This is the day that the Lord has made...

This is the day that the Lord has made...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Finish the Race

Imagine waking every morning knowing that there is a good chance that your words and actions will get you thrown in jail, or worse, killed.  Also, imagine knowing that if I survive today, I will have to suffer in some incredible way.  Yet, despite knowing all of this, you are encouraged, enthused and fired up to get out there and do your work. 

This was the life of Paul.  He was a man with a message and a mission that could not be stopped- not by man or by evil spirit.  Whatever was thrown at Paul, he was willing to take it head on.  Whatever obstacle might have been put in his way, he simply overcame it.  No matter how dire the situation, he was continuously comforted, knowing that his purpose, that what he was doing was so, so much more valuable than his life:  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.  Acts 20:24

Lord, how do I find such a purpose for my life?  How do I give up my life to a mission worthy of your acceptance? 

I read about Paul, Lord, and his desire to serve and give, and I know that I have that same desire, Lord.  I ask today, Lord, that you might lay upon my heart the race that I am to finish.  I feel today, Lord, at the cusp of a new year, that you do have bigger plans for me.  That my life thus far has been a training camp, preparing me for something greater than all of this.  I pray, today, Lord, that your purpose- your divine purpose- for my life would be revealed.

I long for the day of waking up, eager to look the world in the face and say, "Bring it on!" Lord, let me be a difference maker, through you and your divine purpose for my life.  I want to finish my race and know that I have been a good and faithful servant God.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mercy Me

The days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much

These are the lyrics from the song "Beautiful" by MercyMe.  During my "wake up" time today, this song weighed heavy on my heart as I was listening to it while preparing to write today.  Somedays the Lord inspires me through scripture, others it's through a recent life experience, and today, it is through a song.

So many people are hurting this time of year due to the lack of love in their life.  My heart aches for those who do not know the Lord and do not know what real love is.  For we, as a whole, have such a distorted view of love, what it is, what it isn't, how it should or should not feel.  When I want to understand love, I think about my children.  I think about how my heart feels for them and with them.  I think about how I share in their successes, their shortcomings, and how I share in their joy and in their pain.  Anytime one of my children is hurting I just want to take the pain away, just as, any time I can make their precious lives better, I truly want to do so. 

If I feel this way about MY children, imagine how the Lord feels about me, us.  There are many verses in Scripture regarding love.  The one that struck me this morning comes from Luke 6:32-36

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

As it is written here, to have love, you must be willing to give love, show love and be loving.  Love is developed over time as a result of a deep desire to know, serve and give to someone else, putting your own selfish needs aside.  Love is not something to be expected or granted, but created from the depths of your heart.

In this joyous time for believers, as we relish the birth of our Savior Jesus and celebrate all that he means to us, let us take time to pray for and remember those around us who may not seem loving in nature, or may not express love outwardly, or, worst of all, may not know what real love is.  Pray hard and long for the love of Jesus to be known and if you have love in your life today, be thankful in your prayers and continue to live with an open heart, filled with gratitude and appreciation.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Praise Day

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of Heaven and Earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.   Acts 17:24-25

Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus!  The giver of life, the creator of the universe, the pure Spirit of Hope for this forsaken world is the one I worship and praise.

He is mighty in his strength, quick in his forgiveness for repentant souls and steadfast in his love for you and I.  We worship the one who has led the way and written our names in the Book of Life.  Praise him for his goodness and mercy and love.

I live, because he lives in me.  I breathed because he has breathed life into me.  Everywhere I turn, everywhere I look I see him.  Tell me where he is not?  There is not such a place. 

Even for those who do not believe, he is there, still, quiet, giving life.  Waiting for the awakening of the soul, the stirring of the spirit, almost as a crouched animal waiting to spring forward, he waits for the opportunity to reveal himself to each of us.

His glory shines in those who know him.  Believers are a peculiar kind for their joy is not just on the surface but comes from deep within the heart.  For he told us all that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, therefore, that is where I must go to find him. 

