Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Connecting with God’s Animal Kingdom

   Everywhere around us we are surrounded by God’s creations. There is no place on earth that the Lord hasn’t revealed His powerful presence. He has left His mark on every continent and body of water.

   The Lord’s unique way of filling the earth with other creatures reinforces His existence. There is no escaping God, and unbelievers are awed by the beauty of animals.

   It is not by accident that you feel a connection with the animal kingdom. God wanted you to experience the full scope of His incredible domain. He provided you with affections toward all kinds of living things.  

   No matter what your preference is with wild things, that awareness is His way of using other beings to draw you closer to Him. There isn’t anything the Lord has not thought of to let you know He exists. Those nonhuman beings give testimony to God the Almighty.

   The Lord intended for us to be fascinated with the way He designed our environment. Our enjoyment with the critters on the planet is God’s gift to us. It pleases the Lord when we take notice of the other ways He has so brilliantly displayed His creativity.

What are some of the domestic animals you love?

   There are numerous breeds of dogs and cats that God has made at your disposal. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some have long hair and others short. Whether a miniature or massive in stature, they all come from God.

Do you love horses, camels, donkeys or llamas?

Or are there others you love that are not listed?

No matter what domestic critter you enjoy, the Lord is behind the reason you choose the ones you like because He is present in their creation. There is no denying the way the Lord connects all His creatures together.

Which of the untamed animals captures your attention?

   At the top of my list is the bear. They are so fascinating to me and watching them in their natural habitat is always a heartfelt experience. It doesn’t matter if it is a black, brown or panda bear my connection is the same. I am amazed at their curiosity and puzzled reactions to unfamiliar things. Looking at the mother bears interact with their cubs brings into focus the way God has instilled the motherly instincts in all living creatures. Their affection for each other astonishes me.

  Another one of my favorites is dolphins. These marine mammals are intelligent and keen. Their acrobatic moves are a sight to see. Viewing them propel out of the ocean twisting and turning is an enjoyable moment for me. Experiencing the way they exist in the oceans helps me understand the essence of God.

  Primates make me laugh. Seeing the expressions on their faces reminds me of some the ways I react to my surroundings. I appreciate their need for social interactions and seeing them showing love for each other touches my soul. They are beautiful and full of life.  

  I wanted to share with you one of the ways God has been working in my life. Before I was rescued by God, my blindness to His wildlife was at its peak. I never took the time and noticed His animal kingdom. 

  I am grateful He led me to Christ and revealed the road of salvation. I have been spiritually awakened and enjoy living side by side with the many beautiful living things He has so masterfully designed. Isn’t God incredible!

You may experience this differently than me. I would love to hear how you connect with God through wildlife.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

God Needs no Help in Defending Himself

Do you feel the need to defend God?

   It is easy to get into debates with others over the existence of God. There is a difference between proclaiming Christ and justifying Him. The Lord has instilled in every man, woman and child the truth of creation. Whether that is known to the individual or not, it is there. That proof is evident in everything we see, feel, touch, hear and smell. Those five senses are one of the ways God makes His presence known. There is no escaping the reality of the Lord.

   When I engage in trying to convince someone else my point of view concerning Christ, then, I have crossed over the line of faith and into spiritual pride. Here, I am not carrying God’s message, but my self-righteous agenda.

    I have learned through the Messiah that the best way of demonstrating the existence of God is for me to live firm on His word and present myself as a channel of His will.

   Yes, it is my responsibility to let others know that I am a believer, but I do not have the right to force my belief on others. The moment, I impose my will upon another, then; I have stepped over the boundary God has in place for me to follow.

   I cannot afford to live this way because I never know when Christ will use me to be an effective instrument of the will. I have to be prepared and by presenting myself in a judgmental manner cuts me off from being a useful tool for sharing the Gospel. I can only share my experience with others and leave the saving up to Christ.

   Let’s take a look at a few ways God has, so powerfully defended Himself.

The Old Testament

   In the Old Testament, the prophet Habakkuk lived at a time when Judah’s wickedness was widespread. The Assyrian rule was coming to an end, and Babylon was overtaking the region. Habakkuk was waiting for God’s response in bringing righteousness and justice back into Judah.

   God’s answer to Habakkuk petition came in the form of the Chaldeans. (Habakkuk 1: 5-11) The Chaldeans were violent and evil conquerors feared by other nations. They came into Judah and took care of the wickedness. The Lord used them to defend His sovereignty.

