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many people celebrating with arms raised               The Joyful Dimension          many people celebrating with arms raised 

 

   

 

 

 God is using this web site to show more and more people how to experience joy in all areas of life.

This web site is based on the Word of God, and the desire and power of God to fill your life with joy.  

See how your life can be positively changed forever by God's deep love for you and full forgiveness of your sins no matter what you have done.

Find out what God says the meaning of your life is and what is most important in your life.

Discover how God can fill your heart with real and lasting peace in place of anger, frustration, depression, or worry.

Get answers for problems that have removed joy from your life.

    Every day you will find out more great things about your life and God.

Enjoy your visits and may your life be filled with more and more of God's joy as you grow in your relationship with Him!

 

This web site is a ministry of The Joyful Dimension of Life International

 

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message title: ' Be Prepared '

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scripture and Devotional Of The Week

 

From John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who always was, and who is coming; and from the seven spirits before His throne;  and from Jesus Christ. Jesus is the faithful witness. He is first among all who will be raised from death. He is the ruler of the kings of the earth.  Jesus is the One who loves us and has made us free from our sins with His blood sacrifice.  He made us His kingdom and priests who serve God His Father. To Jesus be glory and power forever and ever! Amen. 

Revelation 1:4-6  ERV

 

 

The entire Scripture we have just read is tremendously packed with wonderful truths. This is the fifth devotional of a series based on different portions of this great Scripture.

‘And who is coming’.  Many Bible versions say ‘and who is to come’.  Just as God has no beginning, He has no end.

God will never slow down due to age. His energy or His strength will never decline due to His age. He will never reach a stage where He will be unable to do some of the things He used to do when He was younger. He will never have to step aside and allow someone else to lead because He is too old to continue.

Furthermore, the Lord will never cease to exist. He will never die of disease or old age. There will never be a funeral for the Lord. God will always be – forever!

In addition, God’s abilities or existence are not affected, impacted, or limited by age or the passage of time. Athletes reach a stage in their careers referred to as their prime. When they pass that stage, their abilities gradually diminish. Not so with God. He has no prime. There has never been and never will be some period of His existence when He reaches the peak of His abilities and then goes into a state of decline.

Consider this great Scripture:

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.  Psalm 90:1-2  NKJV

 

God is not going anywhere. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God! Now look at this same wonderful Scripture in another version.

 

Lord, through all the generations You have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world,  from beginning to end, You are God.  Psalm 90:1-2  NLT

 

The Bible is filled with Scriptures which reveal that God is eternal – He will not only always exist, He will always live and rule over all of His creation everywhere and for all time!

 

The Lord shall reign forever and ever. Exodus 15:18  NKJV

The Lord is King forever and ever; The nations have perished out of His land.  Psalm 10:16  NJKV

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.  Psalm 45:6  NASB

And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting. “  Nehemiah 9:5a  NIV

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures through all generations.  Psalm 145:13a  NIV

Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,  and His understanding no one can fathom.  Isaiah 40:28  NIV

 

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.   Isaiah 60:20  NIV

Lord, are You not from everlasting?  My God, my Holy One, You will never die.   Habakkuk 1:12a  NIV

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”   Revelation 21:5-6  NASB

Since God is eternal and since He does not change, this means that all of His marvelous attributes will also last for all eternity - His love, His power, His grace, His forgiveness, His compassion, His holiness, His righteousness, etc., etc. !!!  May the awesome truth that the Lord is God for all eternity strengthen your faith and bless you to the very depths of your soul!

 

 

 

 

 

Your Prayer Requests

 

You do not have to face your problems alone.    It would be a privilege to pray for you and your needs.

No request is too big or too small for God to handle.

All prayer requests are kept confidential and can be emailed here.

 

 

 

Your Support

 

You can bless the lives of  people you care about by telling them about this site. 

You will help people you know, and others around the world have more joy in their lives by giving to help with the costs of this outreach.

The number of people this outreach helps depends on how much you give.

Your contribution and prayers are really needed and appreciated and will make a great difference in people's lives.

Your gift makes it possible for God to reach people through this web site who are searching, hopeless, suffering, unloved, or desperate.

 

"You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.

For your generosity to them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ."   2 Corinthians 9:13   NLT

 

   

 

 

 

   Your Joy

 

Click on any of the great topics below to read or hear more about them.   God will bless your life tremendously !

