Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Worthy of Praise

Today simply allow God's Word speak to you:

Psalm 18:1-3
I love You, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.

Have you experienced the reality of these verses? A number of years ago it was discovered that I had a life-altering medical condition. My diet needed to change, my routine needed change, and perhaps worse of all - I had already lost significant hearing in one ear. Needless to say, I was very discouraged about that discovery. It was the worse news.

Yet, my LORD was right there with me in that valley. He proves Himself over and over again to be my strength, when I am at my weakest. There are still days that I am very weak physically and Jesus intervenes with strength. He proves Himself to be my deliverer, my refuge, and my shield. Oh, I could write much more about how the LORD God has shown Himself "worthy of praise".

Oh, but the greatest way He has worked in my life is the reality that He is indeed my salvation. He sent His Son Jesus to live, to die, and to be raised from the dead. He died in my place on that cross. He took my sin upon Himself. And His resurrection from the dead is security that I too will live for eternity with Him as my Savior and Lord.

That leaves us with this question: Is He worthy of praise in your life?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Ally Creek
(2) State = Kansas
(3) People Group = Southeast Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Switzerland

Monday, January 30, 2012

What is His Name?

This morning we find ourselves in Exodus 3. God appeared to Moses through the burning bush, that holy land where Moses was told to remove his sandals. When God appeared to him, He informed Moses that He had heard the cries (prayers) of the Israelites and would deliver them from the land of Egypt. Moses would be the human instrument used by God to accomplish this deliverance.

However, Moses resisted God with excuses. "Who am I?" was his first excuse. That is when God promises His presence and His promise that all of Israel would worship God at this place where God appeared to Moses. "What is His name?" was the second excuse. In other words, Who has sent you, Moses? God answered Moses in the following way:
"I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you . . . Yahweh,
the God of your fathers . . . This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in
every generation" (Exodus 3:14 & 15).

Notice that this is God saying that He is the only One, the only God. This only God, the God of all, has sent Moses to the Israelites. This is the same God that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph believed in and followed. This name "Yahweh" was to be God's name throughout the generations.

What is His name? Today we celebrate God as Deliverer, Savior, Mighty One, Lord, Jesus, Messiah, etc.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Lassater
(2) State = Oklahoma
(3) Nation = Cameroon
(4) People Group = European Peoples

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What will You Surrender?

Jesus was approached by a young man with a simple question: "Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?" (Matthew 19:16). What comes after that is a little surprising to us perhaps. Jesus says nothing about believing in Him or calling upon the name of the Lord for salvation. Instead, we read Jesus telling the young man to keep the commandments. That is when the young man proclaims that he has obeyed the commandments - all the commandments - surely there is something more.

The young man had done everything he knew to do and still was lacking something. He is very much like people today. People acquire so many things: the newest cars, the best clothes, the up-to-date cell phone, the biggest flat screen tv's, and the list goes on and on and on . . .  With all this stuff there is still no fulfillment.

Jesus told the young man that the answer is total surrender to Him. Hear the words of Jesus: "Go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heave. Then come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21). Sell everything! Give to the poor! Does God want us to do this? Perhaps! The point is not what is that you have to give up; the point is the willingness to give it up. It is at that point of surrender that we are truly ready to "follow" Him. What will you surrender?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Mims
(2) State = Iowa
(3) People Group = American Peoples
(4) Nation = Turks & Caicos Islands

Friday, January 27, 2012

Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus' disciples asked Him, "Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Most people are probably expecting the answer to be, "I AM" or "The Father is." That would make since. God, the Father, is on the throne. He is sovereign over everything He has created. An answer like this would make perfect since.

It must have puzzled the first disciples and perhaps is still a puzzle to disciples today when Jesus had a child brought to Him and said, "unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). What? We must become like children? Yes, we must come to Jesus in simple faith. There is nothing that we can offer Him, nothing we can do to earn salvation, nothing we can pay to buy salvation, and nothing we can do good enough to deserve salvation.