Praise him, our God, Lord and Savior, waiting in Heaven.  Give him glory and praise for he is the greatest among all, and he loves us dearly.  Thank you Jesus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Out to Pasture

Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says:  "Return to me" declares the Lord Almighty,"and I will return to you" says the Lord Almighty.  Zechariah 1:3

This what the Lod wants, again, at this moment, from all of us.  To return to him.  Is it not easy to see that our world is crumbling around us because of our turning, as a nation, away from Him? 

Our God is a jealous God in that He wants to be the center of our lives and then, only then, can we add to them.  He must be the primary motivating factor behind our government at every level; behind our family dynamics and child rearing; behind our work ethic; behind our financial policies and procedures at home, work and nationwide.  He wants us to depend on Him and use the principles He set forth to live our lives in peace and prosperity.

He wants, more than anything, at this time, for our nation to return to Him.  We, as a nation, are seeing and feeling the effects of edging God out of our daily lives and decisions.  Jesus teaches us this in John 10:10 with this: I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate; whoever enteres through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

As we enter this new year, 2011, I am praying for the hope and future of our nation.  We have all had enough heartache, enough set backs, enough pain over the course of the past few years.  It's time to right this ship and return to God.  The enemy has been in our camp for far too long; it's time for him to go.  We, as a nation of individuals, must have our faith restored in God, not man. 

We can have a life, filled with joy, peace and abundance if, and only if, we return to He that has created all of "this".

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hope...for change.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light, on those living in the land of the shadow of  death a light has dawned.  You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy, they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.  For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.  Isaiah 9:2-4

As I enjoy my cup of joe this morning on a day off, I can't help but think about the upcoming year.  I find it interesting, to say the least, that the start of a new year on the calendar follows the birthday of our Savior.  During the past few days I have spent time thinking about what it means to me to be a part of the family of Jesus.  There are many words I could use to describe how I feel or to define my feelings.  The one that stands out the most is: hope.

Having Jesus in my life and having faith in his saving grace gives me constant hope for the future.  Hope is something that we all want, need and desire.  Having hope in something and someone bigger than me relieves the pressure of me needing to be in control.  Having hope in Jesus, as my Savior, relinquishes my need to be right, my need to know everything and it certainly relieves my stress of trying to control all things in my life.  This faith in Jesus, the hope that it brings, also lifts my spirits and keeps me looking forward to what's possible in my life.

This looking forward, based on the birth of a child, coupled with the beginning of a new year, provides a season of hope and change.  Not just lip service as a politician may use, but hope in something better for us and change in our spiritual awareness.

The prophet Isaiah so eloquently wrote that Jesus "shattered that yoke" that burdens us so that we could see an increase in our joy. 

During this slow week between celebrations, connect with the Spirit of Christ in knowing that our burdens have been lifted so that we might have more joy.  Joy to the world!  May the Hope of Jesus Christ and all that he brings into our world inspire you to see what's possible for you in 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And There Will Be Peace

When I was a young believer, new to the Word and the power of the scriptures, I was introduced to the Messianic Prophecies.  Today, while reading in Luke, the second chapter, my thoughts returned to those early studies of the Old Testament prophecies.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  Luke 2:4-5

Now read what Micah had to write about those same events many, many years prior: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, thou you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from the old, from ancient times.  Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.  He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God, and they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach the ends of the earth.  And there will be peace.  Micah 5:2-5

When I think about these events, my mind can hardly grasp the awesomeness of God.  Here are Joseph and Mary, living in a completely different city during the time of her pregnancy.  Then, because of a governmental order, this soon-to-be family has to pack up and journey back to the town from whence Joseph's family had descended.  They did go to Bethlehem because of expert medical care, nor did they go there because it was beautiful destination and place to conceive their child. I would hasten to say that going on a trip at that point in a pregnancy was the last thing on their minds.  Only God could create such circumstances to allow for the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy.

