Friday, June 28, 2013

LIVING IN JESUS MEANS LIVING FREE FROM STRESS AND WORRY

         "How will we ever get it all done?" "I can't be in two places at the same time." "If only there were forty-eight hours in the day!" "My head feels like it is going to explode!"  "My stomach is tied up in knots. I think I'm getting an ulcer."
There is hardly a person around in our society today that is not caught up in the fast paced, stressful environment in which we live. You would think that all the modern advances - cell phones, e-mails, twittering, GPS travel help, would take the pressure off but it's just the opposite. The faster we move, the more we do. The more we do, the more we demand of our self and others, the more stressed out we become.
Where can we find help? Is there anything that can give us some relief? What can release us from the stress and worries of our everyday life? The answer is Jesus.
Jesus knows what it means to suffer from stress. When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest, trial and crucifixion, Jesus said; "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." Matthew 26:38. Mark says that he "began to be deeply distressed and troubled" (Mark 14:33). The knots in the stomach, the sweaty palms, the lightheadedness, the tense muscles in the back of the neck and head, he knows them because he experienced these things.
One big difference was that Jesus' stress was not related to his sin but the result of ours. It was not related to worry about what might happen but his concerns were over what he knew would take place as he felt the wrath of the Father because of our sins.
The  relief that Jesus found was not in taking R-O-L-A-I-D-S or Goodies Headache Powder. He went to his Father in prayer. He knew that all was well for his heavenly Father was with him. He found that comfort and strength by speaking to his Father in prayer.
I read that years ago a pioneer aviator was making a flight around the world. Two hours out from his last landing he heard a noise in his plane, which he recognized as the gnawing of a rat. For all he knew the rat might gnaw through some vital cable and cause his plane to crash. At first he didn't know what to do. Then he got an idea. He began to take the plane higher and higher. He went up a thousand feet and then another and another until he reached 20,000 feet. The gnawing ceased and the rat was dead. He could not survive in the low atmosphere of those heights.
For us, worry and stress are like rodents. They will ruin our life if we let them. They cannot, however, dwell in the secret place of the Most High. They cannot survive in the atmosphere of prayer and faithful reliance on God's Word. When Jesus died for our sins, when he was punished in our place, when he died so that we might live, he took away the cause of worry and stress. Through him all is well and we have peace.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers, what do you want to pass on to your children?

           Father’s Day is usually a day that we focus our attention on dad. We give him cards and gifts and lots of attention. It is a day we express our appreciation to our fathers for all the love, sacrifices and many other things they have given us.  We receive a great deal from our fathers.
Fathers need to recognize this.  They have been placed in a position by God that enables them to pass on many things to their children. I am not just talking about the house, furniture and mutual funds that one leaves them in their will. There are things far more important.
If you were able to choose just one thing that you could pass on to your children, what would it be?  Would it be your money; your good name; the skills of your profession? There are obviously lots of things we could pass on that would be a great blessing to them. But what is that important?
I think you already know that answer to that question. If you could pass on only one thing, it would have to be faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. That is the greatest blessing we could pass on to a child.
But the truth of the matter is that we cannot create faith or give faith to anyone. Faith is the work of the Holy Spirit who works in our heart through the Word of God. Our part is to bring them into contact with that Word. Let them see our faith put in action in our daily life.
Parents sometimes question the importance of teaching their children when they’re six months old to fold their hands in prayer. Can you imagine what it would be like if they never learned to pray? Parents often wait patiently to hear with joy their child’s first word. It is usually mamma or dada. Wouldn’t it be great if their first word after that was ‘Jesus’?
Fathers, if you want your children to know Jesus and spend eternity in heaven, you need to be teaching them about Jesus now. They need to go to church and Sunday School. You need to teach it to them at home.
Family prayer, devotions, and conversations with Christian thoughts all help to leave an impression on your child. What shows and movies you watch, how you talk, how you treat your spouse, are all part of it.
To grow up without Jesus is the most terrible form of child abuse that can be done. To see a child brought up to know and love Jesus is one of the greatest blessings.
Listen to what Paul says to Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (I Tim 3:15)
Fathers, think of the wonderful opportunity God has given you. He has not only let you share in the blessings of salvation but has given you the responsibility and opportunity to pass that gift on to your children.
Let Jesus be Lord to you!  Let Him be your Master, your Savior, your Prince of Peace. Let him be the Ruler of your heart and life. Your children will watch and learn from you. They will truly bless you, not only on Father’s Day, but for all eternity.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How do you know if you are in love?

