BREAD OF LIFE MINISTRIES

DEVOTIONS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE, EDIFY & MAKE YOU THINK!!
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MINISTRY BLOG LINK: http://pandevidamin.blogspot.com

AUTHOR BLOG LINK: http://rlkeller-christianauthor.blogspot.com

Stop by and check them out from time to time to see what has changed. May God's blessings to you be abundant. rlkeller


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Thursday, February 28, 2013

A TRUSTWORTHY SAYING


“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
 
          Timothy and his mother Eunice received Christ through the missionary work of Paul and Silas in Lycaonia in 44 A.D.. Seven years passed between Paul’s and second trip to that area, during which time Timothy had grown into an adult. His zeal for the message and boldness in proclaiming it was readily noticed by Paul and so he took Timothy along with him on some future missionary trips. Paul is the author of the Timothy Epistles; they were letters of instruction and encouragement to the young evangelist.
          With the threat of Gnosticism* all about Paul felt compelled to write with the purpose of encouraging Timothy to guard and preserve the gospel message concerning Christ. In using the word ‘trustworthy’ Paul is saying that Christians can rely upon the fact that Christ came to save those who had sinned. Since according to Romans 3:23 all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Christ must have come to earth to redeem all of mankind. Jesus Christ is the one true and supreme revelation of God to man. He was the Son of God, yet was God in the flesh. Our God is a triune God; consisting of three in one. That would be God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Now I don’t pretend to understand all that; however, I have chosen to believe it by faith. We don’t necessarily need to understand something to believe in it or place our faith and trust in it. Out of our faith and trust should grow reliance. We can trust as fact that Jesus Christ came into this world of sorry and grief to save it from itself. A man cannot save himself. His knowledge and resourcefulness are limited by the finite capacity of his own mind. God knows our limitations and sent a remedy for our sickness. It is to our benefit to cultivate our own personal relationship with God so that the Bible, which is full of “trustworthy” sayings, may permeate our heart, mind, spirit and soul. Otherwise, what was the purpose of Christ coming at all?

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

* Gnosticism - Gnosticism was a second century heresy claiming that salvation could be gained through secret knowledge. Gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis, meaning "to know." Gnostics also believed that the material world (matter) is evil and that only the spirit is good. They constructed an evil God and beings of the Old Testament to explain the creation of the world (matter), and considered Jesus Christ a wholly spiritual God. [www.christianity.about.com]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A TOOTHLESS LION


“Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)
 
          Anytime a person takes a stand there will be opposition. Since Christians seem to have targets on their backs (and fronts, for that matter), we don’t need to be surprised when we are ridiculed or disliked. People tend to embrace preconceived notions and judge others by what they hear rather than what they have experienced themselves. That shouldn’t be such a foreign concept … we do it too. Those who are Christians in name alone have nothing to fear. They don’t really know what they believe and you can’t put into practice what you do not know, so they are of little threat the enemy of our souls. They blend in nicely with the rest of the world, saying or doing nothing out of the ordinary that would make them stand out. Those who have had a life altering experience through conversion also have nothing to fear but for a different reason. They have nothing to fear because though they might stand out from the crowd by their words and deeds, they have an advocate in Jesus Christ who will see them through any and all trials and tribulations they will ever face in this life. Those are the believers the Apostle John is speaking to here.
          People also tend to dislike or shy away from that which they don’t understand. They make fun of those things that do not seem normal to them, as if they had cornered the market on normalcy. If we as Christians take a strong stand for our beliefs we will hit a wall of opposition at times, but it can be used as a tool to bolster our faith instead of blocking our progress. If we are consistent in our approach and walk the way we talk, we will have a positive influence on those around us. God is at work in the hearts and lives of people we don’t even know. When we come across someone unknown to us during the day we have no idea how the Holy Spirit has been at work in their lives. So remaining silent shouldn’t be an option. Sharing what we believe or what Christ has done for us should be a natural extension of who we now are … a new creation with new behavior patterns.
          Yes, in some circles we will be shunned and despised; however, this need not concern us for God is far greater than any opposition that shall form itself against us. So live your life for God with the confidence that nothing can keep you from making a difference for the kingdom but you. God knows you intimately and has you on a path to succeed in all you do. Realize it, accept it and go forward.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

DO WE STILL SIN?

