Friday, October 9, 2015

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me

If Tomorrow Starts Without Me
One day it will actually happen. There will be no more sunrises. No more days, weeks, our months. Time, as we know it, will be no more. Every earthly possession that we hold dear, will one day vanish. Just like the magician who opens all sides of the box, as the audience peers through a vacant square of nothingness.

Any wealth, fame or power that we may have acquired along the way will have no significance whatsoever. It will all be meaningless.

Isaiah spoke the word of the Lord concerning this coming reality when he said:

“The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. (Isaiah 65:17).

Can you even imagine not being able to recall anything of your life while you existed on earth? Well that’s exactly what this verse is saying. The former things will not be remembered or even come to mind.

Whenever I read this verse it’s as if my life suddenly becomes surreal. I begin to see myself as here, but at the same time NOT here. I momentarily have an “all systems” shut down, as my thoughts are transported outside of myself while viewing all things present as nothing more than an after thought.

I don’t say these things lightly, or in anyway attempt to put a damper on whoever happens to be reading these lines. I simply share these thoughts as a reminder of just how temporary this whole thing called life really is!

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away (James 4:14).

It is true that we came into this world with nothing and it is certain that we will leave the same way. So what is it that really matters?

There’s a well known saying that has circulated for years and it goes like this:

Soon this life as we know it shall pass,
Only what’s done for Jesus will last.

There it is. Perhaps as we consider that everything we see now with our natural eyes will one day pass away, we can than begin to rightly prioritize our lives in light of eternal significance. We must allow Christ to be so completely and thoroughly formed in us that all that remains is the manifestation of His Glory!

For in the end, that will be the only thing that truly matters.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18). Missey Butler

Friday, October 2, 2015

In His Hands

In His Hands
I cannot alter my past through memories I replay, and I confess the impossibility of controlling my future. God is sovereign, lifts the burden of anxiety from my shoulders, shelters from self-sabotage and draws me up into his mighty arms. I am not alone in my desire to harness memories; the Apostle Paul made a conscious effort to dwell not on the past.

“Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14 RSV).” He did not claim spiritual perfection; instead, he kept reaching toward the ultimate goal. Jesus had a firm hold on Paul. 

What memories did the past hold? Like many, Paul had things he rejoiced in and things for which he held resentments or remorse. As a Jew, Paul had been the cream of the crop, raised in an orthodox family, taught by a leading Rabi and held the honor of being a Roman citizen. If only … Paul in his religious zeal to uphold religious standards persecuted the church.

He pushed persecution to the limits, stood in agreement as an accomplice to Stephen’s undeserved death by stoning. After the apostles’ miraculous conversion on a Damascus road Paul experienced both blessings and great suffering. He could empathize with anyone who experienced hardship and endured in trials and afflictions.

“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times, I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 RSV).” His faith sustained him. 

I have a “past.” God blessed me to see “today;” God holds the “future” in his hands. Pam Ford Davis

Friday, September 25, 2015

If Tomorrow Never Comes

for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2 NIV)

If Tomorrow Never Comes
I was walking home from work the other day; ear buds in my ears; Pandora running on my phone; rocking out to Christian rock when the words to the chorus, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” filled my head. It had been a long time since I had given it any thought. Talk of this question usually put me into panic mode, “Are you ready?” “Where are you spending eternity?” “If Jesus were to come right now would He take you with Him?” On this day, however, I experienced something else; a different emotion consumed my heart; joy. There was not any despair, worry, or fear on this day, instead I was filled with the joy of being absolutely, positively, one hundred percent sure of my answer; I will be with my Lord when He returns, Amen. 

