Sunday, December 31, 2006

Restored at last!

Passage of Scripture: Hosea 14:2,4,9

(2) Come back to the Lord and say these words to Him: "Take away all our sins and kindly receive us, and we will keep the promises we made to you." (4) The Lord says, "I will forgive them for leaving me and will love them freely, because I am not angry with them anymore. (9) A wise person will know these things, and understanding person will take them to heart. the Lord's ways are right. Good people live by following them, but those who turn against God die because of them.

I wrote this devotion 3 years ago when my son was going through one of the toughest times in his life.

My son is 18 years old. Over the last two years he has become addicted to drugs. The drugs have literally destroyed his life or at least all the good things in his life. These drugs were taking him farther and farther away from God and deeper and deeper into a lifestyle that eventually would have him end up in Prison or most likely dead. Finally it got to where my son could not go one day without using or he would be sick from the withdrawals. He eventually forgot what it was like to feel normal. Those days were gone! As far as his relationship with Jesus, there just wasn't much left there anymore. My son had cursed God and everything related to Christianity. I assume that he felt that God had washed his hands of him, so he did the same towards God. In his own weakness he felt that he would be just fine on his own. After all, who needs a God that allows things like this to happen?

Israel did the same thing. they decided to live the way they wanted rather than obey the laws that God had established for his people. What's amazing to me is as we live the way we want, we fail to see the bright and hopeful future that God has planned for us. We think to follow and obey God is too restrictive and prevents us from living a fun filled joyous life. But the opposite is what happens. To obey God is to live. To live in obedience is fulfilling and rewarding. To live in disobedience is destructive and devastating. Satan wants us to believe that we are under God's thumb and we have no freedom in who we are. But God's word tells us that Jesus came so that we may have abundant life and that His truth will set us free. Doesn't sound too restrictive or controlling to me. We can live the way we want, however to not live for Christ is to live for ourselves, and we all know that selfishness is not a part of God's plan for our lives.

We live by following God's commands and we die by not following them. The greatest news is found in verse 4. The Lord says... "I will forgive them for leaving me." "I will love them freely." "I am not angry with them anymore." I hope you realize that it's Gods love and mercy that never fails. When we request forgiveness we must realize that we don't deserve it. Our appeal is for God's love and mercy, not His justice. Although we can not demand forgiveness, we can be confident that we receive it because God is gracious and loving and wants to restore us to himself, just as He wanted to with Israel.

Remember this... When our will is weak, when our thinking is confused, and when our conscience is burdened with a load of guilt, we must remember that God cares for us continually; His mercies never fail. When friends or family desert us, when co-workers don't understand us, or when we are tired of being good; Gods mercies never fail. When we can't seem to hear God's voice, and when we lack the courage to go on; Gods mercies never fail. When our shortcomings and our awareness of our sins overcome us; remember... God's mercies never fail.

My son now understands and realizes what the consequences of his sins has done to his life. He did end up in jail, but he's alive and he's working hard to start again. He is repenting. I thank God that He loves my son so much that He wants to restore him and make him prosper.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for my son. I thank you that you love him so much that you have forgiven him for all that he has done. I love him so much. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love You. I pray that one day my son will be a source of encouragement to others because of what he has gone through. may You receive all the praise! Thank You Jesus! Amen

Today is a 'Do Over"

Happy New year!
It's a fresh start, a new day!

What is it that you regret doing or maybe NOT doing this past year? We all have skeletons in our closets, regrets and feelings of guilt because of past thoughts, actions, and things we've said. Well guess what! It's a new year! And better yet, God allows "Do Overs." Today is a "Do Over." Everything starts over again today. The worst thing that we can do is drag yesterdays regrets into today's life.

You know, God wants you to forget, to put the past behind you. He wants you to ask Him for forgiveness for what you've done, so that He can forgive you and set you free from the worry, guilt and regrets! His goal is for you to grow spiritually, to become fruitful. If you hang onto your past, well, you're looking back instead of forward. God is more concerned with what's ahead of you than behind. As a matter of fact... God forgets what he forgives you for. But Satan hasn't forgotten. Satan focuses on our past. He reminds us of every single thing we've ever done wrong! He does this because if we forget our past, then we'll be effective at building God's Kingdom. We'll bear fruit and bring glory and honor to God through the way we live our lives.

Today is a "Do Over!" Our God is a God of 2nd chances, not just 2nd chances, but 3rd and 4th and so on until we finally get it.

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

We need to do as Paul does in Philippians 3:12-14
(12) I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (13) No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Focus on the future, get rid of the guilt and pain from your past, leave it with Jesus. Press on towards the life that God is calling you.
God bless you as you serve Him this year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Are You for Real?

Scripture: Luke 18:14

(14) I tell you that this man, rather the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

This verse is found in the parable of the "Pharisee and the Tax Collector." This parable is one that makes us take a good look at our own life and we have to ask ourselves... Are we for real?

I have actually found myself doing things in Church, not because I felt lead by God to do so, but rather to appear more Godly than I really was. It's silly the things we do. It seems, that like the Pharisee, we sometimes become more concerned about what others think of us than what Jesus knows of us. A few years ago I was sitting in church listening to the preacher as he preached his message. He told the congregation to turn to the book of Haggai in our bibles. While everyone was flipping through their bibles I realized that I had no idea where the book of Haggai was. I mean I knew it was in the old testament, but where, I just wasn't sure. I quickly flipped through my bible hoping I would stumble upon it, but no such luck. I thought briefly about looking at the table of contents, but then I quickly reminded myself that I was a deacon in the church and how would it look if someone saw me looking at the table of contents, they probably expect me to know my books of the bible. I just couldn't look at the table of contents. I began hearing less and less flipping of pages as others around me started to find the verse we were looking for. I finally just stopped looking as if I too had found what I was looking for. I mean after all, who would know? Then it got even worse. The preacher started to read the scripture he had asked us to turn to. I immediately put my finger in my bible in the book that I was located in (I believe it was Psalms) and pretended to follow along as the preacher read. Finally he quit reading and began preaching on what he had just read.

