On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween thoughts 2015

Romans 13:12 (ESV)
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.

It’s an age-old question in the faith community: Should Christians celebrate Halloween? I read a great article dealing with the origins of Halloween and the issues of Christians celebrating it. They compare it to the issue in the Bible of eating meat sacrificed to idols. They also raise the about Christmas trees. The Christmas Tree was originally part of a festival to a fertility god. Does this mean that if we have a Christmas Tree, we are worshiping the fertility god? No, because of its cultural context. I do know of some Christians who don’t have Christmas Trees, for that reason. It is a matter of personal conviction.

I found this illustration you can use as you carve a pumpkin with your children.

Being a Christian is just like a pumpkin! Let me try to explain, I brought this pumpkin here to help me illustrate what I mean. (Proceed to carve the pumpkin.)

First, God picks you from the pumpkin patch and brings you in from the field. The Bible says He selects us out of the world. We are in the world, but no longer of the world.

He then washes all the “dirt” off the outside that we received from being around all the other pumpkins. All the outside influences of our former life must be cleaned up. Old things are passed away and all things are become new.

Then, He carefully removes all the “yucky stuff” called “sin” out from the inside. Look at this! Yuk! Sin will not have such internal power. He then changes us from the inside out by the Power of His Word. That’s why it is important to go the church and learn about God’s Word.

He carefully removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, and fear. He replaces them with the seeds of faith, hope and love. After Jesus is invited inside, you begin to experience the changing power of God’s love in your life.

Then He carves a new smiling face. Our countenance is changed by the power of His presence in our life. We then become so grateful. It can even show on our face!

Now we are going to light this candle inside. Look! This pumpkin now reflects the light from inside out. So too, when Jesus, who is called the Son of Light, lives inside of us, He shines through our life for all to see. We can let His light reflect through us to reveal His presence. “Let your light so shine before men that they may be able to see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.”

So you see, we Christians are really like this pumpkin! We will never be the same with Jesus inside of us. We can say like this jack-o-lantern, “Thy presence, my light!”

Let us close this devotion with a prayer based on carving a pumpkin.

Dear Lord, open our minds so we can learn new things about You. Remove the things in our life that don’t please You. Forgive the wrong things we do and help us to forgive others. Open our eyes to see the beauty You’ve made in the world around use. We are sorry for the times we ‘ve turned our nose at the good food you provide. Let everything we say please You. Lord, help us show your light to others through the things we do. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Jesus is our hope

Matthew 5:3-10 (ESV) 
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Sooner or later we will all realize the futility of trying to be in control of our circumstances, and we will come to understand that our life has been a total sham. Hopefully it won't be while we are on our deathbed!

God, in His goodness, will give us many opportunities throughout our lives to contemplate real life, real freedom and real love. More often than not, however, we simply shrug our shoulders and go on without a second thought.

Still, only when we are completely broken inside can we truly realize that there is more to life than wildly running around like a chicken with its head cut off. But in all honesty, is our stressful life truly the full life Jesus promises us? "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

This was a concept the Germans didn't realize during World War I. They wanted complete control, and complete control they had. Or so it seemed to them. They hadn't yet conquered all of Europe, but they had Belgium under their control! And though the Netherlands succeeded in shaking them off their back, the Germans continued to strive for total control.

No communication was allowed between these two countries, and this was easily controlled. Or at least that's what the Germans thought when they erected a three-meter electric fence and sent 2000 volts of current between these two countries. "Ha! That will keep them away!"

However in any plan designed to control someone's behavior, there is always gaps that we never considered. Ingenious Hollanders found a way around this electric fence. Or should I say "through it"! They found out that if they put a wooden barrel between the wires, they could crawl through the barrel to the other side without any consequences. Soon they were regularly smuggling mail between the two countries.

Yes, the Germans thought they had the country completely in control, especially since they had a backup plan. They had German troops patrolling "the wire", or "Het draad", as they called it in Dutch. And yes once, one of these troops caught one of these pundits and shot him on the spot. But it didn't stop the communication between these two countries.

