Why You Should Spread the Good Word

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A lot of people react negatively to what they might think of as a ‘bible thumper’. Nobody wants to have information crammed down their throats, after all. Admittedly, there are many Christians who do exactly that, believing that this is what was meant when the bible instructs us to share the gospel with others. Of course it isn’t what was meant. Jesus didn’t try to force God’s word onto others, yet he helped people, regardless of their beliefs. That is in keeping with God’s word, in fact, since we are all His children. Note how many non-believers sought Jesus out during biblical times. In part, that was because he forced nothing but helped everyone.

Yet, the bible does tell us that we should spread the word and tell others about God’s wonderful plans. Jesus even said as much, on more than one occasion. Sadly, many Christians do not, for fear of being thought of as a bible thumper and a zealot. It is entirely possible to tell others about God and Jesus without forcing anything on them. It is very important for us to do so, especially now. First, it is important to understand why it is vital for us to spread the word.

It was made abundantly clear in the bible that nobody could enter the kingdom of heaven except through Jesus. That is, they must ask for forgiveness, acknowledge Jesus as our Lord, understand that he died for payment of our sins and was resurrected, defeating death. How is any of that possible if people haven’t heard about Jesus and what he did for us? If we don’t let people know about the wonderful news about the Kingdom of God, we aren’t following the instruction that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

Did you know that there are hundreds of millions of people who have no idea of who Jesus is? There are a lot of people who have never even heard of His name. We aren’t talking about just people in remote villages, either. It is true even in major cities. For example, and I’m not picking on anyone; Tokyo, Japan, is the most densely populated region in the world and it is a major modern city. Yet, fewer than 10 percent of the people there have heard of Jesus, even in passing, and far fewer have ever seen a bible.

Okay, so it is important. How do you talk about Jesus without having people thinking that you are cramming it down their throats?

First, by your actions. If you are loving and kind, like Jesus is, people will notice. The flop side is also true. If you profess to be a Christian, yet you lie, cheat, steal and show hatred to others, you are really telling people that you aren’t Christian or are giving them reasons to turn away from Jesus before they have even heard of Him or the good word. Your actions really do speak louder than words.

As for the words, there are literally thousands of ways to praise God or to mention a scripture without forcing anyone to believe anything they aren’t ready to believe in. In your prayers, ask God for guidance in this. You might be surprised at how easy His Spirit makes it, once you’ve opened the door for His love to reside within you. Don’t think that something is so minor that it wouldn’t make any difference. All you need to do is to plant the seed.

A single example that has repeated itself in my own life many times is when someone has commented on the beauty of a sunset. An appropriate response would be, “Yes it is beautiful! God is good!” Another would be to say, “God can sure paint, can’t He?”

It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? The best part is that there is no ‘but’. It sounds easy and it is just as easy as it sounds. At that point, if someone asks you more about God, Jesus and the fantastic news, terrific! Tell them about it. If you aren’t sure what to say, remember that there is absolutely no shame in saying, “You know, let’s see what the bible has to say about it.”

By all means, spread the gospel, as Jesus told us to do. In the end, it is part of living our lives for Jesus, which is what being a Christian is all about. You don’t have to force it, just plant the seed. Leave it up to God to water the seed and make it grow.


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What Does It Take To Enter the Kingdom of God

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A lot of people, when they learn of Christianity for the first time, think that for them to become Christian, they must learn rules, laws and rituals. The truth is that this isn’t at all required, either to become a Christian or to enter the kingdom of God.

Put in another way, before the birth of Jesus, to be one of God’s children, there were 10 commandments, numerous rules and a lot of rituals that had to be followed. The people still sinned, but it was known that they would do so because of the original sin and the consequences of that sin filtering down, generation after generation.

