On Wings Of Eagles

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Strong Are Your Habits?

Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.

There was a fire one night at a convent and several nuns who lived on the fourth floor were trapped. They were praying for divine providence to show them a way out of the fire when one of the sisters screamed, "We need to take off our robes, tie them together, and climb down to safety."

Later as they were recounting the event to reporters, they were asked if they were afraid that the crude rope might not hold up.

"Oh, no," they said, "Old habits are hard to break."

Do you know the story of the touchstone? It tells of a fortunate man who was told that, if he should find the "touchstone," its magical powers could give him anything he wanted. It could be found, he was informed, among the pebbles of a certain beach. All he need do is pick up a stone - if it feels warm to the touch, unlike the other pebbles, he has found the magical touchstone.

The man went immediately to the beach and began picking up stones. When he grasped a pebble that felt cold, he threw it into the sea. This practice he continued hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Each pebble felt cold. Each pebble was immediately tossed into the sea.

But then, late one morning, he happened to take hold of a pebble that felt warm, unlike the other stones. The man, whose consciousness had barely registered the difference, tossed it into the sea. He hadn't meant to, but he had formed a habit, and habits can be hard to break.

Most of our habits are more like routines. We habitually arise about the same time every day - too early, it seems. We exercise. we fix oatmeal for breakfast. Most days we listen to the same kinds of music and even read the same kinds of literature. Our routines include those places we like to visit and the people we like to see. It's all fairly predictable. But what we call routine is more like a series of habits, some of which work well for us and some we should perhaps look at a bit more closely.

In fact, any behavior that we repeat, we reinforce. If we repeat it often enough, it becomes habit. Soon we don't even think about it -old habits are hard to break. Even good ones.

A Spanish proverb says: "Habits are first cobwebs, then cables." The metaphor works well for "bad" habits. They first entice, and then ensnare us like a cobweb. And if we continue in the behavior, the web grows stronger and can be as difficult to break as a steel cable.

But some habits can work in our favor. Such as patterns in the way we live our lives. Or positive attitudes and healthy ways of thinking. Our habitual attitudes and behaviors can either help us or hinder us.

The truth is this: we form our habits, then our habits form us. So we ought to pay attention to the habits we're forming.

Is there a behavior or attitude you would like to make into a habit? Then reinforce it by repeating it at every opportunity. Is there a something you wish to change? Then substitute a different attitude or behavior and repeat the new one every chance you get.

When it comes to habits, practice may not make perfect. But practice will certainly make permanent. Your habits will form you. So form the habits you want and let them mold you into the person you want to be.

Dear Lord, we pray today for habits that are good habits. Help us start with one good habit and build from there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Habit is Overcome By Habit.

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Desiderius Erasmus has said, "A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit." We should not simply resist "bad habits," we would do better to create good ones.

A teacher who was lecturing on habits told his class that "anything you repeat twenty times is yours forever." From the back of the classroom came a whispered voice, "Mandy. Mandy. Mandy. Mandy..."

What the teacher was trying to say is that any behaviour, often repeated, becomes habit. And any habit often repeated, becomes stronger and more powerful. Which is why Dr. E. Stanley Jones was so wise in admonishing us, "Since habits become power, make them work for you and not against you." In other words, drive out the undesirable nail with a good one.

One woman did just that after lamenting to her friend, "I hate being late. It has been a problem for me all of my life."

"Do you really want to change that habit?" her friend asked.

The woman said that she did and her friend responded, "All right. Every time you are late for work or anywhere else, you must give me $25."

"I would go broke!" came the reply. "But I will do $10."

It has to be a large enough amount of money for it to hurt," said the friend.

"Believe me, that will hurt," the woman replied. They agreed that the money should be deposited in a jar and used for charity.

In the first week the habitually tardy woman only paid $10 to her friend. The next week, $20. The third week none at all. By the fifth week she had built a new habit that changed an irritating pattern which had hindered her all her life. She drove out one nail with another one, and in doing so she found freedom.