From this, now, I look at my own life and all of the circumstances through which I have lived and grown from and can't help but see the hand of God at work.  I can only imagine how much work it was for Joseph and Mary to make that journey.  I would also suspect that they were not happy about having to do so.  I would tend to think that their need to return to Bethlehem was a huge inconvenience that put a significant amount of stress in their lives, and possibly, their relationship too.

How many times in our lives have we had to deal with events and circumstances that were stressful, untimely, inconvenient and created more painstaking work than we thought possible?

There is so unbelievably much more behind the birth of Jesus than a child being born in a barn because the hotels were full!  Every last step of this miraculous conception was designed by God for a purpose.  Just as every last step, journey, breath and experience in our lives is designed by God.  Each of us has a purpose that was set for us before time was created, a life designed by God, to be filled with love, peace and joy.  Find it.  Live it.  Be it.

It is my hope for all of my family, friends and acquaintances, and for everyone around the globe, to be able to focus on the bigness of the miracle child, Jesus, during the next few days.  May the peace that he brings through the Holy Spirit be magnified during the upcoming days and, hopefully, flow with you into the new year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Who Are Highly Favored

Over time, I have dreamt or visualized a variety of situations where someone comes knocking on my door.  I'm sure you know what I mean, or not?  Remember when Ed McMahon would show up and knock on people's door and tell them "Congratulations! You're Publisher's Clearinghouse Grand Prize Winner!"  Some of those folks would almost fall over and others had no reaction.  I always got a kick out of seeing that on TV!  I know many people have had that dream.  And I've had the not so nice versions of the unexpected knock as well, like the police or the dreaded IRS, and even Satan.

But imagine a complete stranger showing up in your home with: "Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you."  Luke 1:28

How would that one line change your life forever?  What will be expected of me now?  What did I do to earn or deserve such favoritism?

This is exactly what the angel Gabriel said to Mary in his explanation of her pending birth of the son of the Most High.  She learned of the plan for her to give birth to a son, and he is to be named Jesus.  Imagine what went through her mind in those moments!  What an amazing, glorious gift she received!  What responsibility she had been given.  Pregnancy itself is difficult enough without knowing you are carrying the divinely created Son of God.  Why Mary?

After much prayer my answer is this:  she was obedient.  God doesn't ask a whole lot of us, but he does ask that we be obedient to his word.  I have to believe that her favor was based on her servant's heart and her willingness to obey the Lord.  She must also have been a woman of great character to be given such a daunting task and being able to follow through on her word.  A woman of lesser character may have traveled the countryside seeking fame and fortune while sharing her story of being a virgin mother to the Son of God.  If it were today, she might be on Oprah or Maury, or any one of those self-aggrandizing shows if her character was weak.

She also must have had great trust in God to believe Gabriel and the bewildering message he brought her.  Complete, almost blind, trust in God.  Only a mother could have that kind of trust, that strong of faith.  Mary's life, even under a microscope, was obviously pure, clean and dependant on God.

So in these last few days before we celebrate her giving birth to our Lord, I want to spend time thinking about what I might have to do or how I may have to be, in order for an angel of the Lord to say to me, "Greetings you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Giftmas?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.   Isaiah 9:6-7

As we enter the week of the birth of Jesus, the celebration of Christmas, I cannot help but reflect on the divine consequence of one little child's birth.  From that day forward, nothing would ever be the same.  With his first heart beat, his first gasp for air, Satan was defeated and the rules of the game of life would be forever changed.  Not just changed during his 33 or so years on earth, but FOR-EVER!

In this little baby, born through the seed of God, rested the future of mankind.  Imagine the pressure Joseph and Mary felt raising him as a child?  Consider the burden that Jesus carried throughout his boyhood and into manhood knowing his role in the future of the world?

How dare we, as followers of Jesus, give into the seduction of Satan and his earthly treasure during this most remarkable time of year!  Shame on us for distorting and manipulating a wonderful story centered on the birth of our Lord into one focused on 3 men bringing gifts.  In this broken down world of politically correctness where we aren't supposed to hug one another and wish everyone Merry Christmas, I propose a new idea.