Eventually the Germans realized they could not control all of their conquered countries, and World War I came to an end. They never completely gave up the idea of controlling all of Europe, however, and the entire world as well, and a mere twenty years later Hitler came into power. Fortunately for the world, he, too, had to come to the realization that total control was impossible.

Broken, many of these soldiers, as well as the inhabitants of the European countries who had suffered throughout the wars, discovered a refuge in the One they considered their Shepherd. He was the One they could trust at all times, to Him they surrendered their lives. Through brokenness they discovered there is more to life than just barely living!

If you are facing despair and solitude because of your circumstances, consider the hope Jesus, our Lord, is offering you. Even amidst absolute turmoil, you can experience real living. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Hope is not based on human promises,  Hope based on Jesus.

Dear Lord, we thank You that our hope, the hope of the world is based on You. Help us live our life in a matter that shows this world that You are the true hope for the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Umbilical cord that is called trust.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

In New Zealand you can see a special contraption that looks like a hang glider. The device is connected by an extreme extra-long cord, to a motor boat. The speed of the boat keeps it up in the air, guiding it through the wide open space of the sky.

People are actually flying without the aid of a motor, and had effortlessly reached the heights of the sky. And as long as they stayed connected to the speed boat via the umbilical-looking attachment, they would never fall.

Just like these people, we, as Christians, can soar way up high, just like eagles! But we, too, have to rely on an "umbilical" cord that attaches us to our Maker and Savior. This "umbilical" cord is called trust.

But trust doesn't come too easily, especially nowadays.

To trust completely we have to set aside our pride, as well as all of our petty preoccupations. We have to put our entire focus on the person we trust. Only then can we soar way up to heights we would never have imagined. Gone are the addictions. Gone are the worries. Gone is any selfishness and unforgiveness.

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt 6:33-34 NIV)

This is where we can go wrong. We get attracted by our own obsessions that we never find the time to start trusting anyone, much less the one many sadly call the "Man upstairs". And that's where we continue to live a mundane life with all its whistles called addictions attached to it.

We all fall short of the assured promise: "All these things will be given to you as well."

It seems to be human nature that as soon as we are experiencing any kind of soaring in the heights of the sky, we immediately take out our pocket knife and severe the cord that keeps us in the air. "We can do it by ourselves" we claim, only to discover over and over again that it is not so, after we crash.

If we only took the time, we might realize one day that "soaring like eagles" is truly a reality for those who set aside their pride. "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." (Eph 3:20)

We can fly like eagles, but only if we truly stay connected to God in all humility with the "umbilical" cord called total trust.

Dear Lord, thank You for being our Creator and our Savior. Thank You that You have made it possible for us to fly above all the mediocrity of this life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What a Contrast

1 Corinthians 13:12 (ESV)
 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

New Providence Island and Paradise Island, both belonging to the Bahamas, are close enough to be connected by two huge bridges. This is where all similarity ends, however. In fact, the two islands couldn't be more different!

The final destination of most tourists is Paradise Island. And no wonder, with such an attractive name! In the past the island was known as Hog Island, due to the numerous 4-legged inhabitants that bear the name "hog". When the big enterprises began to move in and develop the island into a tourist area, the hogs found themselves unwanted and unloved.

The Island is currently graced with numerous luxurious hotels and resorts. It is also home to numerous luxurious and expensive homes, most worth several million dollars. The streets are ultra-clean and well maintained, and the native Bahamians are only there to serve the numerous tourists.

The primary resort on Paradise Island is Atlantis. Atlantis offers rooms for a wide range of prices, but the most expensive two rooms are $25,000 a night, with a minimum of 4 nights' stay. But amazingly enough, these two rooms are supposedly booked solid for the next two years! Atlantis also offers a casino, a water park with numerous slides through shark and stingray infested waters, and a huge, interconnected aquarium, supposedly the largest indoor aquarium in the world.

This is the only picture of the Bahamas that most tourists ever see. Would they be left thinking that the Bahamas are one huge amusement park? That they are the home of the rich and famous?

