Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"When Being True To Self Means Living A Lie"

"There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death".

Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)


A glimpse of the world today. A young college student stands up in his philosophy class and denounces any belief in God and the class, lead by an atheist professor breaks out in thunderous applause of support. A woman makes plaster sculptures of various objects, some with the semblance of the moon and sun and stars, trees and wild beasts, some, half man or woman and the other half animal, or sea creature, and all with some form of genitalia protruding out from them. There was a time when most would have viewed this not as art but rather some form of perverted expression, done by someone in need of psychological intervention but instead is celebrated and displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world. 

A writer pens the words to a billboard hit song that uses the Lords name not just in vain, but deliberately slandering then mocking the name of Jesus Christ by using such vulgar language that for decades was banned from television and radio for being overly offensive and not suitable for any audience regardless of age. Now, the artist receives a grammy award and is lavished with both the praise and prosperity all the while thanking, "the man upstairs" during the bands acceptance speech.

Everyone listed here will admit that living life in the fast lane comes at a price, freedom. You make your mark while you can they believe, resting someday, and because time is of the essence there is no need nor time for organized religion. If there is a common denominator in the lives recounted here, it's a disdain for the biological family. Family is who run with and who follow you at the drop of a hate wherever you go. Parents are little more than anchors to a past that their wayward children would just as well forget, and a reminder of a future they don't want.

A man takes the life of a police officer doing her job and a suddenly a growing segment of society cheers the killer instead of mourning the fallen hero, killed trying to protect and serve. A news flash goes out and the country is divided. Some rush to judgment actually blaming law enforcement. Many who are interviewed sympathize with the perpetrator who is portrayed as a victim who should be exonerated. After all they say, he is only a child. Even worse, many would say they too would commit the same crime if they felt they could get away with it. The sanctity of life has little meaning unless it's our own, and oh how soon we forget aborted babies aren't old enough or afforded the right to vote so their voices don't count.

Today more than ever men and women are sex objects viewed as trophies of accomplishment in a lust crazed society. Single, married, separated or divorced are merely labels the religious place on people who are merely attempting to find happiness in this world. After all, who are we to judge two consenting adults? Their business is after all, their business.

Locks are only meant to keep out honest people, right? A man is let go from his job and finds himself hungry so he robs the local convenience store around the corner from his home. The camera's easily identify him and later he is apprehended. In just a few hours he is back home celebrating with the liquor he stole because the judge hearing his case determined had the man not been terminated from his work he would have had no reason to steal. And on top of that, the man attested to the fact that he didn't use a gun while committing the crime as he knew that particular crime came with a mandatory jail sentence. Knowing he would get nothing more than a slap on the wrist he opted for handing the cashier a note. The only punishment handed down that day was a verbal lashing by the judge against corporate America for being greedy.

People make money off of writing blogs and posting their thoughts and opinions on social media regardless or not if they are true. Fake news might be a new term but its far from new as the Enquirer has been around for decades. Gossip is as old as conversation and it sells. With the invention of the Internet, and the fact its free and readily available to anyone needing their five minutes of fame, slander has simply become a way of life for bitter people to express themselves as they have nothing better to do. "That's life" most would say until they discover the fake news posted is about them, then we all want justice.

If you have cable television you know too well what commercials are as there are now more commercials being shown during your favorite program than the actual episode you are watching. Advertisers know we live in a consumer driven world and that we know what we want and that we want it now. And now is becoming more and more easy to attain. With one simple click of a key that item that you just can't live without can be yours, safely delivered to your front door step in no longer a number of days but now, hours. Your wish is my command retailers proclaim in an attempt to satisfy our whims, that attempt to fill the void in our hearts that was designed for only Jesus to fill.

What I just did was demonstrate how easily in society we can treat the 10 Commandments as if they are nothing, and how many in society break the commands of God daily without any thought or conscious effort. Sadly, the Christianity practiced by so many professing believers these days has little if any grounding in God's Word. In an attempt at being relevant to the world it appears that many pulpits are failing to make clear the foundational truth regarding man's basic state.

My wife sent me an article about a Christian music artist who was married with a family and who was also "coming out" admitting he was gay and proud of himself in that he now was being true to himself. The part of the article that grabbed my attention said, "For any Christian, being "honest" with ourselves is coming to recognize that we are sinners, pulled towards sinful urges (sexual and otherwise) by a depraved nature that leads us into believing we can be gods of our own private universes. It requires us to confront the destiny of our sinful souls and choose repentance and reliance on a power that is not of this world – a power that makes the blind see, the lost found, and the vilest offender of the Christian faith into the greatest Christian missionary the world has ever known. It requires us to recognize that no matter how strong the urge to sin may be, no matter how natural or powerful it may appear when compared to our earthly strength, the same spirit that rose Jesus from the grave is available to raise us up out of our deadly desires and designs".

But rather than be honest with himself, many in the church today have chosen to deceive themselves (and sadly so many others) into believing that ones sinful urge defines them, controls them, and owns them. Many have decided to allow sin the power to devastate their lives, forever confuse and injure their families, and take the throne room of their soul away from Christ. Being "honest" with ourselves means that we acknowledge the way that seems – and feels – so right to us, leads us to death (Proverbs 14:12).

God tells us repeatedly that the only way to live is to die (Galatians 2:20). God desires not that we exalt ourselves but that we die to self (Ephesians 4:22-24). Believers are to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24). Jesus Himself told us that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it (Mark 8:35), and that anyone who does not take his cross and follow is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38). How soon we forget that the Christian life is about denial of self (Colossians 3:5) not the coming to terms with self and surely not giving into self.

Pray for Christians who are strategically placed by God in this life and who are willing and able to reach people in those vulnerable moments that every person on the path of sin and destruction eventually finds them-self on, and that they will exhibit the courage needed to speak truth that hurts but heals. Pray that those entangled in any and all sin may come to trust the Word of God over the words of men, experiencing both the forgiveness and freedom that is found only in Jesus Christ.


"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed"


John 8:36 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  501 Hits
  0 Comments
501 Hits
0 Comments

"Divine Appointments"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
'For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.'

John 13:15


Have you ever thought that what you and I consider to be an interruption in our day just might be a divine appointment? I find myself repenting a lot as of late as I consider how easily frustrated I can become when my day is (in my mind) is interrupted by unplanned events. What I am having to relearn is that what I consider interruptions are in fact divine appointments. Perusing my Twitter feed today I came across a tweet that a friend and fellow pastor posted. It was a quote by Eugene O'Neill that I just couldn't quit thinking about once I read it. It said, "Each day is a life in miniature". That tweet brought a barrage of scenes to my mind, especially after I discovered that tweet was in response to yet another tweet that was quoting C.S. Lewis who wrote, "The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own', or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life – the life God is sending one day by day."

Yes, loved one, each day we live is a life in miniature so we need to make the most of them! The apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans that whatever happens to us and whatever comes our way, good or bad, God can and will ultimately use for our good. Romans 8:28 reminds us, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." You and I belong to God and because of that, there are no interruptions to our day, they are merely divine appointments that God scheduled for us.

