On Wings Of Eagles

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Broken Bones and God's Restoring Power

Psalm 6:2  (NIV)
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

Last night in an exciting game of Ultimate Frisbee with the Frisbee flying from one end of the gym and youth running everywhere.  During the game my son went high in the air to catch a Frisbee and his legs were taken out from under him. He became close and personal with the gym floor landing on his arm.  That brings us to where I sit now, the ER.  X-rays have shown that relationship with the floor did not do well for his wrist as one of the small bones is broken.  Every time he would move his arm he got the reminder of the broken bone. Once the doctor put the splint on and demobilized his arm it brought much relief. Now we wait as his wrist heals and he is restored back to full health.

As I sat in the ER and was thinking about broken bones I thought to myself bones are not the only thing that can be broken. We can be broken spiritually. Let’s take a look at David.

David also had reminders of broken bones, but his injuries were spiritual, not physical. After David’s moral collapse involving an affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, God firmly disciplined him. But then David turned to Him in repentance and prayed, “Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice” (Ps. 51:8).

God’s chastening was so crushing that David felt like his bones were broken. Yet he trusted that the God of grace could both repair his brokenness and rekindle his joy. In our own failure and sin, it’s a comfort to know that God loves us enough to pursue and restore us with His loving discipline.

Dear Lord, You did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline. Help us to move beyond the bad experiences and pains of our past and embrace the challenges of the future with confidence knowing You are there to help restore us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Standing Up For What You Believe

Philippians 1:27 (NIV)
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.

As the Tigers prepare for the playoff schedule and hopefully a World Series birth it reminded me of one of the great all time Tigers.

Have you ever heard of Hank Greenberg? The year was 1934. For the first time in 25 years, the Detroit Tigers were a strong team who had an excellent chance to play in baseball's prestigious World Series. Hank was a key player on a team that had come to rely on his superb skills at first base, and his strong batting, to win games. An important and decisive game was scheduled on Yom Kippur. Hank, the son of Romanian immigrants to the United States, announced that he would not don his uniform and play on this day, one of the most sacred of He­brew fasts.

The city of Detroit was outraged. Citizens screamed that the Day of Atonement could be cele­brated any year, but this year the Tigers may go all the way to the Series! Anti-Semitic remarks were viciously hurled, but Hank Greenberg remained resolute.

The Detroit Tigers indeed lost that day, al­though the team did secure the pennant that year. And Hank, when more rational minds prevailed, at­tained the respect of the community. In fact, a poem was written and published honoring the man who held steadfastly to his beliefs. The tribute ended with this verse:

Came Yom Kippur - Holy fast day world-wide over to the Jews, And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true Spent the day among his people and he didn't come to play.

Said Murphy to Mulrooney, "We shall lose the game today! We shall miss him in the infield and shall miss him at the bat, But he's true to his religion - and I honor him for that!"

Hank still teaches us an important lesson in how to live effectively. He decided what was important to him and, regardless of pressure applied, he honored his own values. Hank Greenberg -- not the team, nor the coaches, nor even emotional Detroit fans -- set his agenda. What he did required tremendous courage. He let nobody lower stand­ards he had chosen for himself. And though the team lost that day, the city of Detroit won be­cause it gained an important role model in a young man who courageously followed an inner voice.

Choosing our own way may not always be easy. But effective living occurs once we decide how we will live our lives and, regardless of outside pressure, we honor that decision.

If you are struggling with a difficult decision today, what is your inner voice leading you to do? Perhaps that is the voice that should be honored. Turn it over to the Lord and have Him lead you in the way you should go.

Dear Lord, when the difficult decisions come our way help us to stand firm with the conviction we have. Help us follow what You would have for us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reputations Are Like Credit

Ecclesiastes 7:1 (NIV)
A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.

REPUTATIONS ARE LIKE credit. Once ruined, restoring them is complicated.

Greg was a distant cousin and rebel who was somewhat of an idol for seventies teenagers with rebellious tendencies. He was into the "hippie scene" complete with long hair, boots, beads, and a Chevy van sporting wide tires, mag wheels and a custom interior. Greg was also into some of the negative facets of the movement: disregard for authority, drugs, alcohol and bumming around. He was popular, but not for honorable reasons. Greg was a rebel with a reputation to match. Unfortunately, his lifestyle eventually led to premature death.

Reputations have a way of influencing others, and Greg's did for some. Some couldn't wait to legally do some of the things he did, have some of the things he had and be as popular as he was. Some followed his footsteps to a degree and got what he had: a reputation.