But how erroneously wrong they are! If they would have only taken the time to cross the bridge and visit the main island, New Providence, their viewpoint would have been dramatically changed! They would have realized that the Bahamas is much more than a fancy tourist trap. Instead, it is a place of utter beauty filled with wonderful people. They would have found the New Providence beaches intoxicating, its marine life titanic, its history exhilarating, and its local population fascinating. They would have also noticed that though most of the residents are not well off, they don't spend their days worrying about their poverty. They smile, they spend time with their families, they consider others to be as important as themselves, and they enjoy their simple lives to the fullest!

Similarly, we often have a distorted view of life itself. We think that life is all about us, and everything is here to satisfy our insatiable yearnings. Our constant cravings for something better leaves us more dead than alive.

"As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end." (Rom 6:20-21 The Message)

We are at a dead end, and worse still, we believed life was nothing more than a dead end with no turning around allowed. We were empty and had no way to find real fulfillment.

Bur God took care of that by loving us so much that He willingly died so that not only could we obtain life but life in full.
Our whole perspective can change. We can leave the island supposedly called "Paradise" and visit the main island of Truth.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the abundant life You have for each of us. Help us to get caught in the traps of the world but rather continually look to You for the real joy.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

He will take care of us.

John 5:19 (ESV)
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

Summer 2011/2012 in the Southern hemisphere was greeted by heavy flooding in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. Some areas received 15 ½ inches of rain, more than what they received in any given month, in just 48 hours. The rain persisted as if it had no end. It flooded State Highway 2, as well as numerous other roads in the region. Warning signs were placed on every road implicated in the flooding, hoping to deter disaster for anyone who was unaware of the possible dangers.

One couple drove right by those menacing warnings. They thought they were in control, and nothing could stop them. Once near Whakatane however, their vehicle was swept away by the current.

As it happened, the passenger lowered her window just in time. It was a gesture that would save them. With difficulty, they were able to swim to the bank, where they remained, shivering with cold, until authorities could come to their rescue. Not only had they lost they vehicle, they also faced the wrath of authorities for putting their lives, as well as the lives of those who were implicated in the rescue operation, at risk. Too late they realized that truly no human can be in complete control.

Adam and Eve also realized this same truth. The very first temptation in Eden was about control and pride: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:5)

Jesus was tempted in the same way, though He never fell into temptation: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Matt 4:3) It was again an urge from the evil one for Jesus to prove Himself by taking matters in His own hands.

The second temptation wasn't any better: "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (Matt 4:6)

The third temptation appealed not only to control, but also to the pride of possession: "The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'" (Matt 4:8-9)

Silly, don't you think? But very efficient!

Even today, most, if not all of us, fall for this same trick: We are tempted with issues of control and pride.

Sin is not just disobedience and doubting God. It especially involves taking matters into our own hands with the goal of being in total control. We are in the driver's seat, and if you don't like our driving, you can get out! It's all about: Me, Me, ME!!!

Sin cannot lead to the rest Jesus promised in Matthew 11:28, as there is no rest for the wicked. Worries increase as we try to remain in total control of the kingdom we have tried to establish, a realm that, though it may seem enormously important to us, is actually quite insignificant when compared to the vastness of the universe!

Jesus came not only to save us from ourselves, but also to demonstrate that real living can only be obtained by leaving all of our control issues in God's hands. He is the One who knows best. He cares for us better than we can possible care for ourselves. He is the One we must leave in charge. With Him, we truly have nothing to worry about. He will take care of us!

Dear Lord, help us daily to leave all control to You. Help us relinquish all control to You. Thank You for being our guide in all things. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Can you please forgive me?

Matthew 18:22 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Two ten-year-olds were pouting in the corner of their classroom. It was clear that they were quite upset. The teacher approached and asked what the matter was. The smallest of the two turned around, her lips quivering. It was not yet clear whether this was from anger or from hurt:

"She…she hurt me bad!" She snapped. Then she proceeded to share her side of the story with much passion.

When the other girl was given the opportunity to reply, all she said was "I am so sorry! Can you please forgive me?"

"No way! You hurt me too bad!" The hurt girl replied.

The teacher was surprised at both responses. Never before had he heard someone, when accused, not try to defend herself. And since there had been such a beautiful apology, why hadn't the other girl accepted it?

