Tag: God’s grace

Now is the favorable time!

Scripture reading for September 23rd: 2nd Corinthians 6

Key Scriptures: 2nd Corinthians 6:1-4 “Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way:. . .”

Procrastination is a tool of Satan to keep people from the grace of God. Paul understood this as a faithful minister of the Gospel who had worked with God to spread the good news. Many hear but think that now is not yet the time. Tomorrow may be better and today has other possibilities. Paul set these believers straight by telling them about ‘today.’ Today is the only guarantee we have for this life on earth. Now is the best time to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord. It is the time of favor, the year of Jubilee, where God’s favor is available to all who will listen and receive God’s grace. But don’t receive His amazing grace in vain by letting obstacles keep you from the truth. Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers who will be an obstacle and their lifestyles that will lead you away from God. Behold, now is the favorable time!

2nd Corinthians 6:14-15 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”

Faith confession and prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing grace. Help me to proclaim the opportunity of ‘today’ and ‘now’ as I present the Gospel. Help me to declare Your truth and warn believers of obstacles to obtaining and keeping in the grace of God. I want to be separate from the world and it’s obstacles.

2nd Corinthians 6:16-18 “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will make My dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing: then I will welcome you; and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Tags : , , , ,

Reaching the next generation!

Scripture reading for August 7th:  Psalm 76-78, 2nd Corinthians 8

Key Scriptures: Psalm 78:4-7 “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.  He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep His commandments.”  

Sharing the Word of God and the history of God’s glorious deeds of salvation must be done to each generation.  It is like a relay race where the baton is passed to the next runner and again to the next until the race is completed.  It is easy to forget God.  Knowledge of God can quickly be dropped by failure to obey God and pass it on.  Each generation must take the baton and excel in passing it on.

2nd Corinthians 8:7 “But as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you–see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

Prayer:  Lord, I want the next generations to know the grace, love, and mighty deeds of our Lord Jesus.  Help me to excel in sharing with and reaching the next generation.  Amen.

Tags : , , , , ,

Thankful for God’s Presence!

Scripture reading for March 28th:  2nd Samuel 11-15

Key Scriptures:  2nd Samuel 15:25-26  “Then the king (David) said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city (Jerusalem).  If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, He will bring me back and let me see it and His dwelling place again.  But if He says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let Him do to me whatever seems good to Him.”  

King David was reaping what he had sowed, but he had confessed his sin with Bathsheba and was forgiven.  His own son was trying to take his throne and his closest adviser had betrayed him.  David valued God’s Presence, represented by the Ark of God.  He knew that the Ark belonged in Jerusalem and trusted God to bring him back there to be in His presence again.

Thankful for God’s Presence:  Jesus, God’s Son, through king David, prayed for His own return to God’s Presence!  “I have brought You glory by completing the work You gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify Me in Your Presence with the glory I had with You before the world began.”  (John 17:4-5)

Tags : , , , ,

God’s guidance in the storm at sea!

Scripture reading for June 11th:  Acts 27

After listening to Paul, King Agrippa stated that Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.  But because of that, he must go to Rome for trial.  They made arrangements and sent Paul and some other prisoners by ship to Rome.    They made it as far as Crete when contrary winds hindered their progress.  Storms often lashed the area during winter and Paul, by the Spirit, warned them against venturing further.   However, the Roman Centurion listened to the ship owner and pilot and ventured onward!

They had not sailed much further when a strong storm hit the ship.  The wind blew for many days and out of fear they threw much of the cargo overboard.  Most on board gave up any hope of being saved and quit eating food out of their despair.  Paul finally stood up and told them that they should have taken his earlier advice, but he had more if they would listen now.  “But now take courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.  Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar.; and God has graciously give you the lives of all who sail with you.”  (Acts 27:22-24)  This time, the Centurion listened to Paul.

As the storm progressed, they knew that the ship was approaching land.  Some soldiers tried to lower life-boats and escape themselves.  Paul warned that they would not survive if they left the ship.  The Centurion cut the ropes!  Paul ate some food and encouraged others to do so as well!  They all survived following the ‘prisoner’s’ advice!  God’s will will be done!

 

Tags : , , , , ,

“Jesus, please leave!”

Scripture reading for October 16th: Mark 4-7

We who love Jesus can’t envision asking Him to depart from us or leave our town.  We would invite Him to stay with us as long as possible to enjoy His companionship.  Jesus wants to come and be with us as well, for He came to earth to seek out and save lost people.  (Luke 19:10)

After ministering to a crowd all day, Jesus told His disciples that they should go to the other side of the lake.  Jesus got in the stern, found a cushion and went to sleep.  It had been a hard day and He was tired!  As they crossed the lake in the night, a furious wind arose that threatened to swamp the boat.  The disciples excitedly woke Jesus, pleading for help.  Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and a calm suddenly fell upon them. He chastened them for their fear and lack of faith.  (Mark 4:35-41)

When they got across the lake, a man with an evil spirit came from a graveyard to meet Jesus.  He had chains on his hands and feet.   The man’s name was “Legion” because of the large number of demons in him.  Jesus rebuked the evil spirits and sent them into a herd of pigs as they requested.  The swine ran over a steep bank, tumbled into the lake and drowned.  Nearly two thousand pigs died!