Reputations are somewhat like character which is built by integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when everyone is watching or no one is looking. Integrity forms character which is who we genuinely are. When guarded and preserved, good reputations serve us well in the community, our places of employment and in relationships. When trashed, they do the opposite.

Eventually reputation can be rebuilt. It is difficult and takes time. Guarding it initially would have simplified the process. Love, joy, patience, honesty, kindness, faithfulness, self control, punctuality, dependability are traits of good reputations. Only careful choices shape reputations characterized by these qualities, but doing so allows our Jesus lights to shine. And this focuses others in the right direction.

Have you tarnished your reputation with bad choices? It's never too late to let God help you rebuild character. Turn it over to the Lord today and let Him help you rebuild your reputation.

Dear Lord, help us guard our actions and our thoughts. Help us keep our reputation clean so that it would bring honor to You in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, September 27, 2013

20 Dollar Bill and Repenting

Acts 3:19 (NIV)
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

When you look at a 20 dollar bill you see Andrew Jackson below is a story about our 7th president.

A famous Methodist evangelist named Peter Cartwright was known for his uncompromising preaching. However, one day when the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, "Old rough and ready," came to Cartwright’s church, the elders warned the Pastor not to offend the President. In those days, the President had great power to influence a denomination for good or bad. Content, that their Pastor would not say anything to discredit their church, the elders retired to the back of the sanctuary.

When Cartwright got up to speak, the first words out of his mouth were, "I understand that President Andrew Jackson is here this morning. I have been requested to be very guarded in my remarks. Let me say this: "Andrew Jackson will go to hell if doesn't repent of his sin!" The entire congregation gasped with shock at Cartwright’s boldness. How could this young preacher dare to offend the tough old general in public, they wondered.

After the service, everyone wondered how the President would respond to Cartwright. When Andrew Jackson met the preacher at the door he looked at him in the eye and said, "Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could conquer the world!" When we appreciate the power of the word of God and the Holy Spirit speaking from the lips of people with conviction we will make eternal differences.

Every time you see a 20 dollar bill let it remind you to repent of your sins.

Dear Lord, we pray the not only would we repent of our sins but we would lead others to also repent. Give us the strength to speak the truth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

No Regrets

Philippians 3:13 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.

Not many people have heard of Bill Havens. But Bill became an unlikely hero of sorts - at least among those who knew him best. Here is his story:

At the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, the sport of canoe racing was added to the list of international competitions. The favorite team in the four-man canoe race was the United States team. One member of that team was a young man by the name of Bill Havens.

As the time for the Olympics neared, it became clear that Bill's wife would give birth to their first child about the time that the US team would be competing in the Paris games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from Paris to the United States, only slow ocean-going ships. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he go to Paris and risk not being at his wife's side when their baby was born? Or should he withdraw from the team and remain with his family? Bill's wife insisted that he go to Paris. After all, competing in the Olympics was the culmination of a life-long dream. But Bill felt conflicted and, after much soul-searching, decided to withdraw from the competition and remain home where he could support his wife when the child arrived. He considered being at her side his highest priority - even higher than going to Paris to fulfill his dream.

As it turned out, the United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal in Paris. And Bill's wife was late in giving birth to their child. She was so late, in fact, that Bill could have competed in the event and returned home in time to be with her when she gave birth. People said, "What a shame." But Bill said he had no regrets. For the rest of his life, he believed he had made the better decision. Bill Havens knew what was most important to him. Not everybody figures that out. And he acted on what he believed was best. Not everybody has the strength of character to say no to something he or she truly wants in order to say yes to something that truly matters. But for Bill, it was the only way to peace; the only way to no regrets.

There is an interesting sequel to the story of Bill Havens..

The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read: "Dad, I won. I'm bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born."

Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning but never did. Like I said - no regrets.

Dear Lord, we pray for wisdom to make the right decision so that we will not have any regrets. We thank You that You are in control of everything and all we need to do is seek You for the things to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

You Reap What You Sow

Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

In 1962, maverick inventor Bill Lear wanted a challenge. The sixty-year-old Lear had already invented the 8-track tape, and the automatic direction finder and auto pilot for aircraft. So in 1962 he sold his interest in Lear, Inc. to form Learjet, which became the leading supplier of corporate jets within five years.

