Monday, April 30, 2018

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 44:22

Isaiah 44:22 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
    I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
    for I have paid the price to set you free.

Daily Word of God - Romans 5:8

Romans 5:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 18:10

Proverbs 18:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;
    the godly run to him and are safe.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - “Understanding God’s Kingdom”

Over the years I have been asked to describe God’s kingdom to adults and children alike. Each have reasons for asking about His kingdom. Some ask due to deaths in their families and they want to know that their loved ones have gone on to a place paved with gold and mansions for all. Children, naturally being curious about things that they have never seen, ask about Heaven. Their understanding is a little different. They believe it is more like a chocolate factory and that there are cookies and cakes for all to eat and enjoy. Candy abounds for all children.

No matter if you are nine or ninety, we all want to know what God’s kingdom is like and what we should expect. In Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet,” the main character and namesake of the play talks about committing suicide. In his famous soliloquy, Hamlet considers what it would be like to die by one’s own hand and end the pain of life. Later on he discusses what comes after death. Hamlet calls that life after death the “undiscovered country”. Many have ventured there and very few have returned to tell of what it is like. He does not take his life, because he fears the unknown. He does not want to risk an afterlife with even more torment.

We have all heard of stories of individuals who have died and gone over to the other side, Heaven, hell or, as Hamlet put it, the “undiscovered country”. Some have told of a wonderful bright light that engulfs them and they feel a wonderful warmth. Their loved ones who had passed away are there to greet them. Others have told of horrifying stories of demons and a pit with the smell of sulfur and ash. In either case, the images seen by those individuals forever changed their mind regarding the afterlife. For those who saw the gates of hell, they mended their ways and became Christians. For those who were engulfed by the warmth of the light, they remained steadfast in their faith and witnessed to those around them. They no longer feared the life event called “death”. For them, death is an event that opens a door to a new life.

As I read those stories, I thought about what Jesus had to say about the Kingdom of God. In Mark 4, Jesus used parables to help individuals who opened their hearts to understand the nature of God. Starting with verse 30, Jesus describes the Kingdom as a mustard seed. Let us look at that passage. “30 Jesus said, ‘How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.’”

Instead of describing the streets paved with gold or, in the case of children, paved with chocolate, Jesus talks about the Kingdom as a mustard seed. How could this wonderful place be a mustard seed? When you read the whole chapter in its entirety, you begin to understand that even the disciples have problems understanding them. The stories were not complex, but they required one thing, faith.

As our faith grows just like that mustard seed, our understanding grows not only of the Kingdom but also of God. The Kingdom is more than just a place to live. It is also the nature of God. Jesus tells us that the tiniest of seeds grows into the largest of garden plants. It provides shade and shelter for birds to make their home. That one parable describes God’s nature. He is Lord over all and He provides for all those who find shelter and sanctuary within Him just like the mustard plant.

In Luke 17, Jesus is asked by a Pharisee when will the Kingdom of God come. Jesus replies, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” The Kingdom of God already exists among us. It is the nature of God and what He does daily for His children. He provides for our every need and He loves us with an unfailing love that we cannot possibly understand. It is exactly like that mustard seed. As our faith and love for Him grows daily, the Kingdom grows daily. It is more than a place. It is a state of the heart and soul. 

Many years ago, some states used that concept as a tagline for their vacation commercial. Those commercials showed happy people exploring, shopping and just enjoying the natural beauty and wonders of that particular place. They ended those commercials with the tagline, “It is more than just a place. It is a state of mind.” To an extent, the Kingdom of God is the same way. It is understanding God’s nature and what He is to us. His very name of Yahweh means “I am”. God does not exist due to some natural or supernatural power. God exists, because He exists. The Kingdom exists because God exists. As members of His Kingdom, we are the outward sign of its existence and its nature. 

In 1 John 4, John tells us what God truly is. “7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Yes, God is love. He is our Creator and Sanctifier. He is all of those things and so much more. When we understand and practice love, we truly become part of His Kingdom. It exists when we reach out to those who are thirsty or hungry and provide for their needs. Just as God provides for us, we, too, must act in love by providing for the needs of others. God provides shelter and sanctuary to us and we can do the same for others.

As we do this daily, the Kingdom grows larger and larger. Our understanding of God increases and so does our love for Him and all of our brothers and sisters around the world. If we practice this regularly, loving one another, we will truly find the Kingdom among us. It is more than just a place. It is the nature of God. Love is His nature and His promise is peace. 

As part of His Kingdom, our steps do not belong to us. They belong to Him. He directs every move and action of our lives. In Psalm 143, David tells us, “8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.

As we walk among those in darkness, we can tell them of a Kingdom that knows no boundaries or borders. It is a kingdom that transcends time and space. It is not here or there. It exists in the hearts and lives of those who are called by Him as His children.

I know that there are those who are lost and do not have that mustard seed that grows into the Kingdom of God. You wander from one moment to the next with no purpose in life. But, you do not have to. You can become part of God’s kingdom by accepting His son, Jesus, as your personal Savior and Lord. It isn’t difficult to do, but it does require that you walk daily in a new life provided by the Father and understanding that His son died for your sins to give you that newness of life.

