Sunday, March 30, 2008

92 Year Old Witnesses to Robber

May we all learn a wonderful lesson from this 92 year old woman. We can witness to anyone, no matter what the circumstances, or who they are. She is one of the greatest evangelists of our time! She represents a true Christian and following the command of Jesus, to love one another.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Idols in Your Life

"I have given them your Word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I'm not asking you to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do." John 17:14-16
This is a picture of the tallest inhabited building in the world. It is located in Taiwan and it reaches 1,671 feet. I was doing a google search for "not of this world" after I read John 17, and this image came up. This building was constructed in 2004 but soon will out matched by an even taller building in Dubai. Man keeps building higher and higher to get the biggest and tallest. What does it really matter? This striving for being bigger, better and taller all is part of being in this world. It is trying to be the best, the wealthiest, fittest, best looking and all through competition of man vs. man. I think it is so sad, because those that strive to be the best, really do miss the point. The point is that it really does not matter, for when all said and done in this life, everything goes back into the box, just like the game of monopoly. Jesus knew as he knelt and prayed to the Father for the last time, that the believers of this world were no longer part of this world. The believers had new eyes and new vision, that the things of this world really do not matter anymore. Look at society today, everything we see in media is about competition. I remember reading an article recently by Francis Fragpaigne and he said that God' s other name was "Jealous". God commanded for us not to have any other God or idols. God wants to be number one in our lives and not have our hearts on things of this world. So Francis talked about the idol "Mammon" which is wealth and that people strive for it and want more. People build sturctures that are big and beautiful and they are places for this idol worship. I have thought this one through lately and know that the Lord wants me not to be of this world. It is hard for me because many times, I just do not fit. Other Christians are in the same situation, that they do not fit into the conversations at work, nor the parties where people drink and tell crude jokes. I remember a friend telling me recently, "this is hard, being a Christian, cause I am losing all my friends. They don't include me any more in social events because they say I am so church-like and not fun anymore." This can be the reality of Christians, we don't fit, and I told her not to worry, that she was in a good place because as the "old" friends fade away, God will replace them with "new" Christian friends that will fit perfectly.
     So, I need to guard my heart, to not worship the idol of Mammon and to be worshiping only the one true God. I pray that I may see the truth that money and material wealth can be an idol if it replaces God. I want God to help me let go of anything that may be taking the place of Him in my life.
Question: Are there any idols in your life? Is there anything that is taking the place of God? What can you do to change your priorities to put God first in your life?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Empty Tomb

"Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdaline came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance."  John 20:1
Last night, I went to a play called "The Witness", which was a musical production of the life and death of  Jesus. How powerful to see actors recreate the story of  Jesus. At the end of the production, there was the empty tomb and then there was a light that came from the tomb and Jesus walked out. Everyone in the audience shouted with joy and clapped their hands. What excitement we all shared, and that was the end of the play. But then the actor that played Simon Peter exclaimed, "This is not the end, but just the beginning".  Oh yes, the empty tomb was the beginning and not the end, for now the door is open and it starts the beginning of a new journey for many. The empty tomb not only signifies victory over death, but it signifies  new beginnings. Just as Mary Magdalene had a new beginning in her own life, we too have the promise of the "Empty Tomb". The Empty Tomb is the open door for many of us to leave the place of death and walk into life. Look carefully at the perspective of the picture above. We usually think of an empty tomb from the perspective of standing on the outside looking in. If we were doing that, we would be standing in our current life and we could only see a dark and empty place of death. But stand where Jesus stood from INSIDE the tomb. Here we are, living in this world, in the place of death. But we do have hope and since the stone was rolled away and now we can look outside to the place of life and there is hope. If we die to ourselves and accept the free gift of eternal life that only Jesus can give us, then we will be able to see the magnificence and the promise of eternal life. What a difference it makes as to where to stand in life. Are you standing outside the tomb and looking in? Or are you inside the tomb and looking out? Let us tell as many people as we can today, that Easter is all about the promise that the empty tomb brings. The tomb is empty because there is life through Jesus! 
God's Promise:" For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him."(John 3:16-17)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sour Wine on the Cross

"Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, "I am thirsty". A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, "it is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit." John 19:28-29
    I cannot begin to comprehend the agony that Jesus endured on the cross for me. Today is Good Friday, the actual day that Jesus died. I weep this morning for my Jesus, that precious lamb of God, that sacrificed his life for my sins. I am filled with the sorrow that I just cannot comprehend. 
    As I meditated on the scripture today, I thought of Jesus on the cross and when he said, "I am thirsty", it rang a familiar chord within me. Since I have been reading the book of John I remember having read about the Samaritan woman that met Jesus at the well. She went to the well thirsty and Jesus gave her what she did not expect, he gave her the living water in which she would never thirst again. Then, remember the first miracle Jesus performed at the wedding celebration? Jesus took ordinary water and changed it to wine of the greatest quality. Here are examples of what Jesus gave humanity, the best water and wine that Heaven could offer us. But when Jesus was thirsty on the cross what was he given? He was given bitter/sour wine. What did humanity give Jesus? Humanity gave him sour wine, mockery, whippings, crucifixion and even death. How symbolic this wine was! I go through this day, just meditating on what he did for you and me and what we did to him. He gave love and we gave him death. Oh, the agony of this, but the beauty of this all, was that he did this out of the greatest love and devotion for you and me. He went to that cross for us and took our sins upon himself as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. My prayer today is that there be a grater awareness of what happened this day almost 2000 years ago. May hearts be opened to this truth, and may many be led to Jesus this Easter. Please join me in prayer this day for those that don't know Jesus, that they will come to know him and understand that Jesus died for them.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more." John 15:1-2
When I read this scripture it reminded me of the book I had read, "The Secret of the Vine" by Wilkinson. He took this same verse and explained how we are the vine and God is the gardener. God needs to prune us sometimes and it is not out of punishment, but we get pruned because He wants us to produce more. Look at the picture carefully, and see that the saw is sharp and the process can be painful. Pruning in a person's life can be difficult but it is important to focus on the end result, more fruit for the Lord.
This is so true in my life, the times when I was overwhelmed with business and too many things on my plate. I was tired and had overcommitted to too many activities. I remember sitting on my lanai and I saw my vine that was in a nearby pot. There it stood, it was long and leggy and the leaves were sickly looking. I heard so clearly on that day, "You are like that vine, in order for optimum health there needs to be cutting back (pruning)". I got up and started pruning back to where there were only a few of the primary stalks left. It was quite pitiful but I knew it needed to be done. Then it was so very clear to me, I needed to prune in my own life, to cut away all those activities that were not a priority. It was the beginning of saying "No" to people and to start realizing that I needed to focus on those things that were important in my life. What happened to the vine? A few months later, I got the most beautiful green and healthy leaves. It was magnificent. This was one of those lessons that God needed to take me through. Pruning is not easy and at times it can be painful. Keep focused because God is taking you to where you need to be - producing more fruit for the Kingdom.
Question: Is God taking you through a pruning process in your life right now? What do you think is the end result?
Think of a time when you needed pruning and God did it for you?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life is But a Breath

