“Stop A Thief!”

My Project 512-001

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” John 10:10

Life lessons have the funniest way of coming to mind. And when children are involved, it can be downright hilarious. One day I had a lot of trash and recycling to take out because it was cleaning day (ha, as if everyday isn’t cleaning day). I couldn’t carry it all so I had to make two trips. First, I took out the trash and placed it in its receptacle. As I came back in the house, standing at the door in some sort of karate position, like she wanted to attack me, was my nine year old (at that time). I believe I just smiled and proceeded to get the recycling. After delivering it to where it belonged, once again, coming back into the house, there was my daughter again, in her homemade-karate-ready-to-attack-mode. I said, “What are you doing?” She responded, “I thought you might be an intruder.” Why she thought that I will never know, but her actions and words, though done and said in fun, really stuck with me.

We have a lot of things, people and circumstances that try to intrude on what Christ has already secured for us. But, how diligent are we to stand against them to protect that “abundant life?” Do we stand at the door, in position, to fight against any who seek to rob us of this joy?

Complacency seems to be the motto for most. Many discuss and debate for change, yet, it is often a road that goes unpaved. Oh, we complain about it. We become filled with rhetoric of the “If it were me . . .” statements. But, do we actually do anything about it? No. We accept things as it is.

The case gets even sadder when we realize our “abundant life” is at stake. Through Christ we have an overflowing promise doled out to us, but it is often picked away by thieves a little at a time until we have nothing left. That same complacent spirit that has invaded the world tries to take over our view of our promise and lulls us into an accepting attitude.

I will tell you this that kind of an attitude will get you robbed over and over again. The only way to stop a thief is to proactively protect what is rightfully yours. 1 Peter 5:8 admonishes us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” The word vigilant screams at us to be on guard!

Both of these verses point out the main thief, the main initiator, the ring-leader of the robbery ring is the devil. Those things, people and circumstances I referred in the opening are often the tools he uses to steal from us. Sometimes we think of how much better my life would be if it weren’t for these things, people and circumstances. A lot of the time that part is not going to change but how we respond makes all the difference in the world.

1 Peter 5:9-10 discusses this. “Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you!” The word “resist” reinforces the idea of constantly being on guard against the thief and not giving him access to your possessions. While being “steadfast in the faith,” gives us that karate chop of defense. It fortifies us in Him and gives us the endurance to keep on fighting. “Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren,” opens our eyes to the reality that we are not in this alone. We are not the only ones struggling. Sometimes, that realization alone, gives us the motivation to keep on pushing forth.

Here’s the really beautiful part, “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Effectively putting you in the position to “stop a thief.” The abundant life is ours, but there are also some who want to steal it. Our job is to “resist” and to remain “steadfast in the faith.” When we do that, it is God who perfects us, establishes us, strengthens us and settles us! Now, that’s the karate chop that will keep intruders at bay!

 

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“Reap Rejoicing!”

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“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bring his sheaves with him,” Psalm 126:5-6, NKJV

Good Friday or Holy Friday, no matter which name you call it by, it was a day of great tears and sorrow that ushered in a day of rejoicing.

From the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed earnestly until His sweat became as great drops of blood (Luke 22:44), to the illegal trials at night that stripped away any rights He may have had in the human form, Jesus knew anguish.  He knew more than just heaviness of heart.  He experienced deep, physical pain – yet, the night was not over.

Had it stopped at the trials and mockery, some would say it was tolerable (though I wouldn’t).  Let us not take lightly all that Christ endured on that night.  For He not only bore the pain of stripes and nails, but He carried the weight of the world.  He carried the soul’s destiny for every human that ever walked the face of this earth.

It was a time of great sadness.  As a parent mourns over a wayward child, Jesus carried the burden of people in His bosom.  Earlier He said, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37, KJV).

Now, on this night of sorrow, spiritually He is doing just that.  No one could ever put into words the pain of what it felt like to hang on that cross and bear the sins of the world.  But, as He hung there, with blood pouring down, He was in the gathering process.  That’s why He couldn’t come down because even as He was nailed and left to die, He with great sorrow and tears, was working at gathering that would eventually lead to rejoicing.

