Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons from Matthew 4:19

Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19, NKJV
I don't know how many times I've read this verse, but it struck me differently today than it normally does.

I don't consider myself to be an evangelist, but I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and every follower of Christ has received a Commission to go forth into all the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples of all nations.

To Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, who were fishermen, Jesus said, "Follow Me! And I will make you into a different kind of fishermen--fishers of men, that is, soul-winners."

Although this call was specific to Peter and Andrew where it appears in the Gospel of Matthew, I believe there are several principles that can be applied to the lives of every follower of Jesus Christ:

#1 A follower's first concern is to follow.
Jesus told them to follow Him first, and then He would make them fishers of men. The order is very important. Our primary concern is not soul-winning, although he who wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30). Our primary concern is to follow Jesus. If we are faithful to follow, He will provide the fish, He will make us into the fishermen He wants us to be, and He will use our lives to save people.

#2 God--and Christ as God incarnate--makes His followers into what He desires them to be.
God is making us--making you, dear Christian--into what He wants us to be. He is sovereign even over the process of our sanctification, and He will complete it. True, He uses means, but He has ordained the means. He knows exactly what He will use to make you everything He wants you to be for His glory. Surrender yourself to His plan, and trust in Him to complete the good work He began in you (Phil. 1:6).

#3 Jesus gives His disciples a vocation: soul-winning.
The first point was that soul-winning is not our primary concern, but following Jesus is. The last point I want to make is that Jesus identifies the vocation of His disciples as soul-winning. We are to be soul-winners. And I think every follower of the Lord Jesus ought to think of him or herself as a soul-winner. We win people to Christ by the testimony of our lives of faithfulness to follow Christ. We win people to Christ by being different from the world and being humble when we fall and sin. We win people to Christ by putting the Gospel on display in our lives. We win people to Christ by preaching and teaching and sharing the Good News that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. This is the calling of every Christian! And it is a high calling indeed: to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in the world!

This one verse is such an encouragement to me! I feel so unequal to the task which has been appointed to me, but I know--with renewed confidence--that if I am faithful to follow Him, He is making me into the soul-winner He wishes me to be.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Do what you can, with all your might: Our strength is in God

From Charles H. Spurgeon:
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
Ecclesiastes 9:10 
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do," refers to works that are possible. There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out "whatsoever our hand findeth to do." One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we "find to do" day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do--"do it with thy might." Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do to-morrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of today. No man ever served God by doing things to-morrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do today. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength. 
But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek his help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our "hand findeth to do," let us wait upon the Lord for his blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.
(emphasis mine)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strength made perfect in weakness


From Charles H. Spurgeon:
"For my strength is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God's warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, "I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory," defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for "it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve him in his own way, and in his strength, or he will never accept their service. That which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth he casteth away; he will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before he will put his own into thee; he will first clean out thy granaries before he will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his battles but the strength which he himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up. 
"When I am weak then am I strong,
Grace is my shield and Christ my song."

Monday, October 31, 2011

"Renew a Right Spirit": A Plea for God's Help

From Charles H. Spurgeon:

"Renew a right spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10

A backslider, if there be a spark of life left in him will groan after restoration. In this renewal the same exercise of grace is required as at our conversion. We needed repentance then; we certainly need it now. We wanted faith that we might come to Christ at first; only the like grace can bring us to Jesus now. We wanted a word from the Most High, a word from the lip of the loving One, to end our fears then; we shall soon discover, when under a sense of present sin, that we need it now. No man can be renewed without as real and true a manifestation of the Holy Spirit's energy as he felt at first, because the work is as great, and flesh and blood are as much in the way now as ever they were. Let thy personal weakness, O Christian, be an argument to make thee pray earnestly to thy God for help. Remember, David when he felt himself to be powerless, did not fold his arms or close his lips, but he hastened to the mercy-seat with "renew a right spirit within me." Let not the doctrine that you, unaided, can do nothing, make you sleep; but let it be a goad in your side to drive you with an awful earnestness to Israel's strong Helper. O that you may have grace to plead with God, as though you pleaded for your very life--"Lord, renew a right spirit within me." He who sincerely prays to God to do this, will prove his honesty by using the means through which God works. Be much in prayer; live much upon the Word of God; kill the lusts which have driven your Lord from you; be careful to watch over the future uprisings of sin. The Lord has his own appointed ways; sit by the wayside and you will be ready when he passes by. Continue in all those blessed ordinances which will foster and nourish your dying graces; and, knowing that all the power must proceed from him, cease not to cry, "Renew a right spirit within me."

