Monthly Archives: August 2012
By: D. Egner
The best correspondents for Life magazine were sent all over the world to ask the question, “What is the meaning of life?” They talked to philosophers and children, taxi drivers and Nile River boatmen. More than 100 premier photographers provided images.
One dramatic photograph of a lighthouse off the Brittany Coast caught my eye. A huge Atlantic storm had sent gigantic waves around the mammoth brick structure, nearly swallowing it up. But on the sheltered side, literally surrounded by frothing, boiling waves, stood the lighthouse keeper. He was looking casually toward shore, his hands stuck nonchalantly in his pockets, as enormous waves crashed around him.
This powerful illustration reminded me of the many fierce storms of trial we face in life. And I was grateful for the promise that in God we are as safe as that lighthouse keeper. The words of Isaiah 25:4 are true for every believer: God is our refuge during the storms of physical affliction, emotional turmoil, and spiritual attack. With His protection we can endure any trial with the calm assurance that He who shields us cannot be moved. And that gives us peace no matter how turbulent our circumstances.
I trust in God, I know He cares for me
On mountain bleak or on the stormy sea;
Though billows roll, He keeps my soul;
My heavenly Father watches over me. —Martin
The Lord may calm the storm around you, but more often He’ll calm the storm within you.
By: R. Weeks
A young student once asked his old teacher, ‘Teacher, what is the true measure of greatness?’ The teacher looked far away into the mountains and gave the following reply:
- Some measure greatness in height and weight, but great people are never so tall as when they stoop to talk to a child or bend their knees to help a hurting friend.
- Some measure greatness in physical strength, but great people are never so strong as when they shoulder the burden of the downtrodden stranger.
- Some measure greatness in terms of financial gain, but those who show generosity to their family and friends, they are the ones who are truly rich.
- Some measure greatness in applause and accolades, but those who seek opportunity to serve in the quiet places of the world, theirs is the higher reward.
- Some measure greatness in commitment to achieving in material ways, but those who spur others on to reach their goals is great indeed.
- Great people have vision and do not keep the truth to themselves.
- Great people have passion for life and are not ashamed to show it.
- Great people expect the best from others and give the best of themselves.
- Great people know how to work and how to play, how to laugh and how to cry, how to give and how to receive, how to love and how to be loved.
There are many people who are by the world called great, but those who bear honour in their hearts, who can, in the evening hours, lie upon their beds and peacefully close their eyes, knowing that they have done all that is within their power to live their lives fully, faithfully, and fruitfully, those are truly great people.
By: V. Burke
One small stone from David slew the giant Goliath who was in full battle gear. We, too, have stones with which to slay the giants harassing and intimidating us in our lives. Stones that still kill giants — each stone a reminder from the Spirit of biblical principles we can apply in our lives.
1. For the Giant GUILT, you need the stone that says, YOU ARE CLEAN. Satan’s job is to accuse and hurl charges against us. He makes us carry the heavy yoke of guilt to drag us down. When we get stained by sin, we need to humble ourselves and plead guilty before God. Jesus comes to our defense, with a show of hands as evidence that He bore the punishment we deserved. By Christ’s blood, we have been washed clean.
Having been justified by Christ, the verdict reads: “NOT GUILTY,” just as it is written: “And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). These words are from, “Jesus the faithful witness….to Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” (Revelation 1:6). And this silences our accuser.
2. For the Giant COMPROMISE, you need the stone that says, SEEK HIM FIRST. There are voices other than the Holy Spirit that would seek to direct our lives. And to take up that giant of compromise we need the stone that says put Jesus first. So as not to fall into the same pattern as the unbelievers do, we need to remind ourselves that we are in the world but not of the world.
We are soldiers in Christ’s service and therefore, our duty is to please our Commanding Officer (2 Timothy 2:4). When we put God above all else and put to death those desires that cause us to compromise, God will satisfy our legitimate needs, including wants that are aligned to His will. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
3. For the Giant CONFUSION, you need the stone that says, GOOD AND HARD. Many end up confused and disillusioned because they thought life would be problem-free once they become Christians. No one said it was going to be easy. Not even Christ promised that. Rather, we are told, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…” (1 Peter 4:12).
