Welcome to the November Archive. You are welcome to read the entire archive, or find a topic on the list below that is of interest to you. Just click the link, and you will be taken directly to the day it was written. Enjoy, and may you know God's peace as you read His Word.
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When writing, I used the New International Version of the Bible. Due to copyright restrictions, I have not included quotes for the scriptures, but highly encourage you to open your own bibles to read the scripture passages for yourselves.
A WORD FOR TODAY, November 1999
All Saint’s Day Today is All Saint’s Day. We set this day apart to remember those who have passed from this life. A tear glistens in my eye as I hold remembrance of those who have touched my life personally, but have passed through physical death into life eternal.
I remember Peggy, a best friend whose young life was abruptly halted twenty years ago by the foolishness of a drunk driver.
We do not have to go through physical death or some series of qualifications to become a saint, though. The message on Sunday, given by Bishop Clive of Bury St. Edmonds, was about the Beatitudes, found at Matthew 5:1-12. The bishop repeatedly said, “Count yourself blessed.” Then he said, “In the beatitudes, Jesus was making saints out of ordinary people.”
Read Ephesians 1:15-17
As I have remembered those who have died, so now I remember you, my beloved friends and fellow saints. May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May He look upon you with favour and give you His peace. I ask all this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I thank Him for you.
Now We live in an instant society. We expect everything immediately. When we turn on the TV to watch the news, we want to hear up to the minute reports about whatever is happening in the world. Our computers give us instant access to the information we desire, and if we are unable to locate something at the click of a button, we become frustrated. When we go to the bank or the store, we grumble if we have to stand in line. Our patience runs short when we have to wait too long for an event or bit of news.
We have certain expectations about our spiritual life. We expect God will keep His promises, and that He’ll make Himself known to us in very special ways. When we ask God for things through prayer, we expect answers in our time and our way.
Read Galations 5:4-6
When we hear God’s voice, we jump into action. We try to do the things we believe are right, proving ourselves righteous before God. We rush into action, sure that our acts are in obedience to God’s Will. The words that are translated ‘obedience’ in the Bible, from both the Hebrew and Greek, simply mean ‘to hear’. In faith, we trust that God will reveal Himself through our lives, manifesting the righteousness of Christ in our lives.
The scripture for today speaks about waiting. Those things we try to do for God now do not matter. By His grace we are given His righteousness, but God is not an instant God. We must wait and trust in His time. This waiting for Him is faith.
Stewardship This word evokes fear in the hearts of many when it is brought up at church. “Oh, no. Not again. They are going to ask me for more money. I already give more than I can spare. I have bills to pay and children to feed. I just can’t give any more than I already do.”
At church council meetings, the treasurer brings up the figure for Stewardship offering this month and the council members grumble. “We have to fix the roof, and pay the light bill. We are the church, why do we have to give money beyond our walls?”
One of the advantages of a military chapel is that the largest expenses, building and staff salaries, are covered by military funding. Many members of the congregation think, “Since the building and staff are paid for, they do not need my offering.” Sometimes they send funds to other organizations, but often the money is put in the bank for their own day to day use.
Wait! What is the motive here? Where are the hearts for God? Where is the obedience to His will?
Read Malachi 3:8-10
Abel gave the best of his flock out of his love for God, but Cain merely gave some of his fruits out of duty. Everything we have comes from God. How do we repay Him for His many blessings in our lives? By grumbling? With excuses? We need to return to the LORD what was first His, not only our material blessings but also our whole lives. Do you just go to church on Sunday and drop a twenty-dollar bill in the plate? We need to be giving our first fruits, the best of all we have, to our Lord God.
Maps I love having a new map. A new map has crisp folds, everything is fresh and clean and easy to read. As the map gets used, it is folded and unfolded. The edges get crinkled and the folds begin to wear. Some people even add notes and markings to the map to remember the best routes to favorite places. After a time the map becomes difficult to read with the holes and writing, and you realize it is time to replace it. When you buy the new map, you are still hesitant to rid yourself of the old, because it is so familiar. Yet, when you open the new map, you find it crisp and clean and easy to read. You may even discover new, easier routes to your favorite places.
Read Luke 5:36-39
We get used to things the way they are. We have favorite clothes we like to wear because they are comfortable, so we’d rather not buy new. We get settled into a routine, and do not like to change our schedule or pattern. We have our favorite Bible, a road map for living, which is marked with notes and cross-references.
Sometimes we are forced to make a change. When circumstances in our lives are new and different, we need to move on and let go of the old possessions. It is difficult to let go of our favorite things, but there is such joy in the discovering of the new! Don’t hold on to the past; enjoy the newness of life itself. You never know what you will see when your map is fresh and clean.