Only with Your help, Lord. Renew a right spirit in me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Proud to Stand with Them!

I have many fears:
A fear of drowning.
A fear of falling.
A fear of heights.

I also have a fear of sharing the Gospel with people one-on-one and handing out Gospel tracts!

There's something about not knowing what the person's reaction will be that makes sharing the Gospel a frightening thing.

And what makes this fear worse than any other fear is that it is spiritual in nature, and Satan and his demons exploit it to the utmost! If they can discourage someone from sharing about Christ, they will!

It's important to pray and not go out in our own strength, but rely on the strength of God!

Something else I hope will help you when you think to share the Gospel with someone and feel afraid: think of the persecuted Church!

Think of all that they give up for the privilege of sharing the Gospel with their neighbors:
- safety
- freedom
- family
- friends
- livelihood
- life...

Determine that it is an honor to stand with these faithful ones, even if you do not face the same hardships they do. Determine in your heart to take a stand for Jesus Christ, because many will stand for him even in the face of imprisonment and death!

Be proud to stand with them!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Simple Lesson with BIG Implications

God's provision does not give occasion for my selfishness!

This week I've had the privilege of teaching Missions in the Vacation Bible School program at Arbor Christian Fellowship in Lake Forest, CA.

Every day I would try to give the children a treat so they'd have something to look forward to at the end of their time in my class. I brought a bag of Starburst candies with me. There are a lot of candies in one bag, but forgetting that it isn't a limitless supply, I couldn't resist twice dipping into the bag and eating a candy.

But on the last day, today, a sad thing happened. I was short two candies! I didn't have enough for everyone!

Which got me thinking: if I hadn't been selfish and taken candy for myself, I would have had enough candy at the end of the week for my students!

Which also got me thinking: though we trust in God to provide, His provision is not an occasion for us to be selfish!

Just because God graciously provided enough candy for my students, that did not mean He provided it for me to satisfy my own sweet tooth.

The things God provides are to be used for His purposes, not ours! Don't forget Who it is that provides for you! He is God! We are not!

Our Almighty Omnipotent God

There's nothing our All-powerful God cannot do!

Except sin.

But is that a limit to omnipotence? No.

Consider this... If something is perfect it can't be not-perfect, but that doesn't limit its perfection; indeed, it magnifies it!

The same is true of God. He is perfect and all-powerful! He cannot taint His own goodness, but that is no limit to His power; indeed, it magnifies His power!

Sin is born out of moral weakness and a corrupt nature. The fact that God cannot sin is a testimony to His perfection and His power, that He is incapable of anything base or evil.

Our God is Holy! Absolutely perfect!

Let us worship Him as the perfect, all-powerful God He is!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Book of Job & The Persecuted Church

The Book of Job is a moving account of a man who loses everything he has and yet remains faithful to God. You can read the book HERE.

While praying for the persecuted Church, I started thinking of Job and the commonalities he and the persecuted share.

1. They both (Job and the persecuted Church) suffer--not as the result of unrighteousness, but as the result of their righteousness.
- Job suffered because Satan told God that the reason Job loved and trusted God was because of God's blessings--and God gave permission for Satan to test him. Job was a righteous man. There was no one like him who feared God and walked with an upright heart (Job 1:1).
- The persecuted Church suffers because Satan desires to destroy their faith. It is because the Church lives by faith and in obedience and love for God that it is persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12).

2. Both Job and the persecuted Church demonstrate: Satan's evil fulfills God's purposes; Satan is a slave of God.
- God permitted Satan to torment Job--ultimately God used it for His own good purposes; He stopped the mouth of Satan, vindicated Job, and blessed him more after his trials than before.
- God permitted Satan to kill His Son--that God's perfect purpose of salvation might be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15).
- God permitted Satan to torment Paul--by sending a thorn in the flesh to humble him (2 Corinthians 12:7).
- God permits Satan to try and torment the Church--because trial and affliction refines our faith like gold and because God is working everything to our good; we also have sweet fellowship with Christ through sharing in His sufferings (Revelation 12:13-17; Zechariah 13:9; Romans 8:5; 1 Peter 4:13).

