June 20, 2019

Does Your Faith Model God's Love?

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
The best way for a Christian to demonstrate their faith is to act as God acts. Our prayer should be that God would direct us toward others who doubt that God’s love is real and need to hear why it is unconditional.
Jesus Christ is the example of that unconditional love through how he became and endured the punishment of our sins, for our atonement and our justification before God.
If our goal, as Christians, is to strive to become a better example of Jesus to others in the world, we must want to do so through our actions as well as our words declaring God’s eternal love through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
May our prayer be to God, “Lead me to someone today where I may be an example of your love to them and where they may come to know the greatness of your forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins, so that they might become a new son, or daughter in Christ.”

June 15, 2019

A Blessing Before Your Day Begins, or Say Goodbye

God freely gives his undeserved favor towards his people. That is what grace is to the sinner, something undeserved from God.
Peter wrote this letter encouraging believers at a time of confusion, discouragement and persecution they were experiencing.
So, if anyone is going through a difficult time, maybe these words from Scripture, even the entire letter of 1 Peter may be an encouragement to you.
His words, his prayer for them were that the moments of their lives would be filled with a multitude of God’s undeserved spiritual blessings.
Maybe instead of saying have a good day to someone, we could pray for God’s grace and peace to be abundant throughout their day.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Amen!

June 3, 2019

Two Inseparable Life Experiences: Suffering and Glory

It cannot be forgotten that because we live in an imperfect world, it would be unrealistic to think that Christians would be free from the experience of troubles in this present life.
The experience of suffering and glory cannot be separated, for they were both experienced by Jesus, and shall be the experience of the believer too.
These two experiences also speak of the times they will be experienced - now and in the future. One is temporary and the other is eternal.
They are also incomparable. What awaits the believer in the future far outweighs (2 Cor 4:17) anything that ever happens in our lives now.
The troubles you face today will result in a glorious triumph in the future where there will be no suffering or worry, but many songs of worship. Why not sing and worship the Lord now instead of worrying? Which would be better for your soul? I think you know the answer. 😉
This life is a guaranteed experience of various trials (James 1:3) and they are incomparable to the glorious eternal life that awaits those who have been born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3) in Jesus Christ.
Just remember, when things in this life are not going so well today, the best truly and gloriously is yet to come.

May 29, 2019

God's Work is Guaranteed to Be Done in You

God’s work in a person’s life is guaranteed to become what He has fully planned, from beginning to end. Not what I want my life to be, but what He wants it to become, and ultimately, we are to become more like Christ, aren’t we? We are to obey God just as Jesus did. Are we?

God has not and will not stop working in my life, or yours, to see that we are conformed into the image of Christ, not by force, but by love.
We must remember the assurance that is given to us because of Christ’s finished work on the cross that God’s redeeming and renewing work is never finished in us, until we reach that final day. Our sin debt was paid, once, for all, and I/you stand positionally before God as made perfectly righteous in Christ. However, that work of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation that God has done for you and I must cause us to want to become more like Jesus. The spiritual change is immediate, but the outward expressions of regeneration changes slowly over time.
As long as we live in this mortal body we will always be tempted by sin and tempted to fail God. Sometimes we do. Sometimes I do. But the more that we are drawn closer to God, through His Word, through fellowship and worship with other believers, through serving others, our lives will be changed to become more like Christ, and this only occurs by yielding ourselves to God’s pruning in our lives. Will you let Him do that for you?
So the phrase that we often hear, “God’s not done with me yet,” is true. Even through the good times, the bad times, every difficulty, every blessing, every unexpected trouble, or every unexpected experience of joy. It all has a purpose that God has had planned before time.
We may not recognize it as God’s good work being done in us, but it is and it serves a purpose, even the bad things that happen. Are you seeking to know from God what that is, what purpose is my/your current experience of life serving the purpose of God?
God’s not done with you yet. Not yet. God’s work is guaranteed to be accomplished in you and in me.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6, ESV

May 6, 2019

Would you like the keys to this house?

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 
1 John 4:13

Do you want a house for your soul? Do you ask, “What is the purchase?” It is something less than proud human nature will like to give. It is without money and without price. Ah! you would like to pay a respectable rent! You would love to do something to win Christ? Then you cannot have the house, for it is “without price.” Will you take my Master’s house on a lease for all eternity, with nothing to pay for it, nothing but the ground-rent of loving and serving him for ever? Will you take Jesus and “dwell in him?” See, this house is furnished with all you want, it is filled with riches more than you will spend as long as you live. Here you can have intimate communion with Christ and feast on his love; here are tables well-stored with food for you to live on forever; in it, when weary, you can find rest with Jesus; and from it you can look out and see heaven itself. Will you have the house? Ah! if you are houseless, you will say, “I should like to have the house; but may I have it?” Yes; there is the key—the key is, “Come to Jesus.” “But,” you say, “I am too shabby for such a house.” Never mind; there are garments inside. If you feel guilty and condemned, come; and though the house is too good for you, Christ will make you good enough for the house by-and-by. He will wash you and cleanse you, and you will yet be able to sing, “We dwell in him.” Believer: thrice happy art thou to have such a dwelling-place! Greatly privileged thou art, for thou hast a “strong habitation” in which thou art ever safe. And “dwelling in him,” thou hast not only a perfect and secure house, but an everlasting one. When this world shall have melted like a dream, our house shall live, and stand more imperishable than marble, more solid than granite, self-existent as God, for it is God himself—“We dwell in him.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

March 24, 2019

God Uses the Most Unlikely People

For the past 4 weeks, I have listened to some great expository preaching by Michael Staton, at FBC Mustang.

