Thursday, 28 July 2016

Keep The Windows Open

Proverbs 31:20 She stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy.
  
      Why does God admonish us to be generous and give freely from our heart to relieve the pain, grief and sometimes the needs of others?  My friend Justin Long says by tithing and the giving of offerings God knows we are keeping the windows of heaven open above our lives for the blessing of God to fall on us and others. Mal. 3:10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 
      It is interesting that God puts us in a position to be blessed. God helps us be generous so that generosity comes back to us. Eccl. 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. God is trying to help us become like His Son Jesus who gave fully of Himself to everyone who asked of him from an honest heart. 
      Generosity is a hard concept for many to understand in this selfish world we live in. This is the day and age of consumptive living and the glutenous slogans like "Take what you can get before it runs out." are all around us. Constant promotion of chasing wealth is surrounding us and it becomes harder to hear the soft sound of generosity and helpfulness toward each other. Jesus asks a good question in Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 
      What stuff out there in the world system is worth the price of your soul? How does a life of scheming and taking, keep the windows of heaven open over your life? It doesn't because hands that are closed cannot hold any more of anything, but hands that are open have room for more blessings to come your way to be enjoyed and passed on. 
      God tells us to take stock of our ways and methods and to make sure our ways are not a dead end. Hag. 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes. If everything you are doing is resulting into a non-heavenly return then you have to stop and consider your ways.
      Keep the windows of heaven open over your life and stay generous. Give of yourself to what is needed in the kingdom of God. If it is time, then give time. If it is monetary needs, then give it. If it is help then give of yourselves, but keep the windows of heaven open. Eccl. 11:2 Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for you do not know what evil shall be upon the earth. 
      God seems to be saying to give to seven needs and ventures, give to eight and more because we do not know when trouble comes our way and we become the one in need. God forbid that this trouble should come but, if it does, we will have seven and eight giving to us during that time. We will be living under an open heaven because we had been living a generous life and now we are reaping what we had sown. 
      Oh, I know that it is not always that cut and dry because we do not see the beginning to the end. However, God says give and it shall be given to us. Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
      How did God make sure there would be an open heaven over mankind? He gave generously of Himself. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God so loved that He gave. There it is. God is a giver. We are His children and we are to become givers like our heavenly Father. 
      We are also to bring blessing in this greedy world. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the words of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive. 
      This is often heard with a bit of skepticism in our Western thinking. However, Paul who evangelized most of the known world in his day had seen the power of giving and he lived under an open heaven during his whole ministry. Giving became his way of life and because of Paul's generosity, we are still enjoying the fruit of his ministry today. Yes, Lord, help us remain generous while we are on this earth and keep the windows of heaven open above us. Amen!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Beyond This Point There Be Monsters

Proverbs 14:32 When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God.

      The day started out with the warmth of summer flowing through our valley. The ripening fruit on all the fruit trees looked promising and plentiful this year. A verity and abundance of vegetables are prevalent in the garden and the lushness with multiple colors of the greenery surrounded me on every side. 
      My wife was filling her bird feeders, trying to attract the bight yellow ones that delight her with chirps and antics only birds can do. Rejoicing in the blessings of God is easy when all is well. 1 Thes. 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
      I came into the house to find my wife with concern on her face and looking a bit teary. She had just found out her mother had been taken to the hospital for some seemingly light problem: low sodium. By the end of the day the news was horrendous because two malignant and aggressive tumors had been found on her mother's brain. As the saying goes, "Beyond this point there be monsters."
      That morning started off with promise, but by the end of the day, there was great uncertainty and fear. What had changed? A bad report had come into our lives and the enemy of our soul was trying to bring fear and mistrust of God's life promises into our home and lives. After struggling with the initial shock, my wife started getting her thoughts and emotions under God's control. 
      With a courageous intake of breath, she said to me, "Is the Lord only a good God when things go well or is He our God at all times?" Duet. 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. My wife's question is a good one. Jesus is Lord of all or not at all and that is the truth regardless of what we go through in life. 
      True enough, the feelings of fear, uncertainty, discouragement, and sorrow are real and an honest reaction to terrible events that take place in our lives, but we can eventually overcome the sickening affects these temporary monsters do to our heart. Jesus, who loves us with an everlasting love, reminds us that there is nothing in this earthly realm, whether seen or unseen, that can overtake and conquer our souls. John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. 
      We always have hope regardless of the bad reports in life or the tragic and horrific things men do to each other in the name of civilizing this earth. There may be monsters in the world but God has made us to be dragon slayers with the Word of God. The Lord has made us to be giant killers with the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus. 
      There may be monsters beyond certain points in our lives and the psyche of our minds. However, God has put within each one of us His spirit so we can destroy the works of any monster that comes against us, in Jesus name! Phil. 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. 
       The saving grace in this time of uncertainty is that my mother-in-law is a Christian who loves and serves the Lord with a full heart. As my wife and I put our faith together with the family members, we are believing God that His will be done. My wife has come to believe that her mother's life and the end of her days are determined by the Lord and not tumors, or any other malignancy. 
      What the doctors are saying and reporting may be the facts of the situation, but the truth is God still heals and Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and lives. Heb. 12:2a Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Eph. 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
      There may be monsters beyond this point: however, our God is able to defeat anything that will come our way in life. We often hear the term "The battle belongs to the Lord." 2 Chro. 20:15b For the battle is not yours, but God's. Well, this is true at all times. 
      The battle our family is going through also belongs to Him as well and we will put our trust in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and guidance in our lives. Lord God, you are truly faithful to those who are yours. Amen.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Jesus Is For Today

