Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 2

Friday-December 2

Today our reading is found in the writings of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. His writings were very familiar to Jesus, in fact, Jesus quoted from Isaiah and Psalms more than any other Old Testament books.

Isaiah will speak of events that will come to Israel and Judah because of God's wrath for their sin. The armies of Assyria and Babylon will come in like a flood of water that you will be unable to stop! Destruction will happen! You must understand you will not be able to save yourself God alone is able to save you!

This is the theme of Isaiah. God alone saves! When the people would see Isaiah, hear his voice or even speak his name they would be reminded of the fact of that salvation comes from the Lord. His name proclaims that fact for the name Isaiah means “The Salvation of Jehovah,” or “Jehovah Saves.” Anytime you face fear whether it is fear of rejection or the fear of the future understand God alone can help you! When you appear to be up against overwhelming odds, don’t look for rescue or support anywhere else! Turn to God for only He offers His people the hope of deliverance! He has been faithful to provide salvation to His people in every era!

The dependence upon our own human resources for direction will only lead to more darkness. That had been the path of Ahaz who refused the instruction from the God. He was an unfaithful king who took the nation deeper into darkness.

The passage of Isaiah 9:1-6 that holds today's scripture reading speaks of the antiserum for the darkness which is light! The light would come as a result of the King coming! God's revelation of Himself as light would come through His Messiah as joy would sweep over the people (2-3). Why would there be joy? Because Israel will be liberated from the yoke of oppression and war (4-5). Who would bring this? It would be the King of Kings! He would come as a child able to relate to His human creation yet would be the divine ruler. God is powerful enough to overcome His enemies by becoming vulnerable, transparent, and humble.

The titles that are given in verse 6 proclaim the deity of the child. He is wonderful and the greatest counselor ever. Human wisdom will fail, but His wisdom will always give success! The phrase "mighty God' speaks of His strength! He can solve every problem! He can carry you through every battle! He is the everlasting Father that is a father who will always be there (Matt 28:20) who will outlast your need of Himself! Remember of His Kingdom there will be no end (7)! Your promise of everlasting life if He is your King! This is a birth announcement. An announce of the One who is coming!

Take time to slowly read the scripture. Mediate on the words that describe the coming One! Remember what He’s done for you in the past. Remember how He’s demonstrated through the centuries that He loves you and will care for you. Answer the question of how these words concern your individual life! Pray that God will give you the light of revelation that no matter how dark the night your God alone will help and save you!

Isaiah 9:6–7 (KJV 1900)

6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, To order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice From henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Devotional Day 1

Thursday-December 1

Our first question to think of about is: "Who is Coming?" When are we going to have visitors my wife likes to know who is coming. Is it one of our sons? Is it another family member? Is it a friend? Each question has a different response. If it is one of our sons coming to visit, then she will relax not worrying about dishes in the sink neither the clutter of the busy weekend. If it is a friend she is up with a flash picking up the clutter, vacuuming the house and placing the dishes in the dishwasher.

When we speak of Christmas, we are speaking of someone coming who is greater that Santa! Yes, He brings a gift, in fact, the preeminent gift of all, the gift of the Holy Ghost! Who is coming? The Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord (Matthew 1:21). Who is He? He is the Word of God, the creative force that brought the world into existence. He made the heavens, the Sun and the Moon, the land, and the sea and all that lives therein. This Word became flesh so He could recreate you and I and make us new! The mistakes of the past, the old life, fall away and a new life comes to us (1 Corinthians 5:17), and we become His people. Since it is our Savior, who is coming it demands a response! We should respond with worship that is passionate and forceful (John 4:24). As we read today's scripture, meditate, pray and believe that He will create beautiful things in your life! He is coming to you today to create love, joy, and peace within your heart! He is coming to make everything new!

