Running provides so many analogies to our daily walk with Christ. Such was the case last weekend.
Running provides so many analogies to our daily walk with Christ. Such was the case last weekend.
This is an awesome time of the year! The apex of history is the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and His bodily resurrection from the tomb (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 26:57-28:10; 1 Corinthians 15). This event sets Jesus Christ and Christianity apart from ALL other religions around the world.
How important that our children understand the truth about Christ and Easter. There is no problem with enjoying eggs, candy, bunnies, and baskets, but our younger generation must know the truth, and Christ, Who is Truth.
My wife’s blog will help you accomplish this. Be sure to take take to read and watch, Helping Children Understand Easter
You know that when you are stepping forward for Christ, you open yourself for attack from our enemy, the devil.
Sunday evening we were blessed at BCBC to host some humble, faithful missionaries who left their secular, stable profession while in their forties to give the rest of their lives to reaching lost souls for Christ. Now in their late sixties, they are still moving forward, even asking the Lord to give them twenty more years for Him!
He shared from his recent personal study of the life of Joshua some truths that had impacted his heart. We listened to a man who knows His God, walks by faith, and is a living testimony of the power of the gospel as seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10.
He began by saying, “You won’t feel the pressure of the devil against you if you are not on the front line!”
His first principle was, “Life is hard, but God is faithful.” Joshua was nearing 90 years of age when he became the leader of Israel. The LORD spoke the following to Joshua as recorded in Joshua 1:5-10, No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua needed to hear these words because hardship and trial would come; life is hard. In the face of those trials, these truths from the LORD would help him remain faithful. They would encourage him “to be passionate, unflinching, and moving forward with much intensity. The most important thing that God wants to accomplish through you may still be in the future. And Joshua was nearly 90.”
His second principle was, “God is with us no matter where we are or what we are going through.” He went on to remind us that “God may be the source of that hardship. God is always at work in our lives. Nothing happens to us by chance.” [It is very likely that Joshua had served in Pharoah’s army before the Exodus. Foreigners were common in the army of Egypt. Moses considered him sufficiently battle-tested to appoint him leader of the Israelite defense against the attack of the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exod 17:8-16). Since Joshua was apparently known to Moses, he may already have been in charge of organizing the undisciplined crowd of slaves who had escaped from Egypt into orderly marching columns. Bible Gateway]
His third principle was, “Don’t forget the history of God’s faithfulness to you.” Joshua could look back to the attack of the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16), and he would be reminded of such faithfulness. “We need to rehearse in our own ears the history of God’s faithfulness.”
He said in closing that we need to recall these truths when, as a friend of his once said, “we are tribulated.”
As I read various blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook, and emails concerning ministry in this day, I sense a glaring need, an overlooked necessity, and an unfulfilled promise.
What is it?
The crying need of the hour is that we as individuals, local churches, colleges, and other parachurch ministries be sold-out to the calling of effectual, fervent, heart-rendering, transparent, crying out to God in faith-believing prayer!!!
E.M. Bounds said in his book Weapon of Prayer, “Nothing is well done without prayer for the simple reason that it leaves God out of the account.”
That is the greatest reason why we need to pray today! We need to see the character of God displayed in answers from God that will give God the glory and cause man to praise His matchless, transcendent name! To be in absolute awe of Who God is!!
We need a touch from God on our individual lives, our marriages, our families, our churches, and our nation!!
Lost souls need to be saved for God’s glory! Revival needs to break out in our churches! Christ needs to be exalted over programs and policies! We need God!!!
Meditate on the following:
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matthew 6:6).
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (Mark 11:24).
We have seen more than enough of what man can do. Let’s pray and believe God for what He said He would do!!
Will you join with other believers in this kind of praying? Will you make the sacrifice? Will you cry out to God and believe Him for the God-size answers?
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
That’s all it takes for news anyplace in the world to reach the world along with its far-reaching impact due to the internet. It impacts the minds, hearts, and emotions of millions . . . in a split-second!
Even the worn-out announcement “Breaking News” still grabs the inquisitive minds of so many!
Early this morning as I sat by the fireplace reading Jeremiah 14-16, I repeatedly saw phrases like this: Then the Lord said to me . . . The Lord said . . . Therefore thus says the LORD.
Compare for a moment earthly, internet news and the words of God.
As I pondered God’s direct communication to and through Jeremiah to Israel and their subsequent response, I thought of my response to God’s Word as I read its pages.
Which affects me more; which grips my heart the most; which grabs my inquisitive mind? News on the internet or the truths of God’s Word?
Spend some time meditating on Psalm 119:97-104. In a split-second it can change your life, and it’s always for good.
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Wow! What a world we live in today!
But, are we surprised? Since the Garden of Eden, sin has had its tentacles sunk into the heart of man and its curse on this earth (Genesis 3). Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, . . . . In the world you will have tribulation [trouble] (John 16:33).
Yesterday morning, needing an encouraging boost from the Lord, I read the following words:
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).
Did you note the repeated phrase, So we are always of good courage (5:6, 8)? How can I have good courage in a world of sin and trouble?
How are you walking today? What has your attention? What are you meditating on? Living by faith or fear? Courageous or cowering?
By the way, Christ has the final, authoritative word on all of life. Meditate on the rest of John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Press on, believer!
