Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A challenge from Teen Extreme

Last week we took our teens from church to Teen Extreme Camp at PCC.  We had a great week, and we were able to see the Lord working in many of our teens' lives.  The preacher was Kenny Baldwin and we thoroughly enjoyed the preaching.  One of the messages that really challenged me was about adding to our faith.

2Pe 1:1  Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 
2Pe 1:2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 
2Pe 1:3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 
2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 
2Pe 1:5  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 
2Pe 1:6  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 
2Pe 1:7  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 
2Pe 1:8  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
2Pe 1:9  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 
2Pe 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 
2Pe 1:11  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

These verses remind us of the salvation that we have received and gives a blueprint for walking with God.  To our faith (salvation) we should be adding things.  It doesn't mean that we are working for our salvation-Christ completed that work, but we should be working to add to our faith.  The illustration that Kenny Baldwin used was a Christmas tree.  When we get saved it's like we get a Christmas tree,  we are saved but there is nothing on the tree.  The things we add are what make the Christmas tree more interesting.  

To our faith we need to be adding virtue (doing right), knowledge (knowing what the Bible has to say), temperance (self-control), patience (waiting), godliness (being more like Christ), brotherly kindness (love for other Christians), charity (love for others).  It is not a once in a lifetime adding though; daily we need to be adding these things to our lives.  Peter says that those that lack these things forget how they were cleansed from sin.  If we do add to our faith then verse 10 says that we will not fall.  

So often in our Christian life we are content with where we are.  We have learned lots of Bible in Sunday school, church, Christian home, Christian school, and Christian college.  We often imagine we have arrived  spiritually were we should be, but if we take a long hard look at our lives are we really?   Our goal should be being more like Christ, until we reach heaven we will not be able to be completely like Him, but we must work everyday to be more like Him.  We can't be content at the spiritual level that we are currently at.  We must add to our faith!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our great God

Often there are days in our living by faith that the flesh gets in the way.  We start to look ahead at the future and we have no idea how the Lord is going to provide for us in a few months when the savings run out.  We start to worry and fret, fortunately we have a great God that brings us gentle reminders that He is in control and that He is taking care of us today!  I read these verses in my devotions yesterday and they were a great encouragement, mainly because we have been seeing the Lord's faithful.

Mat 6:8  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Monday, Hannah and I went thrift store shopping to find her some clothes for camp.  I was praying all morning that the Lord would provide and that we would be able to find the things that she needed.  The Lord answered my prayer!  We were able to find 3 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, and 1 dress for under $15!  This verse "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him,"  we saw in action!  The Lord knew long before Monday morning that we would need clothes for Hannah.  When we went to the thrift store the clothes that we bought did not magically appear on the rack, they were already there.  Some one donated them, some one tagged them, some one put them on the rack, just so that when we walked in Monday they would be there for us to buy!  The Lord was working through others long before I realized there was a need so that my prayer would be answered!

Mat 6:25-34  Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?   Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.   Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

These verses tend to be a struggle for us, mostly the part that says, "take no thought..."  So it is good for us to consider how the Lord has taken care of us.  In the past couple weeks, the Lord has provide some students for me to teach, several computer jobs for Nick, a job helping a friend with some repairs that Nick got paid for, and a couple dresses for Bethany costing only $3!  Each one of those things are the testimony that the Lord is taking care of our daily needs!  

Several mornings each week we go to the park near our home to go running.  When we are there we usually see the same people.  One of those people is lady that that stops and talks to us occasionally.  Yesterday,.she stopped to talk to us and asked us if we like cucumbers.  Apparently, her husband enjoys gardening and was harvesting more cucumbers than they needed.  She told us that this morning she would bring us a bag of cucumbers.  After we finished talking to her I was ready to have a praise service!   Every year I plant cucumbers in my garden, and every year we get a good enough harvest to be able to put up cucumbers.  This year because it has been so dry and we are too cheap to water, I did not even get one cucumber.  What a huge blessing that a lady, that we only know because we see her at a park, has offered us cucumbers! 

