Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Lord is our Provision

During Jesus' earthly ministry, He sent His disciples out to preach, teach, heal, cast out demons, and further the kingdom of God. In Mark 6:7-11 we read about one occasion of Jesus sending out His disciples. We are told that He sent them out in pairs. That reinforces the reality that we need each other for encouragement and support. We also told that He gave them authority over unclean spirits. They were to deliver people from demon possession.

What is surprising about His instructions is that His disciples were told to take nothing with them. In fact, "He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a walking stick: no bread, no traveling bag, no money in their money belts" (verse 8). Why? Why were they instructed to take nothing with them? Some Bible students suggest that the disciples were to receive these things from the people that they were ministering to. It seems more likely that Jesus was teaching His disciples to be dependent upon Him for their provision. He would meet their needs, no matter where they were.

That truth is still in force today. Jesus will / does meet the needs of His people. He meets our needs so that He receives the glory. Certainly you and I have responsibilities before the Lord. Let us continually look to Him to be our provision.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Eagle Landing
(2) State = Virginia
(3) Nation = Morocco
(4) South Asian Peoples

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

His Healing Power

Mark 5:21-43 describes the way Jesus healed two different people. The first one to be healed was a lady. According to the Scripture, she was afflicted with a bleeding problem. A problem that had caused her many physical hardships and financial hardship for 12 years. But she heard about Jesus. She knew that all she needed to do was to touch His garment to receive healing. So that is exactly what she does. She comes up behind Jesus and touches His garment and the Scripture states that "Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction" (verse 29).

The second one to be healed was a 12 year old girl that was very sick when the father first approaches Jesus. However, as they were in route to see the girl, the first woman was healed by Jesus. Once they arrived at the house, they were greeted with the news that the girl was dead. Jesus told them that she was only sleeping and entered the room were the girl was laying. When He entered the room, He took the girl by the hand and spoke to her. That is when the Scripture states that "Immediately the girl go up and began to walk" (verse 42).

As we reflect on these examples of healing, let us be reminded that Jesus is the Great Physician. Not only was He in that day and time, but He is still the Great Physician today. Oh that we would approach Jesus to heal our children. Oh that we would approach Jesus to heal us. Oh that we would approach Jesus to heal those around us.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Johnson Creek / Campers
(2) State = California
(3) Nation = Georgia
(4) East Asian Peoples

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marching Orders

Jesus delivered a man that was possessed by a "legion" of demons in Mark 5:1-20. We are told that the man bowed before Jesus pleading with Him to have mercy on him. In deed, Jesus showed mercy to this man by delivering him from the demons that were controlling his life. We are told that while possessed by the demons this man was a crazy man that lived among the tombs and in the mountains. But after Jesus delivered him, this same man was found "sitting there, dressed and in his right mind" (verse 15).

Jesus delivered this man and then gave him marching orders for his life. This man was told: "Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you" (verse 19). Jesus instructed this man to share his testimony with others. He was to share what Jesus had done in his life. This man was to share his new life with everyone. Jesus would receive the glory as this man reported how much He had done for him.

Jesus has given us the same "marching orders". You and I as believers and followers of Jesus Christ are to be sharing the great things He has done in our lives with others. Certainly we start with how Jesus saved us from our sins, how He has given us new life; but we must also declare the wonderful things that Jesus does in our lives on a daily basis. We need to be sharing the truths from God's Word that we are learning. God forth with your marching orders this week to make Him known to the nations, starting right outside your door.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Crestwood
(2) State = Washington
(3) Nation = Niger
(4) Sub-Saharan African Peoples

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Who Then is This?"

Jesus had spent much time teaching the multitudes concerning the kingdom of God; when it was time to cross the lake, He and the disciples boarded a boat. Mark 4:35-41 records a wonderful insight into the life and ministry of Jesus. As He and His disciples were crossing the lake in their boat, the Scripture states that Jesus was asleep in the stern. The disciples were not sleeping. In fact, they were panicking. A storm with fierce winds was causing the little boat many problems. The waves were swamping the boat. That is when the disciples approached Jesus with these words: "Teacher! Don't you care that we're going to die?" (verse 38).

Surely Jesus cared. Right? Surely He was aware that the boat was being battered around by the wind and the waves. Right? Surely He is aware when our lives are being battered around during everyday life. Right? Surely Jesus cares. Right?

Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!!

