Bright Light

The people who lived in darkness have seen a bright light. A light has risen for those who live in a land overshadowed by death.

—–Matthew 4:16

The trees at my friend’s house had branches filled with green leaves.

While sitting outside and enjoying the late afternoon, I noticed that the sun had set just close enough to the horizon that its powerful light was shining almost straight on the trees.

The branches, with their green leaves, along with the bark on the trunk, did not just simply become more visible.

They began to glow with an intensely amber color.

I quickly photographed the scene before the sun was completely gone.

Theses trees were totally transformed in color because of the light.

Some of the branches were just out of the sun’s penetrating rays.

They remained green.

The tree closest to me appeared dark and untouched by the bathing yellow radiance.

When Jesus came, those who lived in darkness could now be bathed in His great light.

His light of love and salvation.

His light of forgiveness and hope.

His light of eternal life.

When He came, everything changed.

Do you know of His love?

Do you know of His forgiveness and hope?

He is waiting for you today to call out to Him in prayer.

It’s not too late…..

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God Has Been Making It Grow

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, Paul addresses what some had been saying.

Some people were saying, “I follow Paul.”

Other people were saying, “I follow Apollos.”

Both Paul and Apollos were men who were serving God and through their witness, the people believed in Jesus.

He wanted them to understand what was most important, and what was most important wasn’t Paul or Apollos.

Paul speaks to them in this chapter using the example of seed:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

—1 Corinthians 3:6

As we look back in our own lives, there have been faithful people who have invested the truth of the gospel in us at various times.

Believing parents and grandparents.

A Sunday School teacher.

A youth director.

A Christian camp counselor.

A pastor.

A close friend.

As time passes and our situations and locations change, God can still take the seed that has been planted earlier and cause it to be watered by others through their investment in us.

All the while, it is only God who is making this seed of salvation and faith grow.

It is by His power and love that this takes place.

It is a beautiful circle of life.

Someone invests in us and we, then, invest in others.

And all the while, it is God who makes us grow….

watered

The Wages of Sin

It was the first time I had ever seen any message quite like it on a vehicle.

As I was driving down the multi-lane highway, I noticed a pickup truck as it passed me to the right.

The rear window of the cab had a message in large letters that took up most of the glass.

It read, “If you’re not committing a sin, then you’re not having fun!”

Hmmm.

As I ponder this statement, several emotions come into play.

I am saddened for this person, as I know they are flaunting the seriousness and danger of sin.

I am affirmed in my own faith, as I am reminded that this statement is simply not true.

If I am enjoying a dinner out with my spouse, I am having fun.

Bouncing my toddler child years ago on my knee was certainly a lot of fun.

Going into a pet store and holding a very tiny puppy with that same child years later was a fun experience–one that I will always remember.

Going to the beach.

Going to the mountains.

Laughing until we cry at the dinner table because of something silly we are talking about—that’s fun, too.

So far, I am not seeing the necessity of sin in any of these situations.

Satan would like us to believe that God wants to keep the “good” things–the “fun” things–away from us while he offers us those things freely.

Of course, this is not the truth.

Those things that would bring us the most happiness and joy–those are the things in life God offers to us.

It doesn’t mean that there will be an absence of trouble.

We live in a fallen and sinful world.

Still, the thrill of what sin offers is short-lived and what we are left with is the consequences.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 6:23

 

wages

 

 

The Road That Leads

Jesus said:

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

–Matthew 7:13-14

On any given day, we can see hundreds of vehicles pass us as we travel to and from work.

How many of those cars, trucks and vans would there be transporting people who know Jesus and are destined for Heaven when they die?

How many vehicles would be transporting people who are lost without Him?

I am afraid that there would be many more people traveling by who do not know Jesus as they Savior than those who do.

Is there someone you know that you could invite to church this week?

Is there someone you work with that you could talk to about your faith?

destruction

Friend of God

Today is our son, Benji’s birthday.

He was killed in a car accident when he was 19.
The memories of his life will forever be with me.
Things that he left behind are cherished——
His tattered Bible.
The card he gave me as a teenager that said, “I love you.”

Shortly after his death, I was told a story about him.
It is one that I also continue to cherish.

