Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Troubles come...what to do?

Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you will glorify me.
Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD will be delivered.
Why are you depressed, O my soul? and why are you disturbed within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. — Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble: you will prepare their heart, you will cause your ear to hear. — For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and full of mercy for everyone who calls upon you.
Jacob said to his household, ... Let us arise and go up to Bethel; and there I will make an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my trouble, and who was with me wherever I went. 
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my prayers. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death surrounded me, and the pains of hell took hold of me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord.
Call upon me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Prayer takes us places we cannot go alone, because prayer takes hold of both the power and willingness of Almighty God to change us and our circumstances.  Prayer not only calls to the God who is in heaven, it recognizes His continual presence in our lives, and in our circumstances.  Many times, when we talk to God, we think we have to tell Him our situation.  It's fine if we do, but He already knows.  Jesus said, "Your Father in heaven knows the things you need before you ask Him," and so it is. He knows everything about you--your problems, both external and internal, your needs, your desires, what you enjoy, what you love, hate, become angry at, everything. He is the most intimate Friend you have.  It is a good idea to invite Him into every part of your life, and that is actually what the Bible recommends: "Pray without ceasing..." in other words, hold an internal conversation with God, and let Him be as a Friend who always walks beside you.  In this way, prayer is not an "act," but a "life," and in this way, your intimacy with God will grow closer every hour. When you pray, listen.  It's a two-way conversation. If you talk with God, and bring Him all things, and then listen to Him, before long your life will become suffused with God's presence, and He will be as an intimate friend to you, as well as the mighty Creator of the universe and Director of history. You will not make Him small by praying this way.  You will be participating in His "bigness."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Who, Me?

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.“I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Without question, If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are spiritually gifted. The question that everyone asks is, "What is my gift?"  And the answer is, "They vary."  In the Old Testament, we read of men who were gifted to be prophets. Others ruled with intelligence and wisdom. Others were administrators in a kingdom. Some were builders. Some were "wise men," and some were judges. Many were musicians and poets. Some were talented businessmen.  All these were the gifts of God to these people, both enhancing and adding to their natural gifts, so that with God's power, they were MORE than with just their own talents. So it is with you.  You may be an artist, a businessperson, a salesman, an evangelist, a helper, a support person in your work or church.  Whatever you do well, with God's help, these are your gifts. There are "church gifts," things that are especially needed in the church, and "outside church gifts," things that are needed to conduct your life outside the church.  These two sets of gifts are always interrelated, so that a man who writes for God is also a "good writer," and may make his living with that skill.  Same with business.  A woman who is a talented organizer may very well be involved in organizing things in her church, and her business life may involve directing people. These are all both spiritual gifts and natural gifts, and they have "crossover."  In addition, there are some gifts that have little relationship to our natural lives--prophecy, for example, or the gifts of miraculous healing. For these, the recipient often just "finds out" about them accidentally, or the Lord says, "This is what I want you to do..." and he does it, and in the doing, finds his gift.  You undoubtedly have more than one gift, more than one special talent. God has given you to use for Him.  It is not so much your job to find those things, as just to allow God to direct your life so that the natural course of your life reflects the will of God, and to obey God when He commands you to do something.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Do someone some good today.

God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, various kinds of tongues. All these ministries the same Spirit works, giving to each one individually as He chooses.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. Now to each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
As every man has received his own special gift, even so minister to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.

You are gifted as a believer in Jesus Christ.  However, the gift(s) you've received are not for you, but for the person to whom you're ministering.  When God gives you His spiritual gifts, he does so in order to give you the power to help someone else.  He knows who your contacts will be. He knows what your experiences are, your circumstances, your particular intellectual abilities, your interests--and He tailors your gifts to you, but also to meet the needs of the people in your life.  in most cases, you are not meant to minister to everyone.  You fit and fill the needs of people God has placed in your life, and the people He's sent you for ministry are usually the ones with whom you're already in contact, and the people you'll meet in the course of your life.  The key to ministering to them is to hear what God has to say to you specifically about the people you're ministering to--what do THEY need? How can you help THEM?  It's also necessary to learn to listen to the people God sends you. We've all seen skits of situations where there is a total disconnect between the person who's supposed to be listening and the person in need. Unfortunately, that particular problem is very real in the spiritual world. It happens often. Remember that failure to listen is failure to minister properly.  This is why Jesus (even He!!) often asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" And then He listened.  You can minister to the people God sends you. Start by listening to God, and listen to them as well.  And then help them the way God shows you. It's almost too simple, but that's how it's done.  No ministry without hearing, No speaking without listening.  In this way, your ministry to others will be powerful and blessed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The sin of the world

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. — In those days, and in that time, says the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found. — You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. — Who is a God like you, one who pardons iniquity? All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. — He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he has poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. — The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

