Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"Whose Are You?"

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"Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious"

1 Peter 2:4


Who you are loved one is dependent upon whose you are! I was reading a book that had this statement by Oscar Wilde, "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, ... All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. ... Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, ... Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."


That last line spoke to me as I know too well like some of you its easy to forget who you are in a world that has no idea who it is because the only way to truly discover who we are is by knowing our Maker, the one who fashioned us while we were still in our mother's womb. The world tells us to "be ourselves" and then it attempts to sell us what we need to be unique from a chain store. It's been well said, "We were born into this world originals but most of us die copies."


God has fashioned not only the number of our days, loved one, but He has fashioned us too. You and I were created in the image of God which is proof God is big as no two people are exactly alike. If you would like to really come to understand who you are then the best way to accomplish that is to discover who God is. The bible makes clear 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." Ephesians 2:10 says it this way, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." That's right, friend, before you were born God knew you and knew exactly why He was creating you. You are no accident! God created you not to do something but to grow to know some one, Him.


Life counts, and makes the most sense when it is lived for God, in communion with Him and not apart from Him. Try thinking of it this way. Our bible is much like the manufacturer's "Owners Guide". When we understand "the owner" is God and we seek to grow in our relationship with Him by studying the "Owners Manual", life begins to make sense and we function in the most optimal way, the way we were designed by the manufacturer. There is nothing worse than seeing someone use an object in a way that is as far away from its original design and never realizes its true and full potential of what it was created for. Jesus said in John 10:10, "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". The world will ultimately draw us away from God to be used for things far less satisfying than what we were created for. Life, abundant life is found in Jesus, loved one. When you have those days (as we all do) where you seem lost or days when it seems the world is trying to squeeze you into its mold, pick up your bible, read the "Owners Manual" and discover not only who and but whose you are in Christ.


"that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."


Ephesians 3:16-19


I LOVE YOU!

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"We Were Made To Be Loved By You"

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"Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him."

Isaiah 43:7

I have enjoyed the last few weeks as our staff have been spending some time in our weekly staff meetings discussing our mission and purpose as a church and how we can better communicate it within our church. Looking back through some old notes I found an interview I once read with pastor Rick Warren by Paul Bradshaw that offers some sage advice about our purpose in life. Pastor Rick began the interview,

"People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body, but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ's likeness. This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,' which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD."

Yes, loved one, great advice for today! No matter what, today decide to praise Him, seek Him, Worship Him, trust Him and in everything thank Him! Why, for when we do it makes for a great day regardless of our circumstances!

"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. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together."

Psalms 34:1-3

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"Mistaken Identity"

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"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."

1 Corinthians 11:1


During World War 2 an off duty German soldier walked into a donut shop along a narrow street dressed in full military garb. With a brown paper bag in hand concealing his delicious delicacies as he left the shop he passed a young boy sitting near the shops entrance. As the soldier passed by his eyes met the young boy and the two shard more than just a passing glance. They were acutely aware of each others presence and yet not a word was spoken between them. As the soldier continued down the sidewalk something inside him prodded him turn around as the young boy continued to watch. Without speaking a word to the young boy the soldier came back and stopped directly in front of the young lad and reached down and handed him the bag of donuts he had just purchased. Surprised, shocked, and somewhat afraid the boy couldn't muster a word in the moment and the soldier not requiring one simply smiled and turned around and walked away. The boy looked down and opened the sack to see a few fresh baked donuts and the smell brought a smile to his own face. Within seconds the young boy yelled out to the soldier who was just a few yards away by this time, "hey mister" to which caused the soldier to stop and turn towards the boy still sitting on the curb. The boy shouted out, "are you Jesus?"

Mistaken identity, but what an identity to be mistaken for! Oh that you and I could have the joy of being mistaken for Jesus today! In reality we can. Every conversation, every opportunity that presents itself to us today is an opportunity to imitate Christ, to do what Jesus would do if He was walking in our shoes and living His life through me and you. After all, it was Jesus Himself who said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). 

Study the life of Jesus today, read the Gospels and consider the words Jesus spoke and the deeds Jesus did in ministering to the needs of others and then ask God to lead you to the very people He desires that you share the life and love of Jesus with. Thats what it is to imitate Christ.

Just think, every person, every encounter today is an opportunity for us to experience for ourselves "mistaken identity". Oh how the world needs to see Jesus today!


"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:16

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I Hope You Dance

"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?"

Psalm 8:3-4

Reading Psalm 8 this morning brought to mind a song my wife loves and so much so that when she heard it played for the first time she immediately sent it to each of our children to listen with the desire they would take the words to heart as a mothers hope for her children.