We must accept the reality that, yes, there are joys, but there are also sorrows. There are good times, and there are also hard times. There are battles, but there is victory. Having Christ in our lives does not mean the absence of storms, but it means having Christ with us in the midst of the storms.
Both good and bad blend together in harmony toward what God wants to accomplish in and through us. What seems like adversity can become a blessing for the glory of God. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
4. For the Giant FAILURE, you need the stone that says, DON’T LOOK BACK. The past has a way of paralyzing us. We must learn from the past but not be controlled by the past. We must leave the past behind, and move on. Past failures, past successes, past grief, past glory – these are things that need to be removed from our memory bank. So goes an Irish saying, “Never forget what is worth remembering and never remember what is best forgotten.”
Turning our eyes on Jesus will get us past yesterday’s failures and set our sights ahead toward a glorious future. As Paul said, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
5. For the Giant DISCOURAGEMENT, you need the stone that says… NEVER GIVE UP! The fierce battles and disheartening situations can take their toll on us. They can weaken and bring us to the point of weariness and despair.
But God will give us the strength to keep going, as Isaiah 40:30-31 encourages: “Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
We can cling tightly to God’s hand and hold firmly to His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Following Jesus’ example, we must endure the hardships in life, never giving in to the pressures and never giving up on our purpose. As long as we fix our eyes on Jesus, He will carry us through the race till the finish line.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1a-2).
Sharing Christ is what we must keep on doing even in the most trying times.
If God is for us, who can be against us? Like David, we may be outsized and be carrying nothing more than stones into the battlefield, but these are the very stones that will strike our enemy down. Use them we must!
By: R. Sarthou
It should not make us mad when people say we are fools for Christ. But when we hear derogatory remarks like, “Why is he like that? Isn’t he a born-again Christian?” then it may be that we have a part in giving Christianity a bad name.
In advertising, the “before and after” technique is used to show the effects of a product as its selling point. But if a dirty shirt, after being washed by what is promoted as a “powerful” detergent, does not look any different, would consumers buy that detergent?
In the same way, when people look at our lives, do they see the difference that Jesus makes? Will they be attracted to the Savior we speak of? Is there a difference that people can clearly see?
We need to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our lives and ask, “Lord, is there something that is getting in the way of my being a witness for You?” It is the Holy Spirit that makes us M.A.D. — that stands for “MAKE A DIFFERENCE”. We are in this world to make a difference for the glory of God, and it is the Holy Spirit who will empower us to do it. We can make a difference because:
1. We are APPOINTED to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples…You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (John 15:8, 16).
Jesus said we are appointed to make a difference. He called us to be the salt of the earth and as such we are to give people a taste of who Jesus is and what He is like through our lives, through our witness, and through our testimony. He said that we are the light of the world, and as such we are to radiate the character of Jesus in our lives (Matthew 5:13-16). Hence, the distinction that sets us apart as God’s appointees is a transformed life that makes a positive influence on others.
Christianity is more than just avoiding sins or going through life quietly. It is about creating an impact by our wise ways and kind, gracious speech, through which Christ is properly represented, thus giving justice to our assignment as His ambassadors. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
When people see how we make decisions, how we behave wherever we are, at work or at home, do we make a difference? Are we able to make an impact even in seemingly small things?
2. We are EMPOWERED to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. The wonderful thing about the Christian life is that not only does the Lord say, “Go out and make a difference, make disciples and share the gospel”, He gives us the power to do so. He does not leave us on our own because He knows, like sheep, we are helpless without Him.
Our sinful flesh is in constant conflict with the Spirit in us. We lust for things that are not in harmony with what the Holy Spirit wants (Galatians 5:16-17). Hence, we need to live by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit moment-by-moment, to keep us from gratifying the desires of our sinful nature. By constantly seeking God’s direction and wisdom, by praying without ceasing on every occasion, and making confession and repentance as part of our daily conversations with God, we are placing ourselves under the power of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to make a difference in this world.
3. We are PRIVILEGED to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Having the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – is one reason we are privileged as Christians.