The verses above are ancient prophecies and promises concerning what God will do with sin--including yours. Just as yesterday we discussed that fact that God will judge the world by Jesus Christ, so now we find that He intends to forgive anyone comes to Him through Jesus Christ and also dismiss him from that judgment. Here is a great mystery: While it would be easy to think that God is totally happy with casting people into hell, He is actually trying to avoid it, because He has made a simple path by which you may have every sin you've committed (and future sins!) forgiven and taken from your life, through His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, He has not only made it simple, He's made it easy--and free for the asking. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest; and, He who comes to me, I will never cast out; and, come to me, that you might have life." Again, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord (prays to Him and asks) shall be saved." You don't have to go to church. You don't have to pay any money. You don't have to buy anything from an evangelist. You don't have to have anyone else pray for you. YOU ask. Just ask. That's it. How hard is that?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Problem of Judgment

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The problem with God's judgment is that it comes at the end, and therefore it's easier to deny that it's ever going to happen. But it is. A day IS coming when God shall judge the secrets of mankind by Jesus Christ. It's not apparent now, but history moves in a single direction, and that direction is toward the end. The thing about the final judgment is that it is final. After that, there are no appeals, no pardons, no reduced sentences. Everything is over. It's easy to put off decisions about what's going to ultimately affect you--eating right, exercising, training your children with care--because the consequences are not immediate. It's the same with God. It's easy to put off making things right with Him, because it's possible to deny in your heart that God's judgment is coming. But it is, like a freight train that's far away. Right now, all you can hear is a minute vibration on the tracks, but it's coming. You would be wise not to be on the tracks when it arrives. The final verse above, "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" is both full of condemnation and promise. The promise is that there IS a book of life, one which God Himself maintains, and you can be written in that book. The condemnation is that if you are not written in God's book of life, you will be lost forever. It is a terrible reality, but also a wonderful opportunity, because you CAN be written in His book.
"He who hears my [Jesus] words, and believes in Him who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life. He who believes in the Son [Jesus] has everlasting life. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in (believe in) Christ Jesus. He that believeth in him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Opportunity lies ahead--eternal life. Disaster lies ahead--eternal punishment. You choose. Which will it be?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Know the pathways of God?? You can!!

Show me your ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
Moses said to the Lord, I beg you, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me your way, that I may know you. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. — He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
He will guide the humble in judgment; and he will teach them his ways. Who is the one who fears the Lord? He will teach him in the way of His choosing. — Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don't lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever. — I will instruct thee and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye. — The path of the just is as the dawn, that shines more and more to the full light of day.

God wants you to know His will.  He's not withholding information to prevent you from success, or happiness, or any other blessing.  If you don't know what He wants at any given time, here are the things to do:
1. Ask Him.  Just like everything else for which we are commanded to ask, "we have not because we ask not."  It may involve some waiting when you ask, because the answers He gives often need to be made ready.  It's like asking, "where's my new house?" when it is not yet built.  It's going to be built, but not yet. Sometimes you have to wait.
2. Humble yourself.  Proud people, who demand, rarely get the answers they seek. 
3. Fear God (show reverence!)--He's God, and you're not.  Let Him be the King.  He is anyway.
4. Let Him show you HIS way.  It may not be YOUR way, but His is always right.
5. The final verse, about the dawn, shows how the Lord reveals His will to us.  It is a process, beginning with the gray of dawn and finally, everything becomes bright and clear.  Let Him do it His way.  He's planning to do it His way anyway, because it's best.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

[Jesus said] By this, shall everyone know that you are My disciples.

We see the love of God in this, that he laid down his life for us.
A new commandment I give you--that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. 
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich. — Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. — Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. — Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a quarrel against another: just as Christ forgave you, do the same. — For even the Son of man came not to receive ministry, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. — Christ also ... suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in his steps.

One of the greatest revelations in all the world about God and His Son is that He loves us.  There is no love like the love of God.  It reaches to the ends of the earth; it reaches to the depths of the ocean--even of the grave; it reaches to the heights of heaven, and it is greater than all the rage of men and devils combined.  There truly is NOTHING like the love of God. 
On the other hand, the love of Christians for each other is often mixed with pettiness, jealousy, anger, resentment, greed--and all the other "works of the flesh." As James says, "these things ought not so to be."  
So.  I have a recommendation.  Remember Jesus' words: "Love one another as I have loved you." And John's parallel words: The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen...Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." As so often with other things, it is the man or woman who DOES, not the one who SAYS, that is doing God's will in this. Saying love and showing love may be two very different things. Show your love, then say it. The "collateral result" will be: By this shall everyone know that you are My disciples--if you love one another. So if you want to testify of your faith, start here.