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18)
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6)
 
“The first thing we know is that the new birth results in new behavior. Second, we know we belong to God and have been delivered from the dominion of Satan. Third, we know that we have found the source of life in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.” [Reformation Study Bible]
 
          Here we find that John is yet again addressing the whole Gnostic superior spiritual knowledge issue. The remaining believers after the split were in need of affirmation and encouragement. Were they following the proper teachings or had they been misled? John reassures them that they are following the one truth and the one true God.
          It needs to be pointed out here that although our salvation from sin is to result in new behavior, it is a progressive thing. Some changes come immediately, some gradually as we learn more from scripture. Our new foundation has been set and the construction phase has begun. How often you feed yourself spiritually has a direct correlation to how quickly and how strongly your spirit is build up. What John is referring to in the above verses is the fact that as a new creation you should no longer make it your practice to sin. You will sin …
 
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)
 
          Our free will allows for sin to take place. That doesn’t make it alright to sin; but God knows our human tendency to make bad choices no matter how long we have walked with Him or how well we know Him. Once we are born again of the spirit of God the devil cannot harm us; not unless God allows it for a specific purpose. In those situations, as with everything in life, God is in complete control. It requires faith and trust to believe this. Our walk with God hinges on how much faith we have and how much trust we place in Him.
          A sure sign that an individual is a believer who is striving to live for God is contrition. We will stumble and even fall from time to time, but it shouldn’t be continuous and we should have remorse. We should want to be more like Christ. We have been given a new life to live; let’s live it to the hilt for our Lord.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Monday, February 25, 2013

LIVING READY

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44)
 
          There is a day coming sometime in the future when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will return for the church. Now obviously, He is not returning for a building, but rather for those who have received the redemption God has offered through the death of His Son. It is not a blanket pardon that God offers, but it is a pardon that is available to all. We must ask for it. Once we are ‘saved’ from having to make the payment owed for our sin, we have nothing to fear regarding His return. In fact, it is called in scripture the Blessed Hope of the Church (Titus 2:13).
          The Bible is very clear, as shown in the above verses in Matthew 24, that no one except God, the Father, knows when Christ’s return will take place. It’s not a secret; it’s something that He has determined His children don’t need to know. In a way it’s like an unannounced safety inspection at a factory. If the company knew in advance when the safety inspector was coming they would no doubt make quick adjustments to cover up any hazards they may have. I worked in the industrial sector for over 25 years and trust me, there are cover ups done all the time. The problem with anyone trying to make their life look tidier is that God sees through our exterior directly into our hearts. So the solution to that problem is to ‘live ready’.
          Living ready is like having your bags already packed for a vacation. You may not know exactly when you will be leaving, but you are ready to go at any time. Scripture promises us that if we draw close to God He will draw close to us (James 4:7-8). The closer we are to God the more we will know Him and what pleases Him. If we live ready we won’t be caught off guard or by surprise. Christ’s return is a well thought out plan by God and will take place after He feels all in His creation have been given an opportunity to accept or reject the redemptive work of Christ’s death. Are you ready to go be with the Lord? He’s returning for us someday. We must live ready.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

RANDOM RAMBLINGS 66

          Sometimes I have nothing to say.  For those who know me that might seem like an impossibility, but it’s true.  I am actually at a loss for words this morning; yet having said that I can always find something to say about God.  Maybe one thing I say today will bless someone.  Maybe one thing I say will encourage them.  Maybe it will mean something special to them.  So I write.  Today I believe I will simply extol the virtues of our loving and faithful God. 
          God is truly marvelous.  He is creative in all His ways and is the epitome of loving kindness and faithfulness.  Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 2:13 that God is faithful to His children even when we are unfaithful because He cannot deny or disown Himself.  On our best day we can become so involved in our daily activities that God never enters our mind even one time; however, God is always thinking about us.  He cares what we think, say and do at all times.  He is the proto-typical father, in that He is perfect in every way in His care and assistance to His children.  Unlike earthly fathers, there is nothing God cannot do.  His way is always the way we should go for He has laid it out for us and although He is with us, is also at the end of the path to greet us.  Nothing can harm us for God is ever-present.  We get hurt or sidetracked when we lose our focus or take our eyes off Him altogether.  He is patient and will guide us back if we ask.  In the face of mounting criticism of Christianity and God in general, I still see no reason not to stand fast in my belief of Almighty God, for if He is who He says He is and I believe He is, then those who are opposed to Him can do nothing to me anyway.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! May His name be praised forever! rlk
 

Friday, February 22, 2013

DON'T BE FOOLED

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3)
 
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
 
          John’s letter to unnamed churches deals with a serious problem, one of spiritual superiority. Some members left claiming that they were more enlightened then those they left behind. John is assuring the remaining congregation members that their beliefs are the one true set of beliefs. Here he is pointing out the way to discern if a certain spirit is of God. Discernment is an important spiritual gift to have because there are many in the world today who would love to confuse folks and draw them away from the truth. Some of the most sincere sounding rhetoric can woo individuals from their beliefs and take them down a wayward path which leads nowhere. John is very clear here, anyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the flesh, willingly died for the sins of man and on the third day of raised to new life is of the antichrist. Paul, in his letter to the church in Galatia, goes even further in saying that those preaching anything other than the one gospel shall be eternally condemned. “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:9)
          This is why it is so important for the believer to read the word of God and as a result, begin to know God better. It is imperative that we cultivate our relationship with the Lord for it is the only way we will know His will for our life. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ. To do that we must know what He stands for and have knowledge of the precepts of God. What other way will this take place unless we spend time with Him and read His word? Don’t be fooled by the jesters of life who portray themselves as righteous, yet spew out nothing but lies and half-truths. God loves us immeasurably and will not let you be deceived if you sell out for Him.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