But soon after his company started producing jets, there were two Lear aircraft that crashed under mysterious circumstances. Lear was devastated. He'd developed the plane to offer business travelers a fast, economical alternative to the airlines. At that time, 55 Lear jets were privately owned. Bill sent word to all the owners to ground their planes until he and his team could determine what had caused the crashes.

To Bill, who was a Christian, risking the loss of more lives meant far more than the adverse publicity that grounding all Lear jets might generate in the media. He protected his customers and counted on God to protect the reputation of his corporation. As he researched the two ill-fated flights, a possible technical problem emerged. Bill experimented with his own plane to recreate the same problem. He nearly lost control of the jet in the process, but found that a defect in the plane's design did exist.

All 55 planes were fitted with a new part, eliminating the danger. Bill spent two years rebuilding the business. Lear jets were soon soaring again, carrying thousands of business people safely to their destinations.

We are responsible for our actions and we will reap the fruit of our labor.

Dear Lord,  thank You for blessing those who look to You and work responsibly for Your glory. Help us always to have the integrity to do what is right.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Would You Default the Match?

Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)
Fools give full vent to their rage,
    but the wise bring calm in the end.

In the 1975 Masters Tennis Tournament in Stockholm, Sweden, tennis star Arthur Ashe ahead 4-1 in the third and decisive set of their round-robin match with Romanian-born Ilie Nastase, sometimes dubbed "Nasty" Nastase for his flamboyant on-court antics.

Behind in the match, Nastase went into his act again, stalling and arguing, cursing, taunting, and acting like a madman. Finally, Arthur Ashe put down his racket and walked off the court, saying, "I've had enough. I'm at the point where I'm afraid I'll lose control."

"But Arthur," cried the umpire, "You'll default the match."

"I don't care," replied Ashe, "I'd rather lose that than my self-respect."

Agreeing that Nastase's unruly behavior had unfairly interrupted the match and driven Ashe to the sidelines, referee Horst Klosterkemper came up with a solution to the fiasco. He announced that Nastase was disqualified. He refused to condone Nastase's bullying tactics and he insisted that Nastase default the match for his unsportsman-like conduct. Arthur Ashe won both in the game of tennis--and in the game of life.

Do you control your anger or does your anger control you?  This is something we face each day. Let’s pray together for the strength to put the racket down and not let the anger destroy our self-respect and our witness for Christ

Dear Lord, we give the problems we face today that may cause anger. We pray that Your Spirit will control us in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Having a Clear Conscience

2 Timothy 1:3 (NIV)
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

In April 2001, Tim Shutt was the crew chief for NASCAR driver Mike McLaughlin. Tim was a new Christian who came to Christ at a Christian retreat for participants in the racing industry. Preparing for the major race in Talladega, Alabama, he was tempted to add an illegal part to the car. "Joe [Gibbs, team owner] is adamant that we don't cheat," said Shutt. Joe Gibbs is also a Christian and a former National Football League coach. Tim said to McLaughlin that morning in practice: "If we're no good in practice, I'll put this piece-the illegal piece-on. Probably 30 other teams are doing it." Tim knew he was justifying it. Tim said: "I got up under the car, I got halfway through putting it on, and that verse, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God,' came flashing in red in front of me, and whoa, that was it. I said, 'I'm leaving this up to you, God.'" Shutt didn't put the piece on the car. McLaughlin won the race at Talladega, and later reflected: "When we won, the first thing that came to my mind was that verse. God wanted to show himself to me."

You will be regularly tempted to cheat, but resist the temptation and serve the Lord with a clear conscience.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your infinite love. Help us to seek first Your Kingdom and do the things that are right and pure so that we can have a clear conscience. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lesson I Learned From The Challenger Disaster

Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed.

Not only can the lack of integrity kill the individual involved, it can also cut down whole groups of innocent people as well.

It was a Tuesday morning as we sat in the office and prepared for the day’s work. With the TV on so we could see the shuttle launch we saw the Challenger lift off the pad and then as was normal we would run outside so we could watch as the shuttle went into space. But something was very different, very wrong. We went back in and sat in front of the TV as the story unfolded.

It was a chilly Tuesday morning, 28 January 1986, when Christa McAuliffe climbed aboard the Challenger space shuttle for her historic mission as the first citizen in space. She was a teacher. I only pray that we learned something about the consequences of getting an "F" in integrity. The weather was cold, but unbeknownst to the rest of the nation a group of engineers was fighting back the hot sweat of worried anticipation. Would the booster seals hold in this kind of weather? Was it safe to launch? Knowledgeable engineers and designers said, "No." Influential executives and planners said, "Yes."