   Another prime example of God’s glorious defense is Noah. At this time in history, the evilness of man had become an epidemic that God decided to do something about it. In Noah’s days, the way God defended His holiness was to protect Noah and wipe out the other people on earth. Now, this clearly identifies the Lord needs no one to protect what He created. The great flood said it all.

The New Testament

   The New Testament is where God has revealed His new plan of defending His domain. The arrival of Jesus into the world changed everything. Now the Father uses the Messiah to defend His kingdom, and that’s why anyone who believes in Christ will find protection from the evil one.

   Today there is no better display of God’s defenses than a life centered in Christ. Salvation is God’s way of letting Satan know that those who pick up their crosses and walk in the footprints of the Savior will find redemption. Even though the devil works hard at enticing us away from God, He shields the faithful from the evil one. God takes care of those who humble themselves before Christ.

   Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven proved to those present in His time on earth the power and the glory of the Lord. The Pharisees could not understand the significance of Christ’s role in the way He defended God's word. Pride blinded them and signed their death warrant.

   In the Acts of the Apostles, one of the finest examples of God’s protection against evilness was when Christ saved Saul. (Acts 9:1-9) Saul was notorious in persecuting the Christians at that time. He had the authority of the High Priest to arrest any person that proclaimed Christ. Saul was greatly feared by the church. Jesus converted him, changed his name to Paul and used him to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul wrote most of the New Testament.

   I have only highlighted a few of the many accounts attesting to the power of God. In my journey with Christ, I am continuing to learn from His wisdom the proper way to spread His Gospel.

   My reliance upon Jesus is where I am able to find a balance in the excitement of the Good News He brings to me.  Not everyone I share with wants to hear the truth and when I choose to butt heads with them is where I have departed from my selfless service to Christ and have entered into self-righteousness. All that is expected of me to do is to proclaim Christ death and profess His resurrection.

The question for today: How do you spread Christ’s Gospel?

Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Bible Verses to Meditate on This Christmas

   This Christmas I wanted to reflect on the reason God delivered His Son Jesus. We as Christians know the birth of Christ was God’s New Covenant with man. Once the Messiah entered the world in the flesh the following the Lord changed. The Holy Spirit is now the way Christ accepts us in the kingdom of God.

   Here are 12 Bible verses that keep me grounded in God’s word. I am grateful to have been saved and learning to improve on building Christ-like characteristics.

I. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the
   the house of bondage. (Exodus 20:2)

II. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)

III. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

IV. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son
       and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at
       the last day.” (John 6:40) 

V.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall
     be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

VI. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor
       the Son, but only the Father.” ( Mark 13:32)

VII. But He Said “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and
      keep it.” (Luke 11:28)

VIII. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me , to give to
         every one according to his works.” Revelation (22:12)

IX. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
     so walk with Him. (Colossians 2:6)

X. “Trust the Lord with all your heart,
       And lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

XI. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and
       the Last.” (Revelation 22:13)

XII. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
       It is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

  Question: What are the Bible verses that keep you centered in Christ? 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Baby’s Messiah


Martha Sexton

   Hi Little One, I’d like to be the first,
To tell you Christ story written in verse,
For you’ll be loved your whole life through,
 By your mom and dad and other folks too,

And yet this message you should hear,
 Of One Whose love is very dear,
He’s Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
 Who gave His life for “Everyone”,

For moms and dadsother kinfolks too,
 He too was once a “Babe” like you,
Yes, He, Himself, was born on earth,
His family humble of meager worth,

Born without the needed warmth of home,
His birth took place on a journey long,
They found no vacancies within the inn,
His birth took place in an animal den,

There were no baby pictures on the wall,
No soft, stuffed animals funny and tall,
No musical toys with pretty chimes,
No awaiting books with nursery rhymes,

No comfortable bed in which to sleep,
Just the moos of cows and blatting sheep,
His mat was composed of simple straw,
And yet all who viewed Him stood in awe,

Even at birth, His swaddling clothes,
Spoke of the mission that God chose,
No lovely blankets wrapped His fame,
But God, Himself, picked His name,

That night on a hill in the distance away,
Shepherds bowed both their knees and heads to pray,
They thanked the Father in Heaven above,
For the promised Messiah, Child of Love,

While overhead a star brightly beamed,
As Angels heralded “REDEMPTION’S KING.”
They followed that star from yonder place,
Where they each beheld Him face to face,

And so the gift of words to you I bring,
Recounting the birth of “REDEMPTION’S KING”
The story in entirety can’t yet be told,
But in just a few more years you’ll grasp the whole,

And so I trust you too one day,
Will bow your knees and heads to pray,
To thank the Father in Heaven above,
As you claim Messiah, Saviour of Love!