When we experience times of pain and difficulty and yet by the power of the Holy Spirit, we manifest the fruit of the Spirit in response, then clearly we make a difference for the glory of God. Christian living does not mean the absence or the removal of problems from life. It means the experience of the fruit of the Spirit in spite of difficult circumstances that may come our way.
How we successfully cope sends a powerful message about Christianity, making others want what we have. The Gospel is, therefore, advanced, and Christ is made known.
“If being a Christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence in your life for a conviction?” We are in the world to MAKE A DIFFERENCE for the glory of God, and it is the Holy Spirit who will make it happen. How can we, in our own lives, counter the negative impressions about Christians and create a positive impact for Christ?
Paul exhorts, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).
By: P. Tan-chi
The sheep is the most defenseless of all animals. Left untended, it cannot fend for itself. It lacks the ability to source food and water. Easily attracted by surrounding sights, it is prone to wander off and fall into crannies. In many respects, we are so much like sheep.
Psalm 23 is a striking, poignant metaphor of what a shepherd does for his sheep. In our helpless state, the Lord has come to be our Good Shepherd. He takes care of us as our Good Shepherd when we have a personal relationship with Him.
The Lord provides. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (v. 1). It is the shepherd’s job to look for food and water for the sheep.
The Lord is Jehovah Jireh who makes sure we are provided with all our needs. For anyone who has the Lord to shepherd him, no good thing shall he lack, for the Lord provides. If earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, how much more our Father in heaven who owns everything and cares so much for us to withhold what we need.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (v. 2a). The shepherd looks for ideal pasture land that the sheep may graze on it. After a satisfying meal, the sheep lies down to rest on a bed of fresh, green grass.
We are where we are because God put us there. But we need to have the readiness to leave and go elsewhere as the Lord deems fit. If we think we’re comfortable and contented where we are now, the Lord may have greener pastures for us. So where He leads, we must follow, otherwise we will be missing out on God’s best. God knows what’s best for us and will take care of every detail of our lives.
The Lord guides. “He leads me beside quiet waters” (v. 2b). The shepherd guides the sheep to a calm pool of water for a refreshing drink.
Taking time out of our busy schedule to be alone with God will give us the refreshment we need. He brings us to a place of stillness so we may see His face and drink from His life-giving Word.
“He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (v. 3). Because of the stupid, stubborn nature of the sheep, shepherds sometimes resort to breaking the legs of the sheep to keep it from repeatedly going astray. Yet the shepherd also binds up the broken leg and nurses the sheep until it is completely healed.
Our Shepherd does not only take care of our physical needs; He is also after our spiritual welfare. The Lord accepts us “as is, where is.” However, He will not allow us to remain the way we are. God is in the business of restoration. When we fall, He picks us up. When we get dirty, He washes us clean. His forgiveness is available to those who humble themselves.
The Lord’s holy name shall be honored. He will deal with our stubbornness through His discipline as a father who does not spare the rod so as not to spoil the child. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:5-6).
God will bring about that situation where we are in a position of moral uprightness and right living. We have God’s Word from which to derive the wisdom we lack to straighten our path. In guiding us, He sometimes takes away all earthly support so we may learn to depend on Him and consequently prove His sufficiency.
The Lord protects. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me” (v.4). God may sometimes allow us to go through valleys where there is darkness and dryness, so that we may learn to appreciate the better things He has for us in the uplands, where there’s fresher, greener grass. The valleys lead us to mountaintop experiences — the better to taste Him more intimately, and for us to realize that He alone can revive and satisfy.
“Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows” (v. 5). As a shepherd applies oil on the sheep as pest repellant; our protective Shepherd also shields us from all danger and evil. With God on our side, our foes are put to shame. We have nothing to fear, for God is our security.
“Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (v.6). The Lord relentlessly pursues us, not as a policeman would to issue a ticket for a violation, but because He bears gifts for us. He promised to be with us to bless us and preserve us all the days of our life.
To whom, then, do we go for our needs? When in trouble, to whom do we run? Have we entrusted our lives to the care of the Good Shepherd?