Behaviors, as well as attitudes, often repeated, become strong habits. And great freedom is found in replacing that unwanted way of acting or thinking with one you choose. It is an important piece of a whole and happy life.

Dear Lord, We pray today that today we would replace bad habits with good habits so that we would bring honor to You in all things. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Stress Kit or God's Forgiveness?

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I read of a New Jersey artist who capitalized on people's needless guilt by selling them "guilt kits." Each kit contained ten disposable brown paper bags and a set of instructions which said, "Place bag securely over your mouth, take a deep breath and blow the guilt out. Dispose of bag immediately." Amazingly, about 2,500 kits sold at $2.50 each! The artist was in tune with just how much guilt people seem to carry around with them.

Of course, guilt serves its purpose, and I understand the use of the kit as a symbol of ridding ourselves of unnecessary, or destructive guilt. But guilt might better be handled at its root.

To live free from needless guilt, try these steps:

1. If a mistake was made, resolve never to repeat that mistake. The whole function of guilt is to change behavior.

2. Seek forgiveness from any others who were affected, if possible.

3. Use your spiritual resources. There is great power in knowing that, in an ultimate sense, you are forgiven.

4. Forgive yourself. No purpose is served in continuing to whip yourself over past events you can do nothing else about.

If you follow these steps, you can rid your life of unnecessary guilt. I believe that you will find that you are happier and healthier.

Dear Lord, We pray that we would turn all our stress over to You.  Help us take the steps today to let You take complete control. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Odds Are in God's Hands.

Judges 7:2 (NIV)
The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’

The Medianites were oppressing Israel. Gideon was the one called by God to put an end to this, but he needed reassurances. Their enemy was so huge and powerful! With only 32,000 men to fight this uncountable army, it already looked like a hopeless task. However God sees things differently than we do and, and He observed: "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands." (Judg 7:2a NIV)

Wait a minute! Too many men? We don't have enough! The more the better, believe me!

But God had a good point: "In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her." (Judg 7:2b NIV)

It's true that we have the tendency to give credit to the one who doesn't deserve it. For some reason we always tend to forget God in our equation.

So all of those who were afraid (Remember the enemy's army was many times bigger than these 32,000 soldiers!) were sent back home. It's true that fear paralyzes people, rendering them ineffective! Ask those who worry all the time!

22,000 men left, and now Gideon had only 10,000 remaining soldiers. In other words, more than two thirds of the army left in fear! How can we even win?

However God's math is not quite the same as ours. If He can multiply 5 loaves of bread to feed 5,000 and 7 loaves to feed 4,000 (See Mat 16: 9-10. Notice that the larger the amount of bread, the fewer people it fed!), He sure can defeat an endlessly large army with just 10,000 men!

Nonetheless, wouldn't we start shaking in our boots with such impossible odds?

Still God insists: "There are still too many men." (Judg 7:4b NIV)

Euh . . . I already lost two thirds of my fearful army, and I still have too many men?

Who is in charge here? Euh . . . You are!

While Israel's tiny army were at the river, those who kneeled down to drink were sent home. Only 300 men were left! From the original army, almost 94% were gone. The odds were not at all in favor of Israel!

Or were they?

Still God's promise stood firm: "With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands." (Judg 7:7 NIV)

I can imagine doubt rising into Gideon's mind. Wait a minute . . . 300 against 100,000s . . . God had to reassure him by sending him to spy in the Midianites' camp, where he heard that this huge army were trembling in their socks when the name Gideon was even mentioned.

What comes next leads Gideon to complete peace: "he worshiped God." (Judg 7:15b NIV)

The tools of warfare to be used: trumpets and empty jars.

What good are these against swords and chariots?

Amazingly, "all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled." (Judg 7:21b NIV) Then "the men throughout the camp turned on each other with their swords." (Judg 7:22b)

"'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." (Zech 4:6 NIV)

Too often we, too, rely on useless devices. They may be considered powerful in human terms, but they are truly useless when compared to the power of God.