There is much that would be written at this point. Too often we make salvation more difficult than it is for people to have. We have created hoops and barriers to the gospel that were never intended. For example, a person must be a certain age, or they must be able to answer all of our questions correctly, or they must be baptized before they are really saved. As I often say to the family of LOPBC, "show me where that is in Scripture." In the verse we have considered this morning and the surrounding context, it is clear that simple faith in Jesus leads to greatness in the kingdom of heaven. I love to point to this verse, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Indian Hills / Deer Cove
(2) State = Indiana
(3) Nation = US Virgin Islands
(4) Continent = Australia

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cup of Blessing

Have you ever thought of God being our "cup of blessing"? I have to admit that I have never thought of God that way. Yet, David did in the following verses:
Psalm 16:5&6
LORD, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

God is indeed our portion, all that we need. He supplies our needs. He blesses us in ways that only He can do. Think about even the blessing of salvation. Only He can give you salvation. Only God can give you peace within when your whole world seems to be crashing down around you. He is our all-in-all.

God is indeed our cup of blessing. Notice the statement about the boundary lines. What are boundary lines? This is how we identify land that we own or possession. In our spiritual lives, this could refer to the blessing of knowing Him, walking daily with Him, the privilege of prayer with Him, the time spend in the study of His Word, etc. Of course, this could likely be a reference to heaven. Heaven will be that place and time of eternal worship of God gathered around His throne with believers from every tribe, every tongue, and every language. We indeed have a beautiful inheritance.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Cypress
(2) State = Pennsylvania
(3) Nation = Albania
(4) Continent = Europe

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jesus the Messiah

Who do people say Jesus is?

Some are likened to the first disciples when asked this very question. Those first disciples answered: "Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets" (Matthew 16:14). People today will make statements about Jesus being a good teacher or a religious leader. Others will even say that He was a fraud or a mythical creation, devised by religious people.

Who do you say Jesus is?

Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Son of the Living God. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Life. Jesus is the Way of Salvation. Jesus is God. These are not just personally convictions but beliefs based on the Word of God, the work of Jesus in my life, and based on a personal relationship with Jesus.

What about you? Who do you say Jesus is?

Today we are Praying for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Oaks
(2) State = Illinois
(3) Nation = Venezuela
(4) Continent = Asia

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Miracle . . . Lesson . . . Prayer

One of the greatest miracles captured in Scripture for us to read is the feeding of the 5,000 found in Matthew 13:14-21. In those seven verses we see the compassion that Jesus has for people who are hungry, tired, and worn. It may very well be that you find yourself like that today. I know that there are days I do. That is when Jesus steps in and brings all that we need. You see, for the people who were hungry - Jesus fed them, for the people who were tired - Jesus gave them rest, for the people who were worn - Jesus provided for their need.

Today, Jesus will do the same for you and me. He will meet our needs because that is the kind of Savior that He is. Jesus will come along side of us to encourag us. He will walk with us. When we come to Him through prayer, He is ready and waiting.

One more thing. It is amazing to me that this wonderful miracle is followed by Peter walking on the sea - only to find himself drowning, when he took his eyes off Jesus. The lesson for us - always keep our eyes on Jesus. The world will wear us out. The evil one will lie to us. Everything can seemingly fall apart. But Jesus is ready and waiting. His desire is for our focus to always be on Him.

Will you? Will you keep your focus on Jesus? Will you let Him provide for you?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Jefferson
(2) State = Rhode Island
(3) Nation = Myanmar
(4) Continent = Africa

Monday, January 23, 2012

In Awe of God

My heart is still rejoicing in all that we have witnessed God do over these past weeks. He has drawn to Himself many for salvation. The church of LOPBC got to experience a part of His work Sunday morning as two made their profession of faith in Christ. Then Sunday night we encountered this verse from our study of Ecclesiastes: "God works so that people will be in awe of Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

That is also what is encountered throughout all of Scripture. God is powerfully at work so that people will see Him and worship Him and bring Him all glory. Joseph was aware of this when Pharaoh came to him to interrupt his dream. Joseph's response was simply: "I am not able to . . . it is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer" (Genesis 41:16).