For good while now the “How many ____________ does it take to change a light bulb?” lines have been circulating. For instance,
Now, please take these and others like them all in stride. It is only a joke.
Truthfully though, for oh so many, change is not a joke. Most folks don’t like change, and for many, the older we get the harder it is to deal with change. We want our grocery store to stock the same items on the same aisle week-after-week; we tend to want our children to stay young and at home, never to grow up; we are not too fond of anything that is labeled “new and improved” because we know it’s not going to be the same; and we don’t want the stamp machine down at the post office to change either. Just ask Barney Fife.
You see, change provides a sense of security. When things supposedly stay the same then we are comfortable.
Truth is, change is all around us every day. Nothing ever stays the same: the universe, your job, your children, the government, the newness of your car, etc.
With that being said, I want to share from my heart two brief, important principles of life in reference to change. There is much more to be said, but consider these simple truths.
Malachi 3:6 declares, For I am the Lord, I change not.
Ponder these words found in Psalm 102:12, 25-28, But Thou, O LORD dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations . . . Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end. The children of Thy servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before Thee.”
Since God is unchanging, therefore, His Word is unchanging, His plans are unchanging, His character is unchanging, and His knowledge is unchanging.
This security in Jehovah can only be found through a personal relationship with Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-9).
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The good that comes out of all things working together is the daily transformation of our lives into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:3-11). All of us as believers wear an “Under Construction” sign due to the sanctifying work of God in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
As we spend time in the Word beholding our God and His Son, we are changed by the power of the Word. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17).
So, how do you respond to change? Are you resting today in the Immutable God? Are you growing and changing into Christlikeness as the Spirit convicts and instructs you?
The most important changes of life are spiritual not material. This isn’t about changing a light bulb which is discarded. This is about the life of a genuine believer in Christ shining for God’s glory.
Different languages and accents. Various colors of skin. Diverse worship styles. Different college backgrounds. Varied cultural differences.
That’s what I saw in South Africa and Malawi among the natives, the missionaries, the transplants and the travelers.
Whether it was on a plane, in a mission compound, in a Sunday morning service, at a café for breakfast, in the middle of a bunch of teens, or gathered at a camp, I saw something that touched my heart in some very special ways. It was a foretaste of Revelation 5:8-9 which reads,
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
For sixteen days I had the blessed privilege to experience the multi-faceted family of God all radically changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ; people from varying tribes and tongues and people and nations.
The family of God needs no introductions; our spirit bears witness with each other (Romans 8:16).
The family of God doesn’t see race but grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The family of God loves one another (John 13:35).
The family of God honors one another (Romans 12:10).
The family of God rejoices and weeps together (Romans 12:15).
The family of God serves one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
The family of God encourages each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Why? Because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Peter 3:9). What an awesome family around the world from every tribe, tongue, people and nation that will one day gather around the Throne in Heaven!!
From a Pastor’s Heart,
“How would you like to go to Africa for 16 days and serve with CampsAbroad in South Africa and Malawi?”
“Do what? Are you kidding me? Wow! How cool would that be? Wow!”
My heart started racing a bit, my mind going from hither and yon.
After some explanation about the trip, some info about travelling to a third-world country, and the dates, I said I would pray about it, but I already knew I might as well be packing my bags.
Of course, I said yes. (How interesting that those sixteen days were completely empty on my calendar, which is rare. Also, the initial call came on the first day of our evangelism training conference at the church I pastor.)
As I considered all we had talked about, I must admit there was a bit of fear . . . fear of the unknown. Where would we be sleeping? What would we eat? How would we travel? How long would our flights be? Could I be gone from Denise for 16 days? Dan had travelled to Malawi four years ago, but we were headed north to be with folks neither of us knew. Questions upon questions, and . . . they all centered around me.
Then one morning, the Lord led me to Luke 18:29-30,
So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
No more questions. Truth is, when you are a follower of Christ living for eternity with eternal values and for God’s glory, there are no questions, fears, worries, doubts, just a “Yes, Lord; I surrender.”
Surrender to the will of God is the best choice . . . always. As for God, His way is perfect (Psalm 18:30).
Are you willing to leave all for Christ? Remember, when you do, the present and eternal gain is perfect. You will never regret following Christ!
Lately I have found myself repeatedly singing,
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm. (Ryan Stevenson)
The trials and hardships of life, others and mine, at times seem to be so burdensome, numerous, and troubling.
How do we press on in the eye of the storm? How do we stay afloat? As I pondered these things, three anchor truths came to mind that can be your stay in the middle of the storm.
#1 Christ suffered, bled and died for me and my sins.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
When I consider the pain of my trial, I must look to Christ Who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself (Hebrews 12:3) to save me from my greatest crisis. What is my greatest crisis? The answer: How do I save myself from going to hell because I am a sinner? Since Jesus Christ took care of my greatest crisis and the tomb is empty, He will enable me to make it through any other crisis.
#2 Christ’s resurrection gives me blazing hope
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).
Hope in the New Testament is a…
“When a Christian truly understands the hope he has in Christ, it results in a steadfast sense of security and stability.” (Gene Getz)
#3 Being in Christ promises me an awesome future!
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 20:1-4)
Jesus, being God and having been in a boat in the eye of a storm (Mark 4:35-41), is the only true Anchor for life, trouble, sorrow, persecution, misunderstanding, questions, death, pain, sin, etc.