The Bible in 365

He is Worthy!

Daily Bible CoverGood Saturday Central Family!  Can you believe that we are just days away from having read the bible in one year!?  What a privilege it has been for me to join you on this voyage! If there is one theme that has stuck out to me today it is that of PRAISE and GLORY.  For some of us, the book of Revelation can be somewhat difficult to understand. It is a book filled with prophecy written by John in the revelation of Jesus Christ. While exiled to the island of Patmos, John was told by the Spirit of God to write down the things that were about to be shared with him.  John was then to send what was spoken to seven churches.

Fast forward to Revelation, chapter 4, verse 1: John writes in detail about the Throne room and it’s surroundings.  He describes four living creatures and all they do, DAY and NIGHT, WITHOUT ceasing, is proclaim this:

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come.”

And whenever the creatures give glory, the twenty-four elders who are also there, fall on their knees to worship Him. The elders take off their crowns of gold, lay them before the throne and proclaim:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Every single moment in the throne room is filled with praise and glory to God! Nothing ceases to give Him the praise!

I was just so compelled by today’s reading to give glory and praise to God in every moment! One of my most favorite songs is “Revelation Song.”  I went ahead and shared this song with you at the end of this post.  If you get a chance to get away, I encourage you to spend some time magnifying the Lord and dwelling in His majesty.  I promise you that there is nothing better, His presence is enough! He is Holy! He is Worthy! Lord, receive our praises this day. You are worthy to receive everything!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNbXrnV9wz0

God bless us, EVERYONE!

Daily Bible CoverAnd there are presents that are wrapped before us. Gifts that the Lord has set under our tree and stamped our names upon. Each one has an appointed time that it will be opened. They are things that we see in a measure and yet do not fully see. We see the present wrapped under the tree but we do not see what the gift truly looks like. These gifts are things He desires to give us and things He so desperately desires for us to have. Big boxes wrapped in colorful designs and patterns. To a kid, it seems as if some gifts have been under the tree FOREVER... "Dad, can I just open it already? This has been under the tree since the day after Thanksgiving. I don't know how much longer I can wait... I think I'm going to die!" And it's the Joy that He has set before us, the promises that He has given that has stirred excitement and expectation. All of Heaven eagerly awaits that days mankind will be able to receive the things the Lord has promised them. It's not as if we are barren though. It's not as if we are empty handed. The Lord has already given us enough...but yet He desires for us to obtain MORE than enough. The number of the blessings for His people are the same as the number of days that we will spend with Him. Both are INFINITE.  Just when we thought we've received our inheritance in full, we look under our tree to find NEW promises and GREATER gifts that He has in store for us. The religious hold tight to the things they already have and say, "I have enough!". But our heavenly Father desires to unleash upon His sons and His daughters the FULLNESS of His kingdom and the ENTIRETY of His love. In Hebrews 11 we see a bunch of examples of men and women who were given "presents" or "promises" under their tree. These were things the Lord told them they would have. To Abraham He made a covenant to make his name GREAT, that his descendants would be numbered as the stars and that he would inherit the land the Lord would lead him to. When Abraham died he only had two sons (which only one was born of the promise) and he lived in a tent as a foreigner in the land the Lord was going to give him.

Mary was promised a Son who would be the Messiah. His name was Immanuel for He would be our "God, who is with us". For 9 months Mary carried her "promise". It's almost as if she carried her present with her, treasuring it and pondering it as she carried it close to her heart. For nine months she was ridiculed. She was mistreated and wrongfully accused because of what the Lord had promised her and called her to carry. But she ENDURED the accusations and the suffering of childbirth for the Joy set before her the same way her Son ENDURED the cross for the Joy set before Him. A lot of people want a "present" or a "promise" from the Lord, but few will endure the ridicule and suffering from the time they've been given it in measure- to the moment it's fully unwrapped and their eyes see it for the first time.

To receive the "promises" of God we must walk in the "ways" of God as we are being developed and disciplined to handle the things God desires to give us in His appointed "time". Not many are willing to wait. Everyone wants to open the present before His PERFECT time. Few are willing to endure, throwing off everything that hinders and running with perseverance through the journey that He has marked out for us to inherit the things He desires to give us.

Lord we thank you for the gift you have given us! We thank you for your Son that has become our Savior, our Joy and Great Reward. We have more than enough in you. Thank you for enabling you people to stand strong till the end. To walk in your ways with fullness of Joy. We treasure and ponder every promise, every gift that you have generously given to us. The Joy set before us is greater than the things we must endure to receive them. Thank you for your grace, Lord. We love you, have your way in us today. Amen

Christmas Eve

Daily Bible CoverI was thinking of all the Christmas Eve's through all the years of my life.  How when I was little and I looked at the furnace outlet in my bedroom, I wondered how on earth Santa could get through that little space to bring us Christmas presents, specially since we didn't have a fireplace.  But he always seemed to find us! Then I grew up and had kids of my own, and the best part of Christmas was watching their eyes light up.  Now it takes so little to make us happy for Christmas.  Just a kid coming home for a week, Christmas dinner prepared by someone else and just being together around the Charlie Brown tree.

This reading today talks about why Jesus came. Hebrews 10 in the Message Bible says,"You  don't want sacrifices and offerings year after year;  You've prepared a body for me for a sacrifice.  It's not fragrance and smoke from the altar that whet your appetite."  So I said, 'I'm here to go it your way oh God, the way it's described in your Book."