Guy Fawkes In England, during the time of James I, the country was filled with turmoil and strife. This was the age of the Civil War, a time when the people of the country were fighting for their doctrinal beliefs. James was a Protestant, and Parliament was his puppet.
There existed at this time a group of Roman Catholic men who would do anything to keep England under the rule of the Pope. They hatched The Gunpowder Plot. The intention was to blow up Parliament on the day when James was there to open the proceedings for the year. Everyone would be present, and all would die. A new Roman Catholic king would be selected and England would be Catholic forever.
The conspirators filled the basement of Parliament with gunpowder. But Guy did something foolish. He had a relative who was a Member of Parliament. He did not want to kill someone from his own family, so he sent a note warning this man to stay away. The plot was exposed, Guy Fawkes was arrested and tortured. He eventually gave the names of the other conspirators, and was then executed for his crime.
Today is Guy Fawkes Day. It is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. Guy will always be remembered for his crime against the king. That’s the way human justice works. We remember the failings of those around us.
Read Ezekiel 18:21-23
God’s justice is much different than our justice. We are unable to be righteous before God, and yet He sent His Son to be righteous for us. When we clothe ourselves in His righteousness, God no longer sees the offenses we committed, but He sees Christ in us. God does not remember our sins, He rejoices in our repentance. Turn to Him today, wear His righteousness, and live.
Maturity Vicki celebrated her tenth birthday this week. Ten is a big one. She is into the double digits now and on the verge of puberty. Ten is the year that she gets her own identification card. It is a coming of age ritual that is highly regarded among her peers.
Yesterday we went to the office and she now has her own ID. This is a big responsibility. She must watch carefully over the card to be sure that it is not lost or stolen. She can now show her own card to enter buildings, giving her more freedom to move around without a parent. There are children who are not yet ready to take on these responsibilities. They have not matured enough to move on to this new stage in life.
Read Hebrews 5:11-14
When we come into a relationship with Jesus Christ, we are like children, learning under the authority of others. We hear the stories, feel the love and share in the fellowship of believers. And we serve Him according to our own thoughts and ideas. There comes a time when we have to realize that a relationship with God means far more than going to church on Sunday and being on some committee. We must come to a time when we know that it is not about us anymore, but it is about Christ who lives in us. It is Christ’s righteousness we wear, having given ourselves fully to the Gospel of our Lord. Now is the time to move into maturity, beyond the elementary Gospel. We reach this stage of knowing by studying the scriptures and spending time in prayer. Do this, so that you can take on the responsibilities of adulthood in Christ Jesus.
Snap Dragons I noticed the other day that we have a snapdragon growing in a pot near our garden. The flowerpot has no dirt to speak of - it is filled with just rocks. This pot has been sitting there for some time, and a seed must have blown in from the garden. It is now the first week of November, we’ve had some bitter cold mornings, and yet this flower is about to bloom. It is not just a weed growing among the rocks, but a full, healthy flower in bloom.
As Christians we are called to share the Gospel message with all people. There are times, however that we do not bother, thinking it a waste of our time because the seed cannot possibly take hold and grow. Yet, the roots do not take hold of the visible self, the part we can see. The seed takes hold of the promise of God, and from that gets everything it needs to grow.
Read Hebrews 6:16-19
God can bring life out of the most barren of circumstances. The Word of God does not need the righteousness of man to take hold in a life. Man’s righteousness is just filthy rags. But hidden beneath the visible man is a hope given to us by God. Under the right circumstances, His time and His way, a seed may just fall among that barrenness and take hold of that hope. That hope is firm and secure.
Do not hold back the seed of the Gospel. Share love with all you see, for you never know which heart is the one God has prepared to receive His Word.
Sanctuary Thirteenth century churches were not built with central heating. The construction was much like building a Lego house, only with huge blocks of rocks. There is no insulation or double paned glass. During the winter months these buildings provide little protection from the cold. We attend worship in such a church, and we noticed yesterday that the bitter cold has moved within the walls of our sanctuary.
Throughout the building are heavy curtains over the doors to keep out the cold. We gather in the eastern transept, close to the altar, with a heavy curtain over the screen that divides the choir from the rest of the congregation. Portable heaters are run to provide some heat to the area. We dress in heavy coats and gather close to provide each other with body heat. It is still cold.
Yet, when the worship begins, the cold disappears as we focus our attention on God. As we sing, pray and hear the Word, our discomfort fades and we rest in the joy of knowing all that Jesus Christ did for us. We turn our thoughts to praise and thanksgiving.
Read Philippians 4:4
Today, as you face life’s inconveniences, focus your attention on God Himself. Sing praise to Him for your circumstances and you will find that discomfort will be lost in the joy you get from being in the presence of the Father. The church will still be bitter cold; the discomfort will not disappear. Yet, as we pray in thanksgiving to God, we will know the peace that comes with a relationship in Christ Jesus.