The coming of Jesus changed all of that. Jesus became the new covenant. In His teachings, He directed his true followers (by definition, Christians) to follow the commandments. However, except for the first commandment, breaking them no longer meant that people would be ‘cast out’. In the case of the first commandment, “You shall have no other god before Me”, Christians can’t follow Jesus if they are breaking that commandment, since it would be a contradiction. They can’t be true followers of Jesus if they have any other God other than the Father, and that includes all forms of idolatry.

Jesus only gave one condition for entering the kingdom of God and having eternal life. In John 3:16, John said:

16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

There is the condition. Jesus stated it again in John 6:47:

47 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

We are directed to pray and to ask forgiveness for our sins on a continual basis, since we are all flawed, broken beings and we all sin. That repentance is part of believing in Jesus, which is the condition. This also means that we are not to ask for forgiveness of a particular sin and then to keep on sinning in the same way. For example, if we hate another person, ask for forgiveness, then hate someone else, we aren’t truly repenting. That would be a fast track to locking ourselves out of God’s kingdom. This was put quite plainly in Romans 6:23:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has additional meaning. The death and blood of Jesus has paid for our sins, however if we keep repeating the sins, we are not truly repentant and there isn’t forgiveness, which we must have to enter the kingdom through Jesus.

Note, however, that this has to do with the only condition that is placed upon Christians, or anyone else. In order to enter into the kingdom of God, we must BELIEVE in Jesus. There are no other rules, dogmas or requirements. We aren’t asked to perform or learn certain rituals. Jesus was very plain about what it would take for us to return home, where we belong. We must believe in Him, which also means that we are to follow Him. We don’t even need to go to any other person to approach Jesus or God, since Jesus took care of that part and made it possible to seek the Father directly. How powerful is that! It is part of the Joy of the good news.

All of this simplifies things greatly, doesn’t it? Consider this; virtually all of the differences between the different denominations in Christianity have to do with man-made rules and laws, not differences in God’s single requirement. In fact, when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he was very specifically and in a number of ways telling the church there to stop putting restrictions upon people, making them believe that they had to do certain things before they could be blessed by God or enter His kingdom, because those were restrictions of man, not of God.

Thus, to me, when a person says that they are Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecost, Lutheran or any other such denominational follower, it has totally no meaning. That only tells me what church they go to and which set of man’s laws they follow. I am a Christian, which says which law I follow. If a person tells me that they are Christians, though, that tells me that they are my brother or sister in Jesus. All people are brothers and sisters, but not all of them have yet accepted Jesus, unfortunately, so not all are brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Never-the-less, as Christians, we have only one law that can’t be broken; to honestly, truly and with our entire heart and soul believe in Jesus.


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Bio-molecular Science Supports the Bible

Were you aware that bio-molecular science supports something that the bible says? In specific, the reference here is to a protein molecule called laminin.

Laminin is extremely important in the development of an embryo, allowing membranes to be assembled. Later, it is a biomolecular adhesion molecule. Okay, if you aren’t into science, this might not make any sense. Let me explain it this way; laminin is the glue that holds ever cell of your body together. Without it, you’d literally fall apart.

How does this support the bible? First, consider this: In Colossians 1:17, Paul says this of Jesus –

17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jesus also said numerous times that God is with us always, from the moment of our birth and through our life. God will never leave us. As Christians, we know this, and yet we often don’t realize that He has furnished physical proof of this. That proof is laminin.

Okay, so far it doesn’t sound like having a molecule that functions as the glue that holds us together would have anything to do with the bible, does it? Granted that we are told that Jesus is the glue that holds us together, to paraphrase Paul, but from just what has been said above, that would appear to be the only connection between Jesus and laminin, and one that isn’t literal. Is it the only connection, though?

To answer that question, let me first ask another question. What is the one symbol that has come to stand for Jesus? You have probably been able to answer that: The cross. It was upon the cross that Jesus spilled his blood and died to pay for our sins and to give us a way to be redeemed. We know that the only way to heaven is through our Lord. The cross is known around the world to represent Jesus, regardless of the nation, location or language.

