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Showing posts from July, 2009

The God Who Needs Nothing

We are self-centered to the core. When I read the Scriptures assigned for this morning my mind immediately went back to a statement I heard recently about how our prayers move the hands of God.

Here are the verses.

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gave all men life and breath and everything else" —Acts 17:24, 25.

The scene is Paul preaching to the Athenians. The Greeks were big on statutes, altars, and religion. Paul wanted his listeners to understand that the true God was bigger than they imagined, much bigger than the trappings. His "bottom line" was to help the Athenians understand that this big, big, God was the One they needed to seek, and that this God, big as he was, was right there waiting to be sought.

The "trouble" with such a big God is that he can't be limited, or manip…

Blue-blooded Believers

Here's an attitude to admire and an example to follow.

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" —Acts 17:11.

True nobility of faith is measured by a believer's attitude toward God's Word. These Bereans, not content just to sit and listen and whisper a guarded "amen" after the sermon was over, rushed out to dig for the treasures of the Word on their own.

They did it eagerly, not because Paul had told them that they would be poor Christians if they didn't do daily devotions. They did it because they wanted to—they valued what they had heard and were hungry for more.

They did it daily, not haphazardly whenever it fit into their busy schedules.

They did it carefully, not content just to skim the surface. They "examined" the Scriptures, investigating what Paul preached in the light of what the Holy…

Word-Filled Wednesday—Only One Name

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Amy Deanne at http://the160acrewoods.com/ is hosting Word-Filled Wednesday today. Thanks Amy Deanne. Visit her blog for more photos and thoughts for today.

My verse for today is: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" —Acts 4:12.

The light breaks through the dark clouds of sin as the repentant heart opens itself to the forgiveness that comes only through Christ.



Blessings.

Gone

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing many come from the Lord" —Acts 3:19.

As soon as I read the verse for this morning, an old song from my Sunday School days flooded my mind. If I remember the words correctly it goes like this:

"Gone, gone, gone, gone,
Yes my sins are gone,
Now my soul is free,
And in my heart's a song.
Buried in the deepest sea,
Yes, that's good enough for me.
I shall sing eternally,
Praise God, my sins are gone.

Gone, gone, gone, gone,
Yes, my sins are gone."

Every once in a while I contemplate just how high the water level on that sea rose when Jesus tossed my sins into it on that day when I asked him to forgive me. If I sinned once a day, every day of my life (and I know it is more than once a day!) and I lived until I was 85, he would have had to toss in over 31,000 sins (math isn't my strong point, but you get the picture).

Now multiply that by the number of people who have lived on t…

The Great "Suggestion"

I read an interesting, and provocative, article by Meg Crossman* last week. It relates very well to my verse for this morning.

Acts 1:8 is very familiar to most believers, but is still one of the most neglected verses in Scripture. Luke writes, quoting some of Jesus' last words before his ascension: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Obviously, I'm sold on the Great Commission. God's redemptive plan for a broken world has been his heart and purpose since before the beginning of time. Peter reminds us: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last time for your …

Dying's the Easy Part

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command" —John 15:12-14.

Perfect. Amen. Hallelujah. I'll be happy to die for the sake of a friend.

Easy to say when I am almost sure no one is ever going to ask me to make that ultimate sacrifice.

But ask me to offer to take a neighbour on her weekly grocery run, babysit someone else's kids, spend time helping out at a homeless shelter, offer myself for that needy ministry in my church, entertain visiting missionaries, accept an exchange student for the purpose of doing some cross-cultural evangelism, fix an elder lady's broken faucet or cut her grass; well, that's another story.

The possibility of dying is easier than the certainly of living out the reality of my commitment to Christ in my daily life.

And the commitment IS to Christ. I read this verse as it relates to human friends, but the last…

PAX

Peace is as short-lived as the next headline, as longstanding as pleasant circumstances prevail in our lives. It is as fragile as the finest crystal, and as fleeting as a wisp of smoke.

