Saturday, December 31, 2011

#97 Resolution or Revival?

The time has come once again where much of the world looks forward to the new year with hope and fascination. People will gather to celebrate, party, and just generally enjoy one another's company as they ring in another year.

A traditional part of any New Year's celebration is discussion about resolutions for the coming year. Some will vow to lose weight, others will say they are going to exercise more, spend more time with family, save more money, or any number of things that in and of themselves are not bad things.

The fault comes in that most people will attempt to live out their resolutions by virtue of their will power. This is a fault because if will power were enough then almost no one would be over weight. If will power were enough no one in their right mind would smoke. The bottom line is that will power is not enough. It never has been and it never will be.

The secret, if you will, in having successful resolutions for the coming year is to stop trying on our own. You see, we do not need more resolutions my friends. What we need is personal revival. The Bible promises us that if we will surrender our hearts to Christ Jesus then He will make us a new creation and all things in our life will become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

If life has taught me anything it's that I need help. And I need help that this world cannot give; I need divine help. Yes, there are things I want to change in my life, but I will never have long-term success unless I first have a personal revival of the heart. And I cannot have that revival of the heart unless Christ is in control of my heart.

So let us not resolve, but rather let us surrender to Christ that He might bring about revival. Let us learn daily to let Him have total control of every thought, every inclination, every decision of every day. That's when life will truly turn around for us. No, it does not mean we will never have troubles. It just means that instead of trudging through life in our own power we will lean on the everlasting arms of our Savior, Creator, and Friend. Why not decide today friends to let Jesus work out His will in your life? Why not let Him re-create you this year? You will not be sorry in the least.

Dear Lord in Heaven,
Thank You for being willing to re-create us. Thank You for helping fit us for heaven. Please teach us to let You have total control of every aspect of life. May this coming year be the year that we experience total revival. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

#96 Divinely Unique

I love to watch it snow. There is just something captivating about watching the flakes fall and collect on the ground and surrounding surfaces. This type of scene is especially serene when viewed from the comfort of a heated house, but walking around in the falling white flakes can be fun too.

When you look at the snowflakes up close you see that they are very unique in their crystalline structures and many a person has been enthralled by looking at those flakes up close. It is said that no two flakes are alike. It's hard to believe that millions upon millions of flakes can be uniquely different isn't it? But since I am not going to inspect them all I will have to take someone's word for it.

But thinking of snowflakes make me think of just how awesome God is. We live in a world where the false theory of evolution is accepted as the secular gospel. We live in a world where even churches promote that God used death to bring about the world as we know it. To all of this I say, "Thanks, but no thanks." Call me naive, but I will remain steadfast in believing exactly what the Bible teaches: God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He created all of us in just six literal twenty-four-hour days.

But unlike snowflakes, we were all created in the image of our God (Genesis 1:26, 27). But just like the snowflakes we are all uniquely different. Sure some resemble each other and twins really look like each other, but even then twins have unique fingerprints and DNA. And we are not unique through chance friends, we are unique through divine planning. We are unique because that is the way God planned it (Jeremiah 1:5).

So what? Why does it matter? Who cares? Well, it matters because to buy into the world's teaching on evolution is to buy into the idea that God is not big enough or powerful enough to have done things the way that the Bible tells us. If we accept that God used death to facilitate life then the Bible loses credibility. And with churches promoting theistic evolution-meaning God made the initial components of creation but then used evolution to allow us to become what we are today--there is no wonder the world in large degree does not respect and believe in what the Bible teaches.

But I am here to tell you that the Bible can be trusted. The Bible is more than just a neat book with interesting stories. The Bible is God's revealed Word to His created people who have fallen into sin. The Bible is our road map to guide us through this life in preparation for the life to come!

It is my prayer that during this holiday season where we pause to share with one another lovingly purchased gifts that those of us who understand and trust the Bible will have the courage to share that wonderful truth with our friends and family. It is truth that paints a picture of a benevolent Creator who formed us from the dust of the earth in His image, and He dis so that we might have fellowship with and worship Him.

Friends, snowflakes are pretty and interesting, but we bear the fingerprints of God. Let us live in such a way that the world may see our divine association. Let us live to show the world that not only were we initially created by our God, but that He is also willing to re-create us and redeem us from sin when we let Christ come into our hearts. It is my goal to honor Him by my life because I am divinely unique. I pray that will be your goal as well.

Dear Lord God,
Thank You for the honor of being created in Your image. Please forgive us for marring that image with sin, and please teach us to daily live for You and to lift up Jesus in all that we do so the world will be drawn unto Him. We pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

#95 True Color

Having grown up around a junk yard that my grandpa owned placed a love for cars and all things mechanical in me. Now serving as a pastor means that I do not get a lot of time to work with my hands because most of my work is mental and working with people.

From the youngest memories of my life I can recall sitting in the cars that my grandpa would haul into his junk yard. I would mentally drive those cars all over the world. When I became tired of one car I would simply walk to the next. Those where great adventures for a small boy growing up in rural North Carolina.

I can recall seeing a car come into the yard one day whose paint was very faded looking. I commented to my grandpa and he said the car just needed to be waxed and cleaned up. "Waxed?" I said. "Yes." he replied. He then brought out a can of wax and began to rub it in small circular motions on the hood of the car. After letting it dry for a moment he then began to wipe off the wax and a lot more.

Each wiping motion not only brought off the wax but it also brought off the oxidation and natural build-up that was on the surface of the car's paint. Beneath the old, dirty, faded-looking exterior began to shine a beautiful blue paint job that once made the car look really nice. I was amazed at what a little wax and rubbing could do. He handed me the wax and cloth and I worked on that car's hood until I realized how hard he was rubbing to get the job done. It was too much for a small boy's arms at that time.