Understanding the Kingdom of God starts with that very small seed, a seed of faith. As your faith grows daily, your understanding of the Kingdom grows daily. The Kingdom will provide you with the shelter and shade in this dry and weary land. It will give you that peace you are seeking so desperately in your life.

For those who are living their lives in accordance to His will and allowing Him to direct your footsteps, we need to live as members of God’s kingdom and always remember that we are the outward sign of that Kingdom. We must love one another and understand what unfailing love truly means and that God is love. When we do all that we are commanded to do, not for reward but for God’s glory and honor, we know that we can stand firm in His grace. 

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Romans 10:9

Romans 10:9 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Daily Word of God - Deuteronomy 6:5

Deuteronomy 6:5 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 17:28

Proverbs 17:28 New Living Translation (NLT)

28 Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent;
    with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 1:7

Ephesians 1:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

Daily Word of God - Matthew 20: 17-19

Matthew 20:17-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[a] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 10:17

Romans 10:17 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Prayers for the Persecuted - Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been on death row for nearly 8 years in Pakistan on archaic blasphemy charges for offering a Muslim coworker a glass of water. Her appeal has been delayed and delayed – never justice.

Her situation has been bleak, but we just received a glimmer of hope.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court has just announced that the Court will soon hear Asia Bibi’s appeal.

Imagine what it’s done to her children, as their mother has languished on death row for years, locked away from them, waiting for any news about her stagnate appeal.

Please pray for Asia's release and continue to pray for all those around the world who are persecuted for their faith.

1 Peter 4:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 14:1

Psalm 14:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Only fools say in their hearts,
    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
    not one of them does good!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Thessalonians 2:13

2 Thessalonians 2:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.

Mid-Week Message - Don't Be Lukewarm

"To the angel of the church at Laodicea write:  These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  Revelation 3:14-16 (NIV)
I worked in childcare for many years.  In fact, my first job was at a Kindercare in Austin, Texas while I was in high school.  One of the fun parts of working with children in a child care facility or school is the field trips.  I got to tour a lot of fun places.  We visited a bakery and had fresh baked bread and butter, a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and a car manufacturing plant where we got to see an entire car put together from beginning to end.  In the summers we went to movies every week, the swimming pool and to various playgrounds.  One summer in Dallas, we went to a wonderful place that had playground equipment and a petting zoo.  The kids loved it!  Unfortunately, it was over one hundred degrees outside so the adults were miserable.  When we finally got back to the building, I hurried to the first water fountain that I saw.  I bent down and took a drink of what I was expecting to be refreshingly cold only to find myself with a mouthful of lukewarm liquid which I immediately spat out.  It was nothing that I wanted in my mouth, let alone to go down my throat!  I asked our assistant where a better fountain was and was told that they were having trouble with all of them so if I wanted something cold I would have to get it after leaving.  
I tell you this story because it made the above verses very real to me.  I can understand the concept of something being neither hot nor cold and wanting to rid yourself of it.  When I began to think about it from a spiritual point of view I found I had a lot of introspection to do.  How was my love for the Lord?  Was I totally disengaged?  Was I on fire?  Sadly, I found that I was more in the lukewarm vicinity than I realized. 
So what do we do when we find ourselves in that predicament?  Gratefully, we are capable of changing.  One-on-one time with the Lord is where we need to start.  We need to renew our relationship with Him through prayer.  He is alive and active in our lives whether we realize it or not and we need to be aware and acknowledge that with gratitude.  We need to spend time in His Word, reminding ourselves of what is written and allowing the Holy Spirit to show us what the passages mean to us personally.  We need to make sure that we are in a place of worship and with other Christians regularly so that we are being nurtured and can nurture others in the faith.  And we need to share the gospel with those around us so that they may know Jesus and accept the salvation that He offers.  This is an ongoing process.  As we do these things, we grow closer to Him and stronger in our faith.  We will see Him use our lives for His glory as we gain spiritual insight and become more open to sharing what He has done for us.  
I pray that this week will bring the opportunity for you to see firsthand whether you are cold, hot or lukewarm.  For me, it is something I have to gauge each day.  It is so easy to put things off and before I know it, I am slipping back into being lukewarm and I don't want that to happen.  That spiritual thermometer has to stay with me at all times.  Have a refreshing week.  God bless you!

Daily Word of God - Leviticus 20:8

Leviticus 20:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the Lord who makes you holy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Daily Word of God - Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jeremiah 17:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

Daily Word of God - 3 John 1:4

3 John 4 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Daily Word of God - Romans 15:13

Romans 15:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Daily Word of God - James 1:12

James 1:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ezra 9:6

Ezra 9:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 I prayed,

“O my God, I am utterly ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you. For our sins are piled higher than our heads, and our guilt has reached to the heavens."