Similar to the group that has replaced Christ in Christmas with an X, I propose that anyone who chooses to bastardize the birth of our Lord do so in a way that we all know where their heart truly calling it Giftmas!  I know, it's a clever idea.  It sounds like Christmas, looks similar to Christmas, is much easier to say than xmas.  It's perfect!  Merry Giftmas!  That would fit nicely with Happy Holidays!  I can see it on sweatshirts and hats already. In the true spirit of Giftmas, someone will make a mint marketing it and selling useless crap with it stitched on it.  Maybe I should copyright it now? Hmmm....

I think it's a great idea!  Solely because it would give us a better understanding of how many people we need to reach with good news of Jesus Christ.  How many lost souls are out there floundering in the darkness chasing obsessions, looking for joy in all the wrong places (hey, that could be a song). 

I know, my tone today was a bit harsh today, but the Spirit of the Lord is harsh at times when dealing with issues of the heart.  I think today was a day for refocusing for the week.  He said it best, Love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your spirit and with all your soul.

What do you say we spend the rest of the week focusing on the celebration of the birth of a King, the Prince of Peace?  Let everyone else celebrate Giftmas, we can celebrate Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Still

In my morning prayer time today, one phrase pierced the silence in my head:  Be still.  In this busy holiday season of parties, gatherings, shopping and cooking, I believe the Lord has asked that we slow down.  Rather than trying to be all things to all people, be still. 

Jesus is the light and the Way.  Packages under a tree, 30,000 lights on your house and 6 kinds of spritz cookies is certainly not the light nor the way Jesus wants us to remember his birth. 

Be still and know that I am God is from Psalm 46:10.  Psalm 46 is a moving passage in itself, powerful in its reverance for the Lord.  And the first line of verse 10 are strong words of support and encouragement. In this week of celebrating the birth of Christ, where so many want us to take our eyes off of Him, He wants us to remain firm in our commitment.

Be still and know that I am God.

This is not so much an idea being thrown out or request being made as it is a command, much like you may say to a child acting out: Be still.  While our God is a loving God, he is also one to hold in high esteem.  ....and know that I am God is his command to not forget who the boss really is.  As much as we might like to think we have some control over our lives, this passage reminds us of who is in charge.

Be still and know that I am God.

Take time today and thank God for this command.  Study it, break it down word by word.  I once was led through a time of prayer by focusing on this scripture verse and dropping the last word as I continued to pray.  For example, first time through was Be still and know that I am God.   The second time through, followed by prayer and meditation was Be still and know that I am.  Continue meditating and praying until one phrase remains:  Be still.

Be still, today, so that you may see the light of the Lord in those around you.
Be still, today, so that you may feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Be still, today, so that you may know Jesus died for you.
Be still, today, knowing that He has made a place for you in Heaven.

Be still.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Fresh Start

So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.  And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.   Acts 13: 51-52

Paul and Barnabas had been traveling throughout the region of Cyprus and Antioch, home to both Jews and Gentiles, spreading the good news of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins when the Jews turned on them and kicked them out.  While there, they preached to large crowds and brought many people to eternal life which enraged the Jews.  Paul and Barnabas were fulfilling their mission. So what did the Jews do?  They didn't call up the army or bring in armed guards to run Paul and Barnabas out of town. No, instead, they went after the men of influence and the women of faith.  They knew that this specific group of influential people could stir up enough dissent to force the disciples to leave.

I find it amazing how true this is in life.  A man or woman on a mission has a message and the power to change the world, yet, smaller minded, self-focusing individuals that may not have the knowledge to understand the message or worse yet, are intimidated by the message, set out to derail the purposeful actions of the one following God's calling in their life.  What better way to defeat someone than through the court of public opinion.

Yet, look at Paul and Barnabas and their reaction to these events.  No fight, no resistance.  They simply shook the dust from their sandals and took their mission and message elsewhere.  And how did they go?  Filled with joy and Holy Spirit!  What a lesson for us to learn regarding being stopped, or better yet, interrupted, while on our mission.  They didn't give up, nor did they give in to the pressures of those persecuting them. 