It seems that Benji was out with friends in a car.
One of the young men with him happened to use God’s name in a cursing manner.
Benji didn’t like his choice of words and told him not to say that.

His friend responded by saying the offensive words over and over again, probably trying to be funny.
Benji became very insistent about the language being used.

Reacting to Benji’s anger over the situation, the young man said something like, “Whoa! Benji! I thought we were friends!”

Benji replied, “Yeah. Well, I’m better friends with God….”

My boy…..

Friends with God.

When someone we love dies, certain things don’t really matter anymore.

Things like—
Did they go to college?
What job did they have?
Where did they live?

No.
Those things aren’t really what’s most important.

Benji went on a journey the day he left this earth.
It was a journey I was not expecting him to take for many years.
When he left, there was only one thing that was mattered.

Benji was friends with God….

************

 

And the Scripture was fulfilled, saying, “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God.

—James 2:23

 

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New Life

Years ago, one of our son’s best friends paid for him to go skydiving as a gift.

Before he boarded the plane, an instructor spoke to him about the upcoming experience.

Our son was dressed in a special flight suit and given a parachute.

Although I was not there, I am sure he listened to the instructions about the parachute and everything else that was advised.

After all, who would dare to go skydiving without having any knowledge whatsoever about the parachute?

I was thinking about this earlier today.

People die all the time.

Every day.

Most everyone dies before they reach 100 years old.

Only a few make it a little past that mark.

Yet, how many people inquire as to what will happen when they die?

How many people are concerned enough to look into it?

Taking the trip from this life to eternity is far more important than skydiving.

God has made known His plan for safe passage for those who die.

His plan was the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins and the offering of a new life with Him, now and forever.

Jesus became our “parachute” when we had nothing to save us from the fall to Hell.

Still, there are those who do not wish to hear of a safe passage.

They do not wish to hear about a parachute.

They desire no instructions from God about the trip we all must make.

There are some, though, who have heard His call for instruction.

They have listened intently about a safe passage.

They have decided that having a Savior is the only way to life after death.

What preparations have you made personally for your passage?

1 Corinthians 15:22 reads,

“Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.”

 

 

 

 

new life

 

 

 

Pardon

What do we do when we see someone struggling in the water, possibly drowning?

Most of us–certainly nearly all of us–would try to help in some way and do it quickly.

Yell for help.

Find a lifeguard.

Throw out a life jacket.

Maybe even jump into the water ourselves to attempt a rescue.

We would do this not just for our families and loved ones, but even for strangers.

People we had never met.

Imagine the unthinkable scenario of a person in a boat taking notice of a struggling, drowning swimmer.

Amid the cries for help, the man in the boat doesn’t reach for the life ring to throw in.

He doesn’t consider jumping into the water to save the swimmer.

Instead, he shakes his head and calls out, “Didn’t you know that the currents were rough over there?

You shouldn’t have ever gone swimming by yourself, anyway!

It’s your own fault to be in the mess you’re in!

You should’ve been in a boat, like me!”

No compassion.

No understanding.

No help….

It’s horrible just to think about it, isn’t it?

It gets a lot worse if you think about the swimmer as being someone you love.

One of your children.

Your dad.

Your mom.

Your spouse…

Yet, could this be how we think about others that don’t know about the saving grace of Jesus?

If we have found safety and forgiveness in Him, are we reluctant to help others when they are struggling with sin and its effects?

When people we see are drowning in life’s problems, how do we respond?

Do we call out (sometimes silently in our own minds), “Didn’t you know better than to…

get mixed up with drugs?

date those kind of people?

stay out all night?

marry him?

marry her?

take that job?

become an alcoholic?

You should never have done that!

It’s your own fault that you’re in the mess you’re in!”

How do we respond?

Do we try to help and do it quickly?

Do we call to others to assist in helping?

Do we throw out a life ring and tell them that there is a Savior who loves them?

Do we try to jump into the “water” ourselves and begin to really know and understand their problems, all the while pointing them to God?

What if it was your child, your parent or your spouse who was struggling?

Wouldn’t you want someone—anyone—to help?

Look out on the water around you.

