Archive for September 2010

Are you representing the ‘Old’ or the ‘New’?

September 30, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Luke5

OBSERVATION

Luke 5:33-39 ~ Some people said to Jesus, “John’s followers often pray and go without eating, and so do the followers of the Pharisees. But your disciples never go without eating or drinking.” Jesus told them, “The friends of a bridegroom don’t go without eating while he is still with them. But the time will come when he will be taken from them. Then they will go without eating.” Jesus then told them these sayings: No one uses a new piece of cloth to patch old clothes. The patch would shrink and make the hole even bigger. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The new wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. New wine must be put only into new wineskins. No one wants new wine after drinking old wine. They say, “The old wine is better.”

APPLICATION

This passage was a challenge for me, but I felt God tugging at my heart to do the research and understand its meaning. I was truly amazed! Those that were observing Jesus and His disciples had the opportunity to ask Him about why He was so different than anything they had known in the past. Jesus basically told them here that regardless of what John the Baptist did, or the Pharisees did, they were now observing ‘the real thing’! Jesus came so that all the old myths and practices might be clarified, corrected or at least understood (if they led to Him). I see two challenges here in thinking about how this applies to us today:

  1. From the standpoint of the non-Christian – they will look at church activities and the ways that we represent Christ and they may wonder why we are so different. This is a challenge for them, because they are convinced that what they are doing is perfectly OK, so they will question why would Jesus do certain things or why would we do certain things that seem so opposite to what they believe;
  2. From the standpoint of the church/Christian – If we never change our ways and become more like Jesus, we are mismatching a ‘New’ way with our ‘Old’ ways and trying to make both ways work together. It doesn’t happen that way friend. We must separate ourselves from our ‘Old’ ways, because Jesus would have us follow Him, and I guarantee you that none of us were following Him and His example before we accepted Him as Lord of our lives. Furthermore, if we are to be the hands, lips and actions of Christ extended to a lost world, they will not be affected or touched by someone acting, doing and saying the same things that they do and say. If we claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and if we have accepted Jesus as Lord of our life the Bible says that His Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us, then we are to act, do and speak like Jesus would, and this would definitely be different to the everyday actions that are evident in our world. This is one reason why the church must be careful in trying to do things like the world is used to seeing them done, for if they see no difference they will see no reason to change. Yes, Jesus was different. Yes, we must be different if we are representing Jesus. He’s our mentor, our model and our example. Let’s truly follow Jesus so that our world may be impacted for Christ!

PRAYER

Father, thank You for speaking through Your Word, even when passages sometime seem hard to understand. May I be a true example of You today so that You may receive glory, and so that others may want to know the Savior that I love and adore. It is so easy to fall back into our old ways, but Father as we seek You daily I pray that You will create a clean heart within us and a renewed will to follow Your example and to show the world that there is a better way, and that they too can be a member of Your family and live the glorious life that is ours in knowing that You take care of our every concern and that this life only leads to a happier and more satisfying life to come – with You in Heaven.

Unconditional Love

September 29, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Luke5

OBSERVATION

Luke 5:27-32 ~ And after this, Jesus went out and looked [attentively] at a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office; and He said to him, join Me as a disciple and side with My party and accompany Me. And he forsook everything and got up and followed Him [becoming His disciple and siding with His party]. And Levi (Matthew) made a great banquet for Him in his own house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others who were reclining [at the table] with them. Now the Pharisees and their scribes were grumbling against Jesus’ disciples, saying, why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and [preeminently] sinful people? And Jesus replied to them, it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to arouse and invite and call the righteous, but the erring ones (those not free from sin) to repentance [to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins].

APPLICATION

During my study this morning God spoke to me through the above verses. To better understand them I looked at several translations and was most impressed with the way that the Amplified Bible presented the passage (above). I believe that Jesus specifically chose His disciples, and it is evident in the first part of this passage that He basically studied the life and work of Matthew (Levi). This reminds me of a song ‘

Let’s Just Praise the Lord!

September 28, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Luke5

OBSERVATION

Luke 5:24-26 ~ … Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.” At once the man stood up in front of everyone. He picked up his mat and went home, giving thanks to God. Everyone was amazed and praised God. What they saw surprised them, and they said, “We have seen a great miracle today!”