With this basis explained, let’s take a look at a diagram of what the laminin molecule looks like.

laminin

Image by Maiaaspe CC SA 3.0

Wow! The glue that holds every single cell in our bodies together from the time we are conceived is in the shape of the cross, the symbol for Jesus! This means that Jesus holds us together spiritually, which we’ve known since the time we asked for forgiveness for our sins and acknowledged that he died and arose again. Jesus also holds us together physically, literally.

It is really neat when science supports the bible in regard to something that was said almost 2,000 years before the science was developed enough that we could guess at the structure of the protein molecule.


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How Do You Like Your Coffee?

hot coffee

Do you like your coffee or tea hot or cold? How about luke-warm? If you are like most people, you prefer to have your coffee hot. Some people occasionally like to drink it cold. Very few people like drinking it when it is luke-warm and will actually go so far as to dump it out and get some fresh, hot coffee. If you grasp this simple concept, you’ve just taken another step toward understanding God.

There are many Christians who only read the bible, pray or go to church once in a great while, if at all. When it comes to God and Jesus, you could say that they are cold. Another way to think of it is that they are only Christians when they feel like it. Naturally, God’s will isn’t meant to be followed just once in a while, only when and if we feel like it.

There are other Christians who are better at reading the bible, praying, going to church and who do try to live by the principles laid down by the Christ. These are often good Christians, however they are easily distracted away from the things of God. They have a Christian drive to do as our Father wants, but things sometimes get in the way. They try to live their lives righteously, but often encounter problems. Their faith at times will waiver. They are luke-warm Christians. Most will find ourselves in this group. I often find myself luke-warm and need to make a more pro-active approach in an attempt to make the coffee hotter.

The hot ones are the Christians who are hot in Jesus and God. Their faith doesn’t waiver, they are in harmony with God’s word and nothing will stop them in following Jesus. They live their lives loving God totally, or as the bible directs, with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”. (Luke 10:27)  This isn’t arbitrary and it is a command from Jesus.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.‘  Matthew 22:37

Does God love luke-warm coffee? Of course, He does. He loves ice cold coffee as well. In fact, he even loves the coffee from the coffee tree that hasn’t even bloomed yet (those who don’t yet know of our loving Father). However, that hot coffee is that which does his will and they have a very special place in his heart. Becoming hot in the Lord is a process, it isn’t something that can simply be turned on for most people. Still, it is the difference between a follower of Jesus and a disciple of Jesus. That is what God wants, most of all; disciples to help others to become better Christians, to reflect God’s unfailing love and to spread the wonderful news. In fact, that is the meaning of the word, “gospel”: Good News or Glad Tidings.

In other words, when Jesus told us to spread the word, we were being told to spread the gospel; to give hope to the hopeless and to help guide the lost to God. To be able to do that, we must be as hot in God as possible. Each of us is capable of it. Open your heart to the Holy Spirit and pray to God, asking Him to fill your heart with the spirit. Then just wait and see what happens. I don’t like making absolute statements, but when you open your heart to the spirit and ask God to guide you, the guidance will come. There is no ‘maybe’ about it. You mostly just need to choose your words with care and let your actions be a reflection of our Lord.

All of this comes back to the original question, though. How do you like your coffee?


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What Amazing and Impeccable Timing

perfect timing

My experience has been that many Christians are disappointed when they pray for something and God appears not to answer. This is very sad, because it is an error in thinking. To begin with, God does always answers our prayers. Sometimes the answer isn’t what we’d hoped for, sometimes the answer isn’t what we’d expected and sometimes we may not understand. Sometimes the answer is even “No”. However, there is always an answer from God, for everything we pray for.

Quite often, too, another thing that comes into play is the timing of God. We should all know that God doesn’t do anything at all without a purpose. Just as important as that purpose, He also does things exactly on His perfect schedule. The timing is always right on the dot. Let me expand on that for a moment.

