It would cause shivers to go through every member of the class.! Yes, it was that day again called “Oral Defense”. That fateful day when the professor would ask you to stand and begin to fire questions at you about the material that had recently been covered in class. No notes were allowed, one just had to count on his/her ability to recall the information in a second! We would not know when that day was going to come, we needed to be ready.
Life is full of lessons. How about that for an understatement! “What are you talking about?” You may correctly ask. When we least expect to learn something, we pass through an experience or a situation that leaves us wondering, “What in the world was that about?” Been there? Recently, I was there, all the way!
We often say that God is in control, and we often say it to others as they are facing some adversity and difficulty. But when the shoe is on our feet, we tend to ignore that same advice that we are so quick to hand out to others. We read of the biblical character, Job, and sympathize with him in the midst of his trial. Job’s three “friends” attempted to solve his dilemma and figure out what exactly God was up to in his life. Continue reading “When Life Hurts”
I remember it like yesterday. All that I knew about life was from a very distorted perspective of the true biblical Christianity. There was nothing about God who loved me so much that He sent Jesus on a rescue mission for me! I have never recovered from that undeniable truth! Have you?
Before I began this journey of faith began in August, 1977, I was oblivious to the truth that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for my sins so that I could be restored to a right relationship with God. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”
One of the hardest places to live is “in between.” The term suggests uncertainty and I have yet to meet anyone who likes to live at that address! We like to know when the next pay cheque is coming and who is writing it! Most of us build our lives around routines that includes when we get up in the morning, it seems that we could drive to work with our eyes closed (not recommending that at all!) because we know the route so well and our jobs have pretty well-defined expectations and demands.
It happens every year to me. I am in year 6 of reading through the Bible and every year I am privileged to read through the Old Testament book of Leviticus. At times, to be honest, I wonder, like I did the other morning, why do I have to read this stuff? Anyone else want to make the same confession? At times, Moses does get very monotonous and repetitive as the Law of God for Old Testament saints is codified. Is there anything for us who live on the other side of the cross of Jesus Christ?
We are introduced to the laws of burnt offerings, the laws of the Sabbath, the laws of how to deal with leprosy, etc. As we read through this material one thought stands out and is repeated,
The great struggle that you and I have as we walk the Christ-life, is that of getting on the same page that God is on. From the moment that we decide to become life-long followers of Jesus Christ, a royal battle is ensued. Before that moment, we were quite content to live life for ourselves. We could say that we were a law unto ourselves. Continue reading “A Complete Makeover”
“No one will ever know…”
“Who says you can’t…”
“You work hard, you deserve this…”
If you are like me, these thoughts go around in my head many, many times during the day. These are the moments when a giant named “Temptation” comes and secretly whispers in my ear.
How do we handle that giant when he comes to lure us away? One thing we can guarantee, he is coming. He is out to deceive you into thinking that it is okay. After all, you are human and everyone does it.
I am reading in these first days of the year through the book of Genesis. We are introduced to Abraham and God’s promise to him and his sons to give them land and descendants to live in that land. As we witness the faithfulness of God in bringing that to pass, we are introduced to the character of these people. We learn who God blesses and how His presence goes with those who walk in humble obedience to His revelation. Through the grammatical device of repetition, we are taught that God’s presence goes with those who walk in integrity.
We come to Genesis 39, and we read the phrase, “The Lord was with him…” I don’t know about you but I need His presence every single day! I need Him in my marriage, in my work, in my relationships with others, and especially I need Him in my intimate self talk/walk where nobody else is looking. Joseph knew he was such a man, too! In the face of daily temptation to do what seemed to be the natural thing to do, Joseph responded, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
Full stop! Think about what we just read! Here is a red blooded young man in the prime of his life miles and miles away from home, what would preventing him from sowing his wild oats with the boss’s wife? Only one thing…His relationship with God! When push came to shove, his relationship with God was way more important to him than a few fleeting seconds of pleasure.
When temptation comes knocking at your door what will prevent you from following it? By the way, it is not a matter of “if” it comes but “when!” What do you value more than the fulfillment of sin’s desire? Sin will come knocking so we must be ready to give the proper response. If you and prepare our hearts with verses like Proverbs 2:7, “…he (the Lord) is a shield to those who walk in integrity.” Or, Proverbs 10:9, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his way crooked will be found out.”
May the Lord help us to live in His victory and in His presence today. He is our victory over sin’s deceptive voice.