Yes, Jesus cares. Yes, Jesus knows. Jesus came to the rescue. He ceased the winds and calmed the waves. Jesus delivered the disciples. Just as He comes to our rescue. Just as He takes care of every detail of our lives. As He delivered them, their response was: "Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!" (verse 41). As we see God at work in our lives, let us acknowledge that this is Jesus - My God, My Savior, My Deliverer.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Victory
(2) State = Arkansas
(3) Nation = Finland
(4) North African & Middle Eastern Peoples

Friday, February 24, 2012

Division Doesn't Benefit Anyone

Unity was a major theme within the early Church as recorded in the Book of Acts. It is necessary or otherwise division will destroy the Church. It is obvious from numerous Bible passages that division doesn't benefit anyone.

Jesus spoke about this in Mark 3:13-35. As one of the Pharisees came from Jerusalem, he accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzbul, the ruler of demons; which empowered Him to cast demons out of people. Jesus spoke to the Pharisee and the crowd around Him with a simple reminder"

"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand" (verses 24&25).

The emphasis of course is that division doesn't benefit anyone. Satan would not benefit from attacking himself. Why would the enemy do something that would lead to destruction? Of course that same question is out there for Churches & Christians today. Why do we allow division between ourselves and other believers to continue? Why do we do nothing when people attack the unity of the Church? We as believers and we as Churches must strive, at all cost, to protect and promote unity. After all, division doesn't benefit anyone.

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Ally Creek
(2) State = Arizona
(3) Nation = El Salvador
(4) Southeast Asian Peoples around the World

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Drawn to Jesus

Everywhere you read in the New Testament people were drawn to Jesus. They were drawn to His teachings, to His miracles, to His compassion, to His acceptance . . . they were drawn to Him. In Mark 3:7-12 we read about multitudes being drawn to Jesus. "The great multitude came to Him because they heard about everything He was doing" (Mark 3:8). 

Think about that for just a second. People were drawn to Jesus because they "HEARD". They apparently heard about His teachings, miracles, compassion, etc. Are people hearing about Him today? Are you sharing with others the teachings of Jesus? Are you sharing with others how Jesus is at work changing your life for the better? Are you demonstrating the compassion of Jesus to others so that they be drawn to Him?

Someone said it this way years ago and it stuck with me: "You are either leading people to Jesus or you are leading them away from Him." Oh, that we be found as followers of Christ that continually lead people to Him. What will you do today to help "DRAW" people to Jesus?

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Pine Harbor
(2) State = Wisconsin
(3) Nation = Romania
(4) European Peoples throughout the World

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Far will You Go?

There is a wonderful picture of friendship expressed in Mark 2:1-22. The first example of friendship involves 4 men who take their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Apparently these men knew that Jesus was the only One who could help their friend because they would not let any barriers keep him from Jesus. The first barrier they encountered was the physical act of carrying the man to the house where Jesus was teaching. Another barrier they encountered was the fact that the house was full of people - standing room only as Jesus continued to teach. These determined men hoisted their friend up onto the roof where they cut a hole in the roof large enough for the man to be lowered through. Can you imagine being among those listening to Jesus teach? What would you think as a man on a pallet was being lowered down from the roof? How far would you go to bring a friend to Jesus?

Another example of friendship is found in Jesus Himself. Jesus encountered Levi and called out to him, "Follow Me!" (verse 14). The next words are tremendous regarding Levi's reaction. We read "So he got up and followed Him" (verse 14). Jesus befriended a man that the religious leaders of that day despised. This is evident in the religious leader's reaction to Jesus eating in Levi's home gathered with additional tax collectors. They questioned Jesus' display of friendship with the question, "Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (verse 16). Jesus' response is priceless: "Those who are well don't need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn't come to call the righteous,but sinners" (verse 17).

Oh, that we would befriend people knowing that they are not perfect but in need of the Great Physician, Jesus. How far will you go to bring people to Him? Are you willing to befriend them? Are you willing to cross whatever barriers exist? How far will you go?

Praying for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Mims / Avinger Cutt-off
(2) State = Alaska
(3) Nation = Dominica
(4) American Peoples throughout the World

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Authority & Power

The words authority and power are often associated with Jesus during His earthly ministry. As you read the gospels, you cannot be help see the authority of Jesus as He taught the Scripture and the power of Jesus as He worked miracle after miracle. In Mark 1:21-45, we encounter these realities. Jesus had taught the people in the synagogue and their response was that of astonishment because Jesus taught them "as one having authority" (verse 22). Jesus also demonstrated His power when approached by a man possessed with an unclean spirit. Jesus spoke to the unclean spirit to come out of the man. "The unclean spirit convulsed him, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him" (verse 26).

