"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
“… that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:22
If I told you that 1 + 1 = 2, you would tell me that I have learned the first basics of elementary Math. If I told you that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, you would know that I have learned the basic principle of God. Now Mathematicians may disagree with that formula as being unreasonable but when it comes to the revelation of God, is there really any scientific method that explains God better than that. When God describes Himself He has revealed Himself as three persons in one. He is spoken of as ‘plurality in unity.’
Jesus put it another way. He said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
There is something very mysterious about that kind of relationship that God wants to see evidence in His Church. It is a fact that we are all created as unique individuals with different personalities, opinions, and fingerprints. In spite of that, God has designed a plan that we should all be able to live in unity and harmony.
You see, many centuries ago, people decided to try to duplicate the works of God by their own wisdom and abilities. What they intended to do, at Babel, was to show God that He was not the only Creator. God viewed their actions as rebellion and disobedience to His authority. We would name their actions in one word, plain and simple; SIN. God sent confusion upon them and they were scattered from the plain of Shinar to the far corners of the earth. Sin always separates, harms and hinders relationships.
But when Jesus died on the cross, He made a way that all men of all nations could come together in unity and harmony. He prayed to His Father, just hours before the cross, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you .... that they be one as we are one.” (John 17:21,22) The plan of salvation was designed to bring us together as one body, to serve the Lord in UNITY. The scattering because of sin has been dealt with. It’s time to hear the voice of the Spirit of God calling us into harmony in doing the will of God. Yet that is a personal decision that each of us must make to guard the unity. “Make every effort to keep the Unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) Make every effort! You probably discovered that sometimes that means a lot of work. That’s what effort is.
So whether you are from Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Columbia, Ecuador, South Africa, Spain, Germany, Italy, England or Czechoslovakia, you are a part of us.
Check my Math if you like. Although we are many in number we have been called to be one in Christ.
“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Mark 11:9
Jesus came into the world to make a difference. The truth is that the enemy of our souls had robbed Gods creation for too long, of the joy and peace that we were designed to possess. Selfishness and sin had taken its toll upon mankind and burdened all of us with needless cares and countless struggles because we were not living in the victory planned for humanity. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Jesus was not at all interested in half-way joy. His offer is the fullness of joy; living life to the full. Let’s not be content with anything less than what God wants for us.
But let’s be real! There is a joy and a pleasure that the world knows. It’s the kind of stuff that the people demonstrated nearly 2000 years ago today when they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with great cries of rejoicing and acts of celebration. It was done in His honour and Jesus was worthy of all that. But less than a week down the road the same voices that were lifted in jubilation were changed to angry tones and “crucify Him” filled the dusty air of that early Friday morning. What on earth happened?
Emotion can be a wonderful thing but when it is based on selfish desires or the “bless me now” attitude, it stands on an unsure foundation. The lasting joy that Jesus offers us does not depend upon what we get out of Him but what we give to Him. That is a day by day experience as we surrender ourselves to Him. You see, Jesus is honoured more by our lifestyle than by our vocabulary. If we stop praising Him when we don’t get what we expect, we become embittered, prune faced, lemon lipped, spoiled little brats. However, when we learn to praise Him through every circumstance, then the “joy of the Lord will be our strength.” And that’s the kind of life He wants us to have all the time.
Our special joy of this time of the year is based on the fact that just like Jesus, for the Christian, every valley of the shadow has a resurrection experience some day that will liberate us from the encumbrances of these days. That is true of every trial and test of these days of our lives. We ought to rejoice in the truth that God lovingly, cares for us and His promises are sure. “Let us rejoice and be glad.” Our God is good. He is a Faithful friend.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; .... if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me.” John 14
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” Revelation 19:11
He is coming back again. But next time He won’t be riding on the back of a young donkey. He’ll come back as the triumphant leader that He is. Those who have committed their lives to serving Him will be caught away, to meet Him in the air. The Bible speaks of the departure of the Church, from this world, to meet our returning Lord and to move the celebration from earth into the courts of heaven. There will be a great time of rejoicing as we enter into the inheritance provided for us by the Lord. Pain, distress and disappointment will all be noticeably absent. The conflicts of the ages against sin and the enemy of our souls will be terminated. The angels of heaven will join us in a Chorus of gratitude for the Amazing grace of God that has determined a way to bring us into Gods presence through the victory of the Cross. There will be endless days of enjoying the purposes of eternity free of sickness and weariness. What an awesome moment awaits us! That’s why scripture encourages us to keep looking up in anticipation of that wonderful day.
On Palm Sunday, we remember one of the last days of Jesus earthly ministry as He came, in the role of a triumphant General, into the city of Jerusalem. It appears that at long last, the people recognized Him for who He really was, “The King of Israel,” the son of David. Emotion ran high as the multitudes expressed their gratitude for their Deliverer who had come with miraculous signs and wonders which He did among the people. What they did not understand, although Jesus had instructed them through the months of teaching, was the fact that He knew from His early childhood that the greatest miracle that He would ever do was going to happen at the point of His death on an old rugged cross, outside of the city of Peace. His death would make it possible that every one of us could be transformed from the sinners that we are to becoming part of the family of God. It would be an awful price but He was willing to do it.
It would have been difficult to tell the people who wanted to ‘party’ that in a matter of days they would be angrily calling for His funeral. But it was all a part of His plan. He would die this week-end to pay the price to set us free from the condemnation of sin; but He would come back again to continue the celebration at some future date. There will be no shadow of the cross looming on the horizons on that day. It will be a day of pure triumph. I believe He’s coming soon. We must be ready.
The Path of The Palms
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.” Revelation 19:1, 2
Hey! The King is coming! It’s time to rejoice and be glad. It’s time to let go of the unnecessary and focus on the importance of being in that group to extend a sincere welcome to Him. He will appear in the magnificence and glory of the King of kings and Lord of lords. The radiance of His presence will affirm His most honourable title. All doubts and questions about His authority will be resolved as He commands His Church to come to His eternal residence. He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration. We need to be aware that the kingdom of darkness and the kingdoms of this world are only temporary arrangements but His Kingdom will last for eternity. Another would have us believe that he also has a kingdom and is worthy of praise. But, when all is said and done, it will be clear that Jesus is Lord of all. He will rule over the hearts of believers and His power will overcome every adversary that has ever come against Him and His glorious Church.
Television brought us the action as the statue of the “King” of Iraq fell in the central plaza of Baghdad. I was reminded that, one day, every king will bow in the presence of the One we worship. He has long been a neglected Ruler, disposed of His Kingdom by the choice of His own creation but nothing is going to stop His return and the following days of accountability.
He has given us ample assurance that He is at the door of time, to make His physical presence known and the whole world will then take notice of Him. Those who are loving and serving Him will be rewarded for their faithfulness because He is mindful of the sincerity and commitment of those who put their trust in Him.
The real point of what I want to say is that He will be given the recognition, finally, that He has been deserving since He went away. He designed us in the beginning to be people who worship. He was, always, to be the object and focus of our adulation and adoration. He is the One who is worthy to be crowned King over all. He should be the theme of our rejoicing and the message of our victory because of His Triumph over Sin, Death and the enemy of our souls. Even now, the authority of His presence has become the banner over our lives. He has honoured us by delegating us to be His representatives in the world to demonstrate to a lost generation that He is the Ruler of this world. He may not be acknowledged as the King of the Universe but He is the King over this piece of ‘Real Estate’ that I call, my body. Let’s rejoice in His victories and be expressive of our joy as we gather together each Lords day to worship Him. This is a day to be glad. Pull out the stops and proclaim that Jesus is Lord and He is coming again.
