"Just A Moment"
Daily Devotional Guide
"Just A Moment" By Rev. Garry H. Fricker
The Message of Missions
“Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Psalm 2:8
You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of people in the world that you don’t know. If you could multiply that by the number of problems that each of them has you would realize that we are living in a big unexplored world that is full of problems. I think it’s fair to say that we know that we have a responsibility to reaching and influencing the world that we are familiar with but what about the others that we do not know. Here’s a couple of basic rules for all of us to follow:
1. Our first responsibility to share the story of Christ’s love begins at home. That is, we need to practice our faith in our own household and with those that we are in contact with. Jesus gave this advice to one who wanted to follow Him. “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19) The saying we sometimes use, is very true: “Let charity begin at home.” The story is told that a lady with 5 children came to the altar to dedicate herself to Foreign missions during D. L. Moody’s service. D. L. Moody pointed at her children and said, “There are the heathen. Go to them.” One of Jesus last commands was to teach his disciples to witness at home, first. (Acts 1:8)
2. Then come the needs of others that we do not know. How can we reach them, for the gospel is meant to be shared with all people? Our first task is to do what Jesus told us to do: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2) Before we do anything else, we need to be a people who pray about the lost and earnestly desire that they be found. The Holy Spirit knows them all by name and as we pray, He sends the workers.
3. We should give of our income to support those who are working in other parts of the world. We call them “Missionaries.” They are actually Gods servants, doing Gods business in obedience to Gods call and Gods plan. We support Gods idea because it is Gods hearts desire and we show our love to Him by being a part of His projects.
4. God may call you to be a part of a team that actually goes beyond the borders of our family, community and country. Be a willing servant. There is no better place to be than obediently in the centre of Gods will.
A Member of the Local Church
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
Membership in your local Church is your personal decision to accept the responsibilities of commitment to the policies and vision of the local Assembly of believers. It is not a measurement of spirituality nor is it designed to bring special benefit to the individual any more than joining the army makes you a better human being. The most important matter though, is that we are born again as a part of the family of God and a member of the Church Universal. The membership roll of the Church of Jesus Christ is recorded in the “Lambs book of life” and is not dependent upon our accomplishments nor abilities.
However, being a member of a local Church does demonstrate the fact that those who are prepared to work together will make a public declaration of the same before others. To the Church body, we acknowledge that God gives wonderful gifts to the Church in the lives of individuals. Each comes with special giftings and talents that make up the whole body. In the same way, every Church seems to have its own personality and makes its own contribution to the community. It is obvious that God deals with local congregations as a very important part of the whole CHURCH and that each congregation, whether big or small, is very important to Him.
The book of Revelation includes two chapters (2 & 3) that demonstrate the interest the Lord has in the details of the individual churches, in dealing with their specific problems and challenges. I believe that God has given special people to help through those particular situations. They are those we call ‘active members.’ They have chosen to belong to the local Church.
Membership is by request, not by legislation. Identifying yourself with the local Church means you are willing to help the Pastor and Congregation in the challenges they face and to develop the Vision that the leadership sees. But most of all it demonstrates the Unity of a common calling to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the general program of the local assembly. We shouldn’t ever take our membership lightly because of the seriousness of the tasks before us. Commitment to working along with others, is the real mark of our commitment to the purpose of Jesus, to build His Church.
Becoming a member, becomes a public declaration to accept responsibility to being an active part of what God is doing, in our area of influence.
Bring Your Children to Jesus
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15
Parents brought their children to Jesus so that He would touch them. The disciples thought that the “kids” were a bother to the Lord and they rebuked the parents for their thoughtless imposition on the time and energy of the Master. They assumed the position of sifting through the relevant and the irrelevant, after all, He was a very important and busy person and what could be more important to the whole world than to let Him alone “to preach and teach?”
That all sounded reasonable, but that was not Jesus method of ministry. Jesus made it clear, that of all the things He had to do at this time the most important was to touch and bless the children. Forget the lengthy discourses. There’s something about reaching out to the sincerity and innocence of children that brought great joy to the heart of the Lord. It was the little children who reminded the Lord about those who live in heaven. It seems that the disciples missed that until they were admonished to change their ways.
I’m sure there are moments when sincere, loving and caring parents sometimes wish they could send their children away. Some would have taken the view of the disciples. Let the parents take their children to the back of the Church. Anyone who has cared for those little ones for any length of time, knows that they aren’t always little angels. They are sometimes mischievous and sometimes overactive but you can’t forget they are little children and have not learned the kinds of things that grown-ups have learned. There still remains a kind of innocence in them at a very young age. It’s for that simple reason, all parents ought to understand that the thing that is going to bring the greatest benefit to our kids is the touch of God upon their lives. It is important that we watch for every opportunity to get our children to a place where they will be taught Godly, Christian values. We all know how little of that there is in our world, today. Our great delight is that the Lord is pleased when parents are concerned enough to get their kids into that kind of atmosphere. The benefits are eternal. He can plant something, like a compass, deep in their hearts that will help to give them direction for the rest of their lives. ( Whether they like it, or not! )
It is an interesting statistic that more than 80% of the people who have accepted the Lord as their personal Saviour did so before they reached the age of 18. I can almost guarantee that the soccer field or baseball diamond isn’t the best place to make that kind of decision. That’s why there are children’s ministries programs in most Churches. Will you bring your children to Jesus for His touch?
God Is Always Faithful
“I the LORD do not change.” Malachi 3:6
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the sun is always shining. Even though we don’t see it, because of the clouds and the darkness of the night, we know that the sun is continually doing what it’s supposed to do. Sometimes it is clearly seen on the other side of the world while we are covered with darkness. We understand that that is the way things are. It is not a question of privilege or right, goodness or evil. It is the way God has designed the sun and the weather patterns of our world. All of nature exists because of Gods plan of light and dark.
It’s funny, though, that in life we think we should always have things the way we want in order to be comfortable and that everything should be bright and happy. We want to cancel all the dreary days as not important to the believer. It isn’t always that way. The truth is that God has created us to enjoy Himself all the time because He never changes and He’s always there whether the sun is shining or not. The truth is, when the sun isn’t shining on us, the dark and trying hours that we sometimes encounter do serve us for very important and practical purposes. But, still, God is always there.
“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5
“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:4
Heroes of the faith, through the centuries, have believed that the victory is not in our feelings or emotions but in our trust in God. He is the Rewarder of those who confidently rely on Him at all times.
“Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
There is coming a day when the storm clouds will no longer hide the face of the One we have learned to love and trust. The weakness of our confidence and faith in God in trying hours will not hold back the joy that belongs to those who enter the presence of the King. It will be a great day of rejoicing as we are caught up to be with Him through the countless ages. Like the footprints in the sands, when things got rough, the single set of prints were evidence that He was there all the time holding us closely to Himself.
We are never alone. He is a faithful friend.
Work Is Honourable
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground…” Genesis 3:19 To most people, Labour Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of another school term and the Fall season but it was officially designed as a special holiday to honour those who work. Some people believe that work was one of those extended curses upon all mankind caused by the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden
I believe that work was one of those important purposes that God instituted as part of the normal duties and responsibilities of His majestic creation. He told Adam, “.. fill the earth and subdue it…” (Genesis 1:28) To me, “subdue” sounds like work. Everybody and everything needs something to do. Being occupied gives us a sense of importance and reason for existing. I can only imagine that work was designed to be a pleasurable activity as Adam went about his duties and admired the handiwork of what God had so wonderfully put together. I’m sure there was a sense of importance as, under Gods personal direction, he fulfilled the tasks that he was meant to do. But it was sin that made work a tedious monotony of effort filled days.
