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October 2005
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December 2005

The Bread of Life

Are you hungry?  Have you had your "Bread" today?  As I sit here, I can barely think of the words to say to describe to you how I feel about Jesus being our source of life.  I wish I thought in the old King James English because to me, it is so poetic that even simple phrases sound profound.   Hold on, friends, because I'm feeling profound - hopefully not confusing - in this post.  I'm inspired by my favorite gospel, the gospel of John.  Not to mention that I get the chance to write about my passion - the life that we can have through the power of God's Word in our lives.

Jesus says in John 6:48:"I am that bread of life."   I must ask, "How can we live without our daily "bread"?  Oh, we can live, but can we LIVE?  Will we have light (I'll call this brightness of life)  without the life that is in Him? (John 1:4).

To recap so far, Jesus was the Bread of Life, the Life and the Light of man.  Did I mention that He was the Word of God in flesh too? (John 1:14)  ... Whoa.   How can we know God and worship Him fully if we aren't filled with Him daily?

This is not new information for me, but I can honestly say that I've never smiled so much as I put it down on ... paper, LCD screen... this blog.  God is so awesome how He creates these mysteries for us to ponder.  But would I have pondered it today if I hadn't taken the time to seek Him in His Word?

Questions to consider:

1) Without regular food, can a body be strong?  When was the last time you missed a meal?

2) Without regular bible reading, can a Christian be strong of will to fight the battles of life? When was the last time you skipped a "meal"?


Deathbed Confessions

As you know, I'm in the New Testament for awhile now and am working my way through the gospels. In Luke 23, we see the crucifixion of Jesus but also witness a salvation on the cross next to Jesus.  Hence, the title of this post "deathbed confessions".

"Deathbed" confessions do work but in my opinion aren't the best idea. After all, a lot of people die without that one last chance to make amends. We see one in Luke 23:39-43 where Jesus is hanging on the cross in between two thieves.  One mocks Him and the other acknowledges his sinning state and asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. - Luke 23:43

No baptism required.  No church attendance required.  No good deeds required.  This man...this thief, went to paradise that day when He died, despite a lifetime of bad living.  What does that say about God's grace to us? 

We are saved by grace, not of our own good deeds (Eph 2:8-9), just as that thief on the cross.  It is hard to believe that God wants all of us in paradise with Him (2 Peter 3:9), yet He does. 

Will you see Jesus in paradise someday?  If you died today and when standing before God He asked you why He should let you into heaven what would you say?  Unless your answer included a personal relationship with Jesus, God won't let you in. Although the thief waited until the last minutes of his life, He still got to know Jesus and personally asked Him to be included in "paradise".

I can't wait to see what heaven will look like in all of its glory.  I'm sure that the sights will go far beyond what my vision of paradise is.  If you are not sure that you are going to heaven when you die and want to know how to know, please click here.  It will be the best decision you ever made. 


Hope for the Holidays

This recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.  Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" (Lamentations 3:21-24 NKJV)

The holiday season is now upon us officially.   Sadly for some, this is the most depressing time of year.  Maybe finances are low, maybe feelings of another year gone by without accomplishing anything, or maybe a feeling of loss over a loved one passed on, among other things - all separately or combined, mixed with the emotional feelings and memories of Christmas' past, can weigh on anyone.

What then can provide us hope for a better tomorrow?  My faithful readers know what I will answer.  Although not simple and not a quick fix, a living relationship with God, the Creator of the universe, through His Son, will provide us with all we need to get us through any circumstance of life. Please dear friends, if you are suffering, don't think I'm minimizing your pain.  I merely want to provide a glimpse of hope.  God promises it to us. 

I'm finishing with a prayer that I found in Billy Graham's Decision magazine this month.  It was at the end of an article written by Ken Gire and I believe it was also written by him.  I hope it brings you hope, no matter what your circumstance may be.

A PRAYER FOR HOPE

Dear Lord,

     Help me to hope again.  Help me dare to hope again.

When my hopes are dashed, help me to realize that my security is not in a place of worship or in a system of worship.  It is not in the peace of my circumstances or the prosperity of my surroundings.  It is not in the strength of the convictions inside me or in the capabilities of the people around me.

    It is in You alone, O Lord.

    Should there come a day when everything I once leaned on for security lies in ruins, help me to lift up my eyes from the ashes and look to You.

    May it dawn on me then that Your unfailing love, Your faithfulness and Your mercies together make up the cornerstone of hope upon which I can rebuild my life.


Thanksgiving

To all of my online friends, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  After thinking about what to post today regarding what I'm thankful for, I decided to boil it down to the one thing that makes all things possible.   I am thankful for so many things and am blessed in so many ways, but would not have any of it if it wasn't for God.

So...thank You, Lord, for providing me with everything ...

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Janna

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


Persistent Prayer

Well, it would figure that I can't escape prayer even in my bible reading.  :)  God is good.  i finished the old testament yesterday morning and last night I started reading where I had left off in the new.  Lo and behold, with my recent conviction about my prayer life I read Luke 18 and the parable of the persistent widow. (v 1-8).

I can't count how many times I've heard questions regarding persistent prayer.  Many people worry that if they keep going to God on the same issue day after day that it is an indicator of a lack of faith on their part that God hears their prayers.  This parable is a biblical example that if we are burdened for something so much that we cannot stop praying about it, then this is okay! Great news!

Jesus tells us this story of a widow who kept coming to an unjust judge for justice on an adversary of hers.  Finally the judge grants her request because he is tired of listening to her. Jesus told us this story because "men ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).  If an unjust judge answered the widow's requests, how much more does our righteous and loving God want to answer ours?

Are you losing heart because you feel your prayers aren't being answered?  My friends, keep praying and pray that God will show you why he is either delaying His answer to you or why His answer is "no".  Remember that God wants what is best for us and He is listening.