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - When Doubts Fill Our Minds

As I think about all of the things that my family and I have gone through in the first couple of months of 2018, it is very easy to have our minds fill with doubts. We wonder if God is even listening to our prayers. We wonder if He truly cares. I am sure that I am not the only one who has felt this way. Think about the times when you have doubts and fears fill your mind and heart. There will be those moments when you are just overwhelmed by the magnitude and number of problems you face. It is so very easy to let those problems just dwarf God. In my case with all of the things that have piled up, I felt that God has abandoned me. I have broken down in tears when it is quiet and the demons sneak into my mind and heart. They whisper into my ear, “Where is your God now?” Sometimes I can fight back those words and I can push those demons out of my heart and mind. During my most stressful moments, I begin to listen to their words. It is at those moments that I am weak and begin to question God’s place in my life. I feel that He has abandoned me and left for me for lost.

I know that many of you have felt that exact way. As you pace the floor late at night or in the early morning, you, like me, are vulnerable to the words of the accuser, Satan. He whispers into your ear those words that poison your relationship with the Lord. You begin to wonder about God and where He is. You wring your hands and try desperately to solve your problems on your own or you, like a drowning person, grasp for even a floating straw to sustain yourself.

I am not here to condemn you for feeling that way. I, too, have had those moments. If you read some of David’s Psalms, he says the same things. He, too, wonders about God and where He is. Look at Psalm 43 specifically at verse 2. “For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” Even the strongest individuals wonder about God’s promise and plan in their lives. Job in chapter 30 describes his anguish. I do not need to remind you of Job’s situation. Suffice it to say, Job has lost everything in his life. He wonders why God has allowed all of this to occur. Look at Job 30 starting with verse 20. “I cry to you, O God, but you don’t answer. I stand before you, but you don’t even look. 21 You have become cruel toward me. You use your power to persecute me. 22 You throw me into the whirlwind and destroy me in the storm. 23 And I know you are sending me to my death—the destination of all who live.” Job not only wonders where God is but he also believes that God has singled him out and used His power to harm him.

I, like Job, have felt those moments. As more and more problems piled up on me, I felt that God was punishing me for something I had done. I have asked Him, “What have I done to deserve this?” It is only natural for people to feel that way. There have been nights when I have fallen to my knees as tears of grief stream down my face. I cry out to God, “What have I done wrong? What sin have I committed?” I know that God loves me and I am His child, but I feel that I am being punished or singled out. Or, worse yet, I feel that God has decided to orphan me. I see myself in a basket left at a firehouse with a note pinned to me reading, “Take care of my baby, because I can no longer do so. Signed. God.” Yes, I felt orphaned.

Once again, I have allowed the accuser, Satan, and his minions to control my thoughts and feelings. After I cry out, I begin to realize what I am doing. I am giving Satan and his demons a foothold. I stop and rebuke him and cast him out of my mind and heart. I no longer give his words weight or sway in my life and situation. I ask God to forgive me for my doubts and questions. I remember the words of Psalm 84. Starting with verse 18. “18 I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. 19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

The Lord God will personally provide the support that we need when we cry out. When doubts fill our minds, we know that He will provide comfort that will give us renewed hope and cheer. When I was on my hands and knees and weeping, He heard my prayers. Instead of denying me help, He came to my rescue. He reminded me of His promise to provide for me with comfort and His grace to weather the storm. By asking for his help and that undeserved grace, He gave me exactly what I needed at the moment and beyond it. God gives graciously when we ask for those things that will sustain us spiritually during those tough and trying times.

In order for God to do this, we must commit ourselves to Him wholly and completely. We cannot do this when doubts fill our minds. We must rid ourselves of fear, uncertainty and doubt. It starts by committing everything we do to the Lord. Let us look at Psalm 37:5. “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.” We must trust Him and know that He will guide our steps out of the valley of darkness.

It is very difficult to do this especially when you are going through these tough and trying moments. But, we must commit everything we do to the Lord. The Psalm does not say only do it when you are going through good times. It tells us that we must commit ourselves in everything we do and, by extension, during all times.

God has promised us when we commit ourselves to Him, He will commit himself to us. Reading from 1 Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” That is just one of many promises He has made. Since He loves and cares for us, we can boldly go to His throne and give Him our worries and cares and know that He will rescue us and provide us with that wonderful grace that will sustain us during those dark moments.

The Psalmist, in Psalm 55:22, sums it up perfectly, “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” By remaining grounded completely and totally in Him, God will not allow us to slip or fall. He will sustain us even during the most trying of times. We must have faith and trust Him totally and completely. When we put our faith into action, our anxiety and the doubts that crop up in our minds will be cast away. God will take care of us just like He always does and continues to do.

I want each of you to think about those moments of stress that you had to endure. Did God let you slip and fall or did He, true to His word, get you through those moments? Sometimes the answer that we receive may not be what we considered the best for us, but when we put distance between ourselves and those times of trouble, we see that God has provided exactly what we needed and has positioned us for blessings so wonderful and beyond our comprehension.

If you live with doubts in your mind and feel that you have been abandoned, you can easily change that. By accepting Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord, you, too, can receive God’s promises and know that He will give you what you need to get through those moments. You do not need to continue to believe that you are alone. Your Father is always there with you as you journey through that valley of darkness. Remember the words of Jesus. Reading from John 33:16. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus will provide you that peace that you are desperately seeking. He overcame earth and the world in order to give us a peace that surpasses our understanding. This world cannot offer us that peace. It cannot offer us that comfort and love that we need. Only God, through His son, Jesus, can offer us that wonderful peace.

