Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Promise of a Victorious Church

When you read statistics showing divorce, pornography addiction, and abortion rates within the Christian community parallel those in the secular community--well, it makes you wonder!

At times the Body of Christ, AKA the Church, seems to have
  • fallen in with the world, 
  • given in to the seductions of the flesh, and
  • sold out to the devil. 
Where's the power anyway?

With Christ!

Individual soldiers may have fallen prey to the fiery darts of the enemy, thus making the corporate Body weaker. But our Commander-in-Chief is coming again; and when He comes with reinforcements from the heavenly realm, our eyes will see the glory of the coming of the Lord.

In the meantime, Jesus is able to save with few as well as with many. His Spirit is strong in the hearts of those who live by the Spirit and His promise is sure: He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Promise of His Friendship

We love friendships that are tried and true, don't we? I am blessed to have several friendships that began in childhood and have remained strong over decades and seasons of life.

Proverbs 17:17 says that a friend loves at all times. ALL times?

Our earthly friendships, no matter how solid, often have their ups and downs, sometimes even disintegrating over this or that. But there is a friend that sticks closer even than a brother! Think of it--the relationship with that friend is stronger even than those bound with family ties!

Who might that friend be who sticks closer than a brother? That friend who will never leave us or forsake us?

Jesus said this to His followers:
"Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
~John 15:13-15

What a friend we have in Jesus! A true friend who laid down His life for us and promises never to leave us or forsake us. Have you told Him lately how much you love Him?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Promise of His Presence in the Valley

Surely there are many God-fearing Haitians missing or presumed dead. Some observers will ask how God could allow His own to suffer like this. A couple of scripture passages come to mind.

In speaking of the end-times, the times of the Lord's return to earth, Jesus said,

"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 
All these are the beginning of birth pains."
~Matthew 24:7-8

Surely we are seeing these prophecies come to pass. Our brethren suffer in many parts of the world due to famine, earthquakes, and war. We are even recognizing signs of the next verse, where Jesus says,

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death,
and you will be hated by all nations because of me."

Are not Christians openly persecuted in many parts of the world? Are not Christians beginning to feel the sting of persecution here in our own country, to the point where many are feeling the heat and turning away, even as Jesus predicted they'd do in the very next verse.

So where is the hope in all of this? Why should Christians hang on to their God when many, if not all, of the world's tribulations afflict them, too?

Simply this: our God will never leave us or forsake us. He will go through the trials with us. This is one reason Psalm 23 remains one of the most blessed passages of the Bible.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

So hang on! And while we continue to enjoy relative freedom from suffering, we can be the hands of God to bless those who are in need of His touch. We can join others from around the world who are pouring in to help. They need our prayers, our time, our money! May God show each of us how we can be a blessing to the poor people of Haiti.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Promise of Strength in Adversity

This morning my friend Gail forwarded an email from an MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) pilot who is stationed in Port au Prince Haiti. David describes conditions as he is able to see them: all around are signs of utter destruction from yesterday's earthquake. Yet, incredibly, his house and the houses of nearby missionaries (though possibly compromised) remained standing. Wisely remaining outside, they are trying to conserve energy--their own as well as fuel for the generator--while attempting to glean information from others around the area.

He writes:

"Given the few facts we have, it seems probable that there has been extensive damage and loss of life.  In spite of all the sorrow, this evening we heard a group from the nearby ravine singing songs of thanksgiving.  Especially in these times, we recognize our need to turn to God.  He is powerful, and the only sure One we can turn to.  He is our Rock."

Amen! This so made me think of Psalm 46:1-3. 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore will not we fear, 
though the earth be removed, 
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. 
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, 
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah."

May we never forget to turn to God in our times of trouble. He is our refuge and strength. Why does it seem easier to turn to Him in extreme danger than when we deal with the daily vicissitudes of life?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Promise of Completion

Some years ago, we began to talk about the need for Christians to "finish well." With so many voices competing for our attention, we needed to remind ourselves of the injunction to finish the race, keep the faith, fight the good fight.

In our zeal, many of us put pressure on ourselves to measure up, pushing ourselves beyond our limits in an effort to "perform" for God. In so doing, we put ourselves in bondage to a performance-driven works mentality. Is that what God intends for His dearly-loved children?

Hardly. He does call us to do the works He planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) but He does not stand over us with a whip and chair. (Notice I said we "put pressure on ourselves to measure up.") When God wants us to accomplish something, His promptings are gentle and lead to a sense of order and peace.

Furthermore, be blessed as you consider the following passages.

"He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 1:6

"May God himself, the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
~I Thessalonians 5:23-24

Who will see to it that His child finishes well? God will. Hallelujah!

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Promise of Great Surprises (continued)

 Remember considering this verse last week:

"Call to me and I will answer you
and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
~Jeremiah 33:3

Just curious. In the last few days, who has called upon God and experienced His answer? Who has seen Him do great and mighty things which you knew not?

Why not?

When God makes an astounding promise like that, what keeps us from taking Him up on it? Apathy? Fear of the unknown? Unbelief?

We need to think about these things and reestablish Christ as our First Love. Follow Him. Get close to Him. Stop whatever we're doing: listen when He speaks. Bring others to Him. Worship Him.

It's the very least we can do for the One who withheld nothing from us. If we don't, we may miss out on the greatest adventure of our lives. Worse, we may hear the words spoken against the Church in Ephesus:

"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
Remember the height from which you have fallen!
Repent and do the things you did at first." ~Rev. 2:4-5

This week-end my heart was stirred by a video someone posted on Facebook. Follow this link and be blessed as Steve Harvey re-introduces our First Love.