Speaking Out His Praises
“Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary. Praise Him in his mighty heavens.” Psalm 150:1
Who wants to be out-done by a stone? Should we let the stones cry out to set us an example of praise. (Luke 19:40) I’ve heard of pet rocks, with painted faces, sitting on a shelf as adornments but to think that someone would choose to have the heart and personality of a stone, blows my mind. For that reason, when it comes to praising the Lord, I want to be in the category of those who worship with heart felt praise, with feeling and emotion, if for no other reason than the thought that a stone might do a better job than me.
I want to learn how to worship in spirit and in truth. This principle comes from the lips of our Saviour as He made His way to the temple for what we could describe as His farewell party. There was the excitement of celebration in the crowd that day. We believe there were a lot of people in the crowd who didn’t have a foggy idea of what was happening. However, when you remember the size of His congregation when, twice, He fed them with a bread and fish lunch, there must have been many who were expecting more of the same. Add to that the many who ‘heard Him gladly,’ as well as the many who received a healing touch from Him and then those who were there to criticize Him, you have a pretty big gathering.
You better believe, according to the critics, that they were not in a whispering mode. They were shouting out grateful expressions of their hearts. You couldn’t keep them quiet if you tried.
I always wonder if the Holy Spirit did not orchestrate this farewell party in heaven. Part of His ministry is to always uplift the precious name of Jesus. I wonder, too, if the people felt strangely moved upon in their exuberance of proclaiming His directive of ministry. ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’ (Luke 19:38) This was a praise and worship service, out on the country-side, that had not been duplicated since those glorious days when David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.
And the Pharisees knew it. They shouted, ‘Jesus, rebuke them to be quiet!’ ‘I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ To tell you the truth, I would have liked to see that, too!
The lesson is clear. Let the critics complain and sometimes criticize. We have so much to be thankful for. There should be times in our life when we praise the Lord with ‘all that is within’ us. So when you worship, don’t be stony stingy. Let’s just praise the Lord. It’s a day to speak our praise for the triumphs of our God. They say the best is yet to come. That’s His promise and for that we praise the Lord, too.
The Special Sacrifice
“He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
We all stand on common ground, as individuals, who have fallen far short of Gods desires for His creation. The One who made us held high purposes in mind for us. To those who were willing to allow Him to have His way, He was willing to add His richest blessings to fulfill His perfect plan. In spite of His loving concern for all mankind, and His personal interest in our day by day situations, we have all done things that greatly displease Him. Simply, we blew it! Every one of us has sinned and offended a Holy God. But, His love cannot deny that we were made for His glory. As such, years ago He set in motion a plan that would provide a shelter from the condemnation that we deserve, through the substitute judgment upon an animal sacrifice. The principle was simple. The animal was the substitute for the sinner. Upon confession the offences of the sinner were figuratively laid upon the animal that was then condemned to death. The sinner was temporarily free of any condemnation because of his substitute.
That ceremony needed to be repeated every year in a public ceremony but also that same judgment was required every time the sinner did something that offended God. The fact is that the only covering for any offences and wrong choices was through the shed blood of the substitute, who died in the place of the sinner. This was a part of the Loving plan of our Creator. God was not willing to let us go on our way in sin, without the provision of this temporary rescue operation. The perfect plan, to eternally cover our sins, was withheld for hundreds of years as God taught His people the importance of trusting in His plan for redemption and the principle of substitution. When those two matters were inscribed in the history record of Gods word and obeyed, then Jesus came; the perfect, spotless, loving Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. He was willing to leave Heaven and His Royal throne to become the one and only sacrifice that could deal with all the sins of mankind. We all need the Saviour and the covering that His death on the cross could provide. He willing came to die as our substitute, in our place. There is no other way of dealing with our sin problems and being restored to His favour.
We must return to the same two basic principles;
We need to trust Gods plan and
We must recognize that Jesus is the only substitute who is able to pay the penalty price of our offences.
From before the very first offence was committed, God had this plan ready to go into motion in order to bring us back to Himself.
Maybe Not So Bad?
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5
“For the wages of sin is death.” Perhaps not very inspirational but a fact nevertheless. There is a consequence to doing things that offend God. It is true that He is very patient and that He is described as “God is Love.”
Let’s begin with this matter by looking inside of ourselves before we talk about what God is going to do about ‘them’. You see, I believe that one of the major difficulties with dealing with Sin is that we have a different opinion of what Sin is than God does and unfortunately we are prepared to make some compromises that Christians should not take liberties to make. When the Bible clearly states, “Abstain from all appearances of evil,” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) that should serve as a clear enough guideline to help us keep out of some troubling situations. We can also judge each situation that the Holy Spirit brings to our attention. It is a process, reminding us that what we do may not be wrong by itself but it could be perceived to be wrong by the assessment of others. Be careful there! It’s so easy to try to justify our actions but we need to be aware that some things we do could affect another’s experience if they misunderstand what we do. For that reason, we should be caring enough of our Brother to be willing to forego what is alright for us but does not seem right to someone else. It is good advice to evaluate the things we do.
Then the other matter of concern is when we as believers do things that we know displeases the Lord. Theologians through the years describe the problem under two special terms.
1. They speak of the sins of ‘OMISSION’ because we don’t do what we should be doing. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)
2. Then there are the sins of ‘COMMISSION’ which are deliberate choices we make to do things that displease the Lord.
Sometimes there is a process called temptation and we fail. Other times it is simply surrendering to what others are doing or not making a decision to please God. We are responsible for failing in either case. But the promise of Gods Word is still, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) There is no reason in the world why we have to tolerate sin in ourselves. We do ourselves a big favour when we come to the Lord and confess our failures to Him.
We’ve all been there, without exception, but some take a little longer in responding to the Spirits call to clean up our act. I wonder if Revival isn’t hindered because we as Christians are not ready to be used by God because of our poor relationship with Him in this matter. “Let a man examine himself.”
“Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” John 18:21
Within three days the boisterous laughter had died down and a frightening rumble of anger began to stir in the streets of Jerusalem. During that time, the attitude of the people had changed. Jesus spent the daylight hours in the temple teaching the people. In parables, He taught His followers that He would be returning. His message emphasized two basic principles.
1. That the whole law of God was wrapped up in one important regulation that we should love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves.
2. That we have to recognize our personal responsibility to being involved in serving God, where He has placed us, with the understanding that there is coming a day of accountability.
Those were gentle reminders to all of us. No one should have been upset by what He said because He simply established a short list of requirements that we should guard in preparation for His return.
However, in no uncertain terms, He did give a public scathing for the hypocritical attitudes of the religious leaders who had proudly held to their own set of rules and judged anyone else who did not do as they did. Jesus said, “They do not practice what they preach.” (Matthew 23:3)
If I could briefly assess what turned the tide from joy to anger in those few days I think I could sum it up this way.
Firstly, sometimes people don’t like being told that they are personally responsible for the consequence of their lifestyles.
