Fixing the Life Itch!

Dog itch2

What if you won $5,000 every week for life? Would that be a great life or what? Would that make you truly happy? What if you had the biggest house in the nicest neighborhood and drove the coolest car available? Would that make you happy? Oh yeah! I can hear a lot of you saying! But you know, there are millions of people who have these exact things and yes, they’re happy, for a little while, but then it becomes not enough to scratch that “Life Itch” which we all try to satisfy. You say, “Just let me give it a try!” Ha! Ha!

The fact of the matter is, it’s not the things that we possess which give us true life, for they sometimes can possess us! Jesus said in Luke 12:15 “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” He actually told a young rich man to sell all of his possessions to obtain eternal life. It wasn’t the selling that would do it, it was getting the possessions out of the way since they were a stumbling block preventing him from seeing the true source of life.

So what is true life and how do we satisfy the “life Itch”? We go to the Author of Life to get our answer that’s where! Consider these truths about life from God’s Word:

Psalm 119:93 “I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life.”

Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.”

1 John 5:12-13 “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe in the name of the Son of God.”

John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Once we trust Christ as Savior, we have True Life here on earth and Eternal Life forever with Him. Now that’s the way to fix your Life Itch once and for all!

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White As Snow!

Forgiveness

The human race thinks it is pretty big stuff! Masters of their own universe, faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap small buildings in a single bound! Mankind has been puffing out it’s chest for anyone to see for millenia and even toward God! I did it my way! But the fact of the matter is we are all subject to a Higher Power whether we believe it or not. The Apostle James said our lives are like a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

GOD is in control and HE knows it, and the sooner we demonstrate that WE know it, the better it will be for us here (while our “vapor” lasts) and there (in eternity) where existence never ends. You say God is NOT in control? Well how about last weekend? Who brought everything on the East Coast of America to a snowy slippery stop? Let’s look to the book of Job for our answer.

“God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power. He directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. Then everyone stops working so they can watch his power.” (Job 37:5-7) Yes, God is ALL powerful and you just need to see the trees and landscape all covered in marvelous white to acknowledge that no human being could ever accomplish such a feat. It’s a God thing!

There is another feat which only God can do and it’s personal. He can take a person that is dirty and stained with sin and make them “white as snow” inside! The prophet Isaiah says it in a very precious way: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

Yes, He says though your sins be as scarlet (like bright red blood on pure white snow) you can be FORGIVEN! Let us reason together. Can YOU do anything about your sin? Is there some other cleanser? No, there’s no other cleanser and it won’t just go away. King David knew that from experience. He said “My sin is always before me.” I was like that. I carried a sack of sins with me wherever I went. But then, like King David, “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5)

There you go! White as snow! If you need it, this prayer of faith is for you.

Lord Jesus, I bring my sins to You today, all of them. I lay them at the foot of Your Cross. I turn from them and ask that you forgive me for each one. I don’t want to carry them any longer. Make me white as snow. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and coming back to life to offer me forgiveness. I am trusting in you now and accept You as my Lord and Savior. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Let me know if you prayed this prayer for new life in Christ! Leave me a reply at the bottom of this blog.

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Just Don’t Do It!

Snoopy Hug

As I finished my daily reading of God’s Word in the book of Genesis this morning the story of Joseph and his family drew to a close. As the story ended a significant thing happened. Jacob, the father of the 12 sons of Israel, died in Egypt. Immediately, his 10 sons who had betrayed Joseph thought that since their father was gone Joseph would now take revenge on them for selling him into slavery. But they could not have been more wrong! Read what actually happened:

But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said. So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21 NLT)

What an amazing response! Joseph realized that the act of taking revenge belongs ONLY to GOD! See what he said? “Am I God, that I can punish you?” Have you ever heard the phrase “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord?”

