ALL GOOD THINGS…

January 13, 2016

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

I am a big proponent of New Year’s resolutions. I view them as annual goals. They give us something to aim at. Unfortunately, as I set goals every year I usually fall prey to adding more activity in my life without eliminating any old activity to make room for the new. And life just gets busier and busier. So this year, one of my primary goals is to find more balance in life.

With that in mind, one of the things I have decided to eliminate is writing my weekly or bi-weekly e-votionals. As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” It’s that time for my e-votionals. This is the final one.

It’s been fun. I enjoy writing. In the past 7-plus years, I have written over 320 e-votionals, sending them to our NMC family and friends and posting them on a blog. The blog has been visited by over 2,700 visitors from over 40 different countries. But, it’s time to do something different.

The good news is that out of death comes life. As I bring this phase of writing to an end, I am certain that something new will spring to life. At the present time, I am planning to do more teaching – a Men’s Leadership Group and a series of monthly Sunday Seminars. But, eventually I look forward to writing again.

Now, what are your New Year’s resolutions? What goals have you set for yourself in 2016? Remember, if you aim at nothing that’s what you’re likely to hit – nothing.   It’s not too late to make some New Year’s resolutions. Set some goals for 2016. Don’t settle for the status quo. Keep stretching yourself. Keep growing. And keep trusting the Lord.

Dear Lord,
Thank You for a New Year.
As I set goals for 2016, You are priority #1.
May all I do this year flow from my relationship with You.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Advertisements

JOY TO THE WORLD

December 9, 2015

“Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
(Luke 2:10)

How would you respond if an angel appeared to you? Would you recognize an angel? Would you think you died and went to heaven? Would you think you were just dreaming? Would you be afraid? Would you think, “Oh no, what did I do?” Would you be excited? Would you think, “Wow, God must have something special to tell me?”

An angel is simply a messenger from God. During the original Christmas story – when Jesus was born – angels were pretty active. Gabriel appeared several times with special messages from God to various people. All were messages of joy…

  • To Zechariah – You’re going to have a son. He will prepare the way for the Messiah.
  • To Mary – You’re going to have a baby boy. He will be the Son of God.
  • To Joseph – It’s okay. You can marry Mary. Her baby will be the Savior of mankind.
  • To some shepherds in a field – A Savior has been born!
  • The angelic choir sang – “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth!”

Our world today is filled with war, turmoil, persecution, despair, and hopelessness. But the message of Christmas is still good news. God sent His Son as a baby in a manger to save mankind from their sins and restore our relationship with God. Even amidst all the turmoil and despair in the world, you can still experience joy in your heart.

  • Joy comes through forgiveness of sin.
  • Joy comes through the gift of eternal life.
  • Joy comes through being at peace with God.
  • Joy comes through a personal relationship with Jesus.
  • Joy comes through the baby born on that first Christmas Day.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Dear Lord,
Thank you for giving us Your Son, Jesus.
Thank you for the gifts of forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
Thank you for filling my soul with the joy of the Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen.


AN ALPHABET OF PRAISE

November 25, 2015

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”
(Psalm 100:4)

Since it’s the Thanksgiving season, how about an alphabet of praise? Here’s an alphabetical list of ways you can praise the Lord…

A    – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.
B    – Bless the Lord, o my soul; bless His holy name.
C    – Celebrate God’s abundant goodness.
D   – Declare His glory among the nations.
E    – Extol the Lord with music and song
F    – Fear the Lord your God
G   – Give glory to the Lord for He is good.
H   – Hallelujah
I     – I will praise the Lord all my life.
J     – Joyfully shout to the Lord
K   – Kneel before the Lord our maker.
L    – Love God with all your heart
M   – Magnify God’s name in all the earth
N   – Noise – Make a joyful Noise to the Lord
O   – Offering spiritual sacrifices to the
P    – Praise the Lord
Q   – (Be) Quiet before the Lord.
R    – Rejoice in the Lord always.
S    – Sing to the Lord a new song
T    – Thanks to the Lord for He is good.
U   – Unite our voices in praise
V   – Voice – raise your Voices to the Lord
W   – Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness
X   – eXalt the Lord
Y   – Yearn – My soul Yearns for the courts of the Lord
Z    – (Be) Zealous for the Lord your God

Now, you can try a different praise alphabet. Identify a name or attribute of God for each letter of the alphabet. It may be even easier than this list of praise terms.

