Tag Archives: Gods Love

What is faith?

What is Faith? 

The text book answer is found in Hebrews chapter 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen 

   It’s paraphrased that Faith is an empty hand full of what you hope for. Beyond the text book or the paraphrase lies the personal interpretation – what “faith” means to you! I could have easily titled this post “What do You believe?” Or, “Who is Jesus to you?” First lets consider Who Jesus was to some people He encountered.

   In Matthew chapter 5 we hear the story of a lady with an issue of blood for 12 years. It’s been speculated as to what her ailment was but whatever it was, the Law of Moses prevented her from coming in contact with others. Knowing this she entered the city and made her way threw the crowd to Jesus because she believe that touching the hem of His coat would heal her. She touched Him and was made whole that very moment. In the same chapter we find a man named Jairus whose daughter was home in bed sick. Jairus believed that if Jesus came home with him and laid His hands on her she would recover. Jesus agreed to go with Jairus but as soon as they turned to go word came that the girl had died. Jesus calmed the distraught father by telling him to “only believe.” Once Jesus arrived at Jairus’s home He raised the child from the dead. Lastly, for now, the well known story of the Centurian who came to Jesus on behalf of an ill servant. He recognized the authority of Jesus and believed that Jesus need only say the word and the servant would be healed. Jesus healed the servant and commended the Centurion for his great faith.

   Three examples of who Jesus was to three different people. There are many more. Jesus met them where they were in their faith. He will meet you where you are as well. 

   So, I ask you all again. Who is Jesus to you? Is He your Savior? The God Who became man to die for your sins? Is that all? Perhaps He is also your Lord? Your Lord Whom you obey in humility and reverence? What else? Is He your friend? Your confidante? Aside from being your Savior and Lord just what is Jesus to you. When we look into His face by reading His Word we see a loving, generous, compassionate and patient Savior, Lord and Friend. He is our High Priest Who defends us. He is Healer and our Provider. He is preparing a place for us in Heaven. He will return to take us with Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort and instruct us. He will never leave of or forsake us. He is our all-in-all.

   If all of that sounds too rhetorical or vague consider the lovely story Corrie Ten Boom told of two ladies who were friends. They were long time friends and enjoyed spending time together especially on birthdays. Now the one friend had a lovely vase that the other always admired. On the occasion of the seconds birthday the one came with a wonderfully decorated box. When the friend opened the box there inside was the vase she so greatly admired. With tears in her eyes she held it in her arms and thanked her friend for it. She then looked down to see the box and ribbons and bows and asked – “May I keep the package and wrapping also?”

Sounds strange right? After all the gift was the vase. The lovely, coveted vase. Why keep the packaging? 

   Jesus told us that He came to give us life and to give it more abundantly. Yes He died for our sins and certainly He should be our Lord – this is the vase. But the easily overlooked gifts He gave, like the brightly colored wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, are the freedom that comes from knowing the truth found in His Word; walking in the confidence that we are children of the King, sons of God; living a life more abundantly then the life we had while walking in darkness before he saved us. 

   Ask yourself what faith is or what you believe or even who Jesus is to you and if your not sure how to answer any of those questions – read, search, pray or ask, seek, knock and the Lord Jesus will show you Who He wishes to be to you. He stands at the door and knocks. 

   As a side note; In the story of the woman with the issue of blood we hear Jesus ask “who touched me?” The disciples were dumbfounded at His question because the crowd was pressed in close with many people reaching out and touching Him! But she touched Him in faith and “the virtue has gone out of Him.” She touched Him and drew on His power. 

We can too and should.  Be Blessed Al

Ps. I admire Corrie Ten Boom and wish no disrespect by the retelling of her story. I am sure that I did not do it justice. If you are an avide reader perhaps you should consider her books or searching the internet for her videos. She was a wonderful woman of God with many great lessons. A

What are you feeding?

Have you ever had a garden? Whether it was a flower bed or a vegetable garden you probably learned very quickly that if you neglected to water or feed it things died. Conversely, if you diligently took the time each day to weed and feed and water it things flourished and grew.