Many years ago, I faced another problem in my life. I had lost my hearing in my left ear. I suffered from “sudden hearing loss”. There was no explanation for it. Between 5:15 and 6 one morning, my hearing had changed. At one moment, I could hear crickets chirping and then things changed and I was no longer able to hear them. I remember when the audiologist wrote in my chart, “Sudden Hearing Loss.” She just said the same thing over and over, “I am so sorry.” I worried about the hearing in my right ear. I worried so much that I could not sleep. In fact, I did not sleep for three days and nights. I worried and continued to worry. Finally, I stopped and cast my worries upon the Lord. He gave me the comfort and peace I needed. I slept without those fears, uncertainties and doubts that cropped up in my mind. Over time, most of my hearing returned. I learned that I was never alone and that He was with me even when I was in an MRI tube as they scanned for a tumor.

Like so many others, I must be reminded not to hang on to my problems or allow Satan to put doubt in my mind. By casting out Satan and his words and allowing God to be that steadfast rock and fortress in our lives, we can stand firm in His grace and know that He will rescue us.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Matthew 11:29

Matthew 11:29 New Living Translation (NLT)

29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 56:3-4

Psalm 56:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 But when I am afraid,
    I will put my trust in you.
4 I praise God for what he has promised.
    I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 11:30-31

Proverbs 11:30-31 New Living Translation (NLT)

30 The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life;
    a wise person wins friends.

31 If the righteous are rewarded here on earth,
    what will happen to wicked sinners?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 23:1-3

Psalm 23:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3     He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 4:7

Proverbs 4:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
    And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 10:12

Proverbs 10:12 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Hatred stirs up quarrels,
    but love makes up for all offenses.

Daily Word of God - John 8:7

John 8:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 119:34

Psalm 119:34 New Living Translation (NLT)

34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
    I will put them into practice with all my heart.

Mid-Week Message - Perfectly Made

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16 (NIV)

As most young people do, I daydreamed about having the perfect life.  Once I became an adult, I would find the perfect job then rent the perfect apartment.  I would find a perfect husband, settle down and have perfect children, live in a perfect neighborhood and spend the rest of my life in the perfect happily ever after.  There was one large detail that I failed to consider though.  I, myself, wasn't perfect.

I went to a wonderful college.  Not perfect, but it certainly met my needs as far as education goes.  I met great friends there.  They weren't perfect either, but I loved them and still keep in touch with many of them today.  When I did live in an apartment, the air conditioner had continual problems and the upstairs bathroom floor sank down in one place.  It wasn't perfect but I have very happy memories of my times with the two women that I shared it with.  My jobs weren't perfect either.  In fact, during a couple of them I threw up every night because of the nerves I had about returning the next day.  They were extremely stressful.  But, they did pay my bills.  I didn't marry until the age of 33.  My husband was handpicked by the Lord just for me, and while he isn't perfect, I couldn't love him more.  We have one child and although as her mother I tend to think she is perfect, I guess she isn't in reality.  

I have come to realize that we weren't created to be perfect.  However, we are created perfectly.  God knew just what He was doing when He gave us our bodies and personalities.  He knew we would have weaknesses and that we would make mistakes but He also used those "imperfections" to teach us about Himself and to show us our need for a Redeemer.  Had He created us as perfect beings, what need would we have for Him?  

None of us are perfect.  Not physically, mentally, emotionally or even spiritually.  However, we are being perfected through our relationship with Jesus and one day, when we live with Him in Heaven, we will be perfect.  And what better way to say "thank you" than to spend eternity praising our Creator and Perfector?

This week will bring many reminders of just how imperfect we are.  I pray that you will be encouraged in the knowledge that being imperfect does not mean that you were not created perfectly.  Praise the Lord!  He knows everything about us and loves us still.  God bless you!

Daily Word of God - John 14:27

John 14:27 New Living Translation (NLT)

27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 19:11

Proverbs 19:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

11 Sensible people control their temper;
    they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

Daily Word of God - Matthew 23:26

Matthew 23:26 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Daily Word of God - Exodus 14:14

Exodus 14:14 New Living Translation (NLT)

14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Daily Word of God - Mark 11:24-25

Mark 11:24-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 142:3

Psalm 142:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 When I am overwhelmed,
    you alone know the way I should turn.
Wherever I go,
    my enemies have set traps for me.

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Tears in All Seasons

The great American author, Washington Irving, wrote, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” He could not be more right. Each tear that we shed marks a page in our life’s journal. We weep for joy when we share the marriage of two people and witness the birth of a child. We weep in sorrow when we are saddened by the passing of a spouse, family member or a dear friend. When we are happy or sad, we shed tears. They are the outward signs of how we feel on the inside. Each tear is different from the other. Medical doctors tell me that the composition of tears are different depending on the mood of the individual. When a person is sad or depressed, the chemistry of those tears differ from those shed during times of joy or excitement.