As I ponder these quotes above, the words of Jesus come to mind. The Gospel of Matthew gives us a glimpse into why we need to see the seemingly interruptions to our day as divine appointments from God Himself, Matthew 25:31-40 quotes Jesus speaking, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

What do you think? Do you still believe those unplanned and unscheduled disruptions to your day are interruptions or are they actually divine appointments scheduled by God? I think the answer is clear. Each day really is life in miniature. Determine to follow the Lord's example knowing God will take those interruptions we respond to with joy and like only He can, He will fashion them into a crown!

"His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  599 Hits
  0 Comments
599 Hits
0 Comments

"A Bigger Yes"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

1 John 2:17


Listening to one of my favorite pastors at a conference a few years back, he was speaking on getting the most out of the Christian experience and living a life that pleases God. During his message he said, "you've got to have a bigger yes". What he meant by that statement in context was to live a life of victory while enjoying our freedoms, lives that are filled with joy, we can't just go through life saying 'no' to everything, though we do need to learn to say no to many things, especially those things the Word of God clearly instructs us to avoid or abstain from. What makes saying no possible for those who believe in Jesus is, we have a bigger yes! And that bigger yes is grace, God's amazing grace!

Consider this, no one knows their way around heaven better than Jesus and there is no greater authority on eternal life than the Son of God, so when Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" there is a good reason for it. The things of the world are temporal at best where as the things of God are eternal, they last forever!

Some people have stronger will power than others but the good news for anyone wanting to say no to sin and ungodliness is the grace of God. God's grace is good news for us, a guarantee that we can indeed live a life that is both pleasing to the Lord and to us. Because its by grace that we have been saved by the precious blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are set free from the bondage of this world and all its passions. We are now free to love God and to walk in His ways.

In Titus 2:11-14 (NIV), the apostle Paul reminds us that having a bigger 'yes' that governs our lives is what makes it possible to say 'no' to sin. Paul writes, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

Did you catch that? Saying 'no' to the sin is possible because of the grace of God. Grace is our bigger 'yes'! When temptation knocks on the door of your heart and the pressures of this life try to pull you down, look up! Look up to Jesus, focus on the bigger 'yes', keeping in mind that one day, one day soon the Lord will appear again for us in the clouds, and gather us up to be with Him forever! "Two in the hand is better than one in the bush" the world might say, but nothing this world has to offer comes close to what God has in store for those who choose to walk by faith and not by sight. We can say 'no' to sin and ungodliness and 'yes' to God because the best is still yet to be!


"For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  435 Hits
  0 Comments
435 Hits
0 Comments

"I'm Proud To Be A Christian"

PastorMikeOsthimer1

"Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)"


Galatians 1:1


Most of us when we hear the word "pride" usually think of it in its negative use and not the positive. Usually, the word pride conjures up in our mind passages like James 4:6, "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Studying in the book of Galatians verse 1 of chapter 1 the apostle Paul begins right out of the gate giving first his name and then his credentials, noting that he is an apostle. Some have read Paul's words as being prideful, in the negative sense, while many see them for what they truly are, an expression of 'holy pride' not 'sinful pride'.

It was Martin Luther, the father of the reformation who noted, "When I was a young man I thought Paul was making too much of his call. I did not understand his purpose. I did not then realize the importance of the ministry . . . We exalt our calling, not to gain glory among men, or money, or satisfaction, or favor, but because people need to be assured that the words we speak are the words of God. This is no sinful pride. It is holy pride."

Pride in its most negative manifestation is the sin of comparison in which we compare our strengths to the others weaknesses. Pride we have discovered is one of the most invisible sins common to mankind that doesn't require any effort on our part to obtain it, but it will take all of our energy to keep out. Yet in Galatians 6 we are taught there is such a thing good pride, pride that God has no problem with at all because it's the very opposite of negative pride that seeks to put others down to build ourselves up. 

Galatians 6:4 instructs us in this good kind of pride when the apostle Paul writes, "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." What makes good pride good is that the good kind of pride doesn't focus on being better than others, good pride focuses on being the best version of ourselves we can possibly be by the grace of God without any comparison to others. Instead of measuring ourselves by our fellow man, which is comparison, we are called of God to measure our success in this life by the standards established in the Word of God, by self examination. Then and only then do we have something to boast about.

Here is a humbling thought that keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Even if we were the only human being on this planet, Jesus Christ would still have needed to die on Calvary's Cross to save us for the Bible makes clear, "for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God". That knowledge is good and helps those of us who can easily but subtly look down on others who are less spiritual (in our eyes based on our own standards) than we are, to remember again as our Bible teaches us, "there is none righteous, no not one". We all want to feel good about ourselves and one way we accomplish this is to look for the weaknesses in others, forgetting that pride is a sin of comparison where to build myself up I must compare my strengths to your weaknesses.

It was C.S. Lewis who once said, "A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you." Growing up my dad would always remind me to keep seeking to improve because there is always someone else just a little bit better than you, he would say. He didn't say that to put me down, he said that to help me so that I wouldn't just focus on those who I thought were below me, but to keep in mind there is always someone better than me as well. To become the best version of ourselves we need to keep looking up and moving forward was my dad's hope for me then and my hope for you and me today too. 

What was true in sports then is true in our faith too. There is One who is not just better than us, He is perfect in every way, shape and form, the very standard by which our lives will be judged one day. Jesus Christ is the measuring stick by which we are to examine our lives so that we might have something to be proud of. 

The good news of the Gospel is each of us can have something in our lives to be proud of, something worth bragging about and that is this, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6 (NKJV). Yes, loved one, any good in us is comes by the way of Christ Jesus, and the good we do in this life is done as we allow Jesus to come into our lives as Savior and then to allow Him to flow from our lives as Lord as we draw close to Him. 

As my good friend Jason shared last night at our Men's weekly bible study, "love and obedience are intertwined." Measure your life by your love and devotion to Jesus, how closely you walk with Him, not by the walks of others. It's not what we have done that matters most in this life, its what Jesus has done and is doing still that is worthy of all praise.

The bottom line, it's not about me, nor is it about you, loved one. We don't measure crooked sticks by comparing them to other crooked sticks, we measure how straight a stick is by laying it next to one that is straight. Jesus is our measuring stick! I'm proud to be a Christian today not because of any thing I have ever done for Jesus, I am proud to be a Christian because of what Jesus Christ has done for me!


"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad."

Psalm 34:1-2 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  485 Hits
  0 Comments
485 Hits
0 Comments

"I Never Knew That About You"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…"


Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV)


Reading pastor Greg Laurie's tribute to Billy Graham this morning Greg shared something about Billy Graham that stood out to him as he recounted his memories of his relationship with Billy Graham. Greg couldn't understand how someone as important and well known as Billy Graham would be interested in learning anything about someone like pastor Greg, and yet pastor Greg shared how when they got together Billy Graham would ask him questions about his life and what was going on which he said endeared him all the more to this great man of faith. Reading that reminded me of a quote, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." 

Have you ever thought much about the fact that God is far more interested in you then you are of Him? I believe I can prove it. If two people sat down together to share a meal together and enjoy fellowship with one another who would you say was more interested in the other at the meals end? The one who knew a few things about the other person or the one who knew everything there ever was to know about the other person? Im pretty sure we all would agree it would be the latter. For the record, God is the latter. He knows everything about us.

I hope this thought means as much to you today as it means to me. Like King David in the psalms this knowledge is simply wonderful. Psalm 139:14-18, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You."