When the Church is the Church in today's world, the authority and power will also be seen today. His authority is seen as His Word, the gospel, is proclaimed. His power is seen as He transforms people's lives into His likeness. The Church is the instrument of Christ to be His hands, His feet, and His voice in the world today. Are you seeing the authority and power of Jesus? Is the Church family that you belong to seeing the authority and power of Jesus?

Praying today for:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Time has Come

Time has come for God's people to rise up to proclaim the praises of God and the message of salvation to all peoples. This was the very message of Jesus. Mark 1:1-20 records the very early portion of Jesus' earthly ministry. Following His baptism and the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, Jesus began preaching the good news. He told all, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!" (verse 15). 

Jesus, the along awaited Messiah, fulfilled the Scriptural prophecy concerning His arrival. This all happened in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4). Jesus ushered the very kingdom of God into this world - God became flesh (John 1:14). Now, the time has come for His people to be the very presence of God in this world. We are to be His hands, His feet, His voice = His presence.

Jesus proclaimed the gospel message, the good news. To truly embrace the good news - forgiveness of sin and salvation found in Jesus requires a person to repent from their sins and follow Jesus. There is a new life. A change takes place. It is wonderful to see this take place in a person's life. Praise God that He is still in the business of changing lives for His glory. 

Time Has Come = Be His Presence = All For His Glory

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Indian Hills / Deer Cove
(2) State = Alabama
(3) Nation = Canada
(4) East Asian Peoples

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Resurrection & Commission

Two realities of the Christian life are that we serve a risen Savior and that He has commissioned us to take the gospel message of salvation into all the world. Both the resurrection of Jesus and His commission to His disciples is found in Matthew 28:1-20. His resurrection is found specifically in verses 5-7,
"But the angel told the women, 'Don't be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples'" 

Jesus is Alive. Death could not hold Him in that tomb. We must proclaim that Jesus was indeed dead but on the third day He arose from the dead. He is alive!

Jesus spoke to His disciples in the last verses of this wonderful chapter (19 & 20) giving them what we refer to as the Great Commission. There Jesus said clearly,
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Now it is our turn. We have been commissioned to take the message of Christ into the world. We have the greatest news ever = Jesus died for you and arose from the dead to forgive you of sin and give you a personal relationship with God the Father. With such a wonderful message for the nations, it is time for us to get busy. Jesus is with us - let us go.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Berea
(2) State = Montana
(3) Nation = Turkmenistan
(4) Sub-Saharan African Peoples

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jesus' Death = My Access

Matthew 27:45-66 records the last moments of Jesus on the cross prior to His death, His death, His burial, and the efforts made to secure that He stays in the tomb. One of the interesting events surrounding the death of Jesus is found in verse 51, "Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom . . ."

Notice that the curtain split from top to bottom; which indicates a divine action. Jesus removed the barrier (the curtain that kept men from entering into the Holy of Holies). Now every person who comes to God through faith in Jesus Christ as access to God the Father. We can enter into His very presence because of Jesus' work on the cross. Jesus' death = my access. 

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Oaks
(2) State = Missouri
(3) Nation = Bangladesh
(4) North African & Middle Eastern Peoples

Friday, February 17, 2012

This is Jesus

After Jesus was placed on the cross, there was an inscription placed above His head reading: "THIS IS JESUS - THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Matthew 27:37). It is interesting that although this inscription is totally true, it was placed above Him as His crime. This was not a praise of Jesus but a condemnation of Jesus. Jesus had already endured their beating, their mocking, & their other insults. But this was the ultimate paradox. For the Bible says that there is coming a day when "at the name of Jesus every knee will bow . . . and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father" (Philippians 2:10&11).

Are you mocking Him today or really bowing in surrender to the King? Are you just going through the motions of Jesus as Lord or are you really following Him as your Lord? One preacher once said, "I would rather bow to Jesus now and worship Him now rather than in judgment be forced to bow and proclaim that He is indeed Lord."