Proverbs 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
      
      Francis Bacon said, "A little philosophy inclines a man's mind to atheism, but death and philosophy brings men's minds about to religion."
      Is Jesus Contemporary? Of course He is, because He is infinite. There seems to be this chronological snobbery among the so-called enlightened of our times. Some say the fathers of our faith were hindered in their thinking and choices because of the times they lived in. As if they were not able to deal with complex thinking or social problems because they were not exposed to so-called advanced knowledge. 
      If they were so backwards, why then do we still quote their true insights today? Why do we live and follow so many of their strong and principled examples in living a forthright life? Why do the very foundations of government and law still stand upon the truths that were established in our history? 
      One of the reasons is truth is truth, no matter what historical time we live in. Modernity shifts like sand in a desert, but God's principles remain the same throughout the time we live in and the times we have existed in. Mal. 3:6 Because I the LORD don't change; therefore you children of Jacob aren't destroyed. 
      The word of God is contemporary and will remain so until the second coming of Christ. Even if we were able to go forward a thousand years and see all the super advancements of that future day, the word of God will still hold its power and enlightenment for that generation. Ten thousand years from now, if the Lord should tarry, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ will still be for the day it is ministered in and still be the only way to our heavenly Father. 2 Pet. 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 
      Just because modern man says sin is not a problem or that it is something interpreted by individual morality in this day and age does not mean this is true. Pope Francis said in his book The Name Of God Is Mercy, "Sin is not a stain you bring to the dry-cleaners. It is a wound that needs healing." 
       I believe he is saying some people think sin is something that can be simply washed off with a bit of will power and will leave no affect in the person who is committing sin. Sin causes actual wounds to our heart and soul and must be repented of with all sincerity. The wages of sin is still death, no matter what time in history a person lived in or will be living in. Sin wounds the deepest parts of a man's soul and only the blood of Jesus can clean and heal the affects of it. This does not change.
      The word of God will always be contemporary for the times we are in. God's word will always be able to answer any question or problem the events in years to come will have for it. Jesus and His Gospel is for today and He will be as relevant in the future, no matter what modern man says to the contrary. Heb. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 
      Pseudo philosophers will always be around speaking out their half-truths and their wordy explanations of what they do not understand. While God is talking in their ears to make himself known to them, we can see these big talkers shaking their heads back and forth while loudly saying "La la la la la la la." They become snared by the words of their mouth because their words become empty of life and eventually meaningless when the end of life starts to loom on their horizon. 2 Tim. 3:7 Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
      We should never fear God's word losing its influence in the life of mankind today or tomorrow. The book of Job is considered one of the oldest books and has a record of Job declaring the importance of God's word then. Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. 
      Here we are thousands of years later giving witness to the truth of what Job said. If we keep declaring what God has put in our heart, we do not have to worry about the things said by the naysayers of God's word. We can count on the fact that the words God put in our heart to speak will not fall to the ground but will accomplish that which God wants in this generation. Isa. 55:11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. 
      If we believe the Lord Jesus is for today, then our words will have life for ourselves and each other. There will be no room for vain philosophy, no matter how modern it sounds. May God give us the understanding of His word. In Jesus name.

Friday, 8 July 2016

For Today Trust The Covenant

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

      We often hear the statement "One day at a time." How simple a statement, but profound, since I can only be in the day I am in. I cannot go back in time nor can I go into the future. I live in the day I exist in. I cannot do anything to change the past and I cannot walk into the future until tomorrow is today. 
      I can only take control of the day I am living in and that mandate has been given to every man on earth. Today is the day the Lord has made; therefore, what can I do for my life today that will make it worth all it can be? As I awoke this morning I made a declaration of faith for the day.
      For today, God willing, I will not fear lack.