We get stuck in the rush and scratch of each day eking out some kind of ‘living’ in order to keep life and limb together. If our attitude could be changed so that we don’t view work as something we ‘have to do’ but rather as a way to demonstrate Gods giftings to us and that wherever we are planted, we will watch for ways to serve the Lord. Every day can be a time of exploration and discovery as we see how God leads us in our commonplace occupations to fulfill His will. Sure there is sweat, weariness and drudgery in some of the things that we do. To tell you the truth that won’t go away until Jesus comes back again. Those who know the Lord should understand that there is no free lunch. Work is not just a time filler, it is an ethic. We demonstrate our personal integrity and understanding of our individual responsibility to our families and society by applying ourselves to being occupied until Jesus returns.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church, “.. we gave you this rule, ‘If a man will not work he shall not eat.’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) It appears that Paul's counsel was intended to reprove those who wouldn’t consider looking for employment because they were happy to, ‘just trust the Lord.’ This may sound pretty harsh but I believe he was saying something like, “Don’t come looking for food at the Church door if you are not prepared to get out and find employment.” A good hard day at work is good medicine for the mind and the body and Christians ought to see that as a sacred honour. We’re not working, just for the money, but as an opportunity to serve the Lord in the Mission field of the Labour force. May God bless you with a real sense of joy for your efforts, a great paycheck with regular upward reviews and many souls for your service.
Heaven, Some Day
“He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come….” Matthew 22:3 I used to wonder why God didn’t take us right up to heaven from the altar of repentance. If ever I was ready to enter heaven it was when His forgiveness was granted to me at the moment of my confession of my need of a Saviour. It was then His precious blood washed away all my sin and I became an adopted son by His heavenly decree with a promised inheritance in His eternal Kingdom. That is what His word declares. I was made to be a child of God, wilfully submitting to His Divine purposes and ready for the streets of gold and the palace of the King.
But I’m still here and this is not heaven. If those who are ‘saved’ would be taken away, who would there be to tell the story of His saving grace and His love for the lost? Who would be here to show the power of God and demonstrate what a changed life can be like? Who would God use to be His representatives to invade the kingdom of darkness and share a godly influence to those who have been blinded by the enemy? We have been chosen to do those tasks. The work at the altar of repentance made us candidates for higher service. We have been set free to serve the King of Kings in the same neighbourhood where we have been living. We should count it an honour to be able to demonstrate, to the whole world, the change that has been given to us through His love. That leaves us right where we are.
That also means that although there has been a real change inside, everything else is the same on the outside. There are temptations and tests; people will still be people; the enemy will continue to distract us from Gods purposes and we are working in a world whose morals are different than those of our Master. But God is our Resource. He has promised to be our Helper. (Hebrews 13:6) He is available in every time of need. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Joshua 1:5 He has assured us that every trial, test and temptation will have a way of escape; through the test or from the test. 1 Corinthians 10:13 He has not promised that we would be free of pressures and stresses. He has not promised that we won’t feel the burdens of life from time to time. He knows our human frailties and the weaknesses of our natural resources. But He has made it clear that He knows those who are His and we are His Children. He will care for us like His own sons and daughters.
Every burdensome situation will become an opportunity to demonstrate His love and His life so that those without the Hope we possess will see the difference that God makes in our lives. At the same time, we know that this world is not our home. We are pilgrims walking through each situation of life with a clear call of God to honour and serve Him. There are rewards for faithfulness that the Father has reserved for us when we get “Home.” Meanwhile, in each of the areas of our lives, let’s shine for Jesus. Be wise! Be careful! Keep trusting!
It Takes Effort
“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labour.” Proverbs 12:24
Maybe I’m a little crazy and out of the ordinary but I like to be busy doing things. I know that I’m like you in that I enjoy my free time just to be able to take it easy, but physical labour was never a problem to me. As strange as it may appear it’s almost relaxing to be able to swing a hammer or dig with a shovel. When we talk about honouring the work ethic on Labour Day, perhaps it should be said that mothers understand the real meaning of ‘labour’ better than anyone else.
Labour day was designed as a special time to honour people who do manual work. It’s the common worker who has built this nation out of wilderness and forests to be what it is today. The farms, mines, logging and development of industry were begun with people who could dream that some invested effort could make this nation great. Good, hard work is honourable and not to be depreciated. Wise King Solomon put it nicely when he said: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)
Work is getting down to the practical side of life where the rubber touches the road. It may be menial. It may be humbling. It may just be a means to get some money to buy some grub but all hard work brings a profit.
Beware of the guy who tries to sell you on the program that the government has provided a way to live without working. That life-style may appeal to some but there are consequences in slothful habits that can destroy the innovative dreams of the people who want to make something of themselves. It sets a bad pattern for future generations who get snagged into believing that the government was designed to take care of its citizens. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Church and said: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) The Word encourages us to apply effort to being useful and productive with our lives. It’s true that we ‘do’ work but work ‘makes’ us. To avoid it is to miss out on the lessons and development that good physical exercise brings to us. There are thousands of people across Canada today that are out looking for ‘work’ and would give their eye teeth to find something to do to build their self-esteem, give them some purpose in life and lift them from their personal depression.
Work was Gods idea in the beginning. I don’t know for sure all the tasks that Adam had to do, in the Garden, but I do know that he was commissioned to “.. fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) ‘Subdue’ sounds like work to me. I cannot envision Adam sitting under a Palm tree, sipping lemonade. It sounds ‘divine’ but Adam was designed with a higher purpose in mind; that was to be an industrious representative of the Creator who had a plan for Adam to accomplish. In gentler terms than I could put it Gods instructions were: “Get out there and make it happen!!” ( GHF )
His Compassions Never Fail
“Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9
You might have called him a cry baby if you had met him on the street. He is called the weeping prophet. The truth is that he had a very difficult ministry, but he was obedient to the Lord. Jeremiah knew that his nation was about to be judged severely, for their neglect of the Lords day and their unwillingness to hear and obey the Word of God. His heart was so heavy it drove him to tears. The truth is, that didn’t change anybody nor anything. But in the midst of his grieving, praying and frustration, Jeremiah gives us a positive glimpse of God. “His compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23) He had found God to be like a faithful, compassionate Father who had reached out to a people who had often failed Him.
That truth was the source of blessing and inspiration to Jeremiah that sustained him when things got pretty rough. God will never fail! His mercy and compassion are as fresh as the morning sunrise. He will always make Himself available to the searching heart.
In spite of the things that caused Jeremiah such profound distress there was a deep, settled confidence that God would work things out for the good. He faced some very strong persecution from the religious leadership but he was always secure in his own personal faith in God. He said, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:26) You see, if you really believe that God cares and that He is in control of every situation, you learn to roll with the punches and continue to trust in the midst of disappointments. It’s not a time to give up. It’s a time to reach up. It’s a time to demonstrate where your faith really is. We all moan and groan at sometime, because pain really hurts, whether it’s from the outside or on the inside. But let me remind you that God knows. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) His compassion and grace are basic qualities of His Nature and He is with you all the time to show He cares.
