The Call of Nature

In our world of higher education, instant information networks and self-reliance, the message of the Gospel of Christ makes no sense at all to most people.

 

The paradoxes and spiritual content of the Bible serve as a stumbling stone to those too proud to accept the self-effacing offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

 

However, once we humble our self under the mighty hand of God, we immediately recognize that Jesus completely submitted to death on Calvary’s Cross to bring freeing redemption to us all.

 

We also surrender to the call of God to sacrifice our life for Him in return. The surrendered life is not one of defeat, but of relinquishing control. This means that we stop resisting the love of God and accept His courtship.

 

We acknowledge His substitution in paying the penalty of our sins and yield to His Lordship over our life. We recognize the superiority of God’s plan for our life over our own goals and ambitions.

 

We consult Him about all of our decisions and submit to His direction of our steps (Proverbs 3:5-6). We live in the reality of His presence now and look forward to the hope of His glory to come (Colossians 1:27).

 

Many people waste so much of their life running from God’s beauty and bounty. They live in rebellion to the call, which even nature makes for us to surrender to its Creator (Romans 1:20).

 

God never invades our life, but always waits to be invited. The beauty of the surrendered life is that we die to the carnal flesh and hide our life with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). We cease from our own labors and enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 10:4).

 

Prayer:

Father God, once we completely understand Your love for us, we go beyond obedience and also surrender our life entirely to You. Then, we learn what it means to truly live in abundant freedom and victory (Romans 6:16-18; Mark 8:35).

 

We no longer internalize the pain that life deals out to us, because we are hidden with Christ in You. Regardless of trials and anguish we may experience, we walk in spiritual serenity which elevates us emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically and behaviorally. We find our constant joy in You as patience does her perfecting work in us (James 1:4).
Thought for the Day:

We enter a life hidden with Christ in God, which we formerly believed to be one of servitude, only to discover that it is actually a liberating union as a King’s kid. – Colossians 3:3-4

 

 

Life is Not About Us

As authentic Christians, we now live by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). Our transformation rests firmly on the rock of the gospel of Christ through His Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; Psalm 18:2).

 

We live by His faith in love, filled with the fruit of and following the leading of God’s Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis (Galatians 5:1; 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:18).

 

We no longer strive to earn God’s love or to live a holy life. We simply walk in obedience. We live on earth to glorify our Father, not by our own human efforts, but only by the power of Christ within us.

 

Jesus loves us so much, that for our benefit he gave Himself up to the horrific death on Calvary’s cross. Through His sacrifice, we are now acceptable to God in Christ (1 Peter 2:5; Romans 15:7).

 

We have been crucified with Christ. Therefore, it is no longer we who live our life, but Christ, the Messiah, who lives in and through us.

 

The life that we now live in our body on this earth, we live by faith in, devotion to, dependence on and complete confidence in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20, Amplified Bible).

 

Jesus is our only hope of experiencing God’s glory (Colossians 1:27). We could never be good enough in our human effort to earn a place in Heaven (Ephesians 2:8-10).

 

We completely surrender our plans, goals and will to God’s will for our life and we live in perfect union with Christ. Our old sinful nature is crucified with Christ, and sin has no more power over our choices.

 

Prayer:

Father God, You planned, before You ever created the earth, for Jesus to give up His glory in Heaven, to take the form of a man, to humble Himself and to willingly die in our place (Philippians 2:8). You call us to follow in His example and to die to our humanity as well, exchanging our sinful desires for His righteousness.

 

Now, by Your Spirit’s power within us, we can put on the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). Therefore, because of Your mercy and grace, we will no longer succumb to the negative suggestions of our carnal nature, but we live a life that is free from the destructive consequences of sin (Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:16).

 

Thought for the Day:

We renew our mind by reading God’s Word and walking in continual obedience to His Holy Spirit. – Ephesians 5:26; John 14:15

Into the Silence

The world is so noisy. All around us, even out in the country, social media, TV, car radios and stores are blaring advertisements and voices almost 24/7.

 

Many people have a noisy soul too. Their thoughts and feelings are bombarding them with negative issues that demand their immediate attention. They are weary and discover no rest, even in God’s presence.

 

In sleep they dream disruptive images, which come from their troubled soul. They argue with significant others in their life and even argue with their own self; finding no peace at all.