Again and again we see this truth revealed, it is not about us but all about God. Today, let us stand in awe of God and give Him the glory. It is important that we continue to decrease and that Jesus increase in our lives. Joseph understood and lived by this truth. Others from Scripture understood and lived by this truth. May we follow in their footsteps of knowing and living by this truth.

Today Praying for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Eagle Landing
(2) State = Idaho
(3) Nation = Laos
(4) Continent = South America

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Person of Integrity

One of the greatest examples of integrity is found in the life of Joseph. Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, quickly gained the respect of his Egyptian master. Genesis 39 tells us that everything that Joseph did was successful because the LORD was with him. Because of his master's trust in him, Joseph was placed in full charge of the Egyptian's household.

Joseph proved his integrity when the Egyptian's wife tried to seduce him. In fact, she tried day after day. Notice this emphasis from Scripture, "Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her" (Genesis 39:10). When most men would have given in to such treatment, Joseph held to his faith in God and his responsibility to his earthly master. Even after he wrongly arrested and thrown into prison for allegedly trying to rape the Egyptian's wife, Joseph remained true to his integrity.

The Scripture applauds his integrity with these words: "The LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden . . . the LORD was with him, and the LORD made everything that he did successful" (Genesis 29:21-23). Joseph was a man that lived for God. He was a man of integrity.

In a world where integrity seems to be lacking, may we the people of God stand strong with integrity. Will you join me? Will you be a person of integrity?

Today praying for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Victory
(2) State = South Carolina
(3) Nation = Norway
(4) Continent = North America

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Importance of God's Kingdom?

When Jesus His earthly ministry, we are told that He came preaching the Kingdom of Heaven. He would continue to preach about the Kingdom throughout His ministry. One such teaching is found in Matthew 13. Actually, there are many truths revealed in that passage. Today we will consider the following one:

 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied.
Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field"

(Matthew 13:44).

Notice that Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is worth forsaking everything else for it. This man was willing to give all just to have the treasure that he had discovered. It didn't matter to him how foolish it might seem to others. It didn't matter to him how others would criticize his decision. He was convinced that this treasure was more than worth whatever he had to give in order to have it.

What are you willing to surrender or forsake or sell or give away for the kingdom of heaven? How important is the kingdom of heaven to you?

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Crestwood
(2) State = Hawaii
(3) Nation = Kazakhstan
(4) Continent = Antarctica

Friday, January 20, 2012

Verses to Live By

The following are verses to live by from Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths.

There are some key phrases for us to consider today:
(1) Trust in the LORD - in a world that focuses so much on trusting only ourselves, which leads to selfishness and self-centeredness; it is important that we see that real life is found in trusting God.
(2) With all your heart - the best way to understand this phrase is to say that we are to surrender everything that we are to Jesus
(3) Think about Him - if we are thinking about God it is hard to be selfish and self-centered. When we are thinking about Jesus, we are surrendered totally to Him, and we cannot rely on ourselves but only on Him.
(4) He will guide you - Jesus promised to send the Helper, the Holy Spirit - to live in each believer for the purpose of convicting us, sealing us, comforting us, and guiding us - Jesus with us every step of every day.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Ally Creek
(2) State = South Dakota
(3) Nation = Oman
(4) Continent = Australia

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Clean House

Jesus taught His disciples an important lesson found in Matthew 12:43-45. An unclean spirit has been removed from a house. We are not told all the specifics surrounding his removal but we are told that he decided to return to his old house. And once he finds it vacant, he invites other unclean spirits to join him. The Scripture then states that these unclean spirits were more evil than the first; which results in a far worse situation than there was with just the one unclean spirit.

What is the lesson for us?