In spite of our present reality Jesus says: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" —John 14:27.

Jesus knew that within hours the world His disciples had grown comfortable in would be shattered. Soldiers would come and rip their Rabbi from their midst. The crowds, once friendly, would turn on their Master and demand His death, They would be looked at the Lord's followers with suspicion and accusation. The disciples' hope would be beaten, ridiculed, and nailed to a cross. How could Jesus tell them not to be troubled, not to be afraid?

A peace that rises above circumstances and is not diminished by events bigger than ourselves is rooted in a God who never changes when everything else do…

The Mark of a True Believer

I'm running a few days behind because, well, I'm running. The demands of this week have been super overwhelming but I couldn't pass up this verse coupled with a quiet Sunday morning.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever" —John 14:15, 16.

I have an ongoing debate with one of the ladies in my Bible Study group about self-proclaimed Christians who show absolutely no signs of belonging to Christ (I guess you know from my use of the word "self-proclaimed" what I think on the subject!).

Jesus is extremely clear about how to discern if someone is what they proclaim themselves to be. The person who truly loves Him, ie. a genuine believer, will obey Him. Sure there will be slips into the muddy puddles of sin, but for a follower of Christ those will be more exception than rule. This is a theme that Jesus amplified throughout those last moments with His disciples before…

Word-Filled Wednesday: Provision

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It's Word Filled Wednesday again. Visit: http://www.extravagantgrace.net/ for more delightful mini-meditations in words and pictures.

Early in the morning the birds come to my balcony with the expectation of provision. They constantly remind me that God looks after every one of my needs.



"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" —Matthew 6:25, 26, 33.

Following the Example of Jesus

Visions of fame and fortune danced in my head. Well, maybe not fame and fortune, but certainly a cross was not what I pictured this morning when I read: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will me. My Father will honor the one who serves me" —John 12:26.

By itself, the whole experience sounds quite palatable. I serve God, I seek to live at the center of His will. He will honor me for my service. I can expect His "well done" but He always seems to come up with other fringe benefits to obedience. Sounds good to me.

Then I read the context of the verse (23-28). Jesus is talking about the cross, about His death, about the ultimate submission of everything to God, even life itself.

The Lord then asks the question: "…what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" —John 12:27-28.

The most amazing thing happens at that moment. A voice from heav…

When Dead Isn't Really Dead

Eventually I have to admit defeat. The shrunken, gray leaves, once green and soft, now crumble at my touch. There is no hope of revival now. As much as I hate to do it, the plant is dead, and needs to be thrown away.

I have no resurrection power. Dead is dead and there isn't anything I can do about it.

Martha thought dead was dead too—until Jesus came along to teach her better. Her brother was already several days in the grave when the Lord finally showed up. Martha wondered at the delay, rebuked the Lord for it, but dead was dead and there was nothing anyone could do.

We know how the story ends. With God, dead isn't really dead at all. I had to go hunting to try to figure out the apparent contradiction in these verses in John 11:25, 26 (NIV) when Jesus says: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Okay, do we, or don't we, die?

The Amplified New Testament says it…

The Real "Culprit"

I hover on the edge of anger. No, correct that—I'm well over the edge. There is always someone, or something to blame. And I can quote chapter and verse to justify the rage I feel.

Anger stems from not getting what I want. People disappoint. Things don't work as programmed. Schedules get adjusted without consideration for me. Even I don't function as anticipated.

Yes, I can place blame easily and legally embrace my anger.

Then, slowly but certainly, a truth overtakes me, sneaking underneath the barriers and defenses that anger erects.

If uncontrolled anger is the result of not getting what I want, who is ultimately to blame? God, who gives, takes, and withholds until the time is right, is the ultimate "culprit." Can I justify blaming the One who knows what's best for me, who knows my needs better than I know them myself and who has always supplied what is necessary to satisfy them?

