Sunday, November 28, 2010
Esther Becomes Queen
Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai after her parents died. Esther was very beautiful and through Mordecai's initiative, she was presented to King Xerxes who was looking for a wife. The king immediately fell in love with Esther, married her and she became queen. Esther now passed from a season of being a poor orphan to a season of royalty. Who could hope for more? But shortly after becoming queen, her uncle Mordecai sent her a message that Haman, one of the king's aides, was planning to kill him and all the Jews because he, Mordecai, would not bow to him.
Esther was dumbfounded. As queen she carried a certain amount of influence, but not even she could go into the king's presence uninvited and she had not seen him in thirty days. Furthermore, Xerxes didn't even know she was a Jew. No sooner had she sent this message to Mordecai, than he sent back another one, saying, "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arrive from another place ... And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4: 12-14).
Esther's Act Of Courage
Mordecai's answer spurred Esther to action and she instructed him to gather all the Jews in Susa to fast for her for three days while she and her maids also fasted, and at the end of that time she would go into the king. She ended with the now famous words, "And if I perish, I perish" (v 16). Esther's actions resulted in Haman being hanged, the king revoking his decree against the Jews and giving them the authority to kill and annihilate any armed forces that attacked them.
Victory Through Fasting
Wasn't that a supernatural victory? There comes a time when beauty, position, wealth or any other resources we may have is not enough to wage war againt the enemy. Esther realized that she needed supernatural strength to enter the king's courts and secure a victory for her and her fellow Jews. And so she used the powerful weapon of fasting. The Bible records other instances where people fasted for spiritual reasons. God Himself says about fasting, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" (Isaiah 56: 6). When Jesus' disciples asked Him why they could not cast out a demon from a little boy, Jesus replied, "Because you have so little faith ... Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17: 20-21) KJV.
Are you in a spiritual battle? Do you need supernatural strength to wage war against the enemy? Then pray and fast and victory will be yours. You can read more about Esther here in this excerpt from my book Women For All Seasons. And if you subscribe to this blog between now and the end of the year, you can win a copy of the book.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The fact is, giving thanks is important to God. When Jesus had cleasened ten men of leprosy, only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank Him. Jesus said, "Were there not ten cleansed ? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger" (Luke 17:17-18). The Bible says, "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever" (1 Chronicles 16:34).
The Bible has hundreds of references to thanksgiving. Even Jesus gave thanks to His Father on a regular basis. Shouldn't we do the same? As I lay in bed reflecting on the year that is almost over, I realized that instead of murmuring and complaining I have so much to be thankful for: Jesus Christ who redeemed me to the Father, my family and friends, my home, my job, the things I was able to accomplish this year, like travelling to Alaska and publishing my first book Women For All Seasons. I owe it all to God and I'm thankful.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
In 2004, Bernadette was featured on the front page of the Florida Baptist Witness as one of Florida's godly women making a difference. In 2006, the weekly paper also commended her for her mission work. What's so special about this lady? Well, in her own words, "my mouth is the only part of my body that works well." You see, Bernadette was afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy from the age of 5 and was not expected to live past the age of 8. Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive illness that wastes away the muscles. However, God had other plans for Bernadette and today she is 43 years old, in a wheelchair and using the only part of her body that still works to bring glory to God.
She makes me feel so inadequate. Me, with my strong arms and legs and a body that works. The Bible says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13. We may be strong physically, but compared to Bernadette we are weak if we are not doing what the Lord has called us to do. Let us ask God for strength and guidance to use what He has given us to bring Him glory. Paul said, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully" (Romans 12: 6-8).
Let us resolve today to do all that we can for God while there is still time and while we are still physically or mentally capable. If you are not able to do anything, maybe you can give and if you can't give you can pray. God needs you.
|Bernadette and husband, Jeff|
Sunday, November 07, 2010
In case you didn't know it, and I didn't either, but I heard it in church that today is Orphan's Day. And, according to the speaker, there are approximately one hundred and thirty-five million orphans around the world. Now that is a staggering number. It means that number of children can go hungry, naked and with no roof over their heads unless someone steps in and helps them. Will you?
