Sand n’ Sin

“… you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by ca1ling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:11 (NLT)

(Note to readers: I am a teacher of two-year olds at a local preschool. This lesson was given to me through one of my students.)

I was helping one of my little girls wash off her face after we came in from outside today. No matter how much I pried her away from the sand pile, she kept going back to it, and her face was absolutely covered with dirt!

I’m standing here wiping off her face with a wet paper towel, and thoughts of the Father enter my mind. Just like this little girl had gotten all dirty after she had disobeyed me, we also get ourselves “dirty” when we disobey God and give in to sin. Just like I was wiping the dirt off this little girl’s face and wiping it clean to reveal her skin underneath the mess she had made, so our Father also wipes us of our sins to reveal who we are in Him. I could feel a glimpse of what the Father feels as he “wipes us clean of our sins” as I wiped off this little girl’s face.

And he, be ing the God of the universe, experiences this feeling infinitely more, because we are his children.


Jesus, thank you for choosing to reveal Truth to those with childlike faith. Thank you for dying so that we could be cleansed of our sins and live fully alive as your most treasured possession. In your precious name, Amen.

By Heather, Wisconson

The Small Things

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NASB)

A quarterback threw the winning touchdown in a game and during the interview afterwards he thanked God for giving him the grace to do that. As a Christian, my heart always leaps for joy when a Christian champion performs a great act of athleticism and then glorifies God. It shows how God’s grace can accomplish much. But what about the single parent who has to go to work, pay the bills, run the household, and still teaches her children to be godly? What about the person whose health is failing but who still goes to church and blesses people? What about the person born into poverty and abuse but grows up to be a minister or runs a soup kitchen? These are also all examples of how God’s grace can accomplish much. These are not the people on TV but are the people around us. They are our true inspirations. Most of us will never be a Christian celebrity but by His grace even those of us whose lives are more mundane can still be a tremendous blessing to others. Let us be content to be blessings where God has placed us and not yearn for those fleeting moments of greatness.

May I use Your grace to be faithful in the small things and so glorify You.
 By Bob (New Jersey, USA)

GLORIFYING GOD

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

Text.--I Cor. 10:31: "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

 

In this discussion, I design to show,

I. WHAT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD, BY THE GLORY OF GOD.

II. HOW WE MAY GLORIFY HIM.

III. TO WHAT EXTENT, WE ARE TO APPLY THIS RULE, IN PRACTICE.

IV. THE IMPORTANCE OF GLORIFYING GOD.

V. THAT WHATEVER IS SHORT OF THIS, IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD.

 

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Question about Salvation

Q. how can i keep my salvation?

A. Thank you for concern of eternal life. It is important to remember that salvation is a free gift from God made manifest through the shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. There is no way we can work our way to heaven. The real goal is to humble ourselves before God and submit fully to His will. Jesus illustrates in a passage from Matthew (16:24-28) that we must give up our old life in order to follow Him. The exciting news is that Jesus Christ loves us. We cannot be perfect, and our salvation does not hang in the balance with every poor decision. What is important is to sincerely seek forgiveness daily from Jesus in prayer and use His grace to grow from our mistakes. The Bible will provide further guidance in the search for God's will in our life. Although salvation is an intensely personal experience between you and Jesus, being involved in Bible study groups or having accountability partners can help you grow in the Spirit. The Bible mentions that as we grow in the spirit we will be given bigger tasks in the service of the Lord (I Col. 3:2). Your question points to this spiritual growth. Once we have received this free gift of salvation, we are expected to use it and share it with others. Jesus explains His desire that we use His grace for others in a parable in Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable Jesus shows that those who do not share His grace with others will lose their own grace, but for those who expand the kingdom of the Lord heaven will be magnified. It is our humble prayer here a Mustard Seed Ministries, that you share your spiritual talents with others and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I will lift you up in prayer that you will grow in the Lord.

Questions about Speaking in Tongues

Q. Is it Biblical for a Christian to speak in tounges, have a gift of Phrophecy and lay hands on the sick for a devine healing? I am Pentecostal and beleive in all above. Id like another Christian perspective on this backed by scripture. God Bless.