One thing is for sure, we need to be freed from unclean spirits. For time purposes, we are not debating the issue of a Christian being possessed by an unclean spirit. However, this truth still remains once an unclean spirit is gone the house (body, mind, heart) must be filled with something or that unclean spirit (and perhaps all the unclean spirits he can find) will come and take up residence once again. So the question becomes: "What do we fill the house with?"

We must be filled with the Spirit. We must fill our lives with the power and work of God's presence. We must fill our minds with His Word. The psalmist put this way: "I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11).

Today clean your house through the confession and repentance from sin. Today keep a clean house by replacing that sin with Jesus, His Spirit, His Word, His people, His work, etc.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Lassater Community
(2) State = Georgia
(3) Nation = Jamaica
(3) Continent = Europe

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finding Forgiveness

One of the best Old Testament stories of forgiveness is the reunion of Jacob and Esau found in Genesis 33. You might remember that Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of soup and then tricked Issac into blessing him instead of Esau. Jacob got everything that rightfully Esau's.

Jacob spent over 20 years in a foreign land where God blessed him with many possessions, slaves, and family. However, now it was time to go to the land of Promise. God was leading him just as He had led Abraham years before. The only obstacle for Jacob was encountering Esau again.

Jacob just knew that Esau was angry with him. He certainly had every right to be. Yet, when the two see each other face-to-face the unimaginable takes place. "Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Then they wept" (Genesis 33:4). Talk about forgiveness. He ran to meet Jacob. He hugged Jacob. He threw his arms around Jacob. He kissed Jacob. All of these actions were not done for enemies. Instead, these are actions on display between family and friends. These actions showed Jacob that there was no hatred like he excepted to see. Instead, Jacob found forgiveness.

Jesus offers forgiveness to all who come to Him. Therefore, let us be agents and people of forgiveness.

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Mims
(2) State = Tennessee
(3) Nation = Puerto Rico
(4) Continent = Asia

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jesus gives Rest

One of the most comforting verses of Scripture for everyday life is found in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

We must see the first truth of this verse - we are to come to Him. Too often, we begin to pray about an issue then we go and try to solve the problem or handle the issue in our own way, instead of waiting on Him. Part of coming to Him is to understand that we must wait on Him. But remember no matter what we are going through He is always there for us. Through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers today, Jesus is with us.

Rest, in this and other verses, is often misunderstood. Some take it to mean that we have stopped from all activity. Some take it to mean the "rest" of heaven once this earthly life is over. However, rest in this verse seems to indicate that peace and security that Jesus gives. We may not know how or when He will take care of the situation but we know that He will. We can "rest" because He is in control.

Today, go to Jesus - tell Him all - enjoy the rest that He gives - pray for the following:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Pine Harbor
(2) State = Florida
(3) Nation = Iceland
(4) Continent = Africa

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Blessing to Others

This morning's Bible reading included Genesis 29 & 30; which reveals how Jacob worked for a wife. He worked seven years for the right to marry "Rachel". When the seven years were completed he as given "Leah" instead. That is when he agreed to work another seven years for "Rachel". A total of 14 years. It is at the end of the 14 years that Jacob and Laban discussed how God had blessed them all because of Jacob.

Genesis 30:29 states: "You know what I have done for you and your herds. For you had very little before I came, but now your wealth has increased. The LORD has blessed you because of me." That is really interesting to me. Who can say the same about their life because I have been with them? Who can say the same about their life because you have been with them? Who has been drawn closer to the LORD because of us?

Today let us keep all these things in our minds and hearts. Let us look for opportunities to be a wonderful influence upon those around us to help draw them into the very presence of God.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Indian Hills / Deer Cove
(2) State = Texas
(3) Nation = Qatar
(4) Continent = South America

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Find Your Life

Jesus told His first disciples, "Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it" (Matthew 10:39). Does that really add up? Finding your life is really losing your life & losing your life is really finding your life. YES!!!