Who’s out there?

How will you respond?

*

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.

–Luke 6:37

 

pardon

Living in the Light

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But if we are living in the light,

as God is in the light,

then we have fellowship

with each other,

and the blood of Jesus, his Son,

cleanses us from all sin.

—1 John 1:7

*

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fellowship

 

 

 

 

 

A Way That Appears

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It was very dark and somewhat difficult to see.

As I was driving on a multi-lane highway, I turned left at the signal to enter a two lane highway that intersected it.

Although the pavement over the four lanes I had to cross was marked with paint to guide vehicles to the correct point on the other side, I somehow failed to follow it correctly.

When I entered the two lane road, I did so on the wrong side of the double yellow lines into a turn lane for oncoming traffic.

I had made a serious error.

Immediately aware of the double yellow lines and my placement to the left of them, I called out loud, “God! I’m in the the wrong place!” as I looked in my rear view mirror to see some headlights behind me.

Instantly increasing my speed and moving to the correct lane without a collision from the rear or the front, my heart was beating quickly.

I was thankful for God’s protection in the midst of the danger.

In essence, we all must come to a point where we call out to God for help, realizing that we are in the wrong place—a place of sin and separation from Him.

Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

When I turned my car into the wrong lane, it appeared to be right at first–but it wasn’t.

When we call to God, He hears us.

When we ask for forgiveness, He grants it.

When we give our lives to Him, He saves us.

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appears

 

 

By Which Also

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Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures.

I believe that.

Jesus was buried.

I believe that.

He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

I believe that.

Many people saw Jesus after He was raised from the dead.

I believe that, as well.

Because of Jesus’ great love, I can be saved.

So can you…

 

*

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

–1 Corinthians 15:1-7

*

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by which

Whoever Believes

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Recently, I watched a televised launch of a rocket delivering satellites to space.

This is a fairly common occurrence, at least to me and millions of other people around the world.

As I watched, however, the thought came to me that, even with all the fantastic technical knowledge that went into bringing that event into reality, there were still people on the planet who had never seen a car before…

As a relatively small amount of people in the world watched live camera feed from the side of a rocket that was placing satellites at strategic points in space while traveling at about 17 thousand miles per hour, there were no doubt people going about their lives in secluded forests or mountains, foraging for food, knowing only about their nearby surroundings and nothing else.

Yet, for both types of people—those that stare at numbers and share ideas, culminating with events like rocket launches and those that know very little beyond themselves and their families—God is there.

As He looks on us—the people of the world that He has made—He does so with love and yearning, I believe.

Yearning for all to know Him.

Jesus came to earth on that first Christmas as a baby, born to one day die on the cross.

To die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

No matter who we are in this world—highly educated or uneducated, rich or poor, old or young—God loves us all just the same.

*

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

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not perish

 

I’m Slipping, Lord!

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I will forever be thankful that God saved me years ago.

Since that time, have I had doubts fill my mind about one thing or another?

Yes.

Has my heart ever been in turmoil?

Many times.

Who then, can quiet me and give me renewed hope?

Only God….

*

I would have died unless the Lord had helped me.  I screamed, “I’m slipping, Lord!” and he was kind and saved me. Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.—Psalm 94:17-19

 

 

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slipping

Now is the Time

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If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, today could be the day you change that.

If you do not know what would happen to you if you were to die, today could be the day that know for sure.

If you do not know that God is ready and willing to forgive you, accept you and save you, today is the day you can be confident that He does.

Ask Him for forgiveness.

Tell Him you believe.

Commit your life to Him.

Today…..

*

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:1-2

*

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favor

He Can Be Depended On

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Do you know what it is like not to be forgiven?

Do you know how it feels to truly be sorry about something and yet your most heartfelt words are not received?

Although I would hope not, I am afraid that there are many people in this world who have experienced these feelings time and again.

God, however, will never cease to forgive when we ask.

When we are truly sorry about something, our most heartfelt words are received by our heavenly Father.

Not only are they received, but they are placed beside the truth that Jesus has already paid the penalty for the transgressions we are speaking about.

With the penalty being paid, He is faithful to forgive.

Not once, but always.

*
If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.

