Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Heart's Desire & Prayer

One verse from this past Sunday continues to come up in my mind over and over again. That is verse is found in Romans 10:1 where it is written, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation." The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, states clearly that he, the apostle to the Gentiles, still has a desire for the Jewish people to be saved. He has already written in the very first chapters that no man seeks God on his own and in these last chapters he has written about the fact that Jews seeks after God but they do not seek Him through Jesus.

Yet that doesn't stop Paul from praying for them to be saved, nor does it relinquish his heart from having that desire. What happens when our heart has a desire? Sunday I told how our youngest daughter disappeared one day. We were all in the front yard together one minute and the next she was missing. My heart sank the moment we realized that she had wondered off. Yes I prayed for her to be found. But I did not simply pray for that to happen, I began looking. My heart's desire to find her took me throughout the neighborhood. It was not enough to simply pray and go back to doing whatever it was that I was doing. My heart's desire put action to my prayers. We found her picking flowers in the back yard. She thought it was fun playing hide & seek. The only problem was that no one else knew that she was playing a game.

People all around us think that life is simply a game. They think that as long as they do their best, God will allow them into heaven. After all, He is a loving and merciful God. The only problem with that logic is that it isn't biblical. According to the Bible, the only way a person can have salvation and eternity in heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus. Therefore the question for you and I is: Are we praying for people to be saved? And what is our heart's desire?

As we pray we go. As we go we pray. We go to make disciples of all people. We pray that ears would be open and that people would respond in saving faith. We pray that the Holy Spirit would prepare the way. We go taking the Holy Spirit within us into this darkened world. 

Will you join the Apostle Paul by saying: "my heart's desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation"?

Praying today for:

(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Eagle Landing
(2) State of Alabama
(3) Nation of Bolivia
(4) Southeast Asian Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian Gypsy village of Racatau

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Can People be Separated from God?

That is a tricky question. The Bible clearly teaches that people are sinners. Sin separates people from God. According to Romans 3:23 we all have sinned and thus fall short of God's glory. Then according to Romans 6:23 the results of that sin is death - eternal separation from God. Jesus, however, died even while we were sinners, stuck in our sin, without any hope; his death brought about the forgiveness of sin for all who come to Him for salvation.

Can people be separated from God. A lot of people would love to quote Romans 8:38&39 to answer that question. Some people misread it to say that no one will be separated from God but note there is clarification in these verses. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

Did you read the statement that clarifies the one who cannot be separated? It was in the last phrase, "in Christ Jesus our Lord!" See, the one who has confessed his sin and found forgiveness in Jesus and has committed his life to following Jesus and is in Jesus is the one who cannot be separated from the love of God. It is the Christian who walks with confidence in this promise of God. Believers in Jesus for salvation have eternal life that is secure.

Can you be separated from God? Not if you personally know Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

Praying today for:

(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Johnson Creek / Campers
(2) State of Montana
(3) Nation of China, Tajikistan
(4) European Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian town of Onesti

Monday, May 28, 2012

Praying Holy Spirit

One of the ways that the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer in Christ is described in Romans 8:26&27. These wonderful verses tell us: "The Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit's mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." 

Do you ever feel weak? Do you ever feel the need to pray for someone or about something but never seem to know how to pray? The great news found in the verses above is that when those times come, and they will, the Spirit prays on our behalf. We are weak but He is strong. He intercedes with unspoken groanings. We still don't know the words to pray but thanks be to God that the Spirit does. We still don't know the person's greatest need but the Spirit does.

How? How does the Spirit know how to pray on our behalf? The easy answer is because the Spirit is God. Yet, the verses above tell us that the Spirit always prays "for the saints according to the will of God. He brings our will into conformity to the will of God the Father in our prayers. This is the way God accomplishes His will in our lives for His glory. 