The man was delivered, set free from the bondage, and in his right mind!  (Mark 4:14-17)   The people of the region, who depended on the pigs for their sustenance, were terrified and angry.  They came to Jesus and asked Him to leave their region.  Mark recorded that Jesus got into the boat to leave, and the delivered man asked to come along.  Jesus sent him back to tell his family of what the Lord had done for him and then departed.

Jesus loves and cares for His own disciples.  He’s always with us, even when we think He might be sleeping or unaware!  And Jesus loves to go out of His way to find someone who needs help.  He came to seek and save the lost!  He will go through water, storm, and forces of hell to reach a needy soul.  But those who are into themselves are threatened by Jesus’ presence.  They asked Him to leave!

Tags : , , , , ,

God shows no favorites!

Scripture reading for July 14th: Romans 2:1-23

So all men are without excuse.  All have been given a basic knowledge of God’s power and nature through the creation we live in. When we look at others and judge them, we must realize that we are no different ourselves.  We have not responded to truth as we should either.  It is only the kindness and goodness of God that has led us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  (Romans 2:4)

In this section, Paul is making the case that God shows no partiality.  Jew and Gentile alike must come to Him by faith for their righteousness.  No one can work their way into God’s grace!  God has given the Jew His law, and they will be judged by their failure to keep that law.  God wrote the law on the hearts of the Gentiles and their consciences help them to know right and wrong behavior.  (Romans 2:12-15)  Indeed, God will judge all men and their secrets through His Son Jesus Christ on a day He has chosen!  (Romans 2:16)  (Acts 17:31)

For those who would not repent, their own stubbornness and unrepentant hearts were storing up wrath for them on the day of God’s wrath.  (Romans 2:6)  God will judge evil deeds and those who reject the truth.  Jews will be judged as well as Gentiles.  Jews, in fact, were more responsible because of God’s law.  They should have know clearly what God required because it was clearly spelled out in God’s law.  Yet, knowing and obeying are different!  It is easy to judge others and still be disobedient yourself.  Paul encouraged the Jew to recognize their own need of grace and repentance to avoid the wrath of God!  (Romans 2:21-23)

As we look at this passage, we should examine our own hearts.  Do we judge others while remaining in sin ourselves?  Today is a good day to repent and ask God for mercy!  Do we claim to be righteous because we are Christians, yet live in a state of breaking God’s laws?  These laws are now written on our hearts and we have the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and godly sorrow enabling repentance!  God will not and does not show favorites!  God has an appointed day of judgment when all secrets will come to light!  He won’t show any favorites!

Tags : , , , ,

Watch Out for Wolves!

Scripture reading for November 13th: Acts 19-20

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.  Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” (Acts 20:25-27)   Paul was about to leave the church he had spent nearly two years building up.  He loved those there and knew he would not see them again.  He was headed for Jerusalem and had been warned that prison and hardships would be in his future.  The one thing that comforted him was that he had presented the whole will of God to these people.  He had not held back anything that God had laid on his heart.  As far as it concerned the preacher, he was innocent of their blood!  They were accountable for what they had been told!

There was one other warning that God laid on this pastor’s heart for the leaders.  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  For I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  Be on your guard!” (Acts 20:28-31a)

It is God’s church and the Holy Spirit installs leadership!  Shepherds are to remember that the flock was bought with the Master’s own blood and is precious to Him!  The shepherds and overseers must be watchful because Satan is always after God’s sheep.  Satan’s helpers may look like sheep, but are really savage wolves.  Paul warned that these wolves would come from within the body, drawing disciples away from the true shepherds.  They would distort the truth and deceive some of the sheep if the shepherd was not watchful!

As a watchful pastor, I know that this warning is especially true for these last days that we live in.  Distorted doctrines abound which some deceptive people within the body of Christ use to draw people away from truth.  Many are after followers and financial support and use ear-tickling teaching to pad their accounts.  Discernment and watchful shepherds are sorely needed!

Tags : , , , , ,

Youth and Leadership

Scripture reading for May 3rd: 2nd Chronicles 33-36

The Chronicles are filled with records of the kings of Israel and Judah.  Each record usually begins with a note about the age of the king when he took office and a general comment about whether he did good or evil.  Manasseh was only 12 years old when he began his reign and Josiah was only 8 years old.  Manasseh did evil and Josiah did what was right and good.

Manasseh was the son of a good king, Hezekiah.  Manasseh was born to king Hezekiah later in his life after God miraculously spared his life and gave him 15 more years.  Hezekiah had torn down the idol temples and humbly tried to walk with the Lord but Manasseh undid much of his father’s reform and took the nation away from God.  He worshiped the starry host of heaven and even offered his children to these worthless idols.  (2nd Chronicles 33:3-6)

God tried to speak to Manasseh but because he refused to listen, he was taken in captivity to Babylon.  Manasseh did cry out to the Lord there and God had mercy on him.  He was restored to Jerusalem where he removed some of the idols he had erected and tried to restore the Lord’s altar.  He failed to teach his own sons. One of them, Amnon, succeeded his father and did evil without repentance.