"Why not?" He asked.

The reply of the smaller girl was curt and to the point: "I already forgave her once, and look where it brought me!"

He simply replied with a question:

"Have you ever hurt your mom or dad through your actions?"

The girl turned red and answered with hesitation: "Yes..."

"Have they ever not forgiven you?"

"Not really."

"Isn't it worth it to give your best friend another chance by forgiving her?"

"I suppose."

They did make up, and they are still best friends. Had she not forgiven, however, this simple problem could potentially have undermined everything; and all because of unforgiveness!

The apostle Peter also had a problem with the notion of forgiveness. This is why he asked Jesus, in Matt 18:21: "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

"Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" (Matt 18:22 NIV)

There is peace and real living among those who can forgive through Christ.

Dear Lord, help us have a heart of forgiveness. You have forgiven us and continue even after we keep sinning. Please help us to forgive today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Are you living, or barely existing?

Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

A fundraiser… Not an ordinary one, not a lavish one, not one to increase some organization's wealth or to pad someone's wallet… The children sheltered at Christ Our Refuge Children's Home, in Nairobi, Kenya, made some exotic art work to be sold at a church in Canada. The children took the wings from dead butterflies and glued them to paper to make unforgettable masterpieces. Some took human form, others the form of a dwelling, but the one that caught my eye was in the form of a colorful parrot. I can't even imagine the hours of work that was poured into these works of art, and it was obvious that there was also plenty of love and prayers put into the pictures as well. And that's how they were received by churches. It was like they were receiving butterfly kisses straight from Africa!

What would the orphanage do with the money they received? They use it to save more of the homeless children from the slums of Nairobi. They want to reach out to more and more of the kids no one wants! The Undesirables! The kinds that otherwise would end up in crime, prostitution, and disease! They want to offer them shelter, food, an education, and a real purpose in life.

What drives this orphanage? Their love for the lost children in Nairobi. They are fully aware where most of these abandoned children are heading: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matt 7:13-14 NIV)

It is no life to sleep on the street in a cardboard box with an empty belly! It is no life to have to beg or rely on crime and prostitution to get food to survive! It is no life to face AIDS, desperate and alone!

But what about those of us in the Western world? We have so much more, yet do we fare any better? We have homes, food in abundance and security, but how many of us really enjoy true living? There are so few who aren't addicted to nasty habits that keep them from enjoying what we could have been. There are so few of us who truly walk around with a big smile on our faces!

Are we truly living, or do we barely exist from one moment to another?

There are a few who really enjoy real living. I am not talking about the con artist who pretends all is well while his whole life is falling apart. I'm talking about those who really, truly enjoy every moment of their life. These rare people all have one thing in common: they truly know the One who brought them life!

Only One is the way! Only One is the truth! Only one is life, real life! Only One can bring us to heaven! Jesus is the One who can give each one a true purpose! He is the One who can make us truly enjoy life, even though our circumstances may be far from ideal. He is the one who can give us true hope!

His love is more than enough to envelop anyone who opens up to Him, asking Him to provide them with real living. And real living He will truly provide!

Dear Lord, thank You for the true joy that You can bring to each of us. Help us live our life in Your joy. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Are you happy in your grievance?

Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Jones, a wealthy financier, had on many occasion in the good old days, when trains were flourishing and coaches were the last word in technological luxury, crossed the continent by Pullman. He was well known and well served and was accustomed to every convenience, particularly when dining.

Imagine his exasperation, then, when it turned out that the chef did not have tutti-frutti ice cream.

"No tutti-frutti?" He shouted. "I always have tutti-frutti."

"I'm sorry, sir," said the waiter, soothingly. "We have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, black walnut, cherry, mocha almond --"

"I want tutti-frutti," cried Jones, banging the table and turning red. "I have always had tutti-frutti and I won't have anything else."

For miles he muttered, scowled, growled, and snarled at everyone, so that every train employee on board had visions of angry reprisals. Finally, the train stopped at a station; a word to the conductor kept it there while the crew scoured the town for tutti-frutti ice cream.

A whole pint of the dessert was found and all of it was presented to Jones, with huge gobs of cherry sauce on it, together with a sliced banana and a swirl of whipped cream.