I know the answer. And somehow in understanding who my anger is really directed at…

Word Filled Wednesday—Learning from the Cat

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I'm adding my little bit to Word Filled Wednesday, hosted by AmyDeanne at http://the160acrewoods.com/ Check it out.

My verse is a simple one: "Do not be anxious about anything…" —Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV). Lou has the right idea.



I'm not sure Lou prays, but if the rest of the verse doesn't apply to her, it certainly does to me.

"…but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Crossing Over

Today would have been my mother's birthday. She's been gone now for almost eighteen years, but the memories never fade. They just soften with time.

The birthday might have passed virtually unnoticed if it hadn't been for today's verse.

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" —John 5:24.

"Crossed over."

I held my mother's hand in her hospital room as she literally "crossed over." It was three days before Christmas. My father had died three months before, at the end of September, and my plan had been to have a special Christmas for mom. I didn't know that God had better plans.

When my mother accepted Christ, she "crossed over" from spiritual death to spiritual life. At that moment when she physically "crossed over" she passed from pain and sadness to health and joy. Not only did she get to spend Christm…

MONDAY MANNA—Christians: the Ultimate Old-School Libertines

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Joanne Sher over at An Open Book, assigned 1 Peter 2:16 for today's MONDAY MANNA. Here are my thoughts. Check out the links on Joanne's blog for more.

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Did that title get your attention?

The original meaning of "libertine" is derived from the Latin libertinus, or freedman specifically, a freed slave or the son of a freed slave.

Christians are the embodiment of this original definition—we are slaves liberated by Christ Jesus from our bondage to sin, from servitude to the sin master, and from the ultimate consequences of that bondage.

I guess the early Christians (and we later ones) don't understand the Latin too well. Somehow "libertinus" quickly degraded into today's definition of freedom: "the power or right to act, speak, or to think as one wants without hindrance or restraint."

Someone should have added: "without regard to the consequences" because there are ALWAYS consequences to the exercise of our freedom, which make…

Watching and Waiting

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Abby watches and waits.

Me, too.

I'm not sure what exactly she expects is going to happen.

Nor am I sure.

But one thing is sure, something will happen eventually. I'm learning a lot from the patient waiting of the cats, though I confess they are far ahead of me. They never lose patience. I do.

The truth is that God will respond and whatever happens will be just right. "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly" —Luke 18:6-8.

The moral of the parable Jesus told his disciples was not so much a reassurance as to God's faithfulness, but was meant to encourage them to persist, to watch and wait with faith.

The cats already know. I'm still learning. Hmmmm, do I hear someone whispering something about "dumb animals?" It's not hard to tell around here who's smarter.

The High Cost of Release

He's exaggerating, right?

He means that we should just be willing, right?

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple" —Luke 14:26.

"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" —Luke 14:27.

"…any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" —Luke 14:33.

God doesn't exaggerate for effect. He says what He means, and means what He says. I wish He wouldn't give me so much to wrestle with so early in the morning.

I had some words to look up. "Hate" here means "to detest" and, by extension, "to love less." Pretty sure I knew what the word "disciple" meant, I looked it up anyway. No rocket science here, it simply means "a learner."

Last night, I did a mental health check only to discover that out of ten causes of depression, seven charac…

Cracks in the Foundation

I'm putting on my nationalistic hat this morning. Today is CANADA DAY. In a few days, our American neighbours will celebrate their Independence Day and, just a day after that, the country in which I live, Venezuela, will celebrate its own independence.

Since today has a national flavour, the verse assigned for me to read this morning carried the same savour.

"But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well" —Luke 12:31. Matthew's version of this verse speaks about the righteousness that is characteristic of the kingdom of God. That got me thinking (putting on my nationalistic hat) about the foundations upon which a kingdom needs to be built.

The foundation upon which God's kingdom is build is Jesus Christ.

Once upon a time the foundations of my country were established around a strong moral base, a base taken from a belief in God and an acceptance of the Scriptures. But since those strong beginnings, cracks have appeared in the foundation of my …