As the title of this blog says, “Just Don’t Do It!”, please don’t take vengeance! The Apostle Paul had plenty of reasons to take vengeance for all the suffering he experienced in his ministry, but this is what he told the Roman church, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,  ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)

You say, “Well, I don’t take revenge!” No? When you keep a record of wrongs, when you close up your heart of compassion, when you ignore, give a cold shoulder, stop communicating, keep an enemies list, spread rumors and carry hatred for another human being you ARE taking vengeance! The methods of vengeance coming from the fallen human heart are endless! You don’t do physical harm, but the emotional and spiritual harm done from one human being to another has no bounds!

But, but, but, you say they lied about me! They hurt me! They robbed me! They betrayed me! They… fill in the blank, and yes they did! But put yourself in Joseph’s place and read again what he said. “Am I God, that I can punish you?” That’s right, when we take vengeance we are playing God! HE is the Avenger and we, brace yourself, are to be….. THE FORGIVERS! “I can’t!” You say. I know you can’t. But GOD CAN THROUGH YOU!

As I’ve said before, when we practice vengeance, when we don’t forgive, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the object of our vengeance to die. But WE are the ones who die inside, think about that. Also, there is no one on earth who deserved to take vengeance more than our Lord Jesus Christ and from the cross, hanging there while being brutally crucified, He had the most amazing response, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His teaching on forgiveness shows the conditions for our own forgiveness where in the book of Matthew he said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

So in closing my dear beloved friends please don’t carry this burden any longer! It is tearing you up inside. It is dividing you from loved ones. It is hindering God’s own work in your heart and life! You are a prisoner, trapped by unforgiveness, even to those who offendend you that are no longer on earth. The Apostle Paul said, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Just don’t do it! Don’t take revenge.

Will you pray this prayer with me? “Heavenly Father, thank you so much for Your great love for me by sending Your Son Jesus to die for my sins. Thank You for the forgiveness You provide when one accepts Him as Savior. Father, I want to be set free. I don’t want to carry these offenses any longer and so I lay them at the foot of the Cross. I give them to You! Set me free from all that binds and scars my heart. By faith today, I forgive everyone everything ever done to me. Wipe these things from my mind and heart. Set me truly free I pray in Jesus name. Amen!”

You may need to pray this prayer often but move forward claiming God’s results by faith and you WILL be set free!

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Why Me Lord?

sad expression

Life happens. The year 2015 brought to me changes I was not expecting nor did I think I deserved! After 45 incredible years of working for one company, my successful career all came to an end as my job was transferred to China. Then three months later I injured my back and a herniated disc put me in an emergency room with the most pain I had ever experienced in my entire life! I’ve lived with pain now for four months and sometimes I ask, “Why me Lord?”. Can I get a witness?

Joseph in the Old Testament must have asked himself that question a million times! That is until God opened his eyes to see what HE was accomplishing in all of the ups and downs dealt to him. A quick review of his story begins with his father Jacob giving him a “coat of many colors” which he used to brag to his brothers. He told how in a dream that he saw them one day bowing down to him! They later took the opportunity to sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites and Joseph’s “why me” story began. He was purchased by Potiphar and thought his luck had changed, that is until as the manager of Potiphar’s entire household, his wife unjustly accused Joseph of trying to molest her which landed him in a dark prison. Why me Lord?

While in prison he successfully interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. He thought they would remember him once they realized his interpretations had come true, but instead he was forgotten. Why me Lord? Many years passed and Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph when Pharoah had dreams that no one could interpret. Joseph interpreted the dreams and was vaulted to second in command of all of Egypt! When his 10 brothers came to Egypt for food they bowed before Joseph, not recognizing him as their long lost brother. After a series of tricks that Joseph played on them they finally recognized this man was their brother and expected a deserved punishment. But instead Joseph realized that the hand of God was at work in all that had transpired. Look at his response as he finally revealed his identity to his brothers in Genesis chapter forty five.