He goes on to say, "This new plan I'm making isn't going to be written on paper, it isn't going to be chiseled in stone; This time I'm writing out a plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts.  I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins!"

What a deal.  What a Christmas promise from over 2000 years ago...because Jesus came and died for us.  I love knowing these promises are for now, this Christmas!

Just a reminder, this week we are beginning signups for "Fresh Fire From The Father's Heart" beginning on Tuesday, January 14 at 1o:00.If there is enough interest(20 or more people), I would also like to offer it on Mondays at 6:30 for those who work or who are involved in other ministries on Wednesday.  It's also time to begin signups for the Prime Timers New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 11, at 1:30.

Pastor Sharon

All Coins Have Two Sides

Daily Bible CoverHave you ever had one of those trick coins with heads on both sides and used it to play a trick on someone? It can be a funny prank but it can also be something that gets used to pull more than a silly trick on friends. It can be used for dishonest gain. We have seen this reenacted in movies many times or maybe have had it happen to us. Either way we are given the expectation that things are as they appear, and that things are honest and fair, when really they are not. When the gag is up we feel cheated. We feel taken advantage of. We get a feeling that we cannot trust that particular individual any more. Trust has been damaged and many times in an irreparable way. We come into any coin flip with the expectation that there are indeed two sides to the coin. Two different sides. When expectations are met we are happy, when they are not, well....I think you know how it goes.

I had someone recently give me a great analogy about expectations. If you were to go buy a car and the sticker told you that the car would get 40 mpg, and six months after buying the car the most you ever got on a tank of a gas was 31 mpg, you would begin to think the car was maybe a little bit of a lemon. Especially if a little piece of chrome fell off when you bumped your shopping cart into it by accident.

Now take the same exact situation, except you were told that the car would get 30 mpg. Your expectations are different and subsequently your reaction to the same scenario is much much different. When you get 31 mpg from your 6 month old car you are thinking that your car is amazing, and when a little piece of chrome falls off because you bumped your cart into your own car, you chalk it up to "I should have been more careful" and not "Man, this car is a lemon".

In both cases the car is 6 months old. In both cases the car gets 31mpg. In both cases the car gets bumped by you with your shopping cart. And in both cases a little piece of chrome falls off. What is different between the two scenario's? Expectation.

Today we had the opportunity to read one of the most popular books in all of scripture. It is a book that is bursting with practicality and insight for our day to day 'life in the trenches', so to speak. James is a book that many of us have probably read and are probably very familiar with. And today the passage/passages I want to focus on are ones we have probably heard many many times and would consider ourselves to be very familiar with. But I want to challenge you to look at them with fresh eyes and ask that God would begin to stir something in your heart about how to put these practical scriptures to work in your own life.

James makes it very clear that to be a Christian means that there are two sides to "the coin" that we call our life in Christ. The two sides are commonly referred to as Faith and Works. You cannot have one without the other.

James 1:22-25 - 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about something similar to this in my blog The Road that is Romans. There is a difference between being familiar with something in scripture and KNOWING something in scripture.

Faith and what we do are two sides of the same coin. Hearing great messages and being willing to agree with statements of faith while at the same time not being willing to have those same messages and statements take root in our lives to produce the fruit of being a follower of Christ begins to erode confidnece in the minds of those around us who may not believe.

Whether we want to admit it or not those who are skeptics and non-believers have a certain expectation of Christians. And sadly that expectation  is many times not being met.  James references this very issue 16 verses later in his letter.

James 2:14-1714 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

If we claim to have faith people will expect certain things to be evident in our lives. Our life then becomes a living testimony to those who don't know Christ yet. So many people's first thoughts of Christians these days are thoughts of hypocrisy. They see Christians who talk a good game but live the same way that the rest of the world does. This should cause us to ask the question, "what do people who know me, or look at me and the way I live my life, see, and what does it say about my faith in Jesus Christ?

Jesus told us that WE are the light of the world. WE ARE. It is by letting our light shine (which is the light of Christ in our lives) in a world that is dark and in need of hope. Is our light shinning or are we putting it under a basket. Christ also said that people would know us as followers of Him by our love for one another.

He summed up the entire law with two very short phrases. Two phrases that could be pared down to four words.

LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS

We are only a couple of days away from Christmas. The Christmas season is all about love and giving our life away because of the fact that God GAVE his only son for a world that needed him. For the Christian, this attitude should not be one that we take out of a box with the rest of the decorations only to be put away again come Jan 1st. It should be the driving force behind our entire life.

Because of our faith in Christ, because of the salvation and hope we have in his death and ressurection, because we have experienced new life and a life transformed, we chould be compelled to, driven to, and anxious to let it be known in the way we act, speak, conduct our business, love others, and Love God.

When we get rid of the one sided coin the world will be moved by the fact that our lives fit the expectations. Keep Colossians 3 in mind.

Colossians 3:1-17Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

 

What is it????

Daily Bible CoverSome think it's only for the perfect and flawless while others believe it permits and enables us to continue our pursuit of sin. Some believe it's doors will permanently shut on them after it's seen them in their weakness while others believe the door can never shut no matter how vile they become. Some believe it's only for a moment while others believe it lasts forever. It's not as if it's insignificant and doesn't need to be addressed for it's importance is the only way of which mankind can be saved, both in the present and for all eternity. It's depth is unfathomable and unseen. It is grasped and understood by children and yet at the same time stumps the wise. It's name is GRACE and it was born from the Blood of Jesus and given power in His resurrection. Grace gave us what we could never achieve in or by our own efforts. Our key to walk through it's doors is not deeds...but rather faith (which when rooted in our lives will not continue to produce wickedness but rather a harvest of righteousness and deeds that will bring glory to our Father in Heaven, the Giver of Grace). The Grace that we've been called to and bought with is not one of limits. Many try to say what God's grace can and can't do, but I am convinced that the Grace of God upon a thirsty soul can not only liberate it for a moment but for all eternity. For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-15 

Grace: unmerited and undeserved favor from God.