3. Job and the persecuted Church long for Christ's personal vindication.
- Job cried for a Mediator between God and man, not knowing that the One he was crying for was the God-Man Jesus Christ! Job desires a Mediator to represent his case to God, that his righteousness might be vindicated (Job 9:33).
- The persecuted Church longs for the day when they stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and hear "well done, good and faithful servant"! The martyrs around God's throne cry "how long until our blood is avenged"? (Matthew 25:23; Revelation 6:10)

The book of Job gives me a better appreciation for the trials of the persecuted Church.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strong to Help

"With God's help!"

How have you heard this phrase used before?

Perhaps you've heard a high school graduate use it when talking about getting into the college they want: "With God's help! I'll get in!"

Perhaps you've heard a mother use it when discussing the disciplining of her children: "With God's help! They'll turn out alright!"

But in these instances, you could substitute the word "hopefully" and it would work just as well...by which I mean that we aren't always seriously putting our trust in God to help us as people in Scripture did when we use the phrase "with God's help"!

If we were putting our trust in God we wouldn't be hopeful in the sense of "I sure hope this turns out alright, because I'm not certain that it will" but we'd be hopeful in the sense of "I am certain this will turn out alright, because God is with me, and He's promised that all things will work together for my good (Romans 8:29)".

When people from Scripture spoke of God as their "help", they spoke this way:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. - Psalm 46:1b, ESV (emphasis mine)

And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” - 2 Chronicles 14:11, ESV (emphasis mine)

Surely the people in these passages were hoping the best for the future, but they were really trusting in God to help them! They knew that if God helped them, they would surely be helped! Our God does not fail!

I think the difference between them and us is that we speak of God so casually that we forget that He is the Living God - the One True God! He really does help His people, and by thinking small thoughts of the quality of help He offers, we forget just how strong to help He is!

Think BIG thoughts of God! I assure you that when you've thought the highest and the greatest you can of Him, He is higher and greater still!

Hallelujah!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sleepless Nights

What disturbs your sleep?

Sleeplessness can have a number of causes... Drinking too much coffee... Staying in bed too late that morning... Being on the computer right before bed...

Strong emotion can also disturb sleep.

Often I can't sleep if I'm excited.
Or if I'm upset.
Or if I'm scared.

Our emotions can keep us from sleeping.

What are the things that affect us emotionally?

Are we affected by the thought of lost people going to Hell?
Are we affected by the lukewarmness in our churches?

How about the thought of being with Jesus in Heaven one day?
Are we excited about seeing Him?

Does God wake you in the night to spend time with you?
Are you excited to spend time with God?

The next time you set your head to the pillow and can't sleep, don't worry too much friend - go to God in prayer and spend some time with Him!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Prayer for My Readers

Dear God, how gracious You are! To give us time and talents for use for Your kingdom, Lord! To grant us life and breath with which to seek and serve You, Lord!

It is my prayer that we will use what You have given us for the purposes for which You gave them! May we not hide our talent in the sand, but use it to Your glory, Lord! May we do everything for the sake of Christ - to see the lost saved and Your Kingdom grow; to help our brothers and sisters live lives set apart and useful for Your service, Lord! May all we do bring You glory!

It is my prayer that we will set aside worthless pursuits and pursue that which is most worthy, namely Jesus Christ! May He be pleased with our work, Lord, though we remember it is not by works but only by grace we are saved! Yet, we long to work - to spend and be spent - for His sake! Because He spent Himself for us!

If what we do is not for His sake, it is worthless and offensive to You, and we want no part of it, Lord! Show us where we need to examine our motives - our hearts - and make us even more in love with Jesus Christ!

Granting us grace where we fail!

Amen!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Baby"

Due to the huge response this received when I re-posted it to my Facebook profile, I want to share this story again via my blog. I am not sure of its origins; the author is anonymous.

Baby
Author Unknown

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:

'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.

So the doctor said: 'Ok and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.

The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!

'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.'

The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.

He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb.

The crime is the same!

If you agree, please SHARE. Together we can help save precious lives!

"Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself..."

Jesus sacrificed Himself for the good of sinners! That's perfect love!


Disclaimer: I do not point fingers to condemn women who have had abortions. I have no idea what these women have gone through! It is my intention to share with the world the plain truth that abortion is murder of the unborn, and to share with those affected by the pro-abortion culture that there is HOPE IN JESUS CHRIST!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Comfort, Praise and Worship

Hello friend. I woke up today feeling very overwhelmed and anxious. I knew I ought to pray, but didn't know really how...there was so much to pray for.