Praying today for:

(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Crestwood
(2) State of Missouri
(3) Nation of Australia
(4) American Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian Gypsy village of Prajoaia

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adopted into God's Family

Amazing truths of God's Word unfold for us in Romans 8:12-17. In this passage we see the following phrases leap off the pages of Scripture at us:
     (1) "According to the flesh, you are going to die"
     (2) "By the Spirit . . . you will live"
     (3) "Those led by God's Spirit are God's sons"
     (4) "You received the Spirit of adoption"
     (5) "We cry out, 'Abba Father!'"
     (6) "The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children"
     (7) "If children, also heirs"

Today our challenge is to read through the truths outlined above. We need to realize maybe for the first time that we really are adopted into the family of God. We are not simply here on our own but have received the Holy Spirit, who cries out from within us, "Abba, Father!" Perhaps we would say it this way: "Daddy, Daddy!" It is as if we cry up into His big arms for comfort and protection from all cares. My daughters don't have to question my love for them. They experience it day by day as we spend time together. Therefore, you and I will come to realize the love that God has for us day by day as we spend time together with Him. 

The last truth is that we are heirs. We are entitled to heaven itself. This entitlement is not based on anything other than the work of salvation of Jesus upon the cross. It is because of Him that we no longer die because of sin. It is Jesus who gives us life, sends the Spirit, adopts us into the family, and guarantees eternal life.

Blessings to you today as you consider these wonderful truths.

Praying today for the:
(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Ally Creek
(2) State of Nevada
(3) Nation of Mayotte
(4) Sub-Saharan African Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian gypsy village of Racatau

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life in the Holy Spirit

It still amazes me. Years ago following a church worship service, a lady approached me saying, "I have something to talk to you about." She always did. But nonetheless, this time she was upset about something that was said during the sermon. She said, and I quote, "I can certainly have salvation without having the Holy Spirit no matter what you say." 

Really? Did a professing Christian really just say that she could have salvation without having the Holy Spirit?

This lady was not really upset about what I said but she was really upset about the truth of God's Word. For that morning Romans 8:9 was read as a sub-point during the sermon. That verse reveals this truth: "You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." The Spirit changes us. When He takes up residence in our lives, He doesn't want just simply a little corner or our lives, the Spirit takes over the whole life. One point made during that sermon was that, as a Christian, when we sin the indwelling Holy Spirit convicts us to the point of confession & repentance. Without that conviction perhaps the question needs to be asked if the Holy Spirit is really living a person or not.

"The Spirit of God lives in you." This is an amazing truth. A truth that I admit I still cannot wrap my mind completely around. The Creator of all things, God Himself, Jesus, my Savior lives in me. That is the truth of God's Word. In fact that verse goes on to say that anyone not having the Spirit of God "does not belong to Him."

Is the Spirit of God living in you? Christian, are you under conviction when there is sin in your life? If you are not, I encourage you  to read all of Romans 8 as well as John 14 & 16. These passages outline the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.

Embrace life in the Holy Spirit. You will not regret it.

Praying today for:

(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Pine Harbor
(2) State of Minnesota
(3) Nation of Grenada
(4) North African & Middle Eastern Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian town of Comanesti

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Standing in Christ

One of the most liberating verses in Scripture is found in Romans 8:1. There we read these words, "Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus." For me personally, it was many years into my journey with Christ that this verse was even remotely understood. In fact, I am still learning its full impact in my daily life.

For years there was an internal war going on within my mind and heart. Sometimes I thought I was forgiven of sin and at other times I just simply could not believe that I was really forgiven. Confusion was the tactic of the evil one to keep me weak in my faith. That weakness led to life of self-condemnation and allowed me to think that the condemnation of others was acceptable as well. 

But look closely at the words of the verse earlier. In simple East Texas language - when we come to Jesus for salvation, He gives us true freedom from the penalty of the sin that we have confessed to God. God does not dangle the sin of the past over our heads. He does not bring it back up, even when it is the same sin we are guilty of again.

There are many additional verses that have helped me to grow in how wonderful Romans 8:1 is in the Christian life. For example, Psalm 103:10-12 which read, "He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He  removed our transgressions from us."

