February 19, 2018
“And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day thou shall you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16, 17)
A good friend of mine retired a few years ago. Soon after retiring he and his wife were visiting friends that lived in a southern state. Their first impression of that community was a positive one. They immediately thought it would be good if they also would move to that warmer climate and get away from the winters in Western Pennsylvania. It wasn’t long until their property in Western Pa. was sold and they moved south.
“Retirement is so good,” he thought.
Well, guess what? It wasn’t long until they moved back to Western Pennsylvania. My friends soon realized that they missed Western Pa. very much. They missed their many friends, their family, the Penguins and the Steelers. They missed about everything, even the weather. They really didn’t fully appreciate all the blessings they had in Western Pennsylvania.
We all are like that at times in one way or the other, aren’t we? Just like Adam and Eve, we too sometimes believe that what we have now is not enough. “If only I had just a little more,” we say at times.
Adam and Eve didn’t realize just how blessed they were without partaking of that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. And sometimes we don’t fully realize just how blessed we are right now. Be sure to express your love and appreciation to those close to you. Be sure to express your appreciation to our Lord for the many blessings He has bestowed upon you.
February 12, 2018
The Lenten Season begins this week. Some people say that they are giving up something during Lent. Perhaps it’s television that some will give up? Perhaps it’s chocolate? Perhaps it’s a favorite CD that some will not listen to during the Lenten Season?
Is Lent a time of self-denial for you? Jesus really isn’t concerned with chocolate, television or CDs. Jesus is concerned about what is going on in our hearts. The Lenten Season is a good time to do away with those things that are spiritually unhealthy. Perhaps it’s a little pride, or self-centeredness, hypocrisy or laziness?
To me, Lent is really an attitude. It’s an attitude of honesty and humility as we confess our sins to God.
But Lent is also an attitude of relief and joy, knowing that our sins have been forgiven, that our Lord has washed away all of our sin because of what Jesus did on the cross.
If you temporarily give up certain things during Lent as a sign of love for your Savior, that’s fine. But what Jesus is really concerned about is what is going on in your heart? Have you allowed Him to cleanse it and make it whole? I trust that you have. We all need to ask God to do that from time to time. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me,” (Psalm 51:10).
February 5, 2018
“He who provides for this life, but makes no provision for eternity, is wise for a moment, but a fool forever.”
The longer I live the more I realize just how true God’s Word is. The Word of God states, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away,” (James 2:14). Have you given much thought about eternity lately? Have you given much thought as to where your loved ones and friends will spend eternity?
Since the beginning of this year, three members of Maple Spring church passed on. The funeral service for Carlton Yoder was held last Saturday, February 3. The sanctuary was filled with many people that were touched and encouraged in some by because of Carlton’s faithful life. All four of his children spoke about how their father taught them to always trust is God. Carlton was never ashamed of his Lord and Savior.
I’ve had several conversations with family members and friends about how it is almost unbelievable just how quickly time passes by. I’m sure you’ll agree. As you know, life is filled with many uncertainties, trials and changes. Isn’t it refreshing to know that God’s Word never changes and neither does He (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life,” (John 6:47).
January 29, 2018
“When the Son of Man come, will He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
You probably know his name as a disease, but in 1927, Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees was named outstanding baseball player of the year. During his lifetime he played in more consecutive games than any other man in the history of the sport. He never missed a game! Lou Gehrig was called “the Iron Man of Baseball.” What made Lou Gehrig so great? It was his faithfulness to his team and to the game of baseball.
Gehrig has a better record than Cal Ripken, Jr. Every day he was out there on first base doing his best!
We all need to be “team players.” We all need to be doing our best for Christ with what He has given us.
Many who gave their best are mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. That’s really all God asks of each of us, to do our best for Him. He gave His best for us. Are we giving our best to Him?
January 22, 2018
“But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!’ Jesus answered and said, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42)
In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus teaches about the priority of grace. Martha was troubled over her inability to pull off a perfect dinner. Jesus was not impressed by her human effort and taught a valuable lesson. Do not attempt to serve God until you have first been served by Him. Mary was experiencing the grace, presence and her relationship with Jesus before she attempted to “perform.” Many people live in a “performance trap” without knowing of the empowering grace of God.
Some facts about grace are:
- God’s grace is available because it is based upon Jesus’ performance – not mine.
- God does not love me for what I can do for Him.
- God’s grace accepts me as I am, then enables me to live above my own ability.
- My service to God is actually greater under grace, because gratitude, not guilt, is the motivation.
Experience God’s grace this day!
January 15, 2018
“You make more friends by becoming interested in other people than by trying to interest other people in yourself.”……Dale Carnegie
How many very close friends do you have? I don’t mean casual acquaintances, I mean intimate friends.