Secondly, when it comes to matters of religion, you probably have discovered that the most dangerous person in the Church is a hypocrite. You can’t tell him anything without a terrible reaction.
So Friday came and the crucifixion. But as you know, there’s a Sunday that comes after Friday. I’m glad that Jesus had the last word on the whole matter and that the anger was turned to Joy once again. The resurrection spelled out Triumph, not only for Jesus, but for all of us as well. The resurrection also spells out new life. There is an opportunity for a new beginning. It is Jesus intention that we learn to live in the Joy of the resurrection. We have been freed from all condemnation and the tyranny of ordinances to serve the Lord in loving liberty. Let us rejoice in His victory!
When You Just Don’t Fit
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
We are called to serve God; to be in the world but not of the world; to be different in a peculiar way. Our lifestyle should demonstrate the high privilege of being the Sons of God.
I used to think that we were not meant to be weird in the world we live in but I think I’ve changed my mind. I mean, being weird according to whose standard? If the world thinks we are strange by the things that we say and do that ought to be alright. I don’t have any intentions of conforming to their standard anyway. Now that may trouble some people but I think it takes a real ‘gutsy’ person to be free of measuring up to what the worlds expectations are, anyway. The truth is, who sets the right standard? If I read the Word of God correctly I believe that there ought to be a moral and ethical standard that measures my conversation, my manner of dress, the things that I do with my body and my devotion to honouring God above all else. That may not put me in a magazine of modern fashions nor be an example of what the ‘new generation’ expects but I think it’s time that we stood our ground and called foolishness for what it really is.
Paul wrote to the Church in Rome with these words: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) That is a clear call to separation from the imposition of the worldly standards upon the believer. If there is anything that we are called to resist it is the ‘fitting in’ to the pattern of the world. It is time that the Church set the standard of purity and righteousness to a wayward and lost generation. That holds true in every aspect of our lives. Let our homes and marriages be strengthened by the Biblical standard of sacrifice and commitment. Let our work ethic reflect our integrity and sense of honest industry. Let our thoughts and the matters that entertain us be purged by the standard of wholesome, purity and righteousness. Let our conversation be clean and wholesome saturated with the love of God. Would Jesus do what we tolerate or what we do?
It is not my intention to be judgmental of others in my assessment but I wish to offer the opportunity to judge myself and you to judge yourself by Biblical standards. What is the reason that we don’t make a difference in our modern world?
We don’t often speak of holiness but that ought to be our purpose for our personal examination. The Bible says that we ought to: “Make every effort to be at peace with all men and be holy, without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) If we want to please God, above all else, I think we need to hear what He is saying to us about these matters even if the world does not approve. We want to honour the Lord above all else.
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54
There were all kinds of evidences that proved, beyond any doubt, that He was dead.
1. The professional ‘killing machines’ of the Roman army were satisfied that the nails and the cross, the whipping and the buffeting had taken their toll. The spear in His side was the final test. To them, one less trouble maker had been eliminated from disturbing the Pax Romana.
2. Those who took Him down from the cross, doing all that was necessary to free His cold body from the rough wood, were witnesses that He was truly dead. They quickly wrapped His remains in a burial shroud, winding the linen tightly around Him with spices between the folds. His head would be hurriedly bound up in a special piece of cloth according to the customs of the time. He was treated just like the dead in every other burial ceremony. To those who held Him, there was no question that He was dead.
3. Guards were placed at the entrance to make sure that no one would break the Roman seal placed on the great rock that blocked the entrance way. Their assignment was to guarantee that no one would get into the tomb to steal the body of Jesus, lest it be interpreted that He did rise from the grave.
However, when the ladies came early Sunday morning to more respectfully care for the body of Jesus, they discovered: - no guards, a broken Roman seal, a rolled away stone and an empty tomb. I said, “an empty tomb.” This was not what they expected. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. If representatives of the most powerful country in the world could not keep track of a dead body in a cold, damp, stony tomb, what is this world coming to? Suddenly, two angelic beings stood beside them dressed in garments that shimmered like lightning. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen,” they said. (Luke 24:5)
Now listen! Others may delight in demonstrating their gods of stone and the tombs that have claimed some of them. We don’t have either. Our Lord is alive and well and His tomb is empty. There will never be a tomb for Him. For, although He was dead, He is alive for evermore. The fact that He demonstrated His power over one of the darkest foes of humanity gives us hope that He will do it again. Those who die knowing Jesus Christ as their Saviour have this assurance... we will rise again just like He did. He is described as, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) When it says that He was first, it means there are seconds and others as well. That is our hope. Jesus overcame the claims of the grave for our frail bodies. Today, we remember His VICTORY!
“He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you while He was still with you in Galilee.”
The disciples of Jesus didn’t believe it but the hypocritical religious leaders and the Roman forces believed it. Jesus had said that He would rise again on the third day after His death. Now I wish that the disciples would have had their act together and gathered at the tomb, according to Jesus’ schedule, and welcomed Him back in a joyous celebration. Frankly, they blew it. It was even difficult for those who saw Him, alive and well, to persuade the others that the resurrection was a fact. You see, this was no simple fairytale that was being told. People, whose very lives were threatened with a similar death, wanted proof. They wanted the evidence. They would not accept some made up, fools dream. This matter must be determined as factual. The story demanded an examination.
Jesus knew all that and came to speak to His followers on a number of occasions. He ate with them; conversed and traveled with them; instructed them on where to catch fish; prepared a breakfast for them; invited them to touch His body to know that it was really Himself. Paul, speaking about the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians, states that, “..he appeared to more than five hundred of the brethren at the same time.” 15:4
I always think it’s interesting that when the Roman guards told their superiors the personal eye witness accounts of what really happened in the twilight morning hours of that day, they decided to make up a story and hide the facts. They should have run out to find the disciples, surrendered their life to Jesus, and become the first evangelists. What a story they had to tell! None of the believers saw what they saw.
Let me just summarize two points that I think are very important today.
1. This is a day for a great celebration. The disciples missed it but we’re going to rejoice. No greater miracle has ever happened than the one we celebrate today. Our Lord is risen, just like He said. He is alive after overcoming Death and the Devils anger. He is the Conqueror of the dark and dreaded domain.
2. This is a day to remember that Jesus died for our sins. It’s a day to acknowledge that He is OUR Saviour. If you have never given your life to Jesus Christ, I don’t know a better time than right now. In a simple prayer, invite Him to come into your life, today.
Death by Surrender
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” John 10:17
Funerals are rarely happy occasions. We always identify those moments with sorrow and pain. At times there is the mixture of sorrow with the confidence of our hope however, saying farewell and experiencing the separation from our loved ones is never easy. When it’s a matter of sickness there is a little more understanding about that process. When the death is the result of an accident or tragedy there are always thoughts about how such a misfortune could have been avoided.
However, the laws of the land are very serious when the death was planned and a murder has been committed. The local police, and the Interpol of all the nations become involved in catching the person who had committed such a terrible thing.
Why then, was no one tried for the death of Jesus? Does washing your hands remove the guilt of a heart and mind that had condemned to death a good man? You can’t possibly describe the sorrow and pain of the beloved friends that had shared such a big part of His life. You hear the stories of the women who wept for him and the men who mourned his passing from the shelter of a firmly locked upper room. This was worse than an accidental tragedy. This was the murder of an innocent man.