Chance When asked what to do with the body of his dead mother in law, someone is quoted as saying, “Embalm her, cremate her, and bury her. Why leave anything to chance?”
In II Chronicles 18, we hear the story of the alliance between Ahab the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah. Ahab wanted to go to war, and Jehoshaphat was willing, but only if Ahab sought the counsel of the LORD. Ahab was willing to his four hundred prophets, all of whom spoke good things about victory. One prophet, named Micaiah, spoke only the word of the LORD, and prophesied death to the king.
To protect himself, Ahab went into battle in disguise and made Jehoshaphat wear his royal robes. In the midst of the battle, many went to attack Jehoshaphat, but he called out to the LORD and God protected him. But Ahab suffered a different fate.
Read 2 Chronicles 18:30-34
As we live in this world, there are many factors, which help us to make the day to day decisions. When we seek the aid of our friends and family, very often they give us the answer we like rather than the truth. Ahab listened to the false prophets, having turned away from the LORD, taking his chances against his enemy. On the other hand, Jehoshaphat cried out to the LORD for protection and guidance. God will give us the truth, but man will fill our ears with all we desire to hear. We must seek God in all our decisions, rather than man. Leave nothing to chance.
Cake It is necessary to go through a series of steps to bake a cake. First, you must gather your ingredients. It may be necessary to preheat the oven and prepare the pan with grease and flour. You need to take each ingredient and carefully mix them together so that the batter is properly prepared. After the batter is poured into the pan, the pan is put in the oven. At this point, there is nothing left to do but wait. Checking the cake every two minutes does more harm than good, since opening the oven door causes the air inside to cool. Watching the clock, pacing the kitchen, or worrying about the cake does not help the cake to bake. You must be patient and wait until the appointed time.
Read Isaiah 30:18
When we are called into His Kingdom, we are just a mess of ingredients with the potential to be something better. With time and patience, our Lord adds and stirs until all the ingredients are properly mixed into the batter, then He puts us in the oven to bake. For a time, it is our job simply to wait. He decides the time and the way.
It is so difficult to wait. We think we need to be on the front lines now, doing the Lord’s work, so we jump into action. Yet, by jumping into the action before we ought, we have shown that we do not trust in the Lord to know the right time for His Will to come into fruition.
Just as a cake is no good if it has not spent enough time in the heat of the oven, so too are we unprepared if we go out before our appointed season. Take a moment to wait on the Lord. He will bring you out of the oven and bless you with His Word, “Go and serve the Lord!”
Veterans Day We take time today to thank the men and women who have sacrificed many things to serve our country in times of war. The lives they lead are stressful, filled with family separations, difficult tasks and often hostility from people who do not approve of the job which they are called to do.
Yet these men and women try to do their best, under less than ideal conditions. They follow the orders they are given as part of team to accomplish the task at hand.
Read 2 Timothy 2:1-7
We are soldiers in a war. It is not against nations or people; it is against spirits. We may have to face certain hardships in this battle for life, but we have as our leader someone greater than men. We have the Lord, who provides us with everything we need. We need to turn to God, obey His commands, and we will reap the benefits of service to Him.
We do not always approve of the job that our soldiers, airman, sailors and marines are called to do. Yet, there have been many times throughout history that an army has been vital to the well being of a nation. Take time today to thank a veteran. Remember the sacrifices that they have made so that you might know peace in this world.
Pattern Math lessons in early childhood education include many exercises in patterns. The children line up blocks according to size, shape and colour. They count the number of days to the week, month and year. The teacher lines them up in some semblance of order to walk to lunch or the playground. Even their schedules follow a pattern.
Some children are very good at noticing pattern. The other day as we left church, we had to walk in a single file line to our car, Zack led the way, with myself, Vicki and Bruce one behind the other. Zack said, “Hey we make a pattern! Small, big, small, big!”
When I was in Zack’s classroom helping the other day, one boy noticed that I was following the pattern but that I’d changed it somewhat. He saw that I was calling the children in the right order, but that I had started in the middle of the group rather than at the top. It was somewhat disturbing to this little boy that I had changed the pattern.
We are surrounded by patterns in our world. Flowers, for example offer many examples of pattern. Every pansy has 5 petals. They grow a certain way and at a certain time. The agricultural season is a pattern. A farmer plows, plants, and harvests at specific times. God created this world with an order and a purpose.