–1 John 1:8-9

*

 

 

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cleanse

Name Was Not Found

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If you’ve ever tried to get a visa on your passport in order to enter a particular country, then you know it can be a complicated matter.

It’s likely that you’ll have to answer a lot of questions on a form.

Maybe more than one form, even.

Some of the questions might turn out to be pretty hard to answer.

Questions about your job.

Your parents.

Your grandparents.

Your driver’s license.

Where you were born.

The list goes on and on….

Even after you send in the information, it is always possible that your request may be denied.

You’re not allowed in.

No particular reason.

Just, “No.”

But what about getting into Heaven?

There aren’t any forms to be filled out.

Your job status doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter who your parents were.

It doesn’t matter who your grandparents were, either.

Really, it doesn’t even matter when you were born.

The only thing that matters is if you have believed in Jesus and repented of your sins, asking for forgiveness.

Look at these verses:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

—Ephesians 2:8-9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9

That leaves us with a question.

So, what if you don’t believe and repent?

It’s not a popular topic and it can certainly cause some divisive arguments.

In the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks of the book of life:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

–Revelation 20:11-15

*
Not many people want to talk about the “So, what if you don’t” question.

Not many people want to talk about the passage above from Revelation.

It’s frightening.

I believe that my name is written in the book of life because I have believed in Jesus and repented of my sins.

Still, I am frightened for those who have not.

If you feel that your name would not be there, why not change that right now.

God is ready to hear your prayer.

It’s not too late…..

*

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book of life

The Benefits of Freedom

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Christ has freed us

so that we may enjoy

the benefits of freedom.

Therefore, be firm in this freedom,

and don’t become slaves again.

—-Galatians 5:1

*
What does it mean to be free?

The dictionary says,

“to make free; set at liberty; release from bondage, imprisonment, or restraint.”
In the verse above, what if we thought of it this way?
“Christ has made us free, set us at liberty, released us from bondage, released us from imprisonment, and released us from restraint.”
Butterflies are a perfect picture of a creature released from bondage.
As a caterpillar, they cannot fly.
Trapped within the chrysalis, they cannot even move along the ground.
But then, freedom comes!
As they emerge from the the darkness around them, they are suddenly flooded with light and with wings made for flight, they soar into the air, free to fly!
*

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benefits of freedom

Life is in the Way

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Life is in the way of those who are right with God, and in its path there is no death.

 –Proverbs 12:28

Because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me by paying the penalty for my sins.

Because of Jesus, I am right with God.

What path is before me?

Everlasting life.

No death.

Because of Jesus.

Do you know Him today?

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life is in

Go Everywhere

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Standing by the boats on the water, everything was so quiet and calm.

There is something about seeing a boat that makes me want to go somewhere on it.

Somehow there is a silent invitation to an unknown adventure just by being in its vicinity.

Actually, every day brings with it an invitation as a believer of Jesus.

Mark 16:15 reads,

Jesus said to His followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.”

If you and I are followers of Jesus, wherever we go–down the street or around the globe–we will be witnesses of what He has done for us.

Our transformed lives will speak in our actions and our words to those around us.

We have an invitation every day.

Will we go wherever Jesus has planned for us in the upcoming hours, showing others His love through each situation we encounter?

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ships final

The One Who is Wise Saves Lives

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Planning to go get dinner and run an errand to the grocery store, I headed down the highway about an hour before sunset.

As I drove down my lane, I suddenly noticed a group of sand hill cranes on the right side of the road.

There were five of them together!

I rarely see this many cranes at one time.

Being about three to four feet tall with beautiful red bands around their necks, they are one of my very favorite birds.

Pulling over into the closest parking lot I could find, I turned around at a cell phone store.

As I was about to try to pull out onto the highway to go back and take some photos of the birds, there seemed to be a traffic jam.

Right away, I wondered if the traffic had stopped because of the birds.

Moving my car as close as possible to the exit of the parking lot, I could see them.

Inside, I am smiling now, just remembering it—

The five stately birds were calmly walking across the four lane road to get to a farm area on the other side.

Cars moving both directions all stopped to allow their safe passage.

Never mind being late for an appointment.