"Here is your tutti-frutti ice cream, Mr. Jones," said the quaking waiter.

Jones looked at it with a scowl, then with a sudden swipe of his arm hurled it to the floor, shouting, "I'd rather have my grievance!"

As embarrassing as it is to admit it, don’t we all find ourselves in that same situation? There are times when we have been most content to be discontent and have received great enjoyment from being unhappy. And pity the person who tried to appease us and deprive us of the "pity party" we were throwing!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

May you find joy this day in a God who richly supplies all your needs!

Dear Lord, help our joy be in You. Help us not get caught in the pity parties and tantrums we like to throw. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hercules and stife

Proverbs 20:3 (ESV)
It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife,
    but every fool will be quarreling.

There is a legend from Greek mythology that the god Hercules was once walking along a narrow road when a strange-looking creature appeared threateningly in front of him. Hercules struck this creature with his club and passed on, but soon afterwards was surprised to be confronted by this same creature, only now three times as large. Hercules struck it again and again and each time it grew in size until finally it completely blocked the road. Then the goddess Pallas Athena appeared to Hercules and told him to stop. "The monster is called Strife," she said. "Let it alone, and it will soon become as small as it was at first."

All quarreling and strife will certainly return to manageable proportions and ultimately cease if one of the quarrelers lets it alone and gives it to God.

Dear Lord, when strife comes our way help us not feed it so it gets the best of us. But instead turn it over to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The dents of life.

Titus 3:9 (ESV)
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

On the 24th of March, it was pouring rain. The cars gathered in the parking lots of nearby malls and shopping centers were all clustered around the entrances. The intent was clear: Their drivers wanted to spend as little time as possible in the pouring rain! There was one car, however, a yellow Lamborghini, that was parked way out in the parking lot, far from any of the other parked cars. The intent of its driver was also clear: To avoid dents at all costs!

We don't always get what we want, however. There was, ironically, a sole shopping cart within three feet of that lone car, and had it not been for this passionate shopper, who, rain or no rain, was desperately looking for a shopping cart, the driver would have returned to more damage than a simple car door would have inflicted.

In the next parking lot, there was a brand-new, over sized truck, parked right in the middle of two parking spots. It, too, was trying to avoid dents from nearby vehicles. Luckily for its driver, there were no shopping carts in sight, but in time, that could have happened as well. The point is this: Even though we may take every possible precautionary measure to avoid the dent and scratch hazards of a parking lot, our efforts are doomed to fail.

A few years back a man made his son, who was just learning to drive at the time, park their vehicle as far as possible from the entrance to Walmart. He figured it would give him extra exercise, and more importantly, it would avoid dents from those erring shopping carts! As he exited Walmart, however, he couldn't help but notice a lone shopping cart careening its way across the parking lot. Empowered by the wind, there was only one thing to stop that cart's accelerating journey: The car! And stop it did, leaving behind a "beautiful" scratch on his pristine car! Grrrr!

It may be that our expectations are a bit off. Perhaps it is better to expect dents and find none than to expect that you have avoided them. For sooner or later, they, too, will appear!

The apostle Paul was not worried about dents in his car. To be honest, he didn't even have a car, which is incidentally the best solution for completely avoiding dents! Instead he urges us to "Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." (Titus 3:9)

The best thing we can do is avoid these poison-filled controversies at all costs. We would be better off praying for our opponent as well as our self, as all of us still need to learn to draw closer to God. He is our guide in all things! Controversies will not draw people closer to our Heavenly Father, instead it will bring distance between our Maker and ourselves, as anything not done in love is not from God.

Dear Lord, help our expectations be based on Your word and Your will. Help us to avoid controversies that would only pull us away from You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Where is your focus?

John 3:30 (ESV)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

It's interesting how we like to focus on ourselves. One of the best ways to chitchat with someone is to ask his/her opinions about certain topics or to dwell on one of his/her favorite hobbies. All of a sudden even the shy person comes to life, talking almost non-stop.

Notice the advertisements around us. They are all geared to our ego.

What is also very interesting is that in the English language, the only pronoun that is capitalized is the "I".

