Are You a Living In Grace?

If you are a fellow believer then you too are Living In Grace that is built upon the firm foundation of Christ our Savior. I pray that as I write here the joy that God has given me will shine through and orthodox thoughts will be shared.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

0 The Shadows and my Sustainer

The Shadows and my Sustainer

As I sit here I must admit; I am tired. The kind of tired that is bone deep and affects every aspect of life. Tired of the strain. The pressure. The emotional and physical turmoil of modern culture. When did life catch up to me? When was the weight of the world placed upon my shoulders?

The sun is shining outside, my family loves me, and I am breathing so what is the problem? Am I alone in feeling this way? Is it a lack of faith that draws the shadows round about me and crowds out the hope of tomorrow? Why does the drudgery continue in spite of prayer and praise?

To tell the truth I do not know and quite frankly I don’t have a clue. However, I do know this, my Redeemer lives and God is my Sustainer. I can place my weary head upon my pillow because I know who holds my tomorrow ( Ps 3:5). I can walk the straight and narrow way with confidence in my LORD that my feet will not slip ( Ps. 66:9 ). My God does not sleep ( Ps 121:4 ) and is ever vigilant when I need Him.

I know that my God is faithful and His loving-kindness is endless for those who love Him and follow Him ( Dt 7:9 ). He will keep me for eternity ( John 8:51 ) and has the power to do so because He holds everything in His mighty hand ( Col 1:16-17 ).

When we are down we can know it will not last forever because His joy is our strength ( Neh 8:10) and weeping is only temporary as His joy comes in the morning ( Ps 30:5 ).
It is a wonderful thing to have hope. Hope gives me a reason to look past the shadows of doubt with faith because one day we will see the Son in all His glory. He will finally wipe away every tear and be our joy and strength forever. Where is your faith? Is it in temporal strength that will wane or is it in the LORD of LORDS and KING of KINGS? As for me and my house we will follow the LORD and place our trust upon the solid Rock of Christ Jesus. Place your faith in Him today and the shadows will not disappear but there will be a new found hope in the promises of tomorrow.

By the way: Just as a reminder there can be no shadows unless there is light shining around your obstacles. Darkness is nothing in and of itself but is only the absence of light, so what has happened to your source of illumination?

Friday, October 22, 2010

0 God our Redeemer

God Our Redeemer and Salvation
God is our Creator and our Redeemer.   HE is Our Salvation and our Rock upon which we stand.  He alone is able to save us from the miry clay we find ourselves in and place us upon the solid rock, but why do we need a savior in the first place?  What condition has humanity found itself in that we are unable to save ourselves or anyone around us? 
It is called sin and we are born into it as sure as God reigns over all His creation.  David, the man after God’s own heart, describes it this way in Psalm 51:5, “ Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. “  WE are all sinners and every aspect of our lives is blackened by its treacherous grasp. 
Romans 5:12 tell us that, “….as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. “  We are all guilty and unable to seek God on our own (Rom 3:10-18) because we are dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1).  We cannot even trust ourselves to know our condition or the truth about it since our hearts speak transgression (Ps 36:1), lies about the reality of God (Ps 53:1), and is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9).
Who then is this God who both tells us of our state and the cure for our wickedness?  He is the living Redeemer (Job 19:25), a Rock (Ps 19:14), and the Most High God (Ps 38:35).
He too is our salvation (Exodus 15:2) and our stronghold (Ps 18:2) but how do we approach or come to know this powerful deity?  He Himself came being  born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23-25), was given marvelous names such as Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace( Isaiah 9:6), and HE took the name Jesus to seek and save those that were lost( Luke 19:10).  His is the only name given under heaven whereby men must be saved (Acts 4:12) and through His gospel God has provided salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
It is through the foolishness of this word preached, 1 Corinthians 1:21 and Romans 10:14 that those of us who were perishing came to believe.  This is wholly the gift of God and we can do nothing to earn, merit, or obtain so great a salvation about from Christ (Ephesians 2:1-9).  While we were dead God showed His love for us (Romans 5:8) and made it possible for us to confess and believe (Romans 10:9-10). 
An amazing thing has now occurred, we who were dead are now alive in Christ (Romans 6:11, Romans 8:10, Ephesians 2:5) and we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).  We are members of the family of God (Ephesians 2:19) and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) to the promises made to Abraham (Galatians 3:29).
Repent and call upon the name of the LORD while HE may be found for HE has never turned away anyone He has called and His burden is light.  His name is Jesus and His substitutionary death upon the Cross of Calvary paid for your sins so won’t you come and taste and see that the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.  What do you have to lose beside the guilt of your sins and an eternity in Hell?  Fall on your knees in humility and call out to the one who alone is able to save you.
God bless and save you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

0 Struggles

Have you ever just sat and wondered what is going on with life? Why when everyone else is smiling your head is swirling with worry, regret, and/or fear about the past, present, and future? Are the Heavens bronze and God seemingly absent from the maelstrom of your life? Why do children suffer, loved ones fall ill, and our own bodies and minds breakdown when we need them the most? My opinion matters little as I am no great theologian, philosopher, or prophet. I am just a man with questions bouncing around inside my head and knowing that there is one sure place to find some answers.