BE A NON-CONFORMIST

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
          With the world calling to us constantly, we as Christians must turn from the points of view and the value system that are in it. This is not something we can do easily. Hebrews tells us in 12:1 to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles”. Dabbling in the ways of the world hinders our spiritual growth. We cannot stand with one foot in the water and one on dry land and not expect to get wet. In the same vein, we cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the church; it doesn’t work that way. We will favor one and turn from the other. While it is true that we are living in the world, we do not have to conform to its pattern of thought, language and deed. We mustn’t, as bona fide believers, allow the world to influence us too heavily.
          We are told to be transformed, which means to be thoroughly and dramatically changed in form, appearance or character. In our case, the character transformation is what we are after. This renewing that Paul is speaking of comes from knowing God intimately. We can only know God intimately through the reading of His word; however, we are not to read it as we would any other book for the Bible is not just any other book but rather God’s directives to His children. The more we immerse ourselves in its content and begin to apply that which we have read, the more we will become like our Lord.
          His will for our lives is very important, or at least it should be. God’s will is good as opposed to bad, pleasing to Him and perfect in every way because He is perfect. I have often heard it said that ‘the safest place to be is smack dab in the middle of God’s will’. The strange thing about it all is that Christians so often seem to want to dance as close to the edge of the ledge as possible without falling. I have taken a turn or two near the edge myself. The draw can be intense at times which is why it is nothing to play with. If we focus on the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) we will be safe. The world has nothing of any eternal value to offer us. This world is not our home; we are merely passing through it to our ultimate destination – heaven.
WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

GLORIFYING GOD WITH OUR SPEECH

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:28)
 
Discernment - perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.
Perception - the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses; intuitive understanding and insight.
 
          You can find out a lot about an individual every time they open their mouth to talk. You can tell if they are humble, boastful, reasonably intelligent, downright dumb or simply ignorant. If a person measures their words carefully before they speak, especially around those they don’t know, it can go much better for them. People judge others. We all do. It seems to be part of who we are. I do it and you know you do too. We judge others by their appearance, by the way they carry themselves, by the way they talk and by what they say. If we determine that they are a certain type of person based on these factors we would be wrong. Who are we to do such a thing? I struggle with this very much. I am working on it or should I say, I have been asking the Holy Spirit to make an alteration in my thought processes, words and actions towards others. The change doesn’t need to come in those we have determined to be faulty or abnormal in some way; then change must come from within us. We have to first have the ‘want to’ to make any significant change in the way we are towards others; all others.
          Having said the above, it should also be stated that we must be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves regarding others. Talk is meaningless without subsequent actions. People can say anything. There is a man in the neighborhood who recounts all sorts of exploits from Viet Nam in great detail, leading his listeners to believe he is a war veteran; however, nothing could be further from the truth. He is in fact a pathological liar who was never even in the service. One must be careful of people such as this. They are the living, breathing examples of what Solomon is speaking about. It is quite literally true that a deaf mute could be seen as a wise man in a room full of people if he simply smiled and nodded his head. He has said nothing to offend; in effect, he hasn’t tipped his hand one way or the other.
          Be led by the Spirit of God, knowing when to speak and when to hold our tongue. So speak reservedly. Make our words count. Be thoughtful in our speech. Encourage and edify rather than tear down and discourage. In so doing we will glorify God.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BEING A BLESSING

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
 
          1 John 4:8 makes the clear, concise assertion that ‘God is love’. He is the epitome of love; the one true example this life affords. So if we are to show this world that we are different in a good way we need to love one another within the body of Christ. This whole concept of knowing God and loving Him is illogical and strange. This is because He is unseen. He is unseen because He is a spirit. People can see God in us if we portray Him in the proper light by loving each other. That can be easier said than done.
 
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love    them.” (Luke 6:32)
 
          Loving those in the body that are unlovely is the true test. Don’t you doubt for a moment that there will be people in the body of Christ who will rub you the wrong way. Perhaps they are an aggressive ‘Type A’ personality who is in your face or maybe a controller who needs to lead rather than be led. God made us all and He loves each one of us without condition or hesitation; even the ones who we feel are unlovely. Being kind to those around us who are irascible* or emotionally draining can be challenging. I don’t believe God expects us to devote all our time to them unless we feel led by the Spirit to do so; however, we may be the one ray of sunshine in their otherwise dreary day. Some folks may believe in God, yet have a perpetually cloudy disposition. As we pray for others, pray for them that we might be Christ to them and as a result hope may rise up in their hearts. Remember, nothing is impossible for God. As we live lives obedient to His word and spread His love around like fertilizer to those believers and non-believers around us, we will begin to see positive results like daffodils breaking through the soil in search of sunlight. We all have faults and foibles that annoy somebody. Be tolerant and show the love of Christ first to our brothers and sisters in the faith and then to each one we meet as we go through our day. You will bless someone and in return also be blessed. Ask yourself “How can I bless someone today?” and see what happens.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

*quick-tempered

Monday, February 18, 2013

GOD'S SECOND CHANCE

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then can condemn? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:33-34)
 
Justification - the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.
Righteous - morally right; virtuous (having or showing high moral standards).
 