Immediately I fell under deep conviction. I was reminded of this Pharisee that only went to the temple to be seen by others rather than truly worshiping God. I felt so ashamed and I realized at that point that I was faking it! I was more concerned about what others would think! How foolish. The sad thing is that I didn't even get to worship, my heart wasn't right with God. I was thinking of myself, and when you do that you can't see Jesus. Oh I was taught a lesson that day but it wasn't the lesson the preacher was teaching. God was showing me that a humble man gets to go home justified and that those men that exalt themselves will be humbled. I went from being proud to humble real quick and I thank God every day for the lesson He taught me that day.

God knows everything about us and even though we may be able to fool some people, God knows our heart. He knows our motive. We need to be like the tax collector, realizing that were unworthy to even be in the temple. This tax collector couldn't even look up towards heaven! He beats on his chest in agony and asks God to have mercy on him because he acknowledges that he's a sinner. This man has prepared his heart to be touched by God and he experiences Gods love, peace, mercy and grace. He got to go home right with God! The other went home feeling guilty and ashamed because he experienced God making him humble. I know this to be true... because this Pharisee was me.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for the way I worship. Forgive me for thinking so big of myself. Thank you for showing me that by being humble, I can experience true worship and love. Help me to always obey Your will and to never compromise being obedient. Help me to always be REAL for You! Amen.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Qualities of Good Leadership... Diligence

Verse of Scripture: Proverbs 12:24

(24) The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor.

I love to write about leadership. Organizations rise and fall depending on the leaders ability lead others successfully. The bible is full of great verses that can help us as leaders be successful in our roles. This short devotion is about DILIGENCE.

Many of the proverbs came from King Solomon, so it is natural to expect some of his interest to be directed towards leadership. Here in Proverbs 12:24 we are told that if we are diligent in our work, faithful to work effectively and productively, we can and will be placed in leadership positions.
Hard work and effort are the means to success or advancements at work. We're also told that if we're lazy, then someone else will rule over us. We'll be put to work by someone else. We'll be forced to do the labor because we can not be trusted with the responsibility to supervise.
So, if you are currently in a position of leadership, then be effective and productive with the responsibilities that you have been given. Do not take this responsibility lightly. If you become complacent and lazy, then expect to lose your position of leadership to someone else! If you have not yet been placed in a position of leadership or supervision, and your goal has been to get promoted into a position of leading others, then work diligently. Be the best that you can be and be productive and effective and you will eventually be recognized and placed in a position of rule or supervision.

I think it's important for us to understand that there is nothing wrong with being a laborer. The message here is for the leader, the manager or supervisor. Better stay sharp... do not take your position for granted. The biggest challenge for the Boss, is to stay aggressive and passionate about his or her job. If we become complacent or lazy, then we just won't perform well, we won't achieve the expected results, and this is when our job or position might be replaced by someone else that can do better.

The best way that I have found to stay diligent at work is to go to work every day knowing who my real Boss is. He's Jesus! And when we realize this, well we don't come to work late anymore, we don't take the extended breaks anymore, we don't take advantage of others. What we do is perform, we work hard so that our boss is pleased with our work. My hope and prayer for you is that you stay diligent and continue to be successful in your career.

Call to Me and I Will Answer

Passage of scripture: Jeremiah 33:3

(3) Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

This verse is so comforting to us during difficult or stressful times. During times of uncertainty or doubt. During times in our lives when we just don't understand why things happen the way they do. This verse is a promise that we can hold onto for comfort and understanding.

God had assured Jeremiah that all he had to do was call out to God and God would answer. I'm reminded of these following verses...

Psalm 145:18, The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Isaiah 58:9, Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say; Here am I.
Matthew 7:7, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

I know that so often in my life I try to handle so many things on my own. Then when I realize that I'm in over my head, I will suddenly run to God in prayer and beg forgiveness and ask him to fix the mess I've created. Why is it that I wait till I've messed up to realize that I need God? Jeremiah 33:3 reminds me that my God is an all knowing God. He knows the future of my life, He knows all that is going to happen to me and He knows all things that have happened to me in the past. He knows what pressures I'm feeling and what my weaknesses are. He knows of all my successes and my failures. He knows everything about me! If I would just simply call out to God for help, call out to Him for answers to questions and concerns that I have, His promise is that He will answer me. And not only answer me... He will reveal great and unsearchable things that I do not know. His promise is... wisdom and understanding!

You see, God is ready to answer our prayers but He is waiting on us to ask! Of course He can take care of our needs without us asking, but when we ask, we are acknowledging that we need Him. We are saying to God that we need His guidance and assistance. We realize that He and He alone is God and that we cannot accomplish in our own strength all that is His to do. When we ask, we humble ourselves, we lay aside our willfulness and our worry, and we determine to obey Him.

The opposite of Humility is Pride. Pride is such a stumbling block for most of us as Christians. If we would simply realize that life would be so much better for us if we would humble ourselves and seek the Lords direction and guidance in our life. To always admit that we are weak and don't have all the answers, but we know that God does and that he alone will give us the answers that are true and accurate. Obedience is the key to being a good and faithful servant. If we hesitate for one minute in our obedience, then that is disobedience. Oh how I want the Holy Spirit within me to strengthen me so that I will know His leading and respond obediently to His leading in my life.

I guess the most important thing to remember is this... You will never know what it is that God has planned for you during the course of your life, if you don't ever ask! You'll always be stumbling around wondering why things are the way they are. Ask God what you may, and He will tell you great and unsearchable things that you don't know.
Isn't it wonderful to have a relationship with a Lord that knows all things and is willing to share them with us if we would just simply ask for His help?

