Run, Christian, Run…

2 Tim. 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Run Christian, Run….

      In scripture we are told our spiritual lives need to be viewed as a race and even as a war. Let’s focus on the race for a moment. As a runner I can relate best to that one. Understand that I am back in the pack but I do understand the preparation and the race itself. Many do not like running but there is so much discipline to be learned by what it takes to run in a race, especially in a Marathon.
Bob Wieland lost both of his legs in Vietnam. But that didn’t stop him from entering and finishing the Los Angeles Marathon. He completed it in a little over one week making every step with his arms and his hands. He even crossed America on his hands. It took him three years to do it!

If anyone had a reason to quit it would be Bob. Yet he chooses to finish his races. Your “race” is any track or ministry that God has set you on in your life. And we each have at least one spiritual gift supporting that race or ministry according to I Corinthians 11. You may have started well, but due to hardships you have stopped running. God encourages and challenges us; Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Or you may have not yet started even the preparation for the race.

There are many Biblical examples of runners who started, stopped but also restarted once they recognized their spiritual failure. Abraham started well, faltered, and got back on track. The race started with God directing him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and go to a land that God would later show him. How many of us could or would respond to that directive by God. Talk about requiring faith. To his credit he obeyed. He left his comfort zone big. Just think about what he was asked to do and the fact that God did not tell him where He would direct him to. Most great works of God begin that way for our lives. It takes stepping into the water before the waters will part. And we many or most times do not know the paths God will lead us on until we begin the journey or are in the midst of the journey. It requires that trait called faith.

Heb 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

As Abraham journeyed he left behind him a trail of altars of praise. At Shechem God appeared to him and he built an altar there to the Lord. I have a journal I keep that I hope acts as an altar of praise of our lives (Loie and I) for now and for the next generations to view. To God be the glory!!
As with each of us Abraham also failed. Genesis 12 says, “There was a famine…and Abram went down to Egypt.” A hard time hit and Abram’s faith literally went south. In Egypt, Abram made compromises that were unthinkable. A spiritual famine hit his life and his faith weakened for a moment. Out of fear he lied about his relationship with Sarah but God still protected him against himself and the world around him. It’s comforting to me to know that so many great Christians struggled. And more comforting to know that our God does not leave us when we fail. He patiently awaits our return.

I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
But the race was not over for Abraham or for us when we fail. He returned from his detour. Just like the direction we hear God giving to the Churches in Revelation 2:4, 5 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” he returned to where he had first built an altar. And he returned quick enough so that God did not remove his candlestick or ministry. There he called on the name of the Lord. He went back to the point of his original surrender which is how you get back on track. In our hearts we must go back to the time when God seemed so close and His will seemed so clear. At that original altar we ask for forgiveness and surrendered to Him again.

John 3:3 “ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born [a]again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

When that paraplegic marathon participant crossed the finish line in a race he had every reason to quit, he explained it this way: “This was not natural; this was supernatural. It was only done by the grace of God.” That’s how you’ll finish the race you started!

2 Tim. 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Heb 12:1, 2 ” Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So let’s get going or let’s return!!!!

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Listening to God…

Listening to God…

Can I sit and be taught by God today?

II Tim 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

But aren’t those the books and teachings of men?

II Peter 1:20, 21 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

“Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit. Don’t read too many other things. Some of you will say, “Look who’s talking!” Well, go ahead and say it, I don’t mind; but I am reading fewer and fewer things as I get older, not because I’m losing interest in this great, big, old suffering world, but because I’m gaining interest in that other world above. So I say, don’t try to know everything. You can’t. Find Him in the Word, for the Holy Ghost wrote this book. He inspired it, and He will be revealed in its pages.”

–A.W. Tozer

That being the case…
II Tim 2:15 “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

 

So, who’s feet did you sit at this morning to start your day?
Sitting before the Lord

“Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights: ‘Lord, is it not thy Word, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God”? Thou ‘give’s liberally and upbraids not’. Thou hast said, ‘If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual’. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God, and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.”

–John Wesley, Preface to Standard Sermons

It does take commitment.

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and perfect will of God.”

Where is God…

Mat 6:33a “But seek you first the Kingdom of God…”

James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”

Where is God…

My brother Kevin thinks God lives under his bed.
At least that’s what I heard him say one night. He was
praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped
outside his closed door to listen.

“Are you there, God?” he said. “Where are you?”
“Oh, I see. Under the bed.” I giggled softly and tiptoed
off to my own room. Kevin’s unique perspectives are
often a source of amusement. But that night something
else lingered long after the humor. I realized
for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a
result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size
(he’s 6-foot-2); there are few ways in which he is an
adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities
of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably
always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa
Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every
Christmas, and that airplanes stay up in the sky because
angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is
different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous
life? Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop
for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel,
returning to eat his favorite macaroni and cheese for
dinner, and later to bed. The only variation in the
entire scheme are laundry days, when he hovers excitedly
over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn
child. He does not seem dissatisfied. He lopes out to
the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple
work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water
boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late
twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next
day’s laundry chores.

And Saturdays – oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That’s the day
my dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink,
watch the planes land, and speculates loudly on the
destination of each passenger inside. “That one’s goin’
to Chi-car-go!” Kevin shouts as he claps his hands. His
anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.

I don’t think Kevin knows anything exists outside his world of
daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know what it
means to be discontent. His life is simple. He will never
know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does
not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of
food he eats. He recognizes no differences in people,
treating each person as an equal and a friend. His needs
have always been met, and he never worries that one day
they may not be. His hands are diligent.

Kevin is never as happy as when he is working. When he
unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart
is completely in it. He does not shrink from a job when
it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is
finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how
to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work
of others. His heart is pure. He still believes
everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and
when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free
from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is
not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is
always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.
Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to
God, he comes as a child.