At what point in our walk with Christ do we finally arrive at the place where we no longer need His grace? At what place do we say, "Lord, you no longer need to wash me...look at me, I'm fully clean..."? At what time do we finally deserve His favor? It's blasphemous to say such things but yet this is the sub-conscious desire in the hearts of some of the followers of Christ- that we would arrive at a place of complete righteousness...but to be honest, if we were to "arrive" at that place, we would no longer need Him or His grace.

[Jesus got up from the meal, wrapped a towel around his waist and starts washing his disciples feet] He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” John 13

Although Jesus was talking about literally washing Peter's feet, He was also talking about the undeserved washing of all sin and the redemption that was to come by His blood. His Grace that was poured out for all, providing the only way for us to be holy and to inherit eternal life. A question that hit me recently is...."when are we fully washed? When are we fully clean?" When are we finally found "worthy" of his love and "deserving" of his favor and grace? Is Grace a moment or does He call us to a lifestyle of walking and being covered by His Grace?

Grace teaches us to say NO to our worldly passions and way of life and enables us to be holy as our God is holy. Grace doesn't enable us to continue walking in the ways of the world by any means. But if you've encountered His Grace how can we continue walking the way we used too?  His kindness leads us to repentance and His kindness, His Grace begins to stir in our hearts a great desire to become like Him and see that WE CAN become like Him....that it is possible to overcome....that it is attainable to do the will of God because of His Grace on our Lives which only comes by faith. And this Grace we have received is not powerless. This Grace we have been called to is not cheap or empty. It's a Grace that is worth giving up the desires and passions of our worldly flesh in order to obtain it's riches. It's not a Grace that is burdensome, it's one that liberates and brings us fully into the TRUE LIFE that is Christ. It not only has power to save our souls but it will awaken us to become His people TODAY. Today we need His Grace upon us. It's not something that has been fully received by a prayer, its something that has been given, is being revealed and yet to be received for those who would desire it.

I ask and believe that the Lord is unleashing His Grace and favor upon you in a new way. That eyes would be opened, that ears would hear and the dead would be raised. That hope would be restored and depression would be lifted from your life. That no longer would you carry shame, but would be covered by the Blood of the lamb that will make you shine like stars and teach you to walk in His ways and become His people! Amen

GRACE NOW!

Daily Bible CoverEver since I first heard the Christmas story and understood what it really meant to me personally, as a little girl of four, I accepted Jesus into my heart all by myself.  I had a dream that my heart was black, but then as I watched in my dream, I saw it turn as white as snow, as red washed over it. The next morning, I knelt by myself at a little rocking chair that my dad had made and I asked Jesus to come into my heart.  I felt Jesus washing my heart as white as snow, just like my dream.  Then I ran to tell my mom and Dad that I asked Jesus into  my heart.  They were really happy.

I knew then that about grace, because my Dad taught me to read at four years of age, and he constantly reinforced that fact that Jesus forgave my sins because of His grace and I didn't have to be afraid that He was holding them against me.

I grew up in such freedom from fear of making mistakes, unlike many of my friends who didn't realize the truth and freedom of grace.

Reading this week about Onesimus, who ran away from his master, taking things with him that he had stolen, but then finding Christ through Paul's ministry was such a beautiful picture once again of precious grace in action.

Paul in sending  a letter to Philemon states that Onesimus has become like a son to him and has taken Philemon's place in helping Paul out.  He says he will pay for whatever amount needed for the time that Onesimus was gone from his master and even for what he took.

This gave such a picture of grace for all to see, an living illustration of what Christ did for us when he paid the price for our sins by giving His life.  Onesimus's name means useful, but he had become useless when he ran away.  Now Paul says he is once again useful, and he wishes so much that he could keep him with him, but only with Philemon's permission.

I love the fact that Onesimus had become part of Paul's own heart.  That's what grace does for all of us.  Turns slaves into sons, slavery into freedom!  And it's all because of grace.  I encourage all of us to once again kneel down at our rocking chairs, and ask God to give us his direction in carrying His marvelous grace to a world in slavery and sadness.

We can turn the light on in people's lives and break the chains that bind them, with one touch of the Master's grace...the blood of Jesus.  We can bring grace now to everyone we meet.  How exciting is that.

Our hope in Christ is sealed forever by His love and His grace.

Let's go for it!

A Book To Remember

Daily Bible CoverI love the book of Philippians.  I absolutely love it.  It’s probably one of the first books that I started underlining in when I was a kid.  It is so practical.  It is so instructional. It is so encouraging.  If you didn’t know much of anything about the Bible and what living for God looks like, you’ve found the right place to start.  My biggest disappointment with Philippians is that it is so short.  It leaves me wanting more.  I know that we have the rest of the Bible but I find myself in no hurry to quickly move on from it. Skim with me over this encouraging book of the Bible that God uses to build us up.

