My prayer for today…

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

–Romans 5:1-5

Easier said than done.

Rejoice in suffering?

Really?

Sorry God, I am not there yet. I cannot rejoice. Yes I have lived that passage. I have seen suffering produce endurance. I have seen suffering bring out character. With that suffering – I always had hope, and I have seen God’s love persevere.

But I cannot rejoice. I am weak. I cannot understand why we suffer in this life. All I know is that this suffering has to be for a reason.

And yes, I hope, and I surrender. I give you the power, and my hope lies in you.

“So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
–Proverbs 3:4-5

Please God, I don’t need to understand.

I just need my prayers answered.

Advertisements

Giving Thanks For Freedom

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
–Galatians 5:1-6

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1-4

Thank you Jesus for for the freedom I enjoy today, that we celebrated this weekend. No, not the freedom won by our forefathers from the British. Rather, I thank you for the freedom that you won for me on the cross. I thank you for the freedom you grant me, not by anything I have done, but by your grace. It is the freedom I maintain through my faith. It is the freedom from sin, that grants me eternal life, regardless of where I live, what government is in place, or what any man on earth could ever achieve on his own.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32

Thanks!

The Power of Pride

High school football player Isayah Muller.

He just led his team to a championship win.

He is dead now.

He was killed in New York after his father discovered a bottle of cologne missing from their car after a graduation ceremony.  When he noticed the bottle missing, he turned the car around and confronted the parking attendants.  The argument became violent, his son got involved, and was stabbed as a result.

Now we have one less 19 year old in the world, victim of a senseless murder because his father couldn’t live without a bottle of cologne.

Tell me America, that we don’t need a little more God in our lives, and a little less pride and conceit.

Tell me we don’t need to get on our knees and ask God to intervene in our lives.

Wake up America and start realizing what is important, before we destroy ourselves.

“Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. ”
–Psalm 73:6

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
–Proverbs 8:13


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31

Finding Strength

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
–Romans 8:35-39

Last week, I wrote a post where I talked about the economic situation in America.  I talked about how things are getting worse.  I offered a way through the mess, through our faith in God.  Today I want to talk more about adversity and hard times.  I hope that through this post, I can reach someone who may be going through tough times, and encourage them to keep their faith in our Savior.

Pastor Greg Laurie recently told a stadium full of worshipers in New Zealand that he simply does not know why God allows suffering.  I don’t know either.  I mean I have my opinions, and I am sure many Christians do as well.  But I truly believe there are questions we simply won’t be able to answer on earth. We will have the answers one day, when we get to Heaven.  Until then, we have to look at the Bible, and do the best we can in this fallen world.

I have had my hardships in life.  No, I have not been at war.  No, I have not been in real poverty.  But the word hardship is such a relative term.  What is a hardship for one man is nothing for someone else.  With that said, I can tell you that I have had times in my life where I simply did not know how I could go on.  I spent many nights awake, pondering how to move on with life.  Yet I have never walked in the shoes of a homeless person.  I have never lived the life of a political prisoner, or a child of war.  So I consider myself truly blessed, knowing that my life has been relatively good.

My wife and I recently started sponsoring a child in Brazil through Compassion International.  The program offers help to children in need around the world.  For $38, we provide food, shelter, and help with education for a girl named Livia.  I don’t mention this to boast, although we are very happy to be able to help her.  I mention it because this experience is serving to humble us, and help us recognize the hardships others endure in this world.

Livia lives near a city named Recife.  If you follow my blog, you may remember that I posted a story about Recife, and the garbage dump people there.  This is the story of the people who live off the scraps of food and items they pick up at the garbage dump in the city.  Livia lives in a small town near this city.  Compassion International is helping to keep Livia from this situation.  They not only provide food and shelter, they educate her and her family, and teach her about Jesus, encouraging her in her faith.  Thousands of children just like Livia have been helped by Compassion International and have been able to get out the slums and ghettos of these countries as a result.

The reason I mention Livia, is because there are so many children just like Livia around the world.  Yet here I sit, in an air conditioned room, sipping on a hot coffee, typing on my computer.  Yes I have suffered hard times, but Livia has nothing.  She lives in a shack with a dirt floor.  I live in a two bedroom villa, with a fully stocked refrigerator.  So I have been thinking about Livia lately.  How is she expected to survive her situation?  How can she persevere, so that she can grow up and get out of that situation?  How can we survive our situation, and get out of our hardships as well?