No matter what the case or situation, tears are not a sign of weakness. They are signs of power and expression of our feelings. When you look throughout the Bible, you will see strong individuals called by God to serve who weep. In Chapter 11, John records that Jesus wept after he heard where Lazarus’ family had put him. In fact, verse 35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, “Then Jesus wept.” Jesus later tells Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” It saddened Jesus to hear that they believed more in the power of death than that of life. He wept for them. 

As I continue my journey of recovery, I have wept tears of joy for each milestone that God has guided me to. I wept bitter tears when I experienced setbacks and cried out to the Lord and asked Him why. I, however, quickly remembered the words of Jesus that I have to believe in order to see God’s glory expressed in my life. During those moments of setback, I remember the teachings of Ecclesiastes 3. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” In our lives, we experience the winter of discontent and the spring of joy. We express moments of triumph and trial. There will be seasons when, as the psalmist tells us in Psalm 126, we sow in tears, but we will soon reap a harvest with shouts of joy. 

There will always be times when we weep bitter tears, but we must learn to persevere and move forward not only in our lives but also in our faith. Paul tells us in Romans 5, “And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Endurance does build character which in turn strengthens our faith in that glorious hope of salvation. As we go through that valley of darkness, we will shed tears. We will cry out to the Lord and ask to be delivered. Those tears and cries for mercy will give way to victory. Just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, we, too, will be raised up from the darkest of times to experience the light of victory. 

When I was in high school, I broke my right leg while ice skating. I had never been ice skating before in my whole life. My dad told me stories of how he would skate in the winter on the frozen ponds in Pennsylvania. I figured it would be easy. So, I tried it. I went out on the ice with a couple of friends and in the process, I broke my leg. I thought I had sprained my ankle badly and decided not to go to the hospital. The next day my leg had swollen up and I was unable to put any weight on it. My dad took me to the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center located at Fort Hood, Texas. The emergency room doctor took one look at my leg and knew I had broken one or more of the bones in my lower right leg. He sent me immediately to the orthopedic unit. While there, they performed a series of x-rays and determined that I had broken one of the two bones in my lower right leg. Back then, it was a simple task. Cast the leg, set it and then x-ray it again to make sure everything was aligned properly. If you have never experienced the pain of having a broken bone set, you have missed out on a really painful experience. It is more painful than the breaking of the bone. While I was on the table with my leg in wet plaster, the orthopedic doctor, Major Greene, set my leg. As he was doing that, I began to well up with tears. The pain was excruciating to say the least. Each twist and move was a whole new experience in pain the likes of which I hope I never ever have to feel again. My dad seeing my eyes fill up with tears leaned down and said, “Real men do not cry.” I immediately stopped and endured the pain.

Although I loved my dad dearly, I would have disagreed with him on the weeping. Real men do weep. Jesus wept. Paul wept. The strongest men and women of the Bible wept in joy or sorrow. But, no matter what they wept about, they knew one thing. Tears shed in sorrow will give way to victory. James tells us in chapter 1, “12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” By persevering in our trials and living through each test, we will ultimately have that victory and receive the crown of life. There will be tears along the way, but, as Washington Irving points out, tears are “the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” During those moments of stress and setback, we realize that we do not have the strength within us to go it alone. We must turn to God and allow His grace, mercy and love to become our strength. 

The psalmist tells us in Psalm 34, “19 The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. 20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” That truth was, is and continues to be God’s promise to His children. The Lord always comes to the rescue when He hears our cries or sees our tears. He will not allow His children to go it alone. He will remain there with us and see us through the darkest of times so that we will be that testament of God’s unfathomable love and glory.

If you walk in darkness and feel that all is lost, you can receive God’s gift of salvation and know that He has you in the palm of His hand. When you feel utterly alone, He will embrace you with His mighty arms and shield you from all harm. He loves His children and will send His angels to watch over you and protect you. In order to receive this gift of salvation and peace, all you have to do is accept Christ Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. He will lead you to the Father and provide you with all that you need to enjoy victory when all seems lost.

As we go through this week, always remember that no matter what happens, we can stand firm in His grace and know that, as is written so beautifully in Revelation 24, “4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Luke 6:39-40

Luke 6:39-41 New Living Translation (NLT)

39 Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? 40 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Daily Word of God - 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Daily Word of God - John 15:5-9

John 15:5-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Daily Word of God - John 8:31-32

John 8:31-32 New Living Translation (NLT)

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Daily Word of God - Proverbs 4:23

Proverbs 4:23 New Living Translation (NLT)

23 Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Daily Word of God - Colossians 1:15-17

Colossians 1:15-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,[a]
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.

Daily Word of God - John 8:36

John 8:36 New Living Translation (NLT)

36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Daily Word of God - Genesis 28:15

Genesis 28:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.

Mid-Week - Message - Give Him First Place

"My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day."  Psalm 71:8 (ESV)

When our daughter was about four years old she was quite interested in the Spice Girls.  I am not even sure how she even heard of them, or where she first saw them.  At first we thought that she liked a song that they sang but that wasn't what caught her attention.  One day I asked her why she liked them and she informed me that it was because, "they wear their zucchinis!"  For those of you that don't understand her reference, she meant that they wore their bikinis.  We still laugh over that.  

