TRUST

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. —Ephesians 3:20-21

I finished the year by reading a book by Naeem Fazal and by doing some reflection. My youngest daughter, Hannah, gave me the book for Christmas. One thing that was mentioned in the book was this statement: “Has there ever been a time when you trusted Jesus more than you are trusting Him at this moment.” It is a thought provoking statement. If there was a time when I trusted Jesus in the past more than I am trusting Him in the moment, why is that?

Am I trusting in myself and not relying on the Holy Spirit of God? If so, then there will be nothing good that comes out of that. Do I think that what was first accomplished by grace now can be accomplished by works? That is hardly the case! Am I reading His Word but go on my way without applying what He says to me? This would be self-deception. Do I seek glory, recognition or reputation for myself? This would be prideful. Is there anything in my life right now that is keeping me from trusting Jesus more now than I ever have in the past? Will my trust in Him grow more and more? If self gets in the way… it will not.

What does Jesus want to do in and through my life for the rest of my life? Am I truly open to that or do I put limits on my obedience to Him? So I seek comfort more that commitment? Questions, questions and more questions that I need to reflect on.

Dear Father, truly I do want to be all that You want me to be in the authority of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power. Oh, that I would yield to Your will. May it be so!

BORN WITH A PURPOSE

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. —Luke 2:8-11

“Born to Be Wild” is a throw-back song which speaks about living for self and doing what one wants. It is about living for pleasure and never wanting to die. I find it interesting that this song mentions both birth and death. But the sad thing about this song is it, like so many songs and movies man devises, only focuses on the temporal and material.

There was another whose birth announcement to shepherds included also the work He would do though death. He is our Savior and would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:32). He would be a sin offering for us (II Corinthians 5:21). Instead of being born to live for self and the temporal, Jesus was born to live and die for others as He was focused on the eternal. The main “reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:8). He did this through his death that “he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15). “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:17).

You were born with a purpose. Fellow follower of Jesus, He caused you to be born-again into the family of God. You are a child of the King and He has purpose for your life. Now the question is this: Are you focused on the eternal or the temporal, the spiritual or the material? Is the life you are living the life He desires for You— What impact are you making for Him as you live for Him? That which you do for Him should flow out of your relationship with Him. Are you focused on the His will or your will? May it be His!

Dear Father, may I focus on those things that are important to You and not be caught up in those temporal things that mean nothing and are only passing away. Be pleased to focus me on those things You would have me focused on and do these in the Name of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit’s power. Yes, may this be so!

RUN!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1-2

Carry a 20 pound weight while you are running or swimming and see how that extra weight hinders your progress compared to not having it. Walk through an area that is full of vines and your feet will become entangled. Much more progress can be made without the extra weight or the impeding vines.

What is it that is weighing you down or entangling you so that you are not running the race God has mapped out for you? Do you know what the race is that God has laid out for you? What does it include? Are you being obedient to what you know He desires? Are you getting to know the Lord more and more? Are you utilizing the gifts and abilities He has given You for His honor and glory? Are you keeping your eyes fixed on Him? Are you persevering in His race that He has set out for you?

In the “race” laid out for Jesus He had to endure being rejected by His own creation, be beaten by His own creation and be crucified by His own creation. He endured all this for the joy beyond His “race.” He sat down at the right hand of God at its conclusion. At the conclusion of our race we will be in heaven with Him and all who love Him. ”However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Whatever the Apostle Paul was doing in life he wanted to share the gospel.

Another race marker is approaching fast. The year 2015 is almost upon us and we will be leaving 2014 soon. Let us look back at what the Lord has done in and through our lives to this point and consider what He desires to do in and through it during 2015.

Dear Father, may I be wise in living for You, doing You will in the authority of Your Son, Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. May I finished the 2014 portion of the race well and do so in the year 2015 and for however longer the race is for me. May it be so!

IN HIS TIME!

There is a time for everything… —Ecclesiastes 2:1

He has made everything beautiful in its time. —Ecclesiastes 2:11

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. — Romans 8:28

Wars, crimes, sickness, earthquakes, corruption, fires, tears, death, mourning… Headlines are filled with the difficulties of the human race. The world has shed oceans of tears as hearts have ached through the painful realities life brings at times. You know the heartache I speak about. All people go through it— some more than others.

There surely is a time for everything whether we like it or not. If we had the opportunity to write the script for our lives, how differently would we write it? Wouldn’t we leave all the difficult parts out? Yet, as hard as our lives may be at times, somehow the Lord God Almighty will bring beauty out of it in His timing. We cannot understand how that can be only as we look at examples He has given us in His Word or from experiences He has brought us or others through where we have seen the good and beauty He has brought out of it.

Yet for much of what happens in our lives that is difficult we may never know in this life how He is making it beautiful or working it out for our good. This is where we will either trust His Word fully or whether doubts will rise up in our hearts.