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (Eph 1:18-21 NIV)

Are you facing trouble? Instead of relying on the Internet, Facebook and ipods, face these giants in faith, relying solely on God. Only then will you be completely victorious. And if He asks you to cut back on certain things, trust Him, as he knows what is best for all of us.

Dear Lord, We pray that we would rely completely on You for everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Will You Be an Angel Unaware?

Hebrews 13:1-2 (NIV)
1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Virgil Gibson, of Meeker, Oklahoma, was a special man. Everyone who knew him recognized his kindness, generosity and spiritual strength. "If anyone needed anything, they would call us," Kathleen Gibson says. "They knew Virgil would help." One of his hobbies was collecting stuffed animals. Every Christmas he would give them all away to needy children.

Kathleen was his biggest fan. "I always believed that God had brought us together," she says, "because we married after knowing each other just two weeks, and Virgil loved me unconditionally for 31 years." Virgil was a truck driver, who had named his company, "A Wing and a Prayer." Kathleen drove with him as often as she could, and nearly always after their son grew up. "We were a team not only in trucking, but in life," Kathleen says. "Where you saw him, you would see me."

In 2001, Virgil developed some health problems. But he didn't want to retire. Kathleen could drive, and he would go along. "He told me that he would rather be with me on the truck than any place else, especially if anything ever happened to him," Kathleen says. Early in January, 2002, the couple drove a load from Chicago to Jacksonville, Florida, and had to stay there over the weekend before they could pick up another load. This was not unusual. Kathleen and Virgil passed the time in their truck, watching television and enjoying each other's company as usual. On Monday morning, as they left the truck stop restaurant, Virgil stopped. "I'm dizzy," he told Kathleen. Suddenly, he fell to the ground.

"Virgil!" Kathleen cried. Quickly she reached into his pocket for his nitro pills.

People ran toward them. One trucker called an ambulance, while others surrounded the pair. Kathleen knelt on the pavement, with Virgil's head in her lap. The scene seemed surreal. How could this be happening? She couldn't lose Virgil, God, she just couldn't! Looking up, she noticed an older couple approaching. The woman was carrying a Bible, and the man held blankets, which he tucked around Virgil's still form. Quietly, the woman began to pray.

The paramedics arrived, and as they applied electrodes to shock Virgil's heart, the woman drew Kathleen away from the scene. "Your husband is with God now," she said quietly. "God is going to put His arms around you, and help you through this grief." No, it wasn't true! But somehow Kathleen knew that it was. As Virgil was put into the ambulance, the woman led Kathleen back to it. During the long ride to Ed Fraser Hospital in Macclenny, Florida, Kathleen continued to pray: "Please God, save my husband. I love him. I need him." The doctors did all that they could, but the unknown lady at the truck stop had been right. Virgil entered Paradise that day.

Kathleen was exhausted when she finally left the emergency room. There was so much to do, so much grief to bear, and she was alone in an unfamiliar city. How was she going to cope? But when she approached the waiting room, she saw the couple from the truck stop! "We're supposed to be here," the man explained, brushing aside Kathleen's surprised thanks. "We knew you'd need a ride back." She looked at them closely for the first time. Two ordinary, grey-haired grandparent-types perhaps in their mid-60's. She had never seen them before. But somehow, despite the shock and grief that was just beginning, she felt comfortable, safe, even, somehow, loved. The lady was still holding her Bible. "Come," she told Kathleen. "You need to eat. You have to keep up your strength." Kathleen could do nothing but obey.

Her newfound friends barely left her side for the rest of the day. They took Kathleen to a local mortuary to make the final arrangements. (Virgil had wished to be cremated) With their help, Kathleen contacted her sister, who instructed her to stay in Jacksonville until they could come to her. The couple also moved their truck right next to Kathleen's. She noticed that they weren't pulling a trailer. "We don't need one right now," the man explained. Oh. That was strange. "Have you been driving long?" Kathleen persisted. The woman smiled. "Not long at all," she answered comfortably.