When the space shuttle Challenger lifted into the sky and blew up seventy-three seconds into its flight, the world was shocked. Most of us have seen the videotape of that terrible moment many times. And we can recreate the picture in our minds of a deep blue sky marked with twisted trails of smoke and large chunks of metal plummeting toward the ocean. And we know, as we recall the grim specter of the explosion, that among the falling pieces were the bodies of some of America's finest men and women.

Most of us also know that the investigations into the cause of the tragedy pointed out some serious shortfalls in human judgment and materials management. The New York Times put it frankly: the ultimate cause of the space shuttle disaster was pride. A group of top managers failed to listen carefully to the warnings of those down the line who were concerned about the operational reliability of certain parts of the booster rocket under conditions of abnormal stress. The people in charge were confident that they knew best and that they should not change the launch schedules. They were wrong.

Are you afraid of seeking counsel? As we are told in our Bible verse today “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they success.”  What a blessing it is that God has put wise people in each of our lives, why not take a moment and seek there counsel?

Dear Lord, we thank You for the wise people You have put into our life. Help us not be too proud to not ask them for their advice. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Bass and a Lesson of Integrity.

Proverbs 10:9 (NIV)
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
    but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

He was 11 years old and went fishing every chance he got from a dock at his family's cabin on an island in the middle of a New Hampshire lake.

On the day before the bass season opened, he and his father were fishing early in the evening, catching some fish and perch with worms. Then he tied on a small silver lure and practiced casting. The lure struck the water and caused colored ripples in the sunset, thin silver ripples as the moon rose over the lake.

When his pole doubled over, he knew something huge was on the other end. His father watched with admiration as the boy skillfully worked the fish along side the dock.

Finally, he very gingerly lifted the exhausted fish from the water. It was the largest one he had ever seen, but it was a bass.

The boy and his father looked at the handsome fish, gills playing back and forth in the moonlight. The father lit a match and looked at his watch. It was 10 p.m. -- two hours before the season opened. He looked at the fish, then at the boy.

"You'll have to put it back, Son," he said.

"Dad!" cried the boy.

"There will be another fish," said his father.

"Not as big as this one," cried the boy.

He looked around the lake. No other fishermen or boats were around in the moonlight. He looked again at his father.

Even though no one had seen them, nor could anyone ever know what time he caught the fish, the boy could tell by the clarity of his father’s voice that the decision was not negotiable. He slowly worked the hook out of the lip of the huge bass and lowered it into the black water.

The creature swished it's powerful body and disappeared. The boy suspected that never again would he see such a great fish.

That was 34 years. Today, the boy is a successful architect in New York City. His father's cabin is still there on the island in the middle of the lake. He takes his own son and daughters fishing from the same dock. He was right. He has never again caught such a magnificent fish as the one he landed that night long ago. But he does see that same fish -- again and again

- - every time he comes up against a question of ethics.

For, as his father taught him, ethics are simple matters of right and wrong. It is only the practice of ethics that is difficult. Do we do right when no one is looking? Do we refuse to cut corners to get the design in on time? Or refuse to trade stocks based on information that we aren't supposed to have? We would if we were taught to put the fish back when we were young. For we would have learned the truth.

The decision to do right lives fresh and fragrant in our memory. It is a story we will proudly tell our friends and our grandchildren.

Not about how we had a chance to beat the system and took it, but about how we did the right thing and were forever strengthened.

Dear Lord, we pray for strength today to do what is right.  Help us when nobody is looking to do the right thing. Help us to be people of integrity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Who is Your Senior Partner?

Genesis 17:1 (NIV)
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.

Buck knives are arguably the best knives in the world and are backed with a Lifetime Guarantee that means every Buck knife is guaranteed for the life of the purchaser against defects in materials or workmanship. Founded in 1902 by apprentice blacksmith named Hoyt Heath Buck, the company has remained a family business for over a hundred years. The Bucks strive to treat their customers like family, and former President Al Buck said: "Now that you are family, you might like to know a little more about our organization. The fantastic growth of Buck Knives, Inc. was no accident. From the beginning, management determined to make God the Senior Partner. In a crisis, the problem was turned over to Him, and He hasn't failed to help us with the answer. Each product must reflect the integrity of management, including our Senior Partner. If sometimes we fail on our end, because we are human, we find it imperative to do our utmost to make it right. Of course, to us, besides being Senior Partner, He is our Heavenly Father also, and it's a great blessing to us to have this security in these troubled times. If any of you are troubled or perplexed and looking for answers, may we invite you to look to Him, for God loves you."