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
–Philipians 4:11-13

Paul writes in Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Poverty will not do it.  Sickness can’t.  God loves us no matter what our situation is.  It does not matter if we make mistakes.  God knows we are fallen creatures.  He knows that no matter what hardships we suffer, that He has provided a way out, a way of escape. In the verses from Philipians above, we are told that through Christ, all things are possible.  No matter who we are, where we live, or what we have done, there is a God who loves us unconditionally.  We are special to Him, and through our faith in Him, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
1 Peter 4:12-13

In this passage, we learn how we are to deal with adversity.  We are to rejoice.  Why?  Because by suffering, we come closer to our Savior.  Remember how our Messiah suffered on the cross? Remember how he was beaten and tortured?  He did that for us, to save us from our sins.  In suffering, we can remember our Lord, and what He endured on Earth, and we can know that our suffering, no matter how bad it may seem, is only temporary.

In my last post, and in many that I write, I make reference to us being spoiled in America.  I always try to make comparisons to others around the world, how much other people suffer compared to our relative prosperity in America.  I believe for most of us, it is a good comparison.  It helps us to realize that we have it pretty good in America compared to others around the world.

But the fact is, for the homeless, for those that have lost their jobs, for those who are suffering from illness, my comparisons do not make their situations any better.  I understand that.  No matter how much more someone else suffers, we are still burdened with our own suffering.  I have been there my friend, and I do understand.  But know that no matter what we suffer in our earthly lives, God is with us.  He is right there next to us.  As the passage from Romans says, nothing can separate us from His love, and our faith will be rewarded.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast..”
–1 Peter 5:10

Again, we will never truly understand in this life why God allows suffering.  But we do know – through His word – that He will stand with us while we do.  Our suffering will strength us, it will make us wiser, and it will draw us closer to our Savior, who suffered on the cross for our sins.  We can know that our trials and tribulations are temporary.

For Livia, and  for us, our faith will carry us through.

“I can’t stop the rain, From falling down on you again
I can’t stop the rain, But I will hold you ’til it goes away”
–When the Rain Comes, Third Day

Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch

Taking hold, breaking in
The pressures on, need to circulate
Mesmerized and taken in
Moving slow, so it resonates

It’s time to rest, not to sleep away
My thoughts alone, try to complicate
I’ll do my best, to seek You out
And be myself and not impersonate

I tried so hard to not walk away
And when things don’t go my way
I’ll still carry on and on, just the same

I’ve always been strong, but can’t make this happen
‘Cause I need to breathe, I want to breathe You in
Fear of becoming so tired of running
‘Cause I need to breathe, I want to breathe You in
I want to breathe You in

I’m going in, so cover me
Your compass will help me turn the page
The laughing stock, I’ll never be
Because I won’t let them take me

I tried so hard to not walk away
And when things don’t go my way
I’ll still carry on and on, just the same

I’ve always been strong, but can’t make this happen
‘Cause I need to breathe, I want to breathe You in
Fear of becoming so tired of running
‘Cause I need to breathe

Took awhile to see
All the love that’s around me
Through the highs and lows
There’s a truth that I know and it’s You

I, I’ve always been strong, but can’t make this happen
‘Cause I need to breathe, I want to breathe You in
The fear of becoming so tired of running
‘Cause I need to breathe, I want to breathe You in

I want to breathe You in, I want to breathe You in
I want to breathe You in, I want to, I want to
I want to breathe You in, I want to breathe You in
I want to breathe, I want to, I want to, I want to breathe
I want to breathe, I want to breathe, I want to breathe

What Have You Got To Lose?

Sin and shame
Guilt and pain
Pride and your conceit
Here and now
Lay them down
At the Savior’s feet

What have you got to lose
What have you got to lose
And tell me why you’re so afraid
What have you got to lose
What have you got to lose
Think of all you have to gain

Hope and dreams
And all the things
That you have ever made
It don’t mean much
If in the end
You have lost your way

Let go of all you know
Only then can life be found
Surrender all you hold
Lay it down, lay it down, lay it down

Christian Words, Part Eight – Salvation

Salvation – a : deliverance from the power and effects of sin b : the agent or means that effects salvation c Christian Science : the realization of the supremacy of infinite Mind over all bringing with it the destruction of the illusion of sin, sickness, and death

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
–John 3:16-17

As we end our series on Christian words, we come to the point of the whole series. I am sure many of you realize that the word salvation was left for last on purpose. It’s really the whole point of the series. The passage above, the most quoted verses of the bible, are essentially what salvation is all about. Salvation is about our trust and faith in Jesus Christ. Of course while John 3:16 is well known by most of us, I always like to include the next verse, which explains to us why Jesus came. As Christians, we are to understand that Jesus did not come to condemn. He did not come to chastise us. He came to show us the way to Heaven. If we follow Him, we are assured of eternal life.