How many of us have been stifled when following God's calling in our life?  How many times have obstacles been put in our path to try and stop us?  Paul and Barnabas show us what it means to walk by faith in this scripture.  Get up.  Get going.  Move on.  Sometimes a fresh start is exactly what it is needed to see the blessings of the Holy Spirit in our life.  And, most importantly, do it with JOY!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jesus Asked

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."   Acts 10:34-35

Peter was a blessed man.  He was blessed by the Holy Spirit because of his faith in Jesus and the second chance that Peter was given.  He is a testament to what God can do with anyone, from anywhere, at any time. 

As Peter traveled sharing the good news of Jesus and the forgiveness of sins, many, many people became believers.  He was able to witness to people of many creeds, sects, nationalities with all the same result: baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and forgiveness of their sins.

When studying Peter's evangelical travels, it's easy to overlook the fact that he was a stranger, in a strange land, in most of his travels.  Yet, he was accepted and revered by all who came to know him and meet him.  The Lord would go before him and make a way; create the opportunity to share the good news. Why?  Because Peter loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, spirit and body.

Just as it is written in acts, God does not play favorites when it comes to saving lives from sin.  He does ask for a couple of simple acts from those wanting freedom: fear the Lord and follow his commandments.
I myself lose sight of the simplicity of Jesus' requests because of the draw of this world and the many "things" it has to offer. 

To fear the Lord should happen in the heart when we come to understand how awesome and powerful and mighty and merciful and loving and gracious he is.  To fear the Lord is the end result of knowing the Lord.  Just as we instantly feel a deep love for a child at the moment of their birth, we can, and should, feel reverence for the Lord the moment we truly know him.

To do what is right, as Peter said, or follow his commandments, requires a change in our mind and thinking.  To leave our old way of thinking for a new is difficult and must be focused on daily.  Love your neighbors as you love the Lord and love the Lord with all your heart.  Simple, yet profound.  See the love of Christ and the light of God in everyone and it changes how you "see" people. This is what Jesus asked of me when I came to know him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is Your Heart Right Before God?

When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.          Acts 8:15-17

Where can I find one who is filled with the Holy Spirit to lay hands on me?  As much as I trust in Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am sure that I do not have the Holy Spirit.  After much studying and reading I am certain of this.

In Acts 8:15-17, Luke clearly gives direction on how to receive the Holy Spirit and that it is not at all part of the baptism of Jesus Christ.  Becoming part of the Kingdom of Heaven and being filled with the Holy Spirit are obviously 2 separate gifts of God.  In our world today, however, is it appropriate to believe that there are still people filled with the Holy Spirit?  Or, as I have read, was that just a gift to those during the 40 days after Jesus resurrection? 

I want to believe that the Holy Spirit is available to all who yearn for it.  I also know that there are certain individual prerequisites needed before one can receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 8, we learn that a sorcerer named Simon wanted the power of the Holy Spirit and was willing to pay to have John and Peter lay hands on him.  "You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right before God." 

So obviously, ones heart has to be right before God in order to receive the Holy Spirit.  Now, that leads me to another question: What does it take to make my heart right before God?  Where may I find those instructions? 

I am fascinated by the leading of the Lord in my life at this moment.  My heart and mind are heavy with this line of thought and my spirit is thirsty for more.  I pray that my study and sharing may open the eyes of those learning with me and encourage them to grow their faith as I am.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Light of Life

Darkness. The absence of light.  Where there is light, there cannot be darkness.  Darkness cannot exist without the light for darkness is an empty void of nothingness. In the beginning, it was dark, the entire universe...then there was light. The absence of light allows for things to be not seen, to remain hidden. Darkness brings fear and trepidation because in it, without light, lies the opportunity for evil or harm, and, too, there lies the unknown. Darkness cannot be known or even comprehended without knowing, first, what light is. Therefore, what is light?