The words to the song are as follows,

"I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin'
Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin'
Don't let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin' out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder)
I hope you dance (Where those years have gone?)
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder?)
(Song Ends)


Both the psalm above and the song beautifully express the vastness of creation and exhorts the listener to give the world around us more than just a passing glance. Each time I hear this song the words of G.K. Chesterton come to my mind, "We are perishing for lack of wonder not lack of wonders." By God's design when we stand on a sea shore looking out or gazing up into the heavens we can't help but feel small. Psalm 19:1-4 puts it into perspective, "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun."

Like a child I stand in awe as I consider the works of Gods hand and my heart agrees with what Evelyn Underhill once said, "If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshipped." Creation reminds us just how little we are. When we stand on the shore of the ocean, we realize there is a whole other world lying just beneath the waves. When we stand on top of a mountain and look up into the heavens we are drawn towards God. Psalm 148:1-6 explains why, "Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away."

Step outside today, loved one, and look up, look around and stand in awe, stand in wonder as you appreciate a fresh today all that God has made. Allow the work of God's hand to remind you how big He is and just how little you are, knowing as you do you will experience His majesty in a more profound way. Encountering God's creation is not at all belittling to us. Rather, His majesty is humbling as when we see God rightly, we see ourselves rightly too. God is great, we are small, and that reminder is to our comfort. It's freeing to discover our insignificance and to be left with a sense of wonder that everything that exists was created by Him and for Him and nothing that exists does so apart from Him. That includes me and you too!
We were created for God's glory and we owe everything to Him, even the very breath we breathe. Knowing this, my hope and prayer for you today, loved one, is like that which my wife prays for our own children and grandchildren too, I hope you dance!

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness"


Psalm 30:11

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"God IS There"

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"Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10


In Psalm 34:1 anointed to be king, David penned these words at what was one of the most difficult moments of his life. You would think from reading this beautiful Psalm that David was sitting somewhere along the Mediterranean coast somewhere watching a beautiful sunset, not running for his life from king Saul and living under the suspicions of the king of Gath. When life was at its worst, in verse 1 David writes, "I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth."

God created man with free will, and though God knows how we will respond since He is all knowing, He doesn't force our response. He leaves that up to us. We get to choose the way we respond to life. We can kick and scream or we can lift our hands in praise. The choice is ultimately ours.

How is it that some people can go through 'living hell' as it were and come out on the other side with their joy in tact while others fall a part at the slightest discomfort? The answer is Jesus. How we see and respond to Jesus makes all the difference in the world.

In the Old Testament David came to understand over the course of his life that God was faithful. Read Psalm 23 and you see for yourself that David knew by personal experience that God was ever present during the mountain top moments and equally present at the valley low's of life. David knew what I pray you and I know too, we can praise God at all times when we realize God is with us at all times.

In the New Testament, our greater than king David is our King Jesus who has made a promise to us too, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen." Matthew 28:20. Like David, we too can bless the Lord at all times and His praise can be in our mouths too for the exact same reason as David. God is with us at all times too!

Here is something to keep in mind today regardless if you feel as if you are sitting on a mountain top or if you are feeling like you are in the deepest darkest pit of despair running for your life. Wherever you are God is there!

Here is a quote that encourages me every time I read it and I pray it does the same for you!

"If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God."


"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

1 Thessalonians 5:8

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"Walk On Water"

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"So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus."



Matthew 14:29



The story goes like this. A lone fisherman came into the boat dock one afternoon with load of fish in an area on the lake where no one was catching anything. The game warden happened to see the abundant catch and inquired as to the type of bait the fisherman was using to catch so many fish. The fisherman invited the warden to join him the following day to which the warden gladly accepted the invitation. At sunrise they headed out to the middle of the lake where the fisherman dropped anchor and proceeded to reach into his tackle box and grab a stick of dynamite and upon lighting it he tossed it overboard into the lake and in just a few seconds the water billowed below the boat and in a matter of minutes fish began floating to the surface where the elated fisherman began gathering them into a net.


The warden sitting across from the man yelled out, "you can't do that, that's against the law" as he reached for his ticket book to begin writing a citation. The fisherman not at all distracted by the reaction of the warden reached into his tackle box grabbing another stick of dynamite and upon lighting it hands it to the game warden and says, "do you want to talk or fish."


That story came to my mind last night as I was listening to our Youth Pastor teach our Men's Bible Study. As Coach, as we affectionately call him, spoke to the men of our church, young and older alike to get involved in ministry, he shared it's the only way we can really know all that goes on in ministry, as it's only when we step out in faith (and get out of the boat) and get involved in the lives of others can we discover all the Lord has for us and for them. 