Fortunately there are organizations such as the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Children's Hope Chest, Orphan Outreach, Watoto Children's Ministries and many others. If you are interested in helping in some way, you can access one of these organizations via the internet or through your church. There is so much wealth in the world, it is said that a small percentage of that wealth can alleviate world hunger. But you don't have to be wealthy in order to give. A little goes a long way. The Bible says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1: 27) NIV.
A few months ago, my church was blessed by a visit from the Watoto Kids of Uganda. It was a moving experience to watch these kids, most of whom had lost their parents to the war or to AIDS, sing and dance their hearts out to a captive audience. Watch the video above and the one below and give as the Holy Spirit leads you.
- How to Help the Orphans in Kenya! (2 Videos) - KITEANGELA, Kenya (travelpod.com)
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I live, breathe and feel Your freshness and Your sweetness
There is no where I can go,
Nothing I can do or be
That would take Your Presence from me.
I take my eyes off my dreams, desires, fears, cares,
Hurts, disappointments and appointments
And place them on You.
For You are my Lord,
My leader and my guide.
No matter what this day may bring
I rest securely in You,
Confident that You will see me through
For You have promised
To never leave me or forsake me
And your promises are always 'yea' and 'amen'.
Thank you, Lord, for today
And all that it will bring.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
What causes anxiety? The scientific explanation is that stressful or frightening situations can evoke a fight/flight response designed to protect you from harm. For example, if you are strolling through your neighborhood and a ferocious dog comes bounding out at you, your heart begins to pound, your palms become sweaty, your pupils dilate, you feel breathless etc. All these prepare you for fight or flight.
But what if you are anxious or simply worried over family matters, finances, health or other conditions. You may not experience the strong symptoms listed above, but you constantly have this nagging feeling at the back of your mind that maybe you can never get out of this situation. Depression, a close relative of anxiety, may also show up and if you are not careful, you may find yourself having suicidal thoughts. How do you cope with this? The illustrious prophet, Elijah suffered his own uncharacteristic bout with anxiety.
Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life (fight/flight response). When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die (suicidal). "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors" (1 Kings 19: 1 - 4).
Elijah is not the only person mentioned in the Bible who suffered this kind of emotional upheaval. Jeremiah (45:3), David (Psalm 55:6) and Job (30: 27) all expressed similar feelings. Which begs the question, Can a Christian become depressed or anxious? The answer is 'yes.' I find myself getting anxious from time to time, even though I know it's not God's will for me to be that way. Paul said, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4: 6). And it goes on to say, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (v 7).
This may be easier said than done. I present my requests, but still I remain anxious. Well, this morning I determined that I am going to trust God fully. I am going to believe that when I ask God for something in faith and according to His will, He is going to answer me. It may not always be the answer I expect, but it's always the best answer because He knows what is best for me. I am not going to give in to worry and anxiety any more because the Bible says, "... anything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14 : 23). I don't want to be guilty of sin because of a lack of faith.
Are you worried or anxious? Trust God! Praise Him! Get in the Word and see what it has to say about faith and fear. See how you too can have "the peace that passes all understanding", the peace that allows you to enjoy your life the way God intends you to.
Saturday, October 02, 2010
If the rumors are true, this will not be the first time the church has been buffeted like this, and I daresay, it will not be the last. So I tried to take it all in stride, until my friend, a Christian, came to work looking very depressed and expressing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Maybe I was tired, or maybe hearing my friend, who is always so upbeat, voice feelings of depression scared me and I found myself becoming tearful. But through my tears, I prayed for her and she later said she felt better.
So I tried to forget about Eddie Long and all the depressing thoughts. Then wham! On Friday, a Brinks driver was gunned down in front of the bank close to where my daughter works.
My blood ran cold.
A poor man going about his business suddenly had his life snuffed out. His family ... how did they feel? Did he have young children? How would they go on without him? What if my daughter had been hurt? What if other people had been hurt? Would they find the criminals? The thoughts tumbled around in my mind like clothes in a clothes dryer. But eventually, I thought of what Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16: 33).
"While we look not at the things which are seen , but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4: 18). We can take comfort in knowing that all these things that are happening around us - church scanals, depression, crime - will one day be no more. Therefore, we are to set our sights on "things above; not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). It may not always be easy, especially if your loved ones are involved, but by focusing on God, we can spare ourselves a lot of sadness and a lot of depression.