Does your life reflect integrity including the integrity of the Lord? If we will follow this verse we will. “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" - Philippians 2:14-15

Dear Lord, we confess today the sins in our life and we seek to live blamelessly in all that we do. Help us make You our senior partner and make decisions that You would make. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Are You True to Your Word?

Psalm 119:160 (NIV)
All your words are true;
    all your righteous laws are eternal.

Part of the unspoken code among the settlers of the American West was that a man always kept his word. That explains why Andrew Garcia made a 1,300-mile trek in 1879 to pay a debt. In September of the previous year he had bought supplies in Bozeman, Montana, to hunt buffalo. The 10 pack-mules, ammunition, food, and gear cost him $300 more than he had, so a merchant loaned him the rest. He promised to pay it back by January 1.

The winter snows came early that year, however, and Garcia couldn't get back to Bozeman. His travels took him through Colorado and down into New Mexico. Finally, a year later, he headed back to Bozeman. "Don't bother," his buddies told him. But Garcia believed in keeping his word, so he returned and paid the debt.

Followers of Christ should also be known as people of integrity. If we say we'll help with a Sunday school class, or assist in the nursery, or spend time with a family member, or complete a job as agreed, do we keep our word even if something better comes along? Are we true to our word?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be people of our word. Help us be true to our word.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Do You Feel Useless?

Matthew 22:39 (NIV)
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

Abbé Adolphe-Julien Fouré's vision was to become a priest and to serve the people of his beloved Brittany. He did this with passion until he had a stroke at the age of 55, which left him completely deaf as well as mute. He had no choice but to retire from his clerical duties.

In his shoes, I would have felt quite depressed, useless, like I was a burden to society. It's quite easy in such times to start hating ourselves!

He was determined, however, to not become discouraged. He decided to move to the village of Rothéneuf, near Saint-Malo in France. Although he could now neither hear nor speak, he was inspired to begin carving sculptures, some of wood, and others from the living rock. He was so determined that even today more than 120 years after he had dedicated himself to this task, more than 300 of his rock sculptures can still be seen.

He became an inspiration to his entire region. If a deaf/mute could make such an impact to society, every one of us, whether handicapped or not, could have a similar impact on the world! The problem is that we tend to relish being swallowed up by self-pity. After all, when we find ourselves rejected and abandoned by our loved ones, we tend to feel unlovable, and we easily conclude that we are worthless. It doesn't take long for us to begin to hate ourselves!

May we learn from Abbé Adolphe-Julien Fouré that the only thing that can stop us from being useful is our own attitude! Nothing can hinder us from loving others, as long as we refuse to submit to discouragement.

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is King David. He, too, had many opportunities to thoroughly hate himself and feel completely useless. Some of us can completely identify with David when he wrote:

"My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends- those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery." (Psalms 31:10-12, NIV2)

Do you feel at times like a broken plate? I haven't met anyone that hasn't felt this way at one time or another. We are human after all!

How would we have felt if we had been in David's shoes? Like a broken plate as well? How would we feel when the king that we serve and who is also our father-in-law, wants to completely destroy us and uses every means at his disposal to do so? But as if that isn't bad enough, his brothers also mocked him, and his own son, Absalom, usurped his throne, making him run for his life a second time.

Calamities were part of David's life, and he, too, could have ended up becoming completely discouraged. He didn't though. Instead he developed an intimate relationship with His Heavenly Father, who sustained Him during those desperate times. Because of this, David could boldly proclaim: "But I trust in you, LORD; I say, 'You are my God.'" (Psalms 31:14, NIV2) He became a pillar of faith, so much that God declared about him: "'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart . . .'" (Acts 13:22b, NIV2)

Although David made many horrible mistakes, he never stopped trying to serve God with all of his heart. The many psalms he wrote are an indication of where his hope was anchored.

May we remember that self-pity will only lead to heartache, and eventually we may end up hating ourselves. Love cannot bloom in such circumstances, unless we let God fill us with His love.

You can make a difference in this world, no matter what your handicap might be.

Dear Lord, help us not get discouraged with our circumstances or our handicap. Help us to use what You have given to us.  Thank You for using us if we are willing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Proverbs 5:3-9 (The Message)
"The lips of a seductive woman (or man) are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. She's dancing down the primrose path to Death; she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. She hasn't a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she's going. So, my friend, listen closely; don't treat my words casually. Keep your distance from such a woman (or man); absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted."