Are you filled with the joy of assurance of your eternity? Do you walk, talk, and live like there is no bout a doubt where you are spending eternity? Today is the day to begin because we “know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” We know that the day of our Lord’s return will be soon; as a matter of fact a major factor in experiencing this joy and peace is the anticipation of His return. Like my grandson waits eagerly each afternoon for the return of his parents; so also should we wait excitedly and anxiously for the return of our Lord. Live each and every day as “If Tomorrow Never Comes.” Keith Henry

Friday, September 18, 2015

Renewed Minds

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Renewed Minds
Our vacation was coming to an end and we were feeling a little dampened in spirit at the thought of going back to work and living our stressful lives all over again. Nevertheless, my wife and I did our last minute shopping for gifts to bring home to our family members, colleagues and friends before we began packing our luggage. 

The journey home was a long haul and we were not particularly excited about it. We knew, however, a retreat of two weeks in a year was as good as we could get to spend time together—free from stress, the routines and the mundane, the troubles in life and the unforeseeable. What lies ahead in the days and months to come is not something for us to worry about.

Like many of us, Jacob probably had a similar feeling of reluctance to return home, but not because of work. It was because of Esau, his brother, who had sworn to kill him for stealing his birthright. Nevertheless, Jacob obeyed the Lord and brought his family home with him, along with plenty of gifts for Esau. We know the rest of the story, how Esau eventually forgave Jacob. (Gen 27:41; 32:13-15; 33:4; 35:27)

Are we worried, stressed out or afraid of what lies ahead? Have our time away from home drawn us closer to God or further away? Are we refreshed or feeling more tired than before our getaway? Are our minds renewed to stand up to greater challenges? Are our hearts all about ourselves while away or do we spare some thought for the people we know and loved to want to give good gifts to them?

Jacob returned home a changed man after he wrestled and had a close encounter with God. No doubt, a short vacation is not going to change a whole lot how we see things, but surely we must have seen some things we do not get to see this side of earth. Scenery and cultural practices, for example, are areas we can let God open our eyes to see things beyond the mundane and to learn from Him His perspective.

With the renewing of our minds, we can be made new in our attitude how we think about things, know and experience what it means to trust God absolutely. For as long as our lives are in the hands of God and our purpose is to do His will, we need not worry about tomorrow. He who satisfies our desires with good things is able to renew our youth like the eagle that we might be able to work at whatever we do with all our heart for the Lord. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Matthew 6:33-34; Psalm 103:5; Colossians 3:23)

Dear Lord, thank You for granting us a time of retreat to renew our attitude of how we think about things and to draw closer to You. Remind us while we are away from home not to only think of ourselves but to think of others too, especially the people we know and loved. Help us put our complete trust in You, knowing that as long as our lives are in Your hands and our purpose is to do Your will, we need not worry about tomorrow. Renew our youth like the eagle to work with all our heart at whatever we do for You. Open our eyes to see beyond the mundane to learn from You and understand Your perspective so we might not be dampened in spirit but be renewed with joy to rest in You. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

If You Are Willing

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. (Mark 1:40-42 NLT)

If You Are Willing
This scripture shows a man who has no hope finding the only real hope in the world and asking Him a question that we often take for granted. We very seldom ask God if He is willing to do what we pray for. Instead we demand that He take action in our situation.

I often wonder if we realize that saying no is still an action but the no is His will for our lives. It’s not the answer we want from a God who we have chosen to worship and it is probably why individuals chose to walk away from Him. Many times we take for granted that what we want is what God has in store for us. In the case of the leper; it might not have been in God’s plan and yet He showed compassion and brought healing. That is not something unusual, God has done it before. He allowed King Hezekiah and additional 15 years of life.

The problem is we often forget the blessings He has already given us. Instead of looking at what He has already done we expect Him to do more.