None of it made sense. Surely they were supposed to be driving a load somewhere. But when Kathleen realized that they were going to stay all night right alongside her, she broke down. "I'm so sorry for being such a burden." she began. The couple wouldn't listen. "This is what people are supposed to do for each other," the man stated. "We're just getting you over this hump," his wife pointed out. "But as long as you keep God Number One in your life, you're going to be just fine."

Kathleen knew that. Once again, despite her sorrow, she sensed an unexpected peace.

When Kathleen awakened the following morning, the couple and their truck were gone. "I asked the waitress if they had come in to eat breakfast," Kathleen says, "but she hadn't seen them since the night before when they were with me." Perhaps they simply hadn't wanted to awaken Kathleen. She would miss them, she realized. Without their kindness and steady reassurance, she wondered how she would have coped.

It wasn't until Kathleen was back in Meeker and life was beginning to settle down, that she began to wonder more specifically about the pair. Where had they come from? How had they seemed to know so much? Most important, had she adequately expressed her gratitude to them? Fortunately, she remembered the name on the truck they were driving. She would contact their boss, tell him how lucky he was to have workers who were so good, so caring of others. But when she phoned Information, she received a surprise. There was no such listing for this company anywhere in the country. Nor, through any of her contacts, has she been able to locate the company or the drivers.

"I'm still looking," she says today. "But I don't think I'll ever find them." Not in this life, perhaps. But on the highways of the world, it's good for all of us to know that angels are there.

Why not be the one that God uses today to help someone in need.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be willing to be used when someone needs us. Bring someone into our life today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How Valuable Are You?

Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

There is a field with two horses in it.   From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if one stops the car, or is walking by, one will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. This alone is amazing.

Listening, one will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, one will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to her bridle is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know where she is, so he can follow her. As one stands and watches these two friends, one sees how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is -- trusting that she will not lead him astray.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges. He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by God and those whom he places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others see God.

Dear Lord, we thank You for watching over even a blind old horse.  We thank You for watching over us no matter what condition we are in.  Provide for us with heavenly guides that will lead us to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do You Have Too Many Engineers?

Jeremiah 10:23 (NIV)
Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
    it is not for them to direct their steps.

One of the worst train disasters in history occurred in the El Toro Tunnel in Leon, Spain, on January 3, 1944. Over five hundred people died.

The train was a long passenger train with an engine on both ends. As the train entered the El Toro Tunnel, the engine on the front end stalled. When the front engine stopped, the engineer on the back engine started up his engine to back the train out of the tunnel. As he proceeded, however, the front engineer managed to get the front engine started again and attempted to continue the journey in the opposing direction. Neither engineer had any way of communicating with the other. Both engineers thought they simply needed more power. They continued to pull in opposite directions for several minutes. Hundreds of passengers on the train in the tunnel died of carbon monoxide poisoning because the train was stuck in the tunnel because it was being pulled in two different directions! *

This tragic incident illustrates what can happen in our lives when we are pulled in different directions, following the lead of different “engineers”…

Many of us struggle as to which way to go with our lives. We often give in to different “engineers” like our friends, our society, our families, and our selves, even though they may be pulling in opposite directions!

Long ago, the inspired prophet Jeremiah said, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). In other words, we need direction – we need a wise engineer – to help direct our steps.

In short, we need Jesus to be our Savior AND our Lord (Master, Ruler, “Engineer”).

In fact, Jesus cannot be our SAVIOR unless He is our LORD!

Hank Hanegraaff has written: “Christ died to be our Savior and lives to be our Lord.”

Christ died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Ephesians 1:7). We are saved from our past sins when we believe and trust Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). We continue to be cleansed from our sins as we continue to acknowledge Him as the Lord of our lives through our trusting obedience to His Word (1 John 1:7). Jesus asked, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

There are MANY engineers in the world that desire to control our lives, but there is only ONE Loving Lord.

Today let us each submit our life to Him so He can lead us to our eternal home?

Dear Lord, We pray that today we would let you be our engineer. Help us not allow ourselves to be pulled in different directions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Fan and Listening to God's Voice.