Human beings have the tendency to group together according to language, race, religion and even sports teams! We like to be with people who think like us and like the same things we enjoy and experience.
There is one category of experience that all human beings go through that ties us together. Every person passes through some kind of negative experience. From health, to relationships, to finances, to difficulties at the place of employment, or with the government, or the sad experience when someone we love suddenly dies, and those who suffer persecution for what they believe. Job 5:7 expresses it in the following way: “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”
Here is the question: How do we survive the trouble? How can we make it through? And, what is God after when bad things happen to good people? I think there are 3 things that we need to keep in mind:
- The storms of life are common to all people. They will come to everyone on the planet in one form or another.
- When we pass through life’s storms we learn who really is in charge. Every human on the planet likes to think that he/she is in total charge of everything. We believe we are little ‘gods’ who rule and reign. When the storms come we learn quickly that we are not independent creatures left to our own design. We learn that God has a reason for everything that happens and for when it happens.
- We learn that when we do pass through the storms of life that we need God! The great biblical example is Job. He needed to know that God could intervene at any time for any reason. Job needed to know that God was God! The storms in life teach us that God is so good that He reminds us our need for Him everyday. So don’t try and go it alone! Ask for His wisdom to teach you the lessons He is trying to have you learn.
In Mark 4, the disciples are with Jesus in a boat! Wouldn’t you love to have Jesus in your boat? Suddenly a storm explodes around them, their become afraid, but Jesus is in their boat! Why were they afraid? They thought, like we do in the storms of life, that Jesus doesn’t care! Here are His words to these trembling sailors, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith.?”
Disciples should know their Master. You and I should know the Master. But we often forget who is in the boat of life with us. God is reminding us that He is always showing us how much we need Him. I am just beginning to learn that lesson. How are you doing with this, my friend?
You often here that there is a secret formula for a restaurant item, or a secret to becoming rich and famous! Unfortunately, some who claim to be Christians have reduced success in the Christian life to the same foolishness.
It would seem that some believers may have a special inside track to spiritual success when we look at them from the outside. Here is a news item for you today, a secret formula for walking with God and being successful in your profession does not exist!
The Apostle Paul told the Christians at Corinth that to live a life that honoured God five attitudes they needed to develop. The longer I live for Christ, the more I observe that Paul’s pastoral counsel is right on!
Everyday you and I must be on guard because there are enemies that want to destroy our walk with God. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word! We must be courageous to live out our faith in the midst of people who love sin. We must maintain our strength in the Lord. Finally, we do all of this marked by and marking others with the same love God has for us!
If we repeat these attitudes everyday, we will be successful in God’s eyes. No secret here, only obedience and trust is required!
“All aboard the roller coaster 2015 now leaving platform 1!”
We are not sure at all what is ahead of us but we are strapped in ready for some excitement. The great news is that we are not left guessing about what the road ahead looks like because we know who is in charge. He has a plan for our good and for our growth as we walk daily with Him.
We are not sure at all what is ahead of us but we move ahead full of faith that God will not be surprised by one thing. We know that everyday that He gives us breath that He has a purpose for our lives. Therefore, we live for His purpose not for ours. We put his agenda ahead of ours and delight in living to serve Him and others.
As I anticipate this year I want to continue to strive ahead for all that the Lord has for me to accomplish. I know that whatever I accomplish it is rooted in the daily habits of reading and meditating on His Word, asking Him for daily doses of wisdom to be prudent in the use of time and energy. My priorities must be aligned with His. Matthew 6:33 tells me to seek God first above anyone or anything else. That is my daily battle because I struggle with the flesh and the world to control my thinking and feelings.
I also want to be a faithful husband to my wife. I want to grow in my love for her and deepen those cords. This year we will celebrate 32 years of wedded bliss! That is hard to believe but it is only because of her patience and God’s faithfulness that we have made it this far.
I want to be faithful to the ministry that God has called me to. It is my desire to grow in my knowledge of the Word of God and its application to my own life and the life of those I have been called to shepherd. I want to continue to be involved in serving the Spanish speaking church, wherever that may be. I am not sure what form that will take but I trust God to open those doors in his timing.
God also surprises us along the way. I am sure that in 2015 he will do the same. What about you? God has given us tremendous opportunities to grow in our relationship with Him and grow in love with others. Pray, be observant, and be involved in His work!
I close this blog with Paul’s prayer for the Romans in that New Testament Epistle, chapter 12:1-2. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Are you ready for the ride?