When I was a teenager, my bedroom walls were plastered with posters of Bobby Sherman.  He was a singer and I had all his records and played them constantly.  I would lay on my bed and daydream about him.  I guess most young girls had an idol that they looked up to and wanted to meet someday.  Those were the days of magazines published just for teens and they promoted idolizing music or television stars.  

When I was older I fell in love with a young man at my church.  I thought the sun rose and set in him.  He wasn't there every week because he attended a university in another town.  I can remember sitting in church every week but not hearing a single word of the sermon because I was too busy looking around to see if he was there.  He became my reason for wanting to be in church each Sunday.  He eventually went his own way, married a girl that I actually introduced to him, and we lost contact.  As I look back, I regret that I let him have the center of my heart because that is to be reserved for the Lord.

There are so many people and things in this world that vie to pull our attention away from where it should be.  I don't like the word "religion" because it is possible to be "religious" about anything.  Whatever you give your time and attention to is your "religion".  Whatever or whomever that is becomes the center of your existence.  The word I prefer is "relationship".  I have a relationship with the Living God.  I have a relationship with Jesus.  In a relationship, there is give and take from both sides.  I communicate with them, they communicate with me.  Money cannot do that.  Bobby Sherman did not do that.  

All people and things in our lives need to prioritized.  The top priority is our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer. the lover of our souls.  After that comes our family, friends, job, etc.  Only One is worthy of our praise and worship and when we have Him on the throne of our hearts, everything else will fall into place. 

As we go through this week, let's keep our guard up against those things that attempt to take our eyes off of the Father.  Let's be free with our praise and worship and thank Him for all He does for each of us.  God bless you!

Daily Word of God - Genesis 9:16

Genesis 9:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Daily Word of God - Psalm 1:1

Psalm 1:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.

Daily Word of God - Colossians 3:12-15

Colossians 3:12-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Corinthians 4:6

2 Corinthians 4:6 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

Daily Word of God - Acts 4:10-12

Acts 4:10-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,

‘The stone that you builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.’

12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Daily Word of God - Galatians 5:22-23

Galatians 5:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Pressed on Every Side by Troubles

As I continue to heal and recuperate from my near-death illness, I began to reflect on several things that have not only perplexed the doctors and specialists who are handling my case but also my wife and myself. One of the major questions is how could this have happened? Was it something I did wrong? Was I not taking care of myself as I should? Where did the source of infection come from? Why wasn't it presenting itself in a typical way so that it could have been diagnosed quicker? These are just a few of the many questions that rattle around in my head when I sit attached to an IV pole every six hours and infuse my medication. The questions get more poignant especially during the evening and early morning infusions. While in the hospitals, I would be in my bed with the lights out. In the darkness, the questions seemed to jump from my unconscious thoughts to my conscious thoughts and plague me to the point until I wept and began to ask them aloud. I gave the questions a voice, a tearful, heartfelt voice. I would ask God why did all of this happen and why to me.

Yes, I felt that I was, am and continue to be pressed from all sides with this horrible illness. With less than 1,000 cases a year reported, I felt like I had been singled out. Between medical bills and a host of other problems, I truly felt surrounded by the enemy and he was going to reduce me to a quivering mass of fear, uncertainty and doubt. He would creep into my hospital room when I was most vulnerable and whisper, "Where is your God now?" I will be candid with you. There were times when I truly began to listen to Satan's words and mouth that very question. I would ask, "Lord, are you there? Are you listening to my prayers? Do you see my pain and tears?" Yes, I broke down and did it regularly. When you face a life-threatening illness, it is only natural to feel alone and broken.

If you look at what I have to do every day, you will quickly discover that having a regular life is very difficult. I am attached to an IV pole for one hour every six hours. For the past eight weeks, I have been going through my daily routine every early morning, mid-morning, afternoon and night. Add on top of that, all of the medications I have to take at specific times. I literally have to set alarms on my cell phone with labels for each event to remind me of what I am supposed to do and when I am supposed to do them. My life, if you could call it that, is centered around a six foot tall IV pole I lovingly refer to as "Slim". He has been there for so long and I grow weary of carrying him throughout my home. I am tied to him via clear plastic IV tubing that is attached to me via a PICC line, a catheter inserted into my right arm that leads directly to my heart.

Each week I have to have a nurse change the dressing that secures it to my arm. Karen, my home healthcare nurse who is a God-send to my wife and myself, must change my dressing under sterile conditions. While she does her work, I have to wear a mask. If I breathe on the PICC line site, I could give myself an infection that could work its way to my heart. Yes, I could actually kill myself by breathing on my own catheter. Because of that line, I have to be cautious when I shower and move around. I have to wear an elastic sleeve to protect the head of the PICC line and its extension, the device I use to administer my medication. Just months earlier, I never knew about any of this and would have been quite content to have not known about any of it. I knew that adults as well as children had them and that special precautions had to be observed to take care of them. I just didn't think I would have to learn about them the hard way by having one myself.