“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …” (Romans 3:23)
 
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10b-11)
 
          Due to man’s sin in the Garden of Eden we are left with a heavy debt. There is nothing we can do to become righteous in and of ourselves. The debt hangs like a millstone around our necks. Do you have any idea how heavy a millstone is? “Millstone #2 - 72" Diameter x 14" High Est. Weight = 4,950 lbs.” (*) You may think of your sin as a 5000 lb weight draped around your neck. The sad thing about it is that so many people don’t even realize that it’s there. It doesn’t have to be that way. A payment has been made.
          Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly died to bear our sin. Think of the weight he bore from all our sins. It was a crushing weight on his heart, yet He did it without hesitation. It was part of God’s plan of salvation. He saved us from sin; He saved us from ourselves. God made it so that the gap between man and Himself was bridged forevermore. Christ’s death and resurrection justified us; it made us righteous in the eyes of God. Make no mistake about it, we were all dead men walking. Without God’s pardon we would have died in our sinful state. We really need to ponder that thought allowing it to fully sink in. After such an event as salvation our lives need not ever be the same and they shouldn’t be. Those who walk away from such an event unchanged don’t understand the magnitude of the gift that has been given to them. It’s like the person who flat lined in a hospital bed and was jump started back to life. We have been given a wonderful gift, a second chance. What will we do with this gift of new life? Will we share it? Will we seek to understand the profoundness of it and strive to make the most of our life for others? Or will it be business as usual? Don’t let God’s grace become a cheap thing to be trampled underfoot. Embrace this second chance and live your life for God.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

(*) [http://www.greystonequarries.com]

Saturday, February 16, 2013

RANDOM RAMBLINGS 65

          Have you ever seen someone and wondered what their story was? Since, as the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t really know anything about a person until you get to know them. Last night I was around a lot of people; over 17,000 to be exact. I was at the Devils-Flyers hockey game (have I ever mentioned that I absolutely LOVE ice hockey). I didn’t think of this last night, but woke up this morning wondering about that. Where do they come from? What do they do for a living? What is their story? I wonder if they believe in God. I wonder if they have a relationship with Him or if it’s a casual relationship; the kind you would have with an acquaintance rather than a close friend. I suppose I will never know, but I can pray for them. God knows them; each one of them were created by Him. That’s pretty cool if you think about it. As a final note: the game was GREAT! The Devils came back from a 3-1 deficit to win going away 5-3. YeeHaa! The nice thing about arenas is I can use my big mouth as much as I want and it doesn’t bother anyone else cause we are all yelling at the same time … when they SCORE!!! rlk

Friday, February 15, 2013

A LIFE ALTERING EVENT

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
 
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
(1 John 2:2)
 
“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22b-24)
 
Sin - an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law; an act regarded as a serious or regrettable fault, offense, or omission.
Atone - reparation - the making of amends for a wrong one has done.
 
          Christ is the fulfillment of God’s love to us. We did wrong in the sight of God and Christ made amends. He bridged the gap that we created between God and ourselves. He paid the price of our sin. No one can escape the snare of their own transgressions. Christ released us from the penalty that needed to be paid. He atoned for our sin. He redeemed us. Do you understand the magnitude of His actions on Golgotha’s hill over 2000 years ago? An action such as this should change your life; it should alter your way of thinking. It should make you pause and think. It reminds me of an old chorus I used to sing in services long ago (perhaps we need to sing it again):

“He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace …
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.”
(Ellis J. Crum)
 
          Christianity is not a boring or dead belief system; man may have made it that way, but the church is just a building, nothing more. Christianity isn’t in all the programs we have or the size of our congregations; it is found in the person of Christ. We are the church. We are. We must act like who we truly are. God loves us and Christ died for us and yet we are still acting like it was just another event in our lives, right next to going to school, driving our children to soccer practice, going to our jobs or going to church service. Salvation is or at least should be a life altering event in our lives; an event that we never, ever forget. God did a very specific thing for us; He saved us from certain destruction. We need to allow that to take hold all over again in our hearts, minds, souls and spirits and then live accordingly.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A DAY OF LOVE

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
         
          On the day when everyone lavishes on loved ones gifts, flowers and cards that express our feelings far greater than we are able, we address the topic of love. We have already said on previous days entries that God is love and that love is shown in the crucifixion of His own Son. Today we are pointing to the Old Testament as a reference to this topic. The Lord tells the Jews to love their neighbor as they love themselves. I think it is safe to say even in this day and age that most folks at least like who they are as a person. While there are sadly exceptions to that, most people don’t hate themselves. Knowing this, God instructed them to view and treat others as they would treat themselves. Perhaps this is a precursor to Jesus command to treat others as you would wish to be treated in Luke 6:31.
          Jesus gives His disciples a new command. Instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves, we should love one another as God has and does love us. Our love is finite, in that it has limits. We have mood swings as we let our emotions dictate how we treat others. Our mood can change instantly as our circumstances change. God is not saddled with such issues. His love for us is unconditional and eternal. This is not a natural thing for us, this loving of others. We choose who we want to love and who we do not wish to impart love to. Not so with God. He is completely impartial (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34)). He sees us all the same; just as our earthly parents see all their children the same. The difference lies in our inability to not pick favorites from time to time.
          So there you have it. On this special day when we are to pour out our affections on loved ones, let us remember the unconditional love God always and for all time has for us and strive to be more like our Heavenly Father with those around us each and every day of the year.
 
WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!
 
NOTE: Christian love has Christ’s sacrificial love as its model, and the community of believers as the primary (though by no means exclusive) place in which it is expressed. [The Reformation Study Bible]

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GOD'S GIFT TO US


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
 
          The gift; its main component is love. Love is also the driving force behind the gift. Everything in this world will perish, even our earthly bodies, but with God our spirit shall never die. The two key words in this verse are ‘God … gave’. Like any loving father would give a gift to his child, God gave us all the gift of salvation; forgiveness from the sin that weighs us down. Our sin will destroy us someday if not for the gift. In its simplest form, the gift is the ‘key’. We are bound in our own sins; as if a huge millstone had been chained and locked around our necks. Salvation is the ‘key’ that unlocks the chains and sets us free from our sins … each and every one of them. It is not a blanket pardon for all of humanity, but rather, a blanket pardon for all who ask for it. We must humble ourselves to the point of admitting that we are sinners in need of redemption. Until we admit we have a sin problem there is no salvation for us.  
          That is how deep God’s love is for His creation. That He would reveal that love to us in the form of His own Son dying on a cross is hard to fathom. It’s not simply believing as one would believe that the sun would rise in the morning. It’s believing in such a way that our life is changed. Scripture tells us that even the demons believe in Jesus (James 2:19), so believing isn’t the point of the exercise. Belief to the point of giving to God your life to use as He so chooses is. God gave … we give back. We allow His Holy Spirit to permeate our souls and make the alterations needed to be useful to God. It starts with a request and ends in submission. In exchange for our surrender we receive eternal life. It’s a fair exchange. We give up our own will to follow God’s will for us. His will leads us to peace, joy and fulfillment. We can walk away at any time, for we have a free will; however, the person who truly accepts, believes and trust in God will find it impossible to turn away for He provides the only way to true happiness. All other means of achieving happiness are temporal and will come to an end. God’s love for us is so deep and so strong that we should feel compelled to serve Him willingly all our days. In Him lies the gift of a lifetime. The gift is eternal life with God.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A LOVING RESPONSE

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 6-7)
 
“Love is not one of many virtues; it embodies them all. Love is not merely the doing of some heroic or virtuous action or refraining from vices or evil deeds. It is a ‘way’ of life.” [The Asbury Bible Commentary]
 
          The Corinthians are not imitating the love of Christ in their lives and Paul is addressing that problem in the following way. He reveals what a Christian is supposed to say and do and what they are not to say and do. As our commentary points out, love is to be a way of life and not a hit or miss act. We need to put love in its proper perspective. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Does that makes things a little clearer? God is love. He is the embodiment of love. He showed us in a tangible way by sending His own Son to die a horrifying and brutal death on a cross reserved for criminals. Can we understand the magnitude of His love for us. I don’t know that we truly can. We have nothing on this earth to compare it to. There is nothing in this life that even comes close. The Corinthians took their focus off Christ and placed it on themselves and others in their congregation. Human love is inconsistent and unreliable. God’s love never changes … ever.
          While it is true that we are a project under construction internally, that should never keep us from striving for a perfection we can never achieve this side of heaven. We are to hold close to our hearts the scriptures and attempt to live by them with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Living for God should not be a burdensome thing, but rather a great joy to us. It should be viewed as a right response for all that God has willingly done for us. He created us, we sinned, He offers forgiveness for that sin … that is love. God doesn’t overlook any sin, but rather chooses not to hold it against us any longer. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12). This type of response from God should result in a loving response from us toward both our God and our fellow man.

WALK WITH THE KING AND BE A BLESSING!

Monday, February 11, 2013

BEING IMMOVABLE IN OUR FAITH

“… thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)
 