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- "Bishop Eddie Long Scandal Hits Other Sermon Sunday" and related posts (news.lalate.com)
Saturday, September 25, 2010
What could be the reason for this? Could it be that these young people are too busy with work and college life to have time for reading fiction? Or could it be that they are simply not interested in the material that is available? There are so many diversions to take a young person's attention away from things that are godly: movies, the internet, video games to name a few. A young Christian has to really love reading to set aside the time to read.
However, I couldn't help thinking about the dangers of young people reading books that are counter-productive to building godly character and which may even be dangerous. Books on pornography, killing, Satanism are some that come to mind. One of my co-workers, a devoted Christian, told me that she is very worried that her teenage son seems interested only in books on death and dying and the like. I think she has every reason to be worried.
The Bible says we are to "set out affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2). If you are a young Christian, you are inundated with all kinds of messages on the job, in school, in the music you listen to, the movies you watch and the things you read. The enemy is out to control your mind and one way to ward him off is to immerse yourself in the Bible and in Christian books.
I believe that Christian authors should focus on young people when writing and marketing their books. Our books should explore topics that are of interest to this group, and that will motivate and instruct them in living the Christian life. Marketing to clubs and organizations to which young Christians belong will be one way to get their attention. If you can think of other ways to get young people to read more Christian books, please let us know.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
I have been on a few cruises in my lifetime and will soon be going on another. I remember one cruise when the waves were so high they seemed level with our cabin window. And how that boat rocked! I admit, I did feel a bit scared. But the thought of water actually flooding the ship never entered my mind. If it had, I might have fainted from fear. So I sympathize with these men, even though they may have all been professional sailors.
But the Scriptures say that they went to Jesus who was sleeping like a baby somewhere in the ship and woke Him up with the words, "Master, master, we perish" (Luke 8: 24). Jesus got up, rebuked the winds and the waves and, of course, the atmosphere became as quiet as the night before Christmas. Some people say the disciples should have had more faith. Jesus Himself said to them, "Where is your faith?" (V 25). But I don't think Jesus scolded them because they woke Him up. I think He scolded them because they were afraid.
When your ship fills up with water, when you are in a storm, Jesus expects you to call on Him, but you needn't feel afraid or helpless. Because "our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber" (Psalm 121: 2-3). In Psalm 91: 14 God says, "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him."
Over and over in the Bible God invites us to call on Him when we are in trouble. If we don't, we may be calling on someone or something else, and that is idolatry. We cannot, need not, face the storms alone. We have "an anchor (our faith) that holds and grips the solid Rock" in the time of storm. Take comfort from this fact.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Tyrique is almost twelve and like most boys around that age, he doesn’t want anyone coming between him and his food. Thinking about Tyrique reminded me of a Coca Coca commercial some years ago with Shaquille Oneil and a little boy much younger than Tyrique. Shaq had been playing and looked like he could use a drink and there was this youngster sipping a frosty bottle of Coke. Shaq approaches, looks at the Coke then at the boy. The boy looks up at this man-mountain and says in his best growl, “Don’t even think about it.” My Tyrique would have reacted in similar manner if Peter or John had tried to get his lunch.
The story may sound funny, but it takes on a deeper meaning if we try to put ourselves in the place of that little boy with the five loaves and two fishes. Would you have given up your lunch? On a hot day, in the middle of nowhere, with no money in your wallet? I asked myself the same question. What loaves and fishes is God asking us to give up so that others can be fed? What can we give to promote God’s kingdom here on earth?
Jesus said, “Forasmuch as you have done it to one of these the least of my brethren you have done it unto me.” The next time the Holy Spirit prompts you to give, or you see someone in need and you are in a position to help, don’t growl like the boy in the commercial, but give up willingly.
By the way, I did ask Tyrique what he would do in a similar situation. He smiled and said, “I know that story. I would have given them half.” Not bad. But God requires us to give Him our all. He didn’t hold back when He had to choose between His only begotten Son and us. He gave Him up willingly so that we could have eternal life. What are you willing to give?
Sunday, July 04, 2010
For us Christians we have cause for a different kind of celebration. Our freedom from sin. Do you remember the day you accepted Jesus Christ and were set free? It doesn't matter. It is enough that you "then being made free from sin became the servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:18). We no longer belong to the kingdom of satan. We have been translated into the kingdom of God through His Son Jesus Christ and our citizenship is in heaven. I see fireworks just thinking about it!
