Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Hebrews 10:23
    Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

                We live in a challenging world. The very foundations of civilization seem to be crumbling. The rise of violence, the erosion of morality, the fragmentation of our world, all work together to undercut our sense of security and well-being. Our faith in Christ is being attacked from multiple directions. Satan constantly sows the seeds of doubt and discouragement. Satan would have us believe that God has abandoned us, but He has not!

                In the face of all that is going on in our world, we need a solid place to stand. That place is on the promises of God. What God promises, God will accomplish. The more that we hold onto the promises of God, the better equipped we will be to face the challenges of life. So here are just a few of God’s promises for you to contemplate today.

                In Christ, we are secure for all of eternity. We have the very life of God within us. We have been made new in Christ and have been given the gift of eternal life.
                Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
                And this is what he promised us--even eternal life. 1 John 2:25

                Nothing can separate us from the love of God. One of the ways Satan undermines our faith is to suggest that God does not really love us. He causes us to doubt God’s sincerity. But the Bible makes it clear that God’s love is constant, abundant, and always available.
                Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
                No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

                We are not victims of our circumstances. Temptation is the common experience of all people. We are all tempted in different ways. Satan is constantly looking for some way to trip us up or sidetrack us. We do not have to become victims to Satan’s tactics. If we will turn to Christ, he will lead us out of temptation. Remember that temptation is not sin. It is when we yield that we have crossed the line.  
                No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

                When we do sin, there is forgiveness. Just as we all face temptation, we all, from time to time, fail and fall into sin. When that happens, Satan puts the pressure on us. He accuses us of our sin, and then suggests that we have crossed some line, and God will no longer forgive us. At those times we must remember that Christ dealt with our sin on the cross. The door of forgiveness of always open to us.
                If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
                God has promised to lead us through the challenges of life. Life can be confusing at times. It is easy for us to lose our way. God has promised to be present for us to guide us in the way we should go. He has given us the Holy Spirit as our constant companion to help us know how to respond to our world.
                Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

                There have been several times in my life when I was feeling spiritually disoriented. Satan had bombarded me with doubts that loomed large. At those times, I sat down with a piece of paper and I began to list all of the things I knew for sure. As I rehearsed the many promises that God has given to us, my doubts subsided. God does not want us to give in doubt and uncertainty. He has given to us many promises that we can hold onto. It is in those promises that we can find courage and strength.

This is the Lord's sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Isaiah 38:7

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


                I recently had a challenging conversation with a person who came to me for council. This person was disturbed by what they see as an erosion of the Christian faith. He gave me example after example of what he saw as major offenses to the truth of the gospel. He was genuinely distraught and at a loss to know what to do. He saw in all of this clear signs of the end of time and the return of Christ.

                Although no one knows the time of Jesus’ return, the signs all seem to be pointing in that direction. The time is growing short. Jesus may come in our life-time. So what are we to do?

                First, we must understand the times we are in. Paul warns us that there will be major distortions of the truth. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4) I had a recent experience were I encountered several religious leaders who openly espoused a distorted gospel. The trend today is to adapt the Gospel to the culture so that it is palatable.

                We also need to be aware that, as the days grow short, Satan will double his efforts to deceive people. Paul’s depiction of this in Romans 1:18-32 could have come right out of the pages of our newspapers. He ends that section with these telling words. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

                So what are we to do? More than ever we need to stand firm in the faith. When Paul warned Timothy about the challenges before him, he told Timothy to be diligent in fulfilling his calling. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
                Satan wants to sow the seeds of fear and discouragement among believers. He wants us to focus on the evil all around us. God wants us to focus on Christ and the power of the Gospel. Instead of living in fear, we need to boldly stand for the truth. I don’t mean being arrogant or obnoxious, but faithfully living out the truth of the Gospel in our everyday lives. We are the light of the world. The early Church transformed their world by being the Church in practical ways. We may not be able to affect what is happening globally, but we can make a significant difference locally. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:12)

                When Jesus taught about the end times, He put his focus on being faithful to our calling. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. (Matthew 24:45-46)

                So instead of giving in to fear, let us stand firm in what we know to be true. By doing this, God will use us to change our world for His glory. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


                One of the hardest things for me to do is wait for God to reveal the next step to me. I don’t need to know all of the details, but I would like to know the general direction. Throughout my life, there have been several times when I have felt like I was in spiritual limbo. I sensed that God was preparing to do something in my life, but I had no idea what it was. At those times, I find myself speculating about what God might have in store for me. I even start making plans for how I will proceed. Then I get frustrated and upset when my plans don’t become a reality.

                At the beginning of every year it is customary to peer into the cloudy future and think about what might be and what we would like to be. This is not wrong. It is important for us to be intentional about facing the future. It causes us to evaluate where we have been and where we would like to go. If we have no idea of where we want to end up, or what we want to accomplish in the new year, we will just repeat what has happened in the past. We will coast along in our comfortable, undemanding routine. In fact, we can become so dulled by routine, that we can just go through the motions without really engaging life, as God would have us do. So we make plans. We dream dreams. We make bucket lists.

                Here comes the hard part for me. I want my life to be in line with God’s plan, but I am impatient for God to reveal it. So I tend to mentally run ahead. As I struggle with discerning God’s next steps for me, there are three things that I must always keep in mind.

                God’s plans will always prevail in the end. We can make many plans, and even act upon them. But many of those plans will never truly be fruitful, if they do not align with God’s plans for our lives. Solomon understood this very well. Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21) It is not wrong for us to make plans, but we must always remember our plans are secondary to God’s plans.

                God wants what is best for me. Sometimes we can begin to believe that God is holding out on us. We set our hearts on something and then it doesn’t happen. We feel that God is being cruel, or that He doesn’t really care. But that is just not true. The Bible continually reassures us that God is for us, not against us. Like a loving Father, He desires our very best, even if that means saying no at times. David assured us that if we will align our hearts with the heart of God that He will fulfill our desires. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

                As hard as it is, we need to patiently wait for the Lord. We are usually in a hurry. Our whole environment fosters an attitude of immediate gratification. But God is not bound by our sense of the urgent. God’s timing is always perfect. We need to patiently wait for Him. Waiting does not mean we do nothing. Biblical waiting is actively pursuing what we already know to do; being faithful to what God has called us to do. We are to be like the faithful servant, who the master found doing his work when the master returned from a long absence. So we are called to watch and wait. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

                I don’t know what this new year will bring. I have my own set of hopes and dreams, but I must learn to wait for the Lord. As James says, if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up in due time.