The wonderful thing about every trial is that it will not last forever; but His love will. There will come a time when we’ll be able to experience and repeat the words of Jeremiah: “Come, let us tell in Zion, what the Lord has done.” (Jeremiah 51:10)
He has done marvellous things throughout our lifetime. We serve an Awesome God.
Working With God
“Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to enquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah.”
2 Chronicles 20:3
There are many areas in our life that God works with us to accomplish His purposes. The truth is, where would we be without Him? Why God would want to call us into partnership with Himself is one of the mysteries of His Wisdom that we may not comprehend at this moment. The fact that He would entrust any of His workings into our care is almost overwhelming, yet it is His choice to allow us to play a part in the fulfillment of His divine plan.
That is why we are called to fast in these days. I believe that God is calling us to humbly seek His face through fasting and prayer, that He might be free to do a new thing in this generation. It was one of the prophets of the Old Testament who sounded out a call to Gods people. “Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon all the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” (Joel 1:14)
Fasting is a discipline that takes a very common and sometimes urgent personal need and puts it second to seeking the Lord. The truth is that most of us think first about ourselves and our own comforts and God is relegated to the extra time that we have. Fasting puts God first.
- Fasting puts an appropriate emphasis on spiritual matters. God made us spiritual beings in His image and we live inside of a physical body; but we often neglect the fact that the most important part of who we are is our spirit. Fasting re-directs the values of our lives to honour the Lord through concerted prayer. Frankly, it is paying the price to be the kind of people that God wants us to be.
- Fasting is a spiritual power building exercise. Like muscle builders who pump iron, Jesus told His disciples that it was sometimes necessary to fast and pray in order to defeat the enemy. He said, “This kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting,” (Matthew 17:24) What the disciples could not do in their own strength could only be accomplished when one has committed themselves to prayer and fasting. The impossible becomes possible.
- Fasting places us in a position of submission to the Heavenly Father through the act of humbling ourselves before Him. How He longs for a people who will humble themselves and pray!
We challenge you today to join us in a time of seeking the Lord earnestly for His blessings upon His Church. I am sure that if we do our part, God will do the rest. He seeks for that kind of close, cooperative relationship. You can do something about that today.
Leading to Faith in Christ
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
It all began just outside the gate of the Garden of Eden. Adam became a Father. Because there was sin in the world, he could not have known the tremendous responsibility that had fallen upon his shoulders to raise his children to love, honour and serve God. He did give them a spiritual value system, for both of his boys were God worshipers. But as we know, from the rest of the story, giving to God and worshipping God as we know best does not assure us of a perfect life. Those are two very important principles that our kids should learn early in life. But, let me put it in simple terms, we need to lead our kids to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
Fathers, it’s time that we recognized that the kids we bring into the world are not going to heaven because they are our kids. They aren’t going to heaven because they go to Church with you. It is our responsibility to guide them in their faith to accept Jesus Christ. That is not always an easy task. We have some heavy competition out there.
Let me give you some suggestions about bringing kids up to serve the Lord:
1. Pray for your kids every day and as you think of them during the day. (YOU’VE GOT TO DO IT!)
2. Organize a time each day when you can PLAY and PRAY with your kids. It’s important that they learn how much you value your relationship with them and with the Lord.
3. Be PATIENT with your children. As much as you may give them guidance with the spoken word, many of the things they learn they discover by trial and error. Be a gentle instructor examining the lessons of their experiences with them.
4. The best gift you can give your children is to LOVE their Mother. Demonstrate affection in the privacy of your home. (A warm hug, often; a stolen kiss; a gentle pat ......)
5. Next to last of all, but very important, if you love your children you need to learn how to discipline them. That is not to make them angry, but to clarify that there are consequences to disobedience and doing wrong and there are benefits for obedience and doing right.
- Finally, if ever there was a generation that needed Godly Fathers and Holy Spirit anointed wisdom it has got to be our days. Fathers need an up-to-date experience with the Lord in order to pass the same on to our Children.
Dads, let me call you today to a new commitment to be the kind of Father that God wants you to be. Do yourself a favour, check up on yourself. If you need to do some correcting in your personal life, I can guarantee that it will pay tremendous benefits down the road.
Remembering September 11
“He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations – let not the rebellious rise up against him. Selah.” Psalms 66:7
It will be a while before the images of the catastrophe in New York leave our minds. The pain of so many has been spread upon all of us as we stood shoulder to shoulder with those who were hurting at that time. There were some who were maintaining their hopes that there would be some positive results for their families as the workers continued to dig through the rubble and twisted steel. Needless to say, there were a lot of very angry people who were calling out for justice. As Billy Graham said, “God understands our anger.” Counsellors and clergymen around the world were all looking for words that would take away the hurt and, truthfully, it was very difficult to find something that would satisfy. For the Christian, we know that God is still on His throne, He is faithful and His grace and comfort are extended to all that seek Him.
Most of us remain anxious to see what future developments will bring as the winds of war swirl around the world.
Let me give you a few words of advice in the midst of all the happenings of these days.
1. I believe that the devil knows that his time is short. More than anyone else in all of creation he is aware that Jesus is coming again. He will take advantage of every weakness and spiritual laxity that we allow to invade the Church.
2. It has always been true, “It is always darkest before the dawn!” God has promised to be with us. His Beloved Church is in the world and He will not stand idly by while suffering goes on. I believe it is time for the Christians around the world to claim a part of our inheritance as the Sons and Daughters of God, that His power be released in Salvation and signs and wonders. This is not the first time that Believers have been pushed to the edge in order that we learn to rely, afresh, on His power.
3. It is past due, that the Church take prayer seriously. We have ignored a deeper walk with God for far too long. It is time to review our routines and put the proper emphasis in the right places. We need to bare our hearts in sincere repentance and humility as we draw near to Him. He has been waiting for seeking hearts to make their way into His presence and we must not delay any longer.
4. Whatever your personal trial may be, we must be confident that our lives are in His gracious hands and He is able to make all things to work out for the good as we trust in Him. I believe that it is for times just like these that Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) We may not see a resolve to all the battles that we face. That is not the issue. The issue is that we maintain our confidence that God is in control.
“Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.” Proverbs 22:28
I would like to dedicate our theme today to grandparents. Let’s call it, “Grandparents Day.” We’ve all had some of them who have blessed us with their cookies and stories. You may even be one.
They’re the folk who have come through the greatest changes in one life time, since the beginning of the world. Some still remember the horse and buggy days and the old Model A Fords that have made such a change in our traveling habits. In one century, our mode of travel has moved from about 5 miles per hour to the rocket speeds of 20,000 miles per hour. It seems that life moves at that rate of speed every day.
One Grandfather was telling his little grandson of the chores that he used to do when he was a little boy. One of his tasks was to bring in the wood so Mother could make a fire in the stove. The little guy, with only an understanding of the electric stove, had a hard time figuring out why they wanted to put a fire in the oven.