APPLICATION

The man that was once lame, after being healed, took up his bed and walked home giving thanks to God! Everyone was amazed at what they had seen and they praised God! My God is alive today and miracles are still happening. What has happened to God’s people for us to seem so unmoved by the miracles of God today? I believe that several reason have attributed to this, although none of them should really stop us from giving God praise for the mighty works that He does every day:

  • We often give doctors credit for things wrought by God. Thank God for the great doctors we have today and for the way that medical science has developed, but my family once asked a doctor if a family member would live to overcome a serious illness and the doctor correctly and honestly responded “I don’t know that, I’m not God”. There are times that doctors are amazed by the progress someone has made, or how they have overcome a certain medical condition. They know that there is nothing medically that they have done to help that person and, if that doctor knows God personally, they will quickly say where that healing must have originated. There is so much to praise God for each time we see a brother or a sister overcome illness. Let’s not forget to go back to the throne where we petitioned God to touch that person, and offer up thanksgiving and praise for answered prayer.
  • False prophets – there is so much being done today for the sake of television, publicity, or for self edification, that children of God discern, and then doubt, when they hear about what some consider ‘healing’ from an individual, rather than from God. This has been so widespread that we tend to question everything (in our own minds) anymore. This is unfortunate, but should be a discerning factor and therefore not interfere with our praising God for His amazing work in the lives of those that we pray for.

Bottom line is that we need to remember each time that we pray from someone and see answers to prayer, we need to rejoice personally, and we need to share that with our church family so that they could praise God with us, and so they could be encouraged to also pray for loved ones they know who may need a touch from God. God is still in the miracle working business. Join me in looking for those miracles and then let us praise the Almighty for the great work that He does in our midst. ‘

Fishers of Men

September 27, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Luke5

OBSERVATION

Luke 5:5-8 ~ “Master,” Simon answered, “we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.” They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart. Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this happen, he knelt down in front of Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t come near me! I am a sinner.”

APPLICATION

It’s funny how easily we doubt. We are no different to Peter. It sounds like he really thought that he wasting his time to go and gather his clean nets, venture out into the deep water where he caught nothing all night, but none-the-less throw his nets back into the water and expect different results. However, what we should learn from Peter is his obedience, as he followed through with what Jesus told him to do, because it was Jesus who told him to do it. Of course, the miraculous happened; the nets broke with so many fish. This created a humbling effect on Peter to the extent that he felt unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. The Bible says that there are none who are righteous, no not one. So I am convinced that none of us are worthy to be called the sons of the Almighty, or to be considered ‘Holy’, or to boldly step into the presence of Jesus. But just as Jesus went on to tell Peter after he put his doubt aside and obeyed Jesus, that he (Peter) would become an even greater warrior (that he would now become a ‘fisher of men’), I believe that God would like to see enough faith in us that He could say to us, now go and be my disciples/followers and win the lost of Avon Park/Florida/United States/Bahamas/World for me. I must always remember that:

  1. I must never under estimate the power of God;
  2. I must always be obedient to what I discern God instructing me to do/say;
  3. I must be ready to move when God says so, in spite of the way things may look to others. I’m sure that Peter’s friends on that shoreline that morning must have stood with a slight giggle underneath, wondering about what response Peter would give to the command of Jesus. Surely Peter must have pondered that in his heart with every step that he took in getting his nets back into the boat, wondering if his friends would laugh at him in following through on what appeared to be a useless command, seeing that they caught nothing in those same waters the night before;
  4. I must always remember that God designed and made the universe and everything in it, so who am I to question any command that He might give to me. He loved me enough to send His son to die on Calvary for me, so I have confidence in knowing that He would do nothing to hurt me or bring harm to me;

I am reminded to stay close to my Lord, so that I would clearly hear/recognize His voice, then quickly follow His command in obedience so that I may be all that He would like for me to be.

PRAYER

Thank You Father for the awesome work that You do in my life. Thank You for the plans that You have for me that You will reveal as appropriate. In spite of my weaknesses and shortcomings, yet You love me so much to not only accept me into Your kingdom, but also to use me in Your work while here on this earth. Like Peter, I stand back in amazement this morning, because even though I strive to do Your will each and every day, I know that I often fail and fall short of the ideals that You have set for me. Please be patient with me. Please don’t give up on me. Please show me Your ways daily, and give me the wisdom, strength and desire to follow that path that leads to righteousness in every word that I speak and every action that I take. Please help me to set self aside and live my life dedicated to You and in full obedience to You. You are an awesome God, to love me as You do, but I am forever grateful for that persistent love. May You be glorified in everything that I do and say today!