The Lord has been so good to us, and He is providing for our daily needs.  That is just the encouragement we need to keep on in this journey of daily living by faith!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What to do when everything is going wrong.

I have been reading through the minor prophets which are full of a lot of destruction and also the great promise of redemption, and complete restoration of Israel.  As I was reading these verses jumped out at me-so to speak.

Hab 3:16  When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 
Hab 3:17  Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 

By all accounts everything is falling apart!  The fig tree isn't blossoming, the vines are not producing, the olives are worthless, the fields are not producing anything, the animals are doing horribly.  To sum to up: things are awful!!  But even the midst of it all there is hope!

Hab 3:18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 
Hab 3:19  The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. 

When life is falling apart at the seams we need to do what Habakkuk was doing-rejoicing in the Lord.  The Lord is our salvation and strength; and He will help us when life's troubles come our way!

Does our joy come from the things we have, or the things we do?  Without even a slight warning our world can turn completely upside down!  One day we are going about our regular routine, the next thing we know our house is destroyed in a fire!   If our joy is in those things-the joy has been destroyed.  If our hope and joy is in our Savior it doesn't matter what happens.  When anything and everything is going completely wrong we have an unchanging hope that can't be destroyed!  Let's make the Lord our joy and strength, and not rely on anything else-He will never fail us!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


My reading through the Bible has led me to Jonah, so time to do some study.

Jon 1:1-2  Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 

This story starts off with the Lord giving a command to Jonah.  It was very straight-forward and clear what Jonah was to do.

Jon 1:3  But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD

Jonah did not like what he was told to do.  So he decided to go to Tarshish, where he thought he would be able to get away from the Lord.  Jonah tells the Lord in chapter four the reason why he went to Tarshish.

Jon 4:2  And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. 

Jonah told the Lord the reason he fled was because he knew the character of the Lord.   He knew that the Lord was gracious, merciful, long-suffering, kind and that the Lord would not destroy Nineveh if they repented.  

Jon 1:4  But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 

Jonah was not going to get out of doing what he was suppose to do so easily.  The Lord send a great storm.  The storm got the attention of the mariners, but it did not get the attention of Jonah.  In fact he was doing his very best to ignore the whole situation as he was found sleeping down in the boat.

Jon 1:8-10  Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?   And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.  Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 

The mariners questioned Jonah to find out why the terrible storm was raging, and when they found out they were terrified.  

Jon 1:11-12  Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous.  And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 

The mariners want to know what to do to stop the storm; Jonah came up with a solution, but the mariners did not like the idea.  It is interesting to note that no where do we see Jonah praying, asking for forgiveness.   It almost seems like he doesn't care.  In chapter four, twice Jonah asks the Lord to let him die, perhaps Jonah here was thinking it would be better to die in the water than to have to preach in Nineveh.

Jon 1:14-17  Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee.   So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.   Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 

The mariners beg the Lord to not punish them for throwing Jonah overboard, then they threw him into the sea.   The storm stopped when Jonah was thrown into the water, and the mariners feared the Lord because of His great power.  The Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and for three days Jonah had time to think about what he had done.  The Lord was using a time-out on Jonah!

Chapter 2 finds Jonah praying to the Lord, and the Lord commanded the fish to spit Jonah out.

Jon 3:1-3  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,   Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 

The Lord once again instructs Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people.  This time Jonah has learned his lesson and he obeys the Lord's instruction.

The Lord in this story has an interesting way of dealing with Jonah.  He gives Jonah the instructions and Jonah just directly disobeys.  The Lord then sends the storm to get Jonah's attention, but the mariners are paying better attention than Jonah.  Once Jonah is thrown overboard, the Lord has Jonah's undivided attention for three days.  The consequences for Jonah's actions were enough to get him to go to Nineveh.  The Lord did whatever it took to get Jonah to obey, and He used some rather unorthodox methods to accomplish his purpose. 

As parents, when our children disobey are there times that an unorthodox approach to getting the results we desire is necessary?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to get our child's attention so that they will obey?