 

Ultimate Joy

 

Joy in God's Blessings

 

Joy in Love

 

Joy in Purpose

 

Joy in Hope

 

Joy in Happiness

 

Joy in Life

 

Joy in Success

 

Joy in Meaning

 

Joy in Peace

 

Joy in a Book

 

Joy in Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

Click on any of the life-changing article titles below to read or hear more about them.

 

 

Honouring Twelve Special People

 

A True Hero

 

Have Faith in God

 

Hope For You

 

Live Like a Champion

 

Meet Jesus

 

Generous Joy

 

Human Joy

 

Joy in Disappointment

 

Joy in Job

 

Joy in a Well

 

Positive Joy

 

Signs of Joy

 

Surprising Joy

 

Worship Joy

 

 

 

 

Exploring the significance of special days on the calendar can teach us important things about God and ourselves. Click on any special day below to read or hear more about it.

 

 

New Year's Day

 

Valentine's Day

 

St. Patrick's Day

 

Easter

 

Mother's and Father's Days

 

International Workers' Day

 

Thanksgiving

 

Remembrance Day

 

Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

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Statement of Faith  

 

 

 

Ultimate Joy

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It is incredible how many places in the Bible talk about joy. This is not surprising because as we will see, God is the source of the deepest, most lasting, and most genuine joy that there is.

 

Somebody might say,” I want to have joy in life without God.” That is like saying they would like someone to bake them an apple pie without using apples.

 

Somebody might say that they know of a substitute for real apples. If so, it would be an inferior substitute for the real thing. And if we try finding real joy in life without God, we will only end up with a far inferior substitute for the real thing.

 

“Next Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw all this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”   Leviticus 9:23-24  NLT

 

“Surely You have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of Your presence.”   Psalm 21:6   NIV

 

“Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise You with the harp, O God, my God”   Psalm 43:4  NIV

 

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”    Habakkuk  3:18   NIV

 

Take a few moments to think about the wonderful verses we have just read – or better yet, read them again. They show us clearly that God is where we find the ultimate joy. We find joy in His presence. We find joy when we worship Him. We find joy when we focus on Him. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to fantastic joy! 

 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this about Habakkuk 3:18,” God is the inexhaustible source and infinite supply of joy… Far too many people keep trying to buy joy, but happiness is not found in circumstances. Joy is available to everyone, even to those stripped of every material possession, for joy is to be found in a Person. It comes through an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord, so that even those in the worst circumstances can smile.”

 

Joy is found in God, and He gives joy to people who serve Him and live for Him as we see in the following verses.

 

“And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”     Nehemiah 12:43  NIV

 

“But look! God will not reject a person of integrity, nor will He make evildoers prosper. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”     Job 8:20-21  NLT

 

“You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine.”    Psalm 4:7   NLT

 

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”  Psalm 126:3  NIV

 

“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul.”  Psalm 94:19   NIV

 

“Bring joy to Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 86:4   NIV

 

“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Protect them, so all who love Your name may be filled with joy.”   Psalm 5:11   NLT

 

God wants to fill people everywhere with His joy, so that the whole world would rejoice!  Consider these next verses, this is fantastic!

 

“Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious!”  Psalm 66:1-2   NIV

 

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”   Psalm 47:1  NIV

 

God not only wants to fill people with His joy, He has also filled His creation with joy!

 

“Let the skies rejoice and the earth be glad. Let people everywhere say,’ The Lord is king!’ Let the sea and everything in it shout; let the fields and everything in them rejoice. Then the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord. They will sing because He is coming to judge the world.” 

1 Chronicles 16:31-33  NCV

 

The next two Scriptures show us that since ultimate joy is found in God, we also find joy in the places where He is worshipped.

 

“Then the people of Israel – the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles – celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.”   Ezra 6:16  NIV

 

“The Lord is great; He should be praised. He should be respected more than all the gods. All the gods of the nations are only idols, but the Lord made the skies. He has glory and majesty; He has power and joy in His temple.”   1 Chronicles 16:25-27   NCV

 

These next marvelous verses tell us that our faith in God gives us great joy.

 

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”  Philippians 1:25-26   NIV

 

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:8-9  NIV

 

“The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.”   Acts 16:34   NIV

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13   NIV

 

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”     Psalm 28:7  NIV

 

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”  Psalm 95:1   NIV

 

Now here are three great Scriptures that show us we find wonderful joy when we pray to God to forgive us of our sins and place us in good standing with Him.