        It's June and time for weddings.  This month, more than any other, love birds will be saying "I do." as they exchange their wedding vows.  For some it was "love at first sight."  Others asked themselves over and over,  "How do I know if I'm in love?"
Love is something difficult to explain.  It is something that changes your entire outlook on life.  One of the first signs of being in love is that you think about that person all the time.  You think about how wonderful it is to be with them and how lonely you feel when you are apart.
Another sign of being in love is that you want the one you love to be happy.  You do things for them or bring them gifts; all in an effort to express your love.
If you love someone, you will also be ready to make great sacrifices for them.  In fact, the love we have for another may be so strong that we are willing to die for them if necessary.
By now you have certainly figured out that being in love with another person is similar to having love for God.  In fact, God often refers to his relationship to his people as that of a bride and a groom.
As we look at that relationship, we see many of the things which I mentioned above.  One aspect of love to which we referred was that we want to be with the one we love.  When we think of God's love for us, we certainly find this aspect of love.  God wants us to be with him always, not just "til death us do part" but forever.
God's love is also evident in his efforts to make us happy.  When God created Adam and Eve, everything he did for them was for their happiness.
When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God didn't just walk away.  He found a way to fix things.  It meant sacrifice. It meant that Jesus would suffer and die for our sins.   What greater love could there be than that which Jesus showed for us?  He endured the pain and torment of hell in our place.  But God's love didn't stop there.  He continues to help us, provide for our every need, and bless us in countless ways.
In return, we love God.  It is our response to the love he has shown to us.  We long to be with him as we join our fellow Christians in worship and prayer. We know we would be lost without him.  We know that having Jesus is more important than anything else in our life. 
What is love?  How can you tell if you are in love?  In our relationships with each other we may not always know for sure.  When it comes to God, we know he loves us.  Ask God to help you grow daily in your love for him.

Memorial Day – a day to honor those who died for our country.

            Memorial Day has always been a big deal for me. Growing up in Michigan, Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer. Back yard cook outs began in earnest. Trips to the beach were planned in the schedule. School would soon be over. There were Memorial Day parades, US flags flying from every corner of town, on graves of loved ones, and on most houses.
The origins of Memorial Day are greatly debated. It’s most likely that the practice of remembering those who had fallen in the service of our country was observed, in an unofficial way, all over the country. The focus on those who died while serving our nation began in the 1860’s.  In 1868 General John Logan ordered that flowers be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. While states did not take up this observance right away, it is observed nationwide today.
The problem is that many Americans have forgotten or left behind the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. The graves of fallen veterans are often ignored and neglected. Many communities put out flags but Memorial Day parades are rare. Many have come to treat this day as one on which we honor all who have died. This day, however, wais really set aside to honor those who have fallen in the service of our country.
As the war against terrorism continues on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other parts of the world, the number of those fallen continues to grow. Yet, no matter where one stands on these conflicts, we all mourn the loss of the men and women who have laid down their lives so we might be and remain free as a nation.
This Memorial Day, remember in your prayers those who have lost loved ones in all the wars and conflicts our nation has fought. Thank the Lord that, over the years, he has given us men and women who are ready to defend to the death the liberties and freedoms we enjoy in the United States. Pray that the Lord would bring peace to our troubled world so that no more blood need be shed.
          Remember also that through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed his life for ours, has won the greatest freedom of all. He has freed us from the consequences of sin, the power of the grave, and the eternal pain and torment of hell. Through him, we will someday enjoy the perfect joy and bliss of heaven where death, wars, sorrow and pain will be things of the past.