I know that is a hard pill to swallow but God is sovereign His ways are not our ways and everything He allows is with a purpose to bring Him Glory. Jesus is willing to answer your prayers; but what you may desire is not in His will, for your life. Will you still trust Him? The man came begging and was unsure of the answer he would receive have we reached a point where we are truly begging God or are we still demanding God do something. There is a great difference in the two. I pray God gives you an open heart and mind as you walk in the light of His Word. Rev Brian Mathis

Friday, September 4, 2015


Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; (Ephesians 5:6-7 NAS)

Hoodwinked While visiting Huangshan in China, we were brought to a jewelry shop by the tour manager. A rectangular piece of raw jade interest me, but having no knowledge how to see or check the quality of jade, I sought the help of the tour manager. He assured me all items in the shop were of good quality because the shop had been endorsed by the tourism board. Back at home, I took the piece of jade to a jewelry shop to make into a frame pendant, but the jeweler told me it would not be worth my while because the ‘jade’ is a fake.

As tourists, many of us have been deceived by promoters into purchasing things of little worth. More often than not, by the time we discover the real worth of what had been purchased, it was already too late for us to go back to the place we made the purchase to seek a refund.

The Bible warns us not to let anyone deceive us with empty words or be partakers with those who deceive others for dishonest gain, for because of such things God’s wrath has come upon the disobedient (Ephesians 5:6-7).

As businessmen, entrepreneurs, employers, employees, bread winners or one trying to earn a living, have we been partakers of dishonest dealings? Do we frequently or infrequently oversell our or our employer’s products or services to close a deal and earn our share of the profit? Do we sometimes speak a lie or half-truth just in order to secure a purchase?

Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies last only a moment before getting exposed. If we devise evil, deceit is in our hearts, but joy fills those who plan for peace. If we live amid deception, in deceit we are refusing to acknowledge God. Like a coating of silver dross on earthenware, the smooth words from lips speak deceit from a wicked heart. If our lips disguises the truth, we are not much different from those who hate and lay up deceit within the heart (Proverbs 12:19-20, 26:23; Jeremiah 9:6).

No one who practices deceit will dwell in the house of God and no one who speaks lies will stand in His presence. Hear, therefore, what the Lord Almighty is saying, for behold He will refine and test us (Psalm 101:7, Jeremiah 9:7).

Dear Lord, forgive us for the times we fall short in telling the whole truth, just in order to gain a sale or close a deal. Help us never to be dishonest in our dealings with other people and to forgive those who deal dishonestly with us. Refine and test us whenever we have in mind and at heart to lay up deceit, that we may in Your guidance and love be directed to the right path.

Friday, August 28, 2015

If My People

If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

If My People
When the tiny word “if” is spoken in a sentence it gives the meaning that something "could" happen. “If” is strictly a word based on a condition or stipulation. Here in this part of the country, we might say if we do “thus and so” then “this and that” just might happen! 

But as far as God is concerned, there’s a lot hinging upon the little word “if.” God says that if His people will humble themselves in prayer, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He will forgive their sins and their land will be healed. All of a sudden, the little word “if” seems to have graduated from a tiny word to a big stipulation. 

Beloved, the floodgates of heaven are bursting at the seams, but our nation must come to repentance before great things can happen. Repentance has to be done before this land can be healed and blessings to flow. To put it in simple terms, the slates of our hearts must be wiped clean and it can only be done through humbling ourselves before Almighty God. Our nation needs to repent because our sins are many.

What is repentance? It’s simply asking God for forgiveness from all sins and wrongdoing. It takes only simple, uncomplicated words that even a child can say. Repentance is not a suggestion, but a command. In fact, Jesus preached repentance on a regular basis (Matthew 4:17). 

Romans 10:9-10 gives us instructions on repentance: 

(9) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Repentance is the first step to take at the time of salvation. Without it, trying to be a Believer, will not and cannot happen. Believing with your heart brings justification, and then confessing with your mouth that you are indeed saved and that you believe it.

One religion teaches that as long as you do good works it makes up for all wrong deeds. There’s another religion that says you must fast to make up for all sin, but we can look at Scripture and see clearly what God’s way is and that we're not saved by our own works, but by grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

We must go to the Father and ask for forgiveness and He will be faithful and just to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Have you ever thought how repulsive sin truly is? Are you appalled by the sin and evil that is so evident in our nation? Evil is increasing in our land on a daily basis and seems to be more rampant as time goes by. The newspapers and newscasts are full of one report after another of murders, child molestation, rapes, robberies and many other crimes.

