Thursday, August 27, 2015
All through the scripture it gives us insight into that concept. When Abraham left his home and faced challenges, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When Joseph was sold in to slavery, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were fleeing from the Egyptians and backed up to the sea, God was still on his throne and caused good to happen. When the Children of Israel were carried off into Babylonian Captivity, God was still on his throne. When three young men were thrown into a "Fiery Furnace," God was still on his throne. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.
We forget far too often that God IS the most powerful being in all creation. We forget far too often that he doesn't have to consult us before he makes his plans. We forget that God doesn't have to let us know how he plans to use us in this life. We forget that God's ways (thoughts) are far beyond our understanding. And mostly we forget far too often that God is on his throne. He always has been; he always will be!
One of the most important things we forget is that when Jesus was hanging on a cross, God was still on his throne and good things happened. We would not have understood that if we had been there and many still don't, but nevertheless, it is true.
In Revelation 15:3-4we see people in heaven who had won their fight against Satan singing the following song. (The words are important, they speak of our God.)
"Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear You, Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous deeds have been revealed."
In Revelation 19:4 we read: "Then the twenty four elders and the four living beings fell down and worshiped God, who was sitting on the throne. They cried out, 'Amen! Praise the LORD!'"
No matter what happens in our world or in your life, God is sitting on his throne! Amen! Praise the Lord!
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
The Proof is in the Doing
In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus tells a parable about a man who had two sons. He came to the first one and said, “Son, go, work today in my vineyard." The son told his father he would not go, but afterwards he regretted saying that and went to work. The father went to the second son and also told him to go work in the vineyard. This son said, “I go, sir,” but he did not go. Jesus then asked His audience, “Which of the two did the will of his father?”
This seems like such a simple question that it doesn’t even need to be asked, but with this question Jesus is teaching an important lesson that we often fail to apply to our own lives. Jesus is reminding us that the proof of our love, faith, and reverence for God is in the doing, not the saying. How many times is this lesson taught throughout the pages of the New Testament?
- “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?” (Mt 7:15,16).
- “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21).
- “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
- “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14).
- “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Every one of these verses is well known to us, but do they express a principle by which we live?
Do we claim to love Jesus, but yet fail to keep His commandments? Do we profess to love one another while refusing to actually do good to one another? Do we just give lip service to Paul’s command to give preference to one another (Romans 12:10)? When we examine ourselves do we do more than just acknowledge our weakness, or do we set about to affect change in our lives?
The point is this; make up your mind, today, to stop talking about what you need to do and get busying doing it! Pick just one thing you know you need to be doing and just do it. Maybe you need to be more hospitable; invite someone over. Maybe you need to be a better father; sit down and talk to you children. Maybe you need to study more; open your Bible and study.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The reason this statement is true is because God doesn’t accept lip service; He only accepts true service from the heart. Don’t allow the guilt of past failures to keep you on the road of good intentions. Simply decide today that you’re going to travel the road of good works, for it is the road that leads to forgiveness, mercy, and eternal life.
by Simon Harris
Thursday, August 20, 2015
I was driving to work about 7 in the morning the other day and stopped at a traffic light. In front of me was a young woman who was obviously enjoying her morning more that I was. By observation I would say she was listening to her radio and "jiving" to the music. She was twisting and turning, bobbing her head and moving back and forth.
I thought about that and wondered why she should be having a better morning than I was. Was it just that I was having an off day? Perhaps it was, but I know I don't rejoice as much as I should. It's not that I dislike mornings, in fact I love to see the sunrise. The Psalmist said of God in Psalm 65:8 "Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy."
Of course you're familiar with Paul's encouragement to "rejoice in the Lord always," (Philippians 4:4), so the idea is not new. However, we, being human, we need to be reminded and reminded often. You see I do rejoice, but not enough and possibly not exuberantly enough. In fact it seems that lately I have been too busy dealing with the everyday concerns of life to remember to rejoice.
Satan does a really good job of distracting me. He works his way into my world and my life, not necessarily to drag me into some terrible or sinful behavior, but to distract me from what is really important. It's who he is, the father of lies. Revelation 12:9describes him this way: "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world."
How can we overcome Satan's power? First, if you haven't already done so, become a Christian or if you have left your first love, return to God. Second, spend time in God's Word; it reminds you of what is really important. Third, spend time talking to God about those things that trouble you; it helps to unload your problems on someone who truly cares. Fourth, spend time with God's people in worship and if fellowship. You can't be part of the army fighting to protect one another and fight Satan if you don't show up at boot camp or for training. You can't fight and protect yourself and others if you aren’t watching out for others and participating in the battles.
