Saturday, April 25, 2009

Catching Up On Devotionals

My apologies for being a little bit behind on posting Dad's devotionals. I know many of you get them via e-mail...but for those of you that only read them on the blog, you get a triple dose today! I've posted 3 from the past couple of weeks.

It's so encouraging to see dad feeling so's been many months. When I say feeling so well, I mean that he can actually walk the length of the driveway and then some! For a long time it was difficult to go room to room in the house. We praise God for some steps toward healing and pray that dad's health continues in that direction. His spirits are up as he sees bits of healing taking place.

Words can't express each of our thanks for all of your prayers, especially on days where (as a family) it was hard to even know how to pray. We know many of you have offered prayers for us as well.

Continuing to be thankful for each of you....

Growing By Faith

Would you say that most believers are living by faith?

In a book that I recently read I was challenged by the following statement: “ What are you doing right now that requires faith”? For many believers, they probably cannot think of anything in their lives that require faith. Life is comfortable and they do not need God or have trust Him for many things. But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.

The Hall of Fame faith chapter is found in Hebrews 11. The author of this book records many OT saints and great patriarchs and gives examples of their faith. Many of these individuals had weak faith at times but demonstrated the reality of mature faith at some point in their lives. It shows that we can grow in our faith. The author states: ”And without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb.11:6). We need to depend upon God for everything and this demands our faith. Faith is the confidence that what God has stated in His Word is true, and that God will act according to what He has said in His Word. This reliance upon God’s Word produces confidence and growth in our faith. The question is, has God spoken in His Word? When He has, then we need to believe and trust Him completely. Our faith can be developed and may increase from feeble faith to mature faith.

God uses trials, obstacle and difficulties to become the very food for faith. It is through trials that faith is developed (James 1:2-4). We go through the furnace so we can be refined and become more useful for God’s kingdom (I Peter 1:6-7). God, out of His love, allows these times so we can rely upon what He has promised in His Word. God is using my illness so that I will trust Him more and grow my faith. I struggle with the losses in my life but remind myself of God’s promises that I have claimed. This has encouraged me in the tough times when things looked very dismal.

We need to realize that God is not obligated to explain His actions to us. I am confident that my faith has grown because I have seen the Bible speak to my every need. When I worry, it implies that I do not trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in my life. Perhaps God is allowing hard things in your life, so you can show the world that your God is great and brings peace and joy, even when life is difficult. God has given me an opportunity to minister to others and use the lessons that I am learning to encourage and challenge others.

Now back to the question, “What are you doing right now that requires faith?” God wants your faith to grow and He may put obstacles and difficulties in your life to develop your faith. I want my faith to be mature faith where I trust God and His Word at all times.

The Value Of Relationships

When it comes down to the end of our life, it will not matter how successful we have been or how many assets we have accumulated. What will be important is that we have built meaningful relationships with people. In fact, a life is wasted if it has not had an impact on the lives of others.

Paul was ministered to by two special friends, Timothy and Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:19, 25). They were dear friends and willing to sacrifice and serve to meet Paul’s physical needs. Epaphroditus became ill and almost died while he was ministering and serving Paul. Paul told the Philippian church to welcome him with joy and honor him for his work and ministry. He recognized that people were important especially as they partnered together with him in team ministry.

We need to recognize that there are only two things that last beyond this life, the Word of God and people. People will live forever and can make an impact in this life and for eternity. It is wise to build meaningful relationships with people so that you can influence them for the Kingdom. It is rewarding and gives meaning to our lives when we invest our time and effort in people.

Due to my illness, I have a new love for people and deep appreciation for relationships. This has been a difficult six months for me, as I have been isolated from people. I am so thankful for friends who have reached out to me during my illness. I look at people differently now and value them and the relationships that I have built over the years. I value what family and friends mean to me because life is short and relationships are eternal. It is tragic that in our society today, we tend to minimize relationships. We need people in our lives and need to make building friendships a real priority.

The Bible talks about the “community of believers” within the local church, where there should be deep, meaningful relationships. Our family relationships should be encouraging and edifying because they were designed by God to be a loving, intimate support for you in time of need. Sometimes, it takes a time of hardship to value and rebuild these important relationships. Why wait until it is almost too late?