In chapter one I am told that my present state is not where I am doomed to live the rest of my life.  Instead, I am told, that God is planning on doing a continuous work in my life all the way up to where He either takes me home or He comes for me.  Simply put, God is not finished with me yet.  How encouraging is that?

In chapter 2 he reminds me to have the same mindset as Christ.  And that means in humility, I am to value others over myself.  If I strive for that I will end up looking more like Jesus looks than what the average person in the world looks like.  That sure makes it easier for Him to use me to accomplish good things.

In chapter 3 Paul tells me that he has put the past behind him.  He even uses the word “forgetting.”  All the mistakes of the past, all the things that he wishes he had done differently, all the hurts and disappointments, by Paul’s choice and the power of God in his life, all those things will no longer have any power whatsoever over him.  Instead his gaze is forward toward  what is coming next.  For anybody who has ever had regrets or who has wished for a do-over, this has to come as great news.

And then we come to chapter four, the final chapter.  How does Paul do what he does?  In one place he is treated like a king.  In other places they beat him up, chase him away, or threaten him with his life.  Yet this book, the book of Philippians literally drips with joy.  In this book Paul is so upbeat, so positive, so optimistic.  And did I forget to mention where this letter was being sent from.  Hello.  Paul was writing this good news letter not from the Rome Mariott or Hilton Italian Suites.  He was writing this letter from prison.  From prison.  He didn’t have his freedom, but he was still joyful.  He doesn’t leave his readers wondering very long as to how a person could in the face of the opposition, incarcerated, lacking so many of the comforts that he could have been enjoying, as to how a person could pull off what he was pulling off.

The answer is in Philippians 4:11-13, 19

…for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need…And the same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

I love how Paul takes life by the horns.  It doesn’t matter what people might throw at him.  He lives with the contentment that can only come from God as we determine to live by His power instead of just our own.

I’ll finish with one last word of encouragement from our brother, the apostle Paul.

Philippians 2:13

For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

The Voyage

Daily Bible CoverThe Journey is just as important, and many times more so, than the destination. It may be hard to fully realize this in the midst of our journey that we call life but as we come to the end of a season, a year, a decade or our life we can look back and see that God's hand was there the whole time even when we didn't see it, feel it, understand it or choose to listen to God in the middle of the storms of life. For me (as I am sure is the case for many of you) this is evident on many levels in my own life. It amazes me how one decision can alter the course of your entire life. What's even more amazing is how someone else's single decision can alter the course of your life.

For me I can look back and see that there were many things that led to my moving from Nampa to Boise and there were many things that led to my attending the schools that I did and meeting the people that I did and that the timing of it all was in God's hand.

God knew that when I moved to Boise I would need to be in the Capital High school district because I needed to meet someone named Kevin McNeese. He knew that a year after graduating high school this acquantence would be used as a catalyst to bring me back to church and subsequently renew my relationship with God. But God didn't stop there, he knew that I would meet my eventual wife because of that friendship and that it would also lead to the family and life that I am now living.

And all of it would not have happened if my Mother had not moved to Boise, but instead had chose to stay in Nampa. I would have never grown up in the Boise School System, meeting the people that I did, being influenced by the people who surrounded me, like my choir teach Linda Schmidt, my youth pastor, Dave, or my best friend Kevin.

I couldn't see any of that as a 9 year old kid leaving his home for a completely new life and situation. But God did.

Today we read about another portion of Paul's Journey; his voyage. He is making his way to Rome by way of Boat and he he finds himself in the midst  of a storm that lasts two weeks and ends in being shipwrecked on  an island. I can promise you that in the midst of the storm he and the rest of the crew on that boat did not see an end to the misery.  They were just trying to survive. They were trying to live one more day, and when it finally came crashing down and the ship is lost and they are washed ashore, they joy of being alive had to have been mixed fairly heavily with the feeling of despair at being pushed of the course and stuck on an island.

Life did not go according to plan that year.

But God had a plan. NOT ONE of the people aboard that ship was lost. NOT ONE! that is amazing. They didn't have the national guard or the coast guard ready to respond at a moments notice. God's hand was on those people and their lives.

The Journey was as important as the destination. God detoured Paul and as a result he was able to minister and share the gospel with the people of that island and those who survived the shipwreck for 3 months. I have to believe that Paul probably had a pretty captive audience on that island. He had warned them that there was danger coming before the journey had even started and when it came not one person was lost. He had their attention.

And when they finally do arrive in Rome, I have to wonder how many of those 276 passengers went further into the Roman Empire sharing the good news of the gospel and the fact that God had saved them in the midst of the storm. When all hope was gone, God was there.

This is our story as well. WE have an opportunity to share with people the ways that God has direected our lives and how he has saved us from more than just the storms of life. He has saved us for all eternity. But the cool thing is he is alive and active in our lives on a day to day basis and as a result we can tell people that we survived the "storms".

There is nothing more powerful than our testimony. People want to hear and see authenticity in the lives of believers. They are hungry for it. I love to share how God was shaping and directing me for the man that I am now and I never even knew it. He brought people into my life that influenced me and helped me to find God and as a result have given me the best gift anyone could have ever given me. An introduction to the almighty.

Sure, I still had to make the decision to follow, trust and obey. But that is a daily decision that each of us has to make. Will we follow, trust and obey the Lord or will we chose a way of our own making? Some days we listen to our Abba God, others we set out into our own frontier. When we choose our own way we will always look back on the journey, our voyage, with regret and will see plainly the missed opportunities had we only listened. There is a reason that people often say "hindsight is 20/20" The great news is that God has not forsaken us and still walks with us. He is there to guide us and lead us if we will let him, and will listen to him. But often we will still have to endure the consequences of our decisions.