At Christmas time my children will ask for specific gifts that they would like to get for Christmas. As their Father I will usually go out and try and find the gifts they asked for rather that what I would have probably gotten them if they had not asked. Why would I do this? Because it gives me great joy to give them what they want, and since they asked me, it pleases me to come through for them. How much more does it please God when we ask of Him?

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you so much for always being there for me. May I always remember to call on you first for understanding, rather than doing things in my own strength and abilities. Thank You for helping me when I ask for it and thank You for loving me so much that even when I don't ask for help, You are there with me anyway. You never leave me or forsake me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Anger blinds you from God's compassion

Passage of Scripture: Jonah 4:1-4

(1) But Jonah, was greatly displeased and became angry. (2) He prayed to the Lord, "O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (3) Now, O Lord, take my life, for it is better for me to die than to live." (4) But the Lord replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

I am amazed at the lessons we can learn from these experiences of Jonah's. As I read the book of Jonah I see only one time in the whole book where Jonah is happy, only one recorded time. Jonah 4:6 says that God had provided a vine to shade Jonahs head from the hot sun and that this made Jonah very happy. But other than this moment, we don't find Jonah happy about anything that God does.

Jonah is a prophet that God uses to preach to the city of Nineveh, but the problem is that Jonah hates the people of Nineveh. These people are his enemy and he refuses to obey God's command to go and preach a message of repentance to this great city that has over 120,000 people living in it. Rather than go to Nineveh, he flees, he runs away. Well because of his disobedience to what God wants him to do, he eventually finds himself on a ship and he gets thrown overboard and God has a big fish swallow Jonah whole. Jonah spend three days inside the belly of this whale and finally offers up a prayer to God to save him. The fish then vomits up Jonah on the beach and the word of the Lord comes to Jonah a second time. This time Jonah decides he better go and he heads to the city of Nineveh. When he gets to Nineveh he travel about a day into the city and he preaches a half hearted sermon. Actually he only said one sentence.

Jonah 3:4 say this.. "Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed."

Well after the people of this city hear God's word from Jonah, they immediately repent! The whole city starts to turn from their evil ways and believing the message that God will destroy their city in 40 days, they turn to God for forgiveness. Jonah 4:10 says, When God saw what they did and how they turned from their wicked ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon then the destruction he had threatened. This brings us to our passage of scripture for today, (4:1-4).

Have you ever felt anger towards God? Jonah wanted justice! He hated these people and he was disgusted by the fact that God had even sent him there to preach. He knew deep down that God would forgive them if they repented, but he wanted them to die. He wanted God to pour out his wrath on this city and it's people. Jonah is so upset that things are not going the way he wants them to, he feels he would be better off dead.

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe not to the point that you wanted to die, but you are angry at God because things are not going like you think they should. Maybe life just seems to unfair. We need to ask ourselves a question. The same question that God ask of Jonah in verse 4 of chapter 4. "But the Lord replied, Have you any right to be angry?" God shows compassion on a city with more than 120,000 people and he saves them from destruction all because they turned towards him and repented of their sins. Jonah was so self centered that he couldn't see God working all around him. Did Jonah thank God for delivering him from the belly of the fish? No. Was Jonah appreciative of the fact that God had just saved a city of 120,000 people from death and destruction? No. And later in the Chapter God provides a vine to grow overnight and shade his head from the hot scorching sun (the only time we see Jonah happy) do we see Jonah offer up thanksgiving for this shade? No.

I know in my life if I focus my attention on myself, I fail to see Jesus. Self-centered people will always fail to see God at work, because they are blinded by their own set of circumstances, and they can't see past them. This book of Jonah ends rather abruptly. Jonah 4:11 says this.. Should I not be concerned about that great city? We have to assume that Jonah just never really gets it. The Lord in his great patience uses this insubordinate preacher, and shows all kinds of compassion to him, but Jonah's life is bitter and full of anger and hate, because he just doesn't think it's fair. Those people just don't deserve to live!

Jonah doesn't see the blessings. I hope we all can learn from this. You know we didn't get what we deserve either, when God saved us through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. Praise God, that He's compassionate and forgiving!

Prayer: God, allow me to focus on you, not my circumstances. Take away my anger. Help me to see Your love and compassion and be thankful you're in control. Amen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

In God We Trust

Passage of Scripture: Psalm 22: 4-4

(4) Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. (5) They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

Take hold of a coin, any US coin and read what it says on one side of the coin. You most likely found the words... "United States of America", "Liberty", and "In God We Trust." Now look at any US bill of any denomination and read what it says... "The United States of America", and "In God We Trust."