Kevin seems to know God-to really be friends with
Him in a way that is difficult for an “educated” person to
grasp. God seems like his closest companion. In my
moments of doubt and frustrations with my religion,
I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is
then that I am most willing to admit that he has some
divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.
It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with
the handicap; I am.

My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances – they
all become disabilities when I do not submit them to God.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn?
After all, he has spends his whole life in that kind of
innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the
goodness and love of the Lord. And one day, when the
mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at
how close God really is to our hearts, we’ll realize
that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed
that God lived under his bed. Kevin won’t be surprised at all.

Mat 18:3, 4 “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The Greatest Pain in Life…

John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me…”

The Greatest Pain in Life

The greatest pain in life is not to die, but to be ignored.
To lose the person you love so much to another who doesn’t care at all.
To have someone you care about so much throw a party and not tell you about it.
When your favorite person on earth neglects to invite you to his graduation.

To have people think that you don’t care.
The greatest pain in life is not to die, but to be forgotten.
To be left in the dust after another’s great achievement.
To never get a call from a friend, just saying “hi”.

When you show someone your innermost thoughts and they laugh.
For friends to always be too busy to console you when you need someone to lift your spirits.

When it seems like the only person who cares about you, is you.
Life is full of pain, but does it ever get better?

Will people ever care about each other, and make time for those who are in need?

Each of us has a part to play in this great show we call life.

Each of us has a duty to mankind to tell our friends we love them.
You will simply be ignored…forgotten…as you have done to others.

*This poem was written by a young girl who committed suicide.
Perhaps if the people surrounding her had shown a little more love,
and had paid more attention to her, her death could have been prevented.

Remember that when going through life, you can’t judge a sad, lonely, or
suicidal person by their facial expression, what comes out of their mouths or even
their actions. You need to get to know each person you come in contact with, cherish
your friendship with them, and show them that you care.

To be a lasting friend you must first receive Jesus, Who is the source of
unconditional love. You then can share with those in need that there is a Friend
available to them that will never forsake or leave them. He was crucified, died and
was buried for their sins and never once turns His back on us. And He is coming again.

John 14:1-3 “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me… In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

Have a great day with the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Jesus

The Sense of a Goose and Teamwork…

Heb 10:25a “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…”

The Sense of a Goose and Teamwork

When you see geese flying along in “V” formation, you
might consider what science has discovered as to why they
fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an
uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in “V”
formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater
flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of
community can get where they are going more quickly and
easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one
another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels
the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone – and
quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the
lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in
formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the
wing and another goose flies point.

It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs,
whether with people or with geese flying south.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to
keep up their speed.

What messages do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or
is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation,
two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down
to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose
until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do
they launch out on their own, or with another formation to
catch up with their group.

If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each
other like that.

Heb 10:24, 25 “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

How to get Real Freedom…

How to get Real Freedom!

What does it mean to be free and what is freedom. And of course where does Real Freedom and Truth come from? As always, our God gives us the answer. If we will seek it that is…..

John 8:32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Our world is ever changing, especially the technology portion of it. It is easy for satan to whisper in our ear that values and morals also change from age to age. Those not agreeing are considered old fashion or intolerant bigots or, well you put in the title. Again, as with all topics of eternal significance our God does not leave us without the truth. So where does truth come from and does it change down through the ages like technology?

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Only believe…..

Romans 5:15-16 “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if
through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and
the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto
many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the
judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many
offences unto justification.

John 3:18 “He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that
believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the
Name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Acts 16:31 “And he said unto them, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and
you shall be saved.”

I have a great idea. How about picking up the one book that holds truth and start reading today!

 II Tim 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Is it well with your Soul…

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Is it Well with your Soul…

Maybe it is just my imagination and I hope so, but it seems to me that much of Christianity does not see the persecutions and trials of this world as having merit. Am I wrong and how does my life stack up is the nagging question? I know that in my heart I do not like persecution and trials so if I can avoid them, I will. Then I see scripture that says if there is no objection to my life style by the world then I may be a Christian in hiding. And worse yet, if no trials then I might not be saved. Ouch, that thought process is not one that I wish to pursue.

First I check out my eternal life and find I am confident that I have asked and am trusting in Jesus sacrifice for my sins to be sufficient for my salvation. Nothing can be added from my end (Gal 2:16-21). Then comes the question of how my life as a believer stacks up to His will for me. If I do not change to meet my Savior’s will for my life just what will I hear at the Judgment Seat of Believers. I know my sins are washed away so they will not be on display there but how about my life’s work or lack of work for my Savior after being “born again”?????

The second verse of “It Is Well with My Soul” puts persecution in perspective.

Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

And an example from scripture helps us to put trials into perspective.

Paul is one of those examples. As we review his life as recorded in scripture we see that he was given “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Almost every saint of every age could echo Paul’s concerns and the request for God to remove those thorns.  Trials do come to each child of God.

That is a given. How we look at them is not. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you” (1 Peter 4:12).  God had a purpose in Paul’s life, and He has a purpose for us.  Paul couldn’t clearly see the purpose, and, at times, we can’t either. We can, however, “glory,” as Paul did, or “rejoice,” as Peter advises, or “count it all joy” as James records in response to the knowledge of God’s loving oversight.

 

I love this thought from that passage on removing the thorn in II Corinthians. I memorized it so I could have it ready when the difficulties of my life are better understood by listening to my God. Paul accepted God’s answer to his prayer that he requested three times and the answer was.  God’s grace is sufficient; you need that thorn in your life for a much greater purpose and outcome than the immediate fleshly satisfaction of it being removed.

II Cor 12:8-10 “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”