Determined to Follow Christ

September 24, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Luke5

OBSERVATION

Luke 5:4-6 ~ When Jesus had finished speaking, he told Simon, “Row the boat out into the deep water and let your nets down to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon answered, “we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.” They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart.

APPLICATION

I’ve heard that saying so many times, ‘if you continue to do things the same old way, expect the same old results’. I believe that so often we get like Peter and wonder if we should do the same thing again, after all we just did it that way last Sunday. However, this passage teaches me that the same results might be achieved when we repeat our efforts, in and of our own strength, BUT when we are ordered to do something by God we had better follow His command, because no telling what may result then! This is why it is so important that we stay closely in tuned with God so that we may follow His will, so that we may hear His voice and obey, for anything done without Christ is futile and will amount to routine things capable of man’s power, and they will be temporary, for we learn from God’s Word that only those things done by Christ will last. God is in control; let us follow His command and help:

  • Win the world for Christ;
  • Heal the broken hearted;
  • Meet the needs of the those who are hurting;
  • Encourage those who have lost all hope;
  • Be a living witness to those that have never been introduced to our Master.

PRAYER

Father God, I pray that today there will be more ‘Fishers of Men’ that might make themselves available to Your work. I pray that the scales will be pealed from our eyes so that we may be reminded that there is little we can do in and of ourselves, therefore I pray that beginning with myself, I will place total faith and trust in You and have a determination to do Your will each and every day, and that I will seek Your face and Your lead for those things that You would have me do that would reap Godly benefits for the kingdom. Our wicked world is in need of a Godly influence and a Godly touch. Lord may You find Your servant worthy of using to help accomplish Your work!

Instant Response to Prayer!

September 23, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Daniel 9

OBSERVATION

Daniel 9:20-23 ~ I was still confessing my sins and those of all Israel to the LORD my God, and I was praying for the good of his holy mountain, when Gabriel suddenly came flying in at the time of the evening sacrifice. …. and he explained: Daniel, I am here to help you understand the vision. God thinks highly of you, and at the very moment you started praying, I was sent to give you the answer.

APPLICATION

I admire the tenacity of Daniel in this chapter. After reading from his study of writings of Jeremiah the prophet that Jerusalem would suffer/lie in ruins for seventy years, Daniel showed his deep concern and sorrow by fasting and praying to the Almighty. He didn’t wait for the church to gather, nor did he wait to gather all of the other priests to join him in collective prayer for this news that would have a major impact on the history of this nation. After taking a personal stake in this, not just confessing his own sin, but begging God’s mercy on his nation, the angel Gabriel stopped by to encourage him and let him know that his prayer was heard by God. Wow! I know that we sometime feel like our prayers are hitting the ceiling, but to receive this kind of answer to his prayer must have been miraculous for Daniel. Two more things that God spoke to me on here:

  1. “At the very moment that Daniel started praying” is the actual quote from these verses. God knew the heart of Daniel way before he verbalized his concerns and petitions before God, but at the very moment that he (Daniel) did his part and prayed, God sent the angel Gabriel. This is very powerful! Awesome!
  2. I wonder if what Gabriel said to Daniel was a clarification of something that Daniel may have misunderstood from Jeremiah’s writings, or was it an answer to the prayers of Daniel. The duration of the penalty was reduced from 70 years to 70 weeks! I wonder if the verdict would have stayed as it was, if God didn’t see that at least one man cared enough about his nation that he took the whole concern on his shoulder and petition God for mercy. We were reminded last night that we often hear the Word of God and let it fly right over our heads, hoping that the individual behind us must be the intent of God’s wrath or challenge. However, a whole church, or even a whole nation could be impacted by our sin/stubbornness/rebellion. Conversely, a whole church or even a whole nation could be impacted if God’s people would get off their personal thrones/agendas and humble themselves and pray, because in 1 Chronicles God promises us that THEN He would hear from heaven and heal our nation.

