Our Only Hope

April 10, 2021

“Be glad for all that God is planning for you” ~Romans 12:12

Our only hope refers to the Bible as it pertains to our daily lives. We have no other hope powerful enough to stand against all the challenges and evils of this world. God’s grace and mercy, flowing down from Calvary’s cross washes us whiter than snow and gives us the answers to all the problems we encounter here on earth. 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10  “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.”

Leaps off the page doesn’t it? “God chose to save us!” What more can we ask for? The next time you open the Bible, take your time without regard to how many chapters or pages you read. Savor God’s Word. Allow His truth to wash over you. Personalize it. For instance, “Christ died for ME!”

We are reminded in Romans 5:4 that when we run into problems and trials, they develop endurance, strength of character and, ultimately, hope. This hope will not lead to disappointment! 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” (see also James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

When our lives seem dismal and futile, where do we turn? Where can we find answers? Call the pastor? Perhaps. Call a friend or elder? Of course. But…any answer that is capable of changing our lives and giving us the hope we need is found in the Bible.  

God’s word, given to us by Him to encourage, build-up, strengthen, guide, heal, change and provide light at the end of those dark tunnels, is filled with powerful parables, stories, and sentences designed to rescue us from this dark world and its attacks. 

Sentence after sentence, tucked into the pages of our Bible jump out and grab us with answers directly from the mouth of our Creator. For instance, “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:24) 

Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for several years and still struggle with things and find yourself giving up, feeling discouraged or confused, wondering why your life seems without power or the touch of God. Do you read the Bible? And after reading it, do you believe it? In spite of all the troubles and problems around you, do you really believe God’s word? Sometimes we allow the problems of life to diffuse the power of His word in our lives. 

Just when we think it is all a mess, we find a verse as in Philippians 2:13 that says: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” This is a fact! God is working in us…”He will never leave or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Believe it and act on it. 

Almighty God wants to remind us of who we are in Christ; encourage our hearts with His word, show us His will for our lives, reveal the strong foundation on which to build our lives, clarify how to live a Christian life in the midst of our world and fill our hearts with His unshakeable truth.  

1 Thessalonians 5:18  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The Resurrection!

“I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever” ~Jesus

         Without doubt, the most important event on the calendar for followers of Christ, is what is known as Easter or Resurrection Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important moment in the history of the world. Three days prior to His resurrection, He had completed the most agonizing part of his triumphant purpose by willingly giving his life to pain and death, crumpled on Calvary’s cross. However, that was only the beginning, not the end.

         After three days in the tomb, Jesus rose, shed His death clothes and spent 40 days giving final instructions to His disciples. And because of that, we too have the promise of eternal life just as He gave to the thief on the cross beside him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43

         The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the focal point of our hope as found in the following Scriptures:

         1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 19 “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty—For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.”

         Acts 2:24, 32 “God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it—God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this.”

         Matthew 28:1-10 “Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee) went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

         “Then the angel spoke to the women, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

         Luke 24:46-48 He also said to them: “This is what is written: the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

         1 Corinthians 15:1-8  “Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.”

         Acts 4:33  “And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus—”

         Acts 26:22-23  “I teach nothing except what the Prophets and Moses said—that the Messiah would suffer and be the First to rise from the dead, to bring light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”

         Romans 10:9-10  If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

         There are many scriptures which relate the risen Lord being seen as a living testimony of His resurrection. His absolute victory over death and its decay gives all the  believers in Jesus Christ an unwavering hope of everlasting life with Him. Although we shall die, unless Jesus returns with the trumpet blast and angelic shout first, we shall not perish but taste life that never ends, residing in the New Jerusalem with Almighty God and the resurrected Son.

Obey The Government!

Obey the Government

March 27, 2021

“For God is the One who put it there” ~Romans 13:1

Phil, the church’s accountant, was stunned out of a sound sleep by the shrill ringing of his phone. Clearing the fog of sleep he answered and learned, to his consternation, that five of his congregants were in jail and needed him to post bond. The same frustrating five who willingly put themselves in opposition to the government, whether local or federal. As they saw it, the government is corrupt and needs someone to challenge it and they were those someones! But from Phil’s perspective, all these Christians did was stir the proverbial pot, bringing pain and problems, as well as wasting the churches money without any positive change. This morning, he took his time getting dressed.