According to God's Word, let each of us journey ahead in the Christian life with freedom with our new standing in Christ.

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Mims / Avinger Cutt-off
(2) State of New Hampshire
(3) Nation of Nauru
(4) Central Asian Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian town of Suceava

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Gift is Free

Christmas and birthdays have one thing in common for many children - the receiving of gifts. And although parents will tell their children that their gifts are determined by their behavior, well lets be honest, we still give our children gifts. We love to surprise them with something that they really want to have. 

According to the Bible, we have also received from the Heavenly Father a gift that we did not deserve. Romans 6:23 declares that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Notice that we deserve death. Death is an interesting word in this verse. Sin does bring about physical death. Yet, there is more to death here than just dying physically. This word  points to the reality of spiritual death. Because of sinful living, which I will remind you that we are all guilty in God's eyes of, we deserve eternal separation from God - that is spiritual death. However, notice also that God stepped in and provided the greatest gift ever. 

God's gift of eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ. This gift is salvation to all who will surrender their lives to Him. Like all other gifts, it is only mine when I fully embrace it. I can admire it from a distance. I can think that it is an awesome gift that God has given but until I truly embrace the gift, I will never understand the greatness of it.

Have you fully embraced God's free gift of salvation? You cannot earn it, He has already provided it. It is yours for the taking. This gift has also been provided for those around us that have yet to embrace it as well. Will you help someone today understand that they need to embrace the gift of God  - eternal life / salvation found in Jesus Christ our Lord?

Praying today for:

Lake O’ the Pines: Big Cypress
State: Michigan 
Nation: China, Hong Kong
People Group: Southeast Asian Peoples throughout the World
Romanian town of Pascani

Monday, May 21, 2012

In His Time

One of the first little choruses I remember singing growing up is entitled "IN HIS TIME". Perhaps you remember it as well. It basically states that God makes all things beautiful in His time. And that we are to seek His guidance to do what He says, when He says.

Romans 5:6 & 8 also declares that God's timing is the best. "For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly . . . But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!" Think about those words just a moment. God came to our rescue at the "appointed moment". We were helpless, ungodly, sinners. Yet, God proved His love IN HIS TIME. Jesus Christ died in my place and in your place. He bore the wrath of God because of the sin man had committed. 

I am so thankful for God's timing in sending Jesus to provide salvation to all who come to Him in faith. Because 27 years ago that is exactly what happened in my life. In God's timing, I trusted in Jesus as my Savior and began the journey of following Him as my Lord. Has God's timing come in your life? Although we don't know God's timing for anyone else, we do have the responsibility of sharing the gospel with others for God's timing to take place in their lives.

Today we pray for:
(1) Lake O’ the Pines community of Indian Hills / Deer Cove
(2) State of New Jersey
(3) Nation of Pakistan
(4) European Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian town of Bacau

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Faith is the Key

On my key ring there are 10 keys. To some people that may seem like a large number; to others however, that may seem like a low number. The point is that each key has a purpose. I am not a person who collects keys to just look important. In some ways I wish I could rid myself of a few keys but then I wouldn't be able to get into some rooms that I need to get into from time-to-time.

You see, I have a key to the church sanctuary, fellowship hall, my office, church van, coke machine, and so forth. Each key unlocks a particular door. There have been few times when I have tried to use the fellowship hall key to unlock the door for the sanctuary. Do you know what happened? That's right - NOTHING. Trying to use the wrong key only led to frustration until I discovered that it was the wrong key.

Romans 5:1 declares, "Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin. Remember from yesterday that everybody is a sinner. Everybody. No one is righteous - not even one. That is the reason Jesus came to the rescue. He rescued us from a life of sin and provided peace with God. He has done what is necessary for each and every person to have salvation. It is now through faith that we come to God for that peace. Did you notice the key? FAITH. Faith is the key that unlocks the door for salvation.

