Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Worry, Pray

Php 4:6,7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Let us be a prayer worrier! If there's something we're worried about right now, then pray about it. Ask for what we need, or put it in his hands to deal with it. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1Peter 5:7 Even Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed about his anxiety concerning his crucifixion. And God strengthened him to face it.

This is the peace that doesn't make sense - the peace of mind which is gained by faith in God. Pray until we attain such peace. It will guard our hearts from evil desires and our minds from evil thoughts."You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Is 26:3

Restored by God's Love

by Xavia Arndt Sheffield (Washington, DC)

Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.
-Psalm 80:3 (NRSV)

A few years ago, my son and I restored an old desk that had several layers of paint on it. We gathered the necessary materials - paint stripper, putty knives, rubber gloves, and sandpaper. First we applied the paint stripper, let it stand, and scraped off the old layers of paint. Then we sanded off the remaining bits of paint, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. To our delight, beautiful light oak wood began to appear under all those layers. Finally, we applied a new coat of stain and two coats of varnish to protect the bare wood. The desk was like new again, restored to its original look. It sits in my study today as a beautiful reminder of what its creator intended.

We too can be restored, to be the people that God intends us to be. But like the paint layers on that old desk, over time we have accumulated layers of sin that need to be removed. When we allow Christ into our lives, he will penetrate the areas that need forgiveness and restoration. And when we are new again, Christ covers us with love to protect us. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, we can be saved from our sin.

Monday, September 29, 2008

God Provides Everything

by David Gwee (Singapore)

[Jesus] said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear."
-Luke 12:22 (NIV)

THE company I was working for reduced staff, and I lost my job. This left me feeling very concerned about the future. Would I be able to provide for my wife and children?

One day when I was feeling particularly worried, I took a walk in a nearby park. Suddenly a flash of brilliant blue caught my eye. It was a kingfisher that had just flown down from a nearby branch. Quickly the bird was back up in the tree, gulping down a worm. This surprised me. I had thought that kingfishers ate only fish. The bird flew down to the ground and back up into the tree six or seven times. Each time it returned to the tree with a worm, which it swiftly swallowed. Then it began to sing a happy song.

The kingfisher easily caught many worms. Although they weren't its preferred food, it seemed to be happy. Then I realized that the God who provides food for a kingfisher would no doubt provide for me and my family. Even if I had to survive on less money and fewer goods than before, I could still be joyful in God.

Friday, September 26, 2008

God' Grace to Zacchaeus

Luke 19:2-10
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a `sinner.'" But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Zacchaeus was not the kind of man that people looked up to as an example of a righteous man, but rather whom they looked down upon as a sinner, and rightly so. Jesus describes him as a man who was lost, without salvation. But that's the kind of person Jesus came to save.

However notice again that while Jesus gratiously takes initiative in calling on this man, the offer of salvation itself is not unconditional. It is contingent upon repentance - such as we see here with Zaccheus who took practical steps at making amends for sins of omission and sins of commission.

But notice also that Jesus declared him "saved" at the very declaration of his intention to repent, prior to its being carried out. When a person sincerely intends to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus, it is at that point they are saved. For a person is saved not by works of righteousness, but by faith. Though there is a correlation between the two.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Choosing the best of the good

Concerning many issues in life, it's often not a matter of right and wrong, but rather of chosing between what is good and what is best. May we make the best choice. It's interesting that it is apparently not sinful to chose what is good over what is best. This likely holds as a general principle in the Christian life. And God dispenses rewards accordingly.

An example of such a choice was the contrast between Mary and Martha's reception of the Lord in Luke 10:38+ Martha played the hostess, which was good, but the Lord indicated that Mary made the better choice by sitting and listening to him. Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Luke 10:40-42

So consider all the choices you make daily concerning how you utilize your time, resources and efforts, whether you are settling for what is good, or whether there may be a better choice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

no false advertisement

by Lewis J. Aiken (Alaska, USA)

O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true.
-2 Samuel 7:28 (NRSV)

ON-LINE auctions are an excellent way for me to add to my collection of out-of-print books. I read the descriptions carefully and examine the pictures in detail, trying to make sure the item is exactly what it is represented to be. Then, if my bid wins, I wait for the mail to bring my long-awaited purchase. When it arrives, I eagerly tear into the package - sometimes to find that the item has been misrepresented.

Many of us are victims of false advertising, but our greater disappointments are with people who turn out to be different than we first thought. A friend may betray us; the one we marry may have flaws we never suspected; a business partner may take advantage of us. Can people be trusted? Unfortunately, not always.

But there is good news. There is One who never changes, who never disappoints us, and whom we can always trust. Jesus Christ is and always will be exactly what God's word declares him to be. Jesus always loves, always cares, and is always with us wherever we go - regardless of the circumstances we face and the pain life brings.