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But who ever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.  John 3:19-21

You are the lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.  2 Samuel 22:29

The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear?  Psalm 27:1

In order for there to be light, there must be power and energy.  The greatest power in the universe is God.  The most dominant energy in the universe is God.  Wherever there is light, there is God.  God is light.

Scientists have learned that beyond the atom, beyond the quark and all the other subatomic particles that make up matter, is the photon.  A photon is a basic particle of the universe, thereby not being able to be created or destroyed.  A photon also has no mass nor does it have a positive or negative charge, and, it will not decay in empty space. 

This is the science of God.  It fascinates me to know that science has revealed an energy that cannot be created or destroyed.  An energy, that without it, nothing would exist.  And an energy that will never change over time.

The smallest organized structure of the human body is the cell. Within each cell are a multitude of components.  These components are made of molecules which are made of atoms.  Within the atom are subatomic particles, which you now know, are derived from photons.  Therefore, in our truest essence and form, we are made of light.  Perfect light.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.   2 Samuel 22:31

He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  John 1:2-4

Our world can be filled with darkness, which at times, can seem to consume us and control us.  Darkness is nothing more than the absence of God in our life.  Bring Jesus into every aspect of your life and the darkness will disappear.  It's not that it might disappear, or has a chance to will because where there is light there cannot be darkness.  Praise God for his goodness and light!

Friday, December 10, 2010

If I Were Named Peter

How great is our God who can use men and women, of any walk of life or background, to fulfill his mighty purposes!  Reading the end of the Gospel of John we learn about Peter and his denial of being one of Jesus disciples.  Earlier in the text Jesus predicts that one of his followers will deny him 3 times and Peter is appalled by such prophesy.  Yet, in the end, it is Peter who denies Christ 3 times.  It would be a tragic story if it ended there, however, it doesn't.

Like many of us who stray from Jesus, or deny his role in our life, Peter came back to Christ.  After the death of Jesus and he appeared to the apostles, Jesus asked Peter three times, just as Peter had denied him three times, if he loved Jesus.  His answer was yes and the Lord said, Follow me!

How loving and forgiving is our Lord to accept such a man back into his inner circle.  I tell you this, too, friends, that he will accept you back into his family when you, too, get your heart right with him.  The curse, or beauty, of being human since the fall of man is that we shall all fail or fall short at times, sometimes many times.  Because of the love of the Father, though, we are forgiven now and will be forgiven in the future if we are willing to be with Jesus and to repent of our sins.

And, when we are accepted back into the kingdom of God through the forgiveness of our sins, the Holy Spirit can work mighty miracles in our lives in the name of the Father. In Peter, whom many miracles were manifest, the Holy Spirit was strong and mighty, even though he had denied Jesus in the past.  We must understand that living by the Holy Spirit requires a higher level of devotion of our part.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  Acts 2:42-43

Peter, once an outcast to Jesus, gave his life to Jesus and became a powerful leader of men.  He brought thousands of people to the family of believers.  It is also written in Acts that people would lie the sick and lame on mats along the streets hoping that even the shadow of Peter would fall on them.  The Holy Spirit was able to do mighty things through and in Peter.  Scripture says that people came from towns all around Jerusalem to be in the presence of Peter, and ALL were healed.

It doesn't say some or a few, or even most.  Acts 5 verse 16 says, " Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and ALL of them were healed."  Oh how the Holy Spirit can work in and through those with a heart for the Lord!

I get such peace from learning about Peter.  I am a sinner.  I make mistakes, continuously.  Thank God that we have a forgiving and loving Jesus to worship.  Praise God that we aren't expected to be perfect!  It is my fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit may do mighty and powerful things in and through you and I for the glory of God and the kingdom he has set aside for us.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Greatest Gift

With the Holiday Season in full roar, we are once again faced with the dilemma of keeping focused on the truth and beauty of the Christmas spirit.  I listen to news casts talk about the sales forecasts and how shoppers aren't spending like they used to.  I often laugh to myself when I hear silly statements like that.  Here we are, in the middle of the most uncomfortable financial times of our generation, seeing the highest unemployment rates, highest homeless rates and people worry about how little we are spending on gifts.