True life is found only in Jesus. It is only when we lose the "me, myself, and I" from our lives will we find the "Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit" that sets us free to truly live. It doesn't take long to see self-centered behavior in people. And before we think that is just a reference to non-Christians we had better take a hard, long look into the mirror. Selfishness, along with notable others, is among the biggest sins hindering the Church of today. When silfishness takes hold of a person's life, they often don't even realize what is happened to them.

Are you willing to lose your life? Are you willing to surrender all to Jesus ? It is only when we have given everything to Jesus that we are free to truly live. We can have real life with eternal purpose right now and eternal reward when this earthly life is over. It is time to lose all for Christ - to find everything.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Cypress
(2) State = Delaware
(3) Nation = Haiti
(4) Continent = North America

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our God is our Refuge

Psalm 9:9-10
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know Your name trust in You because You have not abandoned those who seek You, LORD.

Have you ever been oppressed? Have you ever been in trouble? Oh, how both of these descriptions could be used to describe us at various points in our lives. There are certainly those days when it seems like everything is crashing down around us. There are troubles that we encounter. Troubles in this life is like sin in this life: sometimes it is caused simply because we live in a fallen world, sometimes it occurs because of the actions of people around us, and sometimes it is the result of our own wrong choices.

The wonderful news is that we don't have to stay oppressed or in times of trouble; because we trust in a God who is our refuge and who has never abandoned those seek Him. He is greater. He is victorious. He is in control. Run to Him. Cling to Him. Always trust Him.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines: Big Oaks
(2) State: Utah
(3) Nation: Rwanda
(4) Continent:Antarctica

Friday, January 13, 2012

Drawn to Jesus

People were drawn to Jesus during His earthly ministry. Yes, He healed people. Yes, He did things that people had not seen in Israel before. People were simply drawn to Him. In Matthew 9 there are several examples of people coming to Jesus. A military leader came concerning his very sick daughter. In fact, when Jesus arrived at the house everybody was grieving because the child was dead. But Jesus declared that she was not dead, He went to where she was "took her by the hand, and the girl got up" (Matthew 9:26).

This example of healing was actually interrupted by another healing. A woman, who had a bleeding problem came up to Jesus for healing. She found Jesus to be exactly the Healer she believed Him to be.

Two blind men shouted to Jesus as He traveled, "Have mercy on us, Son of David" (Matthew 9:27). Jesus healed them and then instructed them not to tell others. What? Why would Jesus tell these men not to tell others? This seems puzzling to us but remember that Jesus was not trying to gain a popularity following but followers that were willing to sacrifice all to be His disciples.

That brings us to a very important question. Why do we follow Jesus? Are we simply impressed by what Jesus had done? Are we drawn to Jesus for what He has and can do for us? Are we truly drawn to Jesus to surrender all to live in total abandonment to be His disciples?

Today praying for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines: Jefferson
(2) State: Connecticut
(3) Nation: Gabon
(4) Continent: Australia

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Majesty of our LORD

O LORD, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! (Psalm 8:9). Today may we, the people of God, join together to make much of our God. This is done in many ways. Glory comes to God when others see Jesus in us. God delights in us spending time with Him through prayer and time studying His Word. He is glorified throughout the earth as we take the gospel to the nations. Starting right outside our doors, on the job site, in the grocery store, and wherever life takes us today. Will you do your part?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines: the community of Eagle Landing
(2) State: Vermont
(3) Nation: Syria
(4) Continent: Europe

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cost of Discipleship

Do you give all to follow Jesus? We sing songs in Church like "I Surrender All" and "Wherever He Leads I'll Go", yet do we really mean the words of our songs? These are questions I have been asking of myself and of others for a few years now. Some people take the challenge to really look at their walks with Christ and ask the difficult questions. Others simply get upset and refuse to examine their lives; all the while insisting that they are living within the will of God. However, we cannot be in the will of God unless we are in total surrender to Jesus as our Master.