It is said that one of the first three things to go in old age is your memory. I forget what the other two are. In a recent visit with a dear old Gramma, she informed me that she had something funny to tell me. In her own words, she said, “It’s a funny thing that I have lost my memory but I have not lost my faith in God.” We laughed together to think of such a thing. I guess it’s because our physical frames eventually will wear down, but our inner man (our spirit) is growing stronger as we get closer to home. Paul wrote the Corinthian Church with these words. “ Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians. 4:16)
Amid all the changes that have occurred throughout this last century, we are reminded that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The same gospel message that brought hope, joy, peace, deliverance and healing through so many generations is the same message that meets the needs of people today. Our experience with God doesn’t grow stale and mouldy, as do so many other things in the world, because we serve a living Saviour. Changes are occurring all around us. We call it progress and growth. But more regular than the Old Faithful Geyser is the truth that God loves and cares for you. No matter your age or your condition in life He is a Faithful Friend. The Pioneers of the Faith, (Our Grandparents) are a tribute to the power of the Grace of God. They have gained some very valuable experiences that will be a blessing to us as we’re sensitive to them. We wish all Grandparents a very Happy Grandparents day!
Baptism - Our Death
“Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of God the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
If every person that was ever born were alive today, this world would be a very crowded place. There is a finality to death that makes us aware that the old must pass away and make room for the new. It is true about the seeds in the ground as well as the ‘temporariness’ and frailty of human life. But it is good, because we learn the lessons from the experiences and knowledge of the old which like reliable foundations, serve as good platforms to go on from here.
That’s what water baptism means to us, as well. The waters of Baptism serve as emblems of the grave where the “old man” and his “old ways” are buried and a new life, committed to Jesus Christ arises. We should not forget the lessons from the old ways that remind us that a life without Jesus Christ really offers us no permanent good thing.
We need to remember that there are wages for our sinful ways that became collectibles the instant we disobeyed God. The scars and hurts that are the result of our rush and passion for pleasure and selfish goals are the evidence of a way that is not pleasing to God.
We need to remember that when we were without Christ, we were the target of the enemy of our souls who takes great pleasure in driving us farther away from a loving Heavenly Father.
We need to remember that the real cause of wars and arguments stem from the selfishness and pride of hearts that are not content with putting God first.
These are all terrible lessons to learn but they are a good basis on which to build something new. I do not believe that it is Gods will that we be haunted by the offences of the past. When they are left in Christ and we obediently follow the Lord in the waters of Baptism we can rightfully say that we have learned that it pays to serve God and be submissive to Him
The very interesting fact is that, as we leave behind the past in sincere repentance, demonstrated by the Act of Baptism, we choose to begin a new walk with Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. He offers us his personal companionship and the friendly prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He leads us to inherit the rights and privileges of the Sons and Daughters of God. We are drawn into a new Hope that one day, because of the change of direction in our lives, we will be eternally with Him and share the abundance of what He has prepared for us in Heaven. It all begins with the CROSS but the waters of Baptism are very important as a declaration to everyone that Jesus has done something new in our lives and we choose to leave behind ‘all’ the old ways.
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.” Proverbs 22 :6
We may be from an older variety of standards than what we see today but welcome to the “GenX” era. This is the result of a new generation that wants to set their own value system. That means that times have changed and we need to adapt to a new philosophy of life. I personally resist some of the changes that are common in the world today. Some of the ‘Old fashioned’ principles were designed to train us in matters of courtesy, faithfulness and trust from early childhood. The fact that ‘anything goes,’ has pushed me out of my comfort zone because I feel that I have been robbed of guidelines to respectful, healthy, social interaction. I’m from the old school that taught, by example and by action, the positive value of severe, loving discipline.
To say that pain is the only way to learn a lesson would be absolutely ignorant. But to not learn the place of proper controlled Biblical discipline would be equally ignorant. The Basic Foundation of all discipline is Love. “Because the Lord disciplines (KJV - scourgeth) those He loves and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6) Now I know that sounds bad, if you are bad but you need to understand the heart of the Father and that He is not an indiscriminate, austere judge. There is always a great investment of gentle, loving, patience, on his part before there is any other type of action. Let me be the first to admit that this discussion is a borderline conversation that could be interpreted as abusive according to the standards of our Social Services system. However, I know it is important to listen to the advice of the Bible more than the advice of the trends of society.
There is a very important principle of life that especially affects our spirit. That is, that we need to learn to do what is right before God or there is a consequence that will be paid. If we fail to teach our children that principle by our lack of training or by discipline, then we’ve failed to make a very valuable investment in their lives. I believe it is offensive to the Lord to let our children do whatever they feel is right. That is to totally disregard the importance of parenting. It is time that we got personally involved with the re-directing of the values of our generation.
Let’s set a united pattern that all of us can follow:
1. Sit down with your kids and ‘try’ to understand where they are.
2. Let your children know your heart and your desires for their lives.
3. Lead your family to understand that what the Lord wants from us is very much different than what the world expects.
4. Give spiritual leadership to your family. ( Pray together, read together, do the parks together, spend home time together. )
5. Let your kids know that they are VERY important to you even though they make mistakes. ( They are a gift of God. )
The Touch Of Jesus On Our Kids
‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36
Parents brought their children to Jesus so that He would touch them. The disciples presumed that the “kids” were a bother to the Lord and they rebuked the parents for their thoughtless imposition on the time and energy of the Master. After all, He was a very important and busy person and what could be more important to the whole world than to be more considerate and let Him alone “to preach and teach?”
That all sounded so good, but Jesus clarified the matter; of all the things He had to do at this time the most important was pay attention to the children and to touch and bless them. There was something about reaching out to the sincerity and innocence of children that brought great joy to the heart of the Lord. It was the little children who reminded the Lord about those who live in heaven. It seems that the disciples missed that until they were admonished to change their ways.
I’m sure there are moments when loving and caring parents sometimes wish they could send their children away. Anyone who has cared for those little ones for any length of time, knows that they aren’t always little angels. Most of them are born with a little mischievous inquisitiveness that gets them in trouble from time to time. That’s natural. When we see that, we become concerned that they may not ‘turn out’ the way we want. It’s for that reason, all parents ought to understand, the thing that is going to bring the greatest benefit to our kids is the touch of God upon their lives. It is important that we watch for every opportunity to get our children to a place where they will see and be taught godly, Christian values. We all know how little of that there is in our world, today. Our great delight is that the Lord is pleased when parents are concerned enough to get their kids into that kind of atmosphere. It may not be easy all the time but the benefits are eternal. He can plant something, like a compass, deep in their hearts that will help to give them direction for the rest of their lives. (Whether they like it, or not! )
It is an interesting statistic that more than 80% of the people who have accepted the Lord as their personal Saviour did so before they reached the age of 18. I can almost guarantee that the soccer field or baseball diamond isn’t the best place to make that kind of decision. That’s why we have children’s ministries in our Church. Will you bring your children to Jesus for His touch? Excuse me if I push on this one but I think it’s important. The word is ‘bring’ your children not ‘send.’ Be there too! It’s part of that valuable investment that parents need to make in the next generation.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” Philippians 2:12
It’s easy to make excuses and ‘pass the buck’ when we get frustrated or feel that we are not satisfied with results. Someone else must be to blame! We don’t often talk about our own inadequacies or failures. Those are things that we don’t want people to see. It is a fact that none of us are perfect and that we all have areas in our lives that need either construction or renovations. That is part of the growing process of our lives. It’s the same in the spiritual world. We are growing and should continue to grow into maturity. ( By the way, maturity is not an age thing. It is the development of character and personality and has nothing to do with the tally of years. ) We should strive for excellence and perfection in all we do because we are called to serve the living God and represent Him in this world. Whatever we say and do will have some reflection on the God we serve. We want to be the best that we can be so that our witness will bring blessing to the Lord. Making excuses about our humanity and our inabilities does not work. Even the ‘one talent’ man was expected to do his best with the little that he was given. The fact that he did not do what he should have done was evidence of his lack of trust and confidence in his Master.