But there was more to it. For the death on the cross was designed by the one who hung there. He came to take away the sins of all men and it was “time” for the sacrifice that would pay for the guilt and rimes of all men of all generations of those who would believe in Him. It is right to say that the condemnation of death fell upon all men, beginning in the Garden of Eden, because of our disobedience and our sins. But Jesus took that death upon Himself. Because He was a man He could die. And because He is God His death became more than equal to the death of all sinners of all time; that is, for those who would confess their sins to Him.
We look back to the cross, through the emblems of the communion service. With sorrow we remember that it was for our sin that He died. At the same time we rejoice because, by His death, we have been freed from the consequences of sin. Eternal life in a loving relationship is our hope beyond the grave.
Victory in The Battle
“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24
Remembrance day is a date that was designed to keep our memories alive to the tragedies of past wars, that they may never happen again. We may take for granted the benefits that we’ve received as results of the conflicts of two World Wars and the Korean conflict. There was a time when everyone knew someone who was lost to the horrors of those awful years. With the passing of time we don’t know a lot of people who were directly involved in the dreadful engagements that took the lives of so many young men of our nation and permanently scarred so many others.
But let’s do our best to REMEMBER that there were people who were willing to face the brutalities of war in order to provide dignity and freedom to our generation. We express our gratitude to the veterans of those days and give thanks to God for the freedoms we do enjoy in Canada, today.
But let me remind you, perhaps needlessly, that not all the wars are over. Until the Prince of Peace comes to rule over the hearts of all men and our world, some very sad battles will continue to be waged around the world. The most tragic of all of these conflicts are on the battlefields of our own hearts. Many walking wounded survive, in pain, unrecognized by the average person, but enduring some terrible conflicts. Let me advise you, if you are in that number, Jesus is the answer. Your battles may be over a failed marriage, or concerning rebellious children, or unfaithful friends who’ve betrayed you; or the loss of a loved one. Whatever the conflict might be, Jesus is the Healer, Restorer and Supplier of every good and perfect gift. There is no one who quite understands your situation as He does. He lived during a period of conflict between Rome and Israel when He walked among men. He always reached out to the hurting and the sorrowful of His day. We are told, “Jesus wept” as evidence that He cared and that He was “moved with compassion” when He saw people struggling with the pressures of life in an oppressive generation. But the most valuable tool to hold on to is that fact that He came into the world as a ‘Warrior’ to take on the one who would seek to destroy, harm and hinder each of us. He stood up as our Champion and at the cost of His own life, conquered the enemy of our souls.
The results are in. Jesus won the war and offers to us the power to overcome sin, the privilege of being a part of His royal family and the future hope of being with Him on His own territory to spend the rest of timeless eternity where sickness pain and sorrow do not exist.
He is coming back again, soon, as the Triumphant Captain of our Salvation. That is something we should never forget.
The Empty Tomb
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57
I was there. The tomb, where two very brave men laid the body of Jesus, is empty. The stone was rolled away that first Easter morning so that we could see inside. The soldiers guarding the Tomb were upset that their dead captive did not abide by the laws of nature nor did He give consideration to the seal of the Roman government that was to serve as a security device. The seals of authority of the world ruling power, placed on the stone, were completely disregarded. That must have caused some concern in Rome because if One person does that whose to stop everyone else from doing the same. He wasn't supposed to leave the prison cell of the grave without permission.
Graves have been known to keep their captives in permanent detention. No one else has ever been able to disobey that law since the beginning of time. But even His followers could not grasp the fact that He had broken that rule and had risen from the grave. Some believed that the Romans or the Gardener had taken His body to some other location in order to discourage His followers from promoting His teachings. It took Jesus, Himself, alive and well, sharing personally with those He loved to demonstrate that, "All power" belongs to Jesus; that He is "The Resurrection and the Life." He was dead but He is alive forevermore. That He is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. He shared in our humanity, "... so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death.... that is the devil." (Hebrews 2:14)
Death is supposed to be the ultimate enemy to hold captive the highest object of Gods creation. But Jesus has power to do what no one else can do. On that resurrection morning, He demonstrated that there is no area where His dominion does not have authority. All other powers must bow before Him; even Death no longer possesses a sting and the grave has lost its victory. We can rest in this fact; He has Overcome all of the obstacles that would hinder us from reaching God, our loving heavenly Father. The empty tomb remains as a continuing promotion of the truth of the Resurrection. You too, will rise again. Many years ago, an earthquake broke open one of the walls of the tomb where Jesus was buried. Someone took the time to rebuild the broken wall with bricks and then hung a wooden door to preserve the sacredness of the site from acts of vandalism. Then someone was careful to place a sign on the door to let the whole world know. "He is not here. He has risen." What a triumphant message that holds hope for all of us! Whether we are alive and await His coming or pass through the open door to life eternal we possess this assurance, the trumpet call will summon us into His living presence. What a day that will be!
Opened For Me To See
“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.” Matthew 28:2
He didn’t need to open the tomb. He could have walked right through the stone; at least that’s what He did when the disciples had the windows and the doors locked in fear of the persecution of the religious leaders. He just appeared in their midst and gave a clear witness of His resurrection. With that in mind, I don’t think He was in the grave when the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Jesus was no longer there and there was no need of the stone that blocked the entrance. It was the mercy of the Lord that sent the angels to move the stone from the entrance. There is no need to guess or wonder. You can check it out for yourself.
If the stone was still sealed, the soldiers would still be standing there and Jesus followers would insist that a monument should be placed in remembrance of their fallen hero. But He is risen. The grave is empty. The Father wanted all to see that His Son was no longer in the grave. He sent His servants, the Angels, to open it up for all to investigate. The earthquake that the soldiers felt was a demonstration of the power of the resurrection. Jesus was no longer bound by deaths cords. By His holiness and power He was able to step out of the valley of the shadow as the Conqueror of Death, Hell and the grave. Jesus had left the temporary resting place of the stone tomb chamber.
1. The soldiers knew it and it was serious business that they had let the
“dead man” escape from their custody.
2. The women knew it because they heard the angel say, “Why do you look
for the living among the dead?”
3. The disciples discovered the truth quickly when Jesus stood among them and invited them to check out the wounds and the scars. These guys who once ran from their persecutors suddenly became very brave in their proclamation that Jesus was alive and well and had ascended into heaven. The tomb is empty.
I was there a number of years ago and checked it out for myself. Someone has made a wooden door where the stone once stood. Carved into the door someone has written, “He is not here, He is risen.” The resurrection is also a prophetic announcement to all Believers. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own time: Christ, the firstfruits; ( that’s the prophetic part that tells us that there is more of the same to come) then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15: 22, 23)
There is no stone nor tomb that can keep us from joining the Lord in the power of the Resurrection.
“Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Luke 24:39
The disciples of Jesus didn’t believe it but the hypocritical religious leaders and the Roman forces did. Jesus had said that He would rise again on the third day after His death. Now I wish that the disciples would have had their act together and gathered at the tomb, according to Jesus’ schedule, and welcomed Him back in a joyous celebration. Frankly, they missed the point; they blew it. It was even difficult for those who saw Him, alive and well, to persuade the others that the resurrection was a fact. You see, this was not a story that could be accepted easily, except as some made up fairytale. People, whose very lives were threatened with a similar death, wanted proof. They wanted to see the evidence. They would not accept any weaver of make believe spinning a fools dream. This matter must be determined as factual by personal contact. The story demanded an examination.