 

Only if we disappear into our spirit and immerse our self in God’s peace can we find ultimate silence regardless of the dissonance of circumstances around us.

 

As we sit in His presence, we get lost in Him and focus on His still, small voice within us. We worship with the angels and enjoy our front row seat with Jesus in heavenly places even now (Ephesians 2:4-7).

 

We sit in companionable silence with Him as we bask in the pleasure of God’s face shining on us as He takes joy in our company (Numbers 6:25; Psalm 80:3; Zephaniah 3:17).

 

Finding comfort in the silent presence of our significant others is also a joyful experience. We may chat amiably or snuggle silently and recharge our battery for the coming tasks which will demand our attention.

 

Holding our child as they drift off to sleep is one of the most satisfying experiences in life. We watch their peaceful features and enjoy their unconditional love as their breathing slows and their tiny eyes droop.

 

Yet, our most meaningful relationship is dwelling continually in God’s presence. He permeates us with a quiet peace, sane direction, cheerful thoughts and a holy existence. We pray or listen as the moment dictates and enjoy the constant fellowship of His company.

Prayer:

Father God, as we abide in Your presence we experience deep peace, unexplainable joy, and Your comfort and support as we share with You our tears of worship or burdens. You are kind to all of us who trust in and obey You. We wait patiently for You in our alone times and in the cacophony of daily living (Lamentations 3:25-26).

 

By faith, even in our worse trials and times of testing, we joyfully count on Your faithfulness to produce endurance in our soul (James 1:2). We dwell in our spirit and snuggle under the almighty shadow of Your wings (Psalm 91:4). You give us peace which overcomes human reasoning, and You shower us with Your blessings regardless of the hardships we experience in this life (Philippians 4:7).

 

Thought for the Day:
Times of silence give us rest, hope and strength to face the next trial.

 

Drenched with the Presence of God

God diagrammed the course of human existence before He ever brought the first couple to His perfect Garden. Their sin did not surprise Him, and He already planned for Jesus to pay our sin debt (Romans 7:21-25).

Through Christ, we are Born Again – a spiritual rebirth of our human spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, empowering us to walk in God’s will every moment of our day.

We are not drawn to the darkness, because Christ in us is our spiritual light. Satan no longer holds us as powerless captives, weak-willed hostages or rebellious infidels.

Carnal feelings, earthly desires and worldly longings are things of the past. The war in our mind ceases, because God’s Spirit in us wins battle after battle to renew our mind (Ephesians 4:23).

Once we accept Christ, we slowly get lost in the beauty of His holiness (Psalm 29:2). We exalt His name for His faithful love and grace toward us (Isaiah 25:1). Christ is our whole life (Colossians 3:4).

We think of nothing but Christ in our every waking moment. We follow His Spirit as He directs our steps in the very center of God’s will (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God is our eternal dwelling place and we are His Holy Temple (Psalm 90:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:16). We are completely absorbed in Him and He fills every fiber of our being.

We behold His beauty as we dwell in His house and we meditate in His Temple (Psalm 27:4). He gives us a reason to hope during the trials, which we experience throughout our day (Jeremiah 29:11). We are drenched with His very presence.

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for setting us free from the law of sin and death by Your Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). We have less stress and striving in our life since we completely surrendered to the work of Your Holy Spirit in our life. We love Your Kingdom and we look forward to inheriting Your promises in eternity.

Keep us ever faithful to Your Word and Your life within us. Write Your laws on our heart and fill us to the brim with Your Spirit (Hebrews 8:10; Ephesians 3:16-9). Transform our mind to the mind of Christ and give us an abundance of Your presence until we overflow to the brim with Your love, grace and complete unity with You (Romans 12:2; John 17:23).

Thought for the Day:
Sin no longer tempts us, disobedience disgusts us and rebellion no longer motivates our behavior, because we love God with our entire body, soul and spirit and we detest what He abhors.

True Contentment

When life is free from stress and trials, we tend to forget God, to take credit for our successes and to change our focus from Christ-centered to self-centered.

God gives us room to follow our carnal desires and to experiment with our own plans and goals (Romans 1:24); so that when we fail or get the wind knocked out of us, we will run back to Him.

A trial brings us to our knees and reminds us that only as we are weak can we be truly strong in Him (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). We no longer find fulfillment in a sinful lifestyle. God is our exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4, 149:4).