Just think, the God who created the heavens and the earth is mindful of you. He is interested in you so much so He knows things about you that you are unaware even of yourself. Consider Jesus words in Luke 12:6-7, "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Yes, loved one, when the facts are on the table, God is very interested in us because He loves and cares for you!

None of us has to go through this life alone, we each have someone who is interested in how we think and feel, what brings us up and what gets us down and He invites to come to Him to cast all of our cares upon Him because He cares about us! And here is the most amazing thing of all. The more we are interested in getting to know Him, the better we will understand ourselves. Behind every creation is a creator, behind every design is a designer, and every work of art there is an artist. Psalm 139 pointed this out in the passages above, as it was God Himself who fashioned each of us while we were in our mothers womb which makes Him uniquely qualified in understanding us, knowing us, and without question being interested in each of our lives. Better than spending the money on a DNA test to learn about your ancestory, why not spend time alone, just you and God and allow Him to help you better know you. Nobody knows you better than Jesus! 

Isaiah 43:7 tells us, "Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him." And we find the reason why in the New Testament when the apostle Paul pens these words in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." In other words, you and I are not accidents, we were created by design. We were created for God's own pleasure loved one, you have gifts and skills that make you unique from every other person who has ever graced this earth, and the best way then to understand how and why God gave us life is to sit before Him, taking an interest understanding His purposes and plans, getting to know Him.

Accept God's invitation today, loved one. Come to Him through His Word and in prayer. Listen to what the prophet Jeremiah declares, 'Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' (Jeremiah 33:3). Come to God by faith today and sit before His glorious throne and discover for yourself what the woman at the well learned herself as she encountered the Lord who was so interested in her that he went way out of His way to reach her. After encountering Jesus for herself she returned to the leaders in her community and proclaimed, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

Yes, loved one, sit with Jesus today and listen to Him. Let God share with you the lengths He went to make it possible for you and I to come to Him. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). God knows us so well He knew our greatest need in this life was a Savior and that is exactly why He sent us Jesus! There is no question about it. God is very interested in you!


"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."


Psalm 16:11


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  662 Hits
  0 Comments
662 Hits
0 Comments

"God Loves You"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 3:16 (NKJV)


Almost everyone has already heard the news this morning, America's pastor, the beloved Billy Graham has gone home to be with Jesus today, to the very One with whom he spent his lifetime telling people about and pointing us towards. As Dr. Graham said best, "My home is in heaven. I'm just traveling through this world." I can't recall the number of times in my life I have heard Dr. Graham speak the words, "God loves you" as he would share the love of Christ with hundreds of millions of people in more than 185 countries and territories on 6 continents during the course of his 71 years of ministry.

Billy Graham ministered in person, in over 33 authored books, on television and any and all other forms of communication available to him to reach the world with his message of hope. His passing today is already being felt throughout the world as this wonderful man of God will be greatly missed. When I think of Dr. Graham's life today a quote comes to mind, "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." Today the world is both rejoicing in that Dr. Graham was born into this world and weeping that he is gone from us for a time. "A time", in that we will see him again one day! Dr. Graham believed in Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the life and he believed what Jesus said that if we would believe on Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord we too would have eternal life.

My hope for America today is that we as a country would take Dr. Graham's words to heart when he said, "I've read the last page of the Bible, it's all going to turn out all right." Yes, loved one, the world might appear to be out of control but God is still in control. As I was reading some of Billy Graham's works this morning the Lord impressed on my mind the best way you and I could honor Dr. Graham's life going forward. We can pick up where he left off. We can continue to share the good news of the gospel wherever life's travels take us reminding people every chance we get to tell them, "God loves you" keeping in mind something Billy Graham would often say regarding his role in the work of God, "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge and my job to love."

If Billy Graham had a wish for the United States that has yet to be realized its that God would bring revival to our land. In honoring Dr. Graham's life today I can't think of a better thing we can do than drop to our knees in prayer and make Billy Graham's prayer our own. Pray aloud today a prayer from Billy Graham's heart to God for our country that goes like this:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"

Yes, loved one, a true legacy aren't the things we carry on when a person dies, a true legacy is the part of them that lives on in those they leave behind. May Dr. Graham's legacy continue on in us as we ask God to give us a passion for the lost in the world, and may the same kind of love Dr. Graham had for Jesus drive and motivate us through our days as it did him. And just like Billy Graham has reminded me on more than one occasion, if you forget everything else I have written here today, remember this, God loves you!

"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Romans 10:9-11 (NKJV)

I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  1019 Hits
  0 Comments
1019 Hits
0 Comments

"Lets Get Real"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) 



I remember as a young boy my Mom reading me the children's book, "The Velevteen Rabbit" that chronicles the story of a stuffed rabbits desire to become real through the love of his owner. My favorite part of the story is the dialog between the Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit that goes like this,

"Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

When I consider how hard it is to be real I am reminded of something that Dr. James Dobson, a licensed marriage and family psychologist shared years ago on his nationally syndicated radio program on a segment about friendship. During the program he shared something I have never forgotten. He said that if each of us has one person in this world who we can bare our heart and soul without reservation then we are most blessed, as the majority of people on this planet don't feel as if they have even one person in this life that they feel comfortable enough with to truly be themselves. That to me is so sad.

I read a quote on Instagram the other day that said something like, "We all have a chapter in our lives we don't want anyone to read." The reason is pretty clear. We are afraid of what others will think of us if they were to read that chapter of our lives that we would just as soon forget ourselves. None of us wants to be rejected or suffer the loss of someone we care and love and I guess thats one reason why C.S. Lewis penned these words, "why love if it hurts so much?"

Think about it. Wasn't it Jesus Himself who said, "But knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" Jesus knows we have a predisposition to think the worst rather than think the best. I suppose that's why in John 2:24 the apostle notes, "But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men". No doubt Jesus knows we are fickle. Maybe that is why the apostle Paul wrote the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to begin with? You know the chapter, it's affectionately referred to as the chapter of "Love" in our Bible.

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to teach us that God's love is not reciprocating, that it is actually, "one way". To paraphrase the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and the power of "one way love" think of it like this. When someone loves you for a long, long time and not just because they receive some benefit from you, but instead they just choose to love you, in time you will feel safe enough with them to be yourself. And then and only then will you be real. I am pretty certain most people would agree, becoming real takes time.

Have you ever really considered that God doesn't love us because we are lovable, but rather God loves us to help us become real? Love is powerful, and only when we have been loved, for a long long time do we feel safe enough to be real, and God knows the more real we become the more loving we will become too. Thats why love is patient.

Know this, today is our chance to help people become real, to seek to love people like God loves people, not for our benefit but for theirs. We have an opportunity to love people today not because they are lovable, but knowing instead that in our loving them they have a chance to become lovable too. Remember, real isn't how we were made, real is what we become when someone loves us for a long long time. And just think, God has loved each of us for a long long time!


"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  605 Hits
  0 Comments
605 Hits
0 Comments

"Just Because You Didn't Doesn't Mean You Don't"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them."


Mark 10:14-16


In the Bible in Romans 8:15 the apostle Paul reveals to us one of the most intimate pictures of the relationship every child of God can enjoy with our Heavenly Father when he writes, "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The word "Abba" in the Greek language means "daddy", a more intimate word for "father". That word "Abba" implies tenderness and intimacy, and not just with anyone but with our Father in heaven.