PRAYER

Father I pray that I will not be a stumbling block for the wonderful work that You could perform in the lives of my family, my church, my friends and my nation. Please help me to search deep within and stay so in tuned with Your Word that I would be corrected of tendencies to block Your work. Instead Father, I pray that, like Daniel, I would come to You daily and not just pray for Your powerful touch on my life personally, but also that You would touch my family, my church, my friends, my city, my state and my nation. Please convict us of all sin that separate us from Your will for our lives. Please speak to us in such ways that we would become a people deeply committed to You and reflecting You and Your love in very evident ways to a lost and dying world. I am reminded of a secular song, ‘I want to Be Just Like You’, and would apply that principle to express the desire of my heart today, for I want to be just like You Lord. Please forgive me where and when I fail at that, but please grant me the strength and tenacity to succeed at that each and every day, for it’s You oh Lord that I adore and want to see lifted up and magnified in my life.

My Responsibility

September 22, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Daniel 9

OBSERVATION

Daniel 9:3-6 ~ …… To show my sorrow, I went without eating and dressed in sackcloth and sat in ashes. I confessed my sins and earnestly prayed to the LORD my God: Our Lord, you are a great and fearsome God, and you faithfully keep your agreement with those who love and obey you. But we have sinned terribly by rebelling against you and rejecting your laws and teachings. We have ignored the message your servants the prophets spoke to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors, and everyone else.

APPLICATION

Daniel had just studied the writings of the prophets who went on before him and understood why his country was going through such rough times. Then to show his sorrow he took action. What intrigued me about this is:

  1. Today we tend to look at a man gifted with prophecy as one looking to gain monetarily from his TV show or church, or we even say “well who does he think he is, God, to stand and tell us what’s in store for us?” Unlike this, Daniel acknowledged what this prophet of God had said and acted upon it;
  2. In acting upon the Word through the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel didn’t start a new political party to beat up on the nation for what they were doing, nor did he start a new church because he wanted to lead a group into turning the nation around from their evil deeds. Instead he went directly to the only one that could do anything about the situation, he went to God;
  3. Daniel didn’t go to God all pious and bringing condemnation on his nation, or even asking forgiveness for his wicked people, at least at first. He humbled himself before God in sorrow and through his dress and his spirit, showed his humble spirit and sought forgiveness for himself first, for he knew that he was no better than the folk around him. If he was, then he was not doing God any favors by preaching to them and encouraging or demanding them to turn from their wicked ways. As Christian leaders today, we must take full responsibility for all that is going on around us, for had we done our jobs in accordance with God’s will and direction, then our people would be sorry for their actions and seeking ways to renew a right spirit within them. In other words, yes we have a personal responsibility to keep a right relationship with God, but we have an even greater responsibility to “Go out into the world and preach the Gospel”; To tell people about their wrong doings; To show the people Christ so that they may be saved and find the ‘right’ way to act and live a Godly life. We are to represent God in our daily lives, not just so that God would be proud of us, although He would, but also do this so that others would see Christ in us and know that there is a better way for them too.

PRAYER

Father, let me first of all give thanks for the liberty of being Your son. Thank You for bringing me to this stage in my life. Especially today, I want to acknowledge the responsibility you have given to me as Your child, for my job is no different to the one that You gave Daniel. My country is in a mess. My church is lacking. Those that I come in contact with are living in sin, and I need Your strength, Your boldness, Your direction to be able to say with a clean heart that there is a better way, for there is a way that leads to eternal life with a loving and eternal God. A major part of that responsibility, is the part of keeping myself pure before You and, like Daniel, acknowledging that “

My Name’s in the Book!

September 21, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Revelation 20  

OBSERVATION

Revelation 20:12 ~ I also saw all the dead people standing in front of that throne. Every one of them was there, no matter who they had once been. Several books were opened, and then the book of life was opened. The dead were judged by what those books said they had done.

APPLICATION

In John 3:16 I am told in part “…so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” So it is with faith this morning that I celebrate that my name is in the Book of Life and I will live eternally with God when He calls me home. Praise God that I can celebrate that truth today, and not have to wait until the Book is opened to be told “Go away for I never knew you”. I cannot be proud of all the things I have done, but glory to God I have a mediator who stands in the gap for me and who guides my every step, speaks to the Father on my behalf, encourages me and leads me in a path of righteousness every day. In fact He is looking so forward to the day when I will join Him, that even today He is preparing a home for me. My earthly father took such good care of me here on this earth, but I believe that this was only a glimpse of the loving care that my heavenly Father will take care of me (and my earthly dad) when I am called away from this old earth.