I was talking with a man in prison recently who was telling me about a situation that occurred in his life when he was eighteen years old. Now, 22 years later he is serving a few years for that inappropriate choice, but he has lost everything material thing because of it— his home, his well established business… everything. He was asking me how God could bring anything good out of it.

The first thing I ask was whether God would have gotten his attention if he was not in prison. “No, probably not,” he said. Then there is one beautiful thing that has happened that we can know. He brought you into an eternal love relationship that will never end! The man smiled. Then we talk at length about Joseph’s life and how the Lord God Almighty brought about some amazing things in his life, but not without much difficulty. Joseph was faithful whatever situation he found himself in. We need to be faithful and trust God to work out what He desires in our lives in His time… not ours. A grand smile engulfed his face as the truth of God’s Word encouraged him. God is not hindered from carrying out what He desires in our lives. He will do it.

Are you feeling like God cannot bring anything good out of your situation? That is only a feeling and it is a wrong one. If you have truly trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, then He will work all things in our life, yes all things, for good. He will make all things beautiful in His time. He is the only one who can do it! Be faithful and trust Him!

Dear Father, thank You that there are reasons for everything that happens in our lives. Help me to trust You when I don’t understand and when I do understand. I am grateful to know that You know how all things are working together for my good and that You are doing something beautiful that I cannot fully comprehend. But I am thankful to know that You are working these things together for good, that You are making these things beautiful. I am grateful to know this!

THE LOVE OF LIGHT

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. —Genesis 1:1

The Lord is my light… —Psalm 27:1

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. —Psalm 119:105

…I am the light of the world. —John 9:5

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. —Revelation 21:23

Sunrises bring joy as light arises on the earth. Seeing the light of the stars and moon at night causes the heart to be glad. We rejoice in seeing the sun shining bright especially after a period of dreary overcast with drizzling rain. We love the light the sun offers us.

Light was the first thing God created. The Lord Himself is light and so is His Word. Jesus told us that He was the Light of the world. When this earth passes away and everything is made new there will be no need for sun and moon because God Himself will provide the light.

In this world there is nothing like walking on a beautiful sandy beach with the sun shining brightly, walking at the warm water’s edge with a cool, gentle breeze coming off the water. But even a paradise island does not even come close to what heaven is like. Heaven will be perfect.

May we bask in the Light we are given through the Lord Jesus now and look forward to the beauty of heaven. Jesus will be there and all who love Him. This is a place that will far beyond the imagination of those who dream of a utopia. Fellow follower of Jesus, heaven is our home. That is where we are headed. Rejoice!

Dear Father, what a joy just to ponder what it will be like in heaven. Thank You that You made this possible through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. I am grateful that He was willing to come to earth, be born as a baby, allow His own creation to reject, beat and crucify him, but then rise from the grave— proving Himself to be Your Son. May I live faithfully for Him out of the gratitude of my heart.

THE GREATEST GIFT EVER!

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

Are you a giver or a taker? Do you like to receive or do you like to give away? Our culture in the U.S. is becoming a population of recipients of the government. “We’ve Crossed The Tipping Point; Most Americans Now Receive Government Benefits” http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2014/07/02/weve-crossed-the-tipping-point-most-americans-now-receive-government-benefits/. People are becoming more dependent on the government. I heard of a sign in a mid-west park that read “Don’t feed the bears. They become dependent on you.”

Yet most Americans, and people in the world, have not received the greatest benefit available to them— the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. We are in the Christmas season which is all about Jesus, but America is becoming more hostile toward Christianity. There are the historical revisionists who deny that Christianity was prominent in the founding of this country. The historical documents and monuments speak for themselves that this was the case. But people look to push Christ even out of Christmas. Well, God’s plan will go forward regardless of man’s feeble attempts to derail it.

God gave us His Son, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, born to die for our sin that we could be saved from hell to a relationship with God through Jesus. There is no greater gift than eternal life through Jesus and a relationship with Him. People dream of a utopia. It does not exist on this planet. But the perfect place does exist and that is where those who trust Jesus will be— heaven.

This is one entitlement we should take. This is one benefit we should grab hold of. This is one gift we should receive— the gift of Jesus and life through Him— eternal life. He is the one we should be dependent on!

Thank You, dear Father for giving me the greatest gift any person can receive— the gift of Your Son. Out of the gratitude of my heart may I faithfully serve Him for the rest of my life. Yes, I do look forward to being in heaven with Jesus and all who love Him. What a day that will be and if will last forever!

THE GREATEST TEACHER

The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. —Isaiah 50:4

Long bus rides to school during the bleak months of cold winters were not among my favorite things to do as a youth. Neither were the long walks to school when it was so cold the nostrils of the nose would stick together. But as much as those things were not my favorite things to do, school was even lower on the list.