Mike shared that we really can't fully appreciate ministry to the fullest from the safety within the boat so to speak. Living life to the fullest happens when we become actively involved in ministry and begin to serve others. Until we begin serving others in ministry we are more like "arm chair" quarterbacks watching a sporting event on television from the safety and comfort of our easy chair. There is a huge difference between a spectator and someone who is a participant in the game. Christianity is not a spectator sport. God calls all His children to leave the comfort of our "easy chair" as it were and get out of the boat and get involved by serving in ministry. The apostle Peter himself learned you can't walk on water until you get out of the boat. And we all know the first step is always the most difficult.


Writing for me is one way I get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. It's not easy for me to do and If you are reading this I need you to know how thankful I am for you and I mean that sincerely. My appreciation for you and why I am so thankful is because my prayer is that the Lord would somehow use the things He places on my heart and mind to write about in this devotional to speak to you and encourage you in your own journey of faith. You are my motivation each time I write, you and the glory of God. Yet, in all honesty I feel more like I am about to drown than I am to walk on water and yet its the voice of Jesus bidding me to "Come" that I step out in faith when I write. 


If you hear the Lord calling you to get out of the boat today I want to encourage you to take that step of faith and as you do learn the lesson from Peter's life and mine. Take it from someone who has almost drowned on numerous occasions and would have if not for the loving hand of our Savior reaching down and pulling me up before I go under. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. If Jesus calls you to ministry, and He has, then by all means get out of the boat. You can walk on water as long as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don't look around at all the reasons why you shouldn't get out of the boat. God's timing is never convenient. Don't second guess yourself when the circumstances of life change from calm to an almost ragging storm. Keep your eyes on Jesus and just keep walking towards Him. What the Lord has called you to, He will see you through! 


You can do all things, loved one! You can do the seemingly impossible today as you walk with Jesus and keep your eyes fixed on Him. But, and there is always a "but" when it comes to experiencing the fullness of life that is ours in Christ Jesus because it always involves a step of faith. To get the most out of life and to become all that the Lord would have us to be, we must first decide to get out of the boat trusting in and relying only on Jesus! Decide, stand up, get out of the boat and step out in faith today. You just might walk on water!


"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."



James 1:5-8




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"Once and For All, Loved, Accepted, Forgiven"

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"If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him."



Leviticus 1:3-4



Reading the book of Leviticus along with the men of our church tonight I am reminded of how good it feels to take a nice long bath or shower and how you feel so clean and refreshed when you get out. The sacrificial system in the Old Testament was meant to provide cleaning and refreshment for our soul. In the book of Leviticus we see that God has called His people to holiness, to wholeness. Sin has a way of making us less than whole. The major theme of the book is holiness and the laws established within the book set forth the "way" that every person, rich or poor could enjoy communion with God.



Because of sin, the breaking of Gods commandments there was a need for constant sacrifices to be made so that the children of Israel could be made pure and holiness to be reestablished. Many of the laws and sacrifices in Leviticus relate to the removal of the defilement brought about by the breaking of the law, which is sin. The call of God in the book of Leviticus is to holiness. Leviticus 19:2 makes clear God's intentions when it states, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy."



Whats important to know is that holiness always begins with God not with man. We can't make ourselves holy. Holiness here in Leviticus is achieved by the removal of the sin by the blood of a sacrifice. In verse 4 we read that the person offering the sacrifice must identify with it and does so by the laying on of the hands. This act symbolizes that the innocent animal was taking the place of the sinner making the sacrifice, that a substitution was taking place. The guilt and the condemnation of sin were being transferred from one to another, removing the sin from the guilty and laying it onto the innocent. This ceremony pointed to the true sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make once and for all upon the Cross when, He, the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world.



Here in Leviticus the only way a sacrifice could be accepted is to lay hands upon it. The laying on of the hands or identifying with the sacrifice was to recognize the need of forgiveness. Only a person who sinned needed a sacrifice for sin. The laying upon of hands upon the innocent sacrifice took place after confession was made. Once confession was made the transfer of the sins of the sinner to the innocent sacrifice took place by the laying on of hands upon the head of the innocent. At this transfer guilt and condemnation were removed and communion was established once again. What a beautiful picture we have of the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God came and took on the sins of all who would come to Him by faith, confessing their sins to Him, transferring the death penalty over to Him so that fellowship and communion with God could be restored.



Don't miss the beauty of the Cross revealed here in the book of Leviticus, loved one. Jesus, our Savior, willingly took our place, became our substitute as the perfect sacrifice when He died once and for all. Isaiah 53:5 says it all, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed". The book of 2 Corinthians reminds us of this perfect sacrifice, "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him". I love Hebrews 7:27 where it says speaking of the sacrifice of Christ, "who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself."