Jesus knew all that and after His resurrection He came to speak to His followers on a number of occasions. He ate with them; conversed and traveled with them; instructed them on where to catch fish; prepared a breakfast for them; invited them to touch His body to know that it was really Himself. Paul, speaking about the resurrection in his letter to the Corinthians, states that, “..he appeared to more than five hundred of the brethren at the same time.” 15:4
I always think it’s interesting that when the Roman guards told their superiors the personal eye witness accounts of what really happened in the twilight morning hours of that day, they decided to make up a story and hide the facts. They should have run out to find the disciples, surrendered their lives to Jesus, and become the first evangelists. What a story they had to tell! None of Jesus’ followers saw what they saw.
Let me just summarize two points that I think are very important:
1. This is a time for a great celebration. The disciples missed it but we’re going to rejoice. No greater miracle has ever happened than the one we celebrate each Sunday. Our Lord is risen, just like He said. He is alive and has overcome Death and the Devils anger. He is the Conqueror of the dark and dreaded domain.
2. These are days to remember that Jesus died for our sins. It’s a day to acknowledge that He is OUR Saviour. If you have never given your life to Jesus Christ, I don’t know a better time than right now.
In a simple prayer, invite Him to come into your life, today.
Only The Lamb Is Worthy
“In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise.’” Revelation 5:12
Deeply moved, everyone at the Conference stood to their feet as the soloist sang, “I pledge allegiance to the Lamb.” It was another special moment as our hearts were challenged to express our loyalty to the One who laid down His life for us. This was one of those instances in life that required action, not just words. There seemed to be an unspoken call to be committed to serving the Master. The Congregation rose to their feet in humble respect and reverence of the King of Kings and we pledged allegiance to the Lamb. In those moments our hearts felt the drawing of the Spirit, as one body, to a fresh vision of the purpose of the Church in these days to be more than observers. We were being called as Soldiers of the Cross to stand behind our Captain and pledge our undivided loyalty to Him. It was a humbling moment as we recognized what our Leader had already done for us and that generations of faithful ones had followed Him in service to various parts of the world. In a world and time when people are not prepared to commit themselves to anything that does not bring them pleasure, this became the hour of decision to rise in demonstration of an understanding of the call of God or to sit back and let others do it. The same call reaches out to you for your decision.
After all, let’s consider that we are indebted to Him because:
1. We owe our very lives to Him because He is our Creator.
2. We owe our hearts of gratitude to Him because of the work of the cross where He willingly took our place and suffered and died. He paid the penalty and the consequences of our sinning.
3. We owe so much to Him because, daily, He watches over us to lead, guide, protect and help us to grow in spiritual understanding and maturity. He is the Chief Shepherd of our souls and He intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father.
4. We owe an unspeakable debt because He has promised us a wonderful home in heaven where He has reserved blessings beyond our ability to comprehend at this moment. He has gone to prepare a place for us but He will be coming back again to take us to Himself.
More than words, it is time we began to demonstrate by our lifestyle that we are committed to honouring Him with all that is within us. The Martyrs of past generations were willing to lay down their lives in order to share the message of Gods love. They did so under severe circumstances. We enjoy liberties because of their faithfulness. Can we do less than honour Him with all our hearts. He is worthy.
A Matter Of Prayer
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
God answers prayer!! There is nothing that can be done best until we have prayed. Someone has said, “We are often found seeking the hand of God to do things for us but we need to learn to seek the face of God for who He is.” It is that kind of drawing near, to know the Lord, that brings the most lasting results in our own lives and in the situations we face.
God is faithful to hear all of our requests because He is a God of love and He cares for the things that cause us concern. But we also want to learn the other part of praying so that we can know how to bless Him and bring joy to His heart. It seems we’re always on the receiving end of His favours because He does so much for us. I want to learn how to give back to Him the things that He wants us to bring. I believe one of the things that blesses Him is my willingness to slow down long enough to talk to Him and let Him know that I love Him and that I give myself to Him. I don’t believe it is possible to do that to the full until we learn to patiently wait in His presence, shutting out the clamour of the world and stilling our soul, in prayer.
I want to emphasize the word patience. We need to learn to take the time that is needed to do a good job in telling the Lord that we love Him and want to serve Him. It is very important to take (or make) time to spend with Him. Apart from saying Grace at the table and ‘Good Night Jesus’ it is very possible that praying is not an easy piece of work for us to perform. Yet praying is not designed to be difficult. It is supposed to be a personal conversation with God in terms of expression with which we are comfortable. I believe that there is nothing that brings more joy to the heart of God than the fact that I purpose to spend protected time with Him; that I won’t let anything interrupt my designated prayer time. After all, He has been on the giving end of blessings so many times, through the years, it’s about time that we did something about returning the favour.
Seriously, it is time that we did something personally to bring joy to His heart. I want to challenge each of us to examine our prayer life and to do something that will revive a fervour to seeking the face of the Lord with the attitude of worshipful gratitude. We owe that to Him for His faithfulness. It is a fact, that everyone of us can pray. God wants to hear our own hearts and though the words we speak are not like those of the Theologians He accepts the simplicity of our day to day speech. It may seem impossible to say adequate words to bring joy to His heart but believe me, things said in simple fashion please Him, too. Be yourself! Tell the Lord, today, what you really feel about His loving you, just as you are and caring for your every decision. God loves you and wants to spend personal time with you, alone. Talk to Him. He’s waiting for you to call.
God Is Talking
“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” Luke 21:11
It was another earthquake. We knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It wasn’t the expected big one but it was a “waker upper.” Everyone has been talking about the shaking that caused people to get out to the streets. Christians, everywhere, had opportunities to talk about the Lord during that time. The ‘tsunami’ that hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India will long remain in the memory of those who experienced the terror or knew of someone who was there. Remember the hurricanes in the south.
It’s interesting that these things are difficult to predict and impossible to control, just like the weather. There’s not a thing you can do about it. Those are matters that are in the hand of God alone.
We are awed by the power and impact of these uncontrollable activities that have been occurring around the world in these days. I don’t view these as prophesies of doom because they are some of the signs of the end times that are given to remind us of our Lords return. God has been giving us evidences of the fulfillment of His promises. Jesus is coming back again! It’s as though the rocks are crying out for the coming of the Saviour to bring the final redemption to the world. (Romans 8:22) “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth..” When we ignore the purposes of God and refuse to heed His calling, then extraordinary things will happen in nature as creation gives expression to the longing of having the Lord as ruler of this world. To every believer it’s time to pull out the stops and believe God for great things to happen in His Church. I believe that God has divinely ordered the second coming of Jesus to the ingathering of the harvest. When the last soul is won, as He alone understands, then Jesus will descend on the clouds of the sky and catch us away.
These are designed to be days of the harvest. Time is short! Evangelism and Missions must become our lifestyle. We watch for opportunities to share our faith and we encourage those who are serving God in ministries around the world, by our prayers and faithful giving. There is a world to be won. There is an enemy to confront and to defeat. Jesus said that He would build His Church. We must present ourselves as tools in His hands and be available to touch lives, with love because that’s how it happens. The Church is people, right here near home and around the world. Every once in a while the Lord has to ring the bell to get out attention. It’s a reminder that things are soon coming to a close. What needs to be done should be done quickly. We can work with joyful expectancy that He rewards with blessings beyond words and that His return will be a triumphant exodus from this world into the Kingdom of Gods dear Son. Jesus is coming again.
