Well, we finally did it.Last week I had cable TV installed in our home, and I am amazed at the choices: reruns of Mash, Perry Mason and sports; news 24 hours a day, live action in the US House of Representatives, and sports; classic movies, old game shows, and did I say SPORTS?
My son found a program he enjoys called Junkyard Wars.Two teams race against the clock to complete an assignment using the material at hand, like building a race vehicle for a one-eighth mile track, and fashioning a working catapult, all made out of JUNK!Ingenuity and hard work combine to produce surprising results as the audience enjoys seeing life come from rusted and discarded stuff.
We were once on the junk heap of life, feeling discarded and abandoned without hope of finding real purpose.In that darkest hour of our humanity, we reached up and God reached down.He took what appeared to have no value and carefully assembled our parts into what we are today.Breathing into our spirits the breath of eternal life, our Lord resurrected a corpselike being, once destined for eternal damnation, and set us on a heavenly course.Praise God for seeing something in us worth saving!
GospeLines Prayer:Heavenly Father, there is no despair greater than feeling unneeded, worthless and abandoned.But you took what I could offer and made it into something different and useful.No longer do I live a wasted life, because You have shown me that being made in Your image has nothing to do with what I was before, but everything to do with what I have become in Your kingdom.To God be the glory!Amen and amen.
Have you noticed how many sayings have been posted this Christmas season?Two of those I see often are “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Without Christmas, there would be no Easter.” They speak the truth!
In the meantime, we find advertisers bombarding us with suggested gift ideas for purchase on TV, in newspapers and magazines.My grandchildren have made their plea for months and have made me ‘promise’ to purchase their entire list.
I rejoice in knowing the truth -- there isn’t one gift that can be bought EVER that equals or surpasses the ‘promise’ that God gives His children.Jeremiah 33:14-16 (Contemporary English Version)
The Lord's Wonderful Promise
"The Lord said: I made a wonderful promise to Israel and Judah, and the days are coming when I will keep it.I promise that the time will come when I will appoint a king from the family of David, a king who will be honest and rule with justice.In those days, Judah will be safe; Jerusalem will have peace and will be named, 'The Lord Gives Justice.'"
God sends His son that we may have life and have it more abundantly.That precious baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manager and sought after by three wise men is a blessing from Our Father.
While I am a child at heart and love receiving presents, I am a child of the Most High King and give thanks for His ‘promise’ and His presence.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, the gift of Your son is more precious than gold or silver; more precious than any gift we can buy.Thank You for Your promises – your unconditional love, the gift or Your son and the gift of salvation.
Have you seen a picture of the cute cherub with its diaper, top hat and broad smile that welcomes the New Year?
There was a baby born in Bethlehem that welcomes in my New Year; one that gives me another chance to make a difference, to live more like Him.He is my Savior and Redeemer!
When we reflect back on the previous year and make resolutions (which we may or may not keep), there are two that should be front and center at all times – prayer and thankfulness!We should be thankful for all of God’s blessings and have an expectation of His favor.
And, we should submit every situation to God in prayer – "Christ gives me the strength to face anything" - Philippians 4:13 (Contemporary English Version)
GospeLines Prayer:Father, as we welcome in the New Year, let us not start it in the same old way.You give us a new year with new opportunities to be generous with our time and talents.
May we show the world the love You show us daily according to Matthew 25:40 (CEV): "The king will answer, 'Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.'"
The will of God is announced and proclaimed by His messengers so that the world may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men. (Daniel 4:17)
King Nebuchadnezzar became great and strong and his dominion extended to distant parts of the earth. (Daniel 4:22)However, because he would not demonstrate that he had renounced his sins by doing what is right and by being kind to the oppressed, he was driven away from his people to live with the wild animals.His royal authority (all the gifts God had bestowed upon him) was taken away until he acknowledged that "the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men." (Daniel 4:25-33)
After seven years, Nebuchadnezzar raised his eyes toward heaven and praised the Most High: "I honored and glorified Him who lives forever.His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation.All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth.No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: 'What have You done?'" (Daniel 4:34-35)
Everything Nebuchadnezzar had was restored and became even greater than before because he acknowledged all his power and glory was from God - that all those who walk in pride God will humble. (Daniel 4:35-37)
Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles.During the banquet, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that he and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lamp stand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way. (Daniel 5:1-6)
Belshazzar knew that when his father's heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes. Nonetheless, Belshazzar, did not humble himself.He praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand but did not honor the God who holds in His hand his life and all his ways. (Daniel 5:18-24)
Therefore God sent the hand that wrote the message:
"God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians."