Never mind not arriving at home just a minute or two late.

There was time to stop.

Time to preserve the lives of five birds.

The drivers in the cars showed kindness.

Think of the reverse—if they had just ignored the birds and hit them, driving on—wouldn’t you think they were heartless and cruel?

At the very, very least, unkind?

I believe, in my own heart, that a driver who stops to allow a bird to live is the type of person who would also show kindness and care for a neighbor, a friend or a stranger in need.

Proverbs 11:30 tells us,

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    and the one who is wise saves lives.

I watched some very kind people decide to save lives today.

Lives of five sand hill cranes, but lives, none the less.

How can we show kindness so that others will be blessed?

God will bring us the opportunities.

We need only to respond in the way that He would have us to.

After all, wouldn’t Jesus stop to let five of His birds walk by?

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saves lives

Roar and Foam

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The water crashed against the large rocks over and over.

White foam accompanied each surge.

The ocean reminds me of God’s power.

The vastness of the sea and the unrelenting motion of the waves.

No matter what happens in our lives, as His children, the Lord Almighty is with us.

*

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

—Psalm 46:1-7

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roar and foam

No One Can Boast

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While visiting a gym this past weekend, I noticed a scoreboard on a platform.

Of course, scoreboards are used to keep track of points earned and to display who is the best.

They proclaim who is the winner.

Do you ever try to “measure up” to other people?

It’s easy to consider that someone you know is kinder, smarter or more talented.

You might even think other people are more spiritual or closer to God.

Does your response lead you to try harder to be acceptable?

There is nothing wrong with desiring to be more like Christ.

We can hope to be kinder to those around us, showing them His love.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be closer to God.

But if we think that we must reach a certain level of acceptability to finally achieve God’s approval, we are missing an important truth.

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

We should want to live our lives the way that He would have us to out of gratitude for what He has done for us, not in order to gain our salvation.

There is no heavenly scoreboard that keeps track of our works, finally declaring one day that we have “won” our  redemption for ourselves.

We are free from that kind of burden.

If this has been a concern for you, consider these words form Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith.

Not works.

A plan of love from God to us.

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What Some of You Were

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Have you ever known someone who was:

addicted to drugs?

an alcoholic?

addicted to pornography?

a compulsive gambler?

aggressively angry?

a thief?

habitually dishonest?

disloyal to their spouse?

a negligent parent?

untrustworthy?

If you are like me, I can look back over my life and probably think of someone in every category.

The 6th chapter in 1 Corinthians speaks of a lot of things that are sinful, meaning they are displeasing to God.

Though perhaps not directly mentioned in the scriptures, the common issues listed above could certainly be in the category of being displeasing to God.

Then, again, the list above could be lengthened a great deal just by considering the ways that you or I might have displeased God, even during a short period.

The fact is, we are all human and we fail.

We fall short of what God wants for us, time and again.

Going back to 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 11 reads,

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Whatever we could come up with to label ourselves or others by our sinfulness, those labels do not have to continue to apply.

Those labels are about what we were.

Now, we can be washed.

Sanctified.

Justified.

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins.

Let me ask you:

Have you ever known someone who was:

forgiven?

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you were

Through the Valley

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When I drive, I sing.

A lot.

At different times, the lyrics that I am singing resonate in my heart in a significant way.

Today, I experienced just that.

One of my favorite songs is based on the twenty-third Psalm in the Old Testament.

As I was singing along with the music in my car, these words came alive in my heart:

IF I LET MY HEART BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, I CAN SEE BEYOND THE VALLEY TO THE MOUNTAIN OF MY DREAMS.*

Of course, I have known the words from the psalm that say, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….”

Strangely, I have never considered what it might be like to look beyond the valley I’m in toward the mountain.

That higher place in my journey with God.

The truth is, there have been, and will be, many valleys to go through.

There will also be many mountains.

Mountains of my dreams.

Mountains where the desires of my heart meet the will of God in a perfect union.

If I let my heart believe that God can do anything—-

even when things don’t look very promising,

then I can let my heart believe that He can bring me through any valley I might be traveling in.