   It’s a very basic rule of gardening –

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

   The Bible speaks often of spiritual things in terms of gardening and farming for good reason. The same rules apply. Neglect a garden and things die. Forget to water a potted plant and it will wilt. Don’t spend enough time with your spouse or family and you loose connections. Keep putting off time for Jesus and you will loose your strength.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

    We like to have flowers in the Summer. Hanging baskets and flower beds as well as potted plants on the deck and steps but what the sprinklers can’t reach we have to water – or else. We took a two week trip this Summer to London and Paris. Family members watched our home and tried to keep up with the flowers.  When we came home we had to throw out some plants and patiently nurse others back from the brink of death because they didn’t get the attention they needed.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

    Habits can be like gardens as well. Little white sins too. Our enemy, the devil, roams about like a roaring lion seeking who he can devour. Give place to him with a secret sin or a bad habit at your own peril because what you feed grows and what you starve dies. Have you ever been able to quit a habit? Maybe smoking, over eating, drinking, gambling, gossip, anger, whatever? Do you recall the difficulty that you faced those first few moments after making the decision to turn away from the habit? How the days seemed so long? How hard it was at times? You were breaking a tie. A soul-tie and the way you were breaking it was by starving it. You refused to give in to it’s pull. You stopped feeding it and it didn’t want to die. If you were successful it did die and no longer has power over you or pulls at you. But it took time and prayer and maybe even family and friends to get you threw it.

   I quit smoking in June of 2004. Eleven years ago. Cigarettes no longer call to me or have any power over me. But it wasn’t easy. I had tried before and failed. Thank God that I got the victory but if I go back to smoking it will start the cycle of slave and master all over again. Now, before you say that I’m being melodramatic, consider that Jesus told us that we can not serve two masters. You will love the one and hate the other. Maybe cigarettes aren’t your problem. Maybe you have no problems. Maybe Jesus is the Lord of every area of your life and Praise the Lord if that’s true. But for those who struggle with secret sins or bad habits (anything you know the Word speaks out against) please keep this simple truth in mind –

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

You can do all things threw Christ Who strengthens you

and you can be victorious over any enemy

stop feeding it and it will die

and a dead thing

can not

hurt you!

Be blessed, AL

Can I get a Witness?!

OK, show of hands, who cringes at the idea of going door-to-door for Jesus?

OK, now those of you who didn’t raise your hands don’t worry, the rest of us will pray for you.

   Seriously, When it comes to street evangelism I always feel uncomfortable – until I get out there. The idea of knocking on a strangers door or stopping someone in the street is challenging at best. When I first started going out with my church group I realized what it must be like to be one of those cold-callers that get hung up all the time. At best you get a door slammed in your face or ignored. At worst you get threatened, cursed at or duck a punch. But it’s worth it.

   Once, while walking from one house to another, a car parked on the street and a family stepped out of the car. I was talking to one of the people in my group while the family exited the vehicle. A young man stepped onto the sidewalk, not watching where he was going either, and we bumped into each other. We grabbed each other instinctual to catch ourselves from falling. If appearances count for anything this young man and I were as opposite as two people could be. The shock and surprise on his face quickly turned to anger as he looked at me in my “Jesus is Lord” T-shirt and my Bible in hand. Without thinking I put my hand on his shoulder and to this day can not tell you what I said to him. All I do remember is finally getting around to asking him if I could pray with him. He said yes and began to cry. We prayed and he accepted Jesus as Lord right there. His mother thanked me and I never saw any of them again.

   The point is that I bumped into that young man but I didn’t speak to him. God used me to touch him. I am certain that he had heard of Jesus many many times before that day. But I was blessed to be the one God used to bring him home. You see it isn’t about me, or you, or any of us. Paul addressed this when he found that there were those who claimed to be part of Paul’s group and others who claimed to belong to Apollos, causing prideful division in the Corinthian church.

For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers? For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos, are you not unspiritual people? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now the one planting and the one watering are one in purpose, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.For we are God’s coworkers1 Cor 3:3-9 HCSb

   What a relief! I am not responsible for leading anyone to Christ. If they reject me, threaten me, ignore me, it doesn’t count against me. The pressure is off. Right?

Sort of. You see I am still called to go.

I am called to go because I have no idea if I will be planting a seed or watering a seed planted or harvesting that which others have labored for. It does help me to know that I may never see those who I witness to again. It also helps that they don’t know me. The anonymity is a safe place for me to speak from because it gives me room to be a fool for God so to speak. It also helps me not take the rejection personally. If they reject me they are actually rejecting Jesus and that is sad knowing what we know.