Today's date is 12/25/2006. Why is this important? Because there may be a day when these words may no longer be on our US currency. I know that's a bold statement and of course it's just my opinion. But I say this because our country is no longer trusting in God to be delivered. We've become a nation that went from founding forefathers trusting in God to survive and not being ashamed to proclaim their trust in God, to now days we want to do all we can to take God out of everything we do. We no longer want the pledge of allegiance to say the words, "One nation under God." We have successfully taken prayer out of our schools. We use words that are politically correct because we don't want to offend anyone. So we say things like... "Pray to your God" (whatever that may be), we say all religions are OK. I mean after all who are we to tell people how to live?
Hogwash! Oh how I wish we were like the generations past that understood and were not ashamed to say they trusted in God to provide for our nation. They believed in God's Word (the bible) and when they read the scriptures, such as Psalm 22: 4-5, they could relate to people crying out to God for deliverance. When they read 1st and 2nd Kings in the bible, they saw that the success of the Nations and Kingdoms greatly depended upon the relationship that the leader had with God. Also, as the leader went, so did the people. If the leader repented and turned to God, then the people were blessed and delivered from destruction. Our forefathers knew that when a King would turn from God and go back to their old selfish and sinful ways, so did the people and their country. And God's wrath was always just around the corner.
I believe this great country of ours was founded by Godly men seeking to put all their trust in following God. They were obedient to God and realized they needed God. This country was blessed in so many ways and overtime through God's blessing, we have become a great and powerful nation. But, I'm sad to say we are at risk. We're floundering. We are no longer seeking biblical morals and values as a nation. We've learned to turn our eyes from the sin that is destroying our country and we are saying to our children and future generations that we don't need God anymore! We have become like the church of Laodicea mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 3:15-17,19. (15) I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! (16) So, because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (17) You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (19) Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
It breaks my heart to imagine that our actions as a nation could make such a bad taste in the mouth of God that he would want to spit us out, make him vomit!
There is good news for our nation... God promises to rebuke and discipline us because he loves us. So when we go through trials that bring us as a nation to our knees in prayer and pleading for forgiveness...we need to be thankful! God might just be rebuking us, because he loves us enough to work on changing our behavior. I thank God that he is a patient God. In the book of Jonah we can see that God was going to destroy the city of Nineveh because of their evil ways. Jonah was told by God to go and tell the city that he was going to destroy them. God had had enough!
As we read further in Jonah 3:6-10, we see that when the news reached the King of Nineveh he issues a proclamation in Nineveh: asking everyone to call urgently on God. He says let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.
Jonah 3:4, But this great city, after hearing from Jonah, repented and turned from their evil ways and looked to God for forgiveness.
We can see in Verse 10 of Jonah that God did have compassion on them because they repented and he spared the great city and the people in it. I just can't help but see similarities with the great city of Nineveh and our great nation, the United States of America. Our country needs leaders who are willing to stand up strong in their faith, such as this King of Nineveh did, and proclaim that as a nation we need to repent and turn from our evil ways. Maybe, just maybe, God will have compassion on us and not allow us to perish.
Prayer: Dear God, please let us as a nation have the courage and wisdom to declare You once again our Lord. May we never forget to believe and place our trust in You. "In God We Trust." Amen

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sharper Vision Increases Understanding

Passage of Scripture: Mark 4:21-25
(21) He said to them, "Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don't you put it on it's stand? (22) For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out in the open. (23) If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." (24) "Consider carefully what you hear," he continued. "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you-- and even more. (25) Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
What does a light do? It helps us to see clearly things that are usually hidden by darkness. Things that are concealed now become apparent to us, we see them when we couldn't before there was light. If a lamp doesn't help people to see, it's really useless isn't it? The question we need to be asking ourselves is this. Does my life show other people how to find God and how to live for Him? When people look at the way I live my life, when they see my actions and watch my behavior, do they see Jesus? Do I light the way to Jesus? If someone followed me would they find Jesus where I take them? Am I a light for those lost in dark world?
If not, we need to ask what "baskets" or "bowls" have extinguished our light? Maybe we have become complacent, maybe it's resentment, maybe our heart is filled with stubbornness. Disobedience can keep God's light from shining though us to others. Verse 23 tells us that it is wise for us to pay attention to what is being said here. Jesus is telling us to listen carefully to what he is saying in these following verses. Verse 24 tells us to consider carefully what we hear. This means to meditate on it, to think about it, and to understand and absorb the message.
The light of Jesus truth is revealed to us, not hidden. But we may not be able to see or use all that truth right now. We're told in verse 24 "that the measure you use, it will be measured to you-- and even more." What does this mean for us? It means that as we put God's teaching into practice we will be able to understand and see more truth. If you want to experience all that God wants for you then you have to be obedient and practice what scripture says. As we do this then more and more and even more truth and understanding of that truth become more evident. Just like the way a light in a dark room illuminates it's contents, so does the light of Jesus truth. We need to remember that the truth is always clear, but our ability to comprehend or fully understand is imperfect. as we obey, we sharpen our vision and increase our understanding.
James 1:22-25 says this... (22) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (23) Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror (24) and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (25) But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-- he will be blessed in what he does.
If we would simply look intently, searching for truth from God's word and then remembering what we have learned, remembering what the holy Spirit within us had revealed to us as we read, then act upon it, do what it says, we will be blessed in all we do. That's the promise God gives us!
Back to mark 4:25, "Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." This verse simply means that we are responsible and accountable to use well what we have been given. How much we have is not nearly as important as what we do with it. You see, God has revealed Himself to us and we acknowledge that we need His forgiveness and His salvation. Then His Spirit reveals truths to us as we study His word and do what it says. The more we do this the more He uses us and the more we understand and comprehend. Do you want to know Jesus more? Then read His word and do His will. Use what God has given you and He will give you more (verse 24).
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I know that as I walk with You and I study Your word, you reveal more and more truth to me. me prayer is that I will do Your will with what You have given me and may I understand Your truths through my obedience. Amen

Forget about It

Passage of Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14

(12) Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (13) Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul is such a great example for all of us to follow. His goal of course was to know Christ. Paul wanted to be all that God wanted him to be. This goal of his absorbed all of Paul's energy. Paul of course admits that he has not yet taken hold of the perfected life that God has planned for him, but this is his hearts desire. This doesn't mean he expects to be flawless in every detail, but that he wants to be mature or complete. Christians that are mature should press on in the Holy Spirit's power, knowing that Christ will reveal any area of your life that is not what it should be.