Scripture Reading:

John 1:1–5 (KJV 1900)

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:14 (KJV 1900)

14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 1:1-4 (KJV 1900)

1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Introduction to Christmas Devotional

The official start of the 2016 Christmas Holiday's has begun! Thanksgiving dinner has stretched your stomach! Your wallet is shrinking because you fought the crowds to get the best deals on Black Friday! You hope that the opposite will have happened by the time you get to the end the Christmas season! Your wallet will be stretching, and your stomach would be flat!

You love God with all your heart, but it's always a struggle this time of the year to spend time with Him. It's a battle to remember that: Christ is Always First in Christmas!

What can we do to help us keep Christ first in our Christmas Season? We can celebrate the Advent. What is the Advent? The English word "Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming"! It is a season before Christmas that Christians look back to the birth of Lord Jesus. It is more than remembering His first coming! It is to look forward to His Second coming!

For the next twenty-five days, I will be trying to remember these two important truths. Jesus' first coming brought me the means of salvation, that is Calvary, and His second coming will complete my salvation. How will I do this? Each day I will take the time to read and meditate on scripture from the Word of God. The scripture I will choose will be connected to these two events, that is, His first and second coming. Each day of December I will be posting a devotional with a biblical reading that will answer certain questions about these comings. Here is an example of the questions: 
            1.         Who is coming?
            2.         How did He come?
            3.         Why did He come?
            4.         Where did He come?
            5.         Who saw Him when He came?
            6.         What happened when He came?
            7.         What does His coming mean for me?

Concerning His second coming questions like the following:
            1.         Why is He coming?    
            2.         How is He coming?
            3.         When is He coming?
            4.         What happens when He comes?
            5.         What does His coming mean for me?
            6.          How to get ready for His Coming?

Let's link together, and keep Christ First during this Christmas Season!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why We Need A Thanksgiving Day

On this Thanksgiving Day I want to share with you an article that speaks of the reasons why we as people need a Thanksgiving Day! As you read the article slowly read the last paragraph taking time to purpose in your heart to remember these two important points of the reason we need to
give thanks not only on
Thanksgiving Day but every day!

Why Give Thanks on Thanksgiving Day?

In a modern world filled with fast cars, fast money, fast foods and more—all lavished so liberally on the self—why consider a national occasion to pause and give thanks? Is it really that important? If it is, whom should we thank—and for what?

The North American 'Thanksgiving Day' was likely first held in Newfoundland in 1578 by an English minister named Woolfall, then in Virginia in 1607 and then again in Plymouth in 1620. These days of thanksgiving —held currently in Canada on the second Monday in October and in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November—are officially designated national occasions for giving thanks to God.
America 's first president George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in 1789; and the sixteenth U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed it in 1863. Since then it has been an official U.S. holiday. But how well do North Americans observe their days of thanksgiving? For that matter, how common is it for people around the world to take special time to give thanks to their Creator for providing the physical blessings they enjoy? Unfortunately, expressing thanks seems to be a diminishing custom.

Giving thanks is mentioned in the Bible at least 140 times. The word praise, which is similar in meaning to thanksgiving, is used many more times in Scripture. Praise means to appreciate, to prize—to consider precious, worthy of honor and/or thanksgiving. The Bible is replete with occasions of thanksgiving and praise, from Moses to Malachi, from Jesus to John's epistles. The Bible is also the source of early North American customs for celebrating occasions of thanksgiving.

The insightful words of Abraham Lincoln should resonate with all nations today:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God" (Lincoln's papers, Library of America series, Volume 2, pp. 520-521).

God's sobering thanksgiving instructions to ancient Israel are applicable to all human beings. After all, He is the Creator of all human life.

Perhaps Mr. Lincoln drew on the scriptural passage:

"Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.
"Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you.
"You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy:8:11-20, New International Version).

The whole idea of giving thanks turns on at least two great spiritual principles. 

1).      A great God created and sustains life on earth and 
          provides the abundance of resources that most people now 
          tend to take for granted. 