Retaining Our Calling

1Cor 7:17 Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.

Retaining your position in life. When a person becomes a Christian, he may be tempted to use it as an excuse to make inappropriate changes in his life. They may use it as an excuse to divorce an unbelieving spouse and commit adultery by marrying another Christian. Or they may feel pressured to make some unncessary changes in their life. Paul relieves this pressure. Becoming a Christian doesn't necessarily mean that you have to drop out of school and become a missionary. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to change jobs, nor your culture, nor your language. There will be adjustments you will have to make. But we all should learn to appreciate the variety and diversity of circumstances and background which encompass the body of Christ. Let's integrate Christ into the life and circumstances into which God has led us, rather than necessarily seeking to escape such circumstances

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Seeing The Bigger Picture

(by Elaine Richardson (Western Cape, South Africa))

By the power at work within us [God] is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.
-- Ephesians 3:20 (NRSV)

ONE morning I had an appointment and was running late. After I had stopped at a light behind three or four other vehicles, the light finally turned green. But we didn't move. I craned my neck to see the problem.

A car that had made a right turn appeared to be blocking the way as it waited for another light. I could see a large gap between that car and the one ahead of it. "If that car would just move forward to close the gap, we could all get through our light," I muttered.

Eventually the car moved. As it did so, I saw that it was towing a very long, low trailer. I realized that I had been seeing only a part of the situation.

Afterwards, I wondered how many times I have made a decision based on what I could see without asking God to reveal the bigger picture. I thought of the times God seemed not to answer a prayer or to be responding differently than seemed logical to me.

God sees the whole picture, and acts in my life based on a higher view than mine. I have learned not to make decisions on my limited view but to trust God, who looks beyond what we can see.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

consequence that hurts

Ever since from the time of Adam, very often we have to face the consequences of going where we weren't supposed to go. Adam and Eve faced the consequences when they did what they should not do. Moses did not enter the Promised Land as consequence to his action not to do as what had been said by God.

In our every day life, we have to make decision even forced to make decision. All decisions that we make will bring their own consequences. Bad decision will come with bad consequences. Therefore, in making decision, we need God's guidance. we need to seek God's help in order not to decide wrongly.

Sometimes out of curiosity or being unable to get rid of the temptations, we took the risk to go the opposite of God's way. We go astray from what we know is God's will and God's leading. As a result we return hurt and suffering. Sometimes, long after the side trip, we still carry the burdens and pain we brought on ourselves.

As a kid tried to learn riding bicycle, he would frequently fell and hurt himself. But he knew that they were the consequences of taking the risk to ride the bike. The hurts will heal by some medications as well as time. Some pains will heal when we take medication as prescribed by a doctor but some will take months to recover. Just as the doc and time healed us, we have a God and Savior who will heal us as well. When we humbly ask forgiveness, we are reconciled with God. Sometimes the consequences are with us long afterward, but our God is also with us, giving us strength to prevail.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

He knows us

(by Gil Sayer (West Sussex, England))

Your Father knows what you need before you ask.
-Matthew 6:8 (NRSV)

Very often we find we have so many things to pray for that we don't know how or where to begin. Our prayers can be jumbled and muddled as we pour out our needs to God. We feel confused and mixed up as we try in earnest to convey all we think God needs to know.

But we need not fear. God who knows each one of us intimately knows our needs before we even speak. God also knows our fears, our sins, and our feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. God knows every detail of your life and mine.

As Jesus talked to the woman at the well, she told him some personal facts. But Jesus already knew them! When Jesus walked along the road in Jericho, he already knew Zacchaeus was in the tree; in fact, he knew all about Zacchaeus too.

God knows about us as well. Even before we were born, God knew us. From the moment of our conception God has watched us. When we are in turmoil over how and what to pray, we can offer God simple words and our heart's yearnings. Our powerful and amazing God already knows the facts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Love your neighbours

by Michael Chen (Hualien, Taiwan)

Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
-Matthew 19:19 (NRSV)

FOR the past eight years, I have been in prison. I have an eight-year-old daughter who often writes me letters to encourage me. Since the letters are from a little girl, they are always short: "Dad, I love you, and I will wait for you until you come back." Her letters always touch my heart. I have done nothing for her during these years, so I decided to save money to buy a special present for her birthday.

Last week I heard that a friend's daughter was sick and needed money to see a doctor. I knew my savings would be a great help to the family, but I needed the money too. That night I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning all night. Why? Because there was a struggle in my heart. I had prayed that God would take care of my friend's little girl, but I didn't want to do anything for her. Then the verse "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" entered my mind again and again. It seemed as though Jesus himself were asking me, "If this little girl were your daughter, what would you want others to do?" Immediately I knew what I should do, and I did it. I now understand what Christ's love is all about.
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