When God delivers us from various trials and temptations, our faith increases and we grow spiritually. We realize that we are now dead to sin and alive in Christ (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4).

Regardless of our circumstances, our soul finds true contentment, which comes from God alone. We gradually stop depending on our self and depend only on God. He becomes the very air we breathe.

Christ is our whole life (Colossians 3:3-4). We realize our utter dependence on His Spirit to guide us, comfort us and give us strength for each new day (Lamentations 3:22-23).

As we decrease, He increases (John 3:30-35) and draws us into a deeper walk with Him. We devour His Word, and this life-giving source fills us with faith and wisdom for living in this insecure world.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to find serenity, joy and contentment of soul in You alone. Nothing that this world offers to us equals to what You give us through Your mercy and grace. Through our total dependence on You, we find Your strength for each moment of the day as we rise up to meet the challenges life throws at us.

We can rest in You, because You have all things under Your control. We want to tell the world what you mean to us. Give us daily opportunities to be a friend in order to win a soul to Your love. Take pleasure in us as we hope in Your steadfast love (Psalm 147:11).

Thought for the Day:
Our delight is always in the Lord, because we find our true contentment and fulfillment in God alone. – Psalm 37:4

The Gospel of Christ

The Gospel of Christ is a simple plan for the salvation of the whole world. Once we accept the saving grace of Christ for salvation, the Trinity dwells in us by the Holy Spirit of God.

If we reject this free gift of salvation, we condemn our self to hell for eternity. If we deny that Christ is the Son of God, we are a liar and the truth is not in us (Romans 3:23, 6:23; John 3:16-18).

Also, we are not Born Again children of God (1 John 2:22-23). However, if we abide in Him, we have confidence that we will see Him face-to-face (1 John 2:28-29).

Jesus Christ is the living Son of God who died in our place to redeem us to the Father and to Himself. He fills us and leads us with His Spirit while we live on this earth.

God gives us the faith of Christ as a shield to protect us from the fiery temptations and trials of the devil (Ephesians 6:16). He fills us with his peace, which allows us to endure life’s issues with joy (Ephesians 6:23).

The Word of God exhorts us to allow our conversation – our words and behavior – to be an example of the Gospel of Christ to the lost and dying world around us, especially during times of adversity (Philippians 2:17).

God delivers us from irrational, mean-spirited and wicked people who would come against us (2 Thessalonians 3:2). He upholds us in His powerful right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

The Word encourages us to stand strong by the power of God’s Spirit and to dwell together in unity with the Body of Christ through our shared faith in the Gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:4).

We do this by accessing by faith the righteousness of Christ within us, clinging to God Spirit and Word, and developing a deeper and more intimate relationship with Christ in us (Philippians 3:9; Colossians 3:3-4).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for rooting us and maturing us in Christ, establishing our faith and teaching us to abound in gratitude to You for all that You do for us even in the dire circumstances, which we sometimes face during our lifetime (Colossians 2:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:4).

You teach us patience by reminding us of the hope we have in You both now and for eternity; and You spur us on to work in faith, to labor in love and to keep our focus on You (1 Thessalonians 1:3). We love You with our whole heart and we give You all of our self just as You gave all of Yourself to us.

Thought for the Day:
God’s Spirit plants and establishes us in the faith of Christ so that we are not moved away from the hope we receive from the Gospel of Christ, which is preached by mankind, by all of nature and in the conscience of every creature ever born under heaven.
– Colossians 1:23; Romans 1:20

Sharing Christ with Others

God’s invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen in His Creation (Revelation 4:11). This takes away a person’s excuse for not believing in Him as their Savior.

We instinctively know that there is a God and that we should serve Him with all of our emotions, mind, choices and physical strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

Yet, so many do not honor God or appreciate Him. They pursue futile activities, endless philosophies and fruitless enlightenment and their hearts darken further with each passing day. They think they are wise, but they are actually very foolish (Romans 1:20-22).

Authentic Believers trust in, rely on and believe in Christ even if we end up suffering for the sake of His righteousness. We learn to explain and defend our beliefs to those who ask us about the hope we have in Him.