 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace. “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. (Gen 45:1-8)

Life happens…. and God is the Planner, the Author, and the Sustainer of it all. He knows the beginning of our lives and the end. It is up to us to trust Him through it all. I just thought of the old song by Andrae Crouch with lyrics that go like this.

I’ve had many tears and sorrows
I’ve had questions for tomorrow
There’ve been times
I didn’t know right from wrong
But in ev’ry situation
God gave blessed consolation
That my trials come
To only make me strong

Through it all through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus
I’ve learned to trust in God
Through it all through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His word

Tomorrow I go for an epidural shot into the area of my back causing the pain. I’ll also meet with some friends this week to brainstorm about the next chapter of my work-a-day life. I do covet your prayers. Who knows what God has planned? But through it all I plan to trust in Jesus.

Walk with the King today! And be a blessing!

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A Challenge from Spurgeon

Spurgeon

Today I share a challenge which Charles Haddon Spurgeon known as the “Prince of Preachers” gave in the late 1800’s. Certainly in our 21 century we need to examine our own hearts with the purpose of moving closer to our Lord. Amen?

“Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when His candle shined upon my head, and when, by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle,” (Job 29:2, 3, 4)

Let me enquire whether there are not many of us whose zeal is almost gone? We once loved the Saviour intensely, and His cause we eagerly sought to serve, but now we take matters easily, and do not travail in birth for souls. Some rich men were wont to give most freely to the cause of God, but now covetousness has palsied the hand of generosity. Even poor Christians are not always so ready with their two mites as they were in better days. You were wont to labour too, but that Sunday School class sees you no longer; no street preaching now; no tract distributing now; all forms of Christ’s service you have renounced, for you fancy you have done enough. Alas, poor sluggard! Has the sun shone long enough? Has God given you your daily bread long enough? Oh, cease not working, brethren, till God ceases to be merciful to you. “On, on, on,” “forward, forward, forward,” is the very motto of the Christian life. Let none of us talk of finality, for we have not yet attained. Till life is over, our zeal should still glow, and our labours for Christ should multiply. (C. H. Spurgeon, Treasury of the Old Testament, Vol. 2, p. 284)

A Godly Thing!

Reconcile

One of the most heartwarming stories of the Bible is the account of the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau. The twin sons of Isaac and Rebakah, were divided from each other early in life. There were hard feelings to say the least between the two brothers and Jacob took refuge with his relatives to escape Esau’s vengeance. Many years passed and God greatly blessed Jacob with a large family and rich possessions until the time came when God told him to return to his own land and family. There was only one question in his mind, what about his offense toward Esau? Unbeknownst to Jacob, God had also richly blessed Esau and despite what may await him Jacob made plans to return home.

What is obvious is that Jacob obeyed God no matter what response or action his brother Esau would take. He was willing to suffer the consequences of his wrongdoing come what may. Jacob understood that he was the offender as many years earlier he had schemed to take his brother’s birthright and the blessing of the firstborn from their father which were huge things in that culture. Here is the Genesis account of their eventual meeting:

“Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down. Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this all this company which I met?” And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” (Genesis 33:1-9)

Much more could be said about the process of forgiveness but leave it to say in this account we see the great wound between the two brothers was healed because Jacob obeyed God and because he humbled himself before the one he offended. The fact is, God is the Great Forgiver and when WE forgive we are doing a Godly thing. Soon after creation, in the opening account of mankind on earth, it was God who FIRST demonstrated forgiveness as He forgave the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God demonstrated forgiveness even when the object of His forgiveness did NOT ask for it. The first place in the Bible when the actual word FORGIVE was used is the story of Joseph who was betrayed by his brothers when they sold him into slavery. God used the brothers wrong action to save the nation of Israel from extinction and He used Joseph to demonstrate His love and forgiveness.

God is interested in BOTH sides of the forgiveness equation. He want us to SEEK forgiveness and GRANT forgiveness. When we don’t WE suffer! If you have sinned against someone you need God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the one you offended. If you have been sinned against, you need to forgive in the way Christ forgave you. When you do this you are doing a Godly thing and that’s a good thing!