2).      The vanity of human nature leads human beings to want 
          to take credit for producing all they enjoy, leading them to 
          ignore, or even forget, the real Source of their existence 
          and blessings.
A commentary by Jerold Aust  (Posted November 18, 2005 @
Here is a simple plan to remind yourself of these important truths:

1)     Be a tither to your local church
        (A tither is an individual who gives 10% of their financial
        increase to their local church).

2)     Every time you return your tithe to the Lord speak a word
        of thanks to God for His provision!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Prayer Request of Jesus

When we examine the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we see that there are twenty four times mentioned that He prayed. There were various locations given from the wilderness (Luke 5:16 ) to mountains (Matthew 14:23), and that there were different times of the day spoken as being moments of prayer. He prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35-36) and in fact He prayed all night before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). The Gospel writers also share with us that when He prayed it might be alone (Mark 1:35)  or it could with others (Matthew 26:36-46).

You would assume that these moments when He prayed with others would be the time when He, if He did, would ask them to join Him in specific requests during their time of prayer. When are these times He is with others in prayer? One of the ones that is most well know is when He is with His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane and He asks them to "watch and pray" (Matthew 26:38).  He speaks to the disciples of the emotional weight upon His soul and possibly requests their prayer support yet it is not specifically recorded that there is a spoken request though it might be insinuated (Matthew 26: 38). A second time is when He is with His disciples in the last week of His earthly life as they travel from the "last supper" (John 13:1-4) to the garden of Gethsemane (John 15:31; 18: 1). This  is His longest recorded prayer. In the six hundred plus  words of John 17, we read of His spoken petition to the Spirit that His disciples would be one with Him as He is with the Father (Vs. 11). We also read of the His praying for the disciples followers to have that same relationship with each other (Vs. 20-21)! Yet we do not see that  He asks anyone else to join in and ask together of the Spirit for these requests. These are the personal requests that were unspoken to others yet are His requests of the Spirit! So the moments when He is praying with others nearby do not yield any prayer requests.

The only prayer request of Jesus that we can locate is found in Matthew 's gospel. It is located following Matthew's calling of discipleship by the Lord (9:9)  and the Lord's statement of the purpose of His coming (9:10-13). Also it follows a list of people who need the ministry of the Lord and the description of how they received their miracle:
       •  A father who needs the resurrection of a dead daughter
                 (9:18-19, 23-26)
       •  A woman with an issue of blood (9:20-22)
       •  Two blind men (9:27-31)
       • and a man who is mute but does not need a healing but a
                 demonic expulsion (9:32-34).

Matthew describes His emotional state of being before the giving the request and how the request formed within His mind!

His prayer request is sandwiched between His giving of authority to His twelve disciples over all unclean spirits, diseases, and weaknesses that brings suffering whether mental, emotional or physical (10:1). He does not stop with the giving of the ability to be used to help humanity but gives them the command and direction of where to go to use this authority. The instruction also included the proper use of power and that it is was given to them not for personal gain but for bring joy to others. They will face rejection but they are not to focus on the rejection. They are to shake it off, that is, get it out of their minds! They must focus on the acceptance by individuals (10:5-15).

What was the request He shared with His disciples? Here is what Matthew 9 states:

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages,
      teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the
      gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and
      every affliction.
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
       because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep
       without a shepherd.
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful,
      but the laborers are few;
38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send
      out laborers into his harvest.”(ESV)

The request flows from His lips because of what He sees! He sees hurting helpless people! People who are sheep without a shepherd (9:36). They lack human Godly leaders that would lead them to the God who is their only solution for their problems!

What humans view will affect their emotions! His emotions were effected the same way ours are effected since He is God/man! Compassion is the "feeling of affection and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others".

This leads to Him thinking about a solution! The solution is not that as the "Son of God" He does not have the power to meet their needs! That has already been demonstrated to Matthews reader by the list of needs He has already met in 9:18-34!  But since He is also the "son of man" He is limited by bodily presence to be able to minister to the crowd! The solution is for more people to be concerned  and be willing to take action to interact with these people! The harvest is plenteous! It is not a lack of opportunity but as usual we fail to act!