Sin tastes terrible. It smells disgusting. It looks despicable. Nothing feels good about it. Nothing “is” good about it. Sin has an allurement for a season and from there spirals down into darkness. The enemy will set a trap to snag his prey. If we could see from a spiritual standpoint how sordid sin truly is, we would never touch it and would be so repulsed by it, that we would run from it every time it rears its ugly head. Scripture tells us we're to avoid every type of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

The Apostle Paul said to turn to God in repentance and have faith in the Lord Jesus (Acts 20:21). We must turn away from all evil and seek God to help us walk down the path of righteousness, doing our best for Him every day.

For me personally, I want the Master Potter to mold and shape me like never before. In order for the Holy Spirit to do that, He must reveal my secret sins. If I feel the wooing of the Holy Spirit revealing things He sees in my heart not pleasing to Him, I must confess them. If I hold off and do not humble myself before God, I will not go further in my experience with him. I could become cold and possibly lose out with God. With that thought, I have to say as the Apostle Paul did: “God forbid!”

It’s important to remember that we must not quench the Spirit when sin is pointed out to us (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Never think for a moment that the Holy Spirit stands over us with a whip, but gently in His infinite love, points to those things not pleasing. When that happens in my life, I’ll have an overflow of tears. Those times usually come in quiet moments when it’s just God and me.

We have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father, waiting to hear us call upon His name in prayer. He longs for us to come, humbling ourselves in repentance so He can cleanse us and make us pure. If you have never done so, run into His arms now! He is waiting for you.

May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Danna Appleby

Father, we come to You humbly repenting of our sins. We sometimes do things, have thoughts and say things that are not what Christ would do or say. Cleanse us and make us pure and holy in Your sight. Make us into the one You want us to be as we look full in Your wonderful face. Father, purify us so that we can serve You with our whole heart. We give ourselves totally to You and run into Your arms this moment and are grateful for Your forgiveness and mercy. Where would we be without it? Heal our land now Father, heal our land. We cry for mercy and ask that you forgive this nation for sins that are overtaking us and ask You to change the hearts of our people. Help our nation to turn back to God. In Your Son’s name. Amen.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Top Tourist Attractions

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NAS)

Top Tourist Attractions
Top holiday destinations around the world have been named and renamed almost every year. Of the world’s 50 most visited tourist attractions, Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s Times Square, Central Park and Grand Central Terminal, the Niagara Falls and DisneyWorld Orlando were among the top ten listed in an article of February 26, 2014 at

A number of years before that, the Pyramids of Giza, Big Ben in London, Roman Coliseum in Rome, Eiffel Tower in Paris, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Statue of Liberty in New York City and the Niagara Falls were ranked the top ten, according to an article of March 28, 2012 at Notwithstanding that Niagara Falls often come in top ten of tourist attractions list, it is no wonder visits to the American Falls and Canadian Falls are popular with tourists.

Like many tourists, among the first things my wife and I would do when we arrive at the hotel of our holiday destination is to find out the local attractions of the place. Given that they are tourist attractions, there is almost always no chance to have private moments to admire the place or to take photographs without the crowd in them. All we could do is just to appreciate the experience in our hearts and minds, although on occasions we may perform a little magic with the help of photo editing applications to lift off unwanted objects from pictures.

When we travel to our holiday destinations, do we ask ourselves the reason for our travel? Are we on a holiday to catch some rest, to cover as many tourist attractions as possible or to admire the works of God? Is our holiday a time to free ourselves from God and man, or a time to renew our spirit to appreciate more of God’s handiwork and the God-given works of people who made artifacts of wonder?