What is even more amazing is that once we die, nobody even talks about us any longer and no encyclopedia will even think it worthwhile to mention our names.

Why do we tend to think of ourselves as being more important than we truly are?

Have you noticed that the more we focus on ourselves, the more worries abound and the more our stress level rises? How often have we heard ourselves say: "How can I handle all of this?"

Is it possible that we are focusing on the wrong person?

How different out lives would be if we focused on Jesus and those He loves instead of focusing on ourselves. Look at mother Theresa. Her only worry was to answer to the needs of all the hopeless around her. She had no time to worry about herself.

There is something to what David wrote: "He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way." (Ps 25:9)

Too often we can't hear God's voice because we put too much importance on our own needs. How can He fill our arms if they are already filled with things we deem as important to this lives?

Did we even notice that Jesus' exemplary prayer contains no "I"s?

The same is true with all the worshiping of angels described in God's Word: No "I"s.

Daniel's prayers only contained two "I"s: Once for praising God, and the second to thank Him. No wonder he led an exemplary life that transformed lives around him!

This observation doesn't mean that individuality isn't important to God. On the contrary, it means that all of our needs are fulfilled in Jesus the Christ, especially when we know Him on an intimate personal level.

The "I" isn't what should be capitalized my friends. The "L" of Love should be, the Love that Jesus demonstrates towards all of humanity. This is how we truly can live constantly in a worshiping attitude if we start Loving like Jesus does and start minimizing our own ego.

Dear Lord, help our focus not be on “I” but to have a love for You and for others. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Curiosity: Good or Bad?

Deuteronomy 12:30 (The Message)
"Be careful that you don't get curious about them after they've been destroyed before you. Don't get fascinated with their gods, thinking, "I wonder what it was like for them, worshiping their gods. I'd like to try that myself." 

Have you ever been curious? Even a tiny bit?

What about that locked drawer that your parents told you don’t even look at? Or that letter addressed to your dad that caused the frightened looks to appear in your parents' eyes?

The sad part about curiosity is that it takes only a little bit of it to entice someone into drugs, smoking, alcohol, or even that three letter word said in hushed tones. And once curiosity is given into, that someone may find themselves addicted for life! Just one tiny bit of curiosity is all it takes, but no tiny bit of anything else can free us from the bonds that imprison us.

But isn't it human to be curious? Put a "do not enter" sign on any door, and you can be sure that someone will try to open it! The "I wonder what's inside" attitude often leads to unsuspected troubles and the evil one knows it!

Look at our great-great-great-great-grandmother Eve. She walked in a world that our senses cannot even fathom. She was surrounded by beauty, she had nothing to be afraid of, she could enjoy everything and anything-Oh. Except for that one tree…

And where did she go? Not towards paradise, but straight to the "do not touch" tree (see Genesis 3)!

Then there was King David, the conqueror who established firm and safe borders around Israel. He was so loved by his people that he went down in history as being the best king Israel ever had. He really had it all. But one day his curiosity got the better of him. While admiring Jerusalem from the rooftop of his palace, his attention strayed to forbidden ground: The beautiful woman on the next rooftop. As his attention remained focused on what was not his, his curiosity began to rise. What would it be like … ? (See 2 Samuel 11).

What was David thinking? Weren't his hundreds of wives and concubines enough? But in the end, his curiosity birthed the murder of an innocent man!

Curiosity my friends, often leads to a lot of problems!

Curiosity can also be a good thing, as it can lead people to God. Take Moses for example. One day as he was herding his sheep in the desert he noticed something very unusual: A bush that was burning without being consumed! I think this would have stopped us in our tracks as well! Led by his curiosity, Moses discovered that God was indeed his friend and that this message had to be shared with the world.

Too often curiosity becomes an illicit mistress that entangles us in unshakable addictions, rendering us helpless and ineffective. Only by becoming curious about the source of the imperishable burning bush can we discover that our bonds can be broken not through our own efforts, but through the One who paid the price for our total freedom.

Dear Lord, help us use the curiosity that we have in a good way. Help us be curious about the things of You and not the things that will leave astray. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Is your luster fading?