An hour later, as they left the jail, Phil said, “I’ve got to say my piece here. When are you people going to stop causing all this trouble? You’re giving the church a bad name, not to mention Christians in general. Oh and people’s offerings too. Have you ever thought of that? Do you think the rest of us give tithe and offerings with the expectation of paying your bail?”

“Listen Phil, someone has to stand up for what’s right in our government. We can’t allow these corrupt people to just have their way, overtaxing us, forcing us to follow biased and wrong-spirited laws. We have to force the government to do what’s right!”

“Right according to who? You bunch? If you’re really concerned for the general welfare of your fellow citizens, run for office and really make a difference instead of acting like irresponsible teenagers; not to mention violating the Bible. Have you considered that?”

“What are you talking about, Phil. The last thing we would do is to violate God’s Word. God expects us to defend the downtrodden and those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

“Are you serious? What downtrodden are you helping? As for violating God’s Word, read the 13th chapter of Romans and see how you line up.”

“Well, what about in the Book of Acts when Peter and some others were arrested and they said they had to obey God rather than men.”

“Actually,” Phil replied, “ that happened because the apostles were preaching Jesus as well as performing miracles in His name. They were arrested but an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates, brought them out and told them to “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life.” and then they were re-arrested and that is when Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

By this time they had arrived at the church. “I want you to come inside and we’ll have some coffee and share a little more about God establishing governments and kingdoms,” Phil said.

By now everyone was looking forward to what they might learn from the Lord. “Let’s look at Daniel 2:21, “World events are under [God’s] control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom and scholars their intelligence.” We must remember that God is all powerful and very involved in world events. He is the creator and has a plan for His creations.”

“Now, let’s look at Romans 13:1, “Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.” During the Lord’s last three years on earth, did he ever say to his disciples that we must form groups and set about to overthrow this corrupt, evil government? Did Jesus confront any person of authority and demand better civil rights for everyone? Did he confront the Romans who were arresting, torturing, and killing His followers with demands they be released? Just the opposite.

One day Jesus called his disciples together and said, “Among the heathen, kings are tyrants and each minor official lords it over those beneath him. But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like My own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

“So,” Phil began, “what should we do about injustice and social wrongs? Since we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we should always begin with the advice dispensed by the Book of James 1:5-8 “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to tell you for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way, and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.”

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will disappear, but My Words remain forever.” Matthew 24:35

Since this is true, shouldn’t our focus be on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Jesus Heals a Sick Boy!

March 20, 2021

“Jesus took hold of the boy’s hand and helped him stand up” ~Mark 9:27

If you’ve ever been baffled and/or challenged by a section of Scripture regarding what Jesus said and meant, this is probably one of those. His reaction to a father’s request to heal his son and rebuking his disciples gives us pause to consider the meaning. The section follows:

Mark 9:14-29 – 14-15 Then as they rejoined the other disciples, they saw that they were surrounded by a large crowd, and that some of the scribes were arguing with them. As soon as the people saw Jesus, they ran forward excitedly to welcome him.

16 “What is the trouble?” Jesus asked them. 17-18 A man from the crowd answered, “Master, I brought my son to you because he has a dumb spirit. Wherever he is, it gets hold of him, throws him down on the ground and there he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth. It’s simply wearing him out. I did speak to your disciples to get them to drive it out, but they hadn’t the power to do it.”

19 Jesus answered them, “Oh, what a faithless people you are! How long must I be with you, how long must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”

20 So they brought the boy to him, and as soon as the spirit saw Jesus, it convulsed the boy, who fell to the ground and writhed there, foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has he been like this?” Jesus asked the father.

22 “Ever since he was a child,” he replied. “Again and again it has thrown him into the fire or into water to finish him off. But if you can do anything, please take pity on us and help us.”

23 “If you can do anything!” retorted Jesus. “Everything is possible to the man who believes.”

24 “I do believe,” the boy’s father burst out. “Help me to believe more!”

25 When Jesus noticed that a crowd was rapidly gathering, he spoke sharply to the evil spirit, with the words, “I command you, deaf and dumb spirit, come out of this boy, and never go into him again!”

26 The spirit gave a loud scream and after a dreadful convulsion left him. The boy lay there like a corpse, so that most of the bystanders said, “He is dead.”