Paul learned a long time ago that the only way to move forward was to forget the past. I'm reminded of Paul's past. Acts 7:57-60 tells us that Saul (later named Paul) was right there when they stoned Stephen and verse 60 tells us that Saul was there giving approval of his death. You see Paul had good reason to want to forget what was behind him. I can think of many things that I have done over the years, even the last few weeks or days that I wish I could take back. Regrets of how I've lived my life and the things I've said and done. But Paul did one thing that we all need to do. He put his past behind him. It doesn't just say he put it behind him, it says he forgets about it! Why do we keep bringing up the past? The reason we do is because Satan wants us to remember it. Because if we remember our past we will be blinded from the truth that our past has been forgotten. All the sins we've ever committed or are ever going to commit, Jesus has already paid the debt for these sins and He promises to forgive and forget our sin. So if Satan can keep us remembering what Jesus forgets, we will not be effective for God's Kingdom as we can be. Paul's says he strains toward what is ahead. This sounds to me like it isn't always easy. It's a strain, a stretch, it's a goal that has to be reached for and always striving for. He keeps pressing on. We need to keep on keeping on, looking forward to a fuller and more meaningful life in Christ.

What is your regret? What have you done that you can't seem to forgive yourself for? I want to encourage you to let it go. Forget it! The only one that wants you to remember is Satan. It certainly isn't Jesus. Jesus would rather you focus on the life he has planned for your future. Looking forward is the only way of life with Jesus. The good news that Paul is telling us is that while we are still here on this earth, we can look toward heaven. God has called us to be with Him in heaven. We all know that Jesus is preparing an eternal home for us right now in heaven. But in the meantime we have the opportunity of a lifetime! We get to tell others about Jesus and His saving power. If we are obedient to this heavenly calling we can be used mightily by God to help build His kingdom. Our eternal home is secure, and eternity doesn't start for us on the day we die, it started for us on the day we gave our lives to Jesus, the day we acknowledged that we need Jesus to forgive us of our sins and save us from an eternal separation from God and His love.

Forget your past! Get rid of your guilt! Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life and regrets about your past is not part of His plan. Grow in maturity with Christ. Study His word and pray that you will follow His will. Look forward, not back! Imagine driving your car forward while only looking in the rear view mirror. I bet you'd crash in a hurry. It's no different trying to live your life for Christ but always looking back at how you used to be. Satan wants you to take your eyes off the heavenly road that God has planned for you. Press on. Focus on the goal that God has called you.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly father, thank you for this man Paul. He was dead set against you Jesus, but You woke him up with your love for him and your plan for him. Even with a past like Paul's, You used him mightily. Please use me in spite of my past! Help me to forget about it like You have. Amen.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One Step at a Time

Passage of Scripture: Psalm 119:105

(105) "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

Have you ever wondered what God has planned for your life? Sometimes I think it would be wonderful if only I knew what God had planned for me during the course of my life. But God in His wisdom knows that if He revealed His great plan for my life, I in my spiritual maturity (or lack of) probably would not want to go where God has planned. If God showed me His plan for my life I might find myself saying things like... "God you have the wrong man." Or maybe, "God you know that's not my personality." Or maybe I'd say, "Lord, I'm just not willing to make that kind of sacrifice right now."
I've learned that God doesn't show us the whole road map of our lives, He only reveals the next turn or bend in the road. If we will simply ask God to reveal His will, to reveal what it is that He wants us to do, He will give us the guidance and direction we need.

Psalm 37:23,24 helps us to understand how God helps us to see His way and how He holds us up as we walk with Him daily.

(23) The Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; (24) though he stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Recently my wife had surgery on her neck. She was admitted to the hospital in the morning then released later that afternoon upon completion and recovery from the surgery. Even though it was time to go home, she was still extremely weak. She was very sore and also very groggy from the affects of the anesthesia. As I walked her to the car I held onto her firmly and kept her close. I guided her along as she walked and even told her where to step because I didn't want her to fall in her moment of weakness. This is the same picture that we need to understand we have with Christ. God promises to never let us go. If we truly want to do God's will he will be there holding us close to His side, assisting us and holding us up as we walk with Him. I find it very interesting that the verse doesn't say, "If we stumble," but rather, "When we stumble." It's going to happen in our life! We're going to stumble and trip over the challenges of our life, but the promise from God is that you are not alone, and better yet, He is your support. Just like there was no way I was going to let my wife fall as we walked to the car, so it is with Christ in our life. We may struggle, but we will never fall from His grasp.

We need to let God be the one to direct our next step or as scripture says, "Makes our steps firm." God also promises that His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. In ancient bible days the traveler that walked at night would carry with him an oil lamp. He'd swing this oil lamp in front of him as he walked and the lamp would light his feet and the path in front of him just enough to see the next step. This lamp gave off just enough light to see the rocks, ruts, and other dangers in the road so they could be avoided as he walked.
So many of us Christians want to see farther than the next step. We want God to illuminate the "Big Picture" so we can see what's coming. But God wants us to trust Him. God know the whole plan, but He wants you to see the next step, and He reveals His plan one step at a time. As we grow and mature we are shaped and prepared by God to handle and do more for His Kingdom.
Imagine for a minute that you are driving your car at night and you have your headlights on. Do your headlights light up the road for miles and miles ahead? No, they only light up the next turn. We're not really concerned with the road 10-15 miles away are we? The immediate concern is for what's right in front of us, the next step. Image if you stopped the car in the middle of the road, left your lights on and got out of the car. You run ahead of the parked car as far as you can. Eventually you will run past the distance that the headlights shine and light up the road. Where are you now? Well you're in the dark! This is what happens to us as Christians when we get ahead or fail to see the next step that God has planned for us.

So, how do we know where to step next? His Word! Psalm 119:105 is the key. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Are you in God's will right now? Do you know that God is establishing your next step and are you obedient to go His way, rather than yours? If you're not sure, then the answer is found in His word (the bible). Read it, meditate on it. How can we even expect to know God's next step for us if we don't ask what it is? Read His word and then ask God where to step next. After all, it's His plan. Put your trust in the One that knows the way. Jesus!

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, please keep me in Your will. Give me the time and the discipline I need to study Your word daily so I can walk and take the next step of Your plan for me. Amen.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shine His Light

Passage of Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16

(14) You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

This passage of scripture speaks to me in many ways. It reminds me of my responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to control my life in such a way that all those around me see the light of Jesus Christ in the way I live my life.