Josiah was one of the youngest kings and one of the best.  He sought the Lord early in his reign and purged Jerusalem of idols and images.  (2nd Chronicles 34:3-7)  He set out to repair the temple, collecting funds to pay the workers and do the repairs.  While repairing the temple, the priest Hilkiah, found the Book of the Law that had been lost and neglected.  When Josiah heard the word of God, he humbled himself and sought prophetic help.  Huldah, the prophetess, told the king of the anger of God aroused because of the unfaithfulness of his people and their disobedience to His commands.  Josiah led the people to renew their covenant with the Lord.

These two kings took opposite paths.  Their youth was not the main factor in their walk with God.  Their heart to follow God and obey His word determined God’s verdict concerning their lives.  What will He write about us?

Tags : , , , ,

The Blessing of God

Scripture reading for February 12th: Numbers 5-8

Everybody wants to be blessed!  The Amplified Bible’s expanded meaning of “to be blessed” is ” happy, to be envied, ” .  Blessed people have good things coming their way.  They enjoy an abundance and their lives are filled with joy and peace.  This peace is beyond circumstances and permeates the soul and heart.  In our reading for today, we find the Aaronic blessing that God instructed Aaron to speak over His people so that God could put His Name on them and bless them.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”  “So they will put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”  (Numbers 6:24-27)

One of the blessings mentioned here is being kept safe by the Lord.  God is a refuge for His people and an ever-present help in time of trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)  The Lord is all-powerful and has the ability to stop any attack on His people.  He promises protection to all who are set apart for Him.

A sign of God’s blessing is His smiling face!  Isn’t it great to know that God can smile and is happy with you!  One way that we can make God smile is to walk in faith.  Faith is a prerequisite for pleasing God. (Hebrews 11:6)  When our Father is happy with us His children, we know His grace will flow to us.  Grace is His unmerited favor sending more than we deserve our way.

It is interesting that this blessing comes right after the description of the Nazirite vow that could be taken by one who voluntarily wanted to consecrate himself to the Lord for a set period of time.  This Nazirite vow speaks of Jesus Christ, who as known as a Nazarene, for his original home town of Nazareth.  Jesus voluntarily set Himself apart to fully obey God, His Father.  Jesus offered Himself fully as a sin offering for all of us.  Because of His faithfulness, and by faith in Him we can enjoy better than the Aaronic blessing!  We have open access to God’s throne by Jesus’ blood.  We can come before Him and know His smile of pleasure and His joy is in us.  His gracious gift of eternal life is ours forever!  We will see His face one day!

Tags : , , , , ,

The Kinsman-Redeemer!

Scripture reading for March 16: Ruth 1-4

The story of Ruth is set in the time of Judges between 40-100 years before the time of David (1000 BC).  This simple story unfolds as a famine forces  an Israelite family to leave Israel for Moab.  Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, stay in Moab.   Nothing good appears to happen to them there.  The husband dies. Both sons marry Moabite girls and then they die as well.  Naomi is left bitter and ready to return to her land and people. The daughters-in-law are left with a choice to make.

Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to go on back to their own people.  She is too old to have more sons for them to marry.  Orpah goes on back.  Ruth, the other daughter-in-law, clings to her mother-in-law and makes a beautiful confession of devotion and faith.  (Ruth 1:16-17)  Ruth is ready to follow Naomi and Naomi’s God until death!  What conviction and faith are exhibited by this descendant of Lot!

Choices have consequences.  In choosing to go to the land of Israel, Ruth would have been an alien and would not have had an inheritance or a people to take her in.  She would have had to rely on God’s grace and try to help her older mother-in-law to live.  There was no welfare or jobless benefits.  Those that did not work, did not eat.  Ruth began to glean fields.  The law in Israel left the corners of the fields and the grain that was dropped for the orphan and widow. (Deuteronomy 24:19)  She would work as she could and get food for her family.  God’s divine providence placed Ruth in the field of Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s.  Boaz was also a descendant of Rahab, the harlot that hid the spies! 

Because of her hard work and humble spirit and her choice to stay with Naomi, Ruth’s good reputation was spread around.  Boaz heard about her and showered her with favor. (Ruth 2:11-12)   In Israel, the closest relative to a widow had the right to buy the widow’s property and also to take the widow and continue the family line.  Boaz was in that line.  He was a possible “kinsman redeemer”.  Boaz responded to Ruth’s humble appeal, purchased the field, and took her as his wife!  Both Boaz and Ruth are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ! (Matthew 1:5-6)

Jesus Christ is our “kinsman-redeemer”.  He is a “close relative” who has bought us back from slavery to sin.  When we humbly appeal to Him in faith, He will surely make the transaction for us as well!  Ruth is a type of Gentile bride for Jesus Christ.  When we closely read this beautiful story, we get a glimpse into the heart of God and Jesus Christ!  Thank the Lord for being our “Kinsman-Redeemer”!

“Who are you?” he asked.  “I am your servant Ruth,” she said.  “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9)

Tags : , , , , , ,