Matthew 8:18-22 describes people who said they wanted to follow Jesus. They were willing to make a verbal commitment. Then Jesus reveals the cost of discipleship. He told one man - you can expect to be homeless. To another He said: "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22). This was a man that indicated that he would follow Jesus but first wanted to bury his father. Would Jesus really not allow this man to bury his own father? Would Jesus really say that we are to put following Him above family responsibilities?

At this point it is important to keep a few things in perspective: (1) Jesus gave all to provide salvation, (2) Jesus gives salvation freely - Ephesians 2 specifically says it is grace that saves us through faith, and (3) Jesus simply says: "Follow Me". Simple instructions. Simple, right? Yes!!! It is all about Him! Anything that discipleship costs us is minor in comparison to what Jesus has given us. There is nothing is the world worth more than knowing Him for salvation and following Him in obedience.

Praying today for:
(1) the Victory community of Lake O' the Pines
(2) the state of Colorado
(3) the nation of Faeroe Islands
(4) the continent of Asia

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

People will Know

We cannot excape the fact that people will be recognized by their fruit. Our actions and reactions to circumstances will reveal what is really important to us. Jesus reminded His followers of the obvious - "A good tree can't produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit" (Matthew 7:18). Fruit in the life of the Christian is to be guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads to lives that are led by "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22&23).

What is my life led by? What fruit do people see in my life? People will know. They will know how important Jesus is to me. They will know how important the study of God's Word is in my life. They will know how important bringing glory to God is in my life. What will people know about my life? What will people know about your life?

Praying today for:
(1) the Crestwood community (Lake O' the Pines)
(2) the state of Virginia
(3) the nation of Tuvalu
(4) the continent of Africa

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do we Laugh at God?

Did today's title get your attention? Do we laugh at God? That may seem like a strange question to you but it did happen in the Bible. Genesis 18 reveals how God spoke to Abraham concerning the coming birth of his son Isaac. Abraham was told that in one year's time that the LORD would visit with Abraham again and his wife Sarah would have given birth to a son.

When Sarah heard the words of the LORD the Scripture states that "she laughed to herself: 'After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?'" (Genesis 18:12). She knew that she was past child-bearing years. In fact, notice the wording she used before: "shriveled up". How could she give birth to son?

That is when God spoke to Abraham with the following question: "Is anything impossible for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14). According to Scripture, it was a year later that the LORD revealed Himself to Abraham and Sarah with their son, Isaac. Indeed the LORD had blessed them and proved Himself mighty in their lives.

So, I ask the question again: Do we laugh at God? When God speaks to us through His Word or through His indwelling Holy Spirit, do we laugh when God speaks of doing something that we cannot understand or think too big? It really becomes a matter of faith. In faith, we must step forward under the leadership of God to join Him in the work that He is doing around us.

God is at work. He is doing incredible things throughout the world. Prayerfully, He will do great things in our lives today.

Praying today for:
(1) the Ally Creek community around Lake O' the Pines
(2) the state of California
(3) the nation of Ecuador
(4) the continent of South America

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Focus on JESUS!!!

Scripture has so much to teach us about our focus. For example, in the Old Testament, Israel would not totally focus on the LORD; instead they would from time-to-time focus on their enemies, the false gods of the neighboring peoples, or worse yet - decide not to obey God period. In each of these examples their focus was not where it needed to be.

In the New Testament, the theme of focus is taught on by Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and James. Today we will spend just a moment looking at on one of the times that Jesus taught His first disciples about focus. Jesus taught His first disciples in Matthew 6:1-24 that a disciple's focus is not to be for the applause of the world when we pray; but rather our focus is on the Father. He also teaches that our focus is not holding on to grudges; but rather our focus should be on forgiveness. Our focus should not be on the treasures of this earth; but rather our focus should be on the treasure of heaven - JESUS.

The point is simple. When we focus on the applause of man (this world), holding on to grudges (this world), or the treasures of this world; we are in disobedience to the Father. However, when we focus on JESUS we are exactly where we need to be. Jesus says it best. "No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money" (Matthew 6:24).