So today as you celebrate your country's independence, take some time to send up a prayer of thanks to Jesus Christ for setting you free. John 8:36 says, "For if the son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." And while you are at it, think of someone who needs to be set free and share the message of freedom with him/her. It will give you joy and happiness and even the angels in heaven will rejoice with you. Happy fourth!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"Oh, this job is wearing me out."
"Me, too. It gets harder everyday."
"Boy, it's so hot today."
"Yeah, I wish it would rain. When was the last time we had rain?"
"Whew!" shaking your umbrella and removing your jacket, "that is some downpour. Traffic was so slow. I knew I'd be late ..."
Does that sound familiar? Could you imagine God having to listen to that multiplied by billions everyday? We must be wearing Him down!
The children of Israel had been subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions under the hand of Pharaoh. They cried out to God for deliverance and God intervened by sending them Moses and Aaron to bring them out of Egypt. But no sooner had they escaped from Pharaoh, they began to murmur and complain. Listen to them: "Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness" (Exodus 14 : 12).
Did they really say that? Yes, they did. They had experienced all the amazing miracles that God had performed by the hands of Moses, but now when it seemed like Pharaoh's armies would overtake them, they lashed out at Moses. And they continued to do that even after God had parted the Red Sea and made a way for them out of no way.
Are we any different from the Israelites? I am shaking my head, no. I know that I complain when I shouldn't. I give in to fear instead of faith, doubt instead of certainty, worry instead of prayer. Do you? The Bible tells us, "Do all things without complaining and disputing" (Philippians 2: 14).
Remember what Joshua did when he wanted to take the city of Jericho? "He commanded the people, Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!" (Joshua 6 : 10) Sometimes we have to "be still" and allow God to perform His work, because if we open our mouths and complain, we may stifle His purpose for our lives.
Monday, June 07, 2010
Image via WikipediaHe is Life! There’s no better way to describe the Son of God. He came down from heaven that “we might have life and have it more abundantly”(John 10: 10). Death and life are completely opposed to each other and therefore, whenever Jesus (Life) is present, Death has to flee. The Bible gives many references of Jesus as being 1) the Author of life, 2) Life, 3) the Giver of life and 4) the Restorer of life.
The Author Of Life
Peter said, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” (Acts 3:15). Jesus Himself spoke a lot about life. He said "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” v 24.
He is Life
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (14:6). The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us” (1 John 1:2)
He gives life
When Jesus walked the face of this earth, He gave life to all who came across His path. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (John 5: 21) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world (John 6:33). I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. (John 10 : 28). For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him (John 17 : 2). So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit (1 Corinthians 15: 45).
He restores life
Remember Jairus’ daughter? (Mark 5: 35- 43). And Lazarus? (John 11 : 17-43) And the centurion’s servant? (Luke 7 : 9 – 10). And the widow’s son at Nain? What did they all have in common? Jesus brought them back to life. Why? Because He is Life, the Giver of life, the Restorer of life. Death is no match for Him. He said to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25). Even while He was on the cross He restored lives. “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” (Matthew 27: 52).
Do you need life today? You may well ask why do I need life when I’m alive? Well, Jesus came that we should all have eternal life. Not the temporary, mortal kind of life we now have, but eternal life with Him in heaven, where we shall never hunger or thirst or mourn or shed tears. Do you want that kind of life? I’m sure your answer is yes. But Jesus can also bring life to your circumstances. To your marriage, your finances, your home, your dreams, everything that concerns you. Give Him your life today and He’ll give you His - eternal life.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
We often hear someone say, "I am walking with God," or they may talk about their spititual walk. What does it mean to walk with God? The Bible gives several examples of people who walked with God and if we study their lives, we will see that they didn't take their walk lightly.
Walking is a mechanical action we perform everyday, but what does it really mean? According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, to walk means to "move along on foot"; to "advance by steps"; "to pursue a course of action or way of life". Therefore, if we are walking with God, we should be moving, advancing and pursuing. It's impossible to walk and stay in the same place.