Have you ever been depressed or sad about something, and at exactly the right time something happens or is said that is precisely the right thing to lift you out of the depression? It has happened to me so many times that I can’t count them. That is the timing of God. If the happening occurred earlier or later, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Sometimes the happening can even precede the event and it is clearly an instance of perfect timing. I’ll give an example of God’s timing.

 

I’d been working at a job that wasn’t a good one and that I didn’t enjoy, for a boss that made employees feel miserable, making barely enough to live on. I prayed to God for a raise, so we wouldn’t have to struggle so badly and would have a little more money to work with. I’d specifically said, “Lord, even a dollar an hour more than I’m making would set my mind at ease.”

Two days later, the company shut down and closed its doors with no warning to any of us employees. That definitely wasn’t what I had in mind and it wasn’t what I asked for, or so I thought.

At first, I was bitter and I’ll admit that many of my thoughts weren’t very Christian-like. Yes, they were worldly based and it wasn’t until I realized it that I decided to just put all my trust in the Lord, as I should have done to begin with. On the way home to break the news to my family, I saw that there was a car broken down beside the road, with its hood up. I didn’t even think about it, I just pulled in to see if there was anything I could do to help. The guy, wearing an expensive business suit, was practically beside himself. His radiator hose had blown apart and he was afraid that he was going to be late for an important meeting.

As it happened, I’d just replaced the hoses and belts in my car about a week earlier and had tossed the old ones into the trunk, intending on throwing them away later. The cars were different makes and models, but when I retrieved the old hose, I found that it was simply a little two long for the man’s car. It was a simple matter to cut it down to size and to then put it on the car as an emergency repair. I didn’t care if I got dirty and there was no sense in the man getting filthy when he was wearing a suit. I no longer had a job and I could wash up when I got home.

In the 10 minutes or so that I worked on the car to get the hose connected, he and I talked and he asked where I worked. I told him about losing my job due to closure. Later, as I filled the radiator (he happened to break down right beside a little stream), he asked me to write down what part to get when he got to an automotive store after his meeting. Again, without thought, I pulled out a business card that I had for a computer consulting business I’d started but had done nothing with. On the back of the card, I wrote down what he needed and handed it to him. I could have just told him to ask for a radiator hose for his car’s make and model, but that didn’t even occur to me.

As soon as he pulled out, I got in my car and drove on home. I broke the news about my job to my family and told them that things might get a little tight, but that it was in the hands of the Lord. A few hours later, I got a phone call. It was the man I’d helped and he’d gotten the number off the front of the business card. He said that he noticed that I was a computer consultant. I told him that I was. He said that the computer engineer who worked for him had just quit, then he offered me a job. He about floored me when he told me the rate of pay. It was one dollar an hour, to the penny, more than I’d been making at the job I’d just lost!

There are too many things that happened for it to have been coincidences. It was the work of God. The chance of it happening as it did was nil, but God always has a purpose and does nothing by chance. The timing was perfect and He really had answered my prayer, right down to the amount of money I’d specifically mentioned. He simply didn’t answer the prayer in the way that I’d expected. In fact, God’s timing was also perfect for the gentleman. If I hadn’t lost my job when I did, I wouldn’t have been there to help him with his car and he wouldn’t have found a replacement for the guy who quit. He also broke down where there was water to fill the radiator. It wasn’t lost on the man, either, and he ended up being one of the best employers I’ve ever had, as well as becoming a good friend.

Is God’s timing amazing, or what?

One last thought to leave you with. Sometimes God doesn’t answer immediately. However, consider that the time might be right for you, but others who will be involved might not be ready yet. His timing is still perfect.


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Love of the World is a Source of Pain

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I’ve already mentioned that the only source of true, lasting happiness and joy is from God. I’ve also mentioned how Jesus was very clear about how the love of worldly things is the cause of trouble. As a Christian, you are not of this world, you are only temporarily living here, so it is totally natural to have feelings of dissatisfaction when it comes to anything of the world. This is incredibly important, though. It is worth stressing in another way, though I naturally can’t do a better job than Jesus and the disciples did. Thus, I will quote John.