I don't know what kind of relationship you had with your earthly father but I hope its like the one we read about in Hebrews 12 where the writer contrasts our relationship with our earthly father to that with our Heavenly Father. In Hebrews 12:9-10 we read, "Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness." Its as if the writer of Hebrews is saying our earthly dads did the best they knew how to do with what they had but our Heavenly Father knows perfectly how to love us and care for us, to shape us and mold us into the best version of us we can possibly be.

I am very aware of how fortunate I have been throughout my life. I had a good dad that I knew loved me. My dad was a disciplinary, he was strong, but he was also tender at times when I needed it most. Laying in bed last night missing him and thinking about my dad I recalled a time when he took me to a Los Angeles Laker basketball game to watch the legendary Jerry West play. Both my dad and I admired number 44 for the Lakers and watching the game together I don't know who was excited more. I do know that it was a very special moment shared between father and son. Yet, what I remember and cherish most about that day with my dad was the drive home late that night after the game was over.

Being only 10 years old at the time I was worn out from the excitement of the day and maybe all the sugar my dad allowed me to enjoy at the game. Sitting in the front seat of our family station wagon next to my dad he could see that I was growing tired and he invited me to lay down on the front seat of the car and if I wanted, to lay my head in his lap as a pillow for my head. As I lay there in my dads lap looking up at him he gently ran his fingers through my hair and talked to me until I fell asleep. I can still remember laying there and feeling so safe and comfortable in my fathers lap.

Years later, as I was reading my bible after giving my heart to Jesus, the Lord used that memory with my dad to teach me more in depth about the passage above in Romans 8 and in Hebrews 12 about the love of our Heavenly Father. All I could do then and now is thank God for the gift of my earthly Dad who by his love and devotion to me as a young boy served to help me connect with and better understand the heart of my Heavenly Father for us all.

Tears rolled down my face last night and are even now as I type this morning recalling such a tender moment I shared with my dad who has since gone home to be with Jesus. Tears of joy for me and yet at the same time tears of sorrow for the many children in this word who for a myriad of reasons have never known their earthly fathers love. I know for me the roll my dad played was huge in helping me understand the love of my Heavenly Father with whom I can't see. My earthly fathers love is what made the connection for me regarding our Heavenly Fathers love and I am and will always be eternally grateful for them both.

Maybe you have never known or enjoyed the love of an earthly father growing up. I'm so sorry if thats the case. But, even if that is so, know this, just because you didn't, doesn't mean you don't have the opportunity to know an even greater love for you today. Yes, loved one, we have a Father in Heaven, God Himself who loves you and so much so that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that you and I could become part of His family with all the rights and privileges of sonship. If you will except God's invitation and become part of His family you will over time as you get to know Him through time together in prayer and the reading of His Word will grow to know the tender love of our Heavenly Father who invites us to come to Him, and if He has a lap (remember God is Spirit) I am certain He would invite each of us to crawl up in it today.

Take our Lord's words in Matthew 11:28-30 to heart today as it was Jesus who came to reveal the Father's love to us. Hear the Father's heart for you as you listen to the Sons voice, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Not only is God gentle and lowly in heart, He offers us to come to Him to find rest for our souls. I always picture my dad inviting me that night to rest in His lap each time I read this passage. Don't miss out, friend, the invitation is yours and mine to come and experience the Father's love today, to crawl up into His lap as it were and cry out, Daddy!


"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."


Hebrews 4:16


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  481 Hits
  0 Comments
481 Hits
0 Comments

"No Place Like Home"

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

John 10:9 (NKJV)


I remember when our children moved out on their own and how my wife and I sent a message with each of them as they went. The message was simple, our home will always be their home no matter where this life may lead them. The door to our house is always open for them because Jesus always leaves the door open for us to come home to Him. If you visit our home you will notice right away we have a thing for doors in our house. My wife loves door's so much so she has a number of them hanging on our walls that lead to nowhere, the very opposite of what you would expect from a door. They are merely decorations that grace our homes walls and reveal a style she has that is all her own, and that I love. It's not unusual for children and adults alike when visiting to go up to these doors and either attempt to open them or gaze behind them to see if maybe they are covering some secret passage way of sorts. She particularly loves old rustic doors with ornate knobs.

Doors by design are meant to lead somewhere, to keep things in and likewise to keep things out. I get that and so it makes sense to me when I read in John's gospel where we find Jesus claiming to be a door that once passed through leads into eternal life. I thank God for using such simple and basic images to convey eternal truths to us. The imagery of a door as a passage way is clear in any culture, from the time of Christ until today. There is no question if you are in or out. It just comes down to which side of the door you are on.

And yet, what might not be so clear on a casual reading of the text is the full meaning of what Jesus meant when He claimed to be the door of the sheep. John 10:7-9 tells us, "Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." Jesus was speaking of salvation, the very reason He came from heaven to earth. Jesus was and is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecy concerning the promised Messiah that the scriptures foretold would come into the world to save His people, first and foremost, Israel, and as well, all who would come to receive Him by faith.

Shepherds for the most part spent the day leading their sheep to green pastures and each night to a place where they could lie down in peace and rest. Sometimes in the wilderness a shepherd might make a perimeter of tree branches or tumble weeds with just a narrow opening for the sheep to come in and go out. At night, once the sheep were safely inside the pen, the shepherd would lie down in the opening to protect the sheep from predators who might attempt to come under the cover of darkness. The only way to reach the sheep was through the shepherd as his body served as the very door into the fold. A beautiful picture of what Jesus, our Good Shepherd did for us when He laid down His own life for us on Calvary's Cross.

The imagery of the door that Jesus speaks of gets better the more we study the scriptures to understand the fullness of it's meaning. Doors can communicate a lot of things to us and if you have ever been locked out of some place you were trying to get into, you know the frustration. Jesus use of a door here in John 10 conveys a very important truth we need to delve further into if we are to enjoy the richness of life that Jesus came to provide for us as John 10:10 declares. Jesus use of a door here is not likened unto an exterior door with a lock on it to separate those on the inside from those on the out. Its more like an interior door with no lock at all, a door that is merely a passage way from one glorious place to another. All within the safety of the Father's house with its many mansions.

If Jesus is your Good Shepherd, if you have come to Him by faith then you need to know the doors you will come to in Him are never locked because you are family, you are already on the inside, so you never have to fear being locked outside ever again. Jesus, the door, is always open for you! Thats what makes the gospel such good news. If you find yourself on the outside today looking in and are tired as this world has left you out in the cold, come to Jesus, take Him up on His invitation and come inside. Listen to Jesus as He speaks, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). Yes, loved one, there really is no place like home!


"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Revelation 3:20

I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  617 Hits
  0 Comments
617 Hits
0 Comments

"God Knows Your Real Name"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."


Revelation 2:17


For most people our personal identity is important to us. Identity theft is real in the world today and those who have suffered from it know the embarrassment often associated with someone stealing your name and credit information. You go to make a purchase and can't as your credit card is now locked by the issuing banking institution for "unusual spending activity" which translated means someone has your credit card number and is on a spending frenzy. After what seems like an eternity, you finally get a new card issued and your ability to make purchases is restored.

Some people spend a lifetime trying to build great credit, or to build a name for themselves only to experience the fragility of human existence when what they worked so hard for is gone, be it by theft or neglect. In Revelation 2 Jesus gives us some very good news when he says to those who place their hope and trust in Him that one day they will be given a new identity and with that identity comes a brand new name. 