The men and women in the Bible who "walked with God" were never static. They were constantly moving, advancing and pursuing. Moses moved, albeit reluctantly, to persuade Pharaoh to free the children of Israel from bondage. Noah moved in obedience to God and built an ark to rescue the people from the flood that God said He would bring on the earth. Noah didn't know what rain was, but he moved. Abraham moved in obedience to God to a land he had never seen before and became the patriarch of the Israelites.
How are you walking with God? What does it require for us to walk with God? From the examples above you will see that the men had one thing in common. They were all obedient to God's commands. In order to do that they had humble themselves and have faith. The Bible says, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
Moses, Noah, Abrahman and others all walked humbly with God, obeying what He asked of them. Are you humble? Are you obedient? Going to church is not the only walking you must do. You have to move when God speaks to you, so you can advance in His purpose and pursue His will for your life. Then, and only then, you can say you are walking with God.
Almighty God, teach us to be obedient to Your will and pursue those things that will give us a meaningful walk with you. Amen
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms and grandmoms out there. I pray that God’s peace and joy will fill your hearts and minds today. As you celebrate this special day, I would like you to take a few moments to reflect on what it really means to be a mom. In doing so, let me bring a unique mom from the Bible to your attention. Her name is Hannah. Remember her? She was the lady who was tormented by her husband’s other wife because she was barren (1 Samuel 1: 6).
Hannah was embarrassed, frustrated and broken-hearted, but she cried out to God to give her a son and He heard her prayer. However, Hannah didn’t just ask God for a child. She promised that if God answered her prayer, she would give the child back to God (v 11). Doesn’t make sense, does it? Why ask God for something only to give it back to Him? Why ask God for a job only to give it back to Him? Why ask God for a car? A house? A husband or a wife? Do you get the picture? Hannah realized that whatever God chose to "give" her didn’t really belong to her. It was still His. That child, that job, that house, that husband or wife doesn’t really belong to us. We are to give them back to God so His perfect will can be done in them.
Mothers, are you giving your children to God? You don’t have to take them to the church and leave them there as Hannah did, but you are to give them to God even while they are still in the womb. And from the moment they are born, begin to pray and dedicate that precious life to God so that he/she can be used by Him. If you do, God will give you more than you ever asked for. Hannah asked for one son, God gave her three sons and two daughters (2 : 21). He is able to do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Something I came across in my Bible reading this morning made me pause and reflect. Jesus was teaching in the temple in Capernaum when a demon-possessed man cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!" (Mark 1: 24). Later that same day, Jesus healed other demon-possessed people, but "he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was" (v 34). The demons knew who Jesus was? How were they able to recognize Him when the religious leaders didn't?
The Bible does not give any explanation as to why the demons were able to recognize Jesus. However, the verses above made me think of what happens when we meet someone for the first time and we form an impression of that person. It may be good or bad. We may either want to meet that person again, or wish we'd never met them. Why is that? Could it be that God has placed a form of discernment in us so that we recognize whether someone is a kindred spirit or not? And they in turn identify us in the same way?
This may account for the fact that co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances may not be able to get along. Our attempts at reaching out to a certain person may be rebuffed, while another may receive us with open arms. When Jesus predicted that he would be killed, Peter took Him aside and said, "Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you. But Jesus turned and said unto Peter, Get
me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (Matthew 16: 22 – 23).
By rebuking Peter this way, Jesus was not addressing Peter himself, but Satan's scheme to use Peter to disrupt the plans of God. Peter, without knowing it, had employed the same temptation that Satan used with Jesus in the wilderness and as a result, earned the same rebuke.
If you find yourself facing persecutions and temptations from others, the devil may be using these people to disrupt God's plans for your life. James 4 : 7 says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
How do you resist the devil?
By staying close to God through constant prayer and Bible study, you gain the power to resist the devil. Soon you will find that those people who troubled you will cease to have any effect on you. They will "fade away" according to Psalm 37 : 2, and you will be able to live your life in peace.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
In every role I perform I am well aware how difficult it is to get anything finished. As a housewife, I know my housework is never done. Do I hear an Amen, ladies? As a mother, I continue to mother my children even though they are all adults. As an employee, I leave work every evening knowing that I'm coming back to more of the same the next day, and as a writer, I can re-write until I no longer recognize my own words, but I know the work is never really finished.