Specifically, 1 John 2:15-16 says:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

Wow, is this ever powerful scripture! Let’s break it down a little.

We are told not to love the world or anything in the world. Does that mean that we can’t love our spouse, our job or try to be more comfortable? No, what it means is that there should be an appropriate degree of occupation with these things. Love for God must come first. This is not only a command, it is valuable advice. If you are worried about the finances, health or any other trouble to the extent that you are distracted away from what God wants, you are loving the world and things in the world too much. God provides for us, thus we should be totally reliant upon God rather than having overwhelming concern about any of these things. By putting it all in His hands, worry is vanquished and peace takes its place.

We are further told that everything in the world that we concern ourselves with don’t come from God. This includes all desires of the flesh, everything we see and all that we pride ourselves in. All of these things can distract us from God and it is extremely easy to get caught in that trap. I get caught up frequently and I confess this. I worry about paying rent, for instance, even though I know that God provides and I always do end up paying that bill.

I want to point out, too, the part about the ‘lust of the eyes’, because it is more of a problem now than ever in the past. Through TV programs, movies, news, magazines, newspapers, billboards and other media, we are actually being encouraged to lust with our eyes. That is, our desires become greater. It is the whole point of advertising, in fact. That isn’t lust in a sexual sense, though it can certainly include that. If you have ever seen a picture of a hamburger and gotten hungry or seen the ad for a car and decided that you really want one, you are lusting for that object. Special care and constant awareness is then needed to keep from desiring whatever it might be more than what is reasonable.

Think about it for a moment. It also means that anytime you let something distract you from God, you are practicing a form of idolatry! That is a violation of the first commandment. Though Jesus supersedes the commandments, he warned against idolatry in no uncertain terms.

It is helpful to remember that all of these things are of this world and not of our Father. By remembering this, our desire for these ‘things’ decreases. When we desire things of this world less, that leaves more room in our hearts to desire the things of God. This is a great thing, because through God, we can be filled with peace, love, joy and happiness.

Here is a little exercise for you to try. Next time you are worried, concerned, bothered, upset or angered about anything–stress anything–take a moment to think about what is really bothering you. I challenge you to find anything at all that is troublesome that doesn’t come from this world and not from our Father. The moment you realize this, you’ve taken a step toward the path of wisdom.

Deus maximus est!

 


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Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?

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Have you ever had something bad happen to you through no action or fault of your own? Of course you have. That is part of life in this world. There are natural disasters, murders, illnesses, thefts, financial problems and any number of things that happen on a daily basis. It makes no difference if a person is a Christian or a non-believer, bad things happen to every one of us. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Many Christians ask this question and, sadly, some even lose faith because of it. They may also think that they must have done something wrong, though they haven’t done anything to ‘deserve’ the troubles.

If you ask devout Christians if the bad things in life come from God, most will say that they don’t. And yet many Christians still blame God for those terrible things. If you have ever found yourself saying, “God, what did I do to deserve this?”, you have been blaming God for the trouble. Could God have prevented it? Of course he could. Nothing is impossible for God. So why does God allow evil to exist in the world, if He is a loving, just and merciful God? Believe it or not, there is an answer to this question.

It is all because of the original sin of disobedience, which resulted in man and woman being cast out of Eden. Man was given free will and since man originally turned away from God, the world has become a place of our own making. We are flawed and the world is broken. Thus, bad things happen to good people, because even good people are flawed.

Solomon explained this very well. Remember that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He was rich, powerful, had a thousand wives and any material thing he desired, beautiful homes, wonderful food and he was doubtlessly the wealthiest king Israel ever had or will have. Yet, pay attention to how he starts Ecclesiastes, which is the wisdom of God through Solomon:

1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem [this is Solomon]:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

If you keep reading, you will quickly see that Solomon is talking about this world and everything we do in it. Everything you do or say in this world, everything you own, every accomplishment; it is all worthless. That sounds really negative, doesn’t it? It really isn’t, though. Solomon was talking about everything you do in this world and being so wealthy, he was examining himself as well. He basically concluded that nothing he’d done in the world amounted to a hill of beans.