Finally, as I started washing the dishes and talking to God, I got an idea to listen to worship music.

So I turned on an album by Sovereign Grace called Eight Songs That Teach, and it brought me such comfort and joy! :)

What made the difference?

1) praising God even in the hard times reminds the soul Who is in control

2) worship reminds us of how much God has given us in Christ: He's all we have and need

3) listening to songs based on Scripture reminds us of the Scripture from which the song is taken, and the surrounding Scriptures: for example, one of the songs I listened to had a line taken from Romans 8, which reminded me of that beautiful chapter of Paul's epistle

Let's praise Him for His goodness, and remember He is able though we are not!


No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:37-39, ESV

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Morning Prayer: A Poem

I wake
I rise
I praise my God
For granting me this breath

To love
And praise
And honor Him
In my life or death

I rise
I fall
I bend my knee
To humble my proud heart

To think
To thank
To praise Him for
The grace that He imparts

Sadie Daniels
June 16, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prayer Humbles: Confession

This is the second post in a two-part series on how prayer humbles us. You may view the first post HERE.

An important part of prayer is confession of sin.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray "forgive us our trespasses" even though He knew He was going to the cross to pay for their sins (Matthew 6:12).

The Apostle John exhorts his audience not to sin, and yet promises that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Certainly confession of sin is a humbling experience.

We must 1) admit our fault, and 2) admit it to the God of Heaven and Earth! We must admit that our sin has wronged Him and seek His forgiveness, even though the debt of our sin has been "paid in full".

In the end we'll find it to our benefit to humble ourselves in this way.

Confession frees us from the guilt of sin!

And when we experience God's cleansing forgiveness, we are free to draw near to Him once more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prayer Humbles

God in His grace has shown me a lot of my pride. He has shown me also that it is because of my pride that I don't like to pray.

Prayer in any significant sense means bowing to God and acknowledging Him as Maker of the Universe and my Lord and Master...my Sustainer and my Provider.

And it's recognizing that He is all those things, even though I can't see Him or hear an audible reply to my prayers.

That's very humbling.

But we need to be humbled before God, and prayer is a beautiful way of accomplishing this.

I even have found I need an extra push to get me to humble myself in prayer, so I have taken to speaking my prayers out loud as if I were talking to a person. It focuses my mind and keeps my heart from being lifted up and thinking that it's a silly thing to pray at all...which I sadly find myself thinking all too often.

Let us humble ourselves in prayer and draw near to God, and He will draw near to us.

Monday, June 13, 2011

10 Motives for Prayer

John MacArthur, in a sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray without ceasing" identified 10 motives for prayer which will help us obey this command:

#1 A desire for the Lord's glory.
#2 A desire for fellowship with God.
#3 A desire for needs to be met.
#4 A desire for wisdom.
#5 A desire for deliverance from trouble.
#6 A desire for relief from fear and worry.
#7 A desire to offer thanks for God's past blessings.
#8 A desire to be freed from the guilt of sin.
#9 A desire for the salvation of the lost.
#10 A desire for the spiritual growth of believers.

There's enough there to keep us praying every moment of our lives, in a spirit of fellowship with God, thankful for all that He has done and is doing, and eager to see Him continue to work in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Do you not have these desires? Cultivate them through time spent in God's Word!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

True Contentment

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. - Philippians 4:11, ESV

When you think of contentment, what comes to mind?

Is your idea of contentment getting by with what you have, though it's not exactly what you would choose for yourself?

Or is it convincing yourself that what you want probably isn't all it's cracked up to be?

Neither of these are true contentment.

The Apostle Paul had it right when he said "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

Contentment is realizing that you are already blessed in all that you have been given. It's being grateful for what you have.

As Christians, we've been given the greatest treasure of all: Jesus Christ.

Shall I not be content in every circumstance, knowing that whatever I have or could have in this life is not to be compared with the riches of knowing Christ, my Savior?

In Him, shall God freely give us all things.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

They Said It: John Trapp

One Son God hath without sin, but none without sorrow. - John Trapp

Source: A Puritan Golden Treasury, compiled by I.D.E. Thomas, 1989 reprint

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Good Reminders

Sticky notes are great. They help me remember things.

I'm always telling people I have a poor memory, so things like sticky notes are my friend. They function as my external brain, storing information that I don't want to forget and want to be reminded of later.

There are certain things you don't want to forget... An anniversary... An appointment... A kindness received...