Romans 10:17 (NIV)
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Frank SanGregory of Tiffin, Ohio, was getting ready for work. He was on the afternoon shift so although his daughter Theresa and his almost-two-year-old grandson, Josh, were finishing lunch downstairs in the kitchen with Grandma, Frank had gone upstairs to shave. There was a large window at the top of the staircase, and right in front of it, Frank kept a large exhaust fan to circulate the air on hot days. But today was not hot so the fan was not running. Frank barely noticed it as he passed it, went into the bathroom and closed the door. He could still hear the laughter coming from downstairs. He adored his grandchildren, and hated to say goodbye to little Josh. But they lived nearby, so more fun would certainly be in store.

Frank started his routine. And then, "I don't know why," Frank says, "but a few minutes after I had closed the bathroom door, I felt as if I should open it and look out into the hallway." He had no reason to do so, and he wasn't finished shaving yet. "And I never opened the bathroom door before I was finished---except in very hot weather, perhaps. But today wasn't hot.

"Neither did I hear anything that would cause me to open the door. There was no reason in my mind. I just decided that it was something that I should do. And so, I opened it just a slit."

Toddler Joshua had followed Frank up to the second floor! There the two-year-old stood, on the next to last step, reaching out to take hold of the heavy fan, to pull himself up to the top of the stairs.

Time seemed to stand still---and then as Joshua grabbed the fan to brace himself, it started to tip towards him. "Papa! Papa!" Joshua screamed.

Frank flung himself out the door, just in time to grab the tipping fan with his left arm. At the same instant, he was able to wrap his right arm around Joshua to keep him and the fan from crashing down the stairs. "Had I been even a second later, I shudder to think what could have happened," Frank says. "The fan wasn't running but it was very heavy, and Joshua would have been seriously hurt if we hadn't been able to stop."

Frank has always believed that it was God urging him to peek out that bathroom door. Now he realizes it might have been his guardian angel, or even Joshua's. Whatever the answer, God intervened and saved the family from a terrible accident.

Dear Lord, We pray that we would have our thoughts so tuned to You that when You tell us to do something we would listen and do what You want us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Long Hair or Short Hair?

Galatians 5:25 (NIV)
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

During the Jesus Movement in the 1970's many people out of the hippie generation met Jesus. They wore long hair and tattered clothing. Some had big holes in their pants. At one particular church the older saints complained, "We have all these people with long hair in our church." In those days it was called "ungodly" for a man to have long hair. People came to the pastor, saying, "You have to do something about these people with long hair. These guys are coming into the church and getting saved. They can't wear long hair anymore. It is ungodly." He replied, "No. I am not going to do anything about it except I am going to talk to them. I am not going to tell them they can't wear long hair."

The pastor met with the "hippies" and said, "I want you in the next week to ask the Holy Spirit why you are wearing long hair, and then we are going to talk."

A week later they met again. A number of them sat together. The pastor asked each one in the group, "What is God saying to you about your hair?" One person said, "Well, God is saying to me to cut the hair." Another person responded, "The Holy Spirit is telling me I can keep my hair the way it is."

After he had gone through the entire room and asked each person what God said, about 60 percent of the people said the Holy Spirit, by the grace of God, told them to cut their hair. Forty percent of the people had received instruction by the Holy Spirit to leave the hair the way it was.

Was God confused? He gave different instructions to one set of people.

Then this pastor asked a second question. He said, "Tell me the reason why the Holy Spirit told you to cut your hair." 60 percent of the people, without fail, said, "The reason the Holy Spirit told me to cut my hair was because I was angry with society, with politicians and I was angry with my mother and father. There was anger on the inside of me, and I let my hair grow because I wanted to make a statement against society. I wanted to stand up and say, `I will do whatever I want to do."'

Then he looked at the other 40 percent of them and said, "So, what about you? Why have you grown your hair long?" They said, "Because we like long hair. It's cool. It looks good."

God is not as concerned about style as we are. If you like long hair, keep long hair. But if the reason why you have long hair is rooted out of rebellion in your heart, then you need to cut it. This is the grace of God. We cannot judge another person because they do not act and talk like us.