Read Exodus 25:8-9
God’s Kingdom was established long before man’s natural realm. The tabernacle is the natural manifestation of God’s Kingdom. Moses was shown the pattern and was called to recreate it exactly as shown. This pattern was then carried over in the life and ministry of our Savior Jesus Christ. It existed first in the spiritual, then in the natural, then in the spiritual once again. God has not created a kingdom of chaos; He has given us an eternal kingdom that is ordered and true.
As you look at the patterns around you today, such as those in nature, remember that God created these things for you, and that they are just a shadow of the things He has for you in His Kingdom.
Religion Religion is defined as a belief in a higher power or as an objective pursued with fervor or conscientious devotion. Human beings are religious in nature. We are all passionate about something. For some it is their job. For others it is football. For still others it is their garden or their family.
When we speak of religion in the traditional sense, we mean the belief in God. Many people demonstrate their belief in God by being active in some religious group. I was speaking to a friend when he said, “I think I’ll convert to the Wiccan faith. They get to run around naked and swing a sword.” He was joking, of course, that’s not the way they worship, and he would not convert so quickly to another faith. Yet, many people do convert from one faith to another for very flesh centered reasons.
As we look at our churches today, where is their focus? Very often, churches are relying upon numbers. They offer programs which are popular, to bring people through the door. But are these programs do not enhance a person’s spiritual welfare. Many churches are more interested in numbers than hearts. God is interested in hearts.
Read James 1:25
True worship of God our Father is self-sacrifice. We are to turn our attention from our own desires and needs, and seek to serve Him through serving those who need our love and care.
Why have you chosen your house of worship? Is it because they offer fun programs that keep you and your family excited about church? Are the people friendly and treat you as family? Do they have a comfortable, well-furnished building? These may be valid reasons to select a place of worship. Yet, we have to ask; is your religion serving God or manna? When you finish worshipping, what has been satisfied? Your spirit or your flesh? God wants your spirit to be satisfied.
Women I have the pleasure of attending a conference for Protestant Women of the Chapel in Willigen, Germany this week. Approximately five hundred women, and a handful of men, will gather to worship God and learn more about His Word in our lives.
There are not many women mentioned in the scriptures; yet those who appear play vital roles in the events portrayed. This week, we will look into the lives of biblical women, such as Esther. Queen Esther was a woman who had the courage to approach the throne of grace to beg for the lives of her people. She risked her life for the lives of others.
Read Proverbs 31:10
The Proverbs 31 woman is often described as the unattainable ideal. She is like the “Martha Stewart of King David’s court.” Yet, she is a model of excellence, displaying a number of virtues that every woman should strive to emulate. She is trustworthy. She displays godly shrewdness, generosity and competence. She is a seeker of wisdom and is spiritually confident.
There are five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, as it appears in Matthew 1:1-16. Some of these women led less than exemplary lives, and yet play an important role in the lineage of Jesus. Why is that? These women exhibit the qualities that are evident in the Proverbs 31 woman. Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, showed godly shrewdness in the way she made Judah fulfill his obligations. Rahab, a prostitute, was trustworthy. Ruth, a true woman of virtue, showed generosity to her mother-in-law. Bathsheba, while not named, is listed in the genealogy as Solomon’s mother. She showed herself to be competent when she answered Nathan’s call to inquire of the king. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was spiritually confident. Finally, we will look into the New Testament and study Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who was a seeker of wisdom.
Each day we will study the life of one of these virtuous women and see how we too can strive to be as the Proverbs 31 woman.
Trustworthy She is reliable. We can have total confidence in her integrity, ability and good character. Seems strange to say that about a prostitute.
Read Proverbs 31:12
Joshua sent two spies to Jericho to look over the land. They entered the house of Rahab the prostitute. When the king of Jericho sent men to capture the spies, Rahab protected them from danger. She instructed them in the safest way to escape the city. Rahab and the other people in the city had heard the stories of the Exodus and feared the LORD God. She knew that God had given the land over to the Israelites, so she helped the spies accomplish their task by protecting them.
Read Joshua 2:11-14
Joshua’s men trusted that Rahab would keep her word. She protected their lives, and they repaid her by protecting her household.
In our positions in life, as daughter, wife, mother, sister, co-worker, and friend, we make many commitments. When we promise to do something, it is our responsibility to fulfill that promise to the best of our ability. We should all strive to be as Rahab. We should be women of integrity, who can be trusted to bring good, not harm to those around us.
Godly Shrewdness She is an astute woman, having a clever awareness and resourcefulness, which is used to accomplish God’s purpose.
Read Proverbs 31:14, 18
Judah’s firstborn son Er was married to a woman named Tamar. Er was not a very nice man, and God had him put to death. It was the custom at the time for the widow to be given to the brother of the dead man, so that he could provide an heir for the deceased. Tamar was given to Onan, but Onan did not want such a child to receive the inheritance. He did all he could to avoid a pregnancy. This, too, was wicked to the LORD, and He had Onan put to death.