A. Dear Friend, First of all, thanks for your question. You need to know that I am not a Bible theologian but just a fellow Christian so with that, I will answer your question in the best way I can. The three gifts of the Spirit you mentioned were evident in the book of Acts and are further expanded on in 1 Cor 12 & 14 along with other gifts of the Spirit. I Cor 13 is devoted entirely to the one foundational gift of charity and very plainly states that all other gifts are nothing if not exercised with the motivation of charity. I do find it interesting that the three you picked out have tended to be the ones that are often used for personal gain (notoriety or financial or both) with sensational appeal and also those which have been used for issues of contention and division in the Church. One of my best friends from high school was a member of a Pentacostal church but these gifts were never used as a point of contention in our friendship. We just respected that we chose to worship the Lord differently. In conclusion, I would just ask you that you carefully examine the motives behind especially public arena use of these gifts. These are gifts which, in my opinion, should be exercised primarily within the privacy of the local body of believers only. Again, ask "what is the motive behind the use of this gift in this setting? First Cor 13 tells us that prophecies will fail, and tongues will cease but that love (charity) never fails (vs 8).

Who is the True God?

Q. Who is the true god?

A. Wow – that is a great question. Although, it is difficult to define God because He encompasses so many different, vast dimensions of the personal, physical, and spiritual realm/world. First of all I think we need to take in account or understand that God exists in the Holy Trinity – God (the Father), the Holy Spirit (which lives in us who have accepted Jesus), and Jesus (God’s Son – who is also our Savior and shed blood). “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” – Revelations 5:13 With that said, God’s name in English is Jehovah (in the original Hebrew it is Yahweh). This name for God is used more than sixty-eight hundred times in the entire Bible. The name means “to be.” This means that God is ever-lasting, self-existing. God is the God who always is. Secondly, God is the Provider (Jehovah-Jireh). Jireh means “he sees ahead.” God sees what you need before you even have a need, and He provides. One story in the Old Testament that references God as the Provider is in Gen. 22 when God asks Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice. When Abraham was ready to take his boy up for the sacrifice, he said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Gen 22:5).

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Heaven: Eternal Life

Much of the difficulty man has with understanding heaven relates to his dependence on things that he can sense. What man can touch, hear & see have a powerful impact on what he believes. Heaven is described in the Bible (I Corinthians 2:9)as: "Things that eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him". It becomes obvious from this statement that man is incapable of really understanding the complete reality of heaven.

Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of life in heaven will be the absence of conflicting emotions. The absence of conflicting thoughts and emotions will promote a deep sense of well being that all is well, that all will be well forever. Nothing will disturb or change this paradise forever. When a million, billion, trillion years have passed this paradise will hardly have begun. Think of the stakes that are involved here. Consider seriously what this means to you and your future.

Another attribute will be freedom. Freedom from worry, from conflict, from self-doubt, from uncomfortable feelings and thoughts, from pain, from depression, from discouragement, from all sickness and ill health (whether physical or emotional) from guilt, from uncertainty, from rejection, from unloving attitudes, and the list goes on. The Lord will walk with us face to face. We will feel His deep love and acceptance of us. We will never doubt again that we are accepted, valuable, worthwhile, and deeply loved - our hearts will constantly overflow with these thoughts and feelings. The love and joy will so flood our hearts that no negative or conflicting emotion will have a chance to take root.

There will be no jealously there. Some wonder if the differences of rewards for earthly service will cause divisions. As we have stated before, each person will be filled to their capacity with blessedness, joy and love and there will be no room for anything else. We will all be filled to the top with the goodness of God. There will be no room for anything but joy, gratitude, and love. We will truly, without any reservations, wish each other well. We will know God in a way that we can only guess at here on earth. As we know Him, we will love Him with all our heart. We will have no reservations about Him for He is the type of person that is lovable to a degree we don't perceive on earth. To know Him and His unimaginable love for us will lead to a love that will fill us - it will leave no room for anything but love and allegiance to Him.