          This letter represents the third visit Paul made to the Corinthian church. The first visit was to establish the church, the second was to deal with various problems within the church and now this third visit was to deal with spiritual arrogance among other things. Here Paul is telling the Corinthians not to become weary of doing good in the name of the Lord. God will give us the victory when we hold firm to our beliefs and convictions. We shall be rewarded in heaven for our steadfast faith and belief for through those characteristics we shall draw many into the kingdom. Paul is sharing the one true gospel and wants the Corinthians to not give an ear to false teachings, which promote another way, perhaps an easier way to heaven. There is one way to heaven and it is through the blood of Christ. Otherwise, it negates the reason for and the results of Christ’s death altogether.
          The fact that we are told to be immovable doesn’t mean that we should stop moving. Rather, we should continue to move forward remaining immovable in our faith, belief and trust in God. Let’s use Sumo wrestling, of all things, as our illustration. When two Sumo wrestlers meet, their sole purpose is to move their opponent outside the circle within which they compete (see note below). Like the Sumo wrestler, we as Christians are to hold our ground and not be pushed off our mark. We need to understand that anything we do for the Lord is not done in vain. God recognizes our efforts for He is the One who has enables us to accomplish these things. There is nothing we can do of any eternal significance that we can do on our own. It is only through God that we can do these things. We are to give ourselves fully to the service of the Lord knowing that someday we shall receive our reward in heaven. Our reward will not be one of silver or gold, but eternal life with our loving Heavenly Father.
 
WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!
 
Note: Sumo wrestling is a highly competitive Japanese contact sport involving two wrestlers pitted against each other in an attempt to force one another outside of a circular ring, or to touch the ground with any body part other than the soles of their feet. Japan is the only country where the sport is practiced professionally.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

RANDOM RAMBLINGS 64

          God is our provider and sustainer. A provider is someone who supplies another person or persons with something. In the case of God, it is something that we happen to be in need of. A sustainer is someone who strengthens or supports another person or persons. In the case of God, it is strengthening or supporting us when we are in need of it. I have been harping on the whole concept that Christianity is not really a religion, but rather a relationship with God. He wants us to get close to Him and truly know Him; to know His character. The closer we get to God the more we will know about His character and that should translate into greater trust which will show in a growth of our faith. Learning to be more like Christ in our daily lives should be every Christian’s mission, for if we are His disciples and ambassadors in this cruel, dark and sinful world, we must emulate our Lord to make any sort of impact on the world. We were not redeemed to live a comfortable life free of troubles and pain. We were redeemed to lead others into the kingdom. We mustn’t hide our lights under a bushel basket as if we were embarrassed of God. We must proclaim His goodness when so called upon to do so. Is it really too much to ask with respect to what He has done for us all? rlk

Friday, February 8, 2013

BEING SALT IN A TASTELESS WORLD

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)
 
       “Until my conversion in 1975 I professed to be an atheist in part because I looked at the roughly 85 percent of my fellow U.S. citizens who claimed to be Christians and could not see that their faith genuinely affected their lives. I reasoned that if even Christians did not believe in Jesus' teachings, why should I?”- Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.
 
          A true believer will allow the teachings of Christ to permeate their soul. A true believer will have them make a difference in the way they live. How many other non-believers feel the same way Professor Keener did? It is a sad testimony that it would have to be said of any Christian, but we are human and have the free will to do with Christ’s teaching as we will. That doesn’t make it alright. Simply believing in God is insufficient. If we call out to God to reveal Himself to us He will do so. Then what?
          We are called by Jesus to be salt in a bland world that is tasteless in its execution. All the excitement that is drummed up by this world is aimed at useless, banal, frivolous endeavors that do nothing but titillate the senses, yet leave our core unmoved. God seeks to move us off our useless, banal lives into a life of peace, fulfillment and hope. If we are made aware of His teachings and His great and wonderful promises to us and yet remain unchanged, we are missing the reason for them altogether. What is the purpose of calling oneself a Christian and going to Sunday service if we do not take our conversion seriously? It’s begs the question, have we truly had a conversion experience at all? That is between the individual and God; however, it is a valid question each person needs to ask themselves. Have I received forgiveness for my sins and then simply walked away or have I allowed God’s message of forgiveness and grace to jolt me awake and create a spiritual hunger in me that is insatiable. Are we truly salt to this dying world? Do we make a difference for Christ to those non-believers around us? Do we bring stability, wholeness and knowledge of God to the world? It is a personal and individual question that only we can answer for ourselves. God wants to use us and flow through us to provide the same hope He has given us to those who are lacking. Extend yourself and allow yourself to be salt so that those around you may taste the goodness of God.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

CHRISTIANS NEED NOT FEAR JUDGMENT

“He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98:9)

Righteousness - the quality of being morally right or justifiable (reasonable).
Equity - the quality of being fair and impartial.