How can this solution of more people being in the harvest be brought about? He does not tell His disciples to go immediately into the harvest and reap. He said: We must ask the "Lord of the Harvest" to send people who are labors into the harvest! This is His prayer request!

Prayer requests most often have three parts:
1. The problem and possibly a description of the problem
2. The solution and possibly a description of the solution!
3. The naming of the one who is looked to for the answer,
            that is the Lord!

Let's examine the prayer request:
      What is the problem that Jesus addresses?
               • There is a harvest and it is plentiful.
               • More people are needed to help reap the harvest before
                 it is lost.
      What is the solution?
               • You pray or in the NT "to make one’s need known, to
                  beseech, ask."
               • Your pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send more
      Who has the solution to the need or the request?
               • The Lord of the Harvest.
               • Who is this?

The Lord (owner or master) of the harvest (individuals who have needs of healing or deliverance). He is to send labors into His harvest. He calls and empowers individuals to go into His harvest. They are labors, that is they are not inactive but active as part of the solution for the hurting exerting their energy in the process. It is His harvest! He is the owner of all the souls of men (Ez. 18:4)

The request leads to numerous questions:
       • Why does He ask His disciples to pray for this?
       • Could He not pray Himself ?
       • Would not one prayer of His achieve more than a thousand
          of theirs?
       • Is God [The Father or Spirit (John 4:24)], the Lord of the
          harvest, not aware of the need?
       • And would He not, in His own good time, send laborers without
         the disciples' prayers?

These questions help us to understand for Jesus to ask for prayer from disciples for labors gives us the knowledge that prayer has importance and power in the Kingdom of God's work! It can multiply the number of people who are recruited to work in the harvest! Gathering the harvest depends upon prayer! It is the action that the disciples must give themselves so that the harvest will not be lost!

Yet it is not just action that is needed but labor that is directed by the Spirit! What and where are the hearts that are ready to be harvested? God see's the hearts and knows who is ready (1 Sam 16:7). Praying disciples are able to directed by the Spirit because the speak with the Spirit! They can quickly be directed before the moment is lost in the life of the hurting individual!

It is important to realize that in the original writing of Matthew there was not a chapter break after verse thirty eight. Because we see the chapter mark we tend to close our thinking to the subject of Jesus and His prayer request and start other subjects of the calling of the disciples (10:1), their empowerment (10:1) , their sending (10:5) and His instruction when going (10:5-42). We must to realize that the beginning of chapter ten is connected to the verse thirty eight. Those that pray, His disciples, will turn out to be the reapers who are empowered and sent out in Matthew 10.

Not only must be reapers be directed by the Spirit but they must be empowered to have the ability to reap! They will be meeting forces that do not want to let go of their subjects! Unclean spirits, diseases and physical weaknesses are powerful forces for the natural man to wrestle with but when empowered by the Spirit they become defeated foes!

When you pray for labors for the harvest get ready for God to speak to you to become the one who joins in His harvest! A life of payer is the prerequisite to become a reaper. Thus the prayer request of Jesus is for His disciples to become active participates in His ministry and help Him reap a harvest!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Look at Prayer Requests in the New Testament

As an Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal I understand that the foundational thought of the movement is Restorationism! Restorationism is also described as Christian primitivism, that is, the belief that the present day church has lost its original doctrines, beliefs, actions and lifestyle and must be restored to its earliest days when it was at in its purest form.