Paul himself tells us this very thing in his speech to the sailors in Acts 27. He tells them (after all the food runs out) “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. 22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. 26 Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.”

They are told that their lives will be spared and that God is going to make sure that they make it to Rome but that the ship will nevertheless run aground. There are always consequenses to our choosing to listen or not to listen when we are given Godly counsel or advice.

Had I chose to ignore Kevin's request to come to church with him I would surely be in a very different place in life. I may never have met Cherry and subsequently never had my two amazing children, Noah and Ella. but the consequences in this case were in accordance with God's plan.

God knew the course that my life would take and he made sure there were people in my life in whom (if i chose to allow them to) would influence me. The same is true of you today. Who are you choosing to listen to? What voyage are you on right now? Are you in the middle of a major storm? Have you gotten there because of your own decisions? God has not abandon you. And even though you may have consequences that you will have to endure for the choices that you have made, God has not abandon you. God can still make a way for you to "get to Rome"

But the question becomes, who are you going to let captain the ship of your life? And whose voyage are you going to be on? Yours of your own choosing or the one that God has planned for you?

THERE'S LIFE IN HIM YET!

Daily Bible CoverThis reading for the 10th of December really blessed my heart, especially reading about Paul in action.  I can just imagine him following what he felt Christ directing him to do with such "intentional" purpose as he strode through life.  There was no looking back for him. So he was speaking on the Lords day and the primary purpose it says in my commentary was celebrating the Lord's Supper together.  It describes the upper room where Paul was speaking as hot and stuffy, with many lamps flickering in the darkness of the evening.

I chuckled reading that Paul was going on and on and possibly add another "on and on."  I'm sure Eutychus as a young deciple was like a lot of our young people here at the church. Following Paul where ever he went and excited not to miss a word that Paul spoke.  He was drinking in the truths Paul was sharing, literally drinking it in to make it part of his spirit.

But it was too much for him as he sat at the window  of that third story building, and he fell sound asleep and toppled out and fell to the ground.  When the people rushed out of the building and picked him up, he was dead!  Just imagine the horror of people after listening to such faith building truths to have this occur.

Paul went down and stretched himself on him hugged him hard, it says in the Message Bible, in this Bible it says  he threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him.  "No more crying", he said.  There's life in him yet!

Then Paul got up and served the Master's supper and went on telling stories of the faith until dawn!  On that note they left, Paul going one way, the congregation another, leading the boy off alive and full of life themselves.

The thing that blessed me so much about this story, is the phrase, "There's life in him yet!"  Even though they thought he was dead, Paul, in his spirit knew there was life.  And I think of all of us, we might even feel inside just a as dead and lifeless in our spirits as a doornail, but God says, "There is life in this person yet!

It reminds me of the verse in isaiah 42, "He won't brush aside the bruised and hurt, He won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.  He won't tire out and quit.  He won't be stopped until he's finished his work--to set things right on the earth."  The GOD WHO MAKE US ALIVE WITH HIS OWN LIFE, the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies, laid out the earth and all that grows from it, who breathes life into earth's people makes them alive with his own life!

What a terrific truth, that our God continues to make us alive with His own life, because he cares so much for us.  In another version, it talks about the fact that he breaths on the smoking flax...He does not want our lights to go out.  He's is counting on us, and giving us what we need for any job He gives us to do.  He says, " I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.  I have set you among my people to bind them to me and provided you as a light house to the nations to make a start at bringing people into the open into light!

I have experienced the breath of God in my own heart and life as I have been working on my Bible Study, "Fresh Fire From The Father's Heart.  I want to invite you to sign up for this study which begins Tuesday, at 10.00 on January 14.  We'll start signing up for it next week.  If there is enough interest, we will offer it for guys and gals on Mondays, from 6:30 to 8:30.

If you are interested, you can let me know now.  Fresh Fire Binders will be available to buy for $10.00. Fresh Fire ignites the eternal truths straight from the heart of the Father, brought by special heavenly messenger to my father.  My brother, Pastor Ted, and my mom, Pastor Charm and many of you had the privilege to hear these truths.

It's a whole new generation and a whole new time, but the breath of God is on these eternal truths, and I felt strongly for several years that I needed to share this study.  And so with the purpose in my heart that only God can give, I am putting this study together.  It's full of joy and laughter and tears.  It will encourage you and build you up.  You won't come out of this time in His presence, the same as when you began.

I can't wait to have you join me on this 10 week journey of joy and life.

 

Cute story bro

Daily Bible CoverAfter [Paul and his peeps] had been there [in Caesarea] a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.” Acts 21:10-14 It's the cost of a disciple that hinders many from following Jesus. Whatever becomes most precious to us will determine our steps, it will call the shots and draw out the road map of our lives. There are some who will sell everything they have after they find treasure hidden in a field. There is no arm twisting or persuasive talk needed to convince them to give up what they had so to obtain what has become more precious. Their eyes and hearts become fixated upon the needle within the stack. The haystack becomes invisible to them as they set it ablaze so to obtain that which is of more worth to them. And is the call to follow Jesus worthy of it's price? Is the gospel worthy of it's price? It's a question that must be answered for those who have tasted and seen. Those who haven't seen the treasure would never sell everything or fully surrender.... for to them it isn't as real...it's more of a cute story which makes them feel good. But to the ones who have tasted and seen this precious Gospel, this unmatchable and priceless treasure...they are willing to re-position their lives, throwing off the un-needed excess weight on the ship of their souls as they advance towards the light of it's glory.