That might not mean much to you today but for those who have suffered from what Jesus said in John 10:10 about the greatest identity thief this world has ever known, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

One of the saddest stories I have ever heard about someone who worked feverishly in this life to make a name for himself was Penn State's legendary football coach Joe Paterno. Most are aware of the chid abuse scandal that occurred under his watch by an assistant coach that ultimatley led to his resignation and fall from grace in the public eye. Before he died he shared how he had worked so hard to make his name, "mean something" and now at the end of his life when he could do nothing about it, it was all gone, everything he worked so hard to build was undone. In coach Paterno's heart and mind he was a failure and those closest to him would say the coach finally succumbed to a broken heart when he died.

Contrast coach Paterno's life with that of football legend Reggie White, an All-Pro, Hall of Fame defensive linemen for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was also an ordained minister. Knowing his personal popularity and growing fame whenever he had the chance would tell reporters, "I'm not here to make a name for myself, I came to exalt a name already given, the name of Jesus Christ." In that statement Reggie White was articulating that he understood the reason each of exits in the first place.

Maybe you are someone who has suffered the pain of loss of your personal identity, a name you worked so hard to build but lost. If you are, believe it or not, loved one, you are in the perfect place to experience the grace and mercy of God, the very reason God sent Jesus into this world as Savior. When we spend our days seeking to make a name for ourselves we forget that God sent His Son to save us from ourselves, from the need to be self sufficient. When building our own name we forget that Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest, to give us a new name, a new identity that will stand throughout eternity. We were never meant to make a name for ourselves by the works of our flesh, because God already has a name for us, one that He will give us one day when we meet Him face to face. Our true identity is received through faith, its God's to give, which makes it all about His grace.

Yes, loved one, Reggie White had it right when he said, "I'm not here to make a name for myself, I came to exalt a name already given, the name of Jesus Christ." Believing that this is true, the best way we can spend our days is exalting the name above all names!



"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)


I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  623 Hits
  0 Comments
623 Hits
0 Comments

"Not Just Another Love Story"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"God is love"

1 John 4:8


Most people enjoy a good love story. I'll admit it, next to any movie with Matt Damon playing Jason Bourne my favorite movies to watch are love stories. That's just one reason why I read my Bible. It's a love story beginning in the book of Genesis all the way through to the book of Revelation. Heck, even the maps at the back of my Bible convey the distance love would travel to reach people with the message of Jesus.

Today, being Valentine's Day, we celebrate love, mostly the kind of love that the Bible would best describe as a love between friends and or love between lovers. In other words on Valentine's Day we celebrate mutual love, shared between friends and lovers and yet when we read the story of God's love in our Bible we find a love unlike any other kind of love this world has ever known. God's 'agape' love is best described as "one way love" as God's love for us has nothing to do with our love for Him. The polar opposite of mutual, God loves us for the simple fact that He is love, and everything, and I mean everything He does is motivated and empowered by His love.

Like any good love story the Bible is filled with suspense and drama as the plot unfolds from the very beginning. God's desire for mankind appears to have been frustrated by a villain (every good love story has a villain) who deceived the object of God's love by bringing into question and causing doubt of God's devotion, ultimately causing the man and his wife to be carried away into captivity. Fueled by a rebellious choice the man and woman end up living behind enemy lines in a world marked by sin and death. Because God is love He had already initiated a rescue operation, a plan of redemption that would both set the captives free and at the same time destroy the works of the enemy.

What makes God's love so amazing and so unlike any other love this world has ever known is that God's plan wasn't to send an army to rescue His bride from this evil foe. He could have easily done that. He didn't hire a team of experts, special forces to risk life and limb to set us free. 

The love of God is demonstrated by the fact that when God set out to rescue us, He came alone. Jesus didn't just risk it all, He paid the ultimate price in that He sacrificed His very life to pay the ransom for our freedom, to buy us off the auction block of slavery. Yes, loved one, you and I will never in this life fully comprehend nor appreciate the depths that God has gone to prove to us His love.

God's love for us is unlike any love that the world has ever known because His love is not based on mutuality, God's love is based on the fact that He is love. Believe it or not, there has never been a moment in eternity when God has not loved us. He has loved us before the world ever was. God has loved us with an everlasting love that is not bound by space or time. Every other love this world has ever known pales in comparison to the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.

God doesn't love you because of your external beauty or your monetary worth. There is no thought or deed you have ever committed that has caused His love to waiver. On this Valentine's Day its just best to let God's Word speak for itself as God's Word is our love letter, our Valentine. Below are just a few verses that I pray speak to your heart and remind you just how much you are loved today and every day by God.


Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."

Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  519 Hits
  0 Comments
519 Hits
0 Comments

"It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know"

PastorMikeOsthimer1
"I and My Father are one."

John 10:30


When I was in high School my dad purchased a membership at a local country club, something he had wanted to do most of his life but had held off doing because of other family commitments he made in raising four kids that quickly drained his discretionary spending. I'll never forget the first day he invited me to join him at the club to play golf and have lunch. Before going he told me, "It's not what you know but who you know" to teach me a valuable lesson on how to handle myself while visiting the club that day. All I needed to remember was my dads membership number as his number gave me privileges I could not otherwise enjoy.


The feeling, "I've died and gone to heaven" came to mind when I realized I could order anything I wanted off the lunch menu and as much as I wanted. You can't pay cash or use a credit card to pay for anything. Everything is paid on the members account. As a matter of fact, unless you are a member or a guest of a member you can't play golf, you can't enter the locker room, nor can you enjoy any food or beverages from the clubhouse or the snack bars located on the golf course. Without knowing a member personally or being a member yourself, you can do nothing which made the phrase, "It's not what you know but who you know" make perfect sense to me. Even to become a member someone has to nominate you. As long as I had that number with me the personnel at the country club viewed me and my Dad as one and the same and because I was my fathers son I was able to enjoy the same benefits and privileges my father did.


Taking that phrase a step further, its been well said, "With Regard To Heaven, It's Not What You Know But Who You Know" and nothing could be more true. Jesus has just told His disciples that He is the only way to heaven. He is the door, the only entrance into the very presence of God. There is no other person who can get you in, no other way capable of granting us access into the presence of the Father. Jesus is the one who grants us access to membership.


As you read through the Gospel accounts the disciples had many questions regarding Jesus credentials as the promised Messiah. Questions Jesus answered confidently and without hesitation by both His words and His actions. In John 14:7-11 Jesus stated plainly, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."


If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father. You could say the Father and Son share the same membership number of heaven! The apostle John writes in the book bearing his name, John 1:18, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." The point is, God the Father is Spirit and no one except the Son has seen Him at any time. Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, so we could see for ourselves what God is like. In Colossians 1:15-19 the apostle Paul writes of Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell."


Jesus, the Son of God enjoys the full blessing of the Father to provide all the membership benefits of heaven to those who believe on Him as Jesus is the only one capable of providing the payment required to purchase our membership. Without Jesus and apart from Him we remain dead in our trespasses and sin proving once again, "with regard to heaven, it's not what you know, its who you know". Are you interested in a membership in heaven with full benefits? If so, open your heart to Jesus, receive Him as your personal Savior and the Lord of your life and the experience the forgiveness of your sins and all that comes with new life and being Born Again.