This thought causes me  to be a stickler concerning the use of the New Testament as the model for the present-day church! The acceptance of the writings of the New Testament by the early church, who were eyewitnesses of the events that are recorded, gives credence to the desire to use the writings of the New Testament as the source of our Christian beliefs. Though the Church Father's were tremendous individuals and writers, they lived decades and even centuries after the original writers of the New Testament. Their writings are human reflections upon the original writings of the early church, which is considered the Word of God. Some might consider them a reference to be used as the foundation of Christian beliefs but for me, someone who is a Restorationist, I want to base my salvation upon the writings of those who were the closest in time and location to my Savior, Jesus Christ! Thus as a pastor of a local church in the 21st century I choose to use the New Testament as the foundation for the beliefs and actions that the present-day church should follow.

One of the actions that can be seen among present-day Churches and individual Christians is one that is known as "prayer requests".Prayer requests are common occurrences in the lives of the people of God. Not only are they shared with individuals on a one-on-one basis but often they are included in the corporate worship of the church when the church gathers together.

What is a prayer request? We could define it as: a request that others would pray to God for problems or needs in an individual's life or the life of someone that they know. The person making the request for others to join them in prayer is founded upon the statement by the Lord in Matthew 18:19 which states:

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

By asking others to join you in prayer for certain situations you are fulfilling the prerequisites for the prayer being answered by God. The request is an action of someone's internal faith! The faith that is within their mind, which other humans cannot see, is revealed when they opened their mouth and ask for prayer partners. Now their faith is readily understood because their words of request can be heard by other human beings. But not only is there faith expressed to other humans when they give their prayer request but they also expose God to their faith! God is pleased when he sees or hears faith coming from humans (Hebrews 11:6)!

When we hear the prayer request we also find out the priorities and needs in a person's life. Knowing these items can help the body of Christ be unified since we know the needs of others. The prayer request can move us to compassion and concern for our friend. If we have had similar life experiences we know can go to them and share the history of our own experience which can build them up.

Prayer requests are important because they are the foundation of getting an answer to a need from God. Jesus, when responding to the question of his disciples "Lord, teach us to pray" in Luke 11:1, instructs them to ask or request and it will be given to you (11:9). The request is necessary to be able to have the desire fulfilled. Prayer requests are extremely important for the Christian who understands "without Him I can do nothing"(John 15:5).

During the next few weeks we will be examining the prayer requests of:
                • Jesus
                • The Church of Acts and
                • The Apostle Paul.

Is there a motif or theme that is connected between these individuals and/or groups? Are the prayer request for personal financial gain? Or are they for miracles of healing in the lives of their family and friends? As we examine this subject I'm confident that we will receive a revelation that could change what we ask for during our prayer request services. Join me as we seek to know the ways of the Lord in a greater measure than we've ever known Him before.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Favorite Poem

My favorite type of literature is historical in nature. Autobiographies and biographies catch my attention! Poetry has a place in my bookshelf but it is extremely limited. But there are a number of works of poetry that are extremely special to me. They are special because I relate to the subject or the feeling of the author.
My favorite work of poetry I first heard quoted by Rev. Arlis Glass at a high school graduation. When he recited the poem he added a dimension of drama with his use of voice variations and facial expressions. I was mesmerized by his quotation of the poem.
The author of the poem drew me in stanza by stanza. It connected with a an internal desire that was within my heart. That desire was a desire to never give up no matter the obstacles that you faced! To never quit neither lie down in defeat! To ignore the words of the crowd that was speaking negatively and to listen to the inner voice that told me I could do anything.
Today as I face the struggle of rehabilitating my broken wrist and the weakened muscles that surround it I hear the voice of the physician who stated this week that I would not get total movement back and would face arthritis at some point. Something welled up with in my heart and I refused to accept the negative prognosis. My mind journeyed to my special poem and immediately I began to quote it under my breath. Here is what I said:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

It is important in life to have moments of self talk. Like David these talks to yourself will bring encouragement when the circumstances of life are extremely negative. They will give you faith to climb when your troubles seemed insurmountable. They will be needed at numerous times as you endure lengthy trials. Always remember the words of Paul to the church at Philippi:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians 4:13).

The title of the poem is "It Couldn’t Be Done" by Edgar Albert Guest.