Dear Lord,
I praise you for Your many blessings:
for family and friends and a loving church family.
for Your provision and protection.
and for Your grace & mercy!
In Jesus name, Amen.


THANKSGIVING & REVIVAL

November 18, 2015

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?”
(Psalm 85:6)

Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation for the National Day of Prayer in 1863 serves as a great reminder to all of us (1) to be thankful for God’s many blessings in America, and (2) to pray for revival in America.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

May we follow Lincoln’s example. May we first, be grateful for God’s many blessings…

– Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy
– Thanks be to God for His forgiveness of our many sins and offenses
– Thanks be to God for His faithfulness in spite of our unfaithfulness
– Thanks be to God for the prosperity and peace we have enjoyed in America

At the same time, may we turn back to God in humility and prayer, seeking His face, and repenting of our sin and unrighteousness…

– We confess our pride and self-sufficiency.
– We confess that we have forgotten and forsaken God.
– We confess our idolatry and immorality.
– We confess our indifference and complacency.

Finally, may the Holy Spirit bring revival in our county, our churches, and our communities? And may the Holy Spirit re-ignite a fresh fire in my own soul for Jesus Christ.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I am indeed grateful for Your many blessings!
In response to Your love, I renew my own commitment to You.
May You bring revival in our country and in our church.
Please revive my own heart and soul.
In Jesus name, Amen.


HALLOWEEN & REVIVAL

November 4, 2015

“Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us,
that we may be saved.”
(Psalm 80:3)

Last weekend was Halloween. People dressed up in all kinds of costumes – super-heroes, political characters, cartoon characters, animals, and more. But every year, many people also dress up as witches, vampires, and zombies. Some people decorate their homes to be a little spooky for trick-or-treaters. Haunted houses are very popular during the Halloween season. And October is also the time for horror movies and zombie movies. For some reason, people enjoy being scared and scaring others.

I’ve been thinking a lot about revival lately. It dawned on me that revival may be a little like Halloween. Both can be scary! People are scared of revival because they’re afraid God may ask them to make some changes in life. For instance, God may ask me…

–  to swallow my pride and surrender to His agenda
–  to give up some habit or sin that I kinda enjoy
–  to be authentic, open, and transparent
–  to confess or repent publicly
–  to reconcile with a friend or family member
–  to change my daily routine to spend more time with Him
–  to cut out some activity that is hindering my walk with Him
–  to get rid of some of my treasured possessions or toys
–  to start giving more to His work
–  to give up my weekends of fun and leisure for church

Does it sound scary? You see, we’re all pretty comfortable with life as we know it, and we don’t really want to make any drastic changes. Truth be told, we are actually a little scared of what a serious commitment to Jesus Christ might involve. So, maybe we don’t really want revival. Oh, we give it lip-service – but maybe it’s not really for me. After all, I like being in charge and calling the shots in my life. I don’t really want to let God be in charge. He might upset my comfortable lifestyle

How about you? Does revival scare you? It scares me, too. But, in the end, revival will be worth it all. God will revive your heart. He will restore the joy of your salvation. You will enjoy a renewed love-relationship with Jesus. And if revival spreads to enough people, churches, and communities, it may even turn America around again.

Dear Lord,
I admit that revival sounds a little scary.
But I come before You humbly and surrender to You!
Revive my soul today!
Amen.


REVIVAL

October 21, 2015

“Revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O Lord God Almighty…”
(Psalm 80:18-19)

Here are a few quotes on revival. Take a little time to reflect on them.

A woman once asked Billy Sunday, “Why do you keep having revivals when it doesn’t last?” He asked her, “Why do you keep taking baths?”

“You never have to advertise a fire. Everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.”  (Leonard Ravenhill)

“Revival is the church falling in love with Jesus all over again.” (Vance Havner)

“Revival cannot be organized, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.”   (G. Campbell Morgan)

“Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin, and a new hunger for His Word.”   (Del Fehsenfeld, Jr.)

“Revival is not just an emotional touch; it is a complete takeover!” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

When Gypsy Smith, an English evangelist was asked how to have revival, he responded: “Do you have a place where you can pray? Tell you what to do. Go to that place, and take a piece of chalk along. Kneel down there, and with the chalk draw a complete circle all around you. Now pray for God to send revival on everything inside of the circle. Stay there until He answers – and you will have revival.”