Don't forget that Jesus offers us a membership that money can't buy. Our membership in heaven has been purchased by His own blood, with the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Enjoy all the perks that come from being a child of God. We have access to heaven today through prayer, making it possible for us to enjoy all the blessings that flow from His throne. See for yourself, "it's not what you know but who you know."


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ"


Ephesians 1:3


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  628 Hits
  0 Comments
628 Hits
0 Comments

"No Place Like Home"

PastorMikeOsthimer1

"But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."


1 Corinthians 2:9




After three nights on an inflatable mattress on our daughter and son in laws living room floor both my wife and I will be glad to be at home sometime tonight to enjoy the comfort of our own bed. As I was awakened this morning by the smile of our grandson making his way down the stairs to spy on us in the dark to see if we were awake, as he was under strict orders from his mom not to wake us up. With a bad back, sleeping on this air mattress made me feel more like a sailer at sea in the midst of a great storm, tossing and turning all night, my prayer was that the dawn of a new day could not come soon enough.


We love the time we get to spend up here with our kids and the discomfort of any bed other than our own is worth the pain. I find it interesting that God often times uses discomfort to get our attention and seems to always speak in the midst of life's more trying circumstances to teach us greater truths He wants us to know.


As I was laying awake in the dark in the early hours of the morning the Lord brought to mind the words of Jesus in John 14:1-4, where Jesus is speaking to His disciples at what is known as the Last Supper, where He is preparing them for His soon departure from this earth back to heaven after He goes to the Cross and purchases our salvation.


Jesus tells the disciples in John 14, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."

Its funny to me how God can use an air mattress to remind me that the better place isn't necessarily sleeping in my own bed. The best place by far is to be in the presence of God one day, in My Father's house. The most important thing to know about the Father's house is the way to get there. Just like my wife knows the way to get to our home from where we are (I'd be lost without her), Jesus has mapped out a way for each of us to make it to the Father's house safely.


In John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The good news of the gospel today is there is one way to heaven, and only one way so as to not be confusing and at the same time to be comforting to those who seek it.


Heading home from our daughters house today we will find ourselves traveling in numerous directions and on multiple freeways. The point being, it will be harder to get to our earthly house than it is to get to heaven. To get to our earthly home safely is contingent on a lot of things, some we have control over and many we do not. Yet with regard to heaven the only thing we need to make it home safely is place our hope and trust completely in and only on Jesus Christ, God's only begotten son, who loved us and gave His life for us. That's the way Jesus was speaking of in John 14:4, thats the way Jesus was telling His disciples they knew.


In the book of Acts we read again that Jesus is the way home, the way to the Father's house. In Acts 4:10-12 its written, "let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Did, you catch that in verse 12, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Jesus is the way home!


The best news still is, just as Jesus promised to come get the disciples when He was ready for them to come to the Father's house, we have the same assurance today too. You don't need to memorize a route to get home or pack your clothes or anything like that to be ready for heaven one day. The apostle Paul might have said it best when he penned these words in Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Just keep living for Jesus and one day soon, one day before we know it, Jesus will come again and bring us safely home to the Father's house.


A great reminder today if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed or if you find yourself feeling today like C.S. Lewis who once said, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." Yes, loved one, there is no place like home!



"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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him."



2 Corinthians 5:1-9



I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  615 Hits
  0 Comments
615 Hits
0 Comments

"It's Gone!"

"having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."

Colossians 2:14 (NKJV) 



Let me tell you about my dream last night. It's not very often I have a dream about Jesus so it's exciting to be able to share it with those of you who read this devotional. Try to imagine this scene in your minds eye that very well could have happened from the story we read in John chapter eight. The men who had just twenty four hours earlier had dragged a woman caught in the very act of adultery to Jesus in an attempt to trick Him and to ultimately find fault with Him so that the people would abandon from following Him, ended up having the tables turned on themselves by Jesus as each man from oldest to youngest left facing their own sin and failure while the woman who was guilty for sure ended up being forgiven of her sin and empowered to go and from that day forward sin no more.

Returning to the scene of a major event in life, be it an accident or a crime scene or some unexplainable event is not uncommon when we try to make sense of the seemingly senseless. Picture these same men returning to the very spot on the ground, the place in the sand where Jesus most likely spelled out dates and times or places along with the names of people or specific sins that each of these men had committed unknown to anyone else except for they themselves and Jesus. How could Jesus have known they must have thought to themselves? We now know. After all, Matthew 9:4 (AMP) teaches us, "But Jesus, knowing (seeing) their thoughts, said, Why do you think evil and harbor malice in your hearts?" God knows all and sees all, and in Proverbs 20:27 (NLT) it says, "The LORD's light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive."

All night long each of the men must have tossed and turned in their sleep knowing their guilt and being unable to justify their sin rose early and went looking for the Messiah with the hope of receiving the same grace the woman had been given even though she wasn't even trying to come to Jesus, as she was dragged there against her will. Talk about grace! Finding Jesus wouldn't be that easy as our Lord never stayed in any place too long as the crowds drew too much attention to Him and though it grew closer with each passing day His time had not yet come to be glorified. Arriving at the spot where Jesus had been, the city was still quiet as most would just be waking up and beginning their morning chores before heading into the city to trade and do business. As the men approached the very spot where Jesus had declared them guilty by writing their sins in the sand all they found now was a patch of dirt, almost clean as if it had been swept by someones hand neatly clearing the spot where something must have been. As the men looked around, it was obvious this was the right spot as it wasn't well trodden like the surrounding areas but rather was noticeably different, resembling a blank canvass and one set of sandal prints that resembled the very ones Jesus had been wearing.

Yes, just like something Jesus would do, He came to not just cover our sin and shame and guilt. Jesus came to remove our sin completely from us, never to be seen again. Imagine the expressions on these mens faces when the Holy Spirit quickened to their mind that Jesus had covered each of their sins written in the dirt, that He blotted them out as it were with His own hand. Knowing the scriptures as they did I wonder if the words to Psalm 103 came to mind as they considered the writing was gone. I pray they did. Psalm 103:10-17 says, "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children."

Yes, this was just a dream I had that caused me to awake with joy in my heart thinking about my own sins that God has graciously forgiven and not only forgiven but has removed far from me, as far as the east is from the west which is and immeasurable distance as a compass moves because of the polarization at the north and south poles. East and west have no polarization and therefore never meet. If you go west on a compass it will never change to east nor if you go east will it ever change to west. And to think God has forgiven us as far as the east is from the west. And better still, His Word tells us He doesn't even remember our sins after He forgives them, He purposely chooses to forget them as to not hold them against us or bring them back up if we are to fail again in the same way. Every day is a new day with Jesus, loved one, Gods mercies are new every morning.

I wouldn't be surprised if the men in John 8 didn't rest until they found Jesus that next day to hear what He had to say. You see loved one, the law never justifies anyone. No one will be saved by keeping the law because we can't. We have already broken God's laws and is why we are in need of forgiveness and grace, the very things Jesus came to freely provide. Laying the law down on people and condemning them to death doesn't get people saved. The wrath of God doesn't produce the righteousness of God in our lives nor bring men to true repentance, His love does. Thats why Romans 2:4 (NLT) reminds us, "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?"