You may even want to remind yourself of these things repeatedly.

Why?

There are many reasons. Thinking about them brings you joy (perhaps not in the case of the appointment). Or... Missing the date will mean problems later.

In any case, you don't want to forget.

There are many things in our Christian walk that we never want to forget. Things that it's good to remind ourselves of over and over again.

The Gospel is one of those things.

As Christians, we never move on from the Gospel. The Gospel is everything to us. Indeed, it's only because of the Gospel we can talk of anything else (like prayer, or tithing, or serving, etc.).

As Christians, we never want to forget... that it was only by the blood of Christ shed for me on Calvary's cross that I am justified in the eyes of God.

We never want to forget... I was a sinner, but through Christ's death and resurrection, He purchased with His blood my salvation. I have boldness before God, because Christ's righteousness is imputed to me.

Not of works, lest I should boast.

Friday, June 3, 2011

To Serve (Not Be Served)

I want you to know something about me: I find social situations a bit challenging.

I don't always know how to address someone... Or where to sit... Or what to say... Or who to talk to... Or for how long... Etc.

But as a Christian, I've been called beyond my own comfort. I've been called to step out in faith, and think of others rather than myself, and trust my needs to God.

I have my example: Jesus. Now I'm responsible to follow Him.

Mark Chapter 10 verse 45 says, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (ESV).

Jesus was all about meeting the needs of others, no matter what it cost Him. I've been called to follow after Him. That is, to "consider others better than myself" (Philippians 2:3).


Want to know a secret? Thinking of how I can best serve others in any given situation takes away the social tension! When I'm no longer thinking of myself, that's when I'm able to actually relax and function in a social setting.

Isn't it a beautiful truth that as we learn to obey, God is working for our good and meeting our needs?

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." - Matthew 6:33

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Easy Burdens

[Jesus said], "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30, KJV

Have you ever had a heavy box you had to lift on your own and carry somewhere? The first couple steps were fine, but the farther you went, your burden became a greater and greater trial.

The burden of the Law was like that to Jewish people of Jesus' day. They could take a few steps... Offer sacrifices for sins, but if they sought like Job to keep the Law in full, they soon found they couldn't and the burden they carried became a greater and greater trial.

What happened when you gave that burden to someone stronger than you? When you asked for help? The burden became easier... Lighter depending on the strength of the other person.

Jesus offers to carry the burden of the Law for His people, and for us. We cannot keep the Law on our own. We will only find it an impossible burden. But if we let Him carry it for us, it will be as He says, His "burden is easy" and His "yoke is light."


This applies to other burdens we need help carrying also. Why don't we ask the one who is "strong to help" to carry our burdens for us?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jesus is My Paradise: A Poem

Lately life has left me longing
Looking for my journey's end
When I ah! At last, belonging,
Wake in that fair and happy land

Oh distant shores of this soul's Dreaming
I yearn for rest from weary life
And await with joys ever increasing
My entrance into Paradise

Yet, what of these sweet fruits of rest
What would the best of all these be?
The glories of Heaven--I would attest--
Are not to be compared to Thee

For Thou art that Joy of my desire
And were it not for my faith's hope
To walk with Thee--in plain and pasture--
That shore for me should not be home

Sadie Daniels
June 1, 2011



Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. - Colossians 3:2-3, ESV

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

VOM: A Precious Gift

This continues the series on The Voice of the Martyrs Regional Conference in Los Alamitos, CA on Saturday, March 26, 2011. To see the first post in the series, click HERE.

I love Christmas! Do you remember how excited you were as a child to get a present you had been waiting a long time for? a new bicycle? a puppy? That doll that really giggled when you hugged her?

How were you feeling the night before, anticipating its arrival? Did you sleep? Did you get up and take a peak downstairs? Did you wake up your little sister, just to have someone to talk to about the beloved object?

And how did you feel that morning? Did you run downstairs? Did you pick it out from among all the other packages? Did you hug it close, almost afraid to unwrap it... maybe it wasn't there after all? Did you tear into the paper, and yell when you saw that it... it was really there? Did you jump? Did you cry? Did you hug it close to you, afraid it might be taken away?

Maybe. I think most of us have been excited at least once in our lives about getting something we wanted very badly.

But have we ever felt that way about our Bibles?

You heard me... your Bible... that book that sits on the shelf collecting dust.

Or that book... you have so many of... your own personal copy is nothing special. You read it diligently, but you wouldn't be heartbroken without it. You have others.