Praying for:
(1) the Lassater community (Lake O' the Pines)
(2) the state of Washington
(3) the nation of Uzbekistan
(4) the continent of North America

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The LORD is our Shield

For His own glory, God continued to work in the life of Abraham to bring him to the place that the LORD desired for him to be. Abraham had passed through the land of Canaan, stayed a time in the land of Egypt, and eventually came back to the land of Canaan. It was during this second stay in the land of Canaan that Abraham comes to his nephew Lot's rescue for the first time. Following this rescue Abraham was visiting by the LORD in a vision; when God reveals these things to Abraham: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great" (Genesis 15:1).

Many years after this promise of God to be a shield for Abraham, David wrote: "Let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your name boast about You. For You, LORD, bless the rightous one; You surround him with favor like a shield" (Psalm 5:11&12). David, as his forefather Abraham, experienced the supernatureal protection and providence of God in his life. He knew that God blessed righteousness and those who love Him.

Today, I pray that you also find the LORD to be your shield, your shelter, your reward.

Prayer for Today:
(1) The Mims community of Lake O' the Pines
(2) The state of Arkansas
(3) The nation of Denmark
(4) The continent of Antarctica

Friday, January 6, 2012

Step of Faith

Genesis 12:1-3
The LORD said to Abram: God out from your land, your relatives, and your father's house
to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you,
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

As you read the Bible and look throughout history, you will find the truths of these verses evident. God blessed Abram"s (would soon become Abraham) faithfulness to leave the land of his relatives and countrymen for a land that God would direct him to. God indeed caused Abraham and his descendants to become a great nation - Israel. Over and over again we see the result of God's blessings upon those who bless Israel and God's wrath upon those who treat Israel with contempt. Yes, these truths in Scripture lead up to the greatest truth of all contained in these verses.

 Praise be to God for Jesus who indeed is the ultimate fulfillment of the promise made in these verses that "all the peoples on earth will be blessed". Jesus brought glory to God throughout His life of ministry and when He sacrificially laid His own life down for undeserving man. It is through that sacrifice on the cross, the shedding of His blood, and the resurrection from the dead that people today have the opportunity for salvation.

Now it is our turn to make Him known throughout the nations. It is still staggering to me the number of people that have not even heard the gospel that leads to salvation in Jesus. Even more alarming is that too many of us are so caught up in our little part of the world, so caught up in our problems, so caught up in our comfort; that we don't even notice (or even more alarming - don't care) those who dying without Christ.

Today, we give God praise for the salvation He has given us through Jesus. Today, we pray for God to make Himself known throughout the nations. Today, we seek to make Him known through our words & deeds - for He is the blessing for all peoples.

Prayer for:
(1) the community of Pine Harbor (Lake O' the Pines)
(2) the state of West Virginia
(3) the nation of Vietnam
(4) the continent of Australia

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Immediately follow Jesus!

For those who know me the best, you know that I love the passages of Scripture that focus on the calling of the first disciples and their immediate response to leave everything and follow Jesus. Such is the case in today's reading from Matthew 4:21-25. This particular passage states that Jesus called James and John. They were brothers, the sons of Zebedee, and fishermen. Yet, when Jesus called out for them to follow Him this is the response recorded in Matthew 4:22 = "Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him."

This immediate response of surrender is the same response we see from Andrew & Peter, the same response we see from Matthew, the tax collector, and the same response that Jesus expects from all He calls to follow Him. Has this been your response? Have you responded with the willingness to leave everything (comforts, likes, money, possessions, whatever He says) in order to follow Him?

It is my prayer that today Jesus find each of us in total surrender to His calling for our lives. Exalting Jesus, Loving Others, Reaching the World! Who is with me?

Today's Prayer Guide:
(1) The Indian Hills / Deer Cove community of Lake O' the Pines
(2) The State of Arizona
(3) The Nation of Cambodia
(4) The Continent of Europe

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salvation belongs to the LORD!!!