Maybe, just maybe, it has been the over spending on gifts (and a heck of a lot of other stuff) that has put us in this situation.  Maybe this year more families will spend time discussing the joy and value of breaking bread together, the role and birth of Jesus Christ in our life and finding happiness and comfort in the simpler things of life. 

Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.  Acts 2:40

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let Earth receive her king, let every heart prepare Him room.  During this joyous time of year for Christians, instead of spreading the holiday cheer that so many encourage us to do, instead, let's spread the joy of knowing a loving God that has saved us through mercy and grace.  The greatest gift we can give to our loved ones is that of eternal life, with Christ, in Heaven.  If we don't share that with the ones we love, who will?

Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38

I pray that if you might receive just one gift this year that it may be Holy Spirit.  God loves you and so do I.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

One of my great joys is knowing that Jesus Christ died for me.  He did it for me.  Without me asking or even hinting, he knew what I needed centuries before I was born.  At one point in my life it was very difficult to grasp this concept, along with that of sin.  I can remember thinking to myself, many years ago, "Sin?  I am not a sinner.  God made me perfect therefore I am perfect.  Sin is for those who don't see the perfection of life or aren't educated enough to know better."  Even though I believed in God, I did not fully accept all of the teachings in scripture.  I was still lost.

As my faith has grown over the years, I've learned that I am a sinner.  In fact, I would even say that I have been a slave to sin for most of my life.  I look back over my years and I look at how many things or people I idolized; how many possessions have controlled my thoughts; how many human desires have driven my decision making; how I denied Jesus.  And, now, I see that I am still a sinner.  While my sins are more internalized at this point in my life, I am still sinning. 

The difference, I can see, in my life now compared to then is what Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:1.  In Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I do experience freedom sin. To live my life with short, and sometimes long, periods without sin brings great joy to my spirit and warms my heart.  Having a dedicated prayer life and a personal relationship with Jesus has given me the power to to be free from the continuous sinful life I once had.

Being with Jesus also gives me strength in the moment of sin. If you look at this verse, Paul is telling us to "Be strong, in the moment of truth".  With the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, I truly am free and have the strength to withstand the temptations of this world. "Stand firm, then," is how Paul wrote it.

In scripture we are also told that we cannot be a slave to two masters, that being sin and Jesus.  When we give our life to the Lord, he becomes master of us and we gain all the fruits of his blessings.  When we remain a slave to sin, we only get the spoils of that one sin, which in turn, leads to another sin.  Paul's word here are strong, "and never let yourselves be burdened by a yoke".  None of us like to be burdened and, although I've never been in an actual yoke, I've seen one first hand- it wouldn't be pretty.  I wouldn't say I could "get by" living yoked.  I wouldn't say I was enjoying life being burdened.  I certainly would not express the fullness of who I am living that way.  Strong words.

I often will think about what I have become a slave to, as I have realized there are many things.  The Holy Spirit has been sent to release the yoke of slavery in our lives.  The real question is, what are you a slave to?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Spirit of Truth

As diverse as this world maybe with all of it's creed's, race's and culture's, there is still and will always be only one Spirit of Truth.  When Jesus went to the cross, he did so knowing full well from the Father that we would be left with a gift, the Holy Spirit. He told us that the reason he had to return to the Father was so that we could have the Holy Spirit to live with us, not just for a period of time, or for a few centuries, but forever.  Jesus tells us that the Spirit of Truth is something that world will not be able to accept because of their separation from Him. Those who are and will be unwilling to know Jesus, too, will not no the Father, nor will they have the ability to know the Spirit.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him for he lives with you and will be in you.  John 14:16-17

The Holy Spirit, according to Jesus, is real and has been sent by the Father to continue to love and teach and comfort and lead us.  Just as Jesus taught that the Father is in him and he is in the Father, it is important for us to understand that  he is also in us!  The Holy Spirit brings the Kingdom of Heaven within, giving us the assurance that Jesus lives and that we live because of him.