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Jefferson
(2) State = Nebraska
(3) Nation = Untied States of America
(4) Central Asian Peoples around the world

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Words of Condemnation & Victory

Seldom, if ever, will you find words that lead to both condemnation and victory. Yet today I found two words that do exactly that. They jumped off the pages of God's Word as found in Matthew 27:1-23. Specifically found in verses 22 & 23. The words: "Crucify Him!"

Those two words bring both condemnation and victory. Think about it. Men & women were in the crowd chanting, "Crucify Him!" over and over again in order to condemn Jesus. They wanted Jesus dead. Certainly they had been pursued by the religious leaders of that day but nonetheless they continued to shout "Crucify Him!" Although they meant for these words to condemn Jesus, in reality they condemned themselves. Jesus indeed died but His blood was on their hands. They needed Him as Savior and Lord but instead they continued to cry out, "Crucify Him!"

You might be saying to yourself, "I see the condemnation, but where is the victory?" When Jesus was crucified, He took the sin of every person upon Himself (the wrath of God) and died. Yet the crucified Jesus did not remain in a dead man's tomb; instead three days later He arose with VICTORY over sin and death. The very act of condemnation (crucifixion) brought victory (salvation) to every one who has and who will call upon Jesus for saving faith.

It is wonderful to see another example of how men meant something for evil but God used it for good. Another example of how God works all things for the good of those who believe in Him. Praise and glory be to our God who did not give us the condemnation that we deserved but instead through grace continues to shower us with His victory.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Eagle Landing
(2) State = Mississippi
(3) Nation = Algeria
(4) Southeast Asian Peoples throughout the World

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are you recognized?

Following the arrest of Jesus there are many interesting things that take place recorded in Matthew 26:52-75. The religious leaders of day attempted to bring charges against Jesus for the purpose of having Him put to death. It is interesting that although many false witnesses came forward to testify against Him, there were still no evidence by which to convict Him.

The Scripture here is real clear that the disciples had "deserted Him and ran away" (verse 56), while He was being arrested. However, Peter was close by. He had followed them from the Garden of Gethsemane. Now outside the courtyard he was approached by a servant who said, "You were with Jesus the Galilean too" (verse 69). Peter denied it. Not once but three times He denied knowing Jesus or following Jesus. Yet all three times the verdict was the same: "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene!" (verse 71).

Most of the time when reading these verses, I am drawn to the fact that Peter denied Jesus three times. The One who earlier declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter, who had walked on water to be with Jesus. Peter, who had seen miracles and sat under His teaching - denied Him. We are right to reflect upon Peter's denial, yet today I noticed something that never quite caught my attention before. The fact is that Peter was recognized as having been with Jesus. The one's who approached Him knew. How did they know?

Peter had spent time with Jesus - His presence always changes people. When you and I spend time with Jesus - His presence should change us. Will people around us recognize that we have been with Jesus? Will they recognize you as a Jesus follower?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Johnson Creek / Campers
(2) State = Nevada
(3) Nation = Vanuatu
(4) European Peoples

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unmatchable Love

Most Christians can quote the great verses of the Bible that tell of God's great love for man. One is certainly found in John 3:16 where we read these all familiar words: "For God love the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (emphasis added). Another verse that should be familiar to us is found in Romans 5:8 where it is written: "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!" (emphasis added).

Wonderful truths for us to reflect on for this Valentine's Day. Today I find myself reading about the events leading up to the arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane from Matthew 26:26-51. It is in these verses that I was reminded of the "Unmatchable Love" of Jesus for His Father and for each of us. The Scripture states that Jesus spent much time in one-on-one communication with the Father (prayer). At the end of  prayer times we read these words: "Yet not as I will, but as You will" . . . "Your will be done". Do you see it? The unmatchable love of Jesus is that He will surrender His will to fulfill the Father's will. That included suffering and dying the cruel death on the cross for your sin and my sin.

How will you demonstrate "unmatchable love" today? Will you surrender all to the Heavenly Father today? Will you love others the way Jesus loved us all? Will you be the hands and feet of Jesus in unmatchable love?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Crestwood
(2) State = Minnesota
(3) Nation = Kyrgyzstan
(4) American Peoples throughout the World

Monday, February 13, 2012

Where is God in Your darkest Hour?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? You are not alone. The Bible records the following in Psalm 22:1 - "My God, my  God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?"