Yes, loved one, the kindness of Jesus that He showed to the woman and the men that day is what sent them away and brought them back the next day. Who loves like this? Who accepts sinners like this? Who forgives and forgets our failures like this? Only Jesus and that is why people came then and is why people are still seeking Jesus now. Look at the Cross today and see the love displayed there. Jesus died for you and me so that our sins could be forgiven! Let the love of the Father draw you to the Son today remembering,


"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."


John 3:16 (NKJV)



I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  588 Hits
  0 Comments
588 Hits
0 Comments

"The Line in The Sand"

"And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground."


John 8:1


Have you ever heard the expression, "The line in the sand" to describe establishing a predetermined point that will not be crossed. Or how about using the same term to describe a point that if crossed the decision and it's resulting consequences are permanently decided and irreversible.


In John chapter 8 we read a story where Jesus stoops down and writes something in the sand. No one knows what He wrote in the early morning hours when a woman who was caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him to test Jesus in hope of condemning Him. Not knowing is the beauty of what Jesus did write in the sand that day.


Whatever Jesus wrote in the sand we do know that it had to do with forgiveness and casting judgments regarding other peoples sins. The Bible makes clear that sin should be dealt with in the same way Jesus dealt with it here. Two wrongs never make a right and though the religious Jews made the woman's sin a public matter Jesus quickly turned it back into a private one. 


Long before someones sin is to be dealt with in public, it is first to be a private matter between the accused and the accuser and for good reason. (See Matthew 18). God knows our problem with judging others sins is that each of us has a sin problem of our own that needs to be dealt with first in order to be able to see clearly. 


Before we ever seek to judge others of their sins Jesus exhorts us in Luke 6:42, "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother's eye."


Though these men are clearly in the wrong in their hearts as to why they brought this woman to Jesus in the first place, Jesus uses the opportunity to show them the correct way to deal with sin. First and foremost love seeks to conceal not reveal others sins. Think about the people you love. You don't share their sins and faults with others as love the Bible says, "covers a multitude of sins".


Jesus didn't come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. Though the woman's accusers were in sin Jesus took them aside one by one and showed them the dignity that they were unwilling to grant her, in private out of view of those gathered around, Jesus wrote something in the sand. The commentary on John is as varied as each one commenting in that every person at their best is merely making an educated guess as to what Jesus did, showing the beauty of the correct way to deal with the sins of others.


Some believe Jesus stooped down and drew a line in the sand and communicated with the woman accusers that they were about to cross a line that once crossed would have tragic repercussions on their own lives for Matthew 7:1-2 paints a pretty clear picture, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." 


Others believe Jesus stooped down and wrote down days and times that these men had committed the same act with this woman or someone else as no sin is hidden from God. Matthew 5:27-28 reminds us, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

My personal favorite is picturing our loving Savior stooping down and writing in the sand the words of the prophet Isaiah who these religious Jews would have been familiar, "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus was offering them the chance to have their own sins forgiven.


Jesus goal in exposing our sin is to forgive it, to set us free from it, and to remove its power over us. (See Romans 5-6). Try to imagine how the woman must have felt when her accusers walked away one by one until there was not one accuser left, leaving only her and Jesus. Being God, perfect and holy and just Jesus could have condemned her, He could have picked up a rock right then and there and began to stone her but Jesus showed her what He has shown to you and me who have come to Him as Savior. Jesus showed this woman who was guilty of sin, agape love, mercy and grace.


John 8:10-11 tells us once Jesus dealt with this woman's accusers He turned His attention to her. To say she was surprised by grace would be an understatement. "When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."


Jesus not only did not condemn her, Jesus sent her away free that day to live the life He had always wanted for her. A life free from guilt and shame, a life lived with gratitude remembering always the mercy and grace that was shown to her. Jesus hope for her is the same hope He has for you and me today too, loved one. Jesus desire is that all who have been forgiven would offer to others the same kind of love, mercy and grace that this woman received that day when Jesus drew a line in the sand that didn't exclude her but one that included her, a line that sought to draw her in not leave her out. 


Remember, not only does love cover a multitude of sin, but just as true are Jesus words, "those who love much have been forgiven much."


"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."


Jeremiah 31:3


I LOVE YOU!


Continue reading
  646 Hits
  0 Comments
646 Hits
0 Comments

"The Joy of Suffering"

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"


2 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)



I didn't realize Jesus was rock solid until I hit rock bottom is true as is, "I didn't realize Jesus was all I needed until Jesus was all I had". Every child of God who has experienced pain and suffering in this life knows from personal experience that these statements are true, both painfully and joyfully true!


Author and theologian C.S. Lewis captured my thought regarding pain and suffering better than I can communicate it myself when he penned these words, "God whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our pain. Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world." I have always had this sense that pain and suffering are not always a curse, but sometimes God's blessings in disguise. Singer songwriter Laura Story sang those words in her hit song, "Blessings" that have brought me and countless others tremendous comfort. The song goes like this:


"Blessings"

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise (song ends)

I am convinced the song is true and not just from personal experience. More important than our experiences in determining truth is the Word of God. Like the old saying, "if God says it, that settles it." God has much to say about how He uses pain and suffering to shape us and to draw us into a deeper more robust relationship with Jesus. Whenever I am going through a trial or dealing with pain and suffering my mind, like it or not always takes me back to Romans 8:28 (NKJV) "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

The Bible in no way says, "all things are good" but rather that, "all things work together for good" and that is a huge difference, like night and day. Because God is God with omnipotent power He is capable of using anything and everything for His ultimate glory and our good, including pain and suffering.

Are you going through a trial that includes pain and suffering? If so, please know that you are not alone. Consider these Bible hero's who God didn't deliver from their problems, or their pain and suffering but chose instead to deliver them through the pain and suffering of the trial they were thrust into. God could have kept Joseph out of jail, and He could have kept Daniel out of the lion's den, or the three Hebrew young boys from being thrown into a fiery furnace. God could have kept Jeremiah from being tossed into a mire pit, or the apostle Paul from being shipwrecked more than once, and yet in all these cases He didn't.

God allowed all these trials and many others throughout scripture to happen in the lives of His chosen ones, and because He did each one was drawn into closer relationship with God as the result. Our trials to which we had to face often times literally force us to look to God and depend on Him alone instead of ourselves. The apostle Paul testified to this fact in 2 Corinthians 1:9 when he wrote, "Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead."

Let God use the pain, the trials of life to draw you to Himself. Don't allow the hurts, the pain and suffering, we all experience in this life to varying degrees to pull you away from the very One who Himself provides the cure for all our woes. Take the words of James, the half brother of Jesus to heart today…


"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing"

James 1:2-4 (NKJV)



I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  490 Hits
  0 Comments
490 Hits
0 Comments

The Gift of Comfort

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."

2 Corinthians 13:11


Most of us enjoy comfort, and recognize it by taste, touch, sight sound and smell. The more our senses are engaged the more comfort we enjoy.

If you are.anything like me you enjoy comfort food, you have a favorite or most comfortable place in your home where you can relax. You might even have an article of clothing or a pair of shoes that you long to put on at the end of a long day when you are feeling the need for comfort.