The price of the call isn't the same for everyone. Being thrown in prison, wrongfully accused and burned at the stake isn't Jesus' intent for every one of His followers. God may ask and lead one man to sell all his possessions and surrender his body to the flames for the sake of His name and if the man does, then he will be found righteous in doing what the Lord has asked. But there are some who will sell their possessions and surrender their bodies to the flames to impress men, so as to obtain a medal from them all the while the Lord has called them to keep their possessions and to arise to a place of great influence so they may support and bless God's people to carry His word to the ends of the earth... And who is more righteous?? The one who surrenders their body to the flames or the man who sowed into his ministry? Did not both do what was asked of them? Didn't they both have to make a choice of what to do with what they had been given? Yes! And in the end both would be accounted as righteous for being faithful with what they had been entrusted with.

We must not judge one calling as greater or of more value. We must encourage all people to relentlessly pursue the journey and call God has on their lives whether living in plenty or in want. God's mission for one man may look different then his mission for you.

In Acts 21 we see Agabus is faithful to deliver a message although it wasn't a "good" one. We also see that Paul is not only willing to walk into a trap but be beaten, wrongfully accused and preach to a defiant crowd. Lastly we see good intentioned followers of Christ trying to persuade Paul from doing what the Lord has called him to do, in the same way Peter tried to save Christ from dying on the cross. The answer was the same from both Christ and Paul because the cost was worth paying in comparison for what they had tasted, seen and become convinced of.

The truth is everyone will have to give an account for the things they have been entrusted with, for the things that they know He is asking of them. Don't let pride hinder you from walking in His ways. Don't let doubt rob you of your potential and His blessing. Don't let discouragement from people who didn't hear His voice tell you what He said or what He meant. Align yourself with His purpose and throw off every weight that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run this race with perseverance as we fix our eyes on Jesus BECOMING CONVINCED that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it...He is the Author and Perfecter of our lives. Amen!

The Road That Is Romans

Daily Bible CoverThe Romans Road. For those in Christian Circles this has become a catch phrase for how to lead someone to Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul takes us on a journey. A journey in which he methodically lays out the argument and foundation for who Christ is, what it takes to believe in him and how we can have eternal life as a result of it; ultimately he spells out how and what it means to be a follower Christ. The format and usage of this road has often been boiled down to a couple of catch phrase verses or a "cute" tract we can hand someone hoping that they will first of all read it, but more importantly, that they will get it. It many times gets presented almost like a recipe would be. Do step A, then Step B, and then Step C, mix it all together and poof, you are now a Christian; a Follower; A Believer.

And yes, as simple as the Romans Road may be, it is so much more than a formula. Why you may ask....?

Because life is messy.

Most people who are lead to Christ are done so not with a tract and a formula but with people who are true followers of Christ who can not only give them the right answers (the verses from the Romans Road) but their lives are living testimonies to what God has done for them and can likewise do for the one needing Christ. They see the results. It is why the Apostles and followers of Christ in the New Testament performed signs and wonders. It was not for the sake of the miracle it was to demonstrate the power of God.

They were not desperately chasing the signs and wonders and the ability to do them, they were chasing people who were lost and in need of a savior and the signs and wonders followed almost as a byproduct. It was impossible for them not to. But they were not the focus. The focus was Christ and the fact that all truth is wrapped up in him.

When people come to Christ they are often, whether the reasons are right or wrong, coming because they are desperately seeking hope and answers to the problems that they are facing in life. They are not necessarily coming to the front because they heard a compelling argument about the four spiritual laws. They have a marriage that is failing, Their kids are rebellious and they feel that they are about to lose them if something doesn't change. They are at rock bottom because of the choices they have made in life and are grasping at anything that might be a lifeline

That is where we come in. WE have been given the amazing and awesome task of partnering with God in leading people to know who he is. But to do that we have to know who he is. Not just be familiar with him. There is a difference between knowing and being familiar.  Let me ask this;

Do you believe that the 10 commandments are foundational truths and that as followers of Christ we should follow them and be obedient to them?

Good answer!   (I am assuming you all said Yes)

OK. Now that you and I completely agree that these are foundational, see if you can name all 10 commandments right now without having to look them up.

 

 

 

 

 

Hint: But don't click the link until you have at least tried to list them all. bonus points if you get them in order.  (Exodus 20:1-17)

How did you do? It's ok if you didn't get them all. For many many christians this is the case. For many Christians, they are familiar with the 10 commandments and would ardently champion them, but sadly, many of those same Christians would be hard pressed to name all ten of them. They don't truly "know" them.

When we know them we know the answer before the question is even asked. It is a part of who we are. It will show itself in the way we live our lives and we probably rarely have to think about it because it is a natural byproduct of the fact that we believe. Just like the signs and wonders, and the lives of the Apostles/believers in the New Testament, they are byproducts that can't help be present when we are pointing people toward Christ. We understand what it truly means to not covet our neighbors things, and to be caught up in the materialism of our culture. We get what committing adultery is and we take steps to guard our eyes and our thought life as much or more than we do simply in the physical sense of the word. We realize that when we harbor anger and hatred toward others it is akin to murder and take seriously scriptures call to be peacemakers, and to love our enemies as well as our neighbors.