Regardless, I am called to go.

Called because Jesus said Go.

And if I go, in obedience and humility,

He will go with me and

if Jesus is with me anything is possible.

  Go, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and see what happens.

You might be pleasantly surprised.

Side note – Just in case you feel I was being a bit boastful in this post I have to say that there are,  regrettably,  far too many times when I felt lead to tell someone about Jesus and held my tongue.

Be blessed, Al

Let Your Light Shine

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day:

the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 KJV

    Jesus declared Himself The Light of the World, John 9:5b KJV, and in doing so He challenges us to consider what He meant. Was He saying that He is the very sun that the earth revolves around? I don’t think so! Was He trying to reveal to us some deeper meaning? Most assuredly!

 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. Gen 1:4 KJV 

   God divided the light from the darkness. So, if darkness is the absence of light and if Jesus is the Light of the world, then the night that Jesus spoke of is a time when there will be an absence of Him. I know what your thinking, “Jesus left the earth so very long ago so how can any of this make sense?”

   Simply put – He is still here.

   He is with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. In John 14 Jesus promises the Disciples that even though He is leaving He will send another to comfort, encourage and empower them.  In verse 18 He tells them –  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. I will come to you, in the Holy Spirit, and so He is still here with us. Jesus is here also because of us who believe. We are His body Eph 5:30  and as such we are the light of the world. We have the light of Jesus Christ within us. As long as we are here we must let that light shine because the night comes when no man woman or child can work.

“If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world.

If anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”

John 11:9-10 HCSB

      The Night is coming. Just look around and you will see that this world is spinning out of control faster and faster every day. Wars, rumors of war, sickness, starvation, diseases, floods, fires, political upheavals and corruption. Immorality, hatred, murder, greed, pride and godlessness are all around us. But this doesn’t have to worry us. We have been warned that these things must happen but the end is not yet here. These are the birth pains that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24.

    Armed with this truth and the hope that lives with in us let us remember the words our Savior said –

“You are the light of the world.

A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father   Matthew 5: 14-16 NKJV

Go out empowered by His Holy Spirit with a smile on your face and a song in your heart because you are a Child of the Most High God. Be blessed, Al

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday or the Quiet Mournful Day

  Imagine that day. As the disciples and the others sat shut up in there homes saddened by the lose of Jesus and unsure of what the future might hold. Would the authorities come and collect them? Would they be able to go back to the life they had before He selected them to follow Him? I imagine that they still felt the pain of watching Him suffer. that there minds were still filled with the images of yesterdays crucifixion. I imagine they felt powerless as they watch Him die and were overwhelmed with grief even as they took Him down from the cross and laid him in the tomb.

   But what next? What shall they do now? Now that He is gone where shall they go? So many questions and so few answers.

   They were in  dark place emotionally. Hopelessness and despair surrounded them. They undoubtedly went threw the motions of the days routine in a sad and withdrawn way.

   Have you ever been in that place? Has the sin and pain of this world and your own poor choices brought you to a place of hopelessness and despair?

  This world can do that. The weight of sin in this world can do that. The devil and his demons can try to destroy us. Sometimes our own self-destructive behavior drives us into a corner. Into a dark place. Into our own tomb – so to speak.

   Just like those who mourned the lose of the Savior way back then we may have found ourselves in a similar situation. But we know that the story did not end on Saturday. We know that the sorrow of Saturday was turned to joy on that Sunday morning.

   I want to encourage anyone out there who is in a dark place of despair and hopelessness to look for the joy of the new day that awaits you if you turn to the Son Who died and lives again. The Resurrection Sunday story is a story of hope when all seems lost. A renewal of life where death seemed victorious.

Jesus is alive.

HE IS ALIVE.

HE IS ALIVE AND DEATH HAS BEEN DEFEATED.

With the defeat of death comes

Victory over the darkness and despair that comes with it

Depositphotos_5208225_original

   Embrace the Cross of Calvary because it is here that Our Lord Jesus won the Victory for you and for me. Let the light of the new day shine on you and wash you clean as you walk with the Resurrected Savior into a new life. He die so you might live. He’s alive to love you and lead you into a new life. Won’t you let Him?

