just like these early Icelanders began to enjoy and use their abundant steam, we need to start taking advantage of the fellowship God has granted us. We need to start discovering what He has to say about salvation! Isn't that why Jesus came here in the first place?

Our good deeds cannot obtain us salvation, We can only reach Heaven through Christ.

The Icelanders discovered the grace bestowed on them. Smoke and steam were beneficial to them, a life-saving commodity amidst the harsh elements of their land. We, too, can discover grace that is way bigger than Icelandic smoke: A grace that will knock our shoes out from under our feet, a grace that will revitalize our whole being, a grace that comes from God, a grace that promises Salvation, Salvation from God, not humans.

And just like the Icelanders and the myriad of tourists who visit the island country can relax in the steamy geothermal waters, we, too, can rest in God's grace! Let us each start to rest in His grace today.

Dear Lord we thank You for the many things You do for us. We take this time today to thank You for the Grace You give to each of us freely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.