However, Jesus' last words on the cross were "IT IS FINISHED!" (John 19: 30). What did He mean by those words? And what was finished? Jesus had been on this earth for thirty three years, but only the last three of those years were spent in actual ministry. During that time, He performed many miracles, cultivated many followers, as well as enemies, and taught multitudes of people about the kingdom of God. But the purpose for which He came to earth – the redemption of Adam's fallen race – was not accomplished until He hung on that cross.
And the reason it was accomplished was because God "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). When Jesus cried "It is finished", He had completed all the work the Father had sent Him to do. He said, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work" (John 4: 34). So let's look at His record: He fulfilled every prophecy, gave us access into the Holiest of Holies so we could come directly into God's presence, secured our redemption, laid the foundation for the establishment of the New Testament church, set us free from the sting of death, hell and the grave and paved the way for the Holy Spirit to come into the world. He left nothing undone.
But work is always difficult, and Jesus' work, ending with death on the cross, may have been the most difficult of all. But the Bible says, "he became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). The excruciating pain of crucifixion was bad enough, but before that, Jesus had to suffer the agony of Gethsemane – the place where the burden of what He was going through became so unbearable, the Bible says his sweat became "as drops of blood" (Luke 22:44).
You may be going through your own Gethsemane right now, and, like Jesus your friends may have deserted you. Your burden seems too great for you to bear. The enemy keeps bringing up your past sins, past mistakes, past failures. He taunts you and makes you think you will never come out of your situation, but he is a liar and the father of lies. However, because of what Jesus did on the cross, you can shout "IT IS FINISHED!" Your hurts, disappointments, failures are nailed to the cross with Christ, your Redeemer. Gethsemane is behind you; Good Friday is over, Easter has come. The dawn of a new day awaits you. Shout for joy and give Him praise. Halleluiah!
Saturday, March 06, 2010
It might be safe to say that most people are aware of the earthquakes and temperature changes that have been taking place since the year began. Places that normally get a lot of snow are getting more than their fair share, while areas that may never see the white stuff are feeling the cold, nevertheless. The media even had fun tallying the number of states that experienced snowfall this year. They came up with forty-nine states. I'll let you figure out which one lucked out.
On a more serious note, I saw something in the news this week that made my pulses race. The report stated that "NASA scientists believe Chile's devastating earthquake may have speeded up the Earth's rotation and shortened the length of a day." However, the report was quick to add that no one would notice since the reduction was only by 1.26 microseconds of a day or one millionth of a second.
Okay. So we can stop truing to beat the clock. But wait! The report went on to say that the earth is not rigid, and any movements can cause it to wobble, as happened in Chile a few days ago and in Indonesia in 2004. The report again reassured us that there was no cause for concern, but said that "Using the same mathematical model as it used for Chile, the Nasa team had estimated the 9.1 Sumatran earthquake in 2004 would have shortened a day by 6.8 microseconds."
So there you have it. 1.26 microseconds here, 6.8 microseconds there, how much does that add up to? How many times have NASA scientists detected a slight reduction in our time and did not mention it? Not that it matters really. Because those of us who are Christians know what the Bible warns us about in the book of Matthew: "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved : but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (24:22).
I believe the Bible. I believe it is the infallible word of God. I believe that many of the prophecies proclaimed in the Bible have been and are being fulfilled right before our very eyes. So we do not have to be afraid. God loves us so much, He's shortening our days in order for us to be saved from the wrath to come. So it doesn't matter what the scientists say, although we respect them highly. All we have to do is what Jesus says: "look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21: 28).
Sunday, February 21, 2010
A sword is a weapon dating back to the time before Christ, but there is no documented evidence of exactly how or when it came about. However, the sword is highly respected as a lethal weapon, and is mentioned many times in the Old as well as the New Testament. But why would a holy book such as the Bible make mention of a weapon?
Ephesians 6: 17 refers to the "sword of the spirit" as the word of God.
How can the word of God be the "sword of the spirit?" When Satan went to tempt Jesus while he fasted in the wilderness, Jesus didn't have a physical sword. What he had was the word of God, and He used it with precision. His first response was, "It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
On Satan's second temptation, Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (v 8). And the third time, "It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" ( v 12). In these three examples, Jesus is referring to the logos, which, according to the Scofield Bible, is a Greek term meaning (1) a thought or concept; (2) the expression or utterance of that thought.