Apparently this person felt alone. He did not understand why God seemed to be far away, especially in his time of need. He needed God, He needed deliverance but nothing was happening. God had not shown up. God had done nothing to help him in his darkest hour. So the question returns to us; "Where was God?" / "Where is God in your darkest hour?"

The simply answer to these questions is that God is exactly where He always is - on His holy throne. Psalm 22:3 declares; "But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel." This truth has hit home recently in church life at Lake O' the Pines - anytime God is not on His throne, at any moment that God cannot come to the aid of His people, if there be any thing that God cannot do - He ceases to be God. No please don't misunderstand. There are certainly times when God seemingly doesn't come to the aid of His people, only to show a different perspective in His own timing. We may not understand this. We may even not like it. Yet, God's ways are perfect.

Where is God in your darkest hour? On His throne and for every believer - within us.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Victory
(2) State = New Hampshire
(3) South Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Japan

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Do you measure up?

That may sound like an odd question. The fact is there are many ways to answer that question in the Christian life. Jesus was teaching Hid disciples about the kingdom of heaven when he described those who will be welcomed for they are "blessed" and those who will be sent away for they are "cursed."

What is the distinction? Matthew 25:31-46 gives the answer to that question. Those who are blessed are the ones who met the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison. Jesus declared "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." But those who ignored the needs of the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and ones in prison were not worthy of God's kingdom.

Wow!!! How do you individually measure up? How does your church family measure up?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Lassater
(2) State = Michigan
(3) East Asian People Groups
(4) Nation = Luxembourg

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where Are Your Eyes Focused?

Just take a quick look around your home. What would a visitor say is the most important thing(s) to you? Would they point to the many pictures on the walls of your family and say that your family is important to you? Would they point to the many electronic devices in your home and say that electronics are important to you? Would they point to the many other possessions and simply say that apparentely the things of this world are important to you?

Scarry, isn't it? There is nothing wrong with loving our family and having many pictures of them. There is nothing wrong to have electronic devices (otherwise I couldn't write this blog / you couldn't read it). There is nothing wrong with other possessions. However, when all these things are the focus of our eyes and our lives - there is something wrong.

Where should our eyes be focused? Today read the following verses from Proverbs 4:25-27 which say:
"Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don't turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil."

In the Christian life, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. He and He alone is to the be center of lives. The path we are to follow is the one that He has laid before us, when He called for us to surrender all to follow Him. He is the only One who can establish our walk to keep us from stumbling and falling. We cannot turn to the right nor the left; instead we must continue to look directly at Jesus - running to Jesus - running away from evil.

Where are your eyes focused? Are they focused on Jesus? What is keeping that from happening? Don't delay - do something about that today.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Ally Creek
(2) State = New Jersey
(3) Sub-Saharan Peoples
(4) Nation = India

Friday, February 10, 2012

Being Ready

In Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus tells of 10 virgins who were awaiting the coming of the groom. Five of the virgins were prepared with plenty of oil for their lamps but the other five are called foolish, since they did not take oil with them in preparation.

Then when the groom comes in the middle of the night the foolish virgins are not prepared. This was an awful situation. Instead of being ready to meet the groom, they were off searching for someone who would sell them oil for their lamps. Yet, the ones who were prepared were spending time with the groom.

That is when Jesus states that when the foolish virgins finally arrived, now prepared, they heard the groom's words, "I assure you: I do not know you!" The groom did not know them because they were not there and not prepared.

Are you prepared to meet the Groom? Jesus is the Groom - the Church is the Bride. Every believer is a member of the Church. So the question must be asked once again, "Are you prepared?" Are you ready for the coming of Jesus?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Pine Harbor
(2) State = Massachusetts
(3) North African & Middle Eastern Peoples
(4) Nation = Mozambique

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How desirable is God's Word?

Psalm 19:7&8
The instruction of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the LORD are right, making the heart glad; the commandment of the LORD is radiant, making the eyes light up.

Wow!!! When we need reviving, we simply need to come to God's Word. The next time we need wisdom in decisions that need to be made, we need to come to God's Word. And when our heart is sad, God's Word will make it glad. The next time we find our eyes tired and drooping, God's Word will make our eyes light up.