We live in a sin cursed world and it has fallen from its originally created perfection Rom 8:19-22 ( Genesis 2&3)and all things, including humanity, must endure the effects of this curse. This includes the natural decay, death, and every natural calamity that has befallen man and beast.

Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Because of this sin, and not only Adam’s but ours also, we have been subjected to this present world we live and operate in. No one is immune from life. No one is above reproach. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Rom 3:10-16.

That brings me to my second observation: the consequences of our choices in this life. We do not operate in a vacuum as everything we do affects the world around us. We speed and we are subject to fines, we live, eat and drink as if there is no tomorrow and our bodies deteriorate. The drunk driver kills an innocent family with no apparent rhyme or reason that is discernable to us. Our choices, whether good or bad, have both temporal and eternal consequences not only on us but on those around us.

David, the king after God’s own heart, is evidence of the universality of this concept. David had an illicit affair with Bathsheba, she became pregnant, he had her husband murdered, and he lied about this whole ordeal for months. The child that was conceived was born and soon died ( 2 Sam 11&12). Here we have the anointed king of Israel, God’s chosen, a man after HIS own heart, sinning and not only causing his own grief but others around him as well. We are no better than David and must remember that for every action we take there is a subsequent effect to our cause.

Through all this we must retain one piece of vital information: God is sovereign. HE is the Almighty Creator of the universe and nothing has ever escaped HIS attention. Psalm 103:19 The apostles while suffering persecution acknowledged this (Acts 4:20-31) and Joseph when addressing his brothers in Egypt stated that God is in control and even used their sin for His good ( Genesis 50:12-20) . The ultimate example of this is found in the betrayal of Jesus. While Judas is solely responsible for his heinous actions, God had already decreed it and was even actively involved ( Isaiah 53:10-11). Jesus Himself said no one took His life but HE laid it down on His own (John 10:17) and shows that God was an active participant in the whole affair. Through this act of betrayal God reconciled the world, including lost humanity, to Himself and made it possible for us to come before His throne and obtain mercy.

God also uses these trials, tribulations, and temptations we face to bring us closer to perfection. I personally would have never grown in grace if it were not for the hardships of this life. When running uphill we must condition our heart, legs, and lungs to the increased resistance and stress acting upon us and our faithful journey with God is often the same . Paul tells us in
Rom 5:3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Rom 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. God working in us, around us, and through us causes these tribulations to lead to our good ( Romans 8:28-29). Without experience we will never grow, mature, or learn to help others in similar situations we have found ourselves. This testing of our faith has another result also; it produces endurance. This endurance will give us strength ( Philipians 4:12-14) and will have its perfect work in us which makes us complete and lacking nothing ( James 1:2-4) so that we can grow in Christ and be conformed to His image.
Our response to these trials often run the full range of human emotions. We will often ignore what we are going through, wearing rose colored glasses and being oblivious to life’s, and more importantly, God’s lessons. We can ignore the cause of the problems which will only lead to more and greater difficulties and further alienation from God if sin is the culprit. King David did most if not all of these in response to his sinful actions with Bathsheba and the ensuing turmoil in his life and his kingdom. Psalm 51 details David’s repentance and restoration after his confrontation with the prophet Nathan. In Psalm 51:2-4 he acknowledges his sin and confesses it before God. Further along in verses 12&13 he asks God to restore the joy of HIS salvation so that he can teach transgressors His ways and sinners will be converted. The chastisement of the Lord proves our relationship with God ( Hebrews 12:6-8), does not seem pleasant (v. 11), and leads to peaceable fruits of righteousness.

These trials we endure also leads us to ask God for wisdom which HE will give willingly ( James 1:5). One aspect of this wisdom we can glean from our trials is a healthy fear of the LORD which is the beginning of wisdom ( Psalm 111:10). We can learn to praise Him through the storm as HE is our Rock and deliverer ( Psalm 18:2, Psalm 27:5, Psalm 40:2). He will lift us up and make our ways straight before, after, and during our tribulations so that HE may receive glory and honor and praise (1 Peter 4:16)

We must remember these things while living this life God has given us:
1. Not all trials are directly from God although HE is in control
2. They may be caused by our actions or the actions of others
3. If we are HIS children HE will carry us through
4. God will receive glory from whatever situation we are in

Please take this time to examine your life and see if you are in Christ so that you may have a friend that sticks closer than a brother who will never leave nor forsake you. He is our all in all and even through life’s struggles He will guide, console, and strengthen us through it all. Lean upon Him and trust your eternity to Him. God bless.