Today's conclusion of this series in the book of Ruth was one that helped me to see even more that the experience of Ruth and Naomi's lives was something that I can relate to very much.

They both left a place that had been home for them. They both experienced devastating loss in their lives and they had settled in a new city with many unknowns, especially how would their needs be met without a husband to provide for them?

We had been living in Port Neches, Texas for the past 2 years and had looked forward to living in this community for the next 20 years of our lives. 

I had experienced a devastating loss of ministry when my term as pastor was not renewed, after Hurricane Harvey had occurred. This loss affected me the most emotionally and spiritually and it had affected my wife in a similar manner too.

We moved to a new city (Murrieta, CA) to live with my mother during this transition of our lives and there were unknowns about where our lives would move to next and when. Would we be able to meet our financial obligations personally and that has been a struggle for us throughout the past 15 months and continues to be so, but we're slowly getting out from under that struggle too.

God's faithfulness can be traced throughout this story and so much more can and should we realize that if we remain faithful and diligent in our work, the blessing of God will be found and received in our lives, much like it was for Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.

Both women suffered the loss of their husbands, but Naomi's grief was multiplied by the loss of both of her sons too, and it's not too hard to imagine the tremendous amount of grief she had experienced.

It's also not too hard to imagine how a person could begin to think that such an emotional distress could cause a person to feel that God has somehow abandoned them too.

Have you ever felt that God may have abandoned you, whether there has been an unexpected transition in your life, or not? I know that I can honestly say that I have felt that way several times in the past 15 months of my life and I've prayed at the beach asking God, "What are you doing in my life right now that I need to understand? Help me understand why this is happening, please."

One of the applications that Michael had shared at the end of the sermon was that we don't grow best in times of comfort and ease, but in the difficult times of life, which is all the more reason why we should continue to trust God during those times. 

Our faith grows stronger when there are difficulties and unless our lives are continuously rooted in the daily discipline of the Word of God, we'll simply collapse in the midst of it.

I'm also grateful that he pointed out the genealogy list of people at the end of chapter 4 of Ruth and to see the list of names in Matthew chapter 1:3-6.

Each of the women listed in Matthew chapter 1:3-6 did not have lives that by human standards would have been considered useful for service to God.

Tamar deceived a man into having sex with her, so she could have children, Rahab was a known prostitute, Ruth lived in a country (Moab) that was known for immoral living, and Bathsheba committed adultery with another man.

Not one of these women would have been chosen as Woman of the Year, by human standards. But God uses the most unlikely and even the most undeserving people, to see that His will is accomplished and that His name will be praised, by each person and among other people too.

I've certainly felt that it would be unlikely that God would use me again, but according to the story of Ruth, He wants to use people who don't feel as if they deserve to be used by Him. That gives me hope and I hope it gives you hope too.

There is something that is part of God's will that needs to be accomplished, and and I hope that you realize, as much as I do now that somehow, some way, we daily play a role in seeing the sovereign hand of God at work in the fulfillment of His will, in more than just our individual lives.

So, if you're going through a season of life that has been difficult, or even experienced a tragic loss of life, don't despair. God is still at work and is doing something remarkable, through people in around your life, to cause you to worship and thank Him in immense awe and wonder.

February 3, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Praying the Bible

Praying the BiblePraying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had read a blog post about this book a few years ago and was challenged by the concept of praying using verses of Scripture, to experience a more substantive time of prayer. The blog post was a great start, but I never kept up with the discipline to continue to pray using Scripture. Now that I've read this book, and followed the author's direction in chapter 7 I believe, I stopped reading, selected a Psalm according to the day (2 February) and I read and prayed for 7 minutes using Psalm 32:1-3 and what a difference that time of prayer was using Scripture to help guide me in what to say and how thankful I am that God has forgiven me and that my sin is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is, this gift that God has given to me, what He has done for me, to forgive me and not charge my sin against me and that I've been completely honest about it too. God knows if I'm being deceitful about it too, so I can't hide it either. He knows and sees all things anyway!

During my short time as a pastor, I've know people who have had some difficulty praying substantively, or feeling that their prayers were so dry and weren't reaching further than the room they were in, but they did believe that God heard them though. How often is it too that a person prays the same things about the same things and it never changes. This book will change that and breathe new life into your prayer life.

This is a great book and I'm glad I finally read it, and certainly wish that I had read it MUCH SOONER. Now, even through my daily bible reading plan, I'm aware of how I can pray using various verses, or passages from Scripture, to help me have a prayer life where I feel much more closer to God than I have before.

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