My behavior, my speech, my thoughts and actions should all bring glory and honor to God. God chooses to reach the lost through His children. He puts the love of Christ in our hearts and minds through the indwelling Spirit He gives us when we turn our lives over to the control of Christ. When this happens we glow from this Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit shines out of each of us. Just like a city on the top of a hill, at night you can see the glow from the lights inside that city for miles and miles. We too should be the same way. In verse 16 it says LET your light so shine. This tells me that the choice whether to shine or not is ours. The Holy Spirit wants to shine through us, but unless we choose to obey the Spirit, and not the old nature still within us, the Spirit within us will be squelched.

It's silly to light a lamp and put it under a basket isn't it? But many of us Christians do that every day of our lives. Christ Spirit within us is wanting to reach people, to touch people, and love people, but we have the love of Christ buried deep under a basket, instead of out in the open where it can lead people to see clearly the way to the Lord.
When I walk into a dark room, I'm very cautious. I walk very slowly and carefully as not to stumble and fall. As I desperately try to see my way, I'm troubled with the fact that I'm lost or so at least to some degree blind to what's ahead of me. Then when I turn on the light, I immediately relax. I can move freely about the room without fear of stumbling and getting hurt. I'm confident to walk around and I feel safe!

This is the exact same way we feel with the light of Jesus in our lives. We feel confident, we feel safe, we can see clearly, we are free (forever) eternal life sets us free! But the shame of it all is that even though we are free, do we really live as free men? Do we walk with confidence, or fear every day? Are we displaying the freedom that only Christ can give us from the bondage of sin, or do we choose not to let the light shine from us?
The good news! If you have Christ in your life and you do choose to let the light of Jesus shine through you to others, verse 16 tells us that those that see your works (works of the Spirit) will also glorify your Father in heaven. The only way for anyone to glorify God is to know Him and obey Him. So this verse essentially tells us that those in your house (your family, or anyone for that matter) that are lost, can come to know Christ and be saved, because they see the light of Jesus (His Spirit) in the way you live your life. They see Jesus in you!

Final thoughts... are you letting the light of Jesus shine through you while you are at work, with the kids, with your parents or while at school? Remember, Jesus is waiting to reach the lost through you. Are you helping to build God's kingdom? Make a choice to do so today.

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for the times that I do not allow the Spirit within me to control my life. Help me to be sensitive to Your leading. May you use me to be a light in this dark world. May you use me in a way that will light the way to a relationship with You. Please Lord, always remind me of this responsibility for which You have given me, and may I be a good steward of the Spirit You have given me. Thank You for using me in the past and for what You are going to do through me in the future. May You get all the glory and honor, and may my life be a blessing to others. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Revival Fire

This is one of my first writings. I wrote this April 12th, 2000. Since this time I have written several devotionsthat I plan to post as time permits. I enjoy writing and sharing, but most of all I enjoy seeing God at work. When I write or journal I can see where I used to be and where God has taken me. Sadly though, I have to say it hasn't always been forward progress. I guess like most all people, life gets me down sometimes and I lose focus. I guess that's what this message is all about.... How do we get revived again? How do we stay connected?

Revival Fire
I recently experienced a revival like none other at my church this last February. We had as a guest at our church Dr. Harold Hunter. He preached four nights of revival and I experienced a revival of the Holy Spirit within me and our church during these four nights. During this week I was praying that God would use me. I didn't care how I just prayed that I would be willing and obedient to His will. God had revealed to me many sins in my life that I needed to repent from, and during an alter call I went forward and knelt and prayed asking for forgiveness and I left those sins there at the alter that night during revival.

The next day after Revival, I received a call from a friend of mine while I was at work. He asked me if I could preach at a men's breakfast at his church this coming Saturday. I only had to think about it for a second, then I immediately said, "Sure, I'd be glad to." After hanging up the phone I was amazed at how quickly God had gone to work at answering my prayer from last nights revival! After all, I had asked God to use me, and that I would be obedient. I imagine that my friend had no idea he was being used by God to fulfill a prayer of mine when he asked me to speak at his men's breakfast.

Now the time came to sit down and ask God what it is that He wants me to tell these men. What is the message God has for them? As I prayed and looked over the scriptures God revealed to me that if I was going to share with these men, I would have to share what God has been doing in my life. To share how God has touched me during this week of revival and some of the experiences I have had because of my intimate relationship with Jesus. I began to think back over the week and all the emotions, frustrations, and convictions that I had felt during those four days of revival and it became clear to me. A way to describe what revival is like so that everyone can relate to the experience that I had. So I titled it Revival Fire.

I want you to picture a camp fire. Imagine how it looks as it's burning. Can you see the flames reaching for the sky? Can you see the hot bed of coals under the pile of wood. You can see the flames wrap themselves around the shape of the logs and flicker and jump up towards the sky. Now I want you to think back to the day that you asked Jesus into your heart. Remember the day you got Saved! What a wonderful experience that was. You were on fire for the Lord, just like the fire I just described. Burning with passion for Christ, telling anyone that would listen about your experience with Jesus. You have a strong desire to drink in more of God's word. You hunger or thirst for more knowledge of Christ. You know in your heart that you are a different person. As the bible says, you are a new creation! The Holy Spirit has moved into your heart and you can feel the change. You know your life is going to be different from this day forward and you have a peace and joy that you really just can't explain, except that you have Jesus in your heart. You are on fire for Christ!