Friday, October 8, 2010

0 The Creator

Who is this God we serve?

He is the Creator!! 
God is awesome, incredible, and magnificent but what do we really know about this Being that holds sway over everything, both seen and unseen? We can know Him through His inspired Word, the Bible. This Bible is an amazing book whose writing spanned approximately 1500 years and roughly 40 authors including shepherds, priests, kings, doctors, tax-collectors, and fisherman who all had one thing in common, the belief in  Almighty God.
The opening lines of Holy Scripture, Gen 1:1 states, “ In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. “ The all powerful Creator was taken for granted from the very outset of human history and His sovereignty never encroached upon by others.

Isaiah 40:28 declares, “ Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.” HE is untiring, everlasting, the LORD, and it is almost beyond belief that we have not heard of or acknowledged Him. Our God has created the stars, and leads them, calling them by name, Isaiah 40:26.
This same Creator revealed Himself in the flesh and all things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has came into being, John 1:1-3

Colossians 1:15-17 says, “ HE is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. “

This Maker of all things, who also holds them together, is Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. He is declared to be the God of Creation and the obedient Son sent from the Father to seek and save that which was lost.
Paul declares in Romans 1:18-20 that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness in those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness because that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes have been clearly seen, being understood in what has been made, so they are without excuse.

The question is are you without excuse??
Do you know personally the Creator of all things and submitted your will to the Maker of heaven and earth? Seek Him today while He may be found and humbly thank Him for the grace and mercy that He has already bestowed on your life.
Have you suppressed the truth about the Creator of the universe while ignoring His call to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus? 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.”

Do you personally know this Creator of the universe?  Seek Him today while He may be found and thank Him for the mercy and grace that He has already bestowed upon your life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

0 Friday Night Lights

It was an unusual Friday night last night: I am not sure if it was a full moon, the planets aligned just right, or it was merely an enigma wrapped in a mystery but whatever it was we were all at the high school football game with friends and strangers alike cheering for young men we do not know and fellow shipping with people we may never see again. The reason we were there, family and youth night, brought all the families of the youth league football and their cheerleaders to this game to have their names announced at halftime. I guess that is what is so unusual, we normally would not have been there sitting where we were sitting or doing what we were doing or my stray thoughts would never have hit me.

Life is like a football game especially from my Christian perspective so let me tell you why.

1: We shouldn't have been here but we were. Now in my youth being somewhere where I shouldn't would have lead to trouble, but knowing God personally as the Sovereign of the universe I do not believe in coincidences. Consider these verses;

Romans 8:28, and we know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose

Proverbs 16:9 in his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines His steps

Ps 37:23-24 the steps of a man are established by the Lord, and he delights in His way. when He falls be will not be hurled headlong because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

We are always where we are for a reason,  even if we can not at that time discern that reason. God knows us and leads us through this valley of the shadow of death while we witness to others; namely  to reveal the glory of the Lord to the sea of humanity surrounding us.

The game is a struggle for both the fans and  players as we both vie for position against our adversaries. We move through the throng trying to remain calm and composed as we strive to remain upright. It is the same in our Christian walk as shown in the following.

Luke 13:24 Strive to enter the narrow door; for many I tell you will seek to enter and will not be able.

1 Timothy 4:8b godliness is profitable fir all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life
To come....for it is for this we labor and strive

We strive in our walk for there are many who would hinder our testimony among others and our fellowship with the Lord. There are those who would attempt to " steal your seat ", slow your progress, and what brought this to mind, silence your voice.

As we were sitting there just one row above a group of 10 year old cheerleaders raising their voices in excitement at the game one little girl stood up cheering, her mouth moving, but I never heard her. She was screaming but her voice was apparently lost in the cacophony of noise. I say apparently simply because the roar of the crowd is a cumulative noise with each voice adding its own weight to the increasing decibel level. We as Christians must be wary that our voice, ie our witness, is added to the right crowd and that we can hear the right Voice above the world.

Deuteronomy 13:18 if you will listen to the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all His commandments, what I am commanding you today, and do what is right in the sight of the Lord your God

Mt 3:17 and behold, a voice, out of the heavens said, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

Romans 15:6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

I want to join the crowd of witnesses throughout history ( Hebrews 12:1) that have run the race set before them with endurance by fixing their eyes on Jesus. Sometimes it may seem our voice is making little impact but when we are called by the Lord, striving for His kingdom and glory, and hearing the right Voice, ours will be added to the untold multitude that has passed before and that are beside us even now.