That sounds wonderful doesn't it. How wonderful it would be to simply pick up God's Word and all these things just described would happen. They can happen. God's Word says that they will happen. So, why don't we always experience it? The simply answer to that question is "sin". Any time there is sin in our lives, our minds and hearts are not as sensitive to God's Word as they should be. The other possibility is that although we are reading God's Word, we are simply not engaged in really listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Today may we truly desire God's Word, to truly listen for God's Spirit to speak to us.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Mims / Avinger Cutt-off
(2) State: New Mexico
(3) People Group = Central Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Honduras

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holdin On to God's Word

God's Word declares about itself that it is eternal. The truths, promises, and prophecies contained in it will be fulfilled. Too often, we try to figure out the whens, wheres, and hows. It would be better and even biblical for us to simply trust in God who knows our past, our present and our future.

Today's declaration about God's Word being eternal comes from Jesus. He said: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35). These words come after Jesus reveals the events surrounding His coming again. It is important for us to understand that Jesus is saying that everything that He has taught His disciples about His ministry while on earth and His coming again for those who have faith in Him will come to pass.

This earth is here today but gone tomorrow. Our lives are here today but gone tomorrow. All of creation will come to an end at some point in the future. Everything except for Heaven - God's habitation where His people are gathered together with Him for all eternity & Hell - the place of eternal damnation where those who have rejected Jesus for salvation will spend eternity.

Today we Pray for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Cypress
(2) State = Maryland
(3) People Group = Southeast Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Nigeria

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Good News Proclaimed

Among Southern Baptist Churches there as been a renewed emphasis of getting the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ alone to all people groups. This is especially true for the people groups identified as "unengaged and unreached." Unreached means that the people group is less than 2% evangelized; whereas unengaged means that there is little or no known evangelical work among that people group.

This renewed emphasis has been sparked by many things but it thrills me to know that mostly it comes from the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the Bible. Only the Holy Spirit can bring people, who have not previously talked about these matters, together for a meeting and this be on each one's heart. He has so spoken to many about the needs among the nations. But that is only half of it. The Holy Spirit has also led these men and women of faith to the same Bible passages. Some of these passages are familiar to us. For example, "The Great Commission" found in Matthew 28:19-20 and the promise and challenge of Jesus found in Acts 1:8.

One verse that has drawn much attention in these discussions has been the following:
"This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony
to all nations. And then the end will come
" (Matthew 24:14).
Jesus makes it clear - the good news will be proclaimed. He also makes it clear that all the world will hear the message about salvation through Jesus. Perhaps the most interesting words in this verse are the last words, "And then the end will come." In a time when the world has shrunk thanks to technology (Internet, ease of travel, etc.) the task of reaching the nations does in fact seem possible. However, it still will require God's people stepping up. It will take the men and women and boys and girls of God to PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS. We start with those right around us and share with every one with whom the Lord puts in our path during life's journey.

Blessings to you as you proclaim the Good News. Today we pray for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Indian Hills / Deer Cove
(2) State = New York
(3) People Group = European Peoples
(4) Nation = The Gambia

Monday, February 6, 2012

Whitewashed Hypocrites

One term Jesus used more often than not to describe the Jewish, religious leaders of His day was "hyprocrites". In fact, Jesus used this one term at least 7 times in Matthew 23 alone. One of those times Jesus said:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."

Jesus condems these religious leaders for giving people a false idea of their true character. They wanted people to think that they were very religious, keeping God's law, and God's servants. When the truth was that they were not pleasing to God because of their heart was not committed to Him. They were simply going through the motions with hypocrisy and lawlessness in their hearts.

What would Jesus say about us today? Would we be considered "whitewashed hypocrites"? Oh that we would seek the forgiveness from the Father, that Jesus' warning would challenge us, and that the Holy Spirit would empower us to walk as men and women filled with Christ-likeness.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Berea
(2) State = Maine
(3) People Group = American Peoples
(4) Nation = Oman

Sunday, February 5, 2012

God's Amazing Miracle

Perhaps one of the greatest miracles found in the Old Testament unfolds in Exodus 14. The children of Israel came out of the Land of Egypt being chased by the Egyptian army and found themselves up against the Red Sea. That is when God spoke to Moses to stand firm and watch the LORD provide salvation (deliverance). In fact, God's words to Moses are priceless: "The Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you" (Exodus 14:14). Then the miracle took place.

"The LORD drove the sea back . . . turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on the right and their left" (Exodus 14:21-22). It was the LORD who delivered the children of Israel. Only the LORD could divide the sea with a wall of water on both sides of their path through on dry land.