Those who do have intimate friends have only one or two at the most. Why? Because intimate friendship requires much time and effort.
I am very fortunate to have several intimate friends. They have my permission to ask me anything. They are permitted to interfere when I seem to be “out of sorts.” Just recently one of those friends talked to me about a personal concern. Two days before our conversation, the Holy Spirit spoke to him about me and the issue I was concerned about. Our loving Heavenly Father used my very close friend as His spokesperson to me. My friend and I rejoiced and thanked God together for His love and for our friendship.
The Lord Jesus is also that kind of friend to me. He can be to you as well. As we all have experienced, life can be very difficult and complicated at times. There are days that we experience fear, doubt, and anxiousness. And it is in those times that our best friend, the Lord Jesus, will speak and bring comfort to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
“What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and grief to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. In His arms He’ll take and shield you. You will find a solace there.”
Be sure to take time today to cultivate your friendship with Jesus. Become interested in Him. He is very interested in you.
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
January 8, 2018
“Courage is the victory of faith over fear.”……….Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every child of God faces difficulties from time to time. Sometimes, when we are experiencing difficult days, it seems that they will never end.
In Psalm 27:14 we read, “Wait on the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
That word “wait” means to “bind together, to expect.” When we are “bound together” with the Lord, we will be courageous in the difficult times and watch expectantly for God’s hand to move.
Have you ever noticed why many of God’s people mentioned in the Bible are remembered so well?
When you think of David, what comes to your mind? Probably the giant, Goliath, right? When you think of Daniel, what comes to mind? Probably the lion’s den, correct? In the midst of great difficulty these men and others received strength and courage through their close relationship with God. You and I can do the same.
We also can be victorious in life through an intimate relationship with Jesus. He will strengthen our hearts.
May we also be people of great courage, and may our faith in God conquer our fears.
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
“If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one.”………John Galsworthy
Have you ever made any New Year’s resolutions? If you have, how did you do? Are you making any New Year’s resolutions this year? I read this message on a church sign recently, “May your troubles last as long as your resolutions.”
Some people laugh at New Year’s resolutions, but it really would be to our benefit to take some time to allow God to reveal to us areas in our life where there is room for improvement.
Jesus said, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” (Matthew 26:41). The only way we can live better lives and experience victory over sin and Satan is to yield our mind and spirit to God’s Holy Spirit and let Him live through us. He then becomes our strength, our helper, our wisdom and our source. You will never be able to keep your New Year’s resolutions or make any improvement in your life on your own. It’s only when we fully surrender our will and spirit to the Holy Spirit will we experience a positive change. God is your biggest cheer leader. He wants you to succeed. He wants you to have an excellent future, but it is your decision to yield to Him.
May you experience and know the blessings of God in 2018.
December 19, 2018
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people,” (Luke 18:10).
Though the birth of Christ was surrounded with circumstances of poverty and meanness, it was also marked with dignity far surpassing the pomp of kings. Why? Angels were the ones who announced Christ’s birth.
They said, “the birth of Christ would cause great joy for all people.” The Greek word for joy in this verse is chara, which means, “a calm delight.”
In the midst of many unknowns and many unanswered questions, Mary experienced joy even though she had many reasons to be upset and worry. She rejoiced because she knew that God was with her. The shepherds also found joy in the birth of Christ. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” The angels also found joy. “A great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”
What about you? Are you troubled and worried about the “unknowns” in your life today? Or, are you experiencing the joy of Christmas, chara, a calm delight? “His name shall be called, Immanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” God is with you and with me today. His presence surrounds us.
Look for Him! You will find Him! You also then will experience joy (chara) a calm delight!
December 4, 2017
Some people are, by nature, optimistic. It is their natural temperament. Others are, by the same token, pessimistic. One person sees a rose bush in terms of thorns, another sees only the roses. One person sees the dark side of every cloud, while the other looks for the silver lining. Yet, genuine hope can never be based on your particular temperament or momentary emotion.
In I Peter 3:15 we read, “Sanctify the Lord God in your heart, and always be ready to give an answer to those who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you.”
The Greek word for hope is elpis which means, “to anticipate with confidence.” Hope is not a feeling. Christian hope grows through faith in Jesus Christ. Christian hope is having confidence in God and His Word. This hope is an “anchor of the soul,” (Hebrews 6:19). Hope is an extension of faith. Faith deals with details, hope deals with the “big picture.” Hope is content to leave the large scope with the Lord.
In Romans 4:18 we read, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” Due to his age, Abraham couldn’t understand how his wife would be able to conceive a child. But he believed God and was hopeful.
Knowing and believing God’s Word and His promises will cause us to be hopeful people. As we allow Christ to live through us during this busy time of the year, we all will have many opportunities to share Jesus with others. Be a hopeful person and be prepared to share Christ with others today. They will thank you and you will be blessed.