What a clear head and frame of mind our Lord kept through it all.  Most of us would have went into survival mode under such duress, thinking of self.  Jesus went to survival mode, too.  Not for Himself rather, “To seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10, KJV).

As He hung there, He thought about all those that are captive by sin and needed a great deliverance.  These people staring at Him as He bled knew a little something about being a people held captive.  Their history repeats over and over again of how they were forced out of their promised land due to sin and negligence.

But God didn’t leave them like that.  In each instance, He brought a plan of deliverance and salvation into the mix.  When they cried out, He saved them and brought them back to their homeland.  They shed many tears as the farmer scatters seed.  Just like the seed, there comes a time where sowing stops and gathering begins and “shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him.”

As He hung there, Jesus was doing both.  Sowing: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,” (John 12:24, KJV).  He was also gathering:  “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.  This He said, signifying by what death He would die,” (John 12:32-33, NKJV).

Jesus was sowing the seed in tears and at the same time reaping with rejoicing.  On this Good Friday; this Holy Friday, we are now the benefactors of that great work done on the cross.  When God brought the children of Israel back from captivity, the nations said, “The LORD has done great things for them.” (Psalm 126:2, NKJV).  Their response was, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad,” (Psalm 126:3, NKJV).

Jesus brought us out of captivity on that Friday.  Through our life of sinfulness we have experienced many tears.  Through the sins of others, we will sow many tears.  Now, because of Christ, we can also “Reap Rejoicing.”  “And, we are glad!”

 

MORNING PRAYER:

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“There’s More Than One Way”

My Project 511-001

 

There’s more than one way to be a champion. 

There’s more than one way to use your gift. 

There’s more than one way to make a difference. 

There’s more than one way to create change.

His original design for your life may not look like everyone else’s.  For some to stand with their own earthly measuring rods to compare may have not taken into account the uniqueness that makes you you.  It may look quirky to some, but to God it looks like you are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14). 

You are not a cookie cutter fabrication of the rest.  Nor are you a tired remodel of the “best.”  Just the best you is who you are with your offerings to the world.  So go ahead and step out in the way He has planned for you.  Show them what you have to bring to the table matters.  Show them (despite the sometimes judgmental stares) your voice, your calling, and the workmanship He has sown in you with great care. 

There’s more than one way to do a lot of things, but there’s only one way to be, – that’s you!

“490 Acts of Love!”

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Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,” Matthew 18:22, KJV

Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!

Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.

Immediately following this verse, so that there were no misconceptions about the seriousness of this point that He was making, Jesus sealed it with a story of one who showed mercy and offered forgiveness and one who didn’t:

 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.

 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.

 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.

 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.

 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:

 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” – Matthew 18:23-25, KJV

The seriousness of it all really comes to light when Jesus opens up the parable and comparing it to the kingdom of heaven.  Now, why did He go and do that?  Because the story He is about to tell so resembles what occurs in the spiritual realm that it would be easy for the people to relate to.

What would happen if today God sat down and “took account” of all the wrongs we have done?  What would it be like if we stood before Him unable to pay what we owe?  We were there!  Jesus knew the predicament that humanity was in.  He knew that man could never get himself out of the debt of sin, so here He stresses grace, mercy and compassion on those who don’t deserve it.

How often have we withheld those three precious gifts from another because our feelings were hurt?  Believe it or not, it’s the same thing.  We may not have choked out a man, demanding retribution, but if we are withholding the same mercies that God showed us than we are choking that man spiritually and emotionally.

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” (Matthew 6:15, KJV).  God will not allow us to act like that unjust servant.  Love has compelled Him to shower us love, at all cost to save us, just so that He could forgive us and restore us.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16, KJV).

It was an act of love.  An act of love that we now have the responsibility to pay it forward to another.  No, people may not deserve it.  But, then again, neither did we.  It was only through the eyes of a merciful God that we are given another chance.

Tell me, who in your life deserves that second or third or whatever the number may be, chance today?  Forgiveness IS NOT EASY!  But, it is an “Act of Love.”

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, KJV).  I guarantee, if we were to look at ourselves, we could not fathom how many times our accounts would have gone unpaid had it not been for the blood of Christ.  More that 490 times?  But, thank God, He acted in love to save to us!

 

Live This Day As If It Is Your Last!