How amazing it must have been to see this wonderful and amazing miracle of God! Can you imagine? Yet we witness a simpler deliverance every time a person comes to saving faith in Jesus. Wow! Praise God for the blessing of witnessing such an amazing miracle take place in the lives of people. Thank Jesus for His salvation that we can make known to our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and everyone we meet during life's journey.

Today we Pray for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Big Oaks
(2) State = North Carolina
(3) People Group = South Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Fiji

Friday, February 3, 2012

A New Beginning

Praise God for new beginnings!!!

This morning I have been reading about a new beginning in the history of Israel. The LORD has poured out His judgment on the Egyptians through 9 devastating plagues. However, Pharaoh was still unwilling to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Pharaoh's hardened heart and refusal to listen to and obey the LORD led to the tenth and most devastating plague. The LORD sent forth the death angel into the Land of Egypt that killed the first-born of all Egyptians while not touching the first-born of the Israelites, who had applied the Passover Lamb's blood to the doorposts of their homes.

It was right before this plague was poured out upon the Egyptians that we find this verse: "This month is to be the beginning of months for you; it is the first month of your year" (Exodus 12:2). There was about to be freedom for men and women who only knew slavery. There was about to be a dependence upon God and His divine guidance that they had only heard about up until this point. There were about to be new experiences as a people journeying to the Promised Land of God.

Yes - this was a new beginning for the Israelites. Yes - people have a new beginning when they come to Jesus for salvation, the redemption from wickedness, the forgiveness of sin, and the justification to make a man right with God the Father. Have you experienced this new beginning? Have your loved ones experienced it? Has your neighbor? Has your class-mate? It is time for a new beginning!!!

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Eagle Landing
(2) State = North Dakota
(3) People Group = Sub-Saharan African Peoples
(4) Nation = Egypt

Thursday, February 2, 2012

God's Purpose - His Name Known

The more I read God's Word, the more the continual desire of God's heart is revealed. Some people believe that God's whole desire in the OT is for the nation of Israel to know Him to the exclusion of the rest of the people. That is simply not true. There are many examples found in the Old Testament of God's desire to make His name known throughout the world.

One such example is found in today's Bible reading. Exodus 9 & 10 record the various plagues being poured out on Egypt because of Pharaoh's refusal to allow the children of Israel leave Egypt. It is in the midst of these plagues that we find God's heartbeat. "I have let you live for this purpose: to show you My power and to make My name know in all the earth" (Exodus 9:16). You see, God could have simply brought His people out of Egypt at any moment. He gave Pharaoh opportunities to listen and obey.

God's power was going to be demonstrated one way or the other. God's name was going to be made known throughout the world one way or the other. The point is that God's heart is to draw people to Himself in faithful obedience to Him. It is through people totally devoted to Him and obedient to His Word that will indeed make His name known throughout the world. Are you making His name known throughout the world? Remember that this starts just outside the door of your home. This takes place at school, at work, at the store, and wherever life takes us.

God's blessings on you today as you make His name known!!!

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Victory
(2) State = Kentucky
(3) People Group = North African & Middle Eastern Peoples
(4) Nation = Russia

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A House of Prayer

On one of His final trips to Jerusalem, prior to the crucifixion, "Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers' tables and chairs of those selling doves . . . My house will be called a house of prayer" (Matthew 21:12&13). Needless to say that Jesus was not happy. He expected to find God's people praying and instead found them cheating one another, trying to make a profit in the name of religion. That is the main thrust of these verses. The activity of money changing and selling was sinful. It violated God's law; specifically in the areas of lying, cheating and even stealing.

How do these verses speak to us today? Well certainly we must not allow the local church to become something that is involved in the activity described above. But there is more. We need to be know as a house of prayer. To be a house of prayer we must believe in the power of prayer, practice the position of prayer, and pray. That may sound simplistic. You may even say: "we are doing those things?"

The sad truth is that the quickest way to see the attendance drop in many local churches is to announce that you will be having a prayer meeting instead of the normal activities.  This happens too often. Instead, prayer meetings should be some of the most populated meetings we have. After all, we are people of prayer - right? The challenge this morning is simple - be the people of prayer that God desires and see to it that all we do as the local church is dependent and saturated in prayer. May it be said that God's house is truly a house of prayer.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines = Crestwood
(2) State = Ohio
(3) People Group = Central Asian Peoples
(4) Nation = Djibouti