Bible Reading = Psalm 3:3,7,&8
You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head . . . Rise up, LORD! Save me, my God! . . . Salvation belongs to the LORD; may Your blessing be on Your people.

Have you ever noticed how often Scripture refers to the LORD as a shield around us? This truth has captured my mind and heart this morning. A few chapters later we read: "My shield is with God who saves the upright in heart" (Psalm 7:10). The word shield puts in my mind the idea of protection. I am protected because of who God is. As the psalmist wrote, He is "the One who lifts up my head".

Another truth in these verses is that God and God alone saves. Notice that the psalmist pleads for the LORD to rise up. Thanks be to God that He has done exactly that. In fact, this is the reality of the Christmas celebration. Jesus came to earth. God sent forth His One and Only Son. For His glory His Son was born, lived a perfect (sinless) life, died on the cross, was buried, and was resurrected to give eternal life to all who would believe in Him.

"Salvation belongs to the LORD" . . . Praise the LORD!!! Praise the LORD!!! Now and for forevermore His blessings are upon His people. What exactly is His blessing. Well one reality is "salvation" but another reality that we must take from this Scripture passage is that He is our "shield".

(1)  The Big Cypress community of Lake O' the Pines
(2)  The State of Wisconsin
(3)  The Continent of Asia
(4)  The Nation of Yemen {61% unreached with the gospel}

God's blessings for you this day as you worship Him, serve Him, and bring Him much glory.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How does God find you?

Yesterday we recapped the first 4 chapters of Genesis by identifying that chapters 1 & 2 mainly deal with the creation, chapter 3 primarily deals with the fall of man, and chapter 4 includes the first murder recorded in Scripture. Chapter 5 is basically a listing of Adams descendants all the way to Noah. It is in chapter 6 that we see the progression of sin. "Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. God saw how corrupt the earth was, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth" (Genesis 6:11-12).

Yet God found Noah to be different. In fact there is a wonderful statements made about Noah in Genesis 6:8&9. (1) Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD, (2) Noah was a righteous man, (3) Noah was blameless among his contemporaries, & (4) Noah walked with God. Wow!!! There it is. God found Noah to be different. Noah surrendered his life to God. He was righteous when everyone else was wicked. Noah was blameless instead of going along with the rest of society. He walked with God.

Is this possible today? Yes!!!

Yes, it is called total surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Today, like never before, may we be followers of Christ who find favor in the eyes of the LORD as righteous men and women. Let it be said of us that our words and our deeds are those of righteousness. We must stop just simply going along with society because it is easier. We must instead, take up our crosses and follow Jesus. It is only when we do this will we indeed "walk with God."

Challenges for Today:
(1) Read God's Word = Genesis 5&6 / Matthew 3
(2) Pray for God to send forth His laborers into the fields around us:
      a. The Big Oaks Community at Lake O' the Pines
      b. The state of Alaska
      c. The Continent of Africa
      d. The Nation of the Bahamas

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sin is on the Attack

Yesterday I wrote about the desire to be filled with God's Spirit in the coming New Year. That is goal, the standard, the measuring line. However, we all need to understand that "sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you" (Genesis 4:7, all Scripture used is from the HCSB unless otherwise stated).Genesis begins with the creation of all things - and there were good. However by Genesis 3 sin had entered the world and by chapter 4 we read about the first murder that takes places in history. This warning takes place before that murder. God was warning Cain and this same warning is for you and I today - "Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

The evil one doesn't have to win. Jesus gives victory over sin. Believers have the indwelling Holy Spirit to give guidance and conviction in regards to facing sin. It is only through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives can we fulfill the final words of Genesis 4:7 - "you must master it."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 is Here!!!

Isaiah prophesied concerning the coming Lord Jesus: "The Spirit of the LORD will rest upon Him - a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD" (Isaiah 11:2).

In 2012 it is my prayer that I will have the Spirit of the LORD resting upon me and that His Spirit will fill me with wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and the fear of the LORD.