Paul acknowledges the value of people by listing a number of names of men who had ministered to him and with him in the final chapter of his epistles. Paul states a principle in the relationship between joy and people: “So that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me“ (Phil. 1:26). People can bring us great joy as we minister to them and they help “bear our burdens” (Gal. 6:2). God uses others to help us grow in our spiritual lives and develop our character. People can give us affirmation and encourage us to value ourselves and to strive to be all that God wants us to be in this life. When we learn to serve others and live unselfish lives (Phil. 2:3-4), it gives us a sense of purpose. We receive joy when we are with people and enjoy genuine fellowship that enhances our walk with the Lord.

God uses our friendships to encourage us and to assist us in time of need and adversity. As we influence others, it brings us great joy because we know that we can impact people while we are on this earth. Our joyful spirit can create an environment for others to be more joyful. People matter to God and we need to love them enough to invest in their lives. As I think of people who have encouraged me in my life, it is people who have walked with authenticity in their spiritual life and demonstrated the “fruits of the spirit” in their life. I need to realize the impact that I can make upon others as I live faithfully and strive to build relationships.

Do you value people and purposefully and intentionally make relationships a high priority in your life?

Friday, April 24, 2009

God Hears Our Cry

David shouts out: “I cried out to the Lord for help, I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord” (Ps. 76:1-2).

David had a life of pain and heartache and often made this his prayer. It is great that we can call out to God and know that He is always available, that He never turns a deaf ear to us. He is never too busy for us and delights to hear from us at any time. God is omnipresent so He is everywhere at all times. What a comfort to know that we are in His presence at all times and that we can never be away from Him.

David expressed himself openly to God and was in constant danger of King Saul during his early years. After he became king of Israel, he was in constant warfare with the surrounding nations. His children caused him great grief and he experienced times of real heart pain because of their wayward paths. David was often in “distress” and he would turn to God and seek after the Lord. In the Psalms, we find David is often very transparent and upset with his life circumstances, as he expresses his feelings to God. He ultimately turns to God and recognizes that He is the only one that he can trust and rely upon for strength.

All of us will go through difficult times and it is during those times that we can call out to the Lord and know that He cares and understands. In our errant theology we may think that God only cares about the major issues of our life. In reality, God cares about everything and we can seek after Him for comfort and strength. God does not put things into categories of spiritual vs. secular because everything is important to God. We can cry out to God and know that He is listening and cares.

What hardships are you now facing? Are you running to God or are you running from God? This illness has made me call out to God on numerous occasions. There are things that I have never had to deal with before and my health issues are sometimes beyond what I can humanly handle. I have had to face life and death issues with this illness and it has taught me the fragileness of life. Every day is a gift from God and needs to be treasured.

I value things that I took for granted and I have often said that I now see things through a new lense. I have a new appreciation for things that I did not value or had not seen before this illness. I do not question God’s sovereignty but there have been discouraging times that have made life very difficult for me. I have cried out to God and He has never turned a deaf ear to my need. I am so glad that God cares about the small things in my life and also the major issues that I am now facing.

Elisha did many miracles during his ministry in Israel. He healed the sick, raised people from the dead, and stopped invading armies. While he was ministering to the “School of the Prophets” (II Kings 6:1-7), he went down to the Jordan River to assist some of the men as they cut down trees for a new building at the school. One of the men lost an axe head and was worried about how he would replace it. Elisha’s miracle of raising the axe head was pretty insignificant compared to some of his other miracles but it reminds us that God cares about the “axe heads” in our life. “Axe heads” are the trivial things that may seem unimportant and yet they can be just as significant because it shows that God is at work in our life. Those God-sightings can be a great encouragement to us as we see that our God is faithful and dependable at all times.

There is nothing too small for us to “cry out to God” and turn to Him for assistance and help. Will you learn to run to Him for everything? When we fail to do this, it is a form of pride and that will keep us from turning to Him. In reality we are living independent of God and leaning upon our strength when we fail to turn to Him with our needs.

What is God going to use in your life to teach you to be totally dependent upon Him?
Dear Family & Friends,

I am still making positive progress with my health issues and that has been very encouraging. The next month will determine if the new treatment is working. Thank you for your prayer support and I hope this devotional will be a blessing to you. I have found the Psalms to be a wonderful way to keep my focus on God and to worship Him. When I do that, I am overwhelmed with gratitude toward God and find myself trusting Him through the difficult days. I enjoy hearing how God is using these devotionals and would welcome your responses.