Copyright 1974 @
By God’s Doodlebug

Martha Sexton

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Twas the night before Jesus came

By Lou Pinter

Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
In hopes that Jesus would not come there

The children were dressing to crawl into bed
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
Was watching the late show why I took a nap

When out of the East there arose such a clatter
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming the Jesus was here
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! Returning just like He had said
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name
When He said, “it’s not here” my head hung in shame

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were standing looking around

I fell to my knees, but it was too late
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate
I stood, and I cried as they rose out of sight
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight

In the words of this poem, the meaning is clear.
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There’s only one life and when it comes to the last call
We’ll find that the Bible was true after all!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Change Of Heart and Soul

   Repentance has such a powerful impact on a Christian’s life that it changes the heart and frees the soul. God is pleased when you take responsibility for your wrongs and reconcile with Him. When you make restitution to God, your faith grows stronger, and the vision of His Will becomes clearer.  

   Repentance unlocks the door to a hardened heart and humility is the starting point of softening the soul. When you repent, the spiritual nourishment God provides is soothing, refreshing and freeing. God’s cleansing of the conscience purifies the heart and draws you closer to Christ.

  The main ingredients that lead to a change of heart are acceptance, confession, and action. Those three indispensable Christian principles are the backbone of a deeper experience of God’s merciful forgiveness. When you practice them separately, the results are good, but by applying them together the rewards of Christ are phenomenal. 

What does acceptance have to do with repentance?  

   Well, without accepting our wrongs the door to redemption remains closed. We need the key that fits, and it comes in the form of acceptance. Without being aware of our misconduct with Christ, the blindness to our sin stills has a grip on our heart. Sin thrives in darkness and by acknowledging them the light of Christ begins to shine.

   Once you identify your infraction, then, the next step is admitting to yourself the disobedience. Identification and admission leads to acceptance and brings to the surface a need to resolve the pains of sinning. Now that you have those facts in place, then it becomes difficult to deny them and the urgency in moving forward with the process of repenting emerges.

   Acceptance is only the beginning of a meaningful and purposeful repentance because it is not enough in showing Christ our desire to stay on the road to eternal life. Stopping at this phase of repenting cuts us off from God’s grace because there is no action involved in only knowing our rebellious behavior. We have to go further and demonstrate to the Messiah that we mean business in adhering to His commands. 

Why is confession needed to change the heart and soul?

   There are two distinct ways God commands us in confessing our sins. First, we have to go before God and humbly voice our failure in living righteously. Even though the Lord already knows we are wrong, it is our responsibility to express it to Him. Being silent with God is a lonely and isolated apartness that robs us from His mercy.

   As the result of sharing your inequities, Christ will direct you on how to make amends to God. All you have to do is express your desire to make right the wrong and be receptive to the way the Lord directs you in changing your disobedience.

   Secondly, we need to let someone else know the trespasses we have committed. In the Epistle of James (5:16) the importance of revealing our transgressions to others is clearly defined. This keen and active demonstration of honesty with our neighbors is a powerful Christian characteristic firmly centered in Christ and radiates the essence of integrity.

   Revealing my darkest secrets to another person seemed pointless. If God already knew them then why should I tell someone else? In my experience with Christ, I discovered being obedient to His instructions takes putting my faith into action and trusting His divine wisdom. In other words, I had to stop questioning it and just do it.

   The first time I sat down face to face with someone else and confessed my sins, a peace came over me, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was prevalent. There were some trespasses so shameful that I thought would go to the grave with me, but when I was honest with them with somebody, I felt God’s grace enter my heart. The guilt inside of me evaporated away, and I had a deeper connection with God. I am glad I did this, and I now make confession a regular part of my Christian life.

  Maybe your experience with confession is different than mine. God has a specific plan for each of us and our involvement with Christ is not quite the same. However, we are assured by Christ that if we follow His commands we will be healed.   

What are the actions needed in repenting?

   Once you have confessed your sins, then the time has come to begin acting differently. Christ will provide you the strength and courage to change, but you have to do your part by making an effort to apply the action. Your personal exertion will pay huge dividends because Christ always takes care of those who are willing.

   Here is an example of how action has helped me in repenting. Resentments plagued me. My emotional sensitivity was at a level that just about anything would set me off into an angry frenzy. I harbored grudges and held onto them for extended periods of time. 