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath, even those who seem secure." Psalm 39:4-5
I just got off the telephone with a dear friend. She called to let me know that her husband passed away quite unexpectedly. She had gone out to work on the yard on Sunday afternoon around 1:00 and her husband was on the computer. She worked outside for a few hours and when she came inside around 2:30 he had passed away from a heart attack. How quickly life can be taken from us. One minute our loved ones are here and the next they are gone! This reminded me of a little sparrow I found at school. I took little Charlie home with me and I fed him every few hours and he began to get strong. Soon he was getting feathers and he was bonding to me like I was his mother. I would make a little sweatshirt nest for him at night and put him to bed. One night, I had fed him and put him down in his little nest in my room. I went to the livingroom and I heard the flutter of wings. I thought, "Oh Charlie, you are up!" I went to his bed and he was not there. I went around the house looking and calling, "Charlie, Charlie" and no Charlie. Now I am getting worried and I went to the bathroom and turned on the light. There on the floor I found little Charlie. He was lying dead on the floor. I picked him up and his neck was broken. You see, he was using his new wings to find me and he must have flown right into the door and broke his neck. I was devastated! I sat on the floor and cried for a very long time for the loss of Charlie. I realized how precious life really is. Life can be here at one moment and gone the next. I learned a lesson that day, not to take life for granted, for at any moment, the Lord can decide to bring someone home. I will always remember Charlie and the valuable life lesson he showed me. It was that same day that I realized he lived a good life and his life was to guide me to Psalm 39 and to realize that people can be here for a short period of time but they will leave their mark on the ones left behind. God creates life for specific periods of time and with that gift of life, each person has somehow, touched the lives of others. It is a question that I leave with you today. Are you investing in others, so to leave a legacy? Are you making the most out of this life for God so that when you face Him one day, He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant".  What life correction can you do right at this moment that can make the most with the life that God has given you? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bloom Where You are Planted

"I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it." Isaiah 41:19-20
Recently I have been asking the question, "Lord, is this where you want me to be in ministry?" I have been questioning the place where I am, and is this the place where I am called? I have been praying about this and I know that I want to follow God's will in my life but I really need to get confirmation. I began reading a book, "God's Armor Bearer" by Terry Nance. Terry says that in his office there is a plaque which reads: "Bloom where you are planted." At the moment I read that,  I realized that I am exactly where God wants me to be. This place may be like a desert and I may feel like that flower that is planted in that vast wasteland but I know now that God wants me to bloom! I want to remain faithful, no matter what pressure that I am facing for it is no fun to be out of the will of God. I know that I must be willing to stay in it for the rest of  my life, if that is what God wants! It is a time to rejoice in all that He has given me, and to do the very best I can with what He have given me. I will bloom, and do this in whatever environment I am placed. I know that I am exactly where God has divinely appointed me.  This goes even further than accepting where God has planted me in ministry, but it is accepting all the circumstances that surround me in life. Think about where you are planted right now? Are you in a desert? Are you surrounded by cactus in the dry wasteland? If you are, let me remind you that the Lord wants you to BLOOM, bloom to the best of your abilities so to glorify Him. Rejoice this day with me, in what the Lord has given you! Rejoice that we have a God that cares enough about us to sustain us in the toughest environment!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Surefooted as a Deer

"The Sovereign Lord is my strength! he makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights." Habakkuk 3:19
Recently, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona and visited the International Wildlife Museum. As I walked from exhibit to exhibit, I entered the main exhibit area. There in the center of the floor, there was a man-made mountain that went up to the ceiling. There were large rocks and boulders that were on all sides. Perched upon the ledges and rocks were mountain goats. I was amazed and stood in awe. I focused on their feet and how they were able to keep their balance in those high places. These superb animals had the keen ability to moved around in this rocky and barren place. As I focused more on what abilities God had given them, the scripture came to my mind from Habakkuk. I had remembered reading the book, "Hinds Feet on High Places" and how that analogy refers to us. I thought about what those high places were like and they were rocky, barren and difficult to maneuver. Then I realized that those tough and difficult circumstances that we may face in our lives, God will help us get through them, just as He has provided those steady feet on the mountain goats! God may not take away the challenges, but He will provide for us the way to get around those dangerous and tough rocky places. If we just lean on the Lord as our strength, He will make you "surefooted" in all rocky places.
Question: Reflect upon a time when the Lord gave you the feet of a deer to get through those rocky places? Did the Lord give you the strength that you needed? Share with one person today, your rocky mountain experience and the Lord made you surefooted.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Light of the World