So, you see what I mean when I say that I am pressed from all sides by trouble. If I breathe on my PICC site during a dressing change or fail to follow the right steps in the right sequence during an infusion, I could literally kill myself. Add the side effects of the medications that I am on and my other problems, you can see that my family and I face a lot of troubles. In short, 2018 hasn't been a great year for us.

As I continue through this, I have also been given a great opportunity to strengthen my faith in God and the teaching of His son, Christ Jesus. Just as the enemy continues to rain down blows upon me, I also hear the comforting groans of the Holy Spirit feeding my soul and heart with words of encouragement. Paul, in Romans 8:26, sums it up best when he writes, "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." It is through the prayers of the Holy Spirit that I am able to overcome the fear, uncertainty and doubt in my heart when it comes to my relationship with the Lord.

I often heard the same expression from soldiers who have been in combat, "There are no atheists in foxholes." I realize the same thing. The only way I can make it through this period of problems and pitfalls is to realize that I am weak and it is only through His strength and grace that I can get through it. The doctors have worked a miracle in saving my life, but I believe in the old expression, "It is God who heals and it is the doctor who collects the fee."

When I reflect on the timeline of my illness and on how quickly I went from being healthy to being connected to Slim, I am truly amazed by not only the celerity of the illness but also just how fragile things can be in my physical body. Paul, in his second letter to the church in Corinth, writes in chapter 4 starting with verse 8, "8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

Even though things may seem darkest before the dawn, we must continue to remain grounded in our faith and remain steadfast in God's grace. When we do this, we are a light that shines out into the world that proclaims the love of God and His desire to provide all with salvation. While in the hospital, I found myself sharing my faith with all those around me. I shared with them the words that did not come from the mind but rather the heart. I shared those words with love. Satan can do whatever he can to distract us from the Father, but we know that God will never abandon nor forsake us even in the darkest of hours. Paul sums it up best in 2 Corinthians, "7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."

By having that faith and believing, we are able to share with all those around us so that they, too, can have that wonderful gift of undeserved salvation. Paul writes later in chapter 4 starting with verse 16, "16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."

As we go through the trials set before us, we have an opportunity to share the gospel message with all and to know that by doing so we are able to bring glory to God. As Paul points out, we must fix our sights upon the Lord and those things that cannot be seen so that we can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 40:28

Isaiah 40:28 New Living Translation (NLT)

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Chronicles 7:17-18

2 Chronicles 7:17-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’

Daily Word of God - Numbers 6:27

Numbers 6:27 New Living Translation (NLT)

27 Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Daily Word of God - Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Daily Word of God - Acts 2:21

Acts 2:21 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
    will be saved.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Daily Word of God - 2 Samuel 22:28

2 Samuel 22:28 New Living Translation (NLT)

28 You rescue the humble,
    but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them.

Pray for the Persecuted - American Pastor Andrew Brunson (Update)

American Pastor Andrew Brunson's trial begins in less than 2 weeks, and things look grim. 

After more than 17 months imprisoned in Turkey, Pastor Andrew has been charged with "Christianization."

The prosecution's 62-page indictment is a rambling assault on Christianity, including hearsay from a "secret witness," an attack on Israel, and a complete and utter mischaracterization of the Christian faith.

Yet Pastor Andrew could spend 35 years - essentially the rest of his life - behind bars.

He's a North Carolina native, and his home state Senator, Thom Tillis, recently visited him. "Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God," the Senator said, "but his health has deteriorated."

Pastor Andrew's trial begins April 16th. He's suffered too much, and lost so much time with his family.

Please continue to pray for Brother Andrew and all those who face persecution daily for their faith.

Hebrews 13:3 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Daily Word of God - Joshua 1:9

Joshua 1:9 New Living Translation (NLT)

9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Mid-Week Message - Things Above

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."  Colossians 3:1-4 (NIV)

Walmart is a great place to people watch.  Today, I was sitting in the car waiting for my beloved to come out of the store and, as I always do, I was watching the people coming and going from the building.  It is spring break here so there were plenty of mothers with children, several senior citizens, and of course, single individuals.  What I noticed about each of them, without exception, was that their eyes were focusing on their cars, the store, or the basket they were pushing.  Everything that they were looking at was earth level.  

At one point I glanced up and saw some birds soaring overhead, gently gliding on the breeze.  It occurred to me that, unlike the beings below them, they were free.  They weren't tied down by possessions.  They weren't worried about what time it was and where they needed to be in the next hour.  They had no concern about how much money they had or how they were going to provide food and shelter for their families.  They were simply riding the wind.  Some even appeared to be having fun.  

Our lives are encumbered with so much that draws our focus away from the things above.  During this time in history, making a living is just plain hard for so many.  Providing for ourselves is expensive.  Unlike the birds I saw today, we have responsibilities that must be met.  So how do we do as the scripture says and set our minds on things above and not earthly things?  

The Lord has promised to provide for our needs.  All good things come from Him, therefore, all we have belongs to Him.  When we are able to understand that those earthly items that we treasure are His and not ours, it changes our perspective a bit and we are more able to let go of those things that serve no purpose in our lives.  When we understand that He is our provider then we can look to Him when we have needs arise and trust Him to take care of those needs as He has promised to do and in the way He chooses.  