Some wonder if we will feel a loss because of those who have chosen not to follow God, and have entered the profound suffering of eternal death. His beautiful compelling spirit will so fill our hearts that there will be no room for such feelings of loss.

Some wonder if heaven will ever be boring. Remember the times when you were overwhelmed by joy, love or gratitude for something or someone in your life. Were you bored with the overwhelming feelings? I don't believe that you were, I think rather you wished that they could endure forever but life would eventually rob you of them. Nothing will rob you of them in heaven and of course they will be even more intense and wonderful. Besides this, there appears that there will be challenges (helping in some way in the kingdom of heaven). Consider the incredible stakes that are in involved here. Eternity is a long unending time. We live here less than 100 years on the average. What you do here in our relatively short stay will have a profound impact on your stay in eternity. For you own self-interest consider carefully your choices. Make sure that you live your life in a manner that will insure you a place in that incomparable kingdom. If not, your regrets will be inconsolable.

Work Not in Vain

Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. I Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

I worked with women and children in a homeless ministry. Immediate needs such as food, clothing, and shelter were met first. Some would leave the mission the next day, others stayed to enter programs available.

I taught Bible classes daily and on Fridays more in-depth discipleship. The women who came to eat supper at the mission had to attend the Bible class. Day after day, week after week, discouragement began to set in. There was one particular woman, when she attended, helped cause this feeling in me.

She would come and bathe, get new clothes, sleep and leave. After a few days, a week, sometimes longer she would return and be hungry, unkempt, and reek of alcohol—one time I saw her fast asleep in class. It was on one of those days I cried out to the Lord, what is the purpose of all this? Then God impressed upon my heart this verse and I asked Him to forgive me for doubting His work there. Whatever you have me do Lord is not in vain.

Thank you for those lives that affected me and drew me closer to you. I pray you enable me to do the same with others—even if I don’t see it. Amen.

Pass the Liberty... Pass on Liberty

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours should become a stumbling-block to them that are weak. I Corinthians 8:9 (KJV)

A good friend of mine told me a story about some friends of hers. The group got together at least once per year, and engaged in different activities. One year, it was picking strawberries; one year, going to the theater, and even taking one year to travel.

One member of the group was diagnosed with cancer. She had to go through grueling chemotherapy, and eventually lost all of her hair. She was reluctant to go to the next reunion, but finally agreed to show up. She decided it best that she wear a wig, because she didn’t want to face her good friends with such a drastic change in her outward appearance. She was shocked when she arrived, and noticed that every member of the gang was wearing a wig!

It may seem like such a little thing, but imagine how strong the bond of friendship, the essence of Christianity, the character of self, was made in such a small token. 

Christianity is about belief in Christ, but also about self-sacrifice. Those ladies had the right to show up looking their absolute best from head to toe. They could have invested hours in the salon. Instead, they chose to give. They made a sacrifice of self to make someone else comfortable. It seems like such a small thing, but so many miss the essence of Christ. He sacrificed himself for others. He was uncomfortable, to make others comfortable. He gave all that He had in order to make others all that they can be. 

If it is so simple, why don’t we do it for each other every day? Why don’t we give the ultimate sacrifice, our freedom, in order to help someone else?

It is, quite frankly, that simple

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all that you have done for us. We pray that you would give us a mind to give to others as you have given to us; to bless others as we have been blessed. We pray that you would help us day by day, to make sacrifices to lift each other up, and not to tear down. In Jesus' name: AMEN.

The Victory that Overcomes

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:54-58 (KJV)

Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be writing about the passing of my father in this Christmas letter. Back in September some friends warned us that the grief would hit us in earnest a few months after the funeral. Maybe it's this delayed grief, or the holiday season or whatever, but Christmas really hurts this year.

This may sound crazy, but for the better part of this fall, Dad's passing almost seemed impossible or unreal to us. But when I saw my father's name etched onto that grave stone, the cold, hard reality came crashing down on me.