Joy in The Harvest
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14
Harvest time is always a joyful season. There’s a lot of work, of course, but the fact that the earth brings forth a rich reward from the sowing season through the summer rains and sunshine to the shorter days of the fall is cause for great delight. It’s the increase through the gathering that is the proof of a job well done. We get excited when missionaries come from their fields of service to let us know what is happening, out there. We hear of the challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome as well as the triumphant victories as trophies of Gods grace are brought to know a wonderful Saviour. It’s all done through teamwork.
1. It’s the missionaries on the front line that are at the greatest risk. They are right where the battle is the most fierce. Daily, far from the contacts of home, they seek for opportunities to share the message of Gods love. We admire the commitment and dedication of this force of faithful servants who are willing to go to where the need is the greatest. They are great men and women of God who have answered the call to GO. At the same time, they are very human and subject to the same kind of life problems that we are. Without them, where would the project be of reaching the lost in other lands.
2. Then there’s the supporters who bring their offerings into the house of the Lord to be administrated in His service. It still takes money to be able purchase equipment and to reach out to the world through various means of evangelism. Those who feel the project of reaching the lost is Gods plan invest their finances to support the workers in various parts of the world. They know that the missionaries are God servants and can only accomplish the job if we give them the proper tools. Prayer is the lifeline that connects us together across the distance that separates us as we believe God for His care and provision for their daily needs. The lifeline needs to be held in the hands of people who know how to pray and intercede.
3. Then of course, the Lord is involved. He is the Master of the harvest field. He invests His interests in reaching the lost by His rich anointing and blessing that prepares the hearts of the people to receive the ministries of His servants. It’s His word that is carried to the lives of those in need. It is the Holy Spirit Who quickens the words that are spoken and impresses the kind of conviction that brings repentance. It is the Holy Spirit Who becomes the guide and teacher in the hearts of new believers.
We are a team. When we each do our part, great things will be accomplished and the waiting harvest will be gathered in, while there still is time. I’m sure that the Lord of the harvest is tallying up the tasks performed for the Reward Ceremony, coming soon.
The Conclusion Is Close
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.” 2 Timothy 3:1
What a time to be alive and serving God! These are exciting days as we see so many things that God is doing in our world. There are untold opportunities for the sowing of the gospel message to our generation that we have never heard of before. It is true that the enemy is doing his best to distract the world from the blessings of the Lord but at the same time there is a new hunger in the hearts of people who are open to discuss spiritual matters that they have neglected for so long. It is true that the power of the uncontrollable has caused a lot of concern in many parts of the world. Earthquakes, tornadoes, famines, AIDS, flesh eating disease, the weather in general, mad cow disease, hoof and mouth disease have suddenly dramatically influenced our modern technological generation in apocalyptic proportions. If you can see these things going on and not question that God may be speaking to this world, then there really is something wrong. Jesus advised his disciples that there would be signs that would announce the nearness of His return. He could not have spelled it out more clearly than by way of the headlines of the newspapers and the ‘Top story’ of the national news taken from the verses of Matthew 24. What is God saying?
Let me tell you a few things that I believe are foremost on His agenda:
1. It’s all coming to a conclusion. This world was not designed to exist in this fashion forever. The devil would like you to believe that it’s always been this way since the beginning of time. Not so! He promised that He would come back to earth again and that He would give clear signs before that happened. The signs are there!
2. God desires a personal relationship with each one of us, more than anything else in all of creation. If we need to be “shaken up” to make us think of God then so be it. The end result is what He is after.
3. This is not a time to be half-committed to serving Him. It’s all or nothing. Fence sitters will get a fence sitter reward. The committed will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)
4. The Lord is holding back some of the most powerful demonstrations of His judgment until the harvest is gathered in. There are still lost souls who have not yet had a clear declaration of the gospel message presented to them. Some of them are in your work place and others live next door to you. They are all loved by the Lord and He wants them to be a part of what He is doing.
Be prayerful and watch for opportunities to share your faith. There’s not much time left.
“ young men and maidens, old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendour is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:12, 13
We all were young once. I know we think that some people were born old but that’s not true. We have good memories of those early years when the worries of paying taxes and the supper menu were not a part of our program. We might even remember those serious times of concern when parents wanted to know everything about where we were going, what we were doing and who we were with.
I’ve discovered that those are chronic questions that probably every generation of Moms and Dads have asked since Cain and Abel went out to play. Parents struggle with how long to hold on and how soon to let go of the decision making process for our kids.
At some point, the young people need to know that there are rewards and consequences to all choices and decisions. I think it’s fair to say that parents want the kids to experience the rewards and avoid the consequences and that is the reason of those too many questions. But let me say, I’ve met some pretty mature kids in my time. They’re the kind that you can trust to make the right decisions and who aren’t afraid or embarrassed to ask for advice when there is some doubt. We can’t put all the kids in the same box ‘cause it just does not fit everyone. I always hope that young people will realize that the older people are not the enemy and we don’t believe that the youth of our day are hopeless.
I sincerely believe that God wants to do some very special stuff in the lives of our youth today. They’ve got energy, educational resources and desire to be someone of influence. That encourages my heart to believe that God will call some of them to some very specific purpose in life. The next generation of leadership is already in formation and soon will take over the duties and responsibilities that the older folk will lay down. To every young person under the sound of my voice/writing I want to remind you that the Apostle Paul many years ago said, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example of the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
The intent of his counsel was to call young people to believe in themselves and take the initiative to be a real, true blue, committed believer who does not compromise for the worlds standards. He is saying, “be gutsy!” God is still calling young people and we want you to feel free to respond to what the Lord is saying. Don’t be intimidated by the older folk who might not understand what you’re doing. The truth is, they were young once too and had to learn by trial and error. We love you and God has a wonderful plan for your life!
He Knew He Was The Winner!
“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25
It’s not wise to celebrate the victory before the battle. Who knows what surprises you might encounter in the midst of the conflict. The end results are never known until the last moments of the war. One great General of history surveyed the battlefield littered with damaged equipment and wounded and dead soldiers. He understood the tremendous price that had been paid through the conflict in the lives of his precious young men. Tearfully he said to his officers, “One more victory like that and we shall lose the war.”
There are a lot of things in life that just don’t matter. Then there are some things that are worth fighting for. We sometimes don’t have our values straight and end up fighting for the wrong things because of our own personal interests. We may win but with regrets because we discover it really wasn’t what it seemed to be. You heard the story of the woodsman who said, “A dog can beat a skunk in a fight anytime; but some things are just not worth it!”
Jesus knew what was worth fighting for and He was willing to do whatever had to be done. On the human level He saw the need of a champion to challenge the powers of evil and He offered Himself. He came into this world to make inroads into the kingdom of darkness and to conquer it. The process, He knew, would be lonely, painful, shameful, degrading, humiliating and end in His death. But the battle would be won through the sacrifice of His life! The prize was worth it all. He would rise again from the dead and offer a plan that could lift every man, woman and child from the powers of darkness and place them in the perfect love of God with the promise of an eternal reward.