Judah feared giving his third son to Tamar. So he told her to live with her father until Shelah was old enough for marriage. Judah did not fulfill his duties to Tamar. She learned he would be near her home, so she disguised herself and waited by the gate. Judah thought she was a prostitute and slept with her. She secured the promise of a gift by requesting his personal items as a pledge.
Judah tried to pay the debt he owed the prostitute, but she had disappeared and no one had knowledge of her. Three months later, it came to be known that Tamar was with child. When Judah heard of this, he ordered that she be stoned since she was guilty of prostitution.
Read Exodus 38:25-26
Tamar showed herself to be astute, when securing the items of proof she would need to protect her family. We should strive toward godly shrewdness like Tamar by being aware of our circumstances and doing that which is necessary and right to provide for our families.
Generosity She is generous, especially liberal in her giving.
Read Proverbs 31:20
Elimelech took his wife Naomi and two sons to Moab, to flee the famine in their homeland. After Elimelech died, the two boys married local girls, then they too died. Naomi was left alone with her daughters-in-law. Since Naomi was unable to provide new husbands for the widows, she told them to go back to their fathers. Naomi wanted to go home. Orpah did return to her home, but Ruth insisted on going with Naomi. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth went into the fields to glean for grain to feed Naomi. Boaz was the owner of the field, and a relation to Naomi. Boaz gave her water, food and protection.
Read Ruth 2:10-11
Ruth gave up everything she knew to take care of her mother-in-law, including her god. She was unselfish in her dedication to care for a widow who had nothing left. She then obeyed her mother-in-law and went to Boaz and offered herself as his servant, since he was her kinsman-redeemer. He saw this act as being even more generous, because she selected him over the younger men. He took her to be his wife, and she went on to bear the forefathers of Jesus Christ.
We should always be generous in giving everything we can to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Nothing we have is our own; God gives it to us. We should strive to be as Ruth, generous to those who need to share in our love, time and good fortune.
Competence She is capable and adequate to accomplish the stipulated purpose.
Read Proverbs 31:25
Bathsheba was an incredibly beautiful woman. King David saw her and called her to his bed, and the encounter produced a child. David tried to cover his sin, and when he could not, he placed Bathsheba’s husband in the hands of an enemy where he was killed. David then took Bathsheba as his wife. God took the child as punishment for David’s sin against God. Then Bathesheba and David conceived another child. This was Solomon, and David promised that Solomon would be king.
When it came time for David to pass from life, Adonijah, the fourth son of David, tried to take the throne. Nathan the prophet knew that Adonijah was not to be king. We went to Bathsheba and told her to approach the king and inquire of his blessing for the next king. Bathsheba went to David and asked if he had blessed Adonijah, and told him that she and Solomon would be mistreated if he were not made king. Nathan told the king of the actions of Adonijah.
Read 1 Kings 1:28-31
Bathsheba showed herself capable of accomplishing the task set before her by Nathan. She reminded David of his promises before the LORD for her son Solomon, and told him about the plans of Adonijah. We are given gifts, such as strength, dignity and wisdom. We should strive to be as Bathsheba, to use these gifts to be competent and achieve the goals set before us in this life.
Seeker of Wisdom She is one who tries to discover understanding of what is true.
Read Proverbs 31:26
Jesus had a friend named Lazarus. Lazarus had two sisters, Martha and Mary. One day, Jesus visited this family in Bethany. Martha was quite hospitable, preparing food to feed her guests. Jesus sat with his disciples and the others gathered, teaching about the Kingdom of God. Mary sat at his feet, listening to every word, feeding on the Word of God into the depths of her soul.
Martha was disturbed that she needed to do all the work and asked Jesus to rebuke Mary for being lazy with so much to accomplish.
Read Luke 10:41
We have responsibilities in our lives as wife, mother, friend, neighbor and co-worker. There are many tasks to accomplish in these positions. It seems as though there is never enough time to do those things, let alone take the time to seek wisdom. Yet, we are reminded throughout the scriptures that God is wisdom, and that we should seek Him in our lives. As women, we tend to put off the study of scriptures, or even time in prayer, for the temporal obligations of life. Yet, without wisdom we cannot display the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Wisdom is not book knowledge; it is the discernment of truth. God’s truth. We need His wisdom to be trustworthy, to have godly shrewdness and generosity, and to be competent. As we understand God and our relationship with Him, we are better able to demonstrate those virtues of these women of the Lord. Be as Mary and take time today to sit at the feet of your Savior to listen to His Words.
Spiritually Confident She is marked by her assurance in the realm of the Spirit of God.