Joyfully In Christ,


Sunday, April 19, 2009

I wanted to report to you that I am feeling so much better this week and have made steady progress. The cardologist this week feels that the new treatment is working and my EKG showed a normal heart beat. They checked my device (defibrillator) and it only showed several minor episodes over the past three weeks. I want to thank you for your prayer support because I believe through prayer and treatment that God is working to bring healing. I also want you to know that I have been in contact with a man in N. Carolina that has cardiac sarcoid. His name is Kevin and is 46 years old and is a teacher and coach. He has had sarcoidosis for 12 years and struggled for ten years until he started taking Reliv , a nutrient supplement to increase your immune system. He is a Christian man and my daughter-in-law's aunt connected us together. His problems sound very similar to mine and yet since he has been taking Reliv it has helped him substantially and he is playing sports, exercising three times a week, and riding his mountain bike to school every day. It was great to talk to someone who understands and to also know that there can be long term improvement. I realize that this is all in God's hands but I am more encouraged than I have been in months. It is so hard for me to not be involved with people and to be out of the pulpit and I look forward to that day when God allows me that opportunity. I feel that I have so much to say and yet a very limited platform to say what God is teaching me through these life lessons.

Joyfully In Christ,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Living in Light of Christ's Return

The blessed hope for every believer is the Lord’s Return. This is called the Rapture, where we are taken to heaven prior to the Tribulation period. My health issues with a disease called sarcoidosis, have impacted me in many ways. Biblical truth has come alive, and means so much more to me because I have a new understanding of the urgency of my time and fragileness of life.

The book of I Thessalonians was one of the first letters that Paul wrote to the church. He probably wrote it from Corinth around 51 AD. Paul started this church on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-9), but He only spent a few weeks in Thessalonica due to persecution. This church seemed to do well, now Paul is writing to encourage them in their doctrinal understanding. Apparently, they had a misunderstanding about the doctrinal truth regarding life after death and the nature of Christ’s Return. Every chapter ends with an emphasis on Christ’s Return and how that should impact the way we live.

One of the great truths of Scripture is the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible is filled with prophecy about the Second Coming and that we need to be ready and prepared. I believe our view of the future affects how we live in the present. Knowing that Jesus’ return is imminent, that He could return at any time, is a great incentive for godly living. Paul states that we are “to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven” (1:9).

In light of this truth, we need to be serving while we are waiting. This is the balance, as we live our lives in this world, yet with the expectancy of Jesus’ near return. We do not know the time or hour when the rapture may take place but we should be prepared and waiting with anticipation for His Return. This should give us a great desire to serve Christ while we are alive and to realize there is a limited amount of time left in the world.

Many people are interested in prophecy and how current events may fit into God’s future plan. We should be careful not to try to force Scripture into current events by trying to figure out the time of Christ’s Return. Prophecy can be a healthy springboard to share spiritual truth with believers and to share the gospel with unbelievers. Many people have an interest in how the world’s situation is preparing the way for the Second Coming. When we come down to what really counts in life, it is the people who we influence for Christ.

Paul reminds the believers in Thessalonica, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy” (I Thess. 1:19-20). What a great truth, that we can impact people’s lives for eternity, which gives us real joy and satisfaction in our lives. When Jesus comes to return, it will not matter the amount of assets that we have accumulated or our status on this earth. We will look at what our life has accomplished for the kingdom, and how many lives we have influenced. There will be crowns given at the “bema seat” for our faithfulness and service in this life. What a great motivation to live for God and for eternity. We will lay these crowns at the feet of Jesus showing our love and appreciation for all that He has done for us.

People are worth it all, I need to invest my life and effort in the lives of people. The Word of God and souls are the only things that are eternal. God has used this illness in my life to remind me again of the value of people. I need to make sure that I invest in their lives by serving and ministering to their spiritual needs. I am thankful for the opportunities that God is opening for me to minister to people through my illness.

I pray that my devotionals will be used to encourage and challenge people with God’s truth, as I look at life from my vantage point and my life experiences. Living in light of Christ’s Return will change the way you live!