Once and for all, friend, Jesus died for you and me. We have no need to go back to symbolism to remove our guilt and our shame. Go to the Cross instead, where our sins were paid up in full by one sacrifice, once and for all, the just for the unjust, the righteous for the unrighteous, the sinless for the sinner. In Jesus, we have been set free! We are now free to worship God, to live in holiness before Him each and every day of our lives because we are accepted in Christ because of what Jesus has done for us not what we do for Him.




"I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake."




1 John 2:12



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"Worth The Wait"

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"Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!"


Psalm 27:14


Have you ever wanted something so bad you could almost taste it? How about a desire that the longer it went unrealized you thought you were going to die from the all the waiting, because the build up of the anticipation made you feel like you were going to explode? If so, you are not alone. On days like this its good to remember the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 10:11 (AMP), "The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed."


There was a commercial on television years ago that was done so well I vividly remember it to this very day. It was a ketchup commercial that showed a bottle of ketchup turned upside down with the top off. As the ketchup slowly made its way out of the bottle onto a juicy hamburger below the song, "Anticipation" by Carly Simon played in the background. ​


It seemed to take forever as viewers watched in anticipation for the ketchup to finally begin to pour. It was a mouth watering commercial for sure. The goal of the ad was to show how thick this particular brand of ketchup was unlike the other competitive runny watered downed brands that just gush out when you use them, and due to this brands thickness it would take longer to enjoy, but oh how worth the wait it would be! I remember the song as much as anything else from the commercial as it stressed the point, "anticipation is making me late, is keeping me waiting."


Yesterday I was inquiring about a young woman in our church who is going through one of life's difficult gut wrenching trials as she serves within our county's Foster Care system, desiring to adopt a child with whom she has been caring for, pouring her heart out without any hesitation on a child in need. The adoption process is often long and hard at times and those who seek to adopt live life knowing a day might come when this child under their loving care may be taken from them. Knowing this in advance, it takes a very special person or couple who would open their heart to this kind of pain and yet this amazing young woman and others like her do each time they open the door of both their heart and home.


This particular young woman had a very hard day enduring the court proceedings that surround the adoption process and was discouraged by the outcome the other day as it wasn't what she had hoped for or anticipated how the events of the day would go. As I walked out of our Women's Ministry Directors office following the conversation the Lord prompted my mind with these words that I said out loud as I was walking away, "God's delays are not His denials." As a matter of fact, usually the Lords delays in our lives are opportunities for greater preparation for what He ultimately has for us. Consider the words of Isaiah 40:31, "But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint."


Yes, loved one, God's delays are not His denials. Remember this, Jesus ascended back to heaven 2000 years ago with the promise that after He has prepared a place for us He would return to get us. What effect is the delay of Jesus coming again having on your life? Is it creating a mouth water anticipation as you eagerly wait trying to imagine what heaven will be like one day? Is the delay causing you to loose heart as what you have hoped for life hasn't turned out the way you imagined it would? If so that just might be the proof that we were created for another world! Hopefully God's delays in your life are not being interpreted as His denials but rather as opportunities for God to finish the work that He has begun in you.


Waiting on God is tough at times but Jesus promises us that the will of God is always worth the wait. Keep the faith, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as the anticipation keeps you waiting. It will be worth it all one day!


"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."


Galatians 6:9

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"Believing is Seeing"

 

He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

 

John 9:25

 

 

Oh, "if I would have only known then what I know now." We have all said those words regarding some truth we have come to know, often times the hard way. I can laugh now because I am on the other side of stupid, in some ways. I am glad for the mercies of God and that they are new every morning because I need them and I believe you know you need them too.

 

Just think, there was a day in every believer’s life when we didn’t believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. My kids have almost never not believed in Jesus as they have known Him pretty much all their lives from the time they fist learned to speak but I didn't come to faith in Jesus until I was 21 years old, and no matter what someone might have said to me before that time I simply didn’t “get it” because getting it doesn’t come naturally but supernaturally. The beauty of being a true follower of Christ is knowing that it was God Himself who opened our eyes to the truth of our promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ who died for our sins so that we could be forgiven.

 

We would all love to say we were seeking God on our own but if the truth be told many of us were more like the apostle Paul riding along through life on our high horse until God knocked us off through some situation or painful circumstance to get our attention. At last I know that was the case for me. It was only when I hit rock bottom did I discover that Jesus was rock solid. Though the lesson for me was painful in coming to Christ, I discovered that when Jesus was all I had left my eyes opened to begin to understand that Jesus was all I really ever needed in the first place, both then and now!

 

I like this quote by A.W. Tozer who once said, “The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshiping heart needs none,” so true. You and I who have placed our hope in Jesus don’t need a reason to worship the Lord today; we simply praise His name because He alone is worthy of all honor and praise. Faith is what opens up our eyes to see. "Believing is Seeing" as our natural senses will trick us every time and why God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. All our natural senses change with time but God is the same yesterday today and forever.