That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain (Daniel 5:25-30)
Are we filled with pride thinking our glory is our own?Do we demonstrate that we have renounced our sins by doing what is right and by being kind to the oppressed; or, do we arrogantly ignore God's messengers until He strips away our kingdom and sends us to live with the animals?
Have we seen God's judgment come upon our fathers or our friends?If so, did we heed God message and humble ourselves before Him; or, are we praising "the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand"?
Which are you?
GospeLines Prayer:Lord God, Father above, in Jesus name we beseech Your mercy.Father, we so often glorify ourselves and, in our pride, deny that it is only by Your grace that we live and breathe.Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit - help us to be humble.Help us to exalt Your name above all and to truly see those around us who are in need.Help us to put feeding Your sheep above feeding our pride or our own desires.
Father, give us ears to hear and eyes to see what You have done so that we will not be weighed on the scales and found wanting.Amen!
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Persecution is the mantel of the Christian life.There are two facts which are indisputable in our generation:Christians have been persecuted for their faith, or they willbe persecuted for their faith.
Persecution comes when least expected. It is a favorite tool of the enemy because it strikes at the heart and soul of the victim.It knocks us to our knees, then holds its ugly foot on the back of our necks and laughs hideously at the conquest.It hurts because it comes in the night, sneaking through the darkness from unsuspected sources.
Slander and insults are the prolific darts hurled at Christians today.They come from family, co-workers, next-door neighbors, church members and strangers.People we admire, people we love, people we must see every day of our lives knock the wind out of us with nasty remarks, filthy garbage, and unsupported lies.That familiar sick feeling grips our stomachs, tears flood our eyes, and we fight against the anger welling up within our hearts.We want to strike back, retaliate, or defend ourselves against the unjust criticism.
The assault against our godly character leaves us feeling powerless, unloved, forgotten and raped of dignity.“God, where are You?Why don’t You do something about this?”
If you are presently in this valley of persecution, you are walking in the company of the committed:Isaiah was sawn asunder with a wooden saw.Jeremiah, mistreated most of his life by those to whom he ministered, was stoned to death in Egypt after being taken there against his will.Ezekiel was verbally brutalized for his preaching; Amos had to take his prophecies elsewhere; Zechariah was unappreciated.And Jesus, well, you know what happened to Him!
In the movie “Dead Poets Society,” the teacher of a literature class instructs his students to rip pages from their books which he considered outdated.There are times when I wish I could disregard a Bible passage, rip it out, and ignore its message.A good example is something from Paul in his writing to the church at Corinth:“…When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.”I Cor. 4:6.
Not only do we suffer these indignities because we are part of the heritage of committed martyrs, we also are called upon to endure unfair treatment out of loyalty to Jesus.What is our crime?Our crime is Christ.Once we step foot into His kingdom we cannot hold back with one foot in the world.It is all or nothing.And that commitment to Him must be reflected in our response toward our accusers.We cannot turn back when it seems that our Christianity is about to cost us something.Jesus said it is the moment to “leap for joy,” a time of unprecedented privilege to stand against the enemy.
Finally, we will never be called upon to suffer persecution alone.Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar?The king leaped to his feet and saw, not three, but four men walking around in the fire, “and the fourth looks like a son of the gods,” he said.Afterward, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked away from that furnace untouched by the flames.
Are you walking in the fire of persecution right now?Look up and see the hand of the Righteous God reaching through to rescue you.He will never leave you alone!
GospeLines Prayer:Help me, God!Since I was a child I have heard that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”As an adult, I know how untrue that is and that pain of the spirit can be worse than physical pain.It still feels like more of a curse than a blessing when others “say all manner of evil against me falsely.”Father, I am weak in this area of my walk.Please teach me how to turn the other cheek and really mean it, how to leap for joy when I am included in the company of the committed, and not shirk from the privilege of suffering for Your Name’s sake.Amen and amen.