Well, Bibles are not as plenteous in other countries as they are here. There are different reasons for this. Governments limit the printing and distribution of Bibles. The Bibles that people do have are often confiscated or destroyed or left behind when families are forced from their homes (just because they're Christians). Or there is no available translation of the Bible in the people's language.

At the Conference, one of the speakers shared a video of a church receiving a shipment of Bibles provided by The Voice of the Martyrs. I don't have a copy of this video, but you should have seen these dear Christians run to the box, pull it open, and start grabbing the Bibles. Just like kids at Christmas!

The Bibles were individually wrapped in cellophane for protection. Most of the people wouldn't open the cellophane. They just held the Bible in their hands, looking at it with eyes that said they couldn't believe they were actually getting a Bible of their own. Some of the people held the Bible close and kissed it. It was that dear to them!

My question is: Shouldn't it be that dear to us?

Do we not believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? Why is it not our most prized possession? Treasured above all things?

It should be.


Here is a video to get you thinking: What if my BIBLE was as important to me as my CELL PHONE?





If you would like to know more about The Voice of the Martyrs' work in distributing Bibles around the world, please visit Bibles Unbound.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Save a Life? Give them CHRIST!

I will go back to posting about the VOM Conference, but this is something I wanted to get out to those who read this blog:


I just recently watched To Save a Life, a movie produced in 2009 by New Song Pictures, a church-based production company.  You can read New Song Community Church's statement of faith HERE [I find it interesting, if not somewhat disturbing that there is no mention of Hell or the wrath of God in the explanation of their beliefs about Salvation and even final judgment].  You can also read more about the movie To Save a Life HERE.


The synopsis given by imdb.com says: "Jake Taylor has everything. He has a beautiful girl, he's the champion in basketball and beer pong, and everyone loves him. Then, an old childhood friend, whom Jake used to be friends with, commits suicide. Jake begins to think. He wonders what he could've done to save his friend's life. A youth minister tells him that Jake needs God. So Jake becomes a Christian. However, things begin to spin out of control. His dad is cheating on his mom, his girlfriend is pregnant, and his former friends ridicule and mock him. During all this, Jake is going to realize just what it means to be a Christian and how, to save a life. Written by J. Montgomery "


There are many things that I could say about this movie--both good and bad.  I could talk about the content--what a grim picture it portrays of the lives of the young people in our culture.  I could talk about the theology--how it didn't mention the name of CHRIST except when the main character's so-called friends were making fun of him (HUGE disappointment), yet the movie made it plain that there is a BIG difference between SAYING you're a Christian and actually LIVING like a Christian (almost redeems the movie theologically, I think).


I could say a lot of things, but they'd be pointless if you haven't seen the movie, and if you haven't seen it I'm not too keen on arousing your curiosity to go and see it.


However, there is one thing I want to say, and I thought was important enough to blog about.  That is, that this movie, although completely made up (as far as I know), depicts what is happening to real people... even at this very moment.


Do you know that there are countless numbers of teens who engage in a behavior called "cutting" in which they mutilate themselves with razor blades?


Did you know that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of teen deaths?  And that young women are more likely than men to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to be successful at taking their own life? (from teensuicide.us)


From www.teendepression.org - "Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, the third leading cause of death among teenagers. 90 percent of suicide victims suffer from a mental illness, and suffering from depression can make a teenager as much as 12 times more likely to attempt suicide."


***
Dear friend, these things should not be.  Our youth should not be so disturbed in mind and spirit.  It is a beautiful thing to be young!  Why do the young not feel that way?  What is it that we have been teaching them?  That they aren't worth our time or attention?  Do we pass by young people without giving them a serious thought or even a 'hello'?  They are easily overlooked, because we think they can't possibly have any problems worth noting at such a young age.  I tell you, their problems loom like a guillotine above their heads... will no one save their neck from its terrible fall?


Friend, our youth need CHRIST!  He alone can rescue!  He alone can save!  THAT is what makes this movie so sad.  It is called To Save a Life, but in the end it doesn't offer the very ONE that saves: JESUS CHRIST.


There is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12, ESV  ...ONLY THE NAME OF JESUS!


***
Friends, it has been my desire for some years to have an impact on hurting youth; those who feel forgotten and neglected; those facing terrible psychological problems; those who feel alone and abandoned.


Would you help me, friend?  I don't know how God will do this thing or where He will take me with it, but will you pray?