Read Proverbs 31:30
Mary was a young girl betrothed to be married to a man named Joseph. One day an angel of the Lord came to Mary and told her she was blessed. She was uncertain as to the meaning of that greeting. The angel told her to not be afraid, and that she would bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. This son was to be named Jesus, and will be called the Son of the Most High.
She did not understand because she was not yet married. Yet the angel told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was barren and in her old age, was going to have a child. He said, “For nothing is impossible with God.”
Read Luke 1:38
Mary was a young girl, pregnant before marriage. Her betrothed was uncertain about the mess and wanted to divorce her quietly. Yet Mary believed in the Word of the Lord, and sang His praises. The birth of her child was less than ideal, but she was able to see the blessings. She treasured the things that occurred and pondered them in her heart.
Of all the virtues displayed in the Proverbs 31 woman, this is the most important. A woman who is spiritually confident shows that she has a personal relationship with God. The other virtues will help you deal with the situations that occur in your day to day living. Spiritual confidence has eternal rewards.
We should be as Mary, living in the assurance of a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we are confident in our faith, we exhibit the virtues of a godly woman and we are truly blessed.
Unity I spent five days in Willigen, Germany, with more than 400 women, and a handful of men, worshipping the Lord. We stayed in a beautiful hotel, ate good German food, and spent the week getting closer to God. We gathered together, heard His Word, sang hymns of praise, and bonded with our sisters.
It was a joyous retreat from the day to day stress of being a military wife and mother.
The woman who are active in Protestant Women of the Chapel come from diverse backgrounds. We come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds, some lifelong Christians, some new to the Lord. Some are used to liturgical worship; others prefer a more contemporary experience.
We were all able to set aside our own preferences this week, and join in one voice before the Lord. We laughed together and cried together. We emphasized the truth of Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, rather than our own specific demoninational doctrine. Through this unity, we felt the Spirit of God bind us together as one and we were blessed.
This experience is a lesson to all the churches in our world. God is not calling us to give up our heritage or worship style; He is calling us to find the common denominator and share in the Spirit of God. That common bond is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The division that exists today is not merely a disagreement of doctrine, but is causing a dividing of the Holy Spirit. We have built fences, which block the Spirit of the Living God from displaying His power to the world. He doesn't need us, yet He wants us to be part of the blessing, which comes from unity of spirit. Talk to your neighbor; share in prayer and worship with them, no matter what label they wear as a Christian.
Snow Willigen, Germany is a small resort town. It was once known for its slate and linen production, but now thrives on the tourists who come to enjoy the beauty and sport opportunities. The town is nestled in a valley, surrounded by hills that are dotted with ski runs and hiking trails.
We woke up Wednesday morning to a heavy dusting of snow. As I looked out the hotel room window, I could see the entire town was covered in a layer of white, making it clean and bright and beautiful. By the time I was ready to go out of the hotel to my first meeting, many people had laid their impression upon the snow, making it dirty by walking on it, or pushing it out of the way with a shovel. The snow did not look beautiful anymore. It was now slushy, dirty and wet, so easily destroyed by the presence of man.
It snowed again throughout the week, each time covering the town with a sparkling beauty, which was easily wrecked by the presence of people.
Read Lamentations 3:22-24
When Jesus Christ is a part of our life, we are clothed in a righteousness, which is white as snow. His works make us beautiful before our Father and the world. Yet, we still live in the world, and throughout our day to day experiences, we are affected by the world around us. We get stepped on and shoveled out of the way. Eventually, the beauty that shined like the new fallen snow seems to get lost under the muck and slush of living. Yet, God is faithful, and He renews His mercies on us each morning.
As you live through today, remember that you have been given a newness of life from the Father. The world may try to destroy you, but God will not allow you to be consumed. When the world steps on you, remember His promises. You belong to Him, and He continues to make you fresh and clean before the world.
Hallelujah! The travel to and from Willigen was difficult at best. Long bus rides, extended periods of waiting in airports and queues which seemed to go on for miles. There were enough hassles to make the most patient person rather edgy.
As we were working our way through Frankfort Airport, on our way home, we ran into some difficulty. There was twenty-one of us trying to find our way home. We walked in a huge circle trying to discover where we belonged. We stood in long lines waiting to check in. We waited as one lady settled a dispute over her missing reservation.
We finally arrived at the security checkpoint, which took us into the terminal for our flight. The equipment was extremely sensitive, picking up metals that normally pass easily through such machines. I had no pockets or places to keep coins or keys. I had no metal on my body except my silver cross necklace. I stepped up though the machine, and it beeped. It was rather obvious that I could not be hiding anything on my person, so they reset the machine and asked me to go through it again. Again it beeped. The woman with the wand began at my cross necklace, and as the wand got close it let off an enormous beep. The male security agent, who was standing beside me, let out a loud “Hallelujah!” I turned and said, “God just wanted you to know He was here today!” This man continued to praise the Lord as each of our group stepped through the machine. He may have gone on long after that.