 

“Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You.”  Psalm 51:12  NLT

 

“When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. He will declare to his friends,’ I sinned but it was not worth it. God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’ “   Job 33:26-28   NLT

 

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”   Luke 15:7   NASB

 

We also are filled with joy as we live for God each day, as we see in the following verses.

 

“And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 13:52   NASB

 

When Jesus was speaking to God the Father, He said this about His followers,“ I am on My way to You. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My followers will have the same complete joy that I do.”   John 17:13   CEV

 

The NCV translates that same incredible verse this way,” I am coming to You now. But I pray these things while I am still in the world so that these followers can have all of My joy in them.”

 

When we spend time reading and studying the Bible, our hearts will also be filled with joy, as we see in these next verses.

 

“Your words are what sustain me. They bring me great joy and are my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, O Lord God Almighty.”                Jeremiah 15:16   NLT

 

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”  Psalm 19:8  NIV

 

“So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.” Nehemiah 8:12  NLT

 

To sum up then, God is the source of the truest joy that exists and we have to come to Him to receive it. He gives joy to people who serve Him and live for Him. He wants to fill people everywhere with His joy. He has also filled His creation with joy. We also find joy in the places where He is worshipped. Our faith in God gives us great joy. We find wonderful joy when we pray to God to forgive us of our sins and place us in good standing with Him. We are filled with joy as we live for God each day. When we spend time reading and studying the Bible, our hearts will be filled with joy.

 

Right now you can begin receiving the joy that God wants to give to you. Visit the Become page to find out

 

 

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Joy in God's Blessings

 

 

 

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www.thefreedictionary.com gives several definitions for the word benediction.

 

One is an expression of good wishes. Another is an invocation of divine blessing, usually at the end of a church service. In other words, it is asking God to bless people’s lives.

 

I have an old hymn book at home which indicates various Scriptures suitable for a benediction.

 

I invite you to read them thoughtfully. I pray that all of these blessings from the Lord will flow through your entire life in wonderful ways.

 

Maybe you would like to begin or end each day by reading these great Scriptures and allowing the Lord to encourage you during that time.

 

May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may He be gracious to you, show you His favour, and give you His peace.       Numbers 6:24-26  TLB

 

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.         2 Corinthians 13:11,14   NLT

 

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us, and through His grace He gave us a good hope and encouragement that continues forever.          2 Thessalonians 2:16-17   NCV

 

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).

Hebrews 13:20-21   Amp.

 

We pray that God Himself, the God of peace, will make you pure—belonging only to Him. We pray that your whole self—spirit, soul, and body—will be kept safe and be blameless when our Lord Jesus Christ comes.     

1 Thessalonians 5:23    ERV

 

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.                        Jude 24-25   ESV

 

The blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon your spirit.          Philemon 25  TLB

 

The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).          Numbers 6:24-26  Amp.

 

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.        2 Corinthians 13:11   ESV

 

I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you and be kind to you! May God bless you with His love, and may the Holy Spirit join all your hearts together.       2 Corinthians 13:14   CEV

 

God our Father loved us and by His kindness gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope. Together with our Lord Jesus Christ,  may He encourage and strengthen you to do and say everything that is good.         2 Thessalonians 2:16-17    GW

 

I pray that the God of peace will give you every good thing you need so you can do what He wants. God raised from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, because of the blood of His death. His blood began the eternal agreement that God made with His people. I pray that God will do in us what pleases Him, through Jesus Christ, and to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.          Hebrews 13:20-21   NCV

 

May the God of peace Himself make you entirely pure and devoted to God; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong and blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes back again.       1 Thessalonians 5:23    TLB

 

God can guard you so that you don’t fall and so that you can be full of joy as you stand in His glorious presence without fault. Before time began, now, and for eternity glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.                    Jude 24-25   GW

 

The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).           Philemon 25   Amp.

 

May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord smile down on you and show you His kindness.  May the Lord answer your prayers and give you peace.            Numbers 6:24-26   ERV

 

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Joy in Love

 

 

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We do not need to be convinced about how important love is to people. Love is as important to us as life itself. Have you ever wondered how much love means to the God who created us?

We find the answer to that question in the Bible. The Bible is not a book of people’s opinions about what God is like. The Bible is a book of God revealing to people what He is like, and they wrote it down.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.”  2 Timothy 3:16   NCV

A footnote at 2 Timothy 3:16 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible explains,” God supernaturally directed the writing of Scripture so that they (the writers) recorded in perfect accuracy His comprehensive and infallible revelation to people.”