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines community of Eagle Landing
(2) State of New York
(3) Nation of Tanzania
(4) Sub-Saharan African Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian town of Suceava

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Being Lost Described

Many people I know say that they have been saved so long that they don't even remember what it was like to be lost. Really? Growing up, I was not what you would call a bad child. For the most part I was your average boy. My friends and I did what boys do. However, there is no doubt in my mind that during the summer of my 4th grade year of school, I was made aware that I was lost and needed Jesus as my Savior. That summer I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sin and trusted in Him to be my Savior.

Since that time there have been many encounters with lost people in my life. The Bible is clear that "there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one" (Romans 3:10-12). Lost people act like lost people. And unfortunately, many self-proclaimed "Christians" act like lost people. Notice that the Scripture says that there is not even one. No one seeks God on there own accord. This is one reason it is so important that we take the gospel to them.

The other point to be made is that whether we want to admit it or not, we once fit that description. We were just like ever lost person today - totally separated from God because of sin - useless, turning away from God, without understanding. Yet, someone shared the gospel with us. Someone made sure we had the opportunity to hear the good news.

Who is the lost person God has given you influence with? Who is waiting on us for the opportunity hearing and responding to the good news? Where does that person live?

Every lost person is equal distance from God's grace. However, some will take more effort on our part to get to with the good news. Are you ready to go? To go wherever God takes you?

(1) Lake O' the Pines Community of Johnson Creek / Campers
(2) State of Maine
(3) Nation of Kenya
(4) North African & Middle Eastern Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian Town of Onesti

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not Ashamed

Yesterday the question was asked if we will simply allow ourselves to go back to normal activity even though we have been challenged with the sharing of God's Word with others. Perhaps you are like me. You desire to be obedient in sharing the good news with others but it seems that your fears take over. There are many fears that flood the heart and mind at this juncture. Sometimes it is the fear of not knowing the answers to a person's questions. At other times it is the fear of simply saying something wrong, offending the other person, or simply the fear of the unknown. Believe me, I know how each of those fears can dominate a person and keep them from sharing the gospel of Jesus with others.

Today consider the encouraging words found in Romans 1:16 where the Scripture says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes." We don't have to have all the answers. We may answer a question wrong but God's Word intervenes. It is not me nor is it you that saves anyone. The gospel is God's power for salvation. God planned for the salvation of man (sent Jesus to die for sinners), purchased the salvation of man (Jesus died on the cross), and preserves the salvation of man (He seals us through the power and work of the Holy Spirit). God does the work of salvation. Our job is simply to share the gospel. 

Will you allow God to overcome your fears? Will you be faithful to share the gospel that is God's power for salvation?

Praying today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines Community of Crestwood
(2) State of North Carolina
(3) Nation of Lebanon
(4) Central Asian Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian Gypsy Village of Racatau

Monday, May 14, 2012

Back to Normal?

The last few days have been filled with many different emotions. Yes, I am glad to be home with my family, my church family, and to have life back to some sort of normalcy. However, to be honest I already miss Romania. Life there is so much simpler. The preaching responsibilities every day was wonderful to be a part of.

Yes, glad to be home; but I cannot wait until another opportunity to preach God's Word. Whether that opportunity be here or there, it is always my desire to preach God's Word. I echo the Apostle Paul's words to the Romans when he said, "So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome" (Romans 1:15).

There should be an eagerness in us all to share the good news of God's Word with others. We need to be going into all the world to make disciples of all people. Poss ibilities are right outside our front doors, across town, in a neighboring state, or somewhere around the world. Where is God leading you to have an eagerness to share His Word, the good news?

It is my prayer that I don't simply return to normal but that I always be ready and even eager to preach / share the good news of God's Word. How about you?

Praying Today for:
(1) Lake O' the Pines Community of Victory
(2) State of Louisiana
(3) Nation of Italy
(4) Southeast Asian Peoples throughout the World
(5) Romanian Gypsy Village of Pajoriai