Yet, we never impose our beliefs on someone who is clearly not interested in them (1 Peter 3:14-16). There is no point if the Holy Spirit is not drawing them to God. We never badger anyone about coming to Christ.

We share Jesus with gentleness, respect for the listener and a good conscience; even if someone slanders our good name or reviles our good behavior in Christ.

We are created for God’s glory and service, and we will spend all of eternity worshiping our worthy Lamb who was slain in our place. For now, we live for His glory while we dwell on this earth and do only those works for which He created us to perform (Ephesians 2:10).

Prayer:
Father God, break the yoke of bondage that our flesh feels to sin and replace our weaknesses with Your strengths. Help us to decrease so that You may increase. We praise You as our living Lord and thank You for giving us Your Spirit to abide within us all the days of our life.

You are the only one worthy of all honor, respect, praise, glory, wisdom, might and blessing. We look forward to joining the myriads of angels already around the throne in singing Your praises (Revelation 5:12). Lead us to share Christ with those whom You are drawing to Yourself.

Thought for the Day:
The abiding Holy Spirit teaches us to follow His lead as we share Christ with friends, relatives, associates and neighbors; so that we do not push too hard, ignore their body language or fail to read the feelings of their soul in their eyes.

The Lost Art of Grieving

Loss is a part of living; but grieving is a lost art. We do not want to face the pain, so we stuff it inside, wallow in self-pity and depression, and ignore the one safety valve God gave us to overcome the deep abiding sadness we carry around with us every hour of every day.

If we would allow Him to, our God of all comfort would fill us with His joy and peace as we trust in Him. He enables us to overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit within us (Romans 15:13).

People usually ignore us when we are grieving, because they do not know what to say. They may want to speak to us but cannot decide how to word their feelings. This is common and we do not need to feel insecure.

We can simply say, “I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care about you and that I am here for you in any way that I can be of help.”

We tend to use phrases like: passed on, passed away, graduated to heaven, went to be with the Lord, etc. Using the word “died” will allow the grieving person to realize that it is okay to refer to their loved one in that same way.

We can express our concern by sharing our sorrow that they are experiencing this loss. “I am so sorry for your loss. I really care about you. How may I help you?”

A simple, “What do you need from me right now?” or “What can I do for you?” are appropriate ways to offer help, because they show you support them during this time of grief.

Do not tell the grieving person that their loved one is in a better place, or that they will get over their grief in time, or that this loss was part of God’s plan, or that you know how they feel. Instead, ask them, “How are you feeling right now?”

You do not need to remind them of all they still have to be thankful for or that they can find comfort in the fact that their loved one really cared about them.

Do not tell them what they should feel or do. Let God direct their steps in His timing and way. If they ask you, then start your comment with, “Have you ever considered …”getting a part-time job”, “volunteering at a shelter”, “helping us with our children’s ministry” (in the office, on workdays around the building).

The worst thing you can say is, “It is time to get on with your life.” You could say, “God still has plans for your life and He will show them to you as you are ready.”

Everyone has a different way to grieve and different time frames in which to do this. Some take longer than others. Some never get over the intense feelings of grief and it shapes their future life.

Many friends forget about the grieving person once the funeral is over. That is when the person needs us the most. Take them shopping, to get their hair done, or for a quiet walk in the park on a pleasant sunny day.

Take them a hot meal, but do not stay to watch them eat it. Offer to buy them some groceries or to do their dishes or wash a load of laundry. These basic needs often get neglected when we are grieving.

Send cheerful cards, invite them to a movie or over to your house to join mutual friends for dinner. Do not force them to be outgoing or cheerful. Just allow them to silently enjoy your company.

Honor their requests, don’t push your ideas on them, but ask them, “What would you like to do this week?” Do this regularly for the first year after their loss. Be patient and don’t push them. Love them with the love of the Lord.

Prayer:
Father God, knowing what to say to a grieving person is so nerve wracking and our ineptitude is paralyzing. Teach us how to comfort. Give us Your Holy Spirit’s wisdom for how to minister to each new grieving person. Put Your ideas in our mind, inspire our creativity with Your ideas on how to be a special blessing to this grieving friend, relative or church member.

We also ask that You comfort us in our grief. Help us not to wallow in self-pity but to rise and shine with each new day and to seek Your will in each new moment. Help us to realize that You have plans for us that do not include our loved one; and that we still have purpose and meaning for our life in You.