 

What I am trying to say is this, “believing is seeing and not seeing is believing”. God has given us His Word and He is faithful to His promises. The invitation to you and me today is to place our hope and trust in God, and to know that no matter what we may be going through today, we must keep God's Word in mind. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen (yet). Yes, loved one, the call of the believer never changes. We are called to to walk by faith, faith in God, faith in His promises, faith in His power, and faith in His abiding presence in our lives. Knowing this we can worship Jesus instead of worrying, as our God is in complete control, He never sleeps or slumbers. Knowing this amazing truth should make it easier for us to let go today of our worries, doubts and fears and let God reign, as He has only His glory and our good in mind. Rest in Jesus, trust in His promises.

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

 

Matthew 10:29-30

 

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"Who Do You Run To?"

"But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause”

Job 5:8

It was a number of years ago now the Lord taught me a very valuable lesson in life, one I pray I never forget. I was going through a tough season in life and I was praying for someone I could trust, someone I could sit down with and pour my heart out too. As I sat praying the Lord took me to the book of 1 Samuel and had me read the story of David and Saul. As I read I realized both experienced pain in their lives; each one knew what it was like to be chosen by God and to be disciplined by God, and yet there was a huge difference between David and Saul the Lord showed me that day.

When Saul struggled he went to the prophet Samuel and when David struggled he went directly to God. That’s a huge difference. The Lord showed me so clearly that day we all will run to the person who lifts us up in life. Saul went to Samuel because Saul was asked for by the people and so for Saul he saw the people as the solution to his problems while David was chosen by God and was lifted up by God as King and so David went to the Lord when he needed direction in his life, when he needed help. It’s the natural thing to do for each of us. We all will turn to somebody, the question is to whom do we run in times of trouble? I learned that day to turn to the Lord, who, though sought in secret rewards us openly.

I pray you and I come to know like Eliphaz declares in verse 9, “(God) Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Yes, beloved, it is God who does great things for us and I pray that today as you seek God and commit your cause to Him verses 10 through 16 will prove themselves true for you too, “He gives rain on the earth, and sends waters on the fields. He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot carry out their plans. He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noontime as in the night. But He saves the needy from the sword, from the mouth of the mighty, and from their hand. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth.”

These verses are comforting to know and should cause those who trust in the Lord to be at rest. Commit your ways to the Lord and He will establish you, commit your life to Him and He will direct your path, as the ways of a man seem right in his own eyes but its end brings forth death. We all do well to heed the counsel of Eliphaz here and seek God and commit our cause to Him. We’ll be blessed in the end when we do!


“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 37:5

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“You Can Get Satisfaction”

“You Can Get Satisfaction”


“O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.”

Psalm 108:1


It was the Rolling Stones who produced the hit song, “I Cant Get No Satisfaction” and that might be a true statement in this life as everything is temporal at best. But the good news today, loved one, is where the world of possibility ends its just the beginning for the work and miracles of God. That's why the Psalmist can sing, my heart is steadfast.

In Christ, and in Him alone we can and do find satisfaction. The Gospel is good news for a reason. All the good news of this world is centered in God, His purpose and plans and absolutely nothing can keep Him from accomplishing His will. He overcomes evil with good, and what the enemy tries to use for evil God turns it for good as well. And because God is inherently good everything He does is in both His and our best interest.

Yes, friends, today you can be satisfied if you will look to be satisfied with God alone. Trust His ways, look and lean on Him and your heart too will be come steadfast because God is not only the Rock, but He is our Rock!


“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,”


Hebrews 6:19

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“Oh Have You A Story To Tell”

“Oh Have You A Story To Tell”

 

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,”

Psalm 107:1-2

 

Everybody has a story to tell, some good, some bad and some that are so incredible they will change the way you see the world. Have you ever met a person who got a new car? They usually are very excited to share all the features and what it was that made them pick the car to begin with. Others will visit some vacation destination that seemed like heaven on earth and the more you listen to them talk about it, the more you want to go visit yourself. The same can be said of a great restaurant too. Enthusiasim is contagious for sure and is why God has called the church to share our faith openly with others.

In Luke 4 Jesus was healing people in the Galilee region and and stopped at the home of Simon Peters mother in law who was deathly ill and healed her. Immediately afterwards the people wanted Jesus to stay there but He lovingly told them that He needed to move on as He had much more preaching to do to reach those who have yet to hear the gospel. There is a world dying to hear the Good News and we must be open to going to where ever and whomever the Lord leads us to share.