God knows we need comfort, not so much the comfort of all the material things readily available to us, but a comfort of the soul, at the place nothing on earth can satisfy. The comfort I'm speaking of is the comfort of God Himself, a comfort available continually and without measure to us. Comfort is the Gift of God

Comfort is found in the Word of God, all through its pages. If you find yourself in need of comfort, the kind of comfort that need not fade away, look at the passages below. Read them, mediate on them and allow them to wash over your heart, your mind and soul taking all your stress far from you as learn to rest in the comfort of Gods love that we find in Jesus.




"Then the churches* throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied."
Acts 9:31

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,"
Romans 15:4-5

"But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men."
1 Corinthians 14:3

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

"so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow."
2 Corinthians 2:7

"Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all."
2 Corinthians 7:13

"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,"
Philippians 2:1

"Therefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:18

"Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11

"Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all."
1 Thessalonians 5:14

"comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."
2 Thessalonians 2:17




I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  560 Hits
  0 Comments
560 Hits
0 Comments

"The Storms Within"








"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,  against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."


Ephesians 6:12



In Mark chapter 4 we read the story where Jesus demonstrated His power over creation. Yet, we only get half the story if we think for a second Jesus only sought to calm the wind and the seas. Are you aware that there was a greater storm raging than the one outside the boat? The greater threat was taking place in the boat for the hearts of everyone on board. 


While Jesus slept the disciples were overcome by what they were seeing with their own eyes. The storm blinded their faith to the point they had all but forgotten what Jesus had spoken, He had told the disciples to get into the boat and that they were all going over to the other side. His word should have been enough to hold on to when the wind began to grow and seas roared.



Jesus words are never enough when we walk by sight and not by faith. The storm within will always become greater than the storm outside. As fear griped the hearts of Jesus disciples they cried out to Him thinking Jesus did not even care that they were about to perish. Awakening Jesus from sleep He calmed the wind and the sea and then questioned them as to why they had no faith. Isn't that how it is when we face a storm in life? Immediately we feel as if Jesus doesn't care.



Resting on a calm sea now an even greater fear came over the disciples as they reasoned amongst themselves regarding Jesus and His ability to speak to the wind and the sea in such a way that they would obey. More than calming the external storms outside the boat Jesus came to calm the battles raging in each of our hearts. God knows that fear has a blinding and crippling effect on our lives that can only be overcome by faith. Faith in the One who is faithful, the One who is forever true! The One who promises us we too will make it to the other side regardless of how severe the storms we must endure along the way.



Rest in this today, loved one. God never calls us to calm the storms of our own lives, but rather to trust Him who even the wind and the sea must obey. Our faith doesn't insulate us from our fears, faith simply allows us to have hope in the midst of our fears. Are you facing a storm in your life today? If so, take heart and a deep breath and repeat after me...



Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world!



1 John 4:4



I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  482 Hits
  0 Comments
482 Hits
0 Comments

"The Way Down is Up"

PastorMikeOsthimer_20180130-163903_1











"He must increase, but I must decrease."

John 3:30 (NKJV) 




One of my favorite days of the week is Tuesday mornings where I get the blessing of gatherering with a faithful few for a time in God's Word focusing on "Victorious Living". This morning the message from God's Word was really simple, and I like simple. The way to decrease is to increase, or you might say, the way down is up! Like I said, it's really simple. You can think of all the things and ways to become victorious in your life and even develop all kinds of plans and develop strategies that may or may not pan out or you can simply focus your life on Jesus and what He has accomplished for you.



There are only 24 hours in a day and we all get to choose at least some of what takes place during those 24 hours. If you want to enjoy more victorious living, choose more of Jesus! John the Baptist understood full well the way to decrease in his own life was to increase in the life of Christ and not the other way around. In our work oriented way of thinking we believe if we decrease, if we get rid of this or that in our life that will make more room or more time for the Lord. Sounds logical but John didn't stress over trying to decrease, his focus was on increasing. If you and I would allow the Lord to increase in our lives as He desires to do, the decreasing of our old self will take care of itself. Thats why John wrote, "He must increase, but I must decrease" and not "I must decrease that He might increase."



The more Jesus in our lives leads to less of us spilling out. I liken it to the saying, "Jesus in, Jesus out." There might not be a better example in scripture than the one we read of in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Isaiah 6:1-5 (NKJV) writes, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."



Isaiah experienced a rapid decrease of self importance you might say when he saw the Lord high and lifted up. As the Lord increased in Isaiah's life, he proportionately decreased. Focus on yourself today friend and you won't even know where to begin to bring about all the changes necessary for becoming the best version of yourself Focus on Jesus today and everything will begin to fall right into place. Jeremiah 29:11 puts it like this, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Thats why the writer of Hebrews penned these words, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God". (Hebrews 12:2).



Put Jesus first, seek Jesus first, and everything else will fall into its rightful place. Set your heart and mind to increase in the Lord today, and know as you do, that the sin of selfishness will automatically decrease because there simply is not enough room for more of Jesus and more of you. Yes, loved one, as Jesus increases in our lives we will decrease and if theres one thing all this has taught me is that the way down is up!




"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."



John 12:32 (NKJV)




I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  609 Hits
  0 Comments
609 Hits
0 Comments

"The Healing Power of a Hug"

PastorMikeOsthimer1

 





"A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken."



Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)



Science has shown that when we don't feel love and acceptance from others our brains associate the pain as the same sense of pain we experience with a broken bone. Our brains are not wired to distinguish clearly between emotional pain and physical pain. Maybe that helps us better understand the statement, "You broke my heart". Or as neuroscientists clim, "rejection doesn't just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg."



The results of the studies concluded that human touch is a powerful thing. It not only strengthens us as individuals, it strengthens team performance as well. Human touch is even said to increase math scores! Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect. The benefits might just be endless. Maybe thats what the apostle Paul had in mind when he said, "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you." (Romans 16:16 (NKJV).




Science has shown that a hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin which plays a major role in bonding, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala, or negative feelings. Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time. Who knows, maybe hugs played a big role in the happiness the early church experienced as they met daily from house to house? (Acts 2:44-47).



God knew exactly what we would need in this life when He created the church, the body of Christ. We are His children, brothers and sisters in Christ who get to enjoy the pleasure of sharing life together, easing one another's burdens as well as adding to the joy we each can experience as we go through life together. If scientists tell us that five hugs a day can do much to increase our happiness just imagine how much happiness we can experience in faithful church attendance throughout the week. All the more reason the writer of Hebrews penned these words, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV).



The study also showed that when people are placed in a stressful situation and then allowed to visit loved ones or talk with them by phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? The study showed that their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all. So much for technology making us happy and keeping us connected on a deep emotional level. Gods desire for us is to know Him (ginosko in the Hebrew) which means to know in a deep personal way and for His children to know each other in the same way. The best way for us to get to know each other then is always face to face. After all, you can't really reach people with whom you are afraid to touch.



All throughout the Gospels Jesus healed people simply by touching them, I wonder how many lives could be healed today with a simple touch, a handshake, a pat on the back and yes, even a long tight hug? Why not pray about it and try it. The politically correct world around us might say its better to not touch but so far as I can see it, the world has yet to be right in solving the hurts and the heartaches that plague society. Instead, trust God, lean on His Word, extend His love to a hurting world one hug at a time.




"'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.' Then he embraced them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing."



Mark 10:14-16 (NJB)



I LOVE YOU!

Continue reading
  649 Hits
  0 Comments
649 Hits
0 Comments