But today I enjoy spending time with the greatest Teacher ever, the Lord God Almighty. He is the ultimate instructor and prepares me to apply to life what He has told me. His Word is to be listened to and then I will ready to serve Him for the day. There needs to be consistency “morning by morning” to be ready for the work He has for me in the day ahead. There is expectation when meeting with the Lord and listening to Him. He has something for me that day. Oh that I would be prepared and sensitive to what it is.

How consistent are you in your time with the Lord Jesus? Are you spending regular time with Him, listening to what He has to say in His Word and pondering how He would have you apply those words for the day? It is said of Peter and John that “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). A well instructed disciple of Jesus will be spending time with Him. May we be faithful in doing so!

Years ago I heard a man give testimony of how he had read the Bible through 80 times. That testimony coupled together with the above verse encouraged to me to do the same. God’s Word is His “love letter” to us. May we read and heed with great joy and faithfulness.

Dear Father, thank You for speaking to us today through Your Word. May we be faithful listeners and appliers of Your Word. May this be so in the Holy Spirit’s power and by the Name of Jesus.

Created!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. —Genesis 1:1

Have you ever seen something create itself from nothing? Imagine if I told you that a car, a house, a milk bottle or an asphalt road created itself out of nothing. If I were absolutely sincere in this you might think I was a lunatic. But, people believe that everything around us that we see that is not man-made came into existence of itself or by itself. Now that is insane.

God’s Word is clear that He is the One who created all things. People can deny it or reject this, but that is the fact of the matter. To believe that “nature” created itself is as much as a fairy tale as the Easter Bunny. Why is it with so much obvious evidence that people cling to the blind faith of creation coming into existence out of nothing from nothing by nothing? It is because they do not want to bow the knee to the Creator, the Lord God Almighty, who created the heavens and earth and all that we see and do not see. Oh, may they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ!

Dear Father, as the gospel of Your Son, Jesus, goes forth today be pleased to touch hearts that they would come to an understanding as to who Jesus is and what He has done for them. May it be so!

ASTOUNDING!

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. —Philippians 2:5-8

People get into power positions and for many there is the tendency to use their position for their own advantage. They manipulate laws and people to reinforce their own power structure. These type people are far more concerned with themselves than with the interests of others. The last thing they see themselves as is a servant. No, they see themselves as some type of ruler that others should serve and that their interests are always the most import, not those of others.

How different is the attitude of those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ? We are to be like Him. Let’s consider Him. Think of all creation as a small box and that Jesus existed outside that box as well as being involved inside the box. The time came when He poured all He is in eternity into that box, into His creation, into planet earth, into Israel, into the virgin’s womb in Nazareth, into the baby’s bodily birth in Bethlehem— the eternal God veiled in flesh. He who is all power came as a powerless baby. He who is worthy to be served by all came as a servant. He who is Judge of all was judged to death by Pilate. He who was sinless became the sacrifice for sinners. He who is the author of life died a horrible death. He who was dead rose to life never to die again because death had no hold on Him. Our attitude should be like that of Jesus.

How great is His love for us? He poured His eternity into a body that He might live among us, be rejected by most, be beaten by some and then die a wretched death on the cross for our sins and not for anything that He had done. This perfect Son of God, Creator and sustainer of all things allowed His Creation to crucify Him so that as many as trusted His finished work on the cross could be in eternity with Him! Now… how amazing is that!

Dear Father, my mind is overwhelmed with the truth of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. All of this because of love. Oh, that many more would come to this realization of who You are and the wondrous things you have done!

BURDENS LIFTED

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

I was on a mission trip back in the early 90’s and one of the fellows that was on the team reminded me of a blond hair version of Elvis Presley. He look just like him, sang just like him, but had thick sandy blond hair. He loved to sing this song while playing his guitar— Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary by John M. Moore.
VERSE 1:
Days are filled with sorrow and care

Hearts are lonely and drear;

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Jesus is very near

CHORUS:

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Calvary Calvary

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Jesus is very near

VERSE 2:

Cast your care on Jesus today

leave your worry and fear

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Jesus is very near

VERSE 3:

Troubled soul, the Savior can see

Ev’ry heartache and tear;

Burdens are lifted at Calvary

Jesus is very near

What is it that is tearing at your mind today? Is there something that is pulling your mind in different directions? Does your mind feel like it is being tugged in opposite way? Look to the cross and remember what Jesus has done for you. Take your burdens to Him in prayer. Have a thankful heart and then we are told in the verses above that we can have the peace of God— a peace that God gives and that peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That peace will guard our emotions and thinking process. Oh, may you have that peace today!

Dear Father, thank You for the peace that You offer us. May we take everything to You, having thankful hearts so that Your peace will guard our emotions and thinking. Please help us not to carry these burdens, but to take them to You. Thank You that You are willing to take them off our shoulders and give us Your peace!