Read Psalm 116:8-11
God just wants you to know He is with you today. Rejoice and be glad in it!
Breath It was another cold Sunday in church. The heaters were not working properly, so it was even colder than normal. It was so cold that we had ‘ice breath’, the visible cloud that appears when the warmth of your breath comes in contact with the cold of your environment. It is the warm meeting the cold that makes it visible. Each breath we took, each song of Praise that we sang, became visible to all those around.
When we claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the world begins to look at us more closely. Each aspect of our lives becomes the target for close scrutiny. When our fruits are good, the world sees the Lord Jesus Christ as He is and He is glorified. However, we often cling to the bad fruit, those things of this world that glorify self rather than God, our Father in Heaven.
Read Ephesians 5:8-14
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, died so that we might have a close, personal relationship with God. As part of His Kingdom, we are expected to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord. This life is His life in us. Like the warm air mingling with the cold, forming the cloud of ‘ice breath’, so should His life be visible from our mouth and actions when meeting with the coldness of this world.
When we are of this world, our words and actions do not appear different from the world; it is invisible like our breath on a normal spring day. The breath of our life in Christ should appear differently. When you speak, does the warmth of the Word of God mingle with the coldness of this world and become visible to those who hear?
Thanksgiving We are so very blessed. We should be singing songs of thanksgiving every day of our lives for the many gifts God has given us. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln asked all Americans to set aside one day a year, the final Thursday in November, to give thanks to God. Many people think that Thanksgiving is merely a holiday to remember the early settlers. In school, the children learn about the Pilgrims and Indians, recreate The First Thanksgiving, and get a few days off. At home, we say a five-minute grace thanking God for our material blessings, eat too much food, and then watch parades and football all day.
I have a non-American friend who was surprised when I said Thanksgiving was about thanking God for our blessings. We have forgotten why Abraham Lincoln set apart this day. In his proclamation, he said, “It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Read Psalm 100
On this day called Thanksgiving, let us remember to thank God for His many blessings. In the midst of the football and pumpkin pie, focus on the Father and His Son and the blessing of eternal life, which is the greatest blessing you can receive.
Father in heaven, I thank you for all I was, all I am and all I will be, through your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
Entrance Ely Cathedral is a magnificent building. It was begun in 1086, on land that has been the site of Christian worship for 1300 years. High on a hill, in a region of England that is very flat, it stands as a beacon calling all to the Lord Jesus Christ from many miles away.
The doorway at the West End of the cathedral is a double set of doors, which are approximately twenty feet high and 10 feet wide. These doors still open and close, although they are rarely used. Such large doors are impractical and unnecessary. They are extremely heavy, a burden for most people to open and close. The opening is so large it allows too much wind and cold air into the cathedral.
There is an opening in one of the doors, which is the actual doorway into the cathedral. This entrance is not even six feet tall or three feet wide, barely large enough for an average adult to fit through. The shape of the doorway is not a rectangle, but is remarkably similar to the shape of a simple coffin.
Read Matthew 7:13-14
The large door is like the wide road. The user takes upon his life a heavy burden, and it brings unwanted effects. The road to destruction is one of doing things for our selves, not relying upon the work of God in our lives for salvation. The only way to make it into the kingdom of God is through our own death. This is not the death of our physical body, but the death of our flesh nature. We must stop trying so hard to enter our own way, and do it God's way.
The analogy of the cathedral door ends here, though. We have no chance to choose which door to use when we visit the cathedral. God gives us the choice. Very few are willing to submit their entire selves to God, so never find the small door. Which road are you walking?
Lost The bus was packed with people, and the tour guide asked everyone to look around and memorize the faces of their neighbors. The guide also counted the number of people on the bus. As we got on the bus after the event, we checked faces and counted heads. We did not find any missing faces, but the count was one off. Someone was missing.
The guide went back into the hall looking for that undefined face. As we sat on the bus, we recounted the heads and discovered the only one missing was the guide. Someone had been missed in the original count.
We often hear of the story about the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep. He then celebrates when it is found. This is God. He does go to search after the sheep that are missing, lost, alone.
When we discovered the miscount, we nearly sent someone to search for the guide, yet we knew that would mean another missing face. When the guide finally returned, we all had a hearty laugh. Yet, the truth within that event is no laughing matter. While God goes looking for the lost sheep, too often we are the ones who are lost. In our quest to find the lost sheep, we often lead others astray, teaching evangelism techniques and false doctrine that are dangerous.