You might have noticed the key that turns this from an overwhelming negative to an astounding positive. The key was mentioned twice in the last paragraph; “in the world”. When we rely on the world, nothing we do or say makes a difference. As Solomon later puts it, it is like trying to catch the wind. Also keep in mind that he wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t pursue happiness. There is nothing wrong with trying to be happy, as long as people realize that if it is based in this broken world, any happiness will be fleeting. If you got a $100 in the mail, you’d probably be happy about it. However, once it is spent, nothing really changes and you probably won’t be happy about it any longer.

Again, this is all in reference to ‘in the world’. In 1 Peter 2:11, we are called foreigners, strangers, exiles. Why would God’s people be called this? Again, it goes back to the original sin. Men and women were never designed to live in this world. We will always be strangers here. Where we belong is in Eden. God even made it possible for us to one day return home, though the ultimate sacrifice of his beloved son, if we believe in Him. This is the astounding positive. We already know that all Joy comes from Jesus. The world will cause us nothing but grief. The world is meaningless, as Solomon said. However, if we live our lives for God and follow the Lord with all our hearts, we can receive lasting joy and happiness. It isn’t based in the world, but in the Lord.

Something astonishing happens when we come to realize this and to begin to devote our lives to our King and Savior. Since our joy and happiness isn’t based in the world, we start finding that we can be joyful and happy regardless of where we are and what the circumstances are.

People sometimes think that I must be daft, because day after day, I’ve been working on the church flowerbeds; moving rocks, cleaning up debris and planting, despite having a bad hip and thrombosis. I derive happiness by doing it. That is the part they often don’t understand, though our pastor does. You see, I’m not doing the work for the church or the members of the church. I’m not even doing it for the community. I’m doing it for the Lord! This is His house of worship and His temple. My happiness comes from doing something for the Lord in a way that glorifies his name.

I haven’t been dismayed over the snow we’ve received the last two days, either, because taking a pause in doing the work refreshes me and allows me to keep from pushing myself too hard. It is happiness in the face of adversity. God loves me enough to give me time to rest.

Naturally, like anyone else, I need to work on my appreciation of God. However, I know that He gives us lasting joy and happiness if we trust in Him and dedicate our lives to him. I will continue to have troubles throughout my life, but those troubles don’t come from God and he has given me a treasure that will make my journey as a stranger in this world a little better, until I am once again able to return home.


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The Amazing Power of God

shovel

There are those among us who don’t believe that God speaks to us. Others, like me, believe that He speaks with us regularly, if we choose to listen. I have a wonderful testimony to share in regard to this and it has to do with some of the ‘little things’ many people wouldn’t have even thought twice about.

BeforeEarly this year, I noticed that the flowerbeds at church were in a very sad state of affairs. The flowerbeds border two buildings; the old church and the new sanctuary. The total length is about 200 feet and the flowerbeds by the new building weren’t even landscaped, they were just filled with rocks. Appearances mean nothing to God, however people react to appearances and God of course knows this. I got it in my mind that with enough effort, the flowerbeds could be made beautiful again, which would then help to get some of the more worldly people into church to hear the good news of the bible. That, in turn, might open more hearts to God’s word and bring them back to Him.

This weighed heavy on my heart, so I talked to our pastor, Pastor Jim, about it. He loved the idea and told me that I could do anything I wanted to do in the flowerbeds. I gathered up my garden tools, noticing that my shovel had a crack at the base of the handle. The shovel would need to be replaced, but for the time being, I began work with what I had. I’ve been spending one to three hours a day working on it, except on Tuesdays and Sundays, because it is always so busy then and I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.