Spiritual Indifference

The book of Malachi is an interesting book that I think accurately depicts the state of the world we live in today. Although in the U.S., most people say they are "Christians" or state that they are "spiritual", are they really seeking what God - the Creator of the universe - wants for them? Perhaps they don't even realize their state as the people in Malachi's day.

Because I can't think of a better way to completely summarize this book and the "spiritual indifference" it depicts, I'm going to take some excerpts from what is included in my study bible for this chapter (Nelson-Malachi: A Portrait of Spiritual Indifference). I'll lay out the people's questions to God and its corresponding application. Each one spoke to me.

1) "In what way have You loved us?" (1:2)

APPLICATION: Do we demand proof of God's love for us?

2) "In what way have we despised Your name?" (1:6); "In what way have we defiled You?" (1:7)

APPLICATION: Do we offer God our best in worship, or do we just go through the motions?

3) "In what way shall we return?" (3:7)

APPLICATION: When faced with our sin, do we make excuses? Do we recognize our wrongdoings?

4) "In what way have we robbed You?" (3:8)

APPLICATION: Do we gladly give to God?

5) "What have we spoken against You?" (3:13)

APPLICATION: Do we wholeheartedly serve God?

I challenge you to read this short book of the bible today and see where it speaks to you. What an interesting conclusion to our Old Testament.


Lord, Teach Me to Pray

I know that God is alive and working in my life.  Yes, I know by the blessings He gives me, the "jams" He gets me out of, and what He teaches me in His word that He is there.  But I also know because of the feeling of being "pursued" that I get from time to time that God is really alive and cares about what I am doing.  Funny thing is, when we're pursued by God, we can't get away!  He follows us everywhere!  Do you ever get that feeling?

God's latest pursuit of me is regarding my prayer life. I've been examining it recently and found it quite lacking.  Not to say that I don't pray, because I pray every day, but do I pray with a passion that brings me to God's inner courts and moves His heart to action?

And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples - Luke 11:1

Did you know that Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, but only to pray?  Andrew Murray says the following from the first chapter of his classic With Christ in the School of Prayer:

Amid the painful consciousness of ignorance and unworthiness, the struggle between believing and doubting, the heavenly art of effective prayer is learned. There is One - the Beginner and Finisher of faith and prayer - Who watches over our praying and sees to it that in all who trust Him for it, education in the school of prayer is carried on to perfection.  Let the deep undertone of all our prayer be the teachableness that comes from faith in Him as a Perfect Teacher, and we can be sure that we will be taught.  We will learn to pray in power. Yes, we can depend on His teaching us to pray.

Lord, teach us to pray.  Teach ME to pray.  Take away my laziness, my busy-ness, and my apparent fear of getting so real with you that my prayers bring me to tears, and just have me pray.  Amen.


Dangerous for Jesus

In today's post I have to share something I read on another blog I enjoy, written by a young lady who, from her writings, appears on fire for God.  In Her post "Living Dangerous Lives", she challenges us to look at our faith and examine how we really do things.  Are we satisfied with ourselves?  Are we satisfied with our worship?

I hope you enjoy it.  After all, serving God is all about living on the edge of our own strength, right?

Have a great day!

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.


Strength

So I will strengthen them in the LORD. and they shall walk up and down in His name"
- God (Zech 10:12 NKJV)

Our journey through life requires tremendous mental toughness, doesn't it?  We have battles we fight everyday with ourselves and others, yet we press on until the end.  Some battles are harder than others, but one thing we can be sure of if we are Christians is that God can be the source of our strength.  Notice I said "can" and not "will". Too many times we try to do things ourselves without involving God in the process at all.  At these times, I believe He just sits back and waits for us to fail and come back to Him begging for help.  After all, remember that He wants all of the glory!

God will strengthen us, but how?  By a life filled with pursuit of Truth, that's how.   Many times in God's Word do we find promises of strength when we have a love for His law.  One of my favorite pictures of strength is the tree mentioned in Psalms 1.  Think how strong a tree is when it is planted by a river and is constantly being nourished.  Its leaves never wither and its roots hold together the river bank.  Let's take a look:

Psalm 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Did you catch the promise?  We too shall be like that tree if we develop a love for God's word (which, by the way, only happens by reading it over time) and stay connected to that living water.  What kind of tree do you want to be?  A big, lush, strong tree or the scrawny Charlie Brown Christmas tree?  The decisions is ours to make.


For God, For You or For Show?

The importance of a daily time in God's Word cannot be underestimated.  Without it, we become stale, set in our own ways and feeling pretty good about ourselves when maybe we shouldn't.  Renewing my mind daily keeps me focused on God's priorities for my life, even if at times I forget what I read an hour ago or "forgot" how to apply something I'd learned years ago. 

Today is another reminder of how God speaks through His Word and how if we don't read it, we will miss out what He has to say to us.  My question out of my reading yesterday in Zechariah 7 is this:

Why am I really doing the things I do?  What is my motive?  God asks "the people" in Zech 7:5-6 "When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me - for Me?  When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?"

In 1 Cor 3:12-15, God's Word says clearly that one day God will examine all of our "works" and see what the motive was behind it.  Our good deeds could be regarded as wood, hay or straw or as gold, silver and precious stones depending on our motive.  Those deeds done with a sincere heart and pure motive will not be trashed in the "fire" of God's judgment because they will be as precious stones to Him.   How will your works stand the heat? 

Questions to ponder:

1) When I attend that prayer meeting, bible study or ministry meeting, am I doing it for God or some other motive?

2) When I study my Bible, am I doing it for just knowledge (pride) or to really hear from God?

3) When I do a friend a favor, do I do it begrudgingly or with a true spirit of giving?