As days go by though you start to realize that although you have been saved and the Holy Spirit now lives in your heart, you find yourself still doing some of the sinful things you used to do before you accepted Jesus as your Lord. You're confused and deeply convicted. Why is this happening? You start to doubt yourself. Was I really saved? Was I just caught up in the emotion of it all? If I was really saved I wouldn't be having these thoughts, I wouldn't be doing these things. I should be brand new, yet I do all the old things I've always done. Well you need to realize what's happening here. The day you became saved the Holy Spirit moved into your heart, but also the old you... your old nature never moved out. Now you have a choice to make every minute of every day. Which Master will I serve? The Holy Spirit within me or the flesh (old nature) within me? Yes, it's a daily choice. The good news is that as long as your fire (Holy Spirit) is burning within you it's easy to allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through you. What is happening now though is you are seeing your fire going out. You are not as on fire as you were the day you got saved and you see now only a bed of coals and a smoldering log on the camp fire now.

Good news here! Even if your fire goes out and all that's left is a few flickering coals, you need to know that those coals will never go out... never! Those coals represent the Holy Spirit within you. You may squelch the Spirit but it never leaves you. Once you give your heart and life to Jesus, He promises that nothing can snatch you away from Him. You belong to Him for eternity. Once saved... always saved.

Now let's look at how we build this fire again. As you know a few coals can start a huge fire, but it takes a little work. As you start to blow on those goals, what happens? The coals glow brighter, the smoldering log starts to put off more and more smoke. Maybe you stoke those coals and they glow even brighter, get even hotter! Now the log is putting off a lot of smoke. Let me describe what is happening here.
If your fire has gone out within you, well as you study God's word, as you go to Worship, as you go to Sunday school and learn more about God's word, and as you begin to pray more and more you start to see the Holy Spirit revive within you again. Do you notice all the smoke? This smoke represents the things you do to try and hide, pretend or fake. As Christians, sometimes when we go through these times when our fire is out, we don't want others to know. So we pretend or fake that we are still on fire for Christ as we were days ago. But really we're miserable. I call it "blowing smoke" because that's exactly what we're doing. We're pretending to be someone we're not. You still have sins in your life, yet you're getting closer to God, so you try to hide the sin from others. But Jesus knows the truth, we can't hide or fake anything from Him.
Now as you continue to pray, meditate or study God's word, Worship, fellowship with other believers, serve in the church, you are actually putting wood on the fire! All these things you are doing is drawing you closer and closer to God and as you get closer and closer to god you begin to heat up. The coals get even brighter, even hotter. Then what happens?
Suddenly the wood BURST into flames! Wow! It's instant and immediate. Another thing happens... there is no more smoke! the smoke is gone, your eyes no longer burn, you can breathe freely. Another thing happens... there is light! Suddenly you can see clearly all around you, the light even lights the way for others to see. Another thing happens... there is incredible warmth and heat that is so comforting. Another thing happens... people are drawn to the fire. They want to be near it and feel the warmth and see the light. One more thing happens... as people sit and watch the fire have you ever noticed the peace and serenity on their faces. They can watch the fire and soak up the warmth and security of it. There is contentment on their faces that you rarely see anywhere else.
You see as log as the fire is burning all these things are happening. But as soon as the fire goes out you can't see clearly anymore. You start to feel the chill in the air. You again begin to choke on the smoke and your eyes begin to burn. People leave. They are no longer attracted. And so goes the life of another backsliden Christian. So what can we learn from this?

It takes work to keep the fire going doesn't it? If we don't keep putting wood on the fire it will go out! Prayer and time alone with God is like stoking the coals of your Spirit. Serving in your church and doing your daily bible study or quiet times alone with God is like cutting the wood you need for the fire. You have to cut it, haul it, stack it, and split it before you can ever build a fire with it. as you Worship and give praise and honor to your Lord this is the same as piling the wood onto the coals.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit within you burst into flames! You Worship freely! You don't care who is watching. You no longer have to pretend! You are as intimate with God at this point as you have ever been and you are truly experiencing God! The fire within you is burning clean and pure. You are REVIVED! God is alive in you and now you become a source of light to others, a source of comfort to others. God is working through you to touch the lives of others. God gets the glory and you get the blessings for allowing Him to use you for His glory.

Remember only the fire can go out... the coal are always there, but the fire will never go out as long as you feed it fuel. As soon as you stop feeding the fire fuel, the fire begins to dwindle. Stay focused on Christ! Do your daily bible readings and quiet times, pray continuously and get to know God. Worship and praise the Lord of your life and thank Him for all the blessings you have been given. serve in your church, use the spiritual gifts that God has given you to bring Him glory and honor. Fellowship with other believers. If you do these things the fire of the Holy Spirit will burn within you and God will use you in a powerful and mighty way.

To revive means to bring back something that once was. STAY ON FIRE!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Path to Salvation

If you were to die today do you know for certain that you would go to heaven?


So many people misunderstand how they can have eternal life. Some believe they can just be nice, be good, and God will allow them into heaven when they die because they were good people. Some think because God is love, and He created us, then He surely wouldn't let those He loves and created to go to a place called Hell. We might think that maybe those people that do evil things should be the ones that God sends to Hell, but not me... I'm a good kindhearted person. I've never been in trouble, and the good I do certainly outweighs the bad I do, so I really believe that God will let me in. Well it sounds good and all.... but if you think this way, you have not read what God says in His word, the Bible. He says in the bible that the way to heaven is a narrow road, and there is only one way to enter His Kingdom. Lets look at what God says.

Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We must understand and realize that we are separated from God because of our sin. So how did we get in this state of sin? Why are we born separated from God? What caused this to happen?
Well it all began back in the book of Genesis, chapter 2 and 3 of your bible. You can read about how God created Adam and Eve and how He gave them everything they ever needed in the garden of Eden. He allowed them complete freedom in the garden to eat from any tree in the garden except for one tree. They were given one rule to obey. They were not allowed to eat the fruit from the tree of the "knowledge of good and evil." Well the serpent (Satan, Devil) tricked Eve into eating the fruit from this tree and then she gave some to Adam and he ate as well. Enter the presence of SIN. God was very disappointed with them both because of their disobedience and he cursed mankind from this day forward because of their sin. God banished them from the garden of Eden and after sending them out God stationed a mighty angel (cherubim) to guard the garden. God then placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to another tree in this garden called the "tree of life." Genesis 3:22 tells us that whoever eats from the tree of life lives forever. Because of Adam and Eve's sin the tree of life is now protected. No one may eat from this tree unless God allows it to happen. So now we have a problem. All of mankind started from Adam and Eve's offspring, so when we were born, we were born as sinners and we all fall short of God's glory. There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor. We are all sinners! At this point the future just doesn't look to good for us, does it? Well I have Good News......

Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord."
When we think of wages we think of payment, don't we? Well that's exactly what this verse is telling us. Our payment for our sin is death. The death mentioned here is one of eternal separation from the love of God. And the destination of this death is a place called Hell. Basically this is our wage or payment for our sin. BUT, God in His mercy and grace has offered us a free gift. The gift of salvation. It's an eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In other words we deserve death (Hell) but He offers us eternal life (Heaven) through Christ Jesus if we make Him our Lord.
Have you ever been given a gift? The gift is free. You didn't earn it. It's not to be paid back in any way. It was simply given to you out of someones love for you. It's the same with God's gift of eternal life. We can't earn it. we certainly don't deserve it. But because God loves us so much and wants to spend eternity with us, He offers us this gift of salvation.

Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Can you believe that God loves us so much that He allowed His Son Jesus Christ to die for us? Even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

John 3:16 says it best... "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
So now we realize that we are all sinners. we understand and we know that because of this sin we are separated from our Holy God. we understand that we deserve death, but that God has offered us the gift of eternal life. And finally we understand that if we believe that Jesus died for us, we will not perish but will have eternal life with Jesus in heaven. So now what? How can I know for sure that I have been saved. How can I know for certain that I've received this free gift of eternal life?

Romans 10:9, "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."

Romans 10:10, For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Romans 10:13, For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

When we acknowledge our sin, and realize that God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sin. (that penalty was death) The bible says that if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over sins death, then we too can be saved from this death that separates us from God. Jesus paid the price for you and me! We deserve this death, but Jesus took our place and rose to give us eternal life in Him.
This realization of what God did for us causes us to repent. To repent simply means to turn away from the life we used to live and to begin living a new life for Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us to do this. When we give our heart to Jesus and accept God's free gift of eternal life, it's at this moment that God sends us His Spirit to live within us. Listen to these words of Jesus....

John 14:26-27, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you: my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. (meaning temporary) Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
These words spoken by Jesus give us great comfort in knowing that His Spirit is with us, teaching us, and giving us peace so we don't have to be afraid anymore. After all, we belong to Christ. There is nothing that can separate us from God's love once we have given our lives to Him and accepted His gift of eternal life. Paul writes in the book of Romans....

Romans 8:35, "Can anything ever separate us from Christ love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?"

Romans 8:37-39, "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (38) "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love." (39) "No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

These are the words of Jesus... John 10:28, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me."
So you see, once we give our heart and life to Jesus, we belong to him for eternity. No one, nothing, can snatch us away from Him.

Do you remember me telling you about the tree of life that was in the garden of Eden, and that this tree is protected so that no one can eat from it because if they did, they would live forever? Well in the book of Revelation this tree is mentioned again. The bible tells us that there is a way to eat the fruit from this tree.

Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will be permitted to enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life."
To wash our robes simply means to be born again, to be cleansed, to be made righteous. The only way for this to happen of course is to give our heart to Jesus and accept His free gift of eternal life. You see, God loves us so much that He has provided a way for us to live eternally with Him even though we are sinners. God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price for our sinfulness. All that is required of us is to simply believe and confess Jesus as our Lord.
Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Do you believe that what you have heard here today is truth? If God's Spirit has convicted you of your sin and convinced you of His truth, then you have a decision to make. Take the free gift that God is offering you today and secure your life to be spent with Him forever! Are you ready to accept this gift of salvation? If so, then pray these words with all your heart....

"Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin, and I believe that You rose from the dead to give me eternal life. I ask that you forgive me of my sin and help me to live my life for You. Thank you for saving me. Amen.

If you said that prayer and believed with all your heart what you said, then you have been saved. You've been saved from an eternal life in Hell. God's Spirit now lives inside of you. The Holy Spirit will be with you always to teach you, to guide you, and to help you understand God's truths as you grow in your faith each day. So, how do we grow to be mature Christians rather than remaining as infants in Christ?

  1. Attend a bible believing, Jesus preaching Church. Attend Sunday school and fellowship with other believers in Christ so you can see what God has taught them as they have grown.

  2. You'll want to be Baptized. This is an early act of obedience. Jesus tells us to be Baptized. This is your way of publicly telling others that you belong to Christ. It's symbolic of death to our old life and risen in new life with Jesus as we come out of the water.

  3. Read God's Word. The bible is your source of truth. God will speak to you through His word. The Holy Spirit within you will reveal understanding of His word as you read.

  4. Pray. This is how we become intimate with Jesus. We talk to Him and we tell Him our fears and troubles and He comforts us. He speaks to us through our minds and we feel His presence in our lives as we pray. This is how we communicate with God.

  5. Last but not least.... Just because we give our life to Jesus, doesn't mean we won't struggle with sin in a different way. Our old nature is still within us and the bible teaches us that our new nature (our new Spirit) and our old nature will battle for control until we go to be with Jesus in heaven. So it's going to be a daily decision of obedience.

When you fail...and you will. Just know that God loves you and you need to repent and turn back to Him and He will forgive you and guide you back to living for Him. Remember, nothing can snatch you away from His hand. You belong to Christ and you have eternal life! Stay focused on Christ Jesus and He will make your path straight. May God's blessing be upon you as you walk with Him.

In Christ love, your brother in Christ.... Steve