What if this were the last day we had on this earth? How would we live? What would we do differently right now? Who would we cherish spending time with the most, . . . and so on?

This thoughtful article asks us to think on this question and declare, “I will live this day as if it is my last.
And if it is not, I shall fall to my knees and give thanks.”

That’s about the sum of life. The past can’t be undone, and as Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (Matthew 6:34, NASB). Therefore, thank God for this day and life it to the fullest!

Morning Story and Dilbert

And what shall I do with this last precious day which remains in my keeping? First, I seal up its container of life so that not one drop spills itself upon the sand. I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad?

Can sand flow upward in the hour glass? Will the sun rise where it sets and sets where it rises? Can I relive the errors of yesterday and right them? Can I call back yesterday’s wounds and make them whole? Can I become younger than yesterday? Can I take back the evil that was spoken, the blows that were struck, the pain that was caused? No. Yesterday is buried forever and I will think of it no more.

I will live this day as if it is my last.

And what then shall…

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HOSANNA! HAPPY PALM SUNDAY!

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This is the day we honor the entrance of our true King into an earthly city, drawing Him nearer to the destiny of the cross. In that coming day He will return once again and forever in that heavenly city we will shout for His glory “HOSANNA, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” (Mark 11:9).

“Glorify God!”

"Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!"

“Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!”

“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,”
Psalm 29:1-2

Alpha and Omega! The First and the Last! He that was, and is, and is to come! Majesty! Omnipotent! Omniscient! Heavenly Father! King of all kings, and LORD of all lords! El Shaddai! He that is worthy of all honor and all praise! He, our Father who art in heaven, is worthy of all honor and all praise. His name is to be glorified. His name is to be magnified.

Ah, we know God by these titles and many, many more. Or, at least, we should. God is worthy to hear His children speak reverently about Him on a continual basis. Daily the praises of who He is in our life should pour from our lips, recognizing Him for His glorious nature. But, may I venture to say, that to truly glorify God is to go beyond the words of our lips. It is something that should be manifested in our daily lives. After all, actions do speak louder than words and for the world to see what a mighty God we serve – they will witness it through the way we glorify Him with our lives.

Matthew 5:16 exhorts us to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The world needs a visual display of how this thing works. They need someone to show them how to shine; how to live this life the way God designed for mankind to live it. This world lacks good representation. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Before He left this world to return to heaven, Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do,” (John 17:4). We, who are now saved, as ambassadors, are to carry on the work of glorifying our heavenly Father. As Jesus Himself pointed out, it goes beyond lip service; rather it is a life that has obediently followed Him and “worked.”

Again, actions really do speak louder than words! What Jesus did and what we have to do in our daily lives are exactly the same. Jesus said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” And, He teaches His disciples that in order for the world to glorify God, they need to “see your good works” and then they will “glorify your Father which is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

So, you see, praising God with your lips is one thing. But, glorifying God with your life is something totally different. Glorifying God is the manifestation of the praise that is living on the inside of you, working on the outside for all men to see. Is your life today fulfilling the command of David in Psalm 29? Are we giving unto the Lord what is His due? It was Jesus’ main goal in life. Is it ours?

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“Persistently Pray!”

Keep praying and never give up!

Word For Life Says...

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Emergency Reminder:

“Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who…

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“Wisdom is Better!”

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“Wisdom is better,” is what I read twice in my devotional reading this morning.  In Ecclesiastes 9:16, 18.  In verse 16 it states that “wisdom is better than strength” and in verse 18 it states that “wisdom is better than weapons of war.”  This had me thinking, how often do we resort to strength and weapons before choosing wisdom to fight the struggles in life?

Strength and weapons are carnal devices that depend on fleshly know-how and might.  Often these are the first resources that man runs to in times of difficulty and adversity.  Wisdom is dependent upon God.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.

Would it not be more prudent in the days of trials to follow the path of wisdom whose author is God?  Many of life’s mistakes are made from rash human impulses instead of the patient endurance of wisdom that God provides.  Christians especially are admonished to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Wisdom is better!”  James 1:5 gives us the key to finding this wisdom to help with life’s choices.  He said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be give him.”  God will freely supply for the heart that seeks wisdom rather than the harried messes of one’s own way.

Today, choose wisdom.  It’s always the better option.