The bottom line, when we know something we don't have to stop what we are doing to refresh our memory about what the right answer is. The right answer will naturally come out of us.

So when we begin to think about the Romans Road and have a thought to send someone else down that road, we have to remember that we are not sending anyone down a road, we are leading them down a road. To lead means that we have to know the way and we are asking them to follow us. The fruit in our life will speak for itself. We will have the map but the journey is always for more than one person. We were never meant to walk this road alone and likewise we cannot expect others to walk it alone either.

Peer to Peer evangelism is the most effect and most life changing kind of evangelism. Because when we begin to lead people down the Romans Road they will not be alone. They will be journeying with a friend. They will be with someone who will be there to help pick them up when they fall down. They will be there to seek the answers together to life's tough questions when they come.

Who in your life has God been leading you to step out in faith to take a journey with?

Who in your life has God been preparing you to lead down the Romans Road this next year?

Who in your life is in need of hearing the message of hope that we have in Jesus Christ, His death, and His resurrection and are  you prepared to lead them in what you Know or what you are familiar with?

How can you begin to prepare yourself, so that you can know and not just be familiar with who God is, and So you can begin a journey in 2014 that will not only be life changing in the life of another person but in your own life and walk with God?

Let's go deeper

Daily Bible CoverYesterday I was just readin some tweets and I saw the update on Pastor Saeed. Just click on his name to read about it... Once I read the article and today's reading it was almost as if there was a close connection and I felt a sincere call to pray for those who are in prison for the sake of the Gospel and for those who are taking His light to the darkest places of earth. Also feeling a sincere call to GO deeper into the fullness that He has for us. To explore the depths of His love and allow His light to shine brighter and purer in my life.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Its a great and perfect promise we've been given that our God is with us and for us. Although people and family may abandon us, our Heavenly Father never will. If I can be real... I want what Paul and Saeed have. It's a depth I feel is laking in my life and in the church. Not to wish chains on the church but that we would step into the fulness of His kingdom. That we would step boldly into the darkness because we know our light won't fail us. To achieve a purity we can't reach by our own strength or will power. To admit that we aren't strong enough, that we aren't wise enough, that we don't have it all together, that we need Him and if it wasn't for Him we wouldn't be able to stand where we are standing today...THERE IS MORE. There is a next level that God is calling us to by His spirit. This grace we've been called to and spirit we have been entrusted with is so precious. I feel as if we do not know what we've been given. It's as if we've been lied to in the garden of God's fullness, the place we dwell, as the serpent blinds us of our true identity and inheritance. Are we aware that we can "have nothing and yet possess everything"? Are we aware of the treasure that is inside of us, the power that is so ready to be tapped into and released within us...the glorious light that is awaiting to be unveiled to a dying, hopeless world. We don't often unveil it because we do not believe it's enough. And the question is... is Jesus enough? Is He enough for us? Is He enough for this world? Is He enough for our church? Is He enough for our nation. If He is than this should CHANGE EVERYTHING. No longer are we concerned with the worries of this world because they become dim in the light of His glory and the grace of our Lord and Savior. We must not be quick to give this world steps and supplements when all they need is a Savior. A Savior who will allow those who are hard pressed on every side to not be crushed. For those who are stuck down to not be destroyed. A Savior who has the power to save us completely...not just after death but today. This is the depth that we've been called to. A faith that should be evident to all. It's a light that produces good deeds that point men to glorify our Father instead of pointing them to think that we are pure enough and strong enough to live for Him.

Jesus you are enough! May you bring us into the depths of your fullness and may your light be radiant in our lives! We do not look to man or trust in what man can do. You are the only answer may all the glory be unto You. And may your grace enable your saints to stand and live for You. Amen

Paul on Defense

Daily Bible CoverAll of us in  Boise watch what's happening on the Blue Turf faithfully every game, win or lose.  Isn't that right?  All through Paul's writing, he compares the Christian walk to athlete running a race.  If there would have been football back then, we might have seen a whole new group of illustrations. This scripture reading puts Paul on defense of the tremendous work that he is doing for his Lord. But several years before this,  I can imagine a scene like this:  The door of a house in Jerusalem bursts open and Saul strides in without warning with fellow Jews who rampage through the house, pulling the children out of their hiding places and rounding up all those in the house who are the hated Christians.

He  goes to house after house terrorizing the people with his misguided zeal.  Saul is sure that he is doing the right thing in getting rid of as many Christians as possible.  He is zealous for his God.

On the way to Damascus the earth shakes and a light brighter then the sun blinds him and he is suddenly in darkness as a voice that vibrates to the core of his heart and soul speaks the words we all know, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" And suddenly it all becomes clear as Christ directs him to the place of healing, and a whole new life stretches out in front of him.  He's a new man with a new name, directed by God with a new zeal.

Fast forward again to Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he goes on defense for his faith and his evangelism.  In the Nelson's study bible, Paul lists his defense.  "I speak as a "fool" verse 11:23, Why?  A close look reveals the reason behind Paul's words.

He opened his life and ministry for review.  He painted a stark contrast between his own ministry and that of his rivals.  These false teachers preached another "Jesus" and a "different gospel."  Unlike Paul, the imposters collected fees for their service and enjoyed a comfortable and easygoing life.