But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you....Because I live, you will also live.  John 14:17, 19

In the world, or in the Spirit.  You choose.  It is a choice only you can make, and surely, a man cannot serve two masters.  Living in the world means loving this life and all that it offers more than the life Jesus has promised.  Living in this world subjects you to judgement and sin because it is ruled by another prince.  Living in this world also means that you have rejected the Spirit and the gift of eternal life.  And living in the Spirit, well, offers a whole new life, if you are willing to let Jesus be Lord of your life.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. John 15:18-19

How powerful is the Holy Spirit that the Father sent us?  I have told you these things so that in my you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.

Praise God! Hallelujah!  He that has defeated the prince of this world has sent the Spirit of truth to bring us peace and joy.  Jesus will send you the Holy Spirit when decide to love him more than you love your life in this world.  And, when the Spirit comes to you, you will know what Jesus meant by saying "the kingdom of Heaven is within." 

On that day (the day you receive the Spirit) you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  John 14:20

Today is the day...let him in.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hug Your Kids More

I want to share a story about a young boy with a big heart.  His name is Tanner.  Tanner is a hockey player, a competitor, a fighter, a champion.  In the spring of 2010 he scored the game winning goal, in overtime, to secure our teams first place finish and champions of the Mikken Cup.  In the locker room after the game, Coach asked the boys how many had ever won a championship?  One of the skaters raised his hand and said, "we all have now, because of Tanner."

Tanner is with the Lord now.  At the young age of 11 his amazingly impactful life was cut short by an aggressive form of Leukemia.  I attended his end of life celebration yesterday with my son who was his friend.  In a church packed full of people hurting, weeping and praying for understanding, the Holy Spirit delivered a message to everyone there: Hug your kids more.  Take nothing for granted with them as each moment is precious.

I, personally, have a hard time with the death of a child.  I haven't understood why our loving Father would allow for such an event to happen.  I saw the pain of loss yesterday. I saw a community hurting.  And I saw the impact one young boy had on so many people. 

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  John 12:24

Look at all the seeds Tanner produced.  Look at all the lives one young boy impacted with not only his life, but his courageous fight to the end and his death.  Every parent in that church yesterday heard and felt the message of the Holy Spirit:  Hug your kids more.  Take nothing for granted with them as each moment is precious.

May you rest in Peace, Tanner.  And may I be a better Dad to my children because of you.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keep The Main Thing...The Main Thing

Life without God is difficult.  I know, I lived it for some time, thinking that I was responsible for all the good, and bad, that had occurred in my life.  I bought into a belief system that taught me I was the center of my universe, that all things in my life were created by me.  What a stressful, unholy way to live!  I pity those around me who continue to think and live in that manner because there is truly a better, happier way to live- in the Spirit.

Knowing God and having a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit brings a new level of peace and comfort to life.  Understanding and knowing that I have a God that loves me, protects me, develops me, nurtures me and blesses me lifts the burdens of this world from my shoulders and eases the struggle in this life.  Studying God's word offers insight into how to live, why to live in such a manner and illuminates the many rewards for doing so.

The challenge, however, is to be consistent in my thoughts, prayers and actions so that they all might be aligned with the principles that Jesus teaches.

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.   1 Peter 1:13

Everyday on this Earth is battle for my mind and my heart.  It is up to me to keep my focus on that which guides me, comforts me and is the source of my life.  For each of us that has different meaning, but for me it means daily time with the Lord, reading His word and building my relationship with Him.  Just like any other relationship in life, this one, too, takes time, commitment and energy.  Unlike any other, however, the rewards for a strong, healthy relationship with Christ are unending and eternal.  As we develop our relationship it changes the substance of who we are, how we think and how we act.  It is my hope that each day I become more like Him and those around me might see more of Him in me.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   Ephesians 5:1

As I go through my day, Lord, I pray that your Spirit would nudge me, guide me and comfort me as I walk by faith.  I pray, too, Lord, that I would be able to keep the main thing, the main thing today: that being focused on you.