"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been through God." John 3:21
Jesus brought light into the world and some do not recognize that light. We can do our part as believers of Jesus, to bring that light into the darkness of this world so that others can see the light of Christ within us. We can be a witness for Jesus.
   Yesterday I was a substitute teacher in a Kindergarten class. What precious ones are in Kindergarten! It is like a little mini society of the world. There were so many different personalities and they all brought into the classroom their perspectives of life that came from their life experiences. So here we were in this little mini society and so many of them are learning about the world around them. What a place to learn, in the classroom! What a responsibility for teachers! it is true that a classroom makes a difference in a child's life. The average age of the Kindergarten child is five years old and they are learning all about living with others. There were so many teachable moments and I felt a blessing to be able to come in and give a little bit of Jesus in that class. Although it was for only one day, there were times when I could talk to the students about sportsmanship, sharing, disappointments, frustrations, anger and getting along with one another. So many of the lessons were not about the curriculum but about those important life lessons. I was so grateful that the Lord put me there so I could bring the perspective of Jesus into the class. At one point, we had to all stop and repeat, "we are a family and we help each other". We talked about the responsibility of taking care of one another and to show kindness. They were so cute...they cry, whine and express their feelings without abandon. They are so innocent in all their ways. It is such a big responsibility of a teacher, at this young age, to demonstrate appropriate behavior through gentle correction. That is the key, "gentle correction". I was tired and exhausted at the end of the day, but upon reflection, I thought that I had given some important perspectives on how to deal with some of life's challenges. May the Lord touch each one of those little hearts and help them to learn about loving one another, in a non-loving world. I thank the Lord that I was able to bring some light of Jesus into the classroom yesterday.
Question: In your daily life, how can you bring some light into the darkness? Do you believe that you are showing Christ's love to others?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Perfect Peace

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
No matter what the circumstances are in your life, God can give you perfect peace. As I reflect upon this scripture, I think of the time that I had memorized this verse because of the chaos that was happening in my life at the time. My doctor had told me that I needed to go for an MRI to see why I was having migraine headaches. I have always had a fear of being in confined places and when I heard that I would be strapped down on a bed and sent into a very small tube, I was filled with fear. So many of my friends had told me not to worry but I still have so much doubt that I could complete this MRI successfully. I realized I could not do this on my own and needed help from God. So I took this power verse, Isaiah 26:3, which I had memorized into the room. As I was lying on my back and being put into the tube, I used this verse to give me peace of mind. I repeated it over and over again. It was one of God's promises to me, that all I had to do was to trust in him and he was going to get me through it. I knew that it would not be easy but I would need to be steadfast in my trusting in Him. It was going to be a battle in my mind, but the Lord brought me through it. I knew that when I was in that MRI tube, I was not alone. I stayed focused on each and every word of my power verse and God gave me the peace that I so needed. I learned that all things are possible with Him. No matter how much I may think that the situation may be impossible, I have been reassured by this verse that God can grow flowers among rocks. God can bring peace among chaos. Just trust in Him and keep your mind on all of His promises in the Word, and He will bring that perfect peace that only He can provide.
Question: What is stealing your peace of mind today? How can you find "power verses" in His Word, that will get you through it? Will you fully trust that God will get you through all fearful situations?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heart of Stone

"For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and careful to obey my regulations." Ezekiel 36:24
Look carefully at this image and let the Spirit speak to you of the condition of your own heart! Are you where God wants you to be? Seek Him today and ask Him that question, and be still to hear His voice. God is a heart surgeon and he can take a heart that is made of stone and contains filth, and He can cleanse it and replace it with a new clean heart. A heart that is no longer self-centered, stubborn, selfish and focused on the ways of the flesh but is now focused on the Fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. In just one second, you can have God change your heart. Are you ready? Just get on your knees right now and ask the Lord to forgive you for living a life that has been focused on yourself and that you now want to give your life over to Him. Ask Him to have the Spirit come and live within your heart. He will forgive all your sins and everything you have ever done. Are you ready for the heart surgery today? Just ask and He will perform the most perfect surgery on your heart right now.