Teaching someone else the Word of God involves teaching them to listen to the Holy Spirit. Then they will know what to do because their hearts have been molded and changed by that wonderful grace on the inside, the grace of God.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would allow the Holy Spirit to work through each of us. Help us not judge others but let them be guided by the Holy Spirit to make the decision that You would have of them. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Christians are Uprooted.

Psalm 31:24 (NIV)
Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.

I read an account about when a hurricane blew through the Keys and south Florida with a mighty force. The account is as follows.

The winds howled, and the rain pounded relentlessly for 24 hours. My sister and her husband have a home in Marathon, Fla. And we were concerned about the damage the mighty force of the hurricane would inflict. The news was good – the house was fine, and as for the landscaping, only the key lime tree was uprooted. We were all very thankful.

Shortly thereafter my husband and I visited their home in Marathon where I took a good look at that particular key lime tree. Yes, I could see where the roots were exposed and dirt had been misplaced. The damage to the branches was extremely evident for they were quite bare, with only a few leaves hanging on, and amazingly enough...even some key limes!!! My brother in law had straightened the tree, tying one large branch to the corner post of the house, giving it support. On the other side, the tree was propped up by a 2 x 4 board, giving it the assistance it needed while it recovered.

This account reminds me that when Christians are "uprooted" in their faith, no matter what the reason, God sends people, and events into their lives to help support them. Finally, with time, their roots can be repaired and they will stand alone with God, not depending upon an outside brace to keep them from toppling over.

Dear Lord, thank You that You never leave us during difficult times and for the amazing way you work in our lives, even when we are uprooted. Thank You that You restore our roots by using those around us. Help us let You use us to help those around us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

God is in Control of Everything.

Romans 8:6-8 (NIV)
6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Living in the Middle Ages wasn't easy. (Are we any better with our hectic self-appointed schedules? We may be more health-conscious, but we aren't "healthy". Heart attacks are on the rise. So are headaches. Where do they come from? We have Aspirin and Acetaminophen to cover the symptoms, or Ibuprofen for those who can't tolerate the above two, nonetheless, they keep appearing. What's wrong with our medicines? Don't they do what we want them to do?)

The people of the Middle Ages used swords as weapons (We don't have to worry about these anymore . . . In our day and age, we have automatic machine guns ). And since people back then didn't want to be killed (guess we haven't changed!), they invented ways of protecting themselves.

Or at least the wealthy did!

They tried just about everything, from leather to wood to -- silk! As these (especially silk!) didn't do much to stop the swords, someone invented chainmail for those who could afford it. Suddenly it was harder to pierce a wealthy person to death, but more often than not, the sword found a vulnerable part of the chainmail. These vulnerable spots served as a real handicap to its wearer. And if the chainmail was found to be invulnerable, the head of the bearer was simply sliced off, as chainmail could not protect the head (An oversight, I am sure).

"Ouch! I want my money back!"

"Sorry! You don't carry much weight any longer!"

It was time for better protection, and metal plates were invented to cover the entire body (Try to pierce me now! Ha!)

Every piece of armor was made to perfection according to the specifications of the individual who would wear it

The weight was distributed in such a way, that a rider could move around quickly (Though likely not as quickly as in t-shirts and Reeboks!) and rise up (With difficulty I am certain!) when he fell from his horse.

As a result, noble wealthy men could be more in control for the outcome of certain squirmishes. Until firearms appeared, that is, making those tomb-like contraptions worthless to the wearer, as it offered no protection against bullets. (And the manufacturer guaranteed I would be safe in this! No wonder he's bankrupt!)

History keeps on repeating itself. We tend to think we are in control until . . . We find out we are not! Then we try to do something about the problem that is controlling us, and it seems we are back in the game. Until something again goes wrong, that is!

Anger bursts out of our mouth without us even planning it. Spouses and children may betray us without us even being aware. Jobs are terminated and we find ourselves desperately roaming the streets. Where did all of our control go?