John 1: 1 states: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And in verse 14, Jesus is spoken of as the Word which "was made flesh and dwelt among us ..." Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
John, describing Jesus in the book of Revelations says, "In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance" (1:16).
So, friends, when we use the word of God in our spiritual warfare against the devil, we are employing the logos, the Being, Person and work of Christ himself. The devil can never stand up to that. Christ defeated him on the cross over two thousand years ago, and His Word is powerful still. When Jesus comes back to earth He will come with that double-edged sword in His mouth with which He will defeat the armies of the anti-christ.
Today, the sword as a weapon has grown obsolete, but it is still used in a sport called fencing. Fencers take great pride in their sport and in their swords, practicing religiously and keeping their swords in good working condition. As Christians we need to do the same. There is no point in keeping our Bibles locked away, only taking them out once a week when we go to church. We are in a constant battle, and we must know how to use our sword.
Is the enemy coming against you with sickness? Break out your sword. "With His stripes I am healed" (Isaiah 53:5); Are you suffering lack of some kind? "My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phillipians 4:19). Are you suffering from anxiety? "And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (v 7).
We have a very powerful weapon. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10: 4). NIV We must use our sword. That means getting into the word daily. Not once a week when the pastor reads it to us in church, but every day. Nowadays we have CDs that we can lisen to in our cars and we have the Bible on the internet. We can look up a verse during our lunch break. We need to become familiar with our sword, so when the enemy comes against us we won't retreat in fear. No, we'll take up our sword and run him through. Don't you feel powerful?
Sunday, February 14, 2010
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Today is the much celebrated Valentine's Day, a day that has its roots in Roman mythology. But love itself is no myth. Love is real and it does exist. Today also coincides with the Chinese New Year, which is also marked by the giving of gifts. Valentine's Day which first began, according to legend, with a jailed Catholic priest sending a love note to his lover, has now grown into a highly commercialized event.
In the days leading up to February 14, merchants do a brisk trade in chocolates, flowers, cards and other items, all designed to communicate feelings of love. Gifts will be exchanged, and this is all well and good. For me, if Valentine's Day and chocolates go hand in hand, then I would wish everyday was Valentine's Day. But whatever the gift, the sentiment behind it is what counts.
Which brings me to one of the meanings that Webster dictionary gives for the word 'love.' It is the 'unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the well being of another; the fatherly love of God for humankind.' And God showed His 'unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern' for us by giving His best gift - His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8) NIV.
Note carefully, while we were still sinners. The Bible does not say after we had repented, or after we came to love God. It says while we were still sinners. When we cared nothing about Him, when we didn't know He existed, while we were still dead in our sin, God loved us so much that He sent His son into the world to die for us.
Today, Valentine's Day, lovers will look to each other for gifts. We would hardly give a gift to someone who has been mean to us, or someone who is unaware of our existence. And when we give, we usually expect something in return. But all God wants is to save us from hell and destruction. His is agape love, the 'unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern' for our good.
And He doesn't ask for anything in return. Only that we accept His gift - beautifully wrapped in the person of His beloved Son Jesus Christ. If we accept, we get to go to the lavish banquet He's throwing one day in heaven, and live with Him in eternity. His is the gift that keeps on giving. Will you accept? Say 'yes' today.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had. We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it"( Genesis 37: 5).
Many of you may be familiar with the story of Joseph, the boy who had a dream. His brothers envy him because of his dreams which seem to foretell that he will one day rule over them. Worse, their father Israel favors him over them. Israel has made Joseph a special coat of many colors and this makes the brothers hate Joseph even more. At first they think about killing him, but Judah, one of the brothers, suggests they sell him to the Ishmaelites.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, the brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt (v 28).
Little do the brothers know that they are sending Joseph on the road to his destiny. But along the way, he will encounter many speed bumps. The Bible tells us that the Lord is with Joseph and he prospers in the house of his Egyptian master, who places him in charge of his household. But, look out, because here comes another bump.
Potiphar's wife has her lustful eyes on the handsome young man, and tries to entice him to sleep with her. But Joseph fears God and resists her charms. Then one day when no one else is around, the woman grabs his cloak and tries to force him into bed with her. Joseph runs, leaving his cloak in her hands.
Enraged, the woman tells her husband that Joseph tried to rape her. Bump! Joseph is thrown into prison. But guess what? God is with Joseph. The prison warden puts Joseph in charge of the prison. He is eventually released after he interprets a dream for Pharaoh.
