Monthly Archives: August 2016

ht-sept-2016-quiz-501x1024
universe

There is a Way

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14: 12 NIV

We, as humans, like to make our own way in life. As Christ-followers, we have the Word of God to give us a measuring rod to determine right from wrong. Without this absolute truth of God’s word, it is easy to slip into moral decay.

As I look around our world, especially North America, I see the measuring rod being set aside until people believe there is no absolute truth. When there is no absolute truth, anything becomes possible. We have strayed far from the precepts and principles outlined in the Word of God.

I’m amazed at the length people will go to avoid a relationship with God. It seems that the easiest way is to deny his existence. If God does not exist, then there is no question of a relationship and no guilt in not obeying him. If God doesn’t exist, then there is no afterlife to trouble their walk through this life. It’s then possible to do as they please.

In my corner of the world, I fail to see how one can escape the existence of God. He’s all around us, from the tiniest thing visible to the naked eye, to the vast realms of the universe. It would take a massive faith to believe all of this has come to us by chance. Every flower design, every bird wing, every star, tiny insects, the face of a newborn baby; all proclaim the existence of an all-powerful creator God.

Don’t deny him; embrace him and the salvation that he has provided for you.

Meditation by Sharon Dow

0

Grasping After the Wind

Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless like chasing the wind (Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT)

It is much better to dwell on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. Doing otherwise can launch us into a life-long journey of trying to grasp something you can never obtain.

The famous commentator Matthew Henry once said, “People who are always content even if they have very little are much happier than people who are always craving more even if they have much.” Dreams can be powerful things. God often gives them to people, and they are strong motivations, but we must make sure they are from God and not just from our own imagination. Dwelling on what we don’t have is a recipe for frustration and discontentment. God often gives us more, but it is usually never enough when fixated on what we lack. A very wealthy man once replied, “just a little more,” when asked how much money is enough.

So what is the solution? Should we all take a vow of poverty? We have tried that in Chrysostom, and it works for some but not for all. We usually exchange one craving for other, giving up earthly pleasures but replacing them with striving after personal piety. We are just substituting one fleshly pursuit with another. The solution, as the writer of Ecclesiastes, tells us is to seek satisfaction from the reality of what we have, not the fantasy of what we don’t possess. Finding fulfillment in anything but God is like pursuing a mirage. It looks good from a distance but when you get there it’s gone, and you find yourself grasping after the wind.

Meditation by Ken Barnes  

0
noturningback

Two Little Words

Many articles and books have been written about salvation. Preachers preach about it and teachers teach it but in reality salvation can be explained using two little words. Those two little words are “to” and “from”.

All one has to do in order to receive salvation is explained in Isaiah 45:22 NIV “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” We must turn to Him believing that Jesus is His son and was sent to die for our sins. In addition, Luke 13:5 NIV says, “No indeed! And I tell you that if you do not turn from your sins, you will all die as they did.” You see in order to be saved one must also admit they are a sinner and turn from those sins.

The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that He sent His son to take all of our sins upon Himself and pay the price of those sins, which is death. The Good News is that because Jesus paid for our sins by dying we will never die; oh our physical bodies will die but our spirit will live eternally in Heaven. So you see salvation is simple: turn to Him and from our sins.

Dear Lord, Thank you for sending Your son to die in our place and for Your assurance that all who turn to You and from their sins will live for all eternity with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Meditation by Karen White

0
depression

Do Christians Have Depression?

In years past, I found myself with an ever-increasing burden to help relieve the suffering of other women as well as a burning desire to see them grow spiritually. I believe my desire is largely a result of personal and emotional suffering God allowed me to experience in preparation for future ministry.

Although I battled depression off and on for most of my adult life, I kept my problems to myself and continued to function. I went to work every day, accepted the demands of running a household, continued to teach my Sunday school class, and read my bible. As my condition worsened, I prayed constantly for God’s direction and sustaining hand.

Most days when I left work, I sobbed uncontrollably all the way home. For months, I sat in church fighting back the tears, sometimes unsuccessfully. There was no tomorrow in my future. I lived each day as though it would be my last. I cannot put into words what that condition feels like. It is the absolute depth of emotional pain. During that time, people kept their distance. While I am sure they knew something was wrong, no one reached out to me.

It wasn’t until the winter of 1996-97 that I lost the ability to cope. When I finally gave up and went to see a psychologist, I was in major clinical depression. She was afraid to let me leave the office for fear I would commit suicide. Actually, the thought of taking my life never occurred to me, but I did accept the fact that I was going to die. I felt God was through with me, and I went about setting my affairs in order, preparing for death.

While I am very much aware many in the community of faith would not approve, I have no doubt God led me to New Life, a group of Christian psychologists. I was immediately placed on an antidepressant, and two weeks later my life totally and completely turned around. I was told later that was unusual and that normally it took much longer to show improvement. That was over twenty years ago. Today I am secure and confident in the Lord. There are still times I feel a mantle of darkness attempting to descend over my life, but its presence is brief and fleeting.

I know my experience was not necessary in order to experience spiritual growth. However, God used it for that purpose in my life. During those transitory years, my capacity to love unconditionally increased exponentially.

I now recognize and focus on that which possesses eternal value and cease to be tormented by the temporal. I accept each negative circumstance encountered as a challenge and an opportunity, instead of a barrier or hindrance. I am able to face the ultimate end of my life with excitement and wonder. I see it as a new beginning where the fetters of a natural body will no longer hamper the quest of the eternal spirit.