27-28 But Jesus grasped his hands and lifted him up, and then he stood on his own feet. When he had gone home, Jesus’ disciples asked him privately, “Why were we unable to drive it out?”

29 “Nothing can drive out this kind of thing except prayer,” replied Jesus. J.B. Phillips Translation

Imagine the surprise at Jesus’ response to the father’s description of what happened, or rather, didn’t happen. The desperate man, anxious to see his only son healed, is instead rebuked by the Lord. First he is frustrated and disappointed with the disciples’ inability to cast out the demon and then, when Jesus appears He rebukes everyone for a lack of faith. Can anyone cast out this demon? Finally, he thinks, Jesus will restore my son to a normal life. 

Not quite yet! Even though the boy thrashes about when he’s brought to Jesus, He asks the father questions instead of simply casting out the demon. Imagine the scene as Jesus and the father talk about frequency and how long this has been going on while the boy is convulsing nearby. Finally the father begs the Lord to heal his son.

Then Jesus challenges the father with, “If you can do anything? Everything is possible to the man who believes.” And since this is real life instead of a movie script, the father candidly, probably with tears, laments, “I do believe. Help me to believe more.” Jesus grants that request and heals his son. But did he?

Instead of rising up, after a piercing, demonic last ditch scream, the boy lay as dead. All who witnessed this exclaimed, “He is dead!” Not so. Jesus took his hands and raised him up into his father’s grateful arms.

The thoroughly confused disciples then took Jesus away from the crowd and asked, “Why were we unable to drive [the demon] out?” These were men of faith and action, who had seen and done miracles. Why were we so powerless, they wondered. What is the secret? In keeping with our Lord’s mysterious answers, He simply says, “Nothing can drive out this kind of thing except prayer!”

If you are like me, you vow to ask God to help you to believe more and pray more.

Only Our Duty

“We’ve only done our duty” Luke 17:10

The weekly Bible study group was involved in an animated conversation about what God expects when we are seemingly taken advantage of or taken for granted. The conversation was going along the normal path of defending positions such as: 

“Well, God doesn’t expect us to be doormats, you know,” said Gloria.

“I’ll have to line up with Gloria on that one,” said Frank. “We are special to the Lord and He wants us to defend our faith at all costs.”

Most of the group chimed in at that point, defending the “we’re not doormats” position. Until Glenn, the class leader said, “Well, actually He does you know.”

The room got very quiet out of disbelief and embarrassment. 

“Do you remember the scene at the last supper when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet? That was a shock to them because it was a servant’s job, beneath them. But our Lord went from man to man, washing and drying everyone’s feet telling them, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” ~John 13:14-15

“In the Book of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of a slave who after working all day in his master’s field comes in to make and serve the dinner for his master. Jesus then says, “Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘ We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” ~Luke 17:9-10

No one spoke as they processed what was just read. Instantly everyone knew they were far from that attitude. Just the opposite, most resented the idea of being a good-for-nothing slave who has merely done their duty. Surely this was some colossal misunderstanding.

“Struggling with this one?” Glenn asked. “I think it’s time we faced this issue head on. What I just read is from our Bible. Our literal life-guide. Jesus became a slave as an example to us who follow to do likewise. Jesus doesn’t want us to be a doormat, we say. The truth is, He does. And then, after people wipe their feet on that mat, He says, “wash their feet, just as I have done for you!”

The Apostle Paul has something to say about this subject too: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

“Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

“Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ~Philippians 2:3-11

We spend our waking hours worrying about our positions in life, believing that we have “rights” as citizens; that we can have anything we want if we just believe and work really hard. It’s good Karma, what goes around comes around, and so on. Well, those ideas are ideas that come from the enemy of our soul who wants to kill, steal and destroy us. God’s version of life is the exact opposite. Here’s what Paul says: 

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ, and become one with Him.” ~Philippians 3:8

Be like Christ? Be prepared to give it all up and learn to listen to the still, small voice in your heart.

Hope and Assurance

“I am the resurrection and the life” ~John 11:25

Occasionally, the challenges of life weigh heavily and we may lose sight of God’s promises in the Bible. Once you see Jesus calling you and respond in faith, He will never leave or forsake you. His mighty grip is secure, His protection is never-failing. Take your time as you read through this small sampling of God’s eternal Word.