Let me show you something. In the book of John, chapter 5 we read the story of the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda. He had been crippled for 38 years and was laying beside the pool in the expectation of receiving his healing. Jesus asked the question: “Do you want to get well?” Let me re-phrase that. “Do you want to get better?” or “Do you want to change your situation?” What would you respond to that? This man answered Jesus’ question with 2 distinct responses:
1. “I have no one to help me.” That makes me ask the question, ‘What do you think Jesus was there for?’ He wants to help you to get better/ be better/ to change. Jesus cares about your situation, too, and you need to look to Him as the answer for your need.
2. “… someone goes down ahead of me.” In my interpretation he is saying, ‘People are selfish. They get in the way. I’d be different if it wasn’t for some people. I can’t change because of those around me.’
Perhaps he had some reason to say those things, but then, he was talking to One who could by-pass all of the reasons why we have not grown into being the kind of people we or God wants us to be.
Here’s the key to our growing in God: do what you can do and look to the Lord for the rest. He has promised to never leave you and it is His purpose to lead you on into Christian maturity. Without excuses, be the person God wants you to be and Trust Him.
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
There are a lot of people in the world who are working in situations they do not enjoy. If you asked them why they stay in their jobs they will probably tell you that they do it for the money. Of course, that is an important reason to work because we need the income in order to survive; unless we’re prepared to sleep in the park or under a bridge. But there is nothing like doing a job for the personal satisfaction we get at the end of the day. It’s great to have the peace of heart and mind that we have made a difference and that we have pleasure in doing what we do best.
Jesus tells the story of three employees who were given tasks to do. The Master knew the abilities of each so that the delegated challenge that lay before them was proportionate to their personal potential. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a God thing, then I’m not tuned in to hear His voice. I’m sure that the task that the Lord gives to each of us is as different as our personal abilities and personalities. It’s very possible that there may not be anyone with the same kind of challenges as another. The Lord is the One who delegates duties and responsibilities to each of us with our expectation that when payday comes, we will be rewarded.
But don’t forget that the “Boss” has an expectation too. He is expecting that we will do our best to accomplish the goal that He sets before us. But here’s the end of the story; you know it well. Two employees gave their best effort and by using their talents were able to double their trust. That’s all the Master asks for, ‘do your best.’ There’s was a commendation from the Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Can you imagine the joy of these who were generously rewarded for their efforts. However, one, like too many of us, did nothing. Try as he might to rationalize his decision, he had no acceptable excuse to justify his ‘negligence.’ To his surprise, there is no reward for doing nothing. Plain and simple….. no reward! No Payday!
Now I know that God can do whatever He wants, all by Himself. But I also know that He has promised to work with us; to be there as a resource for our strength and wisdom; to be our supply for whatever need we may have. I understand the principle that Jesus wanted to get across in His story was to emphasize that it’s diligence and effort that will be rewarded. Applying effort is the working out of the faith and confidence that we have in a God who has a job to be done and has called us to be privileged to be a part of His program. That may sound like ‘work’ or ‘works’ but be assured, ‘Payday’ is coming and our faithfulness will be recompensed far beyond our greatest imagination.
“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21
The Challenge of ‘the unreached’ remains an unfinished task. The Great Commission is the Mission of the Church. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) Everything else should be secondary.
1. It’s a program that began in the heart of God when He sent His Word and brought all created things into existence.
2. It continued as He spoke to the early generations with a revelation of Himself and His will.
3. Prophets sent by God, carried the Word of the Lord under some very severe and austere circumstances because He wanted both His will and His nature to be known.
4. He sent His One and Only Son into the world to be the message of His love, that all might know that He cares and has always been seeking for the lost.
5. Finally, Jesus told His followers, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
The moment we become believers in the Lord Jesus, we become His message to a lost world. Our influence should touch and affect the situations we live in every day. That includes our home and wherever we work and do business. It’s the everyday ‘to do’ and shopping list of every believer. That’s the healthy process that each should follow as we serve the Lord. To continue to fulfill the Lords purposes, our influence, with the gospel message is to reach beyond ourselves into a world that needs to know His love. We become an extension of His plan when we pray and give to Missions. We send Missionaries to various parts of the World to share the gospel message with other peoples and nations. They represent the Lord and us with a passion to see the lost found and brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Saviour.
a) Our GIVING helps to make their ministry a lot easier because they shouldn’t have to worry about who is going to pay the bill. That is the responsibility of everyone who knows the Lord as our Saviour. We may not see the benefit of our investment in Missions in our life-time but we know, beyond the shadow of doubt, that God sees every penny that we give and He keeps the records for the day of Great rewards.
b) Our PRAYING helps to roll back the forces of darkness so that the missionaries can do their tasks with greater freedom. We want the servants of the Lord to be strong, healthy, wise and powerful in the Word. That’s Gods will too! We need to be encouraged that, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
See The future With Blindfolded Eyes
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3
On December 31st, we tear off the last month of each year from our calendar. It will become history as have all of our yesterdays. We will look back over the previous twelve months as part of the growing and maturing process that makes us all what we are today. Not all those days have been sunny. Some have held some dark and stormy experiences that we wouldn’t want to go through ever again. Let’s remember the blessings and be confident that every experience does work together for good whether we enjoyed it or not. As we look into the future we see with blindfolded eyes the path that we should take. We are facing unfamiliar territory in a world system that doesn’t offer us a lot of hope apart from the promises of God. Ira Stanphill penned the words to a beautiful song that should express the faith of our days as we trust God. Hear them again:
“Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand.
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand.”
One thing we do know for sure. We are getting closer to the fulfillment of some of the greatest promises of God that have ever been recorded in His Word. Jesus is coming back again. There are signs that have been left for us to study that help us realize the nearness of His return. God will not leave us without fair warning that the end is near. That is not intended to be a prophecy of doom but rather an anticipation of great joy to all who love the Lord and long for His wonderful purposes to be accomplished. Anyone who fears the second coming of Jesus does not understand the love of God. Again and again we are reminded that His return has love as the key emotion. The Bridegroom, Jesus, is coming for His Bride, you and me. Do you get the picture? As much as some of us have fallen in love with our Saviour, we could never compare what we feel for God to what God feels for us. How awesome that day will be as He takes us to His house and offers us His abundant blessings that can only be described as, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those that love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
It is a fact that we don’t know the day nor the hour when this moment of triumph will be brought to pass but we do know that for all those who have put their trust in Him there will come a day when history will be completed and eternity will begin
Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon.! My reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22: 12)
“Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?” Psalm 85:6
We are believing for a revival. Most of us have never seen one but we’ve all heard about them. The Toronto Airport meetings and the Brownsville, Florida meetings and a few other distant spots throughout the world are points where God has begun to do a new thing. There is no one who wants to see a revival among Gods people more than the Lord Himself. It is His desire that His people learn to seek His face and trust Him more and that the dramatic and the dynamic become a demonstration of His power in the world. We live in a generation where those kinds of things aren’t thought to be possible nor very important. Christians in many places have fallen asleep to the opportunities to see God demonstrate His power in our generation. Each of us as children of God, ought to have a deeper appreciation for the things of God and be familiar with His promises. The fervency of our faith is not the same as the faith of the early Church and we know it. They were often willing to lay down their lives for the Gospel. They held on to all things lightly and shared freely with the family of God. They had servant hearts and were willing to go to the extreme in order to share an example of the Love of God. They were committed to one another in caring concern. They lived in constant anticipation of the Lord doing what only God can do, in their Church family. And God added His blessings to them because of their inter-dependence upon each other and their dependence upon God and His provisions.
