The Gulf Coast entertained two unlady-like visitors a few summers ago, Katrina and Rita.We will not forget the destruction and displacement they left behind as homes and lives were destroyed, and millions of families fled in fear of their arrival.The mass exodus from the Houston/Galveston area caused massive traffic jams.One man told me that it took him and his family 32 hours to travel 60 miles, only to be forced back to ride out the storm with friends on the north side of Houston.A mother and son who tried unsuccessfully to get away spent nine hours in their vehicles with a sick grandmother and two dogs who don't like to travel.They turned back after going only 40 miles and faced the 90 mph winds of Rita in their home.
While a large segment of the population was trying to avoid the last hurricane, Jay Carnes of Texas City, TX, loaded his van with two generators, a chain saw, tow straps, 60 extra gallons of gas, a Global Positioning Satellite system, a television and a week's supply of food and water, headed straight for it.While some people chase hurricanes to gather scientific data, some to make videotapes they can sell, Jay chases hurricanes for fun!
"I've always been fascinated by unusual weather, the act of God and how weather can change structures, how it can destroy structures and change the landscape and view of an entire city and county," he said.
Carnes said he rode out Hurricane Rita in a concrete casino parking garage in Lake Charles, La., and videotaped the roof exploding off the Isle of Capri Casino. (Houston Chronicle, Tuesday, September 27, 2005)
People don't like storms.We typically try to avoid them whether they come as a hurricane or in some other form.Sometimes the worst storms come without wind, thunder and lightening.They come because we are a part of the human race and through them God is either attempting to CORRECT US or INSTRUCT US.Of this you may be certain, you have either just left a storm, you are in one now, or you are headed for the eye of the next storm God is allowing you to experience.Storms are an inevitable part of life.
When the disciples were faced with an unexpected storm (Mark 4), they feared for their lives!I love to see their humanity in that verse, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" (v. 38).
Yes, Jesus cares if you drown!When there is no other answer, when you have come to the end of your strength and the storm is sweeping over you, Jesus cries out to those waves of despair, "Quiet!Be still!" (v. 39).Even nature itself cannot overcome you because you are a child of the King.
Beloved, there were some of us who awoke on that fateful day to hear that we were going to be hit with the "dirty" side of Rita, where you get the fiercest winds and the worst flooding.Science told us through the weather forecasters that it was going to devastate the Houston/Galveston region - that this was the big one we have been avoiding.We sent a prayer request to the GospeLines Prayer Warriors and they prayed that the GospeLines headquarters would be spared.
I stand as a witness that in the face of all the scientific data, the GospeLines PW's and thousands of others who prayed, changed the course of history!I cannot say with certainty why storms spare some and hurt others.But I know that Rita missed us because of the prayers of the faithful.And your storms will spare you the misery through prayer, even those which God intends as correction.Oh, I implore you to believe in a God who changes things!He stands ready to alter the course of your life, too, if you are headed down a road of destruction.Call unto Him and be spared!Amen and amen!
“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment.For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.”(Romans 5:2-7 - NLT)
What do you think of when you hear the word privilege?One of the two definitions below may closely resemble your idea:
1.Restricted right or benefit - an advantage, right, or benefit that is not available to everyone
2.Rights and advantages enjoyed by elite - the rights and advantages enjoyed by a relatively small group of people, usually as a result of wealth or social status
However, upon reading the scripture above, we know that God’s grace is sufficient and covers ALL of us, not some select group of individuals.God continues to give us grace and even sent His son to die for us that we may live!
On close examination, we know that we are undeserving because we sin, yet God cleanses us from our iniquities once we confess and repent.And that’s the Good News!
We are privileged to be part of His kingdom, to grow in His word and to become more like Him.
While it would be easy to hang our heads, thinking that some group is getting the benefit of God’s grace, He includes everyone and will not exclude anyone who proclaims the word according to John 14:6 (NLT).
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
GospeLines Prayer:I am not worthy to gather up the crumbs under your table Lord, but You continue to have mercy on me anyway.I am honored that You loved me enough to allow Your son to die for my sins.
Despite the trials and tribulations during my time on earth, I rejoice in knowing I will be victorious and will, one day, walk with You.I AM privileged to be Your child and to call You my Father!