I may not "jive in my car," but I can still rejoice in my Lord and all he does for me and gives to me. I don't know that I will try a little "seat dancing" this morning on my way to work, but what I do know is that "I can do all things through him that gives me strength," (Romans 8:28). I know I need to count my blessings and rejoice more. Maybe you should try it!
Friday, August 14, 2015
We've all done it. We commit ourselves to making some serious changes such as losing some weight, becoming debt free, or reading our Bible every day. So we make the choice, we get ourselves pumped up for the change, and start putting a plan in place. Maybe we even write down specific goals and read books to help us do it right. For the first week or so things look really good and our motivation stays high, then problems arise. We get sick. A major problem gets dropped on us at work. We get tired and stressed. The next thing we know, our motivation is gone and so is our goal. Many times this is where it ends.
One of the most difficult challenges in life is self-improvement. This is the case because our goals seem so enormous and we usually we try to tackle too much at once. Benjamin Franklin wisely said, "Little strokes fell great oaks." The changes we want to make are often these massive oaks in our lives and the plan we put in place attempts to chop it down huge chunks at a time with massive swings. But soon we tire out, our motivational axes become dull, and we give up at the gigantic goal tree in front of us.
The problem is our mindset. The goal just seems to long, too big, and too hard. So when the first challenge hits us, it's a challenge to bounce back. This is when a change in thinking is most valuable. Perhaps the best frame of mind is to focus not on the big goal, but simply on becoming 1% better every day. That's it, just 1% each day. So, if a person's goal were to do 100 pushups, then they would start with one on the first day, two on the second day, and so on until they were doing 100 pushups each day.
While there is certainly value in eating better and losing weight, as Paul pointed out, "for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). We need to be the people who are striving daily for spiritual gain. The problem is, this is hard to do. These oaks are sometimes the largest of them all. Praying with consistency. Reading through the Bible. Really studying the word with depth. Once again, taking "little strokes" will help us to take down these "big oaks." If we strive to become just 1% better every day, we will make huge improvements over time. This is typically more than we could say after we've burnt out and quit with previous goals.
Psalm 1:1-3 says it well, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers." We know must be people who are learning and growing from Scripture (Ephesians 4:15; Hebrews 6:1). But how does a person get to the point of meditating on Scripture day and night? By attacking it with small strokes.
We can take amazing steps in our spiritual growth if we keep working. Perhaps just striving for 1% improvement per day is the best mindset. No matter which method works best for you, let's just make sure we keep learning, growing, and striving towards heaven (2 Peter 1:5-11).
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
matter of staying out of the Los Animas River. Due to a mishap by some federally-supervised workers
in which there was a blowout in the Gold King Mine in the mountains above Silverton, millions of
gallons of toxins that include mercury and arsenic are in downstream water supplies. It has
contaminated domestic wells and endangered fish and livestock. It has negatively impacted tourist
industries that rely on customers who raft, canoe, and fish in the river. It has impacted
irrigation and city water intake facilities. All from a single incident in a mine hundreds of miles
away from some of the affected areas (information via Denver Post online, 8/10/15).
Who knows how this will ultimately be resolved, but a lot of people and money will be thrown at the
matter until it is finally resolved. A problem that started in a relatively small, remote area has
finally become a national story. As the river continues to flow, the troubles continue to compound.
Have you considered the power of your influence? A single conversation, an impulsive act in a
moment's time, or a thought unchecked and fed all can lead to outcomes that spill into a lot of
lives and potentially do damage that could not be anticipated. David learned this (2 Sam. 11:1-2).
The young lads from Bethel learned this (2 Ki. 2:23-24). Judas learned this (Mat. 26:15). So many
others in Scripture, from thoughts to words to deeds, learned of the destructive power of negative
spiritual influence. It can cause spiritual babes to stumble (Mat. 18:6), the offender to stumble
(Mat. 18:8), the world to blaspheme (2 Sam. 12:14), and so much more. No amount of remorse, regret,
and retreat can undo the toxic damage it does.
If you find yourself in the "clean up" stage, realize that with time and effort you can work to
counteract the impact of poor influence. There may be lingering consequences, but you can mitigate
that through genuine repentance. It doesn't have to end catastrophically, as it did for Judas. It
can end triumphantly, as it did for Peter.
Keep in mind, too, that positive influence works the same way (Mat. 13:33). A kind, righteous
thought, word, or deed can trigger a powerful effect that leads the lost to be saved and those on
the broad way to turn onto the narrow way. You may never know it in this life or see the end result
of it in your lifetime. May the great power of our influence drive us to our knees and fill our
thoughts with how we may use our lives to bless and help the lives of others, knowing that, for good
or bad, our lives touch way more lives than we think.
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