David was one of the Bible’s writers. Consider what he says in 2 Samuel 23:2   NLT “The Spirit of the Lord speaks through me; His words are upon my tongue.”

One of the things God revealed about His nature is that He is a loving God.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”     I Chronicles 16:34  NLT

“I call to You, God, and You answer me. Listen to me now, and hear what I say. Your love is wonderful. By Your power You save those who trust You from their enemies. Protect me as You would protect Your own eye. Hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”    Psalm 17:6-8  NCV 

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.”  Psalm 63:3   NIV 

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me.   Psalm 69:16   NIV 

“O Lord You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask Your aid. Listen closely to my prayer O Lord; hear my urgent cry. I will call to You whenever trouble strikes, and You will answer me.”     Psalm 86:5-7   NLT 

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in heaven itself.”       Psalm 89:1-2  NIV

“All of you nations, come and praise the Lord! Let everyone praise Him. His love for us is wonderful; His faithfulness never ends. Shout praises to the Lord!”     Psalm 117:1-2  CEV

“God our Father loves us. He is kind and has given us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father will encourage you and help you always to do and say the right thing.”     2 Thessalonians 2:16-17    CEV

See what (an incredible) quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should (be permitted to) be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.   1 John 3:1   Amp

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.    Romans 5:5  Amp.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:38-39  NASB

These are just a few of the many places in the Bible that describe God’s love. God wants the people He created and who live for Him to know that His love is good, it is great, it is wonderful, it lasts forever, it is better than life, and it cannot be separated from us.  His love for people who serve Him causes Him to be faithful to us, to listen to our prayers, to protect us, to be very merciful to us, to be ready to forgive us, to give us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, to be willing to call us His children, and to pour His love into our hearts.

These verses clearly show that God loves His people immensely. His love overflows, reaches out, and never decreases. God wants us to know that this is the kind of love He wants to fill the lives of all people with, people like you and me. This is incredibly awesome! At the same time, there is something else about God we also need to realize.

First, think about the most loving person you know. That person does not love everything. They do not love to see crimes committed against people they care about. They do not love to see injustices done to people they are concerned about. They do not love to see people cheating, manipulating, or lying to other people. They do not love to see child abuse, or wife beating. They do not love to see people acting hypocritically, irresponsibly, or maliciously toward other people. They do not love to see people hurting other people.

Therefore it makes perfect sense that the same God who loves, would not love behaviour that is wrong, bad, or evil. Love is a central part of who God is, and is a fundamental part of God’s character, but it is not the only aspect of His character. God’s character is not one dimensional. Holiness is also a fundamental aspect of God’s character.

“There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no God but You; there is no Rock like our God.”  1 Samuel 2:2  NCV

“There are six things the Lord hates. There are seven things He cannot stand: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that thinks up evil plans, feet that are quick to do evil, a witness who lies, and someone who starts arguments among families.”  Proverbs 6:16-19  NCV

“I, the Lord, love justice. I hate stealing and everything that is wrong. I will be fair and give My people what they should have, and I will make an agreement with them that will continue forever.”  Isaiah 61:8   NCV

“But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves.”  Romans 1:18  NLT

It is obvious that God loves us tremendously and that He hates the sinful things we do just as tremendously. This is a huge predicament for us to be in. Worse than that, there is nothing we can do to change it. This is why God did something to change it.

These next verses show us the loving aspect and the holy aspect of God’s nature, and what He did to change our hopeless predicament.

But God shows and clearly proves His (own) love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.    Romans 5:8  Amp

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   1 John 4:9-10   NIV 

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).  Ephesians 2:4-5    NKJV

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of  His mercy.   Titus 3:4-5a  NIV

God requires us to do something now, in order to benefit from what He has done for us.

“Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life. God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent Him to save them!” John 3:15-17   CEV

 “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”  Romans 10:9-10   NLT

When you do this, then your life will be blessed in marvellous ways as we shall see in the following verses.

“And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming,’ The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.’  “ Exodus 34:6-7a  NIV

He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.  Psalm 33:5  NASB

In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.  

Psalm 33:21-22  NIV 

Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.  Psalm 36:10   NKJV

Somebody might say that is not the kind of God they believe in. We need to always keep one thing in mind – God made us, we did not make Him. He will not change His character or who He is to fit or to suit what we want to believe.

When two people experience love in both directions we find that most gratifying. God also wants you to experience love in two directions, between you and Him.  You will find that to be the most gratifying love of all.

Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.   Judges 5:31a  NKJV

‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.’  John 14:21   NASB 

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ’You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. 

Mark 12:30-31  NKJV

 

 

 

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Joy in Purpose         

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Is there any purpose to life? How can I find meaning in life?

These are two of the deepest questions human beings can ask. Many of us have asked ourselves these vital questions at least once in our lives.

To find solid answers that we can base our lives upon it is essential for us to take a close look at God.

We must start with Him because He created us. Therefore He is the source of everything important that we require and that we seek throughout our entire existence. This is true during life on earth, and the life to come. One of the important things we seek is to know we have a purpose for living and to know what that purpose is.

The Bible clearly shows that God acts in order to fulfill specific purposes. It also plainly indicates that when God acted to create us, this action was for specific purposes. This fact gives genuine and great meaning to our lives.

Just as God is the origin and author of life, He is also the origin and author of purpose and meaning. When He created us, He designed significant purpose into our lives.

God does not act without having a purpose in mind. He does not do things just for amusement. He does not do things on a trial and error basis. He is not like some inventor who needs to try and do something 60 times before getting it to work the 61st.

A wonderful verse to begin with is Job 36:5.

“God is mighty, but does not despise men; He is mighty, and firm in His purpose.” NIV     When God acts, He knows exactly what He is doing and why. 

It is really helpful to see this same verse in other versions.

“God is powerful, but He does not hate people; He is powerful and sure of what He wants to do.” NCV     He is sure of what He wants to do because He has a definite purpose in mind when He does something.

“God is mighty, yet He does not despise anyone! He is mighty in both power and understanding.”  NLT   God’s purpose for acting is as firm and great as His power to take the action.

Here are more wonderful verses which show that God’s actions are according to His divine purposes. Notice how these verses so beautifully illustrate the strong connection and perfect harmony between His actions and purposes.

“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”   Psalm 33:11 NIV 

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”  Isaiah 46:9b-10 NIV

“O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds.” Jeremiah 32:18b-19a  NIV

“So is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11  NIV

When God sent Jesus to come and live on earth, this was also for divine purposes.

Jesus said,” The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”  Luke 19:10   CEV

“People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus of Nazareth by doing wonderful miracles, wonders, and signs through Him, as you well know. But you followed God’s prearranged plan. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed Him to the cross and murdered Him. However, God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life again, for death could not keep Him in its grip.”  Acts 2:22-24   NLT

The NIV translates verse 23 this way,” This Man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.”

“God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die.”  John 3:16   CEV

To find the purpose in life which God created us to have, the first step we have to take is to place our faith in Jesus and ask Him to save us. This makes us acceptable in God’s sight, and allows us to enjoy a loving relationship with Him and live forever in His family.

“Jesus told us that God is light and doesn’t have any darkness in Him. Now we are telling you. If we say that we share life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of His Son Jesus washes all our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn’t in our hearts. But if we confess our sins to God, He can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His message isn’t in our hearts.” 1 John 1:5-10   CEV

“The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans 6:23   NCV

To find the purpose in life which God created us to have, the next step we have to take is to make the number one priority for the rest of our lives to live for God and please God.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.”  Romans 12:1-2  NLT

“Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.” Romans 12:2b  CEV

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.”  Philippians 2:13  NLT

“God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.”  Ephesians 2:10   NCV

When you live in the manner described above, your life will be filled with the greatest meaning and highest purpose possible.

Jesus said,” The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”  John 10:10  NLT

 

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Joy in Hope

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The word hope can be used as a verb or a noun. In other words it can be used as an action word or an object.

 

www.merriam-webster.com defines the verb hope as: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to desire with expectation of obtainment, or to expect with confidence.

 

It defines the noun hope as: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment, or someone or something on which hopes are centered.

 

Hope is an essential part of a person’s life. This is because hope encourages optimism, a sense of security, and inner well-being. Hope gives us something good to look forward to.  Hope can help us survive a difficult situation. Hope motivates us to go on, instead of giving up. Hope can lead us to things that can improve the quality of our lives.

 

Have you ever hoped for something but after a time began to believe it was not going to happen? How did you feel then?

 

“Not getting what you want can make you feel sick, but a wish that comes true is a life-giving tree.”   Proverbs 13:12   CEV

 

What do you hope for in life? Who is your hope centered on?

 

Did you know that the Bible describes hopes that believers and unbelievers each have?

 

First, here are just some of the amazing hopes believers have.  To begin with