          I would define a Christian as someone who has a living, breathing, growing personal relationship with Almighty God; someone who has sought and received forgiveness for their sins. Just believing in God doesn’t cut it for scripture tells us that even the devil and his demons believe in God (James 2:19). A day is coming when the unrighteous shall pay for their ungodliness. For those who are awaiting vengeance, it shall come. God alone is righteous. He alone is always fair and reasonable. God is completely impartial. No bribes can be offered for leniency; there will be no getting out of the judgment that is coming. Those who call themselves Christian have nothing to fear. We shall be judged according to what we have done in the name of Christ since our relationship with Him began (Romans 14:10). At the Mercy Seat of Christ is where we shall stand one day. Our salvation is secure and shall not be taken from us; we are secure in the knowledge that we are His. The Christian shall not face the Great White Throne Judgment of God (Revelation 20:11-12). For all those who shun the very thought of any god existing, it shall be a very sad and terrifying day.            
          Everything God does is right and just. There is a purpose for everything He causes or allows. Our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend the reasoning behind His thoughts or actions. They are too lofty for us to get our minds around. This is why faith is called blind at times and it is for good reason. We cannot see and know all that is transpiring right in front of us in the spirit realm. We must have faith, for the stronger our faith is the more we will trust God. He has never, nor will He ever lie to us, cheat us or leave us alone. He cannot for there is no falseness in Him (John 7:18).
          Serving God is not something we should do out of fear or as a requirement. We should serve our God with joy in our hearts, knowing that He is a kind, impartial, merciful, loving deity who desires for us to worship Him and love Him as He loves us. Loving obedience is what He seeks from us. As we grow to know more about His character, the easier it should be to obey His decrees, for they are meant to lead us into a peaceful life filled with fulfillment and joy. If we truly live for God we never have to fear judgment.

WALK WITH THE KING AND BE A BLESSING!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

THE PLANS OF GOD

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)
 
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
 
Diligent - having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.
 
          Those that know God in an intimate way understand the verse in Jeremiah and know that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called for His purpose (Romans 8:28). Knowing what God’s will is for you is very important. It is my belief that God has a general will and a specific will for all believers. The general will is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and fulfill the great commission and that is just the tip of the ice berg.  His specific will for you is personal. You need to seek it. The only way to know God’s will is to develop an intimate relationship with Him. Spending quality time with Him is the key. It requires diligence on our part. We must dig deep into His word to truly know the character of God. God desires for us to have a future filled with hope and peace. We will not escape calamity altogether, but it will not be the main theme of our life. When bad things happen to the children of God the ones who have cultivated a deep, intimate relationship with Him will know that they can trust Him to right the ship, so to speak. Instead of blaming Him for their troubles, they will lean on Him all the more to overcome their problems and see them through to the other side of it.
          Knowing God’s will leads the believer to wait for Him rather than hastily run ahead of Him. Those that rush things rather than wait for the proper scenario to develop do it to their own peril for the easier path does not always lead us where we need to go. Our faith in God should lead us to trust Him more with each passing day. Our trust should lead us to reliance. Our Heavenly Father is the one constant in a world of inconsistency. If there was ever someone we could trust it is God. Anti-theists consider all religion and belief in a God has a worthless and even dangerously harmful endeavor. How could a belief system that promotes love, mercy and forgiveness be a threat to anyone? Yet the truth often is. Diligently seek the face of God knowing that His plans for us all are always for our greatest benefit and His greatest glory.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

GOD IS OUR HOPE

“May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:22)
 
          Like faith, hope is having confidence in something you cannot yet see. It is a future expectation. Something we desire to take place. We can place our hope in people or things. We can hope for all inclusive, full scale things like our government making wise decisions going forward. We can also hope for singular things like our car starting this morning. Hope is a wonderful emotion to have and is necessary if we are to survive. People without hope find that despair creeps into their hearts. Depression overtakes people with no hope. They begin to sink in a quagmire of despondency. Even Christians can fall into the trap of hopelessness. The enemy of our souls is an expert at delusion that causes us to see nothing but the problems that surround us. He takes our gaze off of God and places it squarely on that which causes our countenance to fall. It doesn’t need to be that way.
          Our Lord is our hope. We never need to be without Him in our lives. He is ever-present by His Holy Spirit and within us. Just as God is love, He is also the embodiment of hope. Our faith and confidence lie in a person and not just any person, but the One person who created us and is more than capable of providing for and sustaining us throughout our lives. With God we have nothing to fear. With God we have nothing to be concerned about. With God we have a future and a hope. With God we have the promise of an eternal home. All that give us hope. If we have even the slightest trust in God at all then that should be seen as very good news. There is nothing anyone can do to us that God cannot protect us from. His love for us is so incredibly strong and unfailing that we can rely on it. He never has nor would He ever not love us. His love is deep and eternal. It reaches down into the furthest depths of our soul and reveals to us the passionate feelings He has for His creation. And therein lies our hope. There is always hope where there is love. We may not see or understand the depths of the love that our God has for us, but that doesn’t stop it from being a reality. So be of good cheer my brothers, lift up your heads my sisters, for you are loved by the God who created you and in that deep, abiding, infinite love there is everlasting and eternal hope.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

Monday, February 4, 2013

CALLING OUT TO GOD

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
 
Distress - extreme anxiety, sorrow, or pain.
 
Extreme - reaching a high or the highest degree; very severe or serious.
 