So how do we achieve salvation? Most Christians will agree that salvation is pretty straightforward. First, we recognize that Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Messiah, the Son part of the trinity. Jesus is God, in the form of the Son. Second, we recognize that we are sinners, in need of a Savior. Third, we confess our sins to God, asking for forgiveness. That’s it. That is what is involved in salvation. No, we don’t have to be perfect. Yes, we will fail from time to time. Jesus knows that. He knows everything we have done, and everything we will do. He loves us anyway and salvation is there for all of us. All we have to do is surrender, throw up the white flag, and let Him change our hearts.

So the rest of this post, I will list the words we have been discussing throughout this series, and how they relate to salvation.

Jesus

He is our savior. It is His gift of salvation that grants us eternal life. He came down to earth, led a sinless life, was crucified on a cross, rose on the third day, and sits in Heaven, waiting for us to accept His gift. His life and teachings in the bible show us how we should live our lives on earth. Following Jesus is our path to salvation.

Sin

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”
Romans 6:23

Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve in the Garden. God created us in His image, and gave us free will. We made the choice to eat from the tree of good and evil, and so evil entered the world. Sin separates us from God, and the wages of sin is death. Yet God our father loves us more than we can imagine. He cannot allows us to be condemned without giving us a way out of this condition. It is our recognition of the fact that we are sinners, imperfect and living within a fallen world, that allows us to accept the gift of salvation. Surrendering to God’s will is about recognizing that we cannot save ourselves. Our sin does not allow it. Only Jesus Christ our Messiah can save us from our sin.

Love

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
–1 John 4:8

What is love?

God is love. Love started with God, and we can only love because God loved us first. God created this world for us. Look around you. Look at this incredible world around us. How can we look around at nature, watching how well the world works and provides for us, without knowing that God created it? If we recognize that this world was created for us, then we must acknowledge that God must have loved us so much to create a world like this for us to live in. It was this love from God that gives us a way to grow closer to Him. We do that through His son Jesus Christ. God loved us so much, He chose to allow His son to be crucified, knowing that this would give us a path to salvation, a way to eternal life.

Grace

“Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, Would care to know my name
–Casting Crowns, Who Am I

An essential part of being saved is recognizing that God’s salvation is a gift. Who are we to deserve salvation? What have we done to earn it? Nothing. As sinners, our wage is death. It is not because of anything we do in this life that we are saved. There is nothing we can ever do to earn our way to Heaven. It is all about grace. God grants us eternal life as a gift, because of His great love for us. When we are saved, we do good things, not to be saved, but because we are saved. It is Jesus Christ dwelling within our hearts that changes us, allowing us to grow closer to Him.

Forgiveness

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”
–Colossians 3:13

Once we accept that we are sinners, we realize that God loves us, and His loving grace gives us the gift of salvation. As sinners, we ask for His forgiveness. We know that we can never be perfect. While we ask for His forgiveness, we understand that we will fail again. We ask for Jesus to work on our hearts to make us better Christians. As a result, we are asked to do the same to others as was done for us. Just as Jesus forgave us, we are to forgive others. This forgiveness is as much for us as it is for others. Being more Christ-like means for us to love others as Christ loved us, which includes forgiving them.

Humility

“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”
–Proverbs 15:33

Accepting salvation from our God is in itself an act of humility. Pride is the root of evil and sin. When we accept the salvation we are given as a gift, we realize that we are not the center of the universe, God is. We must surrender control, and give God the control. We are no longer in charge. We humble ourselves, recognizing that we are but a spec of dust in this universe, with a blip of time at our disposal, and that God has complete control of that blip.

Faith


“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.“
–Galatians 2:16

It is only through our faith that we are saved. Faith is about trust. In the beginning, God gave us a beautiful garden, a utopia to live in. Because He gave us free will, and we chose to allow sin to enter the world, we put our trust in something other than God. Faith is about maintaining our trust in God, and God alone. In our society, we see so many people put their faith in earthly objects and desires, and the fact is that all of those things are fleeting. You can’t take it with you. Only our faith in God will grant us salvation. Nothing we do can earn salvation. Salvation is a gift from God, and our faith gets us there.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. I know that I have learned some things. In writing these series, I have had to read more about my faith. This thing called Christianity is a life long struggle, a life long study. Everyday I realize that the more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know. However, as I study more, my faith is strengthened. As I learn more about Jesus, I grow closer to Him.

What was your opinion about this series?

Please let me know if there are other topics you would like to see on this blog.