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Archive for March, 2012

“Christ never sinned but God put our sin on Him. Then we are made right with God because of what Christ has done for us.”        2 Corinthians 5:21 NLV

Jack, watch your brother, I have to go inside for a minute.” Jack

Baby Noah and Jack continued to play in the yard as their mom stepped into the house for a quick errand. Their mom returned outside in time to see nine-year old Jack pushing his one year old brother out of a fire ant hill where he plopped down after toddling about the yard on his unsteady legs.

Jack stood in the anthill, oblivious to their stinging bites as he brushed them off his little brother.

Noah only gotNoah in a swing two bites, and though they  itched, he got back up and happily went on his curious, little baby-explorer way.

Jack on the other hand received many bites before he was able to brush the ants off himself.. He thought he got them all, but several minutes later, he continued to feel new stinging bites.

Wisely, Mom instructed Jack to get in the shower quickly and wash himself off. Apparently the tiny red ants crawled into Jack’s hair where they were invisible to the eye, but continued to sting him. Needless to say, Jack’s care for his little brother carried an uncomfortable price tag for himself.

***

What a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for us! He rescued us from our sinful choices which would have led to pain or death and  took our punishment on Himself.

When you find yourself sitting in life’s fire ant hill, experiencing the sting of sin and death, call out to Jesus your elder brother. He will be there to help!

Lord, thank you for taking my sin on yourself and making me right with God. Amen.

 

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“There is one God and one mediator so that human beings can reach God. That way is through Christ Jesus, who is himself human.  He gave himself as a payment to free all people. He is proof that came at the right time.”        1 Timothy 2:5-6 NCV

You’ve gotta love commercials! In 30 seconds, they bring you the answer to all the world’s ills.

For instance – have you seen the one where a brother and sister are feuding with each other? They start out glaring at each other across the hallway, arms crossed and frowns on their faces. Then the children retreat behind closed doors, each door with a sign on it that says,  “No girls allowed,” or “No boys allowed.”

But Mom knows what will bring them together again. As she begins cooking a certain breakfast food, the aroma wafts up the stairs and in the next scene, brother and sister are laughing with each other at the breakfast table.

A simple food becomes the mediating agent to reconcile the siblings’ argument. Oh that life’s  disagreements were so easy to resolve!

But maybe they are….

Because of sin, we wear a sign on our hearts that says, “God, Keep out!” That same sin prevents God from welcoming us at His table with open arms. The sweet aroma of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross wafts under the bolted door of our hearts enticing us back to God’s table. That same sweet aroma erases the stench of our sin allowing God to welcome us at His table again.

Jesus Christ is the mediating agent to reconcile the relationship between God and us. And when we are at peace with God inside our hearts, it is so much easier to be at peace with the world around us.

Thank you Jesus for standing in the gap to restore the relationship between God and I as well as between myself and others. Amen.

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“My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God.”        Psalm 62:7 CEB

My granddaughter, Abby, is a rock collector.

Any time she visits, we find piles of rocks littering the sidewalk where she sat building, examining or playing with her collection. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a clunking sound in the clothes dryer, only to find a rock or two that was washed in her pocket. They don’t even have to be smooth, unusual or pretty rocks. She loves them all.

Who knows what goes on inside her young head as she collects her rocks? Perhaps she dreams of castles made of rock, strong and impregnable. Maybe the  solidity of the rocks comforts her as she holds them in her hands. Or perhaps she likes the way water sounds as it cascades over the surface of the rocks.

But one of my favorite things when she visits is when she gives me a rock she found and tells me, “Grammy, this is for you. Will you keep it forever?” I  have a small collection of rocks she’s given me and when I look at them I think of Abby and pray for her.

Like Abby, God gives me rocks to remind me of His presence with me each day. They are the promises from His word – rock solid pieces of Himself that I can hold onto when I go through trials, sorrow or grief. They remind me of God my strong tower, the place of safety where I can run when I feel weak. The solidity of His promises comforts me and gives me something firm to hold onto when all the world seems to crumble around me.

When I look at His promises, I sense my Father saying to me, “These promises are for you. Will you hold onto them until I come for you?”

 Yes, Lord, I will hold onto those rock-solid promises, those pieces of yourself that you give to me to strengthen , encourage and  fortify me until I see you, my strong rock, face to face.  Amen!

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There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting. Philippians 1:29 MSG

A year ago, several African church leaders committed to take the church into areas where it doesn’t exist – those areas where known unreached people groups live and work. They dedicated themselves to pioneering whatever the cost. Though this vision was harsh, demanding and lonely, they went anyway. calling their vision “Live Dead.”