I am now able to appreciate the awesome gifts of God that I took for granted for so many years. My husband, who continued to love me in spite of my failings, three beautiful and talented daughters, who never cease to amaze me: and eight little wonders called grandchildren. The joy they have afforded me cannot be explained in the natural realm.

Depression is real. It’s a medical condition. It can be treated successfully with medication that is not addictive. It’s not a sin to seek help. Whatever the reason for your condition, God will use it for your good and his glory.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Meditation by R. Jamerson

0
holiness-1024x768

True Christians Pursue Holiness

A true Christian knows that he was saved only by grace. He knows he was chosen by God. He’s certain it was not his own inclination towards God or his own will which led him to salvation. He knows it was God who produced in him the new birth, faith, and repentance (Ephesians 1: 3-72: 8-9 and Acts 11:18). This kind of Christian pursues holiness because he knows that without it, no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12: 14). He wants to live differently because the Holy Spirit leads him to hate the sin he loved and to love the God he hated.

A false Christian doesn’t feel this way at all. He loves sin and enjoys it. Seeking holiness seems to him an unnecessary burden. He argues that he doesn’t live by works, but by grace. He doesn’t understand that “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:14-17). It seems boring to him to read the Bible, pray, and have fellowship with God and His holy people. He seldom shares the Gospel because he doesn’t love God or his neighbor. A false believer goes through the motions of Christianity instead of delighting in them, but he does them once in a while because he thinks that’s what he’s supposed to do to look like a child of God.

False believers affirm they have been saved by grace and live by faith, but deny the importance of sanctification. As a result, they end living by works, forcing themselves to do what they hate in order to gain heaven.

Holiness brings joy to real Christians, but it’s a heavy burden for those who are not…

“I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil. I hate and despise falsehood, but I love Your law.” (Psalms 119: 162-163)

Meditation by Dinora Garza

0
hydrangea

Worthy of a Bouquet

“But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” 1 Corinthians 20 NIV

When I gaze at the blooms of a hydrangea bush I am transported back to my childhood. To me the blooms that are made up of numerous smaller flowers remind me of a bridal bouquet. As a young girl I would pick the plumpest and prettiest bloom then pretend I was a bride and the hydrangea was my bridal bouquet.

Recently, I have come to realize hydrangeas can teach spiritual lessons as well. As Christians we are but one person, each of whom have been given a spiritual gift. Everyone’s gifts is different, however, all are necessary in order to further the Kingdom.

The world would say that the Pastor and other members of a church’s staff are the key essentials to a church. I am not denying that they are vital, but rather, I am saying that the little old lady who sits on the second pew and prays daily for the pastor, staff, those who are sick and those lost is just as important. Because according to God’s word each is a member, like the tiny flower in a hydrangea bloom, but together we are one body and are expected to perform as such. For it is when each member uses his or her gift according to His purpose that a beautiful bloom is formed, one worthy of a bridal bouquet.

Dear Lord, thank You for the beautiful blooms You allow to grow for our pleasure, but Father I thank You even more for allowing me to be a member of Your kingdom. I pray that I always bloom for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Meditation by Karen White

0

A Quieted Spirit

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.
(Psalms 131: 1 NASB)

This Psalm probably came as a response to an accusation by King Saul that David through arrogance and selfish ambition had sought the kingdom. His reply indicated that his heart had been weaned from the worldly trappings of leadership.

The commentator Matthew Henry once said of this Psalm, “He had neither a scornful nor an ambitious look.” Pride leads us to be jealous of those above us and to look down on those below us. David never envied King Saul when he ruled or despised him when fell from favor with God and man. David grieved over the fall of his King, the Lord’s anointed. David did not seek an exalted position. If God had so willed he could have spent all of his days in the sheepfolds. Saul accused David of seeking leadership for the wrong motives. Saul more than likely spoke out of the depravity of his own heart. Saul’s paranoia kept him suspicious and judgmental.

Much has been said of being all that you can be for God, and rightly so. It may be just as important to be content in whatever station in life to which God has called us. As a baby is weaned from the breast, so was David separated from allurements of fame and fortune. It may be those who seek these things the least who God can give to most freely. We should never seek more than God wills for us, but never apologize for what He does bestow upon us. A quieted spirit ensures we will be at rest in any position in life.

Meditation by Ken Barnes  

0

THOUGHT LIFE

Philippians 4:8 KJV Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Our thoughts affect our lives. How, is up to us. Living a life of virtue and praise is the result of Spiritual thoughts. If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, it will be because we are thinking on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.

How do your thoughts compare to this list? Are your thoughts true and honest? Do they agree or disagree with the truth of the Word? We must learn to think more on the promises of God and less on our problems. This doesn’t mean that we ignore our problems and never address them – we can think about them, but we should never dwell on them. The Bible tells us that Jesus endured the cross because He set the joy before Him (Hebrews 12:2); we can do the same. We can choose to focus on the eternal promises of God rather than our temporary situation.

Are you thinking just thoughts – thoughts that agree with the forgiveness and innocence that is found in Christ? Are you thinking on things that are pure, innocent and modest? Do your thoughts focus on the lovely or the unlovely, the friendly or the unfriendly? Do you think about the good or the bad, the Spiritual or the carnal?

Your thoughts are your choice. Choose wisely.

Meditation by Stephanie White

0