You know, life has a way of placing build-up on us too. Life has a way of trying to cover up the beauty God has given each of us. Either by poor choices of our own or misfortunes at the hands of others life sort of piles up on us. When this happens we fail to shine like the Lord intended for us to do. Too often the true color of the image of our Creator God gets lost in the sinful existence of this life.

You and I become "oxidized" with sin but instead of making us look a faded white we are covered with the deep scarlet of sin (Isa. 1:18). When this happens--and happen it does--we need more than Turtle Wax. We need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Yes, I know in literal terms it does not make sense. How does blood take away the stain of scarlet sin? It seems that it would just make things more stained. But somehow when the blood of Jesus symbolically washes over us a process begins that allows the dark stains of sin to be taken away and turned white as snow.

I can't speak for all of you but I want the true color of my Creator to shine through in me. I want my sinful tendencies to be taken completely away. I want my mind to be totally cleansed from all Satanic influence. I want to be prepared for eternal life with my Jesus. What do you want? It is my prayer that you too will want the true color of Christ to shine through you.

Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank You for not giving up on us when we get marred and covered up by this sinful life. Thank You for providing a way for us to be cleansed, a way for us to be washed clean. Please teach us to live daily while claiming the blood of Jesus for ourselves. Give us the courage to accept Your daily "waxing" to remove our sinful tendencies. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

#94 Duty or Delight?

I would be willing to go out on a limb and say that all of us have things in our lives we do not enjoy doing but we have to do them regardless. Those items may even fall into the category of "must do". Sometimes our jobs fall into that category. We have to work to provide for our families but we may not really enjoy what we do.

Disciplining our children can fall into the same area. We may not want to discipline our children, but if we do not correct them and show them what's right then they take control and run the home instead of the parents having control. No doubt there are many, many things or tasks that we could identify that we do more because of a sense of duty instead of delight. But what if we had the mindset that everything we did is for God in some way or another? What would happen to the daily drudgery of life if our purpose for each task we face was not simply to complete it but to perform and complete each job for God's glory?

Paul was intimately aware of the fact that we can get into ruts in life. We can do things just because they have to be done or worse, we do them based solely on our selfish desires. Paul planted a church in Corinth. Corinth was a city filled with corruption and selfish desire much like many of the cities and communities around our world. So under the influence and direction of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote a letter the church in Corinth. In chapter ten he admonished them to stay free of idolatry and to take care of their neighbors. Towards the end of chapter ten he also encourages them to let one, over-arching theme cover their lives.

He wrote, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (vs. 31). My encouragement to you today is to let this same teaching come to you today. Take each area of your life and dedicate it to the Lord so that you do it to His glory. Having this attitude will change the way you approach each task in life. When you are tempted to do a job poorly because you are only driven by a weak sense of duty, allow God to help you have the courage to do it for Him. Surely our God is worthy of our very best. Surely we can choose to live for Him who died for us.

The best part of this, friends, is that Jesus will even give us the strength, dedication, and disposition to live this way. If we try to do this in our own strength then that which should be delightful becomes drudgery in the name of God and will eventually turn us away for the Lord. We come back over and over to the idea of full surrender. The surrendered heart led by the Spirit of God will give us joy in all things because our joy will not be tied to temporal things but rather the All Mighty.

Dear Lord God,
Thank You for calling us to live out each moment of each day for You and thank You for empowering us to do each task of each day for You. Please take away our drudgery and replace it with delight in serving You through Your strength. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

#93 Full Bleed

1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

Printing technology has always fascinated people. Well, until copiers and printers became so common place we as a society were more fascinated by printing because we had to depend on professionals to do so much for us. Now almost every one has the ability to perform desktop publishing right in the comfort of their own home. The ability to produce printed items has revolutionized the way our world works.

Although we can do a lot from home there is still a place for the printing professionals. One area is if you need to have something printed "full-bleed". Full-bleed refers to the written copy or colors within a given print job being printed all the way to the edge of the paper instead of leaving a border around the particular job. This full-bleed technique is used in books to make them more colorful or exciting. Letterheads may need to be printed in this way, and of course many of us like our pictures to not have the little white border around the edge. Truly, full-bleed capability has enriched our lives.

For the Christian whether or not we have had a full-bleed experience means the difference between eternal life or eternal death. Each one of us has sinned against God (Romans 3:23) and therefore each one of us is deserving of death (Romans 6:23). But the Bible has promised that if we will accept Christ's sacrifice for us by 1.) accepting the fact we are a sinner, 2.) believing that Christ died to save us, 3.) choosing to accept His sacrifice on our behalf, and 4.) if we will decide to follow Christ completely then we can be assured of eternal life. We can have that assurance because Jesus will give us a full-bleed experience.

In Isaiah we are asked by the Lord to come and reason with Him. In other words, come and seek to understand the plan of salvation and how it relates to us. He promises that if we will seek Him to this end that our sins of scarlet will be made white as snow; they will be taken away (Isaiah 1:18). Today friends, you and I need that full-bleed experience more than ever. The world is not getting better but worse and worse. Soon Jesus will come and unless we are covered by His precious blood we will be lost with the wicked.

It is my heartfelt prayer that each of us will choose daily to walk with the Lord and that we will surrender our hearts afresh to Him moment by moment. Let's choose to live in a full-bleed experience each day.

Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank You for the plan of redemption. Without it we would have no hope. Please forgive our sins and teach us to live as blood-covered Christians each day so that sin is not regarded in our hearts. For this we are thankful and for this we pray in Jesus's name, Amen.