Revival begins at the point of recognition that we are not what we are supposed to be. It proceeds to the determination that we will do what we can to change things through sincere repentance, and follows through with the heartfelt search to touch the heart of God and be moulded by Him.
The prayer for revival focuses on the truth that we need new life. Our lifestyles and our weak expectations have brought shame upon the Church. The saying is, “Confession is good for the soul.” More than that, confession is imperative in order to bare our hearts, humbly before Him.
We must not content ourselves with what we are presently, nor where our Church is spiritually. The fact that our world has a tremendous need of a visitation of God is beyond question. We can’t blame the evangelist, pastor nor Sunday School teacher for that lack of spiritual life. We need, individually, to be sincere about seeking Gods will to be done on earth, just as it is in heaven. It’s then that the Holy Spirit will have the kind of material that makes a Revival happen.
Invite the Lord, today, to work in your life, your home and your Church. He is more willing to give than we are to receive.
The Pledge of Blood
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20
One of the strongest teachings about “Covenants” is found in the experiences of David and Jonathan. They had built up a friendship of mutual confidence and trust to the point that each was willing to lay down his life for the other. In spite of the fact that Jonathan’s father, Saul, hated David, Jonathan pledged and proved his loyalty to his friend through some very difficult circumstances. He was committed to being faithful to his promises to David until the day he died.
It may be hard for us to understand the kind of relationship that they developed, but let’s give it a try. When we read passages like 1 Samuel 18:3, 1 Samuel 20:16 and again 1 Samuel 23:18, you begin to understand a little more about the depth of their commitment to each other. The pledge they made to each other entailed the sacrifice of a lamb. There was the shedding of the blood and the sharing of vows, before God. It was as though the blood of the Covenant had become the glue to bind them together as one. Each time they repeated the act of dedication, they were reminded of the, ‘till death do us part.” This was intended to demonstrate the seriousness of the words that they had spoken. Death was in their message. The pledge drew them both into a confession of loyalty and faithfulness to protect each other and preserve their families through future generations.
Jonathan had to bridge a gap between the hatred of his father and his own love for his father’s enemy, David. He walked a thin line but faithfully maintained his commitment to his dear friend.
Jesus came into the world to make the covenant pledge of loving provision for all believers for all of eternity. Not only does His precious blood speak of our future inheritance but of our present protection. We are bound to Him through His sacrifice on the cross. His precious blood shed, serves as a binding element that holds us securely to Himself. The fact that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords puts us in the place of absolute provision because, nothing “shall be able to separate us from the Love of Christ” (Romans 8:35) When the enemy comes against us, the pledge of the Covenant of Calvary forms a barrier of defence that protects us from his accusations and his condemnation. The penalty for our waywardness has been paid through Jesus death on the cross. We are pardoned “in Christ” and free to serve Him.
As we partake of the Holy Communion, we commemorate that He willingly laid down His life to care for our greatest needs. We remember His death on the cross on our behalf.
It’s Not The Wrapper
“We have this treasure in jars of clay.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
I don’t ever remember keeping the wrappers on my birthday or Christmas presents; not that they weren’t pretty and heart warming. Through the years I’ve chucked out a lot of ribbons and bows and colourful paper that somebody took the time to put together to make a gift very special. Most people are very forgiving about that because it’s what’s ‘in’ the wrapping that is the important thing. The true value is on the inside. Funny, I received some after-shave lotion as a gift one time and the top had come loose, slightly. It wasn’t hard to guess what was on the inside of the gift wrapping.
The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘treasures in jars of clay,’ he was referring to the fact that God has placed something inside of us that is tremendously valuable. The problem is that people don’t readily see what’s on the inside because of the outside. The truth is, that some people live their lives in such a way that no one could ever tell what’s on the inside. Now, there’s got to be some way that this treasure we hold in our hearts can be shown to the whole wide world.
I’ve discovered that, without taking off the trimmings, many times you can find out that what is on the inside of a gift if you apply pressure to the wrapping. (That’s when no one is looking, of course.) You get a feel for what the ‘treasure’ really is. Some folks need some extra pressure from time to time so that others can see what they are really made of. That’s not the most comfortable way to show what’s on the inside but it is a very effective method that God often uses to let the world know that we have peace, patience and love within. These are ingredients that are absent in a lot of peoples lives.
I’ve also discovered, too, that you can learn what’s inside the package if it leaks out. Is it possible that we could be so full of God and His blessings that we become leaky vessels that willingly allow others to detect what we hold as the most valuable treasure in the world. The best place for this to begin to happen is to get into the presence of God. Like Moses who came down from the mountain top with a glowing face that removed all doubt that He had met with God, we should display some evidence to those around us that we have been changed on the inside. We have seen so much evil flaunted around us every day that it’s time for the goodness of God to be leaked out into a world where only Jesus can satisfy. If we are true to living the way the Lord wants us to, people will be wondering ‘What makes us tick?’ It’s then that we can let them know what is on the inside. It’s not a guarded secret. There is no reason to wait for a day of special revelation in order to disclose what lies within us. Everyday can be a birthday or a fresh Christmas where, with genuine excitement, the wonderful gift of God can be revealed. He is our wonderful treasure and He was meant to be shared with everyone.
“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
Jesus was a man of prayer. The accounts of scripture tell us that He often sought out the quiet times to get away from the hustle and bustle of His busy schedule and to wait in the presence of His Father. Even the disciples were aware of the prominence that prayer played in the life of their Master. One day when Jesus returned from His special time of prayer, the disciples approached Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1) That’s when Jesus instructed His followers to pray what we now call ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ The disciples probably noticed the difference that prayer made in the life of John the Baptist and in Jesus ministries. They were prepared to do whatever was necessary to make the same difference in their lives and prayer seemed to be the key. There are a few times during His public ministry that His prayers were remembered and recorded. But when He was alone, did He pray out loud? Did He just think high and holy thoughts and His Father understood without a word being spoken? What kind of things did Jesus talk about that He would spend so much time in prayer? Why did He pray when He always was and always will be God and He could do whatever He wanted?
Obviously, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from the example of the Lords prayer life.
Let me suggest a few things:
1. Jesus times of prayer were clearly a lesson for all mankind that we need to set aside periods of our life to wait in the presence of our Creator. We demonstrate by that kind of habit that we are absolutely dependent upon God. Jesus was seen to pray.
2. Jesus prayed in public and His words were remembered. ( There was the time He prayed by Lazarus’ tomb [ John 11], He prayed a lengthy prayer in John 17, and His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was remembered by His disciples even though they had fallen asleep. He was heard to pray.
3. Jesus taught some parables to teach specifically ‘that men should always pray and not give up.’ (Luke 18:1) He taught about the exercise of faith and persistence in prayer; to be humble and contrite and come as little children.
4. He offered license to ask the Father for anything in His name and the Father would do it. Clearly intended is the principle that those who are committed to serving the Lord would not pray for anything outside of His purpose. We have the privilege and honour to use His authority in that kind of prayer.