Read Jeremiah 50:6-7
It is important that we test all things against the Spirit of God. Our thoughts, words and deeds must line up to His Will. If they do not, then we are wandering on the mountain. We must take care not to lead others astray, away from the true resting place in God our heavenly Father. Many are dying in this world, not because they have chosen to walk away from God, but because we have sinned against Him and led them away. Be in prayer and the Word so that your teachings are of God, or you will lead those you teach into the slaughter.
Façade Have you ever wished you were a fly on the wall to see how people act when you are not around? It can be enlightening to go to school and stand outside the doorway of your children’s classes to watch how they behave. I have been known to enter a room of friends unnoticed and linger in a corner for a moment, watching how people act when they do not know I am there. Sometimes I am amazed.
The story is told of a church. One Sunday morning the congregation arrived to find a homeless man sleeping just outside the door. One by one the people passed by, not offering the man assistance. They even whispered and ridiculed the man. When it was time for the service to begin, the congregation noticed their pastor was not yet there. They became very uneasy when the homeless man entered the sanctuary. They were humbled when the homeless man began to remove his coverings and they realized that it was their pastor they ignored or ridiculed.
What did the pastor hope to gain from the sermon? Did he hope just one of his congregation would act accordingly? No matter what he hoped, the exercise showed him that the congregation he faced each Sunday wore a façade. They acted one way when he was around, and they acted in a totally different manner when he was absent. We see this every day with people who call themselves Christians. They act one way at church, but as soon as they walk out the door, away from the brethren who hold them accountable for their actions, they lie, cheat and steal.
Do we not realize that God is with us at every moment? Does He not see every act we do? Do we need to work so hard to be accountable to man, when we have the Heavenly Father as a witness to every action?
Read 2 Timothy 3:12-13
The next time you put on a façade, remember, your pastor may just be watching from the wings. Even more so, God knows what is behind that false front.
Advent The first Sunday of Advent has come and gone, and the race is on to plan the most spectacular Christmas season ever. After all, this is the last Christmas of the millennium, and the new millennium is being called “The Age of Jesus Christ”.
Advent is not only about waiting for the birth of our King, it is about the waiting and preparation for Christ to come in His Glory. In the midst of the craziness of this season - the shopping and the parties - be sure to spend a few minutes looking back upon the birth of our Savior and forward to His Triumphant return. Even more so, take the time this Advent to see Christ in our world today. After all, He is our Living God, and His presence is made manifest in the lives of His children. Together we are made one body with Him as the Head.
Read Ephesians 4:15-16
How are we to prepare for the coming of our Lord? Each of us has a job that we are called to do for His Kingdom. We are bound together by His Holy Spirit and we are to support each other as we perform our individual tasks. The edification that occurs when brothers and sisters share in the love of Christ, makes the Church - Christ’s body - strong, rich and vital.
Last night, in five short minutes, three brothers in Christ gave me a word of blessing from the Lord. These men did not know each other, they had no connection, but each followed the counsel of God’s Holy Spirit to share. In these days, share the love of Christ with your brothers and sisters in Him. Give them a word of blessing from the Lord, so that His body may be built up for His Glory. Perhaps we can keep the Spirit of Christmas strong, well into the year 2000 and truly make it the “Age of Jesus Christ.”
Skating We went to the roller skating rink for a birthday party. Each time we go, Zack uses a pair of Fisher Price skates. These skates are simple to operate and are perfect for a beginner because they have some features that help keep the skater safe and secure.
This latest visit to the skating rink was a step into maturity for Zack. We did not take the Fisher Price skates, but rather we rented him a pair from the rink. After we managed to get them on his feet, there was so much he needed to get used to - such as the weight of the skates and the fact that the wheels move freely. He was not afraid as he carefully moved on to the wooden floor of the skating rink. He did, however, stay very close to the wall, and he clung with every ounce of his strength to the wall, so that he might stay on his feet.
With a huge smile on his face, Zack ‘skated’ back and forth along that wall. He slipped often and fell to the floor occasionally. He always stayed near the wall, using it for support, guidance, and security. In the beginning, Zack clung to the wall as if his life depended on it. As he grew more confident on the skates, he loosened his grip, but still held firmly to the wall. Through it all, he always had the confidence that the wall would be there to hold him up.
Read Hebrews 3:14
Jesus Christ is our wall. In the beginning, we go out into the world clinging as if our lives depend on Him. They do, but as we grow in faith and mature in our knowledge, our hold becomes more controlled and confident. We come to the point when the presence of the wall is enough to give us the security we need to keep moving forward. As you go out into the world today, rest secure in the knowledge that your wall, Jesus Christ, is always faithful and will hold you up at those times when you slip as long as you hold firm.