We’ll never go wrong when we turn to our Good Shepherd who will never fail us. The sheep hears the shepherd’s voice and follows. Are we listening to the Shepherd’s voice and following where He leads?
Take the following self-check to determine whether you are a sheep following the Good Shepherd: 1) The ear test: Do you listen to the Shepherd’s voice? And 2) the foot test: Do you follow the Shepherd’s voice?
By: D. Delay
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” (Matthew 5:13)
You and I, as Christians, are called the salt of the earth because our lives enhance and give meaning to this existence we call life. Before salvation, we were like grains of sand, too numerous to count. But after receiving Christ, we were transformed – no longer like minuscule debris of rock having little or no difference from another lost piece of sand, to something distinctive in taste, texture, and aroma.
It may be an odd analogy, but Jesus compared believers to salt for a reason. Salt is a dietary mineral, used for flavoring and preservation – needed by all known living creatures. If abused, it can be harmful. However, it is also detrimental to have no salt intake because it regulates the water content in our bodies. Jesus used salt to describe how Christians are needed to bring balance and hope to an otherwise dying world.
The question He asked however is, “What good is salt if it has lost its flavor?” In other words, if a Christian has lost his or her gusto and fervor, then what’s the difference between the old grain of sand they once were and the so-called salt they are now? The answer is: very little.
Because of recent circumstances in my life, I pondered this scripture differently than I have before. Trials can cause us to become weary if we’re not careful. And just like salt can become diluted in water, Christians can become diluted (or altered) by their experiences. For example, what we believed before a traumatic event is sometimes not the same as afterwards. Why is that? There could be many reasons, but the most common is depression, fatigue, self-doubt, and ultimately reservations about what we believed in to begin with. And we have to clearly understand there is an enemy at work in these cases. If we are the salt of the earth and it’s possible to lose our flavoring, then it’s no secret the Devil will do his best to make sure our effectiveness (our flavoring) isn’t what it used to be. And if he had his way in every case, we’d have no flavoring left at all – returning to transparent grains of sand with no threat to him or his kingdom.
Jesus said, “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” (Mark 9:50)
Consider this: the sea is full of salt but it is only extracted through the process of boiling (removing the water to retain the salt). I don’t like the idea of going through fiery trials, but if that’s what it takes to recapture the “salt” in my life, than maybe I’m okay with that. What I’ve learned is that God is not the destroyer in this life. He said the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). God is not the thief. God is the “Restorer” of broken lives and broken hearts.
The boiling process will either prove or disprove the amount of salt contained in a substance. In the same way, the trials of life will either prove our lives are flavored by God or they will reveal how much we truly lack. Either way, if handled correctly, the end result can be beneficial. For the one, their revelation of Jesus Christ and His grace and faithfulness will increase; for the other, a realization of their small faith can push them to a deeper relationship with God because despite their lack, He remains faithful. The only problem is: God has left the “salt containers” (you and I) to decide.
“So dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ [and what He went through], so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
I have learned I can’t always control the trials I face, but I am the keeper of my “salt.” Will I be bitter or better? Less seasoned or more flavorful? Will I disappear into the background or stand out as an overcomer? Because in the end, what good am I if I’ve lost my flavoring? |
By: K. Hee
The Bible says, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). But as we grow closer to God by reading the Bible every day, we can learn to recognize what God looks like.
Take, for example, the story of a successful rancher in the 1800s named Ben, who realized he was very lonely. So he put an ad in the newspaper that said, “Wanted: A good woman willing to be a pen pal. Marriage is a possibility.”
He soon started receiving letters from a girl named Molly. Through their letter writings, they fell in love. So Molly decided to take a train to meet him for the very first time. The train pulled in and hundreds of young ladies came out. Finally, Molly stepped out and Ben went right up to her and said, “Molly, it’s me, Ben.”
Molly looked at him in disbelief. “How did you know it was me?” she asked. “You’ve never even seen my picture.”
“I knew from the letters,” he said. “I’ve read them so many times that I had a picture in my head of what you looked like. When you stepped off the train, I knew it was you!”