 What are you waiting for? Draw a circle. And, start praying!

Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that revival strts in individual hearts.
May revival start in me? Revive my heart and life.
May I fall in love with Jesus all over again?
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


JUDGMENT OR REVIVAL?

October 7, 2015

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”
(Psalm 85:6)

Does America need healed? Take a moment and consider the crime rates, the mass-shootings in recent years, the racism and bigotry, the hate-filled rhetoric, the political divide, the materialism, and the moral & spiritual decline in our country.  Certainly everyone would agree that America needs healed.

So, what’s the answer? Politics? Government? Education? Technology? Talk Radio? Absolutely not! There is really only one answer. I believe it is the last hope for our country. I believe the only hope for America is revival.

The history of Israel in the Old Testament was very turbulent – a spiritual roller coaster. They had many wicked kings who led the nation into sin – forsaking God and turning to idolatry, immorality, injustice, and the innocent shedding of blood. Sounds a little like America, doesn’t it? But, every once-in-a-while some prophets and kings led the nation in revival – turning hearts back to God, tearing down idols, and repenting of sin.. As a result, God stayed judgment, healed the land, and restored the people.

With America’s forsaking of God, worship of self (idolatry), immorality, injustice, and shedding of innocent blood; this country may soon be staring in the face of God’s judgment, as well. Our only hope to stay God’s judgment is genuine revival.

But, here’s the catch. Revival is a Church-thing. Revival starts with God’s people. The word, “revival” comes from two Latin words: “re,” which means “again” and “viva” which means “life.” So, revival is a “restoration of life” or a “renewal of life.” Revival presupposes that there is a spark of life to begin with. Unbelievers cannot be “revived.” They have no “spiritual life” to be revived. They need Jesus. Revival takes place in Christians; in God’s people.

I believe it’s time for the Church to wake up! It’s time for revival. When Christians catch on fire for Jesus again, those revival fires will spread like wild-fire throughout our communities and our country. But it starts in the Church – it starts with you and me.

Which will it be? Judgment or Revival?

Dear Lord, I pray that You will revive Your people once again.
We come before You in humility and brokenness.
May Your Holy Spirit bring conviction and repentance of sin.
Rekindle the fire in our hearts once again!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


20/20 VISION

September 17, 2015

“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”
(Mark 8:18)

When I was younger, I used to brag about how good my eyesight was. I could read signs on the road from long distances. I had perfect 20/20 vision.

But about the time I turned 40 my vision started going downhill. I began to notice that the words on pages of books were getting fuzzy. The closer I held the book, the fuzzier the words were. I started holding the book further away so I could see it clearly. But my arms got too short – well, they just weren’t long enough. So I purchased a pair of reading glasses. That helped for a while. I bought a stronger pair of reading glasses. But I had to take them off to see distances clearly. I didn’t like having to take glasses off & on all day.

I finally broke down and went to an optometrist (eye-doctor). The doctor prescribed a pair of bifocals with corrective lenses for close-up and plain glass for distance. Then I turned 50. I noticed that even my distant vision was getting blurry. Now I have bifocals with corrective lenses for both distance and close-up vision. Unfortunately, the computer screen is right in-between the two – it’s still blurry. What’s next?

Just as we sometimes struggle with physical vision, I believe God’s children often struggle with spiritual vision. We can become spiritually nearsighted as we focus on the physical and temporal things of this world. Or we can become spiritually farsighted as we worry about circumstances and the future. Sometimes we need to adjust our focus so we can once regain 20/20 spiritual vision. Here are a few suggestions on how to improve your spiritual vision…

  • Stop focusing on rules and regulations & refocus on relationship with God.
  • Stop focusing on physical things & refocus on spiritual matters.
  • Stop focusing on the temporal treasures & refocus on eternal values.
  • Stop focusing on circumstances & refocus on God’s blessings.
  • Stop focusing on self & refocus on Jesus.

How is your spiritual vision? Is it 20/20?

Dear Lord,
I confess that I often get my eyes off You and focus on myself.
It’s so easy to focus on circumstances or material things in this world.
Help me to refocus on eternity. Help me to refocus on Jesus.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.