I read a story about 2 cousins. They meant the world to each other. Being brought up in an environment where making friends was discouraged, they discovered sole friendship in each other. Because their mothers, who were sisters, met on a regular basis, friendship blossomed. After all, they only had each other!

This young boy and girl enjoyed the many kid's games they played together, like shooting at plastic toy soldiers with rubber bands and trying to retrieve top secret documents from the enemy through a garage filled with invisible security beams -- thread that extended from one wall to another.

As they matured, they moved to more mature sports, like biking and roller-skating on the dikes of Flanders. No matter what the circumstances, they had one another. They were inseparable, they confided in one another, and they considered the other as their best friend.

But one day, something happened that would change all of this. At the age where innocence reaches its end, the girl, now in her mid-teens, began receiving special attention from a married driving instructor. She was invited to a special, intimate rendezvous with that instructor, and was experiencing an inner urge to go. Remember, neither of them had ever experienced "true" friends before, and she didn't know what to make of the strange feelings stirring inside of her. She also didn't know what to make of the married man's advances.

The boy, also in his teens, tried to persuade her otherwise. He saw the hidden dangers behind such an encounter. But she had already made up her mind. She turned away from her life-long friend, her dearest cousin, leaving him in the park, completely discouraged.

That "special" rendezvous led to more, and eventually the young woman's attention began to rotate around men. Jumping from one relationship to another, sometimes even flirting after several men at the same time, this young man's cousin desperately searched for happiness, happiness that she never found.

That didn't hinder the young man from loving his cousin, his best friend. Never, ever did he condemn her or criticize her in any shape, form or fashion. Their friendship was never the same again, however. Conversation rotated solely around the men of her life, as no other subject seemed to be of interest to her. Her cousin tried to drop a few words of advice, whenever he was allowed to, but inside he was devastated that his best friend from childhood had been transformed into an obsessive men-hunter, who never, ever, met the "right guy".

Years later, her father died, and at that point, she shunned her cousin completely. His "best" friend from long ago had made her choice. Unfortunately, that choice made her more isolated than ever before, as she stubbornly continued to look for love in all the wrong places. Childless and friendless, she became a bitter person. All of this because of a choice made right during her teen years!

She would never have dreamed of such an outcome. In her childhood, she would have never wanted to even consider herself as someone on the hunt for men, as someone obsessed by them. But one temptation led to another until they completely swallowed her.

One "innocent" night outside of marriage will ravage your soul for the rest of your life! You will either be repulsed by it, or it will swallow you whole, but it will never, ever lead to the bliss you searched for.

Beware of those men or ladies who promise you the moon. More often than not, that moon will never be delivered to you. Disillusionment, loss of self-worth and bitterness will eventually fill the space that you call "life". The choice to give up your innocence will haunt you for the rest of your days. It is a deception directly from hell, with the only purpose of destroying your destiny, your entire life.

Where will be the man or lady who promised you the moon be in a few years? I know where the TRUE Lover of our soul will be: "And be sure of this-that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matt 28:20 TLB) And He has sure never disappointed me!

His word is true: innocence is not to be given to one who is not committed to our life-time well-being. This will only lead to heartbreak and rejection, and the path will be set to our eventual total downfall.

Dear Lord, We pray today that we would each guard our hearts. Help us to not let our hearts lead us to do things that we will regret later. We pray that we would keep our eyes and hearts on You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Our Inheritance is Great

Romans 8:16-17  (NIV)
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I remember as a young boy playing the “If I had a million dollars what would I do game.” It was fun imagining what I would do with all that money. Once while playing the game a friend of mine said “when my rich uncle gets out of the poor house I get all his inheritance. As I look back at that comment I think about the inheritance I will receive as an heir of Jesus.

It’s almost impossible for us to comprehend how divinely, glorious and wonderful our heavenly inheritance as fellow heirs with Jesus our Lord. As we look at how boundless the riches of our God is, we are rich beyond our imagination. 

He that overcomes shall inherit all things: Revelation 21:7.

All things are yours: 2 Corinthians 3:21.

We are:

Heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:14.

Heirs of eternal life. Titus 3:7.

Heirs of promise. Hebrews 6:17.

Heirs of the grace of life. 1 Peter 3:7.

Heirs of righteousness. Hebrews 11:7.

Heirs of the Kingdom. James 2:5.