Lord, I am honored to be used by You in any way.  Yet, You have placed within me a desire to be used in the lives of young people.  Give me opportunity, Father.  Open doors.  And make me faithful to walk through them.  In Christ's name.  Amen.


***
If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE.


Other teen help hotlines are listed HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2011

VOM: Bound With Them

Saturday, March 26, 2011 - It was an honor and a privilege to go to The Voice of the Martyrs Southwest USA Regional Conference "Bound With Them" 2011 held at Cottonwood Church in Los Alamitos, California.

I know we say it a lot about things like this without really meaning it, but this really was a life-changing experience.  The things I saw and heard, I pray, will stay with me forever.

The entire conference was one blessing after another, but seeing as it was 4-5 hours long, I can't relay all that occurred here.  I can, however, share a few highlights, and over the course of the next few days, this will be the theme of my blog posts.
...............................................................................................................................
The first speaker, Robert Broch (long-time staff member with The Voice of the Martyrs), shared with us this acronym: T.W.A.


The Body of Christ (the Church) still suffers today.
We are to remember them, as it says in Hebrews 13:3!
As we serve them, they serve us even more.

It was to help us remember the theme and purpose of the conference: Bound With Them.

Hebrews 13:3 says "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." [KJV]


NOTE: Some translations say "those in prison" and this has been mistakenly interpreted to mean anyone who is a prisoner, when the verse specifically means Christians imprisoned for their faith; the mention of the audience being themselves "in the body" tells us that the context is within the body of believers.


The first two points are rather self-explanatory.  But what does Mr. Broch mean when he says "As we serve them, they serve us even more"?


Have you ever heard someone who came back from a missions trip overseas say something like: I went thinking that I would save them, but they saved me? Or I went expecting to bless them, but I was the one who was blessed?

Often times it's those who are "empty" and "broken" who teach those who are "full" how to have joy even in adversity. Those who thought they were "full" realize they were "full" with all the wrong things. They lacked the joy that comes out of deep poverty--the poor soul treasures Christ because it realizes He's all it has.

Perhaps that's what Jesus meant when He called the "poor in spirit" "blessed (happy)".

It's the same way with the persecuted Church!

They teach us what true devotion to Christ looks like!  They teach us the true worth and the beauty of our God and Savior!

Friday, March 25, 2011

L.A.W. - 1 John - “Knowing” brings Joy

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. - 1 John 1:4, NKJV

If you've ever missed a friend's birthday or anniversary (or if you're like my dad and can't remember your own birthday—lol) then you will appreciate that you don't have the same joy as other people, because you didn't remember that the day was special—you missed out on something because of incomplete or bad information.

John the Apostle didn't want his disciples to miss out on something because of bad information; he didn't want them to miss the opportunity for joy because they didn't know the things he was writing to tell them.

This was a precedent set by Christ Jesus Himself:

In John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Jesus taught His disciples, because He didn't want them to lose the joy they had in Him and He didn't want their joy to be incomplete.

Only the right information can bring the right joy.


Point to ponder:
  • How does Satan use bad information to try and steal your joy in Christ?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Word: Devoted

Some years ago I was asked to sum up what I wanted people to say about me in one word.  The word I chose was "devoted".


Why did I choose that word?


The word "devoted" means, according to Dictionary.com, "zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection."


I chose that word because I wanted whatever I did to be characterized by an attitude of devotion: zealous and ardent in attachment, loyalty, and affection.  


One who is devoted believes in what she does and that her task is not wasteful or pointless.
One who is devoted holds fast and floats even in the gales; she's a safe-haven, a buoy to those who are sinking.
One who is devoted will sacrifice and give of herself for the sake of others.
One who is devoted will run the race to the finish, so she may receive the prize.
One who is devoted loves much and has exceedingly great joy in others.
One who is devoted is entirely sold out; she holds nothing back.


One who is devoted looks like Christ... if, indeed, she devotes herself to Christ.


At the time I chose the word, though, I didn't think about what naturally goes at the end of the adjective: "to".


I didn't think about what I was devoting myself "to"... I just thought whatever it was, I wanted to be sold out to it. Which can be a dangerous attitude, because many people spend their lives devoted to things that don't really matter in the end.


So I ask it now: What is my "to" to which I'm devoted, and why does it matter?


It matters because I truly want my life to count


The only meaning and purpose in life is found in the Giver of meaning and purpose, God. He's the One who makes lives matter. He's the One we need to be devoted to if we want our lives to count.