The motive behind His plan was based on love and whatever the cost, He would be willing to take on all the forces of darkness. He knew that without His intervention, all of creation would be under the wicked domination of ‘the god of this world’ whose one purpose is to destroy anything that God has created. That of course included all of humanity. The Bible says concerning Jesus, “… for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame..” (Hebrews 12:2) He knew from before the beginning of the project that the plan of Salvation would be successful. There was no way that the enemy could defeat Him on His mission. The purpose of God would be fulfilled and everyone would have an opportunity to choose to be a part of the Victory that Jesus provided on the cross. It’s for that reason, days before the cross of Calvary, Jesus came into Jerusalem in a triumphant procession that we know today as Palm Sunday. This was a celebration in anticipation of the Ultimate victory that He would accomplish at Calvary.
We continue to rejoice in the victory that has been passed on to us. Our freedom in God was won through Jesus Christ.
Our Greatest Earthly Resource
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16
There is no question that the most valuable resource of our country is not the wealth in the mountains, nor the oil on the plains, nor the trees of our forests, nor the fish of the sea. Our whole future, as a nation, depends upon the potential of the children of this generation. The greatest untapped wealth that will make our nation great and our homes secure lies in the hearts and minds of our children. We know that the little ‘rug rats’ aren’t going to be small all the time. Add food, education, moral principles and time and it won’t be long before they will be governing our country and managing the affairs of our world. No wonder that Jesus would take the time to invite the children to come to Him and add His blessings upon their formative years.
Ministry to Children has got to be recognized as one of the most important investments that can be made in our future. It’s a fact that if we don’t give our kids an opportunity to learn about the Lord and have a personal experience with Him that the enemy of our souls will re-direct their interests in things that could be very detrimental to their lives. You are wise in your planning for the future if you consider the real value of a Christian Education program that will influence your children in spiritual matters. Let me remind you, it won’t just happen by itself.
I become very concerned when I hear that parents have their kids enrolled in all kinds of sports activities and hobby interests but have not made Bible teaching a priority for their families. There will come a harvest day and some of the fruit that results from the seeds we have sown will come back to haunt us at some future date. Make no mistake, physical development is important and I believe that involvement in social interaction is a very important part of the growth of our children. However, if the price is that there is not enough time to have our children involved in spiritual interests, it is very possible that the ‘little rug rats’ will grow up to be big monsters. Then it won’t be their fault.
Parents, please allow me to give you some advice:
1. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
2. Spend productive time with your children so they may learn that you are more than a legislator who lays down the laws. They need to know what makes you tick and that you value their little lives as worthy of love and patience.
3. Be on guard against the ungodly influences that invade our homes through television and the computer systems.
4. Pray with your kids and read Bible stories to them. Let them know what a wonderful Saviour Jesus is to you.
A Faithful Friend
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
You are never alone. No matter what paths, trail or road you travel in life, you are not alone. The moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you are placed into a new relationship with the God of the Universe. As you seek and maintain your desire to serve and honour the Lord each day, you may know that He does have a very special plan and purpose for your life. The Old Testament prophet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote, “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.” (Isaiah 42:6) In the New Testament it is recorded that God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Those are very rich promises that belong to those who put their trust in the Lord.
We may not “feel” that God is always that close to us and I can assure you that the road may be rough ahead of you but God is faithful to keep His word. We need to exercise our faith and trust Him when we do not understand what is going on around us or what His purposes are for us in strange situations. Rest assured that the only One who knows the future is also the Guardian of your soul. He has a way of bringing special resources into special occasions in ways that may surprise us but sometimes we have to look for the answers ourselves. It is wrong to think that we can just lay back and wait for developments to unwind before us. Asking, seeking and knocking are terms that Jesus used to remind us that we must get involved in seeing God release the answers to our personal concerns. We need to invest time and energy in being obedient to Him as much as we possibly can. When we reach the limits of our attempts, God can take over and many times He rewards our searching with heavenly benefits.
Let me tell you some of the places to look for His companionship:
1. His Word is often His voice speaking to us. It is an unchanging source of wisdom and guidance that we should make an important part of our lives.
2. Prayer is taking the occasion to talk to the God of all of creation who has promised to hear us before we even call. It is also an opportunity to stop and listen to what God may be prompting us in our hearts. He speaks in Prayer.
3. Seeking the advice of mature believers opens the door to what God has been saying to others, sometimes through lengthy periods of time, and allows us to hear what God would say through their Wisdom. God has been blessing His people through the ages and experiences are God speaking to us again. Please don’t let your session with ‘the wise’ become a pity party. Tell it like you see/feel and let God speak to your heart through the other.
You don’t have to walk alone! There is Someone who cares.
“No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame….” Psalm 25:3
It’s a very romantic story that is filled with intrigue, mystery and miracles. It’s the story of the process of choosing a wife for Isaac, the son of Abraham. It’s found in chapter 24 of Genesis and involves the commitment and dedication of a willing servant, the guidance and direction of God Himself and the total surrender of a very beautiful, modest lady who wanted only to please the Lord and submit to His plan. The interweaving of prayer, trust in God, desire to serve, diligence and faithfulness bring the story to a fairy tale conclusion. Just think! God knew a young lady across the mountains, rivers, forests and deserts that would be the right girl for a young man that was willing to leave the choice to God. That young man did nothing more than wait, pray and meditate until the whole process was completed. He finally received his bride; and she was a beauty, if you don’t mind me saying so. The story includes another important detail: “… he loved her.”
It’s not my intention to give you any pre-marital counselling, today, but I do want to remind you that there are some very wonderful things that God wants to share with those that put their trust in Him. You know that God can see over the horizons of our lives and into the best situations that we could ever dream of if we will but trust Him. Sometimes the process requires patience on our part as we wait to see what God will do. At other times He expects diligence and effort in the pursuit of His purposes and knowing His will. The key is to not get overly concerned about arriving at our goals as much as to be desirous that in the process of living we want to see what God can do when He is given control. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) Making the pleasure of the Lord our primary goal adjusts the focus for the other important things of life. Many times we resort to a different process: if only I had this or that then I would serve God. That’s not the way it works. That puts everything backwards. God first, what I want afterwards and, of course, patience to let God do ‘His thing.’
I think it’s fair to say that waiting for/upon God is a very difficult matter for most of human nature. If we would pause to consider the rewards that He had reserved for those in historical settings that took the time to trust Him, I think that we might learn some lessons on what really is most valuable in life and is it all worth waiting for? The truth is that God is not in a rush. We shouldn’t be either. But while we wait, let’s maintain our confidence because He does all things well and He sees beyond the mountain ranges that obscure our vision. He has something beautiful reserved for you. You may be surprised at what God has prepared for you.
He Cares For You
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
Most people can identify quickly with the story that Jesus told of the one lost sheep. Who hasn’t been completely ‘out of it’ at some time in our lives? We have felt the need for some caring person to come alongside of us to hold us close and give us the strength to see our way out of the trials and temptations that, too often, befuddle us. ‘You’ve been there; done that and bought the T- shirt,’ as the saying goes.
Real care, is a missing element that we hear people asking for, today. Whether it’s a request concerning their Doctor or the Pastor; the Mechanic at the garage or the Social Worker, every one wants to feel important and understood by others.