Oh What A Savior!

September 20, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Psalm 145

OBSERVATION

Psalm 145:17-21 ~ Our LORD, everything you do is kind and thoughtful, and you are near to everyone whose prayers are sincere. You satisfy the desires of all your worshipers, and you come to save them when they ask for help. You take care of everyone who loves you, but you destroy the wicked. I will praise you, LORD, and everyone will respect your holy name forever.

APPLICATION

I believe that all fellow humans feel satisfied after having worshipped our Lord and Savior, and often we may feel like it’s because we have met our spiritual obligation, or because it is the place to be on the Lord’s Day. In Scripture we are told that God is near to those who pray sincerely, and He satisfies the desires of worshippers and He saves us when we ask for help. I want to always remember that God designed us to worship Him, so when we do just that we should expect to be satisfied by Him. Now if only we can learn to worship Him daily and not just at those official times that we gather with other believers to worship Him corporately! When we read His Word and reminded of great things, such as this passage today, let’s worship Him and praise Him for being so considerate of His children that often stray and need so much help. When we see the beauty of this earth – the plants and flowers, the beautiful sunshine, the wonder of the seasons, the food supply that grows and for all the provisions that He has provided to insure our daily desires and meet our needs, let’s worship the only true and living God for doing all this for us! This is the God that I love and adore, for He is my Savior and Lord! To those who may read this, I implore you to know Him today and know real peace and contentment. Allow Him to satisfy your desires and draw near to you!

PRAYER

Father, You are more awesome than I could ever imagine. To leave Your Father in Heaven and die on a cruel cross so that I may have life eternal…. wow! To draw near to me when I pray sincerely to You, even knowing that I sometimes fail and fall short… wow! To satisfy my desires when I worship You, even considering that many times to bless me and I fail to worship and thank You for it… wow! You take care of me because I love You, even though it was because of my sin that You hung on Calvary’s cross and sacrificed Your life so that I may live forever with You… wow!

Thank You Jesus!

September 16, 2010

SCRIPTURE

Studied: Psalm 145; Revelation 20  

OBSERVATION

Psalm 145:9-12 ~ You are good to everyone, and you take care of all your creation. All creation will thank you, and your loyal people will praise you. They will tell about your marvelous kingdom and your power. Then everyone will know about the mighty things you do and your glorious kingdom.

APPLICATION

When I stop and realize how thankful I am for all that my mom and dad did for me over the years and how I just can’t seem to do enough now, in later years, to show my appreciation to them, I am reminded today that the same should apply to my Lord Jesus Christ. God created me and has protected and provided for me all along the years. I am especially mindful of the ways that His hand is upon me these days, because I can see how fortunate I am to:

  • Have food, when so many are going hungry;
  • Have good health to enjoy this life here below, while so many are either in hospital or suffering from one affliction or another at home;
  • Have a loving family, when there are so many that have deliberately separated themselves from their family because of a rift;
  • Have a loving wife, when there are so many divorces today;
  • Have a loving daughter, when so many kids today take joy in terrorizing their parents to get back at them for silly things like disagreements or arguments, or smothering them with too much love;
  • Have a loving family of God (my church family) that cares for me and will lift me up when I need them, versus many who have unfortunately chosen to follow a path that either denounces God altogether, or one that directs them into a world where they try to ignore the One that loves them more than a brother and actually sacrificed His own Son in order that they would have life more abundant and free and one with a hope for an eternal future;
  • Have a job so that I can provide for my family, while there are so many that are unemployed today;

None of the above gives me bragging rights, but they serve to remind me that had it not been for the grace of my heavenly Father, I could easily have been one burdened with any of the negative side of the above. Therefore I will praise my Savior while I have breath. I will depend on Him daily to continue blessing me with each of the above for as long as He sees fit.

 

As the latter part of the scripture says, I will praise God for all things not because I am deserving of the blessings, but because of His grace, so that others will see the mighty things that God does in and through me, and nothing on my own accord.