Joseph tells Pharaoh that there will be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine in Egypt, and that Pharaoh should store up enough grain during the time of abundance so they will have enough for the lean years. So impressed is Pharaoh with Joseph's interpretation, he places him in charge of all Egypt.
Then Pharoah said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt" (41: 44).
And so Joseph finally reaches his destination. He has gotten over all the speed bumps the enemy placed in his path and is now head over Egypt. The famine begins. Joseph's brothers come to Egypt looking for food, and bow before him just as he had dreamed years ago.
There will always be obstacles in our path when we are trying to accomplish something. In Joseph's case, he had a dream that one day he would rule over his brothers. What is your dream? What speed bumps are blocking your path or slowing you down on the road to your destiny?
Notice that Joseph feared God throughout all his trials. He never turned his back on God and he never complained. When Potiphar's wife tempted him he said, "How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" (39: 9). That is the attitude we must have in the face of difficulty. Fear God, follow His commandments and He will eventually bring us into our divine destiny. God bless.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Sept 11, 2001 - New York City - People running wildly, their faces etched with fear and horror. They are running without any sense of diection in a desperate effort to escape the destruction that has come upon them.
Dec. 26, 2004 - Indonesia - People running, climbing trees, hiding under buildings their faces etched with fear and horror, as they try to escape the mountains of water that are coming their way.
Jan 12, 2010 - Haiti - People running while the ground collapses beneath them and buildings tumble around them, their faces etched with fear and horror.
These are just three of the scenes that are played out every time there is a major disaster similar to those mentioned above. What are these people running from, and what are they running to? When I wrote my blog on Sunday last about home and shelter, little did I realize that I would be dealing with this same topic this week in a different way.
The catastrophic events now unfolding in Haiti are a grim reminder of the temporary nature of our home here on this earth. It is just a shelter. The presidential palace was just a shelter. Its magnificent structure has been subjected to the wrath of the earthquake in the same way as the more modest shelters. Soon it will be broken up and carted away with the rest of the rubble.
Jesus warned, ""Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down" (Matthew 24:2) NIV. My friends, I throw out the call that I made last week: Let's go home. Let's not wait until disaster strikes to flock to the churches. They cannot save us. Let's go home to Jesus now.
In the preceding chapter He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (23:37). Jesus still wants to do that today. Are you willing? Will you run to Him? Don't put it off any longer. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)
As our prayers and tears flow with those of the people of Haiti, let us look at ourselves and think, if we were to die tomorrow, where would we end up? Will we be in a permanent, happy home, or a permanent home of torture? Let's pray: Dear Jesus, I have been stubborn, I have not paid heed to Your call to come home to You. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Make Your home in me and I will make my home in You, now and forever. Amen.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
When you think of home what image comes to your mind? Some place that is warm, cozy and inviting, filled with all the things you hold dear. A place where you can entertain friends and share God's blessings? Or is home a spot on a sidewalk somewhere, or under a bridge, or maybe, a shelter. For many people right here in America, that's what home is.
Home may be a reflection of one's personality, and I daresay, one's pocket book. But whether it's a simple structure like the others in your neighborhood, a magnificent, custom-built mansion or a box on the sidewalk, it is just a shelter. Temporary. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I think of Jonah sitting under a tree to see what would happen to Nineveh after he had preached to them. And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. (Jonah 4:6). NKJV But this was only temporary, for God took it away.
For me, the word shelter brings up another image. A place where you take temporary cover from the rain, storm, or the heat of the sun. But the psalmist David speaks of another kind of shelter. For You have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. Ps 61.3
And again in Psalms 18:2, he speaks of a different kind of structure: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Here we get a picture of durability, strength, dependability. Something or Someone that can hide us from our enemies and deliver us. Something that will always be there for us. It cannot be moved. Only by putting our trust in God can we find this kind of protection. Whether you are fortunate to have a place you can call home, you still need the kind of security that only God can provide. You cannot find it on your own, or look to the government for it. Neither should we become unduly attached to it, for we know it is just a shelter, something temporary. Instead we should look to one day inheriting that permanent home that is reserved for the saints of God.
As Paul says, "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens(2 Corinthians 5.1). He is