Points to ponder:

  • What word would you want people to use to describe your life?
  • What word best describes your life right now?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

L.A.W.: "Knowing" - a series in 1 John

L.A.W. or "Living According to the Word" is a Facebook group I started based on verse 9 of Psalm 119: "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word."  You can view this discussion in the group, HERE. Prayerfully, a new L.A.W. will be posted every Monday.


1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. - 1 John 1:1-3, NKJV


...Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge (gnosis).  This knowledge usually dealt with the individual's relationship to the transcendent Being.The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil.Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers.  Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.  In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic.  That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe.The danger of gnosticism is easily apparent.  It denies the incarnation of God as the Son.  In so doing, it denies the true efficacy of the atonement since, if Jesus is not God, He could not atone for all of mankind and we would still be lost in our sins.” - carm.org, “Gnosticism”

In 1 John, the Apostle gives the positive apology (defense) against heretical Gnostic teachings, although it is difficult to say whether the epistle was written specifically to answer the Gnostic heresy.

John begins his letter by affirming and confirming Christ's deity and humanity. “That which was from the beginning,” he says—clearly indicating that Christ, as God, is eternal—“which we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked upon, and our hands have handled.” What is heard, seen, and handled? A physical body. The Gnostics denied the physical humanity of Christ. Here, John affirms it. Without Christ's humanity, He could not die for sinners.

[C]oncerning the Word of life...” Here, “Word” is the Greek word logos, which John uses in his gospel to mean Christ Jesus, the living Word of God. “Life” is the Greek word zoe, meaning God's quality of life—eternal life (which Christ says in John 17:3 is to “know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”). Here, again, John affirms Christ's deity.

Christ was both fully God and fully man. Anything less could not atone for the sins of mankind. As God, He lived the perfect life I couldn't live on my own, and the atonement (covering of sins) He offers was made once and for all sinners who come unto Him for salvation. As a man, He was able to suffer and die on our behalf—God can pardon us, because Christ suffered our fate in our place.

Any “gospel” which does not teach that Christ was both fully God and fully man is dangerous because it cannot save.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:8-9, NKJV

What is the purpose of correcting heresies? So that people are saved from the just punishment of their sins into “fellowship...with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”.


Points to ponder:
    1. What is the appeal of Gnosticism? What part of sinful human nature does it aim to please? Can you think of another false teaching and how it appeals to the sinful nature?
    2. What is the value of knowing what you believe? How does it help to be able to defend your faith against false teachings?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Relationship Status: Betrothed

betrothal: a mutual promise to marry.
- courtesy of Dictionary.com

A friend you know has just changed their relationship status on facebook. "Engaged" it says. You congratulate them, and wish them the best in their future marriage covenant.

Then, dear Christian sister (or brother), perhaps you start thinking: When will my time come? When will I get to change my relationship status to "engaged" and then "married"?

You aren't alone.

I think about marriage a lot. Which means I have to pray about it a lot, which means God is always teaching me new things.

I want to share with you something He's been teaching me recently, and I pray it is a blessing to you as it has been to me.


If I put my relationship status on my facebook profile, it would say "single".

But that isn't correct.

It should say "betrothed" or "promised".

Even if I never marry in this life, I am betrothed, or promised, as the Bride of Christ Jesus, Himself, and that is nothing to sniff at.

What is more, this is a definite betrothal; it is sure to take place. Therefore, I must prepare myself to meet my Husband when I die.

Here is something else, God may plan for me to marry one of His beloved sons-in-Christ on this side of Heaven, in which case I am still betrothed.

Let me explain.

If He intends for me to marry, God is choosing who it is He wants me to be with, in which case I am betrothed or promised to the one God has chosen (if indeed I am faithful to follow His perfect plan for my life).

Plus, a perfect Heavenly Father who loves me is doing the choosing for me. What cause then do I have to be anxious for marriage?

Yet, I want to remember that this second betrothal is an uncertain one, while my betrothal to Christ is certain.

May I live a life of beautiful devotion to Him!

~

God’s sovereign will is always meant for your good and His glory. If and when God decides you can best serve Him as a team member with a life partner, you won’t need to change Sunday school classes, search the singles ads, or join a dating service. He will work out the circumstances. “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). This favor of the Lord is what God extends to His children in arranging the circumstances for them to meet their life partners. - Don Raunikar