   When I confessed to God and another person my unloving nature, then I had to do something about it. I could no longer live with my conscience, and the only way out of that turmoil was to start behaving in a loving and kind way. As I began putting forth the effort in demonstrating a friendly attitude a new way of embracing Christ entered my life. That came in the form of compassion and today I am learning ways to spread it around.

   I have only shared one way where action in repentance has made a change in my heart and soul. The same has held true in the other ways I needed to come in line with God’s righteousness. There is so much Christ has to offer, and I try my best in remaining faithful to receive it. I am grateful to be a part of a greater whole.

   Repentance is where we can make the right with God what we have done wrong. If Christ was so willing to die on the cross for the remission of our sins, then, there are no excuses for us not to repent. All of us need the proper preparations for eternal life and by amending our brokenness with God we are on the right track.

 Today’s Question: What does repentance mean to you? 

Monday, December 8, 2014

 What do you notice about your surroundings?

One of the measuring sticks in spiritual maturity is being connected with God's stunning natural beauty. The Garden of Eden is no longer visualable to the naked eye because God decided to take it away. However, He has left us with an abundance of other beautiful natural habitats.

God's unique creations are exposed both day and night. He has made our experience in His Kingdom appealing and comforting to the soul. It pleases Him when we give thanks for His creations.

I am grateful for the wonderful connection God has allowed me to experience in regards to the planet. One of my favorites is the harvest moon. The Lord made the moon so large at this stage of its cycle that I feel as though I can reach out and touch it. No matter how many times I see the harvest moon the experience is so stunning that I always find something new in its marvelous setting.

What is your favorite natural environment? 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Integrity: Standing Firm On God’s Word

   One of the keys to a faith that works under all conditions is standing firm on God’s Word. The spiritual warfare going on in the world today isn’t surprising. Throughout history and in all centuries there have been many people stirring up false accusations about God.

   They refuse to accept the truth about creation. Christ has made it clear that no one will know the time when He returns and separates the just from the unjust. It will come like a thief in the night. Sound Christian actions based on Christ characteristics will prepare you for that time.

   There is no better protection from God’s wrath than accepting Christ as your Savior. It didn't matter when Christ saved you the only thing God wants is your active participation in remaining in salvation. Half-hearted efforts avail nothing.   

    Christianity is all about proper presentation and integrity is living by an uncompromising set of Christian principles. Real integrity is unshakable because it is taking a stand for righteousness especially under persecution. So, the more you are centered in Christ, the better you will become at staying spiritually grounded under all circumstances.

   Living with Christ will prevent any person, place or world event from destroying your bond with God. You may experience discomfort or have trouble adjusting to them, but the Lord ensures those who are willing to stay faithful won’t be gravely affected. This is great news and an incredible display of God’s gracious love.  
   Most of the Apostles faced fierce condemnation from carrying the Christ message to the corners of the world. Their faith never faltered because the Holy Spirit shielded them from the evil one. They possessed Christ’s perfect courage, and nothing man did to them changed their stance.

   If you are willing to turn your will and life over to Christ without any reservations, you too can find the same position as the Disciples. Abandoning yourself to Jesus makes all the difference in God’s eyes. God takes care of those who abide in Christ. As the result of your faith, your life will take on a new meaning filled with purpose and usefully whole.  
   True believers know that Christ can defend Himself. The Bible has many examples testifying to God’s mighty strength. Let’s look at Moses. Here the Lord used him with Aaron’s aid to lead the Israelites out of captivity and into the promise land.

   Every time Pharaoh refused to obey God’s request the severity of God’s wrath intensified. The ultimate price Pharaoh paid was the death of his son, and all Egyptians became terrified of the power of God. The only option left for Pharaoh was to free God’s children.

   In your journey with Christ, you will discover there is no need to argue, get upset or convince anyone to become a believer. Proclaiming the death of Christ and professing His resurrection with others is a part of God’s will. We have to follow that command in order to continue growing spiritually. Integrity will allow you to share and exemplify the truth of salvation and understand that Christ is the one that saves lives.    

   Earnestness, honest, and faithful action are essential in building a solid character firmly planted in salvation. Without those spiritual qualities, there is no way any individual can find eternal life. They are the main ingredients in sincerely trusting Christ under all conditions and circumstances. Those indispensable principles combined radiate the essence of integrity to those around you.