      The word of God says that God will meet my needs in life. God's name is Jehovah-Jireh Gen. 22:14a So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. The fear of not having enough is constantly being pushed on us daily. We fret over the two percent of the stuff we do not have and forget to give thanks for the ninety-eight percent of what we do have. Fretting turns to fear. Before we know it, we are worried about the future and envisioning a great disaster and being left out in the cold. 
      No! The word of God says in Phil. 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. I will trust the covenant God has made with me. We sometimes fear our children will not be provided for. God's word says the seed of the righteous will not beg bread. Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. Therefore, today I will trust the covenant God made with me.
      For today, God willing, I will not fear being left alone. 
      God says in His word that I am never alone and He is always with me. 1 Cor. 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? As God promised in His covenant He made with all of us, He will never leave us nor forsake us. Deut. 31:6 Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you! For today, I will believe God's promise and walk in the truth of it. 
      Just for today, I will believe God is not a man that He should lie to me. I can only live in the day I am in; therefore, taking the time during the day to realize that God is walking with me throughout the day gives me hope for today and the future. If I am at rest in the day I am in, I will be at rest when the next day comes along because it will be a new day to trust the covenant God made with me. 
      For today, God willing, I will not fear sickness and disease.
      God's word is full of promises declaring He is a healing God and still heals today. God's name is Jehovah-Rophe. Ex. 15:26b For I am the LORD that heals thee. From the beginning in the Old Testament to the New Testament God's heart toward His people is forgiveness and healing. Psalm 103:3 Who forgives all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases. Fear can bring sickness and great distress in our bodies. God's first words towards us are so often "Fear not." 
      We have a world full of growing fear and diseases to go along with the overcharged feelings of anxiety. No wonder sickness and disease are running rampant. So many have lost the ability to just be still and be at peace for the day they are in. Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. For today, Lord God, I choose your peace and healing for my soul, mind and body.
      For today, God willing, I will not fear what man can do to me.
      Jesus said not to fear what man can do to us. Matt.10:28a Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Trusting the covenant God made with us is trusting the one who made the covenant in the first place. God is not a man that He should lie; therefore, He can be trusted. 
      God is greater than man and because of that, I can stop fearing what man can do to me. God is truth and speaks only truth. God loves us perfectly and there is no fear in His love. 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. For today, I will trust the covenant God made with me. For today, God willing, I will not fear the fears of life. Amen!

Friday, 1 July 2016

You Were Always There Lord!

Proverbs 8:5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

      French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said, "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened."
      What a life of worry and anxiety so many of us fret about and wring our hands over. We worry about stuff that has never happened and in most cases will never happen to us. We take possession of anxiety and bring it right into our very being to the point of affecting our health and peace of mind. 

      We strive and try to forecast our lives as if it were possible to live without unpleasant incidents or problems. How foolish we can be to express so much bitterness of heart about the things that went wrong in the past and at the same time exert so much anxiety toward what might happen in our future. We often forget that we live today and not in the past or future. Jesus warned us about this irrational behavior and asks us to focus and live for today. Matt. 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
      If we would take today and live in it with the fullness of our ability, we would be able to look back at our life and see that the Lord was right there all along. He was right beside us from the beginning. If we would calm our hearts and begin living in and for today we would be able to pull out clear and profound memories from our past and notice the favor, protection and guidance that was prevalent all along the way. 2 Sam. 7:9a I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you. 
      Sometimes in the heat of the problem or terrible event we find ourselves to be in, we often say. "Where are you God in all of this?" As time goes by we see that God was right there helping us through the tragedy or difficulty that seemed smothering at the time. Isa. 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
     What would we change in our hearts, lives, and attitudes if we knew that we knew the Lord was there, right alongside us? What changes in our thoughts would take place in our mind if we could count on the fact that God was right there besides us day in and day out?  Would we live more in the present day without fear or anxiousness? 

      The word of God says that we have that gift of God right now. Deut. 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. As a matter of fact, the name of God tells us this very thing is true. Jehovah-Shammah is a name of God and it means "The Lord is there." Eze. 48:35 It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.
      This is why God admonishes us to take pleasure in the day we are in and to live it to its fullest because God is there with us. God might encourage us this way and say, "Seize the day. It is the only one you've got." Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 

      I know that we are continually being bombarded with thousands of messages of fear on a daily basis from every possible direction and device. We are being inundated with warnings of catastrophic doom if we do not sign up for the latest life-helping gizmo. This stream of fearful promotion does not seem to end. Yes, we are to be responsible in life but not overwhelmed with yesterday's missed opportunities and tomorrow's unattainable whims. 
      Foolishness abounds around us on every side. Let us who are in Christ and know that God is right there beside us lead the way to rest and sanity by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us be the ones who live in the day of our salvation and have the joy for the gift of life that God gave us to live today. 2 Cor. 6:2  For He says: "In the acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." Behold, now is the time of favor; behold, now is the day of salvation.
      As I take a step back from the bitterness of the past and the fears of the future, I can say with a full heart "Thank you Lord that you have been there all along. I am so blessed that you will never leave me nor forsake me. Truly you are a good God and Father to me." Matt. 28:20b And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.