   Saturday seemed too dark to endure but the Light and Love of the Son will shine – tomorrow. Trust in Him Who promised –

I will never leave you or forsake you

Look back but don’t stare…

Look back but don’t stare.

This is an expression I heard a long time ago and the older I get the more I understand it.

Recently I had one of those days where my mind went on a trip down memory lane. I wish that I could say it was a pleasant trip. It wasn’t.  Frank Sinatra used to sing – “Regrets. I’ve made a few. But then again too few to mention.” I can mention more then a few – I should have stayed in college, I should have studied more, I should have saved more money, I should have exercised more self control, I should have done this and not done that.  Regrets, I think, are a way we say sorry to ourselves. When I look back, excuse me, when I stare back at the road I traveled I don’t want to say “Sorry” to me – I want to punch myself.

But I don’t.

The reason that I don’t punch myself is that, well, it wouldn’t change anything and more importantly,  I have been forgiven by God for my past. If God has forgiven me than who am I to not forgive myself? It is hard though. The affects of poor judgement and bad behavior can be irreversible. Life does go on. Life will be different but it does go on.

Seize the Day Pana

Moving on can be tough. The people around us may never forget the harm we have done and may even remind us of just how far we fell. We fell. But we got up. Isn’t that what really matters?

The Word says –

Rejoice not against me, oh my enemies, for when I fall I shall arise. When i sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me.     Micah 7:8  KJV

When I fall I shall arise. I will not stay down. I will not beat myself up. I will not stare back in anger and regret. The past is not only the past but it has been forgiven and forgotten and thrown in a sea of forgetfulness never to be brought up to me again. At least not by God. One of the names of the devil is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10 KJV). He will remind us and use others to remind us.

Another old expression suitable for this topic is – “The next time the devil reminds you of your past just remind him of his future!”

I started this post by telling you how I spent a sad day staring regretfully back at my past. So I am not trying to over simplify putting the past behind us. My goal was, however, to remind myself and those of you that this may apply to, that we have every good reason to stand tall with our heads up as we walk confidently into our tomorrows. If Jesus is our Lord – We are children of the King. Forgiven. Loved. Saved. A new creation. Heaven-bound. No matter what was it’s what will be that’s important.

Thanks for letting me share that even if I was the only one that needed to hear it.

Be Blessed, Al

Similar post on forgiveness – But If You Don’t Forgive

Start at the very beginning….

A Very Good Place to Start

As a contractor with 30 years of experience I have learned a lot about my trade and others around me. Its safe to say that I have seen my share of mistakes made during those early years. But I give my thanks to a good teacher. One, who may not have always been patient but always thorough in his explanations of how to do something and why.

In my years I have had the opportunity to train helpers to work beside me and always observed one thing. Teaching is the best way to keep things fresh in my own mind. Somewhere in the relating of the process there is a reliving that revives me. I am taken back to where I was when I learned it and can relate the truth of the process to another with passion.

It is this reason that I want my first post of the year to be about “contending for the faith” that was first inside of us all at conversion. Jude tells us that he wanted to write about the shared salvation of the saints but was moved to respond to false teachers and ungodly people.

But lets review the Basics that we all do know –

Very simply put – Christ came to save sinners of which we are all (1 Timothy 1:15 and Romans 3:23). If we repent and trust in Jesus we will be saved (Romans 10:9-13)

I guess the only question now is – Have you been saved? If not. Why Not?

All you have to do is believe you are a sinner, that Christ died for your sins, and ask His forgiveness. He knows you and loves you. What matters to Him is the attitude of your heart and your honesty. Although there’s no special way to ask to be saved we suggest praying the following prayer to accept Christ as your Savior:

“Dear Lord Jesus,

I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead.  I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.

In Jesus name, amen.”

If you prayed this prayer congratulations, you are a Child of God now and your sins have been forgiven, never to be remembered. We encourage you , if you do not already attend a church, to find one that believes in Bible study. One that teaches the whole Word of God and proclaims the Good News that Salvation is available to all. We encourage you to get a Bible and begin reading it. If you don’t know where to start we suggest you read the Gospel of John first but you can find many Bible study reading lists online also. Consider Bible Gateway or some of the other links from our home page.

Whatever you do read the Bible daily and pray to our Lord for guidance because He is not dead but alive and ready to talk with you. Congratulations as you start a new life in this new year! Be blessed. Al and Betty