But let me remind us all, that Jesus thinks that you are very important. So important that He left His heavenly home in glory, to come to this world for one particular reason.... He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) He cares for me. He cares for those who don’t care for Him and those who couldn’t give a ‘hoot’ about what He did on the cross for all the lost of this world. He still cares.
That may not bring a lot of consolation to you when you feel alone unless you grasp the reality of His promise and recognize that, “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) He’s always near to those who trust.
But then, there are the lost. These have not heard that there is a Loving Saviour, Who gave Himself to help them out of their sin and to bring them into the family of God. There are many who need to hear that God does not intend to condemn those that come to Him. The Good News is that His love reaches out to all mankind because the Lord wants to pardon, restore and heal all that will come to Him. That’s the reason for Missions. That’s the reason that some leave their homelands and go to countries where they have to learn new languages and customs. That’s the reason why we support them with our giving and our prayers. Somebody needs to share the story of the Caring Shepherd. We have a part in sending the wonderful story of Gods love to our neighbours and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
That’s what Missions and Evangelism is all about. We demonstrate our concern for those that the Lord loves that have not heard the message yet. There is so much sorrow in our world today and people are searching for solutions in the wrong places. We become partners with Missionaries as we pray, give and share the message of Gods love.
That happens because ..... we care. Don’t we?
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
You’ve heard the question asked, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a noise.” What a crazy question! !
The truth is that the most important things that happen in life may not be detected yet they have eternal benefits. When I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sin, in an instant, all of the things that I had done that offended God were completely washed away. My name was recorded in heaven in the Lambs book of life and I was made a son of God. That allows me special privileges of inheritance for now and in the future. In an unseen moment, I was snatched from the kingdom of darkness by the grace of God and granted full landed immigrant status in the kingdom of Gods dear Son. I was also adopted by the Heavenly Father, who welcomes me to often return to Him, by way of prayer, where I may leave all my cares and concerns with Him. I became an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. In a flash, ‘old things passed away and behold all things became new.’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) Unseen, but very real, the Holy Spirit moved into my life to be a Guide through all the experiences that lie ahead. Invisible, He prompts me when I make mistakes, brings joy when I am faithful, fills with wisdom for the special tasks that fall across my way and grants a very special channel to the Father through prayer. You didn’t see any of that happen, but each of these miracles occurred when I believed that Jesus died for me.
When we remember His death on the cross of Calvary I remember that what He has done for me is the same provision He would grant to every one of us who will acknowledge our need of a Saviour. God has given us the opportunity to weigh His offer and either to accept it or to leave it alone. It happens by faith. I believe in His Word and accept His offer. However, leaving it alone doesn’t mean that it is going to go away. He will return to offer anyone the same benefits that I claim as mine. But the choice belongs to each of us. Choosing to ‘not choose’ is a choice as well and the result is the same as a rejection. To go into eternity without the unseen affairs in order is to enter into the terrible alternative. Hell was not created for man but ‘for the devil and his angels.’ (Matthew 25:41)
Unfortunately, the choice of whether someone goes to heaven or hell, is a matter for each individual to decide. We are wrong to blame God for sending anyone to hell. We are ultimately responsible for making that decision ourselves or rather, refusing to choose to give ourselves to Him. Although He will do everything possible to make the options plain and simple, He will not force His will on anyone. He never has and never will.
An Established Standard
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35
We’re living in a generation of ethical variables. What was once valuable to us is no longer important to our modern society. There are religious organizations that teach clear moral virtues for the building of better families, however, if they are dealing with someone outside of their group, it is O.K. to lie, cheat and defraud. That’s the kind of double standard that has come to be quite acceptable to some today. We’ve also heard of “situational ethics.” That means your standards can change according to the company you keep. If the people you are with smoke marijuana, it’s O.K. If they are against it, you must be too. You could call this the ‘herd syndrome’ where you fit in with whatever the crowd is doing. After all, isn’t it easier to let go of your standards than to fight for them?
Please let me remind you that Gods Word is ‘forever settled in heaven.’ (Psalm 119:89) That’s the standard we should live by. Peter reminds us that, “the word of the Lord stands forever.” (1 Peter 1:25)
Thank God, there is something in our world that does not change with the times but is consistent through the generations as a monument to the unchanging standards of God. Jesus made it clear to the people throughout His ministry that the religious leaders had set a level of righteousness that was a very high standard that even they were not able to attain. But Jesus offered a substitute that was not popular to His generation but that would demonstrate the expectations of God in every day life. He spoke of divorce, of anger, of financial integrity, of future planning, of pride in public display, of lust and social responsibility. They were principles that had not changed since the Garden of Eden and are the only way to please God. I guess it all comes down to one simple question that we all should ask. What does God say about the issues that are so important to us, as well as the things that we don’t think are important at all? We’ve got to learn that the only One that really matters in any crowd is God.
Let me come back to emphasize the importance of knowing Gods Word and learning what are His expectations for our lives in this upside down world. It’s time that Christians realized that it is more important now than ever before to stand upon His Word as the rule that regulates our lives. If you are ever in doubt about those things, look to a mature brother/sister and get some wise counsel. May your solutions be born in the Word of God because, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) It is imperatively important that we make the reading of Gods Word a daily part of our lives. It serves as an unchanging magnetic pole that points us, always, in the direction that God wants us to go. Without it, we have no compass to give us a sure bearing through the experiences of life.
Whatever You want, I’ll Give
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I, send me!” Isaiah 6:8
It was when the dagger was in his upraised hand that Abraham clearly heard the voice of God. “Do not lay a hand on the boy.” (Genesis 22:12) Abraham was prepared to give his son as an offering, to God, upon the altar he had made on Mount Moriah where the ‘mosque of Omar’ stands today, in the city of Jerusalem. It was another step of obedience that Abraham was willing to do. God had asked him to give his promised son upon an altar. It must have seemed crazy to Abraham to hear God make such a request. But the test was designed to prove Abraham’s complete trust in God.
He passed with flying colours. There was “NO” thing that would stand between him and the Lord. Nothing was more important than doing what the Lord had asked of him no matter the cost. But, you know the rest of the story. A substitute was provided for Isaac in the life of a mountain sheep that was caught in a thicket. Abraham was committed to honouring the Lord with all that he possessed and with all his heart and God provided a substitute. That was the key to his relationship with God and his wonderful walk with the Lord. “Nothing between the Lord and the Saviour.” Abraham’s was a demonstration that whatever the Lord has need of he was willing to surrender it to Him. Even his beloved son.
But then, so was the heart of the Heavenly Father as He saw the need of fallen man. His plan was to give His only begotten Son to be the substitute for all sinners, for all time. Jesus came into the world as the Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world. It was an arrangement whereby, all my sin was laid on Jesus and His righteousness became mine. It is a fact, today, that all my sins are gone and that there was no other way to do it. It did not come to me because of anything special that I did but by the free gift of God. While I was a prodigal and rebellious son, God was willing to allow His Son to be my substitute so that I could have the liberty to serve Him with the beginnings of eternal life. We are now free of all condemnation and invested with a new authority as the Sons and Daughters of God so that we can choose to honour Him with the rest of our lives. His gift was because of our need.
I always think it is so interesting that what God would not let Abraham do, (give up his son,) God, Himself would be willing to do.
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