Heirs of God. Romans 8:17a

We are children of God. If we are children, then we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” and we will inherit all things that have been given to Him. The golden streets of paradise, the pearly gates, the river of life, the tree of life. All bliss, all glory, are made over to us for our everlasting possession by our blessed Lord. As God’s children, we are heirs of God; heirs entirely of all that God is, as well as heirs of all that God possesses. Heirs of His Love; for God is Love. Heirs of all possible good; for God is good. Heirs of power; for God is all Powerful. Heirs of knowledge; for God is all knowing, and so we can go on and on.

May we begin to grasp these facts of God’s Word; that all He has, Jesus wants to, and will share with us, His fellow heirs? The Royal Crown, He will place on the head of His Church. We’ll have a glorious coronation. Christ’s throne, crown, scepter, palace, treasury, robes, heritage, will belong to us.

The honors of His Kingdom are more pleasing to Him, because we His fellow heirs will appear with Him in Glory. ”I have given them the glory that you gave me... John 17:22a. (NIV) He delights in His conquests because they have taught us, His people, to overcome. He delights in His throne because He has made a place on it for us. He delights in His joy because He calls us to enter into it.

“... I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13b (NIV)

Dear Lord, thank You for your provision to us here on earth. Please help us to comprehend your exceeding abundance to us as fellow heirs with You. May we ever be found sharing Your unlimited Grace with those in our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Imagine If You Will... You Have been Seperated

John 14:6 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Imagine if you will…..

You have been separated from your Father ever since you were born, and now you get word from far away that you are to inherit a beautiful home from him. You receive a description of the house, the gardens, and a general idea of the route.

There are directions about how to get there but there is one provison: you must be accompanied by someone who knows your Father and can identify you.

Disappointment and loneliness overwhelm you, and you look up at the stars and beg for help. A stranger stands beside you. ”I’ll take you," he offers, and in the dark, he holds out his hand to you.

You hesitate to take it. You’re not sure if this is for real but you nervously put your hand in his. As you do, you feel deep, rough scars. You draw back, but He says with gentle patience:

"I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Instantly you know you have a guide who will take you all the way, and identify you to your Father.

Dear Lord, we thank You that You will guide us through this life and bring us to our Heavenly Father. Help us share Your love with someone who needs it today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Does the World Influence You or Do You influence the World?

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

There's a story that Thomas Wheeler, CEO of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, tells on himself. He and his wife were driving along an interstate highway when he noticed that their car was low on gas. Wheeler got off the highway at the next exit and soon found a rundown gas station with just one gas pump. He asked the attendant to fill the tank and check the oil, and then went for a little walk around the station to stretch his legs.

As he was returning to the car, he noticed that the attendant and his wife were engaged in an animated conversation. The conversation stopped as he paid the attendant. But as he was getting back into the car, he saw the attendant wave and heard him say, "It was great talking to you."

As they drove out of the station, Wheeler asked his wife if she knew the man. She said that she did. They had gone to high school together and had dated steadily for about a year. " Boy, were you lucky that I came along," bragged Wheeler. "If you had married him, you'd be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of a chief executive officer."

"My dear," replied his wife, "if I had married him, he'd be the chief executive officer and you'd be the gas station attendant!"

So, which of the two had the greater influence on the other – the husband or the wife? You see, in any relationship, both parties have an influence on the other
But an even more important question is this: Who has the greater influence on the other -- you or the world? That is to say, has the world shaped you and made you what you are today, or have you changed the world around you by your influence on it?

Christians are called by God not to be transformed by the world, but to be a transforming influence on the world. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described our calling in this way:

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand  and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)

Make a decision today not to let the world pull you away from God. Rather determine to live in such a way that will draw the people around you closer to God.

Dear Lord, help us today to influence the world and not have it influence us. Help us to be the light and the salt that You have called us to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Working to Be Rich or Rich in God.

2 Corinthians 8:9  (NIV)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Mud is far from desirable. It clings to everything -- pants, socks shoes -- making it hard to even enjoy going for a walk. Imagine living in the mud!

This happened at Pithole, Pennsylvania. In 1865, due to the exploitation of the oil found there, Pithole was built so quickly that no one ever stopped to consider the potential mess that could transpire where so many buildings were being built in such close proximity to so many oil wells. Oil tends to leak, and in fact, it leaked quite a bit that year! You see, everyone in Pithole wanted to become rich fast, and in order to do so, everyone cut corners to achieve their "All American" dream! Before they knew it, they had a muddy mess on their hands, and it didn't help that the pouring rain also factored itself into the equation.