Jesus tells us, “(I) am known by my own” (John 10:13). If you love the Word of God and take the time to familiarize yourself with it, God will open the eyes of your heart to Who He really is!
Prayer for the day:
Ask God to open your eyes to Who He is as you read His Word, so that you may know Him personally and intimately.
By: J. Maxwell
Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Numbers 20:12
We learn something invaluable about leadership at the expense of Moses in Numbers 20. By this point, Moses felt weary of the complaining, the stagnation, and the lack of progress among the people. He was running on empty. And in his weakened condition he made a decision that cost him his future.
Directed by God to speak to a rock in order to get water for the nation, in anger Moses struck the rock. He reacted in fury rather than obeying with poise, and for his disobedience he was barred from entering the Promised Land.
This sad incident teaches us at least two lessons. First, never make a major decision during an emotionally low time. Second, choose to be proactive, not reactive, in your leadership. Don’t let your mandate come from the grumblings of the crowd. Get your cues from God and the mission He has given you. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I a reactor or a creator when I lead?
2. Do I play defense or offense when I lead?
3. Am I a people-pleaser or a God-pleaser when I lead?
4. Do I boss my calendar, or does someone else choose where I give my time?
“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Roman 8: 28).
The Bible tells us that in the land of Uz there lived a man called Job who was both morally and spiritually upright. So pleasing was he that even God boasted about him to Satan saying “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright; a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). But Job’s upright character did not exempt him from the trials and tribulations that were later to befall him. Not only did he lose all his possessions, and all his children, Satan also afflicted his body with painful sores from the sole of his feet to the top of his head. So bad was Job’s condition that his wife suggested that he curse God and die (Job 2:9).
Friend, trials and tribulations will come to all, no one, absolutely no one, is exempt. Contrary to what a lot of people think, trials and tribulations are not necessarily a sign of disobedience or rebellion against God. Remember that Job was “blameless and upright, feared God and shunned evil”, yet he suffered great tribulation.
But the good news is that children of God do not go through trials alone. The Lord goes through them with us because He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5) and that even when we go through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us (Psalm 23:4). Further, we know that the trials we go through will not last always because the Word of God tells us that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
Friend, Satan’s plan is that these trials would cause us such pain and misery that we would give up and turn away from God just as Job’s wife had urged him to do. But the Word of God encourages us to hold on and not to give up. The Book of James tells us that “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). Job held on and “the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). In the end, God will work things out for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Remember, if you hang on with God, you can be sure that the end will be good.
Lord, we are privileged to know you, to belong to you and to be countered as your children. Thank you for your promises towards us. Thank you specifically for your promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you for the confidence in knowing that whatever we may go through in life, you are there with us and will see us through. Help us to hold on till the end so we can wear the crown of life. In Jesus precious Name we pray. Amen.
By: C. Dollar
Developing the fruit of the Spirit should be one of the primary goals of every Christian who desires to walk in God’s power. Contrary to traditional teaching, however, the fruit of the Spirit is love. In the same way that an apple is composed of seeds, a stem, core and skin, the fruit of love is comprised of joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance (Galatians 5:22, 23).
The fruit of the Spirit, or love, was deposited in your spirit man when you became born again. It is your responsibility to cultivate that seedling so your love can be perfected and fear can be cast out of your life.
Longsuffering is the part of the fruit of the Spirit that enables Believers to obtain the promises of the Word of God. Longsuffering is “patient endurance.” “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:12-15).
Abraham obtained the promise of God—his son, Isaac—after he had patiently endured. Likewise, as you diligently obey what God tells you to do in spite of your circumstances, you will see longsuffering develop in your life. Abraham waited 25 years to receive the promise of God. Are you willing to wait that long?
Hebrews 10:36 says, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Longsuffering is an important quality to have if you want to see the promises of God manifest in your life. Do not give up, cave in or quit when you do not see the answers to your prayers right away. Know that if God said it, He will do it. In the meantime, make the most of the opportunity to develop your love by cultivating patient endurance, or longsuffering.
Scripture Of The Day: “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” – Hebrews 10:36 (KJV)