The aposte Paul instructing young Timothy said, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Yes, loved one, its both our right and responsibility to share the love of God in Christ with a dying world. Many might not know they need to hear the Good News, others will even reject it but don’t let the lack of enthusiasm ob you of the your passion for Christ. Seek to know Him today an make Him known. The glory is all His and the blessings, yours and mind!

“How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Isaiah 52:7

 

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“Grace Never Grows Old”


“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.”

 

Psalm 71:9

 


One week in my refrigerator and most things start to grow old, or maybe better put, mold. One thing that never grows old we see in Psalm 71 is grace. Praise God His grace never grows old. How about yours? How is your grace today, loved one? If the grace you show others and maybe even yourself today has grown old let me invite you to spend some time at the feet of Jesus.

 

At the feet of Jesus we discover grace and in some ways that is the last place you would expect to find it. After all, God is perfect in all His ways and would be completely justified if He banished us not only from His presence but into Hell for all eternity. We are convicted sinners after all, every last one of us. Yet, the Good News of the Gospel is when we come broken to the foot of the Cross we don’t find condemnation for our sin, but rather, we find forgiveness.

 

I remind our church family that the world will do three things to each of us if we allow it too. First, it will use use, then it will abuse us and then ultimately it will lose us. When things get old the world discards them as useless but the Lord is just the opposite. He promises us in His fitfulness that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Gods grace never grows old!

 

The Psalmist declares from his youth until he was old and gray headed that God had been good to him, very good. Allow God’s grace to comfort and strengthen you today no matter if you are young or old. May each day of your life remind you of His faithfulness and may be aware as He gives you cause each day to sing His praise. Let your life be proof that grace never grows old.

 


“My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, And my soul, which You have redeemed.”

 

Psalm 71:23

 

 

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“Ask Within Reason”



“And the king said to her, "What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you--up to half the kingdom!"

Esther 5:3


Esther chapter 5 is a great reminder to us that God answers prayer in huge ways if only we would ask in faith. When Esther appears uninvited before Xerxes or Ahasuerus as some believe him to be Esther proves to have found favor in the kings eyes when he invites her to come forward as he holds out the golden scepter to her signifying his approval of her being there. Did you know, friend, Jesus holds out the golden scepter to you and to me who come to Him in prayer by faith? John 6:37 declares in advance of our coming, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”

That’s the beauty of God’s grace extended to us and proof once again we don’t need to try to earn the kings favor by our works. God longs to see you and to meet with you in prayer. Come boldly before His throne and make your requests known to God knowing as the author of Hebrews has declared to us in Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Yes, friend, if your life is hidden in Christ today then ask whatever you will and it will be done for you. It’s true! That’s what your king has invited you to do in John 15:7, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

Unlike Esther in our story here who came uninvited, we who are in Christ Jesus have an open invitation to come into God’s presence any time day or night. I pray we accept His invitation and come to the throne room and seek our king in our time of need. His invitation to us is clear and simple as God sent them out almost 2000 years ago. The Father did not use ink that fades away, He did so in the very blood of His Son, the precious blood of Jesus.

God didn’t want you and I to miss the chance to seek His face, to come boldly before His throne, that wonderful throne of grace in our time of need so He sent out the invitation in the effective blood of our Savior that will never fade away. Knowing that, with all my heart I encourage you today to come like Esther before your king and ask within reason. Just think, the king might just give you up to half of the kingdom when you do.

Here in Esther’s story the phrase “up to half the kingdom” is a figure of speech. The king is saying to her, make your request within reason and I will grant it. What an invitation Esther was given and our invitation is even greater than hers! Our King has not even put stipulations on our requests, God simply invites us to come and ask by faith believing that we will receive from Him our requests when we do. What do you have need of today, loved one? Bring it to God in prayer…



19  And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19


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“The Favor of God”



“Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me.”



Ezra 7:27-28


In chapter 7 Ezra travels back and forth from Babylon to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord and is blessed by God in that the heathen king ruling allows Ezra to come and go and even assists Ezra in the beatifying the house of the Lord. Proof yet again that a man might plan his steps but it is the Lord who causes them to come to pass. Ezra collects goods from the people and is able to put together a team from among them to complete the work that he has discovered he is to do.

How did Ezra go about discovering the work and the calling on his life? The same way you and I do too! Read verse 10, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” If we have a desire to truly be used of the Lord we need to follow the example given by the Lord Himself in the scriptures.

Notice the power of the Word of God that we read of in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”. All scripture and not just part of it or just the parts we deem are necessary. God has said the whole Word; the full counsel of God is good for us and will instruct us in the way we should live and the service we are to provide for Him. There is a blessing that comes with obedience to the Lord and Ezra understands what I pray you and I understand today too. It is God who is working behind the scenes in our life granting us favor wherever we go when we go in the name of the Lord. Ezra came to understand that it is the Lord who grants us mercy before even the very enemies of God.