In all reality, the more we hold on to control, the less we have it. It always seems as if circumstances and anyone around us, with some exceptions, are rising against what we think we are in control of. Peace is fleeting as despair fills in the cracks. Life seems without meaning.

Reality is not found in our capable hands, but in God Himself. Once we leave control to Him, we can experience a meaningful life, filled with inner peace. Unless we try to be in control again, that is!

Turmoil and trials will always arise, but we won't have to worry about these. God is in control! No one can bypass Him, and not only does His armour cover Him completely, it is also impenetrable, even by bullets. He is the One who will re-energize us, just like those rechargeable batteries. He is the One who will give us rest during turmoil. He is our rest! He is our peace! He is the One who gives meaning to our lives, as long as we leave everything in His care.

And why not? He's our Lord and Savior, after all!

Dear Lord, we thank You for giving meaning to our life. We thank You that You are in control of everything. Please help us trust You completely in everything. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Biblical Lessons from a Nurse's Lessons.

Luke 9:23-25 (NIV)
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

A few years back I read this story from a nurse that served as a missionary. A hospital visitor saw a nurse tending to the sores of a leprosy patient, and said, “I’d never do that for a million dollars!” The nurse answered, “Neither would I. But I do it for Jesus for nothing.”

I have several friends who serve as nurses. They serve in the United States, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. One thing they each have in common is that they have a heart for God and serving Him through the gifts He has given each of them.

As I chatted with one of my dear sister’s in Christ the other day who serves in Singapore she shared some lesson with me that she has learned from being a nurse in the OR. 

As she came away from a training meeting here is what she learned and how it applies to us as Christians.

KNOW OUR PROCEDURES (like knowing God's Words and Principles);

ANTICIPATE WHAT THE SURGEON NEEDS (anticipate people's needs);

LOVE OUR WORK (love Jesus and obey Him).

The surgeon shared that the more BLOOD IN THE AREA OF THE INJURY MEANS MORE REPAIR IS GOING ON.  This should remind us of Jesus Blood that heals us when our soul is injured.

Another is NO ROOM FOR ERROR! Even as we share God's Word- the TRUTH is the only one that sets us free- no room for error. God’s Words are the ultimate Truth.

The Surgeon then said: “Every time I take my eyes off the surgical field (any part of the body to be operated) I lose focus so you have to give me the tool I need when I stretch my hand out"
Same when we lost focus with. When we look to the Cross we will never get lost. So let’s fix our eyes on Jesus!

This is another great reminder of how we can apply our daily jobs and routine into reminders of what God has for each of us if we take the time to look.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the way You can speak to each of us. We pray that our eyes would be open to the lessons You have for each of us. We pray that our hearts would be open to serving You right where You put each one of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Lost Daughter and Prayer.

Romans 10:1 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

Early in 1998, a distressed mother living in Chicago sought the Lord on behalf of her teenage daughter. This girl had already fallen heavily into drugs, even supporting herself as a prostitute in England for a time. She was back in the States, but her mom, whom we'll call "Angle," had no idea where she was. Still, through prayer, she was convinced that God would bring her daughter back and save her soul. (We'll call the girl "Louise.") Angie called a local Teen Challenge and asked them to hold a bed for Louise, assuring them that soon her straying daughter would return-and she was right!

Several days later, Louise called home, telling her mom that she just had to get out of the place where she was living. She even said that she would give Teen Challenge a try, although she was not yet saved. When she got home, her mother and stepfather decided to take her down to Florida to see her grandparents before getting her into the rehab program. As they were driving, Angie felt the Lord say to her, "Go to Pensacola." So she told her husband what she heard God say, and they agreed to drive a little out of their way to stop by Pensacola. It turned out to be hundreds of miles across state!

But here is the fascinating part of the story. When they arrived at a hotel in the city, Angie asked the desk clerk, "Is there anything religious going on here?" She had no idea that the largest local-church revival in the history of America had been taking place in Pensacola for the previous two and a half years! Of course, the clerk told the family of the revival-the local hotels in Pensacola have maps to the revival at the front desk-and they attended the meetings. Louise was dramatically converted and baptized, and she checked into Teen Challenge a brand-new person. Through the prayers of her mother, God made a way of escape for her, bringing her back from England to the States, then from Illinois to Pensacola, then from the revival to a proven Christian rehabilitation ministry. He will do whatever it takes!