This is all demonstrated in the model prayer given by our Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew:

“For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:8-13)

The motivation for forgiving is in the verses that follow:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

It has been said, and it is a Bible principle, that when we don’t forgive someone who has offended us, but instead hang onto the bitter resentment and hatred for that person, it is like drinking poison and waiting for THEM to die. That is a very sad thing! So much better would it be to first realize how much WE have been forgiven in Christ and like Him grant the offender the forgiveness which they don’t deserve.

THAT is the GODLY THING!

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What Was I Thinking?

Cow

You’ve heard that line before haven’t you? You’ve probably said it! I know I have! As fallen creatures we do some pretty stupid stuff. Have you seen the videos? The BIG guys falling flat on their tooshes off of those hover board things which are the big rave today? Last night I’m sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot waiting for my wife and I see two young people, a guy and a girl, come out of the store and she jumps on his back and he steps up on a hoverboard and they ride all of 100 feet to their car, get off and throw the board in the back seat, jump in the car and off they go! No, they didn’t crash but that would have been cute. Ya gotta love it!

Well, leaving the comical realm, we do some very detrimental and tragic things when we get our thinking on the wrong tracks. You are what you think, isn’t that what they say? There’s a lot of truth to that. As people with natures that have an inborn tendency to do the wrong thing, we definitely need a positive influence to harness our thinking and get it moving in the right direction every day of our lives. That influence is the Word of God via the Holy Spirit and the tool is memorization and meditation!

In my blog yesterday we see the first mention in the Scriptures of the word meditation. Isaac was about to make one of the most important decisions in his life and what was he doing? Do you recall? It was a good thing. He was out in the field in the evening meditating! Imagine the scene… maybe he was  gazing over ripe wheat fields that were flowing back and forth in a soft breeze extending as far as the eye can see. It’s probably sunset and the purple clouds are painting an unforgettable scene. Just over the horizon he sees a caravan and in answer to his prayers he sees his new wife Rebekah approaching and the next chapter of his life is about to begin.

What was HE thinking? It doesn’t take too much to come up with a short list. God has been SO good to me! God is SO great to have blessed my family. My family heritage of faith from my father Abraham has been an awesome sight to behold and the blessings have wafted over us in great measure! Oh Father guide my steps!

Soon after my wife and I became Christians God directed us into the Word of Life youth ministry as assistant leaders. Part of our duties was to be a good example to our teenagers by doing a daily Quite Time devotional, read good Christian books and memorize the Word of God on a regular basis. We were only about a year old in our newfound faith and I must say that we would never have gotten a better foundation for our young Christian lives without doing those things. They still are paying dividends today.

What do the Scriptures say about memorizing the Word of God and meditation? Take a look:

Joshua 1:8 You shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Thirteen mentions of meditate in the Psalms, here’s few:

Psalm 1:1,2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful, But his delight is in the law of the LordAnd in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.

Psalm 119:15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.

Psalm 145:5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.

This theme is carried into the New Testament as well:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Finally, you must have something in your mind on which to meditate. If I’m not mistaken, and pardon the somewhat crude comparison, but the basic meaning of meditation has to do with thinking over and over on a matter like a cow who “chews the cud”. The cow eats a quantity of grass and it goes into a compartment to be used later. Then it brings it back up again and really chews on it before digesting.

Have you ever noticed that when you see a cow it always seems to be chewing something? The reason is because cows must chew their food twice in order to digest it properly. Cows spend nearly eight hours out of every day chewing their cud. This plus normal chewing of food can total upwards of 40,000 jaw movements per day!

Wow, what if WE would chew over the Words of God in our minds like that every day! This world would be radically changed and true revival would spread across our land! So for today let’s begin the important practice of memorizing and meditating on God’s Word.

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