5. His example teaches that God hears public prayers and the kind that are done in secret. He hears open air prayers and prayers in the closet. He hears midnight prayers and daylight prayers. Jesus prayed often and we should, too!
“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7
It came as no surprise to the Father. Jesus, too, knew exactly what was going to happen and what was expected of Him. They worked together on the decision for Jesus to come into this world and to die on the cross for all the sins of mankind. That was the plan that was established even before the creation of the world and man. It is interesting that from the very first couple that found this world their living space, sin began a destructive infection in the creature that God made in His own image. Again, no surprise to God. But the Father was not prepared to leave the plague of sin to continue to grow without a remedy. The one who caused the invasion of sin to come into this world should have realized that the love of God would not permit such a thing to destroy what He had made. For that reason, a plan was revealed, from the Garden of Eden, that would grant a sin covering and eventually a perfect cleansing to wash away all the stains of sins effects. At first, it was the blood of an animal sacrificed upon an altar that served as a temporary release from the consequences of sin but another sacrifice had to be repeated at least once a year. But when Jesus came and died on the cross the annual pilgrimage to the temple for the ablution of sin was terminated. His death on the cross effectively washed away all the stains of every confessed sin and that did not have to be a repeated ceremony of death.
At Easter, we remember that Jesus died once for all our sins, for all mankind, for all time. That’s the full expression of the love of God on our behalf. You see, every one needs to know the truth of this marvellous story of the grace of God. We all have sinned, and that is not even a question, but God has provided a way to have complete release from the condemnation and the consequences of sin. But here’s an important fact about His forgiveness. He only forgives those who ask Him, personally, for forgiveness. I mean, I can’t grant forgiveness nor can any other man. That is a matter that each of us has to take up with God. But listen carefully, He is waiting with arms of love to welcome you to the place of forgiveness. It doesn’t matter the magnitude or the agony of the sin. He is willing to grant His pardon and forever forget about it. He waits for you as He waited for me and many others. Make it a point, today, to talk to Him about your need. But let me add, there is more to a relationship than the matter of forgiveness. He also grants to us the privilege of becoming a part of His heavenly family. That’s what the resurrection is all about. You see, Jesus conquered ‘Death’ when He died. He rose again to prove that He has all power over even the most awesome enemy of our lives. That is the hope that we possess, as well, because He lives we too, shall live. So when the last chapter of your earthly journey is written, Heaven is your sure reward because of Calvary.
“Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found.” Psalm 32:6
There may not be a lot of good news in the world today but God is still on the throne. There’s war, again, in Israel. They are still shooting it out in Iraq. A good friend of the family passed away after a lengthy battle with Cancer. The wife of one of our Pastors passed away, quite suddenly. The economy isn’t acting in a very pleasant manner. Women on the street have been targeted by a mass murderer who until now has been free to play his treacherous game. A man involved in the distribution of child pornography received a lecture and was set free to continue his ‘works of art.’ The diseases of cancer, aids, heart failure and mental anguish are affecting every one of our families in some measure. I know I haven’t touched on personal issues that I’m sure are heavy on your heart that you, too, would like to see resolved. Let me assure you that if ever there was a time that Gods people needed to reach out to Him, this is the time.
Many of these matters are far beyond our control; after all we are just little cogs in the works of things that are way above our abilities. But listen to me carefully! God answers prayer. He has promised, “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) God will hear. It’s time that Divine justice and righteousness be seen in the world. It’s time that the headlines of the newspapers shared some good news to all people living in these depressed days. God cares! I don’t understand why He waits for us to get involved in bringing the solution to the world but that is His choice. He has worked that way throughout history. We need to make the decision to intercede for some of these tremendous matters. Perhaps the little that we do, seen alongside of the little that others are doing, will eventually become a torrent of prayer that will reach the heart of God. We need His help.
My concern is that we haven’t personally felt the pain of others sufficiently to compel the need of prayer more seriously in every one of our lives. We have been relatively blessed under His protection in the midst of the turmoil. Thank God, for the answers to prayer of the past. Thank God that He is still loving and caring and providing protection and daily supply for all our needs. Thank God, for a wonderful church family that is faithful to honouring Him in worship and service. Thank God that He would count us worthy to be ‘workers together’ with Him in reaching out to a lost world.
We can all become involved in prayer. There is no special time, nor place, nor posture that gives us more priority than right now, right here and just as we are. God is looking for a people who will seek His face. He has promised to draw near to us the moment we seek to draw near to Him. Let’s purpose to get involved, right now!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Most of us carry some baggage from our past. It’s the kind of stuff that we have difficulty letting go of and it just hangs around inside our thoughts and our hearts. To some it is a personal hurt through something said or done that we just can’t get out of our minds. It hangs like the proverbial albatross around our necks. It infiltrates our nightmares and our moments of solitude. It could be as simple as coming out second best at the spelling bee in grade 4 or as heavy as the tougher issues that brought down a marriage. That happens to be the real world. I’m sure that almost everyone remembers some kind of experience they would like to undo in their past. I could guarantee that as long as we are human, there will be something that will challenge our patience and our get-up-and-go. Not being a winner all the time is hard to take for some people and put-downs are never much fun at the best of times. It hurts when you know you are innocent; you’ve done your best and there’s not a thing you can do about it.
Let’s face it! Life isn’t always kind. But God is! We have to learn to let go of the past. I’m still in the learning process of dealing with some of those kinds of issues that hang on to our lives, too long. But let me tell you one thing that we all need to learn. Your future is far more important than your past. I know that to be the truth because Jesus came with a better plan. He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) We need a focus adjustment that will bring us to the place where ‘what has been’ is overcome with ‘what can be.’ The Lord has promised that He would grant us forgiveness for all the mistakes, hurts and failures of our history if we would only confess them to Him.
But, I’ve discovered there are two who will not let us drop ‘the baggage’ of the past.
1. One is called the ‘Accuser of the brethren’ and I want you to know that nothing good you ever do will please him nor stop him from blabbing about your hurts and weaknesses. We need to challenge him with the blood of Jesus because we have assurance that the blood cleanses us. It’s a done deal. The past has been dealt with. Gone! Gone!
2. The other one is the condemnation of our own hearts. We need to deal with that matter just as much as with the enemy of our souls. We need to stand upon the Word of God and remember that because of what Jesus did on the Cross, the past is past. Once and for all. We are designed to begin to experience new liberties of faith in God. Sometimes we are our worst enemy. Be free, in the name of Jesus. We are living for the future not the past and God has good things reserved for us as we focus on pleasing Him. Forgive and be forgiven. God is love and cares very much for each of us. Trust Him for a new joy to fill your life. This is a new day!
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16
He was born under a bright shining star, but destined to die on an old rugged cross. That’s the short story of both sides of His life. It was that mysterious combination of being the Son of God wrapped up in a human frame, just like yours and mine, that is still one of those things that is difficult for us to comprehend. Before He left heaven, He laid aside the brilliance and glory that He possessed as the Creator and Ruler of the universes. He came to earth and lived as naturally as any other individual man of His time. He grew weary on occasions; hungry on other occasions; He felt sorrow and grief like anyone else; He felt the pressures of His generation and looked to be a man beyond His years. Yet, He never stopped being God even though He willingly accepted the frailties that, by nature, are a part of our humanity. He was able to demonstrate the personality and will of God in practical human ways that we all should be able to understand. During the time that He lived on earth, we could hear and see glimpses of what the heart of God was like, uninterrupted by the beauty and majesty of His Royal position.