But, as good as all that there is something even better and that is my prayer for you today. I pray that your heart would be strengthened and encouraged because you have seen with your own eyes and experienced for yourself as you have sought to serve the Lord that His hand is upon you, upon your life leading you, guiding you, protecting and providing for you. The best gift is the gift of His presence. May you enjoy walking with Jesus today!


“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6-7

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"A Labor of Love"



“…to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening”


1 Chronicles 23:30



When I read 1 Chronicles 23 I am immediately reminded of a famous quote, “If you love what you do for a living you will never work another day in your life”. What a privilege the children of the tribe of Levi were given here. Oh to be able to rise up and stand each morning thanking and praising the Lord, and then each night to do likewise, to be able to come back and praise the Lord all over again. Should that not be our goal, our aim each and every day to begin and end each day praising Jesus and thanking Him for all that He does and even more so for being who He is? No matter what, for every believer this is to be job one, our labor of love!

Resolve to thank and praise the Lord each day when you arise and thank and praise Him each night as you lay your head down to sleep for getting you through the day, for being there with you and providing all your needs. Like the worship song of old declares, “love Him in the morning when you see the sun arising, love Him in the evening because He took you through the day, and in the in between times when you feel the pressure coming, remember that He loves you and has promised to stay… with you”. We really do have something to sing about today!

Enter His rest today and every day thanking God and praising Him for numbering you as a child of the King just like He did for the Levites here in 1 Chronicles 23. If we are in Christ we really are kings and priests unto our God, loved one, so lets dedicate the best of our days to following the simple instructions given to the Levites here. Lets set our hearts on thanking and praising God each day!



“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

Hebrews 13:15

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"The Victor's Crown"



“Then David took their king's crown from his head, and found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there were precious stones in it. And it was set on David's head. Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance.”

1 Chronicles 20:2



God was with David in rest and at war. Some only find God while at rest but they that walk with God sense His presence even when they are at war. As you read this short chapter don’t think for a minute it is just trivial information contained here in this story. God has placed this gold nugget of truth exactly where it needs to be in the bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” God wants you to know that when you and I were Born Again we became part of the winning team. Yes, God will deal with our sin just like He did in the nation of Israel but He will never abandon us in our struggle. I am always thankful when I am reminded that no matter how bad things seem, no matter how tough the battle gets in life, the bible reminds us over and over again that you and I are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus.

David was anointed king but all was not well under his rule as the enemies of God still had control of the ark even after David was anointed ruler in Israel. There is an encouraging picture that comes to mind here in chapter 20, one that reminds us even though David has been anointed king, even though you and I are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, sometimes there is a gap between the our anointing and the victory.

A day is unto a thousand years and a thousand years as unto a day in the Lord. Know this, God is not slow as some count slow. Life for David didn’t change immediately the day he became king of Israel (it was years before he took office) and everything in our lives might not have seemed much different the day we came under the kingship of Jesus our Lord. The good news is though, our lives really are different, and all things have been made new, even when we can’t see it. This is where faith in God comes in. God is in control, He is working as His word declares in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” We just need to remember where to look, to look to God through the eyes of faith.

Like in King David’s life, as in yours and mine, just as in the life of our Lord Jesus the Father is continuing to subdue all our enemies until the day that Jesus returns in glory. The Lord has conquered and He continues to conquer as He leads us in battle. Hebrews 1:13 reminds us of the victory we have and continue to have in Jesus, “But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"?

Just as King David was crowned with many crowns the book of Revelation reveals that Jesus our conquering King has been crowned with many crowns too. Revelation 19:12 says, “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.” The royal diadem that Jesus wears here is a sign of His authority and power. He truly is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Hold on to that fact today, beloved one, if you are a Christian, do not forget that you are a child of the King and an heir to the kingdom of God. No matter how many battles you must fight in this life, or how many wars you must wage, you are a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

Remember, there is a day coming when the last battle is waged that we too will receive the victor’s crown to go along with our royal diadem given only to kings and priests. The battle is the Lord’s and yet He shares the glory with us, His beloved. Be encouraged today as you fight the good fight of faith knowing…


“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”

Revelation  21:7

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Your Life Matters


“Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him.”

2 Kings 12:2

When you read the history-surrounding chapter 12 of 2 Kings and how the Lord extended the life of Jehoiada for 130 years (2 Chronicles 24:15) we see again the grace that the Lord shows to man. It is no small thing the care that God shows for one person. It is worth noting that it had been over a thousand years since a man had lived this long. Jehoiada was to Jehoash what Moses was to Aaron, what Abram was to Lot, and what the apostle Paul was to the church that we read about in Philippians 1:24 where the apostle writes, “Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

God knows even when we don’t recognize it…that we need help, that we need one another. Even the Lord sent out His disciples two by two that we read about in Luke 10:1, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.”

