Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let it Snow!

What do “faith” and “snow” have in common? There are many places where “snow” is mentioned in the Bible but one in particular is mentioned in a positive way. It says in Isaiah 55:10, 11, that “as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void (empty, without fruit), but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

“Snow” is used here as a metaphor for the spreading of God’s Word. When I saw this I began to change my attitude toward snow as I realize that God’s purpose for sending us snow is to water the earth so that it will provide both seed and bread. So snow really is beneficial and useful! I can live with that.

Just as snow comes from heaven, so does God’s word come from His mouth. And just as snow does not return back to heaven, neither does God’s word return to Him empty. Just as snow brings forth fruit from the earth, so does God’s word prosper wherever He sends it. So, what does “snow” and “faith” have in common? Snow gives seed to bring bread to the eater. Bread symbolizes the “staff of life.” God’s word produces “faith” to believe for salvation and growth in the believers life. Jesus describes the word as “seed” in Luke 8:11. All increase of life within His love comes by His Word, and when received, God’s Word of promise will never be barren. The power in His Word will always fulfil the promise of His Word. We will realize fruitfulness as our faith develops. Faith comes by “hearing” God’s Word. Romans 10:17

Just as snow becomes water for the earth to produce fruitfulness, God’s word has life-power within itself to bring fruitfulness into our lives. God’s word is never barren or fruitless. “It shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11

Good things do come from the snow. God planned it that way. From the good start we have for amounts this winter we can presume for a fruitful year of growth this next spring! Someone said “faith is an adventure in acceptance!” If we accept God’s plan for a snowy winter, we can be assured that we will prosper both in the land as well as in our lives. “Let it Snow!”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No Dark Pews!

For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47

There is a church in England that has no lights, Many people who visit the church are shocked that the architect left out something as important as overhead lighting. But the architect had a plan. The various families who regularly attend the church are given their own pew, as well as a lamp and a book. When a family comes to church, their lamp is lit. If they are not in church, the pew is dark.

What difference can one darkened pew make? Not much you might think. But what if several pews are lacking lamps? Then the whole church would be affected. It’s obvious. If all are present and in their pews, the church is alive with light. If not, the place becomes dark.

What a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ! If any one of us is not using the gifts God has given, there will be darkness; but as we use our gifts, the whole body will be full of light. This is how intimately we are linked one with another. That’s why the Lord made it a command - “He has made us a light in order to shine for the sake of others.”

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Help me to know, Lord, what it means to be part of Your body, to function with others for the good of all and the glory of the Son. Help me to understand my place in the body, including my responsibility to brothers and sisters around me. Help me to realize that my role, no matter how small, is significant. Shine through me, Lord, so that the lives of my friends and family will be brightened.

-Taken from Joni & Friends Daily Devotional

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

They Fought For You!!

For God and Country! Today we take a few moments to recognize and honor the millions of men and women from our nation who have served in the military.

Veteran’s Day is this Tuesday which is a day set aside to remember all of our veterans and their families for the sacrifices each one has made to protect and provide for the well being of this great nation!

From my earliest boyhood memories I can remember fantasizing of being a soldier someday serving for my country. I remember my father taking me to an Army surplus store where I would ask him to buy me a camouflage shirt and pants to wear. I was so proud to think and look like I was a soldier.

I felt very unfortunate when I was unable to enter the military because of a physical problem when I was 18 years old. So many of my boyhood friends including two of my brothers enlisted or were drafted into the service. I envied every one of them. A number of them that I personally know were injured or wounded during the
Vietnam War.

I was extremely disappointed and appalled at the response of many Americans when the war in Vietnam was over and our troops returned home. We had lost nearly 60,000 soldiers and twice that many had been wounded with so many of them suffering brain injuries and loss of limbs.

The war had embittered the American people so that the returning soldiers were often met with disrespect, hatred, and belittlement for their heroic deeds. My disappointment was with the lack of respect and honor that should have been given to these returning men and women who had fought for all of us.

I am proud and thankful to be an American and very grateful to all of our military men and women who fought for me. Throughout my life and ministry I have not forgotten those who served, fought, and died for the freedoms we have enjoyed as a Nation under God.

A veteran is any person who has served in the Armed Forces of this country. Tuesday is a legal holiday in the United States honoring all members of the Armed Forces. They are all worthy of recognition for which this day holds.

Our worship service today includes special mention to those in our congregation who have or are serving in our nation’s armed forces. We salute you!! In every war there are stories of bravery and heroic deeds. My heroes are all of you men and women who served our nation and to those who gave their all. We must never forget what they have done!! They fought for you!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Are We Willing to Live… Or Even Die for Our Faith?

Most Americans have seen the graphic images of bombed-out Syrian cities and citizens killed by chemical weapons. But amid these stories of chaotic civil war and tragedy is another, less publicized story: Christian churches in Syria continue to spread hope in the face of hopelessness, holding high not a political or denominational banner; but the banner of Jesus Christ—the only path to salvation and peace with God.
           
In the midst of great persecution and threats of death, Christianity is continuing to spread as more Muslims are coming to know Christ and where prayer and Bible studies are growing in fast numbers. But, friendship with Jesus is becoming more costly as the evils of Islam continues to rise up to destroy churches, kill children, rape Christian women, and behead those who oppose the Islamic faith.
           
I have been reviewing some past issues of the Voice of the Martyrs monthly magazines and find in them the many stories and accounts of many of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Africa who, because of the entrance of Jesus into their lives, suffer the loss of their homes, cars, bank accounts, jobs and even the end of their lives. Friendship with Jesus for them is costly. Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone. It is always accompanied by great sacrifices for Christ’s sake.
           
The Apostle Paul writes “yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8) That was Paul’s attitude toward earthly possessions. Is this our attitude toward earthly possessions?
           
I think that preachers who promise prosperity, good health, and continual joy can and do lead people astray. What did Jesus mean when He said, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple?” (Luke 14:33)

How prepared are you to face such a time when at the end of the day when everything is gone, all you have left is Jesus?

PRAY FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH!

I once personally heard Richard Wurmbrand speak of his 14 years of being tortured and imprisoned for preaching Christ in Romania which then was under communistic rule. He said that being tied at his ankles and hung upside down and being beaten with a hard rubber hose on the bottoms of his feet was the most excruciating pain. Every muscle and nerve of his body reacted to the pain.

He stated that those Christians who are being beaten and tortured for Christ around the world are members of the same body as we are. As Wurmbrand felt pain in every member of his body from the beating on his feet, he stated that “we should also feel the pain of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and should feel the love and compassion to remember to always pray for them.”  Today - pray for your persecuted brothers and sisters.