“Do you believe heaven is real? Do you believe hell is real? If so, why aren’t we more willing to share our faith.” That is one of the things Mark Cahill said yesterday as he preached. If we really believe that each of us will go to one place or the other then we must be about sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. As I read this morning in Matthew 24:30 “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.” I was thinking about the mourning that will come that day. So many will know for sure then that Jesus really is and was the Son of God but for them it will be too late. My heart grieves to think about the many who will go to hell because they have not believed in the one and only Son of God. Oh Father, give me an urgency to tell. Give us a realistic understanding that those we know who do not know you will spend eternity in a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Please forgive me for my complacency and help me be moved to action as I share the hope I have in You.
Psalm 56: Fear is a huge weapon Satan uses on us. We fear many things, loss of family, jobs, homes, possessions. The list goes on and on. We fear because we can’t control. It affects our health, our ability to function, and even how deep our relationships become because it is rare to open one’s self up if we fear we will hurt through the experience. How do we overcome? That is a great question. The Sunday school answer is Jesus. lol, and deep down that is correct, but what does that look like in our lives? It begins with turning over the reigns of control to the One we know can control all things. God is the creator of all things. He holds them all together. He can be trusted even when we don’t understand all we are going through. We walk by faith not by sight. Knowing He is in control we can follow His instruction and know He has tomorrow in control. It may not be exactly as we had hoped but we know He loves us and is for our good. He sees tomorrow and directs our paths in the right way. Knowing these things we can have confidence and live in peace on the inside and out. His plans are bigger that we can dream or imagine. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us.
On days when I am tempted to be anxious and overwhelmed I run back to some of the verses we read today.
Psalm 56:3″But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
4I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?”
If you are experiencing fear today these would be great verses to write on a card and place it where you will see it often. For me, I have been ministered to even as I have written these reminders of why I can trust Him. May you be encouraged too.
Acts 27:27-44 It is amazing to me how much credibility and respect Paul had with the commander of the ship. Paul was a prisoner on his way to be tried and yet the captain of the ship he was sailing on listened to him when he told them if the sailors left in life boats they would die. The captain cut the ropes to the life boats keeping all on the ship. I wonder how the sailors felt about the preacher? Did they resent him? Did they trust him? The next morning when they could see the beach they tried to make a landing, but were caught on a reef. I love how the scripture said 42″the soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. 43But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul, so he didn’t let them carry out their plan. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land.” The commander wanted to save Paul…Do you think maybe the preaching of the gospel had changed the captain? Do you think his new found respect was because God was stirring his heart? We aren’t told why he had such great respect, but we are told in the last verse, 44 “So everyone escaped safely to shore.”
Their safety was dependent upon their trust not in Paul, but in God. Wow, isn’t it the same with us. We may not be on a sinking ship, but our lives are definitely in stormy waters many days. Who are you trusting during your storms of life? Are you trying to get into the life boat of a secure job, your possessions or money, or even in a relationship? The only way to be saved is to put your trust in the Father. Listen for His leadership in your life and know though the waters may get rough, you will be saved.
“I love you.” Don’t you treasure sweet relationships? I sure do. One of the things I have asked the Father is to help me to see ways daily I can pour my life out on the people He puts in my path. This love takes many different forms like making lunch for workers at the house, listening to a hurting friend, or taking flowers to a sweet widow. I want to be tender of heart and mind and to have ears to hear where others are hurting or have needs. I don’t always say “I love you,” although I do voice that at times. I want them to see by my hearing their needs and trying to meet them that I am saying I care about you. I love you can be communicated so many ways including a smile, a healthy touch like a pat on the back, or just stopping long enough to really hear what someone is saying.
Tomorrow we celebrate a day where love is in the spotlight. Why not pray today and ask God to reveal to you someone who needs to know they are loved and cared about. Listen and think about how you can best communicate care for that person. It may be something as simple as taking them a card or candy. It could be taking them flowers. It could be that God wants you to ask them to join you for a meal or take brownies to them. No matter how you choose to show your love and care for others just do it. Don’t allow inconvenience or lethargy prevent you from doing what God is calling you to do. Most of all, have fun!
Matt. 10:21-42, Ex.1-3: So many wonderful things in today’s scripture reading. Many of the passages today dealt with people who were fearful. The passage in Matthew talked about people who were fearful because of people who turned against them and said bad things about them. Jesus’ response, 28“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” I love it that immediately after this scripture He reassures them that they are of great value to Him. He reminds them that God knows when a sparrow falls and He cares for them much more than the sparrow. He declares that He knows the very number of hairs on their head. He knows us intimately and He doesn’t just say He cares, He really does care.
A perfect picture of this is seen in Exodus 1-3 when God heard the cries of His people who were captive in Egypt. He sent them a deliverer through Moses. To Moses God reminded him that He would be with him and that “I Am” would be whatever he needed Him to be.
How about you, are you facing anything that is making you fearful right now? I loved what a gentleman in my Sunday School class said yesterday, “When fear comes knocking at your door, answer it with faith. When faith answers the door there will be no one standing there. ” What a great reminder to me to answer my fears with faith and to see God make fear run.
One of the things that stood out to me today was Abraham’s servant spirit. When the two visitors showed up his first inclination was to serve them a meal. Granted he did not do all of the cooking, but he did go and have things prepared. He served them his best. What a wonderful example to us of how God would have us treat those who are visitors in our homes, but also in our churches. Here are some principles I took away.
* See them, not just acknowledge they are there, but stop your world to greet them and speak.
* Offer them hospitality. These men needed to eat, your guests may just need someone to sit with or for you to just listen to them.