The recorded history, in the gospels, reminds us regularly that God cares for the people that He made and the actions of this Man of Wonder taught us the reality of the care and concern of a loving Heavenly Father.
He was on a Mission to reveal Gods love to a world of hurting, frustrated, depressed and rebellious people. Those were the focus of His ministry; not the self-righteous, nor even the ‘religious.’ He came to minister to the poor and needy; the sick and the helpless; to those who had been rejected in society. He found them in the towns and cities as well as the countryside. He related to all kinds of people and all kinds of situations every place He went. He walked among ‘us’ as God in the flesh.
Jesus came to be the Saviour, the Healer and the Prince of Peace for all mankind and though He often was unrecognized for who He really was, He gave Himself in loving and caring service. He came to release those who were bound by the habits and lifestyles of sin that were destroying the true joy of life. The power of darkness of the evil one had obviously left his mark on creation but Jesus came to halt his invasion and to restore joy and peace to this world.
One of the purposes of His coming was to bring us life and that more abundantly. Because He is the same yesterday and today and forever, He can do it again in our time and for those we love. It is still Jesus who makes the difference in our lives and of course in the whole world.
Uniquely You, Uniquely Me!
“But now, this is what the LORD says, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” Isaiah 43:1
When the writers of the Bible talked about the Church they used two clear illustrations to describe the interaction of all believers.
- Peter describes us as ‘a building’ composed of living stones built into a spiritual house to serve God as priests offering continual sacrifices to Him.
- Paul describes a body with a variety of members and each commit themselves to service in an inter-dependent fashion.
In both illustrations, the success of the building and the body depends upon the participation of each of the stones or members in fulfilling the function of the Architect/Designer according to His plan. Our problem is that we often compare ourselves to others around us instead of looking to the One who put us in our place with the kinds of talents and abilities that we each possess. There is a brief dialogue in the last chapter of John that describes Jesus attitude toward such a reaction. Jesus is talking to Peter and they see John come ashore with the rest of the disciples. Peter asks, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus responded, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me!” My understanding is that Jesus is saying, “Looking at others is really none of your business. Your job is to follow me.” (John 21:22)
There is a uniqueness about the call of God for each of our lives. There is a uniqueness in the kind of giftings and abilities that God has given to each of us and we can’t compare what we are called to do with what others are called to do. It’s comparing apples to oranges. The real Challenge is that we need to be obedient to use the talents that God has given us individually. We must be careful to not fall into the trap of the one talent man in Jesus story. He hid his talent because of one thing. He feared. He was afraid that things wouldn’t work out the way he wanted and the Master would be upset with him. He was afraid of failure. If he would have known the Master a little bit better he would have found out that each gift is guaranteed to accomplish the purpose of the Master, if it is used the way it is supposed to. It’s a guarantee of success; either now or soon.
A little closer to home is the fact that there are a multitude of talents in the chairs and pews of our churches that are collecting dust, growing moss and spoiling with time.
How can I get involved and do what God wants me to do?
1. Pray that God will lay on your heart an area that you can be of service.
2. Be prepared to move out of your comfort zone and apply some effort in a new endeavour.
3. Talk to someone who is already involved to let them know your interest.
4. Seek advice from a mature believer.
You are needed in the service of the Master!
Tools for Serving the Lord
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
Damascus is a long journey from Jerusalem but if you would have had a festering hatred for the things that God was doing, it probably wouldn’t matter. At least that was the intention of Paul, the Pharisee, who hated anyone that mentioned the name of Jesus, the Christ. All of his religious learning and the traditions of his forefathers had made him blind to the arrival of Gods wonderful gift to mankind in the form of His only Begotten Son. He is an example that demonstrates that being religious is no way to find God unless the heart beats for the reality of a living experience with Him. Paul tattled on himself when he said, “Knowledge puffs up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) This is one of those times when the principle is simple; it is not what you know that counts; it’s Who you know.
Sometimes we are tempted to stop at our accumulation of head knowledge and not press in to the experience part of knowing God. You see, the devil is happy at having us all feel comfortable with a theology that knows the facts, but he trembles when we practice what we’ve learned in our secret places of prayer and devotion to His word. Most “Christians” don’t scare him one bit because they have never learned to use the principles they’ve acquired. So let’s get back into the scary business of being the kind of people that God wants us to be.
Allow me to list a few very important matters.
1. “A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:8) A humble approach to God does wonders for the soul. Work on cultivating a tenderness towards God in yourself. It brings awesome rewards. (Loose yourself from anger, bitterness and doubt. That will only send you down the wrong road, with wrong attitudes.)
2. Let the Word of God talk to you regularly. That’s God talk. Make a point of reading the Bible with the question on your heart, “What will God say to me today?”
3. Pray. Pray with a passion to meet with God. Memorized prayers serve their purpose but God wants to meet with you on your territory, personalized by your voice and thoughts.
4. Seek the friendship/companionship of Godly people. They will bless you and stretch you in your walk of faith. God has so designed us that we need fellowship and the very best kind of people we can find are in the family of God. As much as there are some really great people who don’t know the Lord, we need to find times of associating with others in the body of Christ.
Let’s get back on track and Go the way God wants us to Go!
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Heaven is our hope; our home. We are all transients here as we take this awesome journey to a wonderful destination. The trouble with most of us is that we get caught up with the day by day living with it’s struggles and distractions that we forget, ‘ this is not where it’s at.’ Now that might not be very grammatical and I hope you’ll forgive me for being colloquial but we do put too much emphasis on enjoying these passing pleasures to the point that we are forgetting to lay up treasures in heaven. I’m not against having fun. The Lord knows, there’s not an awful lot of that in our average routine. However, there’s more to life than meets the eye and brings pleasure to a weary body. The greatest, most important part of the purpose of our existence is to work on our relationship with our Father in heaven.
Someone has said, that Sunday Church services today are substituted by activities for our own pleasure; to be free to do whatever we want. To some it’s the ball or hockey game, or picnics and fishing or some other thing. That can become a substitute that replaces my time with God. The truth is we make a choice of being in Gods house on the Lords day or not. The question I ask is this: ‘Why should God make heaven for those who would rather do something else than to meet with Him in His house?’ Would you call that hitting below the belt? The truth is, if you compare our average lifestyle with what heaven and the activities there will be like, most people won’t be happy up there because their whole time will be occupied with the Lord God, Most High. That’s totally unfamiliar territory. We already have the option of being with those who will be with us throughout eternity and to be an encouragement to them as they journey with us until we reach the Fathers house. Having friends and family of the same faith is a real blessing to all of us when we fellowship together. That is one of the reasons for the Lords day, as well.
As for me and my house, we have made it a point, through the years, that the Lords day is the Lords day not mine/ours. He gives me six other days to do the things that are necessary for my life and family and He asks me to recognize and honour Him for one day a week. In case you think that my house is a cloistered monastery, I want you to know that I’m still hooting for my favourite hockey team, I still watch some television and we have more that a few laughs around the place, but we’ve learned a long time ago, “Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Receive these daily devotionals each day in your inbox sign up here.
©Copyright - Used with permission from the author Rev. G. H. Fricker.