This hollow feeling of finality is going to take some getting used to. I miss my dad. The kids miss their grandpa. So many things are just not the same anymore. But this thing I know: when Dad left this world on August 30 he was rejoicing in the blood of Jesus. What else do we have, really? Christmas is a time for giving and receiving gifts, but our family received several gifts early this year. I got to hear my dad say the words, "I am ready to meet Jesus" right before he died. We got to spend hours in focused, uninterrupted conversation with Dad in his final weeks on earth. My kids got to witness firsthand what it's like to be safe in the arms of Jesus. They saw in my dad what we could never adequately explain to them — that faith is the victory that overcomes. What a gift!

Please set aside some extra time during this crazy holiday season and spend it with your family and loved ones. You'll never regret every moment and every memory you have with those who mean so much to you.

Dear Father in heaven, help us to realize and acknowledge the gift of faith and the blessings of relationships that we so often take for granted. Grant us grace in our times of grief. And thank You for the comfort of knowing we can rest in your arms because of our Saviour Jesus Christ. In His name, amen.

New Glasses

What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. What I see now is only partial: then it will be complete – as complete as God's knowledge of me. 1 Corinthians 13 v 12 (Good News Bible)

I need new glasses. My reading glasses are fine. I can see things close up and if the details are blurred I can always use the magnifying glass in the kitchen drawer.

I’m fine for distance – I can see the bus numbers right down the street. It is the middle distance that I have problems with. If I sit where I normally do to watch television, it's okay for close-ups but crowd scenes are a little blurred, and if there are words running along the bottom of the screen, forget it. I just can’t make them out any longer.

So next week I’ve an appointment with the optician and all will be well. But what about my Christian life? The near is fine. I know what I am doing in the immediate future – I have a role in my local church and know what I’ll be doing for the next little while.

The far distance is fine too. I am sure of my salvation, sure because of the words of Christ that one day I will be with Him in heaven.

It is the bit in between that I can’t see clearly. Where is my Christian life going? What does God want of me in the years that I have left on this earth. I don’t know – they are even more blurred than that television screen.

But that passage I quoted earlier goes on to say ‘These three remain, faith, hope and love.’ In some ways it would be nice to know what is going to happen, but it doesn’t really matter. What does is that I have a hope of the future, faith in God and His love in my life.

Last night I watched a video by John Ortberg. One thing he said stood out for me. ”Did you ever read in the Bible that God worried?” Of course the answer is ‘No’ – so why do we worry. Our future is secure with God.
 
Thank you God for the promise of a future with You. We may not know all that that involves, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that You have our future in your hands, Thank You Lord for that security. Amen.

Am I a Pleasant Perfume?

We are a fragrance of Christ…among those who are being saved. I Corinthians 2:15 (NASV)

Last year heavy spring rains set in, with deluges so heavy one church jokingly advertised: "We take reservations for the ark."

Busy dealing with flooded basements and waterlogged gardens, nobody took time to tend the flower bed at the front of our church and soon ragweeds, mustard plants and stinkweeds were threatening to take over.

The soil being far too wet to hoe, my husband and I pulled every weed by hand. Working my way along on my hands and knees, the dank odor of waterlogged soil was compounded by the stench of bruised stinkweeds. Why had I volunteered for this job anyway? It literally stunk. 

I was ready to give up when my weeding took me close to a peony plant. Loaded with  huge pink blossoms, their perfume was so strong it permeated the entire area around me. Invigorated by that refreshing fragrance, I soon forgot all about my aching muscles and the mud caked to my slacks. I was where God needed me to be.

I confess that sometimes my bad attitude smells more like a stinkweed than a peony, especially when conditions aren't favorable. Flooded with work, or swamped by unrealistic expectations, my ego gets bruised and I reek of resentment. Yet like the peony, God has planted me to bloom where I am, to convey such a fragrance of Christ that others will find me pleasant to work with, even when at times the work itself isn't pleasant. 

Lord, remind me that I am to be Your "aroma therapy." Amen.