1 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

It's amazing how television sets have changed so drastically! The first rectangular box could not only make intelligible noises, but could also display moving pictures in black and white! It was fantastic! But today, the only praise such an inferior box would get would be from those who still find themselves to be a little bit nostalgic!

Even though the ancient TVs eventually did begin to display colors, the TVs of today have far surpassed even these. Not only do modern television sets broadcast a sharper picture, but thanks to the digital output, they also tend to be much bigger. And with my not-so-perfect eyesight, I find this just about perfect!

But there are still choices to be made. For example, do you buy HDTV or plasma? Both have their advantages, and both will lose their luster over time. The plasma TVs lose half their brightness after 60,000 hours. You won't notice it however, because the loss of luster is gradual. By the time you start to realize you are having a harder time watching your set, you will have no choice but to replace it with a brand new one!

The plasma TV makes a good illustration of our lives. When we were young we dreamed about the future, and we made promises that seemed so easy to fulfill. As life goes by however, we begin to realize that many of these dreams will never materialize and most of these promises are never kept. Our anticipation of the future gradually changes-to indifference for many, and to melancholy for others.

Oh, we continue to search for the source of eventual happiness, but we continually come up short. But it doesn't have to be. If we will just take the time to open the instruction manual our Maker has given us.

We lose our luster bit by bit because unworthy pursuits.  
But don't despair. There is still hope! Unlike the brand new plasma TV you'll have to buy, however, this hope is free! It's a hope that will not only revitalize you from the inside out, but will also transform you into a satisfied, fulfilled individual! That hope can only be found in the Christ. 

Dear Lord, we thank You for the true hope that only comes from You.  Help us stay in the Bible so we know the direction that You want for us to go.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


2 Timothy 2:8-9 (ESV)

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 

A pastor busily rummaged through everything in the room he had been assigned for this pastoral retreat in Belgium. "Where did I put my glasses?" He fumed, his mood less then patient. "I can't read that thing without my bifocals!"

What further fueled his foul mood was that fact that his colleagues, fellow pastors from Belgium who were sharing his dorm room, were all laughing at him!

"Stop making fun of me," he challenged. "Help me find them!"

But the group continued in their laughter, and as time progressed, the pastor's face reddened with anger and his words became a bit more colorful. Finally he threw his arms up in exasperation. As he did so however, his hand touched something familiar on top of his head: His glasses! They had been there all the time! No wonder all the others were laughing at him!

The older we get, the faster we forget. This is a fact of life, one that we can't do anything about. It is, however, also true that the more we fall into sin, the more we forget!

Take Eve, for example. During the first temptation known to humankind, when asked about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she responded: "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." (Gen 3:3 NIV) She forgot what God had really said! If you compare this with Gen. 2:16-17, you will see that she added something to God's words! She added "you must not touch it!" This forgetfulness paved the path to sin!

A man who lives with his mistress may not even remember the names of his children when they visit. Why? Because sin makes you conveniently forget, and forgetfulness opens the doors to a life of addiction and needless despair. Forgetfulness is another weapon of choice by the evil one, one that somehow is cherished by those who have fallen into sin, a mistress in disguise.

When facing challenges, temptation and tribulation, how easy it is to forget the central focus of all history: "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" (Heb 12:2-3) No wonder we fall into sin! We too easily forget to resist temptation!

Is this why the Word of God encourages us so many times to remember?

Remembering is crucial if we want to be victorious, but the only way to remember is when we depend on Jesus to remind us of what really matters at the crucial times of our life!

Dear Lord, help us keep our focus on You. Help us to remember the things You tell us in Your word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Are we to busy?

Matthew 15:8 (ESV)
This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;

Have you ever found yourself sitting in church, listening to the sermon, and suddenly your mind begins to drift? Or perhaps you are in the midst of singing praises to the Lord and you discover that your mind isn't focused on the words that your mouth is uttering? Or maybe it's during the service that your mind is suddenly bombarded by the myriads of things on your to-do list or the things you accomplished during the week. Meanwhile, you aren't hearing a word your pastor is saying!