Paul, in contrast boasted of his weaknesses and suffering that showed the power of God in his life.  He was a Hebrew, a descendant of Abraham.  He was in prison over and over, five times received forty lashes minus one.  Beaten with rods, pelted with stones, shipwrecked, in dangers from bandits, fellow Jews, Gentiles, lived without sleep or food. He was cold and naked.  All for the love of the true Christ and getting the message out.

Paul made touchdown after touchdown as he ran his race to the finish.  God has given us the power to do the same.  I am so thankful to read these words of encouragement to go on in his power backed by all the defense of heaven.

 

Upside Down

Daily Bible CoverGod uses the unlikely.  He always reaches for the ones the world has shunned.  His heart longs for those neglected.  He holds the brokenhearted. This is our God. Amen! Last Christmas, I was watching a DVD from the Buck Denver series. (If you do not know who Buck Denver is, you can find the DVDs at the local kid’s section at Family Christian…haha!) In this DVD, they were talking about Christmas and how Jesus came to save us so we could spend eternity with Him.  One of the characters said a line that has stayed with me since then, “The Kingdom of God is an upside kingdom.”

At first I did not understand, but then they explained that God’s Kingdom is not like any other kingdom.  You see, in an earthly kingdom, many rulers abuse privilege.  The royals have almost no regard for those that are lower than them, and they usually just look out for themselves and their well-being.

You and I know that this is not at all the heartbeat of God’s Kingdom, but rather God has chosen the foolish things of this earth to shame the wise.  God sent His son, Jesus, as a lowly servant so that all men would be able to have a road to repentance.  Talk about an upside down kingdom.  What kind of King leaves His throne for someone of lower status?

Today, in 1 Corinthians, chapters one and two, Paul tells us that God chooses the unlikely.  He chooses the weak to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

I love that God does not look at my social status, my physical strength, or how much money I have in the bank, to determine how He is going to use me. In fact, the more room that we leave for Him to lead and to fill; the more room He has to operate in our lives.

When we hand over our short-comings and weakness to God, He turns them into strength because it is then that the mighty power of God can shine through! It is in our weakness that God is magnified and He is exalted! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Lord, we boast in You alone. Your strength is the power that sustains us.  Without You, we are nothing! Lead us this day into depths we’ve never treaded upon before.

Are you Idling?

Daily Bible CoverI once had a car that would almost die whenever I came to a stop. I could be waiting to get out of a parking lot, sitting at a stoplight, or just waiting outside a friends house to pick them up. If I was stopped for more than a couple of seconds it started acting like it wanted to stall. The car simply would not idle. So I found that if I put the car in neutral and pushed the gas, thus revving the engine, I could keep it running without having to restart it. Or the other option was to hold the brake with my left foot as hard as I could while slightly pressing the gas pedal with my right. But with that, there was always a fear that my left foot would slip and I would go careening into the car in front of me or the intersection of moving traffic. It was never a dull moment with that car. In life, being idle can have the same effect. We can find ourselves stalling if we are not careful. God never intended us to be idle in life. In fact, scripture has quite a bit to say about being idle and its effect on the human experience as well as our spiritual experience as followers of Christ. Here are just a few examples:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. - Proverbs 31:27

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. - 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. - 1 Timothy 5:13

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. - Proverbs 19:15

But in addition to these we have a passage of scripture from 2 Thessalonians that came from our reading today, in which Paul addresses this very issue and does so at length, pointing to the example that they had set before them.

6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”

11 We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. - 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Idleness leads use down very destructive paths. When we have nothing to do we typically find something to fill the void. The question is what are we filling it with?  It has been said that "idle hands are the devils workshop". And people have even quoted it as being from the Bible. The quote itself is not from the Bible but the principle and the meat and meaning of it surely are.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:11, Paul points out that those who waste their time in idleness (or in a non-productive manner) are easily led into sin: “We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies.” By not using their time productively, these people were tempted to meddle in other people’s business and stand in the way of their progress. Paul says something similar in 1 Timothy 5:13, “They get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”  These idlers and busybodies were wasting time that could have been used to help others. In essence, their lack of activity was leading them into sin.

Many times idleness comes from a lack of having a goal or a purpose. But as followers of Christ we have the ultimate purpose and goal in life. Purpose is something that we should not be short on.  When we lack a purpose or goal we will oftentimes find ourselves trying to fill our life with "doing" all the wrong things. We live in a sinful world and everyone, because of our human nature, is impacted by that. If we allow ourselves to be idle and find that we are not doing anything we will inevetably be tempted to fall into sin. If we have nothing to do, the devil is ready and waiting to find things for us to do.

As followers of Christ we need to live as Christ did and taught us to. He himself made clear that when he walked this earth he would be about his fathers business. (Luke 2:49) We were never called to be comfortable and live "the life"  our culture beckons us to chase after. He told his disciples to pray for workers to be sent into the harvest fields in Luke 10:2Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

There is work to be done while it is still called today. The Lord will be coming again and there will be many who miss it. We have been called to be workers not idlers and the harvest is great. In the Treasure Valley alone, despite the number of churches we see throughout our valley, there are tens of thousands who do not know Jesus Christ.

So I ask you today, are you finding yourself to be idle? Do you find that you are more concerned with the affairs of others and injecting yourself into their lives and business form the stance of a busybody or a gossip? Or are you working as if unto the Lord and looking for every opportunity to inject yourself into the lives of those who need to know, and don't yet, the name that is above every other name; Jesus Christ?

Are you looking for purpose? The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few. Starting today, how will you be a part of impacting the Treasure Valley for the Kingdom of God?