Visiting places of natural wonders like the Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon can help us liberate our minds not to limit what God can do (for us). Seeing and understanding artifacts like the pyramids, Big Ben, Roman Coliseum, Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty help us not limit ourselves to what God can do through us when we work together for His purpose. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen and understood through what has been made (Romans 1:20).

Rather than keeping away from God or trying a little magic of our own to avoid or stay away from people during our holidays, let us with renewed minds see beyond the invisible attributes of God. If we would just pay a little more attention, we would see His handiwork and the works of the God-given.

Dear Lord, thank You for the many tourist attractions around the world that declare Your handiwork and showcase the works of the God-given. Your amazing works have opened our eyes to see greater things are yet to come, and opened our hearts to trust You to lead us beyond our own abilities. You alone are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive all glory, honor and power, for by You all things were created and because of Your will, they existed. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

I've Got A Mansion

I've Got A Mansion
If you have ever had to live in an unfinished house or “live out of boxes”, you know it is a frustration. It is a trial that requires a great deal of patience.

What a wonderful thought to me as one who has done the “box thing” and lived in “unfinished” housing. Jesus said He has gone to prepare a place for me. It is a promise from the Savior’s lips. When it is ready for me, he’ll call me home. I won’t have to pack. Everything I need will be there. Everything will be completely finished and furnished. I remember, too, that He said there are many mansions. I’ve got an address. I have a reservation. Yes, beloved, that is a comfort (John 14:1-6).

Thomas, as always, showed some doubts. He didn’t know where Jesus was going … so how could he know the way.

Jesus said, lovingly, “I am the way.”

There is that echo that came from the Sea of Galilee when He called His disciples … He was saying once again, “Follow Me."

There is a precious story of a little boy who got lost in the city streets. Darkness was beginning to fall and the child became afraid. An old gentleman stopped to help and asked the child, “where is your home?”

The little boy replied, “I don’t know, I’m lost. But if you can just take me to the corner where the church is with the big cross I can find my way home.”

Dear One, the Cross of Jesus always points toward home. What a comfort. What a joy. What a promise. E.J. Swanson

Father, it is a comfort to know that someday we will be able to dwell with you. We know that because of the loving sacrifice of your Son, Jesus, this is possible. The cross helped make it possible for me to get home. Thank you, Father. “Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Weekend Getaway

For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:10 NAS)

Weekend Getaway
A public holiday on a Friday. That’s an extended weekend break!

Alfred thought to himself, his heart leaping for joy as his mind started planning.

"Honey, let's get away over the weekend," Alfred suggested to his wife.

"Not unless our grandchildren are taken care of," Sue answered.

"Don't worry about them, Mom," said Gail with her husband by her side. "Tom and I will take care of the kids."

Not wanting to travel too far away from home, the older couple decided to just leave the busy city to a small town—Corning, in Steuben County. Besides visiting the famed Corning Museum of Glass, exploring the picturesque Finger Lakes region, and enjoying the fabulous food of various cultures, Alfred and Sue found rest during their weekend away.

Rest is what all of us need. A break from our routines to spend time to rest, refresh and refocus can do a lot more good than we realize. Regardless how busy we are, we must make time to rest.

The Epistle to the Hebrews mentioned a rest for the people of God. All of us who have received Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior have been given that rest because of our Lord’s finished work on the cross. We ought therefore to be diligent to enter that rest so that we might not fall (Hebrews 4:9-11).

Are we finding it hard to rest because we are too busy trying to do so many things by our own effort? Are we casting our care on the Lord and committing everything we do to Him?

God’s word exhorts us to cast our anxieties to the Lord who will sustain us. Commit to the Lord whatever we do, and He will establish our plans (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22; Proverbs 16:3).

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us rest through Your finished work on the cross. Help us not overwork ourselves trying to prove our worth through works, for we know it is not by our effort but by Your grace and unmerited favor that You have chosen to bless us. We commit to You all that we do and cast all our anxieties on You, for You are the One who establishes our plans and have given us rest.


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