Saturday, March 17, 2018

Perspective

“19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19-20


The tongue contains no bones. However, it is the most powerful muscle in the body. It's used for tasting, licking, and swallowing. And in humans, it’s used in articulating speech. Words – once said, cannot be unsaid. They can build a person’s confidence or destroy self-esteem. So powerful is the tongue.

Many of the challenges that the early Christians faced still confront us today. The Epistle of James is an important New Testament book for those who tend to see Christianity as just believing the right things. As James reminds us, that kind of faith is worthless. Only a faith that transforms us and our way of life is true.

The person with transforming faith will control his or her tongue. One will learn patience and think before words are spoken. A living faith can be expressed in the way we talk to others. Seek kind words and soon there will be no harsh thoughts to clutter our minds. Our works shall be a reflection of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for giving me the power of speech in order to praise You and share the gospel. Help me to use my tongue to encourage others. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Testimony

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12  (KJV)

We all believe in something. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are magical and fun for children. As we age, beliefs can turn into superstitions such as four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, and leprechauns bringing good luck, and black cats, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders bringing bad luck.

When Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey, they knew God was directing them to share the gospel with the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit gave them power to proclaim the message of Jesus boldly and without fear. Superstitions in a culture without the one true God were their biggest obstacles. Although many received the good news with open hearts, Paul and Barnabas also endured hunger, beatings, and rejection. Still, they gave testimony to the grace of God and salvation through Jesus Christ.

As believers today, we also have the power of the Holy Spirit to share our testimony without fear. Many times, the Lord will direct us to talk to a friend, family member, or perhaps a stranger about what Jesus has done in our lives. I was told once that my testimony should never be more than twenty-four hours old. In other words, share what Jesus is doing now in my life. Keep it current, because His grace is current.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the power to share my testimony with others.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fit for a King

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasurers, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11

Most Christian homes will have at least one nativity scene set up as part of their Christmas decorations. In addition to the stable with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, there will be shepherds with sheep, and more than likely, three wise men with their camels. This is a lovely picture and has become the traditional view of Christ’s birth.

On the night Jesus was born, the angels announced it to the shepherds, who immediately hurried to see the Messiah. They then ran to share the good news with others. The wise men, or magi, were traveling from the east using the star to guide them to the location of the new king. These men were familiar with the stories of an expected savior, probably passed down from the time and teachings of Daniel in Babylon. They were coming, as was custom, to honor the newborn king.

Because of the three types of gifts presented to Jesus, we assume that there were three wise men. Most likely, there was a caravan of several men, because the distance between home and destination was great. Upon arrival in Bethlehem, the star directed them to a house where Mary and Joseph stayed with Jesus. Though still a baby, He was no longer a newborn.

The gifts of the wise men were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in the ancient world. Gold was a precious metal. Frankincense was a perfume or incense. Myrrh was an anointing oil.

These gifts also honor Jesus in a special way as God’s son.Gold honors His kingship and divinity. Frankincense honors His priesthood. Myrrh honors His suffering and death.

What gifts can we give to honor the King? Obedience to His word and sharing His love with others. Don’t get lost in the celebration of Christmas and forget the reason He came was salvation.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for Your willingness to step down from glory to become a servant in order for me to share eternity with You.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

God's Gift


10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  Luke 2:8-12


The Christmas holiday brings thoughts of sharing and giving to others. Many feel compelled to donate money to charities or homeless shelters. Others volunteer time to serve meals or distribute toys to those less fortunate. The attitude of generosity and love hovers over our collective society. How I wish this could continue throughout the year and not just for a season.

Gifts – given and received – also become the focus for celebrating. Don’t lose sight of the greatest gift – God’s Son. Jesus, the promised Messiah, savior of the world.

As you gather with friends and family this year to celebrate Christmas, I challenge you to read the full account of the birth of Jesus in the second chapter of Luke. Imagine yourself on the hillside among the shepherds tending the flock of sheep. Gaze with wonder upon the angels as they announce the birth of Jesus. Rush alongside the men hurrying to the stable to find Christ the Lord, just as the angel told them. Feel the amazement, not temporary fascination, but holy wonder – adoration.

Now that you truly connect to the real reason for the season, spread the word. Tell others about this most precious gift. Ponder the meaning in an attempt to understand it. Be amazed by it. Celebrate Christ.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for giving the gift of salvation. Please help me remember the true meaning of Christmas and to spread the word.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Entitlement

“Behold God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

I grew up with please and thank you as part of my everyday language. Consideration of others and gratitude for kindness was embedded in my upbringing. Admittedly, there have been times when I forgot to say the words. That’s when to ask if it’s a polite courtesy or true gratitude.

Gratitude is a matter of the heart. Our sinful nature directs us to feel entitled to the actions and attention of others. Unfortunately, that carries over to our relationship with God. The Lord, however, owes us nothing but judgment for our sin. He has freely offered His grace, love and, mercy and paid the cost for our sin Himself.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the gift of salvation. Even though He hates our sin, He offers comfort and mercy for those who seek Him. The Lord alone is entitled to our devotion and praise.

An attitude of thanksgiving, as we go through each day, will discourage the feeling of entitlement.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your mercy and the gift of Your salvation.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Selfish Prayers

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
James 4: 1-3


Prayer should be a part of a Christian’s daily life. It is, after all, direct communication with God. He loves us and wants us to ask for our needs and wants – even though He already knows what they are.

Have you ever wondered if your prayer might cross the line and become selfish? I think of my dogs and their dependence on me. In return for my care, they give me unconditional love, but at times, they also have selfish demands. Am I guilty of such demands of God?

Philip Yancey, a Christian author, has shared five signs of selfish prayer.

1) Focusing on your own comfort – Usually when trying to get out of a tough situation, you make a desperate plea to the Lord.
2) Focusing on what makes your life easier – You treat God as “the genie in the bottle” who grants wishes.
3) Focusing on things – You look at material things as the solution.
4) Focusing on status – You look at how it impacts your social or church status.
5) Focusing on fear – You concentrate on things you can lose rather than what you can gain by giving God control.

Remember that it’s not selfish to ask for needs or wants, as long as your request doesn’t interfere with your walk with God. He must have preeminence as your first love. He wants us to ask and trust Him for provision. When we desire Him first, doors are open to so much more because we have our priorities right.

Dear Lord, I want to thank You for Your love and praise You for Your glory. I know that by trusting You, my needs will be met according to Your will.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Prayer and Thanksgiving

I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth thy marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee; I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
Psalm 9: 1, 2


It’s hard to believe that the calendar has turned another page and we are in November. This time of year always brings childhood memories of Thanksgiving holidays spent with family. It meant cold weather had hit and we might get snow, gathering at a family member’s home for fellowship and turkey dinner, and parades followed by football all day on the television. Fond memories of a simpler time, unmarred by the concerns of adulthood.

Life is different now. Many of my family members will celebrate the holidays in heaven and the remaining ones have family commitments or live too far away to allow us to come together to share the holiday.

As a Christian, I would like to turn my thoughts of thanksgiving to the Lord. Just as King David wrote in his Psalm, I will praise Him with my whole heart. He deserves and desires no less. He has blessed me beyond measure.

Yes, I am blessed materially with shelter, transportation, and food. But the blessings overflow – I am loved – by family, friends, and even my dogs. Most importantly, the Lord loves me.

Let’s begin this holiday season by counting our blessings. Start each day this month by naming one. Don’t forget to thank the Lord for it in prayer. By December 1st it will be a habit and easy to continue as holiday stress melts into praise.

Dear Lord, thank you for Your many blessings. Help me to remember that all I am comes from You and to be glad and rejoice.