“It is never an ill time to pray; no distress should prevent us from using the divine remedy of supplication. Above the noise of the raging billows of death, or the barking dogs of hell, the feeblest cry of a true believer will be heard in heaven.”*
 
          David was in a very difficult situation; King Saul was after him to kill him. The Spirit of the Lord had departed Saul, leaving him to be influenced by an evil spirit which caused him to be jealous of David and want harm to come to him. This Davidic Psalm thanks the Lord for a great deliverance from his enemies and King Saul.
          There are no doubt times in our life that we become distressed; even extremely distressed. If we did not know the Lord, where would we turn? Some folks who have a casual relationship with God question why certain issues or events had to come into their life. It’s as if just the mere thought of God would cause them to have a worry free existence. Sadly, ignorance is prevalent in the body of Christ. Believers don’t truly know God the way that they could. They don’t understand that trials and tribulations will come to test our faith as a means of strengthening it. If we have the misguided belief that no trouble shall befall us if we simply believe, then we will end up falling prey to disbelief and apostasy. God is with us always. He desires for us to draw near to Him. He isn’t a genie in a bottle, so to speak, so that whenever we have a problem we can call on Him and then go about our normal business once the problem is resolved. The Lord desires to have a deep, abiding relationship with us and that takes time and effort; two things we don’t seem real interested in investing.
          David knew His God intimately and while he still made some tragic mistakes in his life, he was referred to as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Our lives are truly empty without God in it. Our faith shouldn’t be a Sunday faith alone, but an everyday faith that grows as we walk with the Lord. If we cry out to Him He will hear us and respond in a way that is most beneficial to us.
          Charles Spurgeon, great evangelist from the turn of the 20th century, tells us that the weakest cry from a ‘true’ believer will be heard by God. A true believer is one who has received forgiveness by the grace of God and is truly seeking to emulate his Lord in thought, word and deed. Are you a true believer or is your relationship with God of a casual nature? With eternity hanging in the balance it pays to know for sure.

WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!

* [The Treasure of David; www.spurgeon.org]

Saturday, February 2, 2013

RANDOM RAMBLINGS 63

          I was in Atlantic City for some Midget Car Races and as I drove through the town I a dichotomy* that was quite striking. To the left was row after row of Resort Casinos where millions upon millions of dollars are carelessly frittered away in the hopes of getting filthy rich. To my right was a man huddled in a doorway trying to keep out of the bitter cold. What’s wrong with that picture? There is a portion of our society that insists on ‘throwing good money after bad’. The house always wins, so your chances are slim at best. And even if you did win a million dollars, what would you do with it? There are far too many stories of million dollar lottery winners whose lives were worse off after they had money. I pulled in a 6 figure salary once. I am here to tell you the more you have the more you spend and the bigger your bills become; and what of the person in the doorway? Who knows what the man’s story is, but the fact remains that amid such opulence there is need … a lot of need. It was just a striking contrast is all I am saying. At one time that individual was someone’s infant son or daughter. What happened in their life to bring them to such a lowly state. I wish I could have blessed that person in some small way last night, but I didn’t. I’m not beating myself up over it, I just don’t have any answer for the problem. So I pray. It’s no small thing, but it is all I can think of to do. rlk
 
*a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.

Friday, February 1, 2013

LIVING THE LAW

“So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)
 
          In approximately 1400 BC, Moses climbed to the top of Mount Sinai to seek the face of Almighty God. This is the story where God appears to Moses as a burning bush. During the 40 days and nights that Moses was atop the mountain God spoke forth His commandments and then forged them onto two stone tablets with His own finger. Now the Israelites were known by God to be a stiff-necked people who were impatient, stubborn and impulsive. Like most of us, they decided not to wait for Moses to return from Mount Sinai. They had Aaron collect all the gold in the camp and form for them a golden calf to worship.
          How does this relate to us today? The Ten Commandments are no longer required yet still stand as God’s standard for living. As modern day believers should we adhere to them or not? When Christ died on the cross there was a thunder clap, a crisp crack of lightning which crossed the darkened sky and the veil in the Temple which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two from top to bottom. That action is symbolic of open access to God. We do not have to live by the Ten Commandments any longer; however, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ do we not live them out simply by striving to be like our Lord? I believe we do. It is a subconscious event, something that we just begin to do as a result of surrendering our lives to God. Being a Christian isn’t following a list of do’s & don’ts, but rather allowing the Holy Spirit of God slowly mold you and change you within until you begin to live more and more like Jesus.
          What the Lord said through Moses all those years ago holds true for us today. Follow God’s instructions, don’t veer off course, walk in obedience and He will see to it that you live and prosper in the land you possess. Prosperity doesn’t always mean wealth. As your soul prospers so shall you prosper (3 John 1:2). Like time, money is inconsequential to God. Our needs shall be met. Our job is to keep our eyes on the prize and that prize is heaven. Live for God, follow His commands as spelled out by Jesus in the New Testament and you will invariably live out the Ten Commandments and be pleasing in God’s sight.
 
WALK WITH THE KING TODAY AND BE A BLESSING!
 
NOTE: “The fifth book of the Bible, the book of Deuteronomy consists … of the discourses which Moses is represented as having delivered, immediately before his death … for the purpose of teaching the Israelites the laws which they were to obey, and the spirit in which they were to obey them, when they should be settled in the Promised  Land.”  [www.jewishencyclopedia.com]