That brings us to today. Last night, it rained hard all night long and it continued to rain hard this morning. I have a baseball cap in the car, so I headed to church to work on the flowerbeds. Amazingly, the moment I pulled into the parking lot, the rain totally stopped. I gave thanks to God for that mercy, then started working away.

I worked for about two hours and was almost done for the day when the handle of my shovel broke. I didn’t get upset, since I was almost done for the day and had known that the shovel needed to be replaced. When I got everything into the car, though, I had the thought that I might as well go by the hardware store to see what price they had on shovels. I’d looked at shovel prices just a few weeks ago, so there really wasn’t any reason to go to the hardware store. I already knew that they were $18. I went anyway, thinking that if I could find anything that was only $10, I’d be able to afford a new shovel. If they were still $18, I wouldn’t have enough to buy one for a couple of weeks.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that they were on sale for $5.97 and the sale started today! I bought the shovel and just as I got back into the car to come home, it began to rain hard again.

To some people, all of this would just be a series of unlikely coincidences. To me, it was God speaking to me, telling me that He approves of the work I’m doing in the flowerbeds and that He wants me to continue. I believe that He put it in my heart to work on the flowerbeds to begin with. He knows that I love to garden and grow plants. So I believe that he arranged for the series of events; the rain stopped at the right time, the shovel didn’t break until I was almost done for the day, it broke only when there was a special on shovels so I could afford to replace it and it started raining again at the right time.

Jesus, you are AWESOME!


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What makes you happy?

happiness joy and peace

What brings you happiness, joy and peace in your life? Please take a moment to think about this, because it is important. It is a question we should each ask ourselves often, because it tells us where our hearts are.

We already know that our thoughts and actions come from where our hearts are. As Christians, we have a duty to live in such a way that we glorify our wonderful heavenly Father. People should be able to see in us the love Jesus showed. Indeed, God is love. (1 John 4:8) We can’t show and live in love if our hearts aren’t in the Lord and the bible tells us that we are to turn away for worldly things. Does this mean that we shouldn’t desire comforts and the good things in life? Not at all. The problem comes from how important those creature comforts are to us. It is a heart condition and it can show us exactly where our hearts are.

This is so important that the bible says plainly that a lover of the world is an enemy of God. Wow! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be an enemy of God. Yet it is exceptionally easy to get trapped in a worldly mindset. It is as true for me as anyone else. Let me illustrate how it happens.

Years ago, we lived through two house fires that destroyed everything we owned, though all of us survived both fires. This was clearly a loud message from God that I was too blind to see at the time. In both cases, we lost things that can’t be replaced; pictures, antique first-edition books and many other prized possessions. I was sad, angry, upset and tremendously unhappy. I spent a lot of time working for and then buying those things. Other things had been given to me and I treasured them. I had a set of first-edition Zane Gray novels, for example. They were valuable, but they were even more important to me because they had been given to me by my mother. I was proud of having them. I got happiness from having them.

Back then, had I asked myself what gave me happiness, joy and peace, and if I’d answered honestly, I’d have said that those things that were destroyed gave me at least a great deal of happiness and joy, though not necessarily peace. Bang, I was caught in the trap. Every single one of those possessions were things of this world. That means that my heart was world-oriented. The lover of the world is an enemy of God. Forgive me Father.

It was hard to lose those possessions, and I still sometimes think of something I wish hadn’t been destroyed. Still, my wife, my son, my daughter and I all survived. I suspect that most people would agree that the lives saved where a lot more important than the things that were destroyed. Our family became stronger from the ordeal. Praise to our Father for giving us the message, even though we were too deaf to hear it at the time.

There is also a realization that ALL happiness, joy and peace comes from Jesus. It doesn’t come from the material things we might associate with those emotions. It doesn’t come from other people, though they can certainly facilitate the happiness, joy and peace. Those things all come from Jesus and they are extensions of the love of our Lord.

What brings you happiness, joy and love?