Still the inhabitants didn't want to waste any time from becoming rich, so in order to remedy their immediate problem they threw some planks down here and there so that pedestrians, horses and wagons wouldn't disappear into the mud! Soon however, these planks had to be replaced, for they, too, were being swallowed whole by the vicious, clingy, oily stuff.

It wasn't long before everyone was covered from head to toe with the oily mess, and it soon became difficult to recognize people. Not that this mattered, for with all the rush to get rich, there was absolutely no time to get to know anyone anyway! No one, in fact, could even be distinguished as being rich or poor, for everyone, rich and poor alike, was covered from head to toe by smelly mud! Ummm! The smell of becoming rich!

A story soon became famous. A stranger, who had just arrived in town, noticed a muddy hat on the muddy street. He couldn't stop himself from kicking it. A rush of swear words resulted, from way under the ground: "That is my head in the hat mister. Who do you think you are, kicking me so viciously? You better not kick me again…

The stranger peered down in dismay and said "You are being buried alive! You're covered with mud!"

The muddy guy answered: "Never mind! I've got a mule under me and he's got to the second sand rock."

Too often the rich face a muddy mess. It may not always be as oily as Pithole, but muddy it still is!

"I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." (Revelation 3:17a, NIV2)

This person sure seems presumptuous! He has achieved success, his needs are completely unknown, and abundance surrounds him. He truly has achieved the All American dream!

In all reality though, this verse refers to a certain kind of believer, a believer who thinks he has it made. Notice how the text continues... "But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Revelation 3:17b, NIV2)

Wait a minute! How is that possible? If we have it made spiritually, shouldn't we at least celebrate?

The apostle Paul sheds some light onto this: "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. 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." (1 Corinthians 13:2-3, NIV2)

Believers who think they have it made are the ones who truly have achieved nothing at all! They are the ones who are spiritually poor to the extreme! Yes, they may have the gift of the Holy Spirit, but that doesn't mean they have it made! Yes they may have an amazing kind of faith, but even that is not an opportunity for celebration! Yes, they may give to their heart's content, but even that can be meaningless! If there is no love in what we do, we have become spiritually bankrupt!

Some will realize this a little too late, just like that man on his mule in the mud! "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:22-23, NIV2)

Love is what unites us with God and our fellow human beings. We were created to love, not to indulge in luxury! "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8, NIV2)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your love. Help us be more concerned about showing Your love then gathering the riches of this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

He Became One of Us

Hebrews 2:14-18 (NIV)
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

On February 15, 1921, there was a doctor who performed an appendectomy. The doctor performing the surgery was Dr. Evan Kane who over his 37-year medical career had performed nearly 4,000 appendectomies, so this surgery was not at all unusual except for two things.

First of all, this was the first time that local anesthesia had ever been used in major surgery. Dr. Kane believed that local anesthesia was safer than putting a patient completely to sleep. Most of his colleagues agreed with him in principle, but they wanted to see first if it would actually work.

So Dr. Kane searched for a volunteer, a patient who would be willing to undergo surgery while under local anesthesia. It wasn't easy to find one. Most people are squeamish at the thought of being awake during their own surgery. Others are fearful that the anesthesia might wear off too soon.

Finally, though, Dr. Kane found a volunteer, and on Tuesday morning, February 15th, the operation began. The patient was prepped and wheeled into the operating room. A local anesthetic was applied. And as Dr. Kane had done thousands of times before, he cut open the tissues and removed the appendix. The patient had only minor discomfort and recovered quickly, dismissed two days later.

Dr. Kane had proven his theory. Thanks to the willingness of a brave volunteer, Dr. Kane demonstrated that local anesthesia was an alternative, even a preferred alternative.

But I said there were two facts that made this surgery unusual. I've told you the first: the use of local anesthesia. The second unusual thing was the patient -- the patient was Dr. Kane. You see, in order to prove his point, Dr. Kane operated on himself. The doctor became a patient in order to convince the patients to trust the doctor.

As unbelievable as that may seem, it is insignificant compared with what Jesus Christ did for us. The Great Physician voluntarily became one of us. He placed himself in our shoes. He left the glories of heaven to live on this earth as one of us -- to suffer our pains and feel our fears. Why? So that when you hurt, you will know that you have someone who understands -- your Great Physician -- and you will have confidence to go to him for healing.

Dear Lord, thank You for coming to Earth to become one of us and walked in our shoes so that as we go through things we can look to you and know You went through them also and understand. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.