   Another excellent benefit from living soundly with Christ is the way people gravitate to you. Others can count on you because they know you are true to your words. Your actions in following, applying and learning to live in the footprints of Jesus demonstrates to God your personal integrity of placing Them above anything else in your life. In return, you will be blessed with the gift of discipleship.  

   Now that we have a basic understanding of spiritual integrity, then it becomes our responsibility to improve our ability in fostering its fruitfulness. The only way we can accomplish that is to let go and let Christ control our lives. We will be amazed how our whole outlook on life has changed and found an abundance of heavenly treasures.  

Question for today: What does integrity mean to you and is it beneficial to your personal relationship with Christ?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Narrow Way: The Right Way

How do you stay on The Narrow Way?

   The road of redemption is a beautiful and a wonderful way of traveling because it is the path Christ built for you to meet God. Its scenery is appealing both visually and consciously, and your spirit will awaken to the Lord’s transcendent grace. Christ will give you all the directions needed to find and remain on the narrow way. All you have to do is be an active part of His life.

   That highway is available to anyone who picks up their cross and walks in the footprints of the Messiah. Your decision to travel down the freeway of eternal life was set in motion the moment Christ accepted you through the Holy Spirit. God chose you to be a part of His kingdom, and the Savior will ensure you a place in God’s world.

   However, the condition of your vehicle (soul) will determine how smooth or rough the ride. Do you find yourself always needing a major spiritual overhaul or have you grown enough with Christ that a tune-up keeps your heart in good working order. Are you easily frustrated over the uncontrollable circumstances life doles out or do you adjust to those situations with faith and courage.

  Here is where the rubber meets the road and separates real believers from unbelievers because faith works in foul or fair weather. In other words, relying on Christ in good times prepares you when the tide turns and difficulties arise. God responds to continuous work not procrastination and faith without action is useless.

What stops you from maturing spiritually?

   My biggest stop sign is pride. That five-letter word is a stumbling block trying its best to draw me away from the straight and narrow. There are many masks it hides behind, and every one of them ends in deception. Ego is Easing God Out, and this always leads to a dead end because I am lost without Christ.

   It doesn’t matter if I am behaving selfishly or seeking some personal recognition from a good deed. The results are the same and are a prime example of my disconnection from Christ.

   The more willing I am to surrender my will and life over to Christ’s care and protection, the better I become at sidestepping pride because humility is the antidote to self-centeredness. One of my greatest assets in practicing humility is acting selflessly by setting aside time and helping others without expectations.

   I am grateful Christ has revealed to me that when pride enters my heart all I need to do is pause and humble myself to Him. When I do this, the results are phenomenal and inspires me to spend more time with Him.

Do you have a danger zone affecting your trust in Christ?

 I do. One of the most dangerous places for me to live is in complacency. I never knew this four-syllable word could cause me so many problems. In the year 2000 without realizing it, my approach with God became complacent. I began drifting away from the Lord, because I felt safe enough to stop giving Him my best efforts.

    Unconcerned with the consequences from my lack of Christian action was my undoing. I believed I was protected, and no harmful circumstances could affect me. Boy was I wrong. The next eleven years of my life consisted of bitterness, hopelessness, and misery. Divorce, alcohol abuse and living life in the fast lane took me away from Christ, and God waited patiently for me to stop rebelling.

   One day, in June of 2011, I found myself in so much despair I started praying. God decided to intervene and answered that prayer. The Lord delivered me from the bondage of self and sent Christ to save me. When I became willing to humble myself to Jesus and confessed my wrongs, then He laid down the path for me to follow. Today my life is filled with many spiritual gifts, and I am careful not to take for granted what has been so graciously given to me.

Where do you find your Christian road map?   

   Living with Christ will allow you to stay focused on the right way and avoid many of the potholes hidden from the driver’s seat. The Lord will steer you in the right direction and shield you from the wreckage of reckless or careless maneuvers. The Messiah will guide you through all the twists and turns along this long and winding road.  

   Christ’s driving instructions come from God. The Bible is the only road map with the correct route to eternal life. There is no better Manual for rightful living than one the one God has designed. Every detour you will need in staying on the right track comes from a life centered in Christ. You will not be let down because God makes no mistakes, and Christ is not an accident.

   Maybe you have a different outlook on the narrow way. None of us are exactly the same and God uses His unique way in getting our attention. The Holy Spirit allows us to agree that the narrow way is real, and Christ teaches us the difference between rightful living and the dangers of disobedience. The only thing that matters in God’s eyes is that we are faithful in following Christ.