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 10:10-11 I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

1 Peter 1:3-5 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

John 10:27-30 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

John 6:35-40 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

1 John 4:4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Romans 8:38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Matthew 11:28-30 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

We did nothing to earn forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Almighty God. Salvation is a free gift, a reward of an act of faith. The Holy Spirit draws us to God: “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing…That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives then to me.” John 6:63, 65

Imaginary Roadblocks

“God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness” ~2 Timothy 1:7

I’m 37 and not married. 

I’m married but can’t have children.

I don’t know who my mother/father is.

I am not clever or articulate.

I am short and  chubby.

I didn’t invest my money and now I am living on a minimal income. 

I made bad choices and I am a loser.

These are imaginary roadblocks and those who hold these ideas think they are losers, failures; they think life has passed them by and the Lord is not playing fair with them. They believe if these so-called problems were rectified, life would be so much better. They would be satisfied and content. Not true.

Many years ago I was at a conference led by a Catholic priest. During one of the classes he said, “You cannot listen to your feelings. We all have them but you cannot allow them to lead your life. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are!”

At first I rejected his statement as ridiculous. But after a few hours of ruminating, I realized he was correct. Feelings are just that, feelings. Let’s go back to the list above. Each of these statements are tied in to feelings. For example, I’m 37 and not married. Possible feelings: “I am never going to find the right guy and enjoy family life. What is wrong with me?”

I don’t know who my father is. Possible feeling: “I am a loser not knowing who my father is. I have no sense of identity.” Another person may say, “I know who my father is and he was a terrible, mean-spirited, drunk who caused great sadness and fear in our family.”

If we focus on what we don’t have, we allow those pesky feelings to rule our lives. A man was overheard to say on the day of his college graduation, “I am so frustrated. I missed graduating with an A average by just a couple of grade points. I feel like the whole experience was a bust!

Another graduate who held a great celebration party just graduating college, cannot understand the other person’s attitude. They would think it strange to find disappointment in such success. Feelings can take you down.

2 Timothy 1:7 “God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Pause a moment. God. The creator of everything says He has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love and a sound mind! That is a promise. Do we believe it? Or do we allow our feelings to trample on this promise?

Fear sneaks in right behind doubt and we fall apart. The what-if’s come roaring in followed by I’m not worthy and we reach for our well-worn loser hat and slink down the road, muttering, “I knew it was too good to be true. I knew it wouldn’t last.”

Guess what we are actually saying? “God is a liar!” Shocking isn’t it. Of course we never utter those words but that is what we secretly believe. 

“I’d never call God a liar,” we shout pounding on the table. “That would be ridiculous and just wrong.” However, when we read 2 Timothy 1:7 and allow fear to tear life from our grasp, we are proclaiming loudly that it is not true. Faith in Christ brings new life, life built on the foundation of God’s love, grace and mercy. The unifying element which ties this all together is forgiveness, God’s and ours. Reading His Word, talking to him openly (known as prayer), brings God-given results in every situation, no matter how we feel!

We must resist our negative feelings and “rely on the power of God, who has saved us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 1 Timothy 1:8-9

God’s Gifts!

February 14, 2021

“It is the Holy Spirit who is the source of them all” ~1 Cor. 12:4

I remember it so well as though it happened recently. I attended a growing church and was a novice photographer. I wondered if I could capture the joy and exuberance of my fellow worshipers as they sang and praised the Lord. To accomplish this, I needed an additional zoom or telephoto lens. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me how to find such a lens within my budget. 

It was a week or two later that a man in the congregation stopped me after church and said, “I have a gift for you. The Lord put it on my heart to give you all my camera gear!” The following weekend I met him at his home and he gave me two cameras and four lenses. He told me that he was spending too much time with photography instead of with his family and God directed him to give it all to me. I received his gift with joy!

And what about our relationship with The Holy Spirit and His free gifts to us? Do we gladly receive them with eager expectation as I did with the camera gear? Or do we hem and haw, wondering what gift we may have or if we have a gift at all. This question is easily answered in 1 Corinthians 12. If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word then our question regarding Spiritual gifts is answered in Corinthians.

Verse 1: And now, brothers, I want to write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of you, for I don’t want any misunderstanding about them.

Now we know the Holy Spirit gives each of us special abilities (gifts).

Verses 4-7: Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. 7The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).