Are you praying for the lost today?

Dear Lord, We pray that our hearts would be tender toward those that need You today. Help us to pray faithfully for those we know need You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

How Many Signs Do We Need?

John 15:7 (KJV)
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

"How can they do that?" asked one of the boys at the orphanage.

Five or six boys had captured several lighting bugs in a jar. They sat outside one Saturday evening watching them as they, one at a time, lit up their magical bodies.

"It's like a special nature thing." said one of the boys.

"We can't keep them in a jar for very long or they will die." said Robert

"We can give them food and water and they will live for a long time. Won't they?" One of the boys asked.

"We can't keep them locked up in a jar. The church lady says that it's wrong to kill anything that God made for the world. It's wrong to kill things." said Tommy.

"If God didn't want us to have them then he wouldn't let us catch them. After all their just bug things." said Wayne.

"If God wants us to let them go then he could give us a special sign." said Tommy.

All at once the small bugs stopped lighting up. The jar now sat on the ground with the boys waiting to see if they would once again start to light.

"Maybe their dead now." One said.

"They’re not dead. That is a sign from God to let them all go." said little Billy Smith.

"That ain't no sign." said one of the boys.

"If God wants us to let them go then he should make them blink just one time. Then we'll know it is a sign." said Wayne.

Everyone fell totally silent and all eyes were glued upon the glass jar with anticipation.

All of a sudden there was one small flash of light and then the jar fell dark once again.

"That was just an accident." said Wayne.

"That ain't no accident. You better let them go or you’re breaking a promise to God." said Billy.

"We'll do it one more time. This time they have to blink two lights. Then we'll know it's really a sign." said Wayne.

Once again they sat in a circle around the jar, silently waiting for the sign.

"Holly Mackerel." said one the boys as two lights appeared in the small jar.

Slowly one of the boys reached over and unscrewed the lid to the jar. We boys sat there silently, with their eyes as big as saucers. Several minutes passed before they decided to thump on the jar causing the lighting bugs to fly away.

How often are we like the little boys, asking for just one more sign from God. Let make today the day that we completely trust God and not keep asking for more signs.

Dear Lord, we pray that today we would look to You for the answers and that we would take You at Your world and not keep asking for more signs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

On Valentine’s Day isn’t it fun to dig through a bag of those little candy hearts that have the words printed on them? They say cute little things like “SWEET”, “CUTE”, “HUG ME” or “I LOVE YOU”.   As we think about love this Valentine’s Day let’s not focus on the love printed on the candy hearts but instead let’s take a look at three things Paul tells us about real Love found in our verses today.

When I was younger I use to watch the TV show “Leave it to Beaver”. Do you remember the character Eddie Haskell? He’d act one way around grown-up and totally different around Wally and the Beaver! That’s called being two-faced or a hypocrite. Paul says real love does things from a pure motive and to do otherwise profits nothing! (Verses 1-3)

Growing up in Michigan we’d say let’s go get a “coke” which could be anything cold and wet! Coke was a generic name for any kind of soda pop the local store had in stock! But the Coca-Cola company spends millions of $$$ to let us know that “Coke” is the real thing ®, “Coke is it!” Paul says real love has certain unmistakable qualities. (Verses 4-8a)

Paul concludes this wonderful chapter on love in verse 13 by saying that in the end there are three essential things that will matter – FAITH, HOPE and LOVE and the greatest of these is real love! I want you to know that God’s love for us is a love that endures, He always stands ready to forgive and to pardon if we will only turn to Him is trust and repentance. He only asks that we love Him enough to obey His salvation plan. If you haven’t experienced the real love of God why not take that step today?  His love will never fade away.

Dear Lord, we thank You for showing Your love to us. We pray today that we would share that love with those me meet today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.