In His Love,
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The Pharisees were among the most elite and learned men of all Israel.Considered to be biblical scholars, they were often asked to argue theological truth to provide direction for the followers of Jewish faith.The man born blind presented an argument which they could not answer.The man's argument was:"Jesus has done a good thing; you say that He is evil but the fact that He has done it means that God hears Him; God never hears the prayers of an evil man; therefore, Jesus cannot be a bad man; He must be a good man."
When they were confronted they attacked him unfairly by insulting him and threatening him by force.They ordered him out of the synagogue.
Had it not been for the words of William Barclay I would have missed an important thought here about pragmatic theology.Barclay says:
"Often we have our differences with people, and it is well that it should be so.But the moment insult and abuse and threat enter into an argument, it ceases to be an argument and becomes a contest in bitterness.If in argument we become angry, and resort to wild words and hot threats, then all that we prove is that our case is too weak to be stated as a case ought to be stated."
Disagreements need not be approached with anger and insulting language.The winner of the debate does not out-yell his opponent or wear him down with half-truths and innuendo.Conflict handled with grace enables friends to remain friends, and God to gain the glory from the moment.Beloved, it would be a boring world if we never differed in thought or opinion.It is entirely appropriate to disagree but to do so without being disagreeable.May God help us to learn how to use tact in dealing with our differences.
By the way, tact is the ability to pull the stinger out of the bee without the bee knowing it.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, teach us how to learn from the person who looks at things in a different light.Remind us that You have not made us all alike, and in this journey toward eternity we will undoubtedly encounter people with whom we disagree.In those times, give us words of wisdom spoken with grace so that we can redeem every potential conflict before it happens.Amen and amen.
Have you ever been so frustrated with someone that you wanted to scream?You know the kind of person I’m talking about…The one you’ve tried and tried to reach with no success.You’ve tried being logical, understanding and sympathetic; but, no matter what you try, NOTHING WORKS!This person just refuses to listen to anything about Christ.
Do you find yourself wanting to just let them go and stop trying?Why don’t you?What stops you?
My brother and sister, that’s the love of Christ in you!Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 5:46 that even Tax Collectors love those who love them; and, in those days, a Tax Collector was just about as bad as you could get.That little voice that says, “No!Don’t stop!Stay in the race and think (love) like Jesus” is the Spirit of God; the Holy Spirit, speaking to your heart.Don’t ever stop listening.
Remember in Matthew 18 when Peter asked the Lord how many times to forgive his brother?Peter thought 7 times was pretty good.Jesus answered that he should forgive 77 times (or 490 times if you use the NLT or the KJV).Either way, Jesus’ point was, as many times as it takes; an unlimited amount - don't ever give up.
Never give up on lost souls.Never stop encouraging them to open their hearts to the Lord.Never stop asking God to touch them and help them hear His voice.Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (Matthew 9:12 - NIV)Would give up and turn your back on a friend or neighbor who is physically sick?Of course not!Then do as Jesus asked and don't turn your back on a friend or neighbor who is spiritually sick?
GospeLines Prayer:Father, help us to always hear and obey Your voice.Help us to overcome the urges of our flesh and to think, speak, act (and react) like Your Son Jesus.Father we get weak sometimes and we want to give up on those who just don’t seem to get it.We love them but we get so frustrated that we lose patience and forget Your Words.Keep us ever mindful of what You have said and keep our hearts filled with compassion for all those in need of Your healing, both physically and spiritually.Help us to have the mind of Christ we pray, in His name.Amen and amen.
"…we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world."
What do you see when you look around your world?Much of it isn't pretty.Finding the beauty of the universe becomes increasingly more difficult when evil and suffering is consistently broadcast into our living rooms and printed in our newspapers.Some of us like to take exotic vacations to distant shores in hopes of finding a beautiful place to relax.Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not."
Searching for beauty need not become a hopeless task.Everyday we can see the miraculous, breathtaking creation of God if we train ourselves to look for it.The Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 said, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."I believe it is possible to find something good in almost everything!It all depends on our viewpoint.Believe that God has something to say to you in every flower, every blade of grass, every human encounter, every raindrop that falls... then you will find beauty right where you are.Carry it with you or you will find it not.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, when I am tempted to become as negative as the media, cheer me up with a reminder that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.Help me to exercise my freedom of choice, so that I may habitually choose to see Your good work in everything.Amen and amen.