Our desires for earthly things also need to be addressed.  There is nothing in this world that we can take with us when our Father calls us home.  As my husband says, "we came into this world with nothing and we will leave it with nothing."  When we truly compare what this world can give us to what awaits in Heaven, there is no contest.  In Heaven we will have perfect joy and all that will surround us will be more glorious than we can even imagine.  So, I am asking myself today which I truly want.  

As you go through this week, I ask you to do what I will be doing.  That is, addressing the things, the situations, the responsibilities in my life and examining them to see if they are drawing my focus needlessly away from what God has for me above.  Then, I will be asking Him what needs to be done next.  With all my heart, I wish for God's greatest blessings for each of you.

Daily Word of God - Psalm 84:10

Psalm 84:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 A single day in your courts
    is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
    than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Daily Word of God - Ecclesiastes 5:2

Ecclesiastes 5:2 New Living Translation (NLT)

2 Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.

Daily Word of God - Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

My wife and I love this book and shared it with our dear faith family at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Community in Cedar Park, Texas. We purchased several copies of the book as well as audio book version for their library.

It is indeed a very touching story that will give you a glimpse at Heaven through the eyes of a little boy.

When four-year-old Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the following months-a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back. This true story, retold by his father but using Colton's uniquely simple words, offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, "Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses."

Daily Word of God - 1 John 4:4

1 John 4:4 New Living Translation (NLT)

4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Pray for the Persecuted - Pastor Andrew Brunson

American Pastor Andrew Brunson faces a dire sentence. He could be forced to spend the rest of his life in a Turkish prison.

The 62-page indictment calls this U.S. citizen an "agent of unconventional warfare," charging the pastor with "Christianization."

Nearly half the document is comprised of statements from a "secret witness," making ludicrous mischaracterizations of Christian beliefs and attacks on Israel. It is clearer than ever that Pastor Andrew is on trial for his faith.

His trial begins in 2 weeks. He's already lost over 17 months of his life he can't get back. We cannot let him spend the rest of his life locked away for his faith.

3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.
~ Hebrews 13:3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Daily Word of God - 1 Peter 1:21

1 Peter 1:21 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday - Romans 6:8-11

Romans 6:8-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Daily Word of God - 2 Timothy 1:7

2 Timothy 1:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Easter Sunday Message - Sticks and Stones

Do you remember the old childhood saying of "sticks and stones"? If you don't, it goes like this, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I mention this saying, because it reminds me of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. The stick symbolizes the cross that he is nailed to. The stone is the big stone placed in front of his tomb after he is buried in a borrowed tomb.

When you consider this analogy, the stick and the stone were meant to do one thing, to keep Jesus from being the Messiah. The cross was to end his life once and for all so that he was no longer an annoyance to some of the Pharisees who saw him as a threat. The stone was to prevent his body from being stolen so that people could say that he had risen from the dead. Both items were to stop him from fulfilling the prophecies foretold 700 years before his birth.

In each of our lives, we, too, have sticks and stones that are used against us. Sometimes, they literally are items used to beat or stone Christians. All around the world, Christians are persecuted for their faith to the point of torture, imprisonment or even death. Christianity continues to flourish even when the enemy threatens death. In the United States, the sticks and stones are verbal assaults against our faith. Some call Christians, "crazy, uneducated and unenlightened." They mock and harass Christians regularly and show no tolerance to those who believe in God and the salvation provided through and by His son, Jesus. Yes, sticks and stones can hurt or be used as obstacles to prevent people from believing.

But, if you look closely, you can also see the sticks and stones as being those sacred items that give us the basis of our faith. Those same sticks used to beat down Christians can be fashioned into the cross which is the symbol of our faith. It points the way to our salvation. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, what was once just a stick or pieces of wood become that symbol that allows us to nail our sins to it and be forgiven. When we nail our sins and our old sinful nature to the cross, we die and are resurrected to walk in newness of life. God forgives our sins. Let us look at Psalm 103:12. The psalmist tells us, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." Our sins are gone once and for all.

As for the stone, Jesus is that tested stone. He is the cornerstone of our faith. Let us look at 1 Peter 2 starting with verse 4. "4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Jesus is the stone that was rejected by others. When we accept him into our lives, he becomes for us the living stone. He is the stone that is our bedrock, foundation and cornerstone. As we grow in our faith, we become living stones on which spiritual houses are built as an offering to the Lord.

What was thought to be things that stop or prevent us from believing now turn into those things that support and nurture our faith. Another great example of stones being used is the battle between David and Goliath. Goliath is clad in armor and wields a massive sword. David, with only the clothes on his back and a bag filled with five smooth river stones, runs headlong into a battle against a man armed to the teeth and is many times larger than he is. David does not flinch from the fight. He knows that God is with him. God has given him the stones necessary to defeat Goliath. When we face our Goliaths, we can rest assured that God will give us the stones necessary to be victorious over our foe, Satan.

As we celebrate the victory of Jesus over death on this blessed day of Easter, let us always remember the sticks and stones that bring us salvation rather than ruin in our lives. With the cross and the cornerstone always there for us, we know that we have "victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ" and can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)