The Future Is As Bright As The Promises Of God

Archive for July, 2014

God’s Help Is At Hand

“This is my comfort in affliction, that Your word has revived me.” Psalm 119:50 (NASB)
We must look up to God. His saving help is at hand, but we must look to Him to see it. His miracles are waiting for us, but we must look to Him to receive them. When we stop staring at our problems and look to God, wonderful things will happen. The psalmist gives happy witness: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:3). The promise is for all who will turn to God.
“The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 26:11 (NASB)

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Christ Transforms Lives

“I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but only, they kept hearing, ‘He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.’ And they were glorifying God because of me.” Galatians 1:22-24 (NASB)
The Damascus road was not the end; it was the beginning of new life. Paul the persecutor became Paul the peacemaker. The one driven by hate became the one motivated by love. Emptiness was displaced by a fullness that poured into the lives of other empty people.
You can imagine the skepticism with which Paul was received by Christian groups. After all, would you want someone who was notorious for jailing Christians to be next weeks honored guest? Paul’s bad reputation had even spread to those who had never met him. A new rumor began to spread, however: “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Christ had transformed Paul’s life.
Paul had hidden potential within him before he met Christ. Who knows what great things God has in store for you when you give your life to Him.
James E. Lamkin

By Faith We Are Recipients Of The Grace, Mercy, And Peace Of God

The Scriptures always record them in that order: grace and then peace. The reason is that the grace of God must be accepted before one can know the peace of God. The fifth chapter of Romans says, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ever time we wander away in sin there is ample grace to cover our sin; there is plenty of grace if we will but accept that grace. Then we can know the peace of God. By faith we are recipients of the grace, mercy, and peace of God.

The Treachery Of Sin

“Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples are you? He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.” John 18:25-27 (NASB)
Simon Peter lived in the real world, where the action was, and so must we. Though we are weak, we have to expose ourselves to situations where we are threatened. Otherwise we would have to live apart from opportunities for decision, courage, and growth. Moreover, we would avoid positive opportunities for service.
Jesus had warned Peter of what he was about to do. This should have led Peter to call on God for help before he faced his crises. But warning did no good. Peter went ahead to face danger–which was commendable; but he went without reliance on God–which led to disaster.
To sin seems the most natural thing one could do under the circumstances. It requires no premeditation. The temptation comes–the sin is the appropriate response. Sin always seems so right! Therein is the destroying treachery: under the circumstances it would seem almost wrong not to sin. But of course, the word “sin” does not come into the picture. For Eve in the Garden of Eden, it was this way: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). For Simon Peter it was a clear case of self-defense; when asked if he were one of Jesus’ disciples, he denied it–he sinned, and it was so easy to do.
Sooner or later something or someone reminds us that wrong is wrong, that sin is sin. While the pressure was on, while the fun lasted, sin was an illusion. But then one reflects, one considers consequences, one considers God, and the whole picture changes. One little incident–the crowing of a rooster–brought Simon Peter back to a deeper level of reality. Then, so the other Gospels have told us, he was smitten with shame.
Guilt is always with us. The best among us know it acutely; the worst hardly feel it. Its presence or its absence points to a need to work with human beings lovingly and patiently until they find liberating forgiveness and energizing power to live triumphantly.

Faith – Helen Steiner Rice

Faith is a force that is greater than
knowledge or power or skill,
And the darkest defeat turns to
triumph if you trust in God’s
wisdom and will,
For faith is a mover of mountains–
there’s nothing man cannot achieve
If he has the courage to try it
and then has the faith to believe.
Helen Steiner Rice

We Have This Ministry

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-5 (NASB)
“Who is a minister?” most of us would respond by describing someone who is paid by the church to lead a congregation. Ministers are people who work for the church on a full-time basis. The laity are all those other Christians who work elsewhere to support the full-time ministry of the minister.
This view of church leadership makes it sound as if a congregation has one minister who is supported by a group of laypeople. But this view is not true to the New Testament picture of church leadership.
When Paul writes to the church at Corinth and says “since we have this ministry, as we received mercy”, he is not simply talking to a group of professional, full-time, seminary-trained pastors. He is addressing the leaders of the whole church, including those whom we often think of as “laity.”
Elsewhere Paul makes it clear that “ministry” includes all Christians. Ministry or service is not limited to those who are paid to do it. It includes everyone who has a share in Christ’s liberating work in the world. Sometimes those whom we regard as laity have better opportunities to perform ministry to the world than those whom we regard as clergy.
I think that we might do better to make a distinction between “ministers”–that is, all of us who are true believers–and “pastors”–that is, all those whom the church calls for the specialized ministry of teaching, preaching, and upbuilding the church. The role of these pastors is to equip the ministers for their ministry. Pastors are those who “equip the saints” (Eph. 4:12) for their ministry in the world.
Unfortunately, due to our fuzzy understanding of ministry, we often thought of pastors who take away the ministers responsibility for serving the world in Christ’s name. We do not have to perform their God-given ministry. We have pastors to enable and support the laity in their own distinctive ministries.
This is much the same as Paul says to the Corinthians when he claims that “we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.”

Make A Difference

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
Jane Goodall

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