Thought for the Day:
Give a bereaving person the gift of your time and attention.

End to the Beginning

End to the Beginning

Whenever I read a book, I always read the last chapter first. That way I eliminate the mystery, suspense and unpredictability of the story line. Then, I can read from the beginning, without the stress of not knowing how it will turn out.

Some of you may enjoy horror movies and suspenseful mysteries, but they cause my psyche too much anxiety. I love to watch Hallmark movies, because as my husband derisively points out, the endings are predictable. There is very little stress and suspense in these wondrously sappy romances.

I did this with the Bible too. I read Revelation first. This colorful depiction of symbolic drama gives us a bird’s eye view of the culmination of time as we know it.

Revelation confirms the prophetic books of the Bible, such as Daniel, Ezekiel and Isaiah – as well as the New Testament letters such as the gospels and Thessalonians. They report to us God’s intention for creation, redemption and restoration.

When we know how the end plays out, these facts remove the guesswork from life and give us a fool proof game plan to follow in our walk of faith through the Son of God.

God made His will plain and stress-free for us through the Biblical account of His clear timetable of events leading up to His final return to earth and His eternal plans for humanity.

God does not dwell in time. The 6,000 years since creation are all in the present to Him. He is not restrained, directed or controlled by the hands on the clock like we are (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).

Our Creator and King dwells in eternity. He invites us to join Him in this place of unhindered existence through salvation in His Son. Jesus won this privilege for us by taking on the form of a man and dying in our place (Philippians 2:6-8).

God also provided us with His Word in order to afford us hope for a joyful future and instructions for living in a peaceful existence through every moment of each new day regardless of our circumstances (Jeremiah 29:11).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for Your Word, which takes the guesswork right out of life. Remind us to check with You before we do anything, so that You can direct our plans (Proverbs 3:5-6). When Satan attempts to hinder us, teach us to use spiritual warfare through the power of Christ in us to withstand his onslaughts.

Thank You for always answering our prayers, and for not always giving us what we want, but what is in our best interest. We squirm under the pressures of life and often feel like we know how to alleviate these trials; but we often jump out of the frying pan into the fire. Keep us in the center of Your will and walking in the fruit of Your righteousness.

Thought for the Day:
Our Father is God and there is no one like Him; He declared the end to the beginning. – Isaiah 4:9-11

Lift Up Your Head

Rahab hid the Israelite spies who came to scope out the land for the Israelite invasion. She was rewarded with salvation during the destruction of Jericho.

The amazing part of this story to me is that she lived in the outside wall, and God sent her deliverance before the wall fell straight down on the seventh day.

God kept her safe even through this time of destruction, as well as redeemed her from her former profession. She married Salmon; and her son, Boaz, married another gentile convert, Ruth.

Rahab is the great-grandmother of King David and is in the ancestry lineage of Jesus Christ. God truly lifted up her head and turned her ashes into a thing of beauty (Psalm 3:3-4).

Our Father God does this same thing for anyone willing to surrender their will to His will (Luke 22:42). He exalts our head above our enemies (Psalm 27:5-6).

When our soul is depressed and unsettled within us, we hope in God and praise His name, and He puts a smile on our lips and joy in our heart (Psalm 42:11).

He sets our feet to dancing (Psalm 30:11) and gives us something to shout about (Psalm 98:4). He changes our focus from the temporal to the eternal and gives us a future full of hope and blessings (Jeremiah 29:11).

Eventually, we leave this carnal earth behind and enter into the glories of Heaven, living in the presence of God for eternity and inheriting His Kingdom with Jesus (Revelation 21:23; Psalm 16:11; Romans 8:17).

Prayer:
Father God, we praise You all the days of our life and still do not have enough time to thank You for all You have done for us. We look forward to eternity and having endless eons to worship You in all of Your beauty and holiness. We give you praise, honor and glory.

Thank You for Your love for us, for holding us in the palm of Your hand and for lifting up our head when we face the trials we encounter on this earth. You fill our hearts with joy and peace; not the tentative harmony that the world offers, but Your lasting and eternal peace that surpasses our human comprehension (John 14:27).

Thought for the Day:
God leads us by His Spirit each moment of the day and fills our life full of divine appointments which make a difference in our life and in the lives He brings across our path.