*

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

—Psalm 23:4

*Manwell Reyes

*
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valley lomo

I Have All That I Need

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The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk

through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord

forever.

–Psalm 23


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all that I need

To Fish

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Tonight I found out that the son of one of my good friends won second place in a fishing tournament.

For that to have become a reality, a few things had to have been in place.

First of all, he had to have a desire to catch fish.

After that, he had to go where fish were.

In order to get there, he took a boat.

He also had to have a rod and reel.

Next, he would have needed bait.

With all of these things in place, he was ready.

Ready for success.

Matthew 4:19 reads,

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

For that to become a reality, a few things have to be in place.

First of all, we have to follow Jesus.

After that, we must have a desire to fish for people, so that they may follow Him, as well.

We must go where people are.

To get there, we must use whatever means is needed at the time.

We also need the rod and reel—the testimony of God the Father and His Son, Jesus.

And the bait? Something that interests the people?

That would be learning that forgiveness is offered along with the promise of everlasting life.

Follow.

Desire.

Go.

Testify.

Proclaim forgiveness and salvation.

With all of these things in place, and with God as our strength, we are ready.

Ready for success as the Holy Spirit draws people to Himself.

*

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fish for people

Not Perish

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As I walked into the room, I saw him.

An anole lizard was sitting on the leg of my husband’s weight bench.

This surely meant death.

Not because I would bring about his demise, but because once a lizard gets into a building, away from life sustaining water, they lose the battle, dehydrate, and die.

Being someone who cares about the creatures of the wild, I set about to rescue him.

Getting a plastic cup and lid, I approached him and attempted to lure him into the cup.

He had other ideas….

Jumping and running this way and that, (him, not me…) he ran underneath a tall wooden wardrobe.

I couldn’t reach him now.

Giving up the quest for a few moments, I set about to do other things.

Walking back into the room a bit later, there he was again.

Continuing my unsuccessful cup trapping method, he stubbornly avoided me.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to save him.

The little brown miniature version of a dinosaur ran over to a bookshelf near the door to the back yard.

I carefully opened the door, and with some encouraging movements on my part, he glimpsed the sunlight and caught the smell of freedom.

He made a good decision and bolted for the threshold, continuing on to the concrete patio.

I realized that God had answered my prayer, as my little friend was now going to be all right.

I had intended to rescue him in the cup and take him to safety.

Instead, I merely opened the door and it was his choice to go through.

How I long to just rescue people who do not know Jesus!

If I could just scoop them up in my arms and take them to eternal safefy—–

but I can’t.

They have to believe and ask for forgiveness of sin themselves.

I can’t do it for them.

Sure, I can open the door—

Talk to them about God and His plan of salvation.

Show them verses in the Bible.

Live the way God would have me to and be a light that points to life in Him.

Once the door is opened though, and they see the offer of complete forgiveness and a home in Heaven, it is their choice–not mine–that will send them across the threshold.

*
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

*

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not perish final 2

The Bread of Life

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As my friends and I settled down in the crowded restaurant, we were given complimentary loaves of bread.

It was the custom of the restaurant to give each patron bread before the ordered meal was presented.

If we do not have food and water for a long period of time, we will die.

The food and water we ingest and the air we breathe sustains us.

If we do not have Jesus, we will die a spiritual death for all eternity.

It is Jesus, who is the bread of life, that sustains our souls.

The restaurant was offering bread that would satisfy physical hunger, but only for a time.

Jesus is offering Himself as the means of our salvation, satisfying our spiritual hunger forever.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

—John 6:35-40

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JJ

JJ

Free, You Will Be

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There was just something about watching the kite in the distance that made me want to photograph it.

Even then, I thought of freedom.

Kites are free to flow in the breeze, to glide wistfully in the invisible currents of air above.

Yet, they are held securely by a tether.

Attached to the string, they will not be lost.

John 8:31-36 reads,

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

True freedom is found only in Jesus.

It may seem strange to consider that being held securely by His love and power brings us freedom, but it does.

Tethered to His mercy and grace, forgiven and free—we are free indeed.

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free indeed correct

Eternal Life

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For God so loved the world,that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

One question:

Do you know Jesus as your Savior today?

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perish