The phrase means this: “If unreached people are going to embrace Jesus as Lord, we must die daily to our selfish passions and small dreams and live joyfully surrendered to the will, plan and means of our missionary God.”

Their world is made up of over 300 million people in over 300 distinct people groups. Many of them have never met a Christian, never heard of Jesus and probably never will. To make Christ known in these areas, it will take much prayer. It will take a large financial investment, And it will take hundreds of workers who will commit to “live dead” among these least reached people groups.

Pray for these “Live Dead” missions teams who have committed to do whatever it takes to reach the unreached in the Middle East, Africa and around the world.

Lord, it’s not enough to pray for those with a missionary vision in Africa. Help me to bring this attitude home – to die to my small, selfish dreams and live joyfully and fully surrendered to You to  reach the unreached right here around me. Amen!

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“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”        1 Peter 3:15 NLT
What is the first thing you think of when  you hear the word camping?

Many of us will picture sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and singing songs or telling stories. In that relaxed atmosphere, it’s easy to tell stories, but can we share our testimonies of what Jesus has done in our lives just as easily as that ghost story?

The truth is, we don’t have to be nervous about sharing our personal faith stories. With a little advance preparation, we should be ready for any spur-of-the-momennt opportunity to share our faith.

– Write down a sentence or two  about the life-crisis you were going through before you came to know Jesus.

– Draw a little time line of events leading up to your conversion. Only include the most important ones. After all, people’s attention spans can be short so keep it brief.

– Write down what happened when Christ came into your life

– What has changed since you asked Christ to be part of your life.

Once you have this simple outline completed, practice telling the story so  flows smoothly and review it periodically so it stays fresh in your mind. And lastly, pray that God will help you share it when the opportunities arise.

Lord, thank you for what you’ve done in my life! Help me to tell others about it. Amen.

 

 

 

 

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“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.”        James 1:12 NIV

Do  you have a favorite teacher? Perhaps one who believed in you and encouraged you to reach higher or try a little harder?

The “Pygmalion Effect” been demonstrated in many classroom studies.  Even though a teacher may not verbalize their positive or negative attitudes toward their students, children pick up on them.   Teachers who expect their students to succeed and project a positive attitude toward their classes tend to see more success in their students. On the other hand, a teacher who is just putting in time or has low expectations for their class  sees much less academic success.

When a child is praised and encouraged to believe they can achieve something, they will act accordingly and work toward that goal, even if it seems impossible. Those who are beaten down by the words and actions of others, who are told they can’t do things, rarely even bother to try.

Jesus had high expectations for His “class” of rough, ignorant disciples. And for a while, it seemed as though He failed with them when they scattered following his death.But through His resurrection and the guidance of his Spirit, they were transformed into the founding fathers of our faith who took the gospel to far-reaching corners of the known world in spite of persecution and hardship.

He still has high expectations for our spiritual success today. He wants us to grow up in Him, to become the people He created us to be – overcomers, leaders, teachers  – to work with Him to encourage others to be all they can be in their spiritual lives.

Thank you Lord, for believing in me and investing yourself in my life so I can grow into your likeness more each day. Amen.

 

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“Be strong with the Lord’s strength.  Put on the things God gives you to fight with. Then you will not fall into the traps of the devil.”        Ephesians 6:10-11 NLV

“I’ll fight Goliath.”

David, a young shepherd boy, volunteered to do a man’s job because he believed so strongly in the power of his God.

Though King Saul recognized the young man’s warrior heart, he was skeptical of David’s size. Saul ordered his aides to bring his own armor so David would be protected and perhaps so the boy would look more impressive on the battlefield. After all, what enemy would take a boy seriously?

But when David put the king’s armor on, the adult-sized armor dwarfed his youthful frame and hindered his freedom of movement. No way could he fight using borrowed armor.

Respectfully, David declined the king’s armor and put on the armor God gave him – his faith, his talents with a sling that were honed by years of watching his father’s sheep in the fields,  and his youthful agility. The rest is history. David defeated the giant and the Israelites won the battle.

How many times have we looked at someone else and said, “If only I had her talents and abilities. I could do so much more for the Lord.” But the truth is that someone else’s “armor” wouldn’t fit us. We would flounder around in our service to the Lord and eventually fall down from the weight of someone else’s weaponry.

We need to put on the suit of armor that God tailor-makes for us. Our armor includes our belief in the strength of our God, the knowledge of God and His word, the talents He gives us  and skills He helps us to develop through our life experiences. They will offer us the best protection and freedom of movement possible so we can avoid the enemy’s fiery darts and ultimately defeat him with the Lord’s help.

Thank you Lord for tailoring my individual armor to fit me perfectly so I can win this epic battle against the enemy of my soul. Amen!

 

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