Friday, October 30, 2015

Independence is Not an Option

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV)

Independence is Not an Option
It sometimes seems like we wear our independence on our sleeve almost as though trying to say we can do whatever we wish because of our cherished freedoms. Unfortunately, too often we do end up doing whatever we wish, to our own detriment. Independence from tyranny, oppression, and domination is laudable when we are discussing how best to shape a society, but to assert our independence from the One who made us is foolhardy at best and dangerous on many levels.

Why is it impossible to be independent from God? One little word found at the end of Colossians 1:17- 'consist'. When looking for the dictionary definition of a word, the first definition you come across indicates the most common usage. In the case of consist, the most common usage is "to be composed or made of', indicating that all things are made of Christ. That sounds more like pantheism than orthodox Christianity. But one of the archaic definitions of the word reads "to be held together", indicating that God takes an active role in the universe He created. Far from being the Prime Mover who sets the universe in motion and then sits back to watch it spin, He is involved on a moment-by-moment basis maintaining the universe.

If God in Christ is holding the universe together, then there is no such thing as independence from God. We are all terribly dependent upon Him. Even an atheist can't get away from it. If God were to remove His hand from us, we would wither up and be blown away by the next strong breeze. So the best we can do is assert a false, fragile independence. But the paradox here is that the more independently we act, the weaker we become. Only by acknowledging our dependence upon God can our crippled bones be made strong.

"How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." (Psalm 36:7) Bill Schwan

Friday, October 23, 2015

In the Place of God

And Joseph said unto them, fear not: for am I not in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me: but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:19-20 KJV)

In the Place of God
Have you ever crossed paths with someone that got a kick out of your apparent demise? They felt like they had the upper hand and watched with sadistic humor, as everything seemed to be crumbling around you? They waved a sense of control before you as if they were in charge of what happened in your life? They thought they controlled you with money, or past secrets?

I have! I’ve come face to face with people who acted as if they had control over the destiny of my life and the lives of my family. They liked to rub in our faces the fact that they held the switch – or so they thought!

You see when the enemy laughs in your face! When the enemy attempts to do you harm! When those around you cannot possibly wrap their head around how you can be so calm when everything around you seems to be falling apart – you can stand with resolute assurance and proclaim: I AM IN THE PLACE OF GOD!

I am here to tell you many will not understand and many will mock your resolution, but when you know deep within that you are walking in DIVINE PROVIDENCE and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WILL HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE WITHOUT GOD’S COMMAND, then as the enemy has their last laugh, you will know that the last laugh will be on them!

Regardless of how dark the prison may be! Regardless of how everything around you seems to be falling apart! Regardless of how nothing seems to work in your favor – I encourage you today – DO NOT GIVE UP! Everything is going to turn around – just like it did for Joseph! His brothers who intended to do him harm – and thought evil against him – ended up on the other side of the table! 

WHEN YOU ARE IN THE PLACE OF GOD – GOD WILL TURN IT ALL AROUND!

Lord God Almighty! Thank You today for Your Word! Thank You for Your divine protection in the places that are not always pleasant to our human nature! Thank You for guiding every step – even though those around us shake their head in confusion! Thank You Lord for not leaving us when we were thrown to the lions – and thank You for walking in the midst of the fiery furnace with us! Thank You Lord the assurance that we are IN THE PLACE OF GOD! We thank You for the souls that will be reached and the lives that will be touched and we GIVE YOU ALL THE GLORY IN EVERY SITUATION! KNOWING THAT YOU ALWAYS TAKE WHAT THE ENEMY INTENDS FOR EVIL AND TURN OUT PURE GOLD! 

We love You today and we praise You and we give you all the glory! AMEN! Jounda LaMance

Friday, October 16, 2015

In The Eyes of God

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. (Mathew 16:18 RSV)

In the Eyes of God
Who are you? A simple enough question. Are you an engineer? A priest? A corporate mongrel that delights himself when saying, “I am a partner and a CEO to one of the most lucrative realist ate company out there.” Are you a mom or dad; or a teacher even? It might be true that these are one of the roles you play in today’s society because these are your job titles. But does your job really define who you are? Even a prostitute will say she is much more than who society regards her to be. And so you, the engineer, are there not more to your being … to your soul? Is that how you would want God to see you?

The answer is of course, "No!" 

Who we are as human beings has to be greater than what is defined by our work. We must be the flesh and blood of a caring being. We are children of God who loves and nurtures; we are a strong spirit and a humble servant to the Lord, and an example to our human family. Would you like to know how God sees us?

In God’s eyes, you are:

  • God’s very own son or daughter, a child of the King. ( Romans 8:15-16)
  • a CHRISTian, called by God’s own name. (1Corinthians 1:2;Acts 15.14) 
  • a Saint, set apart by God unto Himself. (Philip 3:20)
  • a citizen of God’s Kingdom of Heaven, and a tourist on Planet Earth. (2Corinthians 5:20a)
  • God’s Ambassador to present His terms of peace to Planet Earth. (2Corinthians 5:20a)
  • Planet Earth’s Priest to stand in the gap and plead for mercy at God’s throne. (1Pet. 2:5) 

CHRISTian! God’s child! Saint! Ambassador! Priest! Citizen of heaven!

Ah, you are so greatly blessed, but your responsibilities are awesome beyond comprehension. In Christ’s name, do them well. Amen. Mai-Anh Le

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

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