* Give them your best. Abraham offered them his best food. He treated them as royalty. When we treat others with respect they know they are valued.
* Blessings immeasurable came Abraham’s way because of the way he treated his guests.
* Our hospitality is seen by others and it is an example. Lot, though he made some bad choices, made a good choice when he too invited the men to stay in his home. I wonder if it was because of the example set for him.
In the end Hebrews tells us to be hospitable for by so doing some have entertained angels unaware.
When we were writing Missional Christmas there was NO WAY we could have seen how different this Christmas would really be. I have always decorated big for Christmas. This year my decorating is with insulation and finally sheetrock!!!!! Hooray! Our mission field walks through the door daily. In years past they were church members and community people. I had parties and ministered to those who were lonely but most them had some knowledge of a relationship with Jesus. WELL, we couldn’t be any further from that this year. Some of our workers have spent time incarcerated. Others live in unheated homes and choose which meals they can afford to eat each day. Ministry has looked like a hot meal, sending leftovers home to mentally handicapped younger siblings, and seeing physical needs like coats and work belts. I have never walked into a store and the first thing I thought about was getting small gifts for our workers like electrical tape, measuring tapes, pencils and the like. I have NEVER been so fulfilled in making meals when men eat seconds and thirds until there is nothing left to eat. My heart has been more filled than I can even put into words.
For those not doing the Advent Journal with us, I wanted to give you a taste of what we are reading. Les wrote today’s devotion and here is one of the illustrations he used.
I heard about a mom and kids who begged their husband
and dad to join them for the Christmas Eve service, but
he wasn’t a churchgoer for 51 other weeks in the year,
and he didn’t see the need to make the week of December
25th an exception. No, he would stay home on the snowy
Christmas Eve in New England and keep the fire going.
The man was watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the
gazillionth time, when he heard a thump on the window.
A few seconds later, there was another thump. He
walked to the window to discover that birds were flying
into the window in an effort to escape the cold and the
The man’s heart went out to the desperate creatures, so
he ran to the barn, opened the door, and turned the light
on, hoping they would fly to shelter, but they didn’t
The man ran over to the birds and began to yell and
wave his arms, hoping to guide them toward the barn
and into safety, but his actions only seemed to cause them
The frustrated would-be savior thought to himself, “If
only I could get through to them! If only I spoke their
language. If I could be a bird, just for a few seconds, I
could save them. . .”
At that thought, the man stopped dead in his tracks. Why
hadn’t he seen it before? He quickly checked his watch.
Maybe it wasn’t too late. He ran inside the house,
grabbed the keys to his truck, and drove off into the night
toward the church, where an unsuspecting family was
getting ready to receive their best Christmas present ever.
There’s an old Christmas song that reads,
“Little Baby in a manger, I love you. Coming down to earth a
stranger, I love you. Wise men saw the star and answered, ‘I
love you.’ Little baby in a manger, I love you.”
And that baby grew up to be a man—a perfect
man—the Son of God. He loved us enough to put
skin on, come to this earth, live a selfless life, die a
sacrificial death for our sins, be raised from the
dead, eventually to go back to His Father and
prepare a place for all who will trust and follow
Him. – LH
Romans 8 is such a great reminder of the hope we have as children of God. 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ” You may be suffering here on earth, but it is only for a time if you are a child of God. In days to come Jesus will come again and take us home! There will be no sin, sickness, sorry or pain. Praise the Lamb! Until then remember 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ALL THINGS! Whatever your struggle, challenge, or heartbreak it may not be good, but it works together for your good. Last but certainly not least, 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ” Press on sweet friend, the best truly is yet to come.
“What a mess!” That is what the electrician said as he walked through the house checking out the work that was to be done. He tried to follow a wire from one end to the other and found what looked like spider webs of wire tangled together. He found places where wires had been twisted together with a plastic cap holding them together. He found junction boxes crammed with more wires than should have been in them. They began pulling the jumbles of wire down and dismantling junction boxes in an effort to rewire and correct what had been at 2 additions to what had been the original house. It was almost like watching a treasure hunt as one electrician would say to the other where does that go? Or have you seen where this goes to? Other times they were looking outside the house, under it, or in the attic for leads to where a wire would go. When all of the wire was finally detached from the house wire covered the floor and looked like a puzzle or chaos.
Over and over the men would say, “I am sorry for making such a mess.” They would take each wire and roll it up for easier removal. Years of dirt and dust covered the encased wire. The Chinese sheet rock had discolored and affected some. I just kept thinking, “Father, thank you for letting us get this straightened out before we moved in. Thank you for revealing the problems so they could be fixed without tearing the walls down again. Thank you for bringing men to this project who have been inspectors and know how to do it right.”
What was once a mess will soon be made right and all of the electricity functioning properly. No more will we have switches that serve no purpose or outlets that don’t work.
Do you feel like your life is somewhat of a mess? Are there parts of your life that is out of hand or just doesn’t work anymore? Maybe it is time to spend time with the Father and allow Him to do a total system over hall. Ask Him to check each and every relationship in your life to see does it connect you will a deeper relationship with Jesus or pull you away. Ask Him to check your basic foundations of faith. Are they grounded in God’s word or traditions from your family or church? Ask Him to check your junction boxes of contact with Him. Have you rested on what God did in your life yesterday or even years ago instead of having a fresh encounter with Him? Spend time in prayer asking Him for a fresh connection with Him. Then allow Him to wrap up anything that wasn’t of Him. Have Him untangle relationships or friendships that may have gotten “bent out of shape”. Give Him free reign to rewire you in any way that brings Him glory. He is the most trustworthy project manager you will ever depend on.