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Confronting Doubt and Fear

fear and doubt

Let’s face it, every single one of us have fears and doubts. They occur on a daily basis for most of us and they range from minor to major. Quite often, the fears and doubts are unfounded. We may worry that a particular event is going to happen, though there isn’t much chance of it. Sometimes we worry so much about something that it can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes the fears are real, too. How we confront our doubt and fears are a measure of what kind of Christians we are, though, and there are times when we need a reminder.

We should all know that when we have fears, concerns, doubts or need reassurance, we are to bring it the Lord in prayer. There is nothing that He can’t do. Jesus even defeated death. He died and arose from the dead, showing that not even death could conquer Him. He spent a great deal of time healing the sick. In fact, he still does. The point is that if we take those things to Him in prayer and have faith in him, those troubles are in far better hands than our own. He has not and will not abandoned us. Put in a different way, we can turn away from Him, but He will never turn away from us. The question is, how much faith do you have in Him?

You might think, “But brother Rex, my problems are with the ‘real life’, not with the spiritual life. I have sicknesses, problems and worries in the real world. I have to work for a living and I don’t honestly know how I’m going to pay that bill or recover from that illness.”

What does the bible say about this? Remember that the bible is the word of God and it is more than just a book of commands. It covers everything we will ever deal with. So what does it say about our real worries and doubts?

There is a great example in Luke chapter 5:1-7

1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

There are a couple things to understand about these scriptures. First, remember that Jesus never did anything without a purpose. He didn’t just happen to be in this place and the meeting with the fisherman named Simon wasn’t a chance meeting. Simon wasn’t a stranger to Jesus and the miracles Jesus had performed, either. Simon had seen Jesus healing people. He believed in Jesus, but Simon’s concerns were about how to earn a living in the ‘real world’. He lacked faith.

Simon was an expert at fishing Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee). He knew that the fish were caught in the shallows, at night. It was sheer folly to fish in the deeps, in the daytime. In fact, fishing had been poor and Simon hadn’t caught any fish the previous night. When Jesus asked him to put out a little ways from shore, Simon had been hard at the arduous task of cleaning the nets. If the nets weren’t maintained, they’d fall apart, yet cleaning the nets was hard work. I can imagine that it was almost a relief to Simon to stop that work long enough to row Jesus out a short way so he could continue preaching.

He was probably bewildered when Jesus told him to then row to the deeps, to put down his nets and to catch fish. Simon said as much; that they’d fished all night without catching anything. Simon also ‘knew’ that there was next to no chance of catching anything in the deeps, in the daytime. Focus on the last part of Luke 5:5, though. “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Simon thought that it was folly, though he’d seen the miracles Jesus performed. He didn’t put out the nets because he believed, he put them down because Jesus said so. It was Simon’s work, he was an expert and he knew that it meant more hours of cleaning the nets, but he did it because Jesus said so.

Incredibly, they caught so many fish that the nets were strained to the breaking point and the other boat was called out from shore. Before all was said and done, both boats were loaded with so many fish that they were in danger of going down. By following the word of Jesus, the fishermen received an abundance. That is what Jesus promised us, isn’t it? He didn’t just say that he was here to give us life, he said that he was here to give us abundant life. It was at that point that Simon suddenly realized that no doubt or fear was too great for God to overcome. Simon was concerned with the ‘real world’, but finally understood that Jesus didn’t just work in the spiritual. He is Lord of ALL and of everything.

We all need to work on our faith, continually. Doubts and fears will arise, even when we know that we need to take these to God in prayer. The faith will grow stronger as wondrous things happen in your life. God wants you to enjoy abundance and your task is to believe in Him. It defines what kind of Christian you are and how strong you are in the Lord.

One last point; the bible says that when we pray and praise the Lord, He inhabits our hearts and souls and our prayers and our praises. Jesus already overcame all the bad in the world, so nothing dares to cause Him harm now. If he inhabits our hearts, we can’t be touched by wickedness. When we realize this, we can finally let go of the fear and doubt. When we do that, we are given a special gift from God; Peace.

I wish everyone peace and joy.


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