How wonderful, the Holy Spirit is the source of all of God’s Gifts and—He displays God’s power through us as a means of helping the entire Christian Church! How powerful and essential. Am I still a doubter? Or do I trust God. It’s all Him. There is no begging, no pleading on our knees night after night. God freely gives gift to benefit the Church.

Verses 8-11: To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. 9He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. 10He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. 11It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.

Contemplate these gifts: giving wise advice; studying and teaching; special faith; power to heal the sick; performing miracles; power to prophesy and preach; discerning evil spirits and God’s Spirit; speaking an unknown language; power to understand what the unknown language says.

These gifts are beyond our human efforts which is why the Holy Spirit “gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.” The key is, He gives us spiritual gifts. God is the originator and the Holy Spirit is the dispenser. 

When my friend said he was giving me all his camera gear, I was thrilled and filled with anticipation. Once I unwrapped the gift, so to speak, I put it into action quickly, becoming familiar with how it all worked; learning everything I could about each piece of equipment. So should we be concerning God’s gifts—filled with anticipation, walking in faith. Verse 7, above says, “The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).”

Global Warming

Image by Parabol Studio via Shutterstock.com, with elements furnished by NASA

Global Warming: The Real Thing!

The Second Letter of Peter; Chapter 3

In 2006 Al Gore was the narrator and brain child of the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, whose focus was the impending destruction brought about by global warming. Apparently Mr. Gore did not realize just how accurate his prognosis was, according to this chapter in 2 Peter.

1-2 This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. 2 I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.

3-4 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. 4They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

5-7 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. 6Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. 7And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Present heavens and earth stored up for fire

8-10 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 10But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Never lose sight of the eternal world

11-13 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, 12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

14-16 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. 15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17-18 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

Yes, it is true, the current heavens and earth will pass away in a violent ball of flame. But then, God will speak into existence new heavens and earth for us to dwell in forever. Until that day, verse 14 explains our orders, “And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make very effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.”

Why would God do this? Read verse 7, above. By His Word God made the heavens and earth. And by His Word, He will enact a day of judgment when ungodly people will be destroyed.

What Happens If My Life Falls Apart?

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart” ~Proverbs 3:5

The usual way of things in Christianity is that a person prays to accept Jesus into their lives and He gladly forgives their sins and they begin their new Christian journey by attending a church.

Along the way, as the person reads the Bible, learns to pray, attends Bible studies and experiences the joy of giving to others, a subtle little extra creeps into their lives. This is the doctrine of “if’s”.

  • If you tithe regularly (and give love offerings beyond tithes), God will be very pleased and His pleasure will play out in more money and things for you.
  • If you maintain your faith in God during the most difficult trials, He has wonderful materialistic rewards waiting for you just around the corner. God loves giving His followers lots of worldly things to make them happy.
  • If you check your brain at the door, use your emotions as a guide, and always ask other Christians what they think you should do with your life, God will reward you greatly; Usually with a form of prosperity to show his gratitude.

The list can go on, including many more damaging ideas often perpetuated on people who sincerely wish to not only follow the Lord but use their lives as a source of light in this dark world. The problem with this line of thought is that it is a blend of God’s truth and human error. The results of following this path are always the same: failure and confusion.

God’s rewards are wrapped in His promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal, everlasting life with Him. God DID NOT send Jesus to die on the cross of Calvary so all who believe in Him will not only have everlasting life but lots and lots of wonderful things on earth.

If we believe God’s love will be shown to us through material blessings, job promotions, healthy lives and unlimited happiness, then what happens when our lives fall apart? How can we be at peace with burdensome debt, being passed over for promotion, imprisonment for our faith, disease or death?

Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do and He will show you the right way.”

Proverbs 16:2-3. “All a man’s ways seem right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved.”

Many people tend to view the Bible and God’s promises through a filter of material possessions and success. Therefore, as we read verses like Proverbs 16:3, we assume God is referring to material prosperity. We get together and agree among ourselves that God has promised success in all our plans. When this does not work out, we are confused and discouraged. Our faith in God is in danger, especially when we see the world or even fellow Christians prospering.

James 1:5. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”

James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Our lives on earth will always have challenges and problems. Such is the fabric of our imperfect lives as we await our release from planet earth. However, in the midst of our trials and tribulations, the peace of Jesus Christ is ours if we choose to walk in it. Eternal rest and joy beyond compare await. 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18  “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth, will be eight u p int he close to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”