The New Testament makes clear that we are part of one another and that no man is an island to him or her self. Over and over again the analogies, the metaphors, the allegories used in scripture point to us as being the body of Christ, the family of God, and the Lord being our Heavenly Father and that we are His children. Unity and community are the blue print of God’s design for His kingdom.

It’s been well said that in life we all need three types of people to live a full and productive life. First, we need someone like the apostle Paul in our life. You know the person who we can go to for advice and direction and leadership when we are unsure of what to do. Second, we also need a Timothy type in our life as well. Someone who we can pour our life into and share what we have learned about life (if only to help them not make the same mistakes as we have).  Third, we all need a Barnabas type in our life, be it a man or woman who encourages us and brings us comfort, who is there for us when no one else is. Three very distinct personalities that bring balance to our lives.

The bottom line is we were all created for relationships, friend, and God has placed people in our lives right now that we can impact in a positive way to help them grow and do what is right in the sight of the Lord. Pray about and determine to seek out others with the hope of making a difference in their life. Whatever you decide to do, don’t go it alone! Make a connection with the people around you, use your gifts to bless others. Leave a legacy like the one Jehoiada did in the life of Jehoash. Leave the world a little better than how you found it!

 
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.”


Ecclesiastes 4:9

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"For The Grace of God Go I"


“And Hazael said, "Why is my lord weeping?" He answered, "Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child." So Hazael said, "But what is your servant--a dog, that he should do this gross thing?" And Elisha answered, "The LORD has shown me that you will become king over Syria."

2 Kings 8:12-13 


2 Kings chapter 8 is a solemn reminder that you and I are capable of just about anything regardless if we think or say otherwise. In the New Testament, Romans 12:3 reminds us, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” And the apostle goes on to declare in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” What the apostle Paul was saying here is that even when he thought he was doing good he was not only wrong, but he was dead wrong.

In order to enjoy the victory that is ours in Jesus Christ we must understand our desperate need for God in every facet of our being. There is not one area of our lives that is safe from sin and death apart from the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross at Calvary. The danger in all our lives is when we like Hazael can not envision our capacity for sin even though the scriptures make it perfectly clear that in fact we are capable of sin beyond our own imagination.

Isaiah 64:6 paints an ugly picture of our lives apart from Christ, “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Ephesians 2:1-3 puts it like this, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

Yes, the Good News of the Gospel is its only by the grace of God that you and I don’t commit the same selfish sinful acts in this life like Hazael does here in 2 Kings chapter 8. Grace isn’t just a good thing, its the best thing for by it you and I can be saved. The key is to live in grace each day, resting in and trusting God’s amazing grace to not only save you but to keep you too. Do not trust yourself, but rather trust the Lord. Do not look to yourself but rather look to Jesus, and keep your eyes fixed on Him and you will be safe. As my pastor would always say, “you are as safe as you are in Christ, abide in Christ”.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”


Proverbs 3:5-6


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"Too Good Not To Share"


"We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent"

2 Kings 7:9

The gospel of Christ is called good news for a reason, it is! It is such wonderful news to know that the God of heaven so loved this world so much that He would give His Only Begotten Son to ransom it that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have ever lasting life. Sounds almost too good to be true but just as the four lepers discovered in 2 Kings chapter 7 that some news is so good you can’t keep it to yourself.

If you recall the prophet Elisha made a remarkable prediction to the king that the next day fine flour and barely would be sold at very low prices at the gate of Samaria. That might not seem like much of a prediction until you realize the country was experiencing extreme famine at the time. The kings aide questioned the likelihood of such an event and Elisha told the kings aide he would see it with his own eyes but not enjoy eating any of it. Sadly due to the aides unbelief he would be killed when he was trampled by those celebrating at the cities gate.

The four lepers who sat at the gate of Samaria soon discovered the city was empty as the powerful Syrian army fled out of fear when they heard what they thought to be the noise of what sounded like an invading army coming. With the city completely empty and more food and money and clothing than these lepers could possibly carry themselves they out of fear decided to notify the king.

Just like Elisha had said, fine flour and barley sold for very low prices the next day and the kings aide who had doubted the word of the Lord was dead too. Unbelief kills every time. We do well to take every promise of God to heart, to receive it and act in accordance upon it, and just like the lepers in the story here we do well to remember that the Good News of the Gospel was meant to be shared and if we are not sharing it with others who are starving in this world for truth and hope, we ourselves are not doing what is right.

Share the wealth of God’s Word, of His love and amazing grace! Let the world know the famine has ended, forgiveness is available and times of rejoicing in the land are upon us!

 
“How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

Isaiah 52:7

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