This text hits home: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Matt 15:8) Aren't we often times filled with heartless lips? Our lips are singing to the glory of God, but our heart is far from what we are actually saying? Are we really giving God the glory or are we cherishing another illicit lover who prevents us from enjoying God's company?

Imagine a boyfriend (or a girlfriend) who tells you: "Whenever I am with you, I can't stop myself from thinking about this other cute guy (or attractive girl). For some reason I cannot concentrate on what you are telling me." Would you continue dating that person?

This kind of double-mindedness can get worse! Imagine it invading the core of our relationship with God. What would happen then? James is quite clear about this: "When he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." (James 1:6-8 NIV )

Ouch! That sure hurts! Is it possible that our double-mindedness keeps us from experiencing God fully in our lives? Is it possible that our prayers are not answered because we are too busy thinking about something other than God's promises? Has doubt crept up in our souls because we let our hectic circumstances dictate our life? Has stress overrun our faith?

Dear Lord, Help our attention remain on You. Help our thoughts not wonder when You are talking to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Diamond ring in the mud

Proverbs 19:17 (ESV)
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
    and he will repay him for his deed.

Imagine going for a leisurely stroll after a week of heavy rain. The air feels fresh, and nature rejoices all around, as testified by the myriad of heavenly tunes emanating from the throats of hundreds of birds in your neighborhood.

Your precious bride is at your side, and she, too, is excited with this turn of events. She begins sharing her deepest desires, and getting caught up in the excitement of the moment, she punctuates her speech with animated gestures. Suddenly her lovely diamond ring, the same one that you gave her, flies off of her finger, landing on a well-marinated pile of mud, where it quickly sinks out of sight.

What would you do? Why, you wouldn't hesitate to reach your hand down into that mud and retrieve it for her! You might keep your eyes closed, but a little bit of mud won't stop you from helping get back what is precious to her!

Why, then, is it, that we hesitate to help the priceless children around the world who are suffering from extreme poverty? After all, doesn't God urge us: "There need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you," (Deuteronomy 15:4, NIV2)?

They are as helpless as that precious ring that went flying into the pile of mud. How could any of us survive with less than 37$ a month? Yet 1.4 billion face this reality month after month, with no hope in sight. Some are so desperate that they make mud patties in order to survive. Many live on the streets because they can't afford rent. Imagine your own children wasting away in front of your eyes! How can they receive the care they need when disease hits them?

The St. James Anglican church in Ingersoll, Ontario, under the leadership of Rev. Meghan Evetts, wanted to reach "down in the mud" to rescue these precious jewels of God. It was brought to their attention that Mozambique was one of the poorest countries in the world, and they wanted to do something about this. They discovered that those needing medical care often have to walk over dirt roads for more than 30 miles to reach their nearest medical facility. Many succumbed on the way, or arrived even sicker than when they started out on their trek.

Pregnant women faced nightmares in such circumstances. Statistics say that as many as 490 of every 100,000 pregnant women died in childbirth in Mozambique, as compared to 12 of every 100,000 births in Canada. Could anything be done about this?

That little church in Ingersoll joined in the endeavors that had been taken up by other parishes, focusing on providing those who are sick or pregnant in Mozambique with a means of transportation, something that could easily be fixed if broken down. The idea they came up with was "bicycle ambulances". At a cost of $600 each, these bicycles would bring much needed relief. More than $25,000 has been raised so far for this cause, and Canada's foreign aid agency, the CIDA, has provided another $75,000. About 70 Bicycle ambulances have been delivered so far, and another 50 are on their way.

Since the introduction of these special ambulances, maternal mortality rates have dropped by 15% in Mozambique. As a result, Bangladesh would now like to try these ambulances as well. They have thought up a little "twist", however: wouldn't three wheels make for sturdier vehicles than two? As a result, Tricycle ambulances have now come into existence!

It all started in 2008 by funding one bicycle ambulance. Just ONE BICYCLE AMBULANCE! Imagine what would happen if we all helped the extreme poor! They are, after all, more precious in the Lord's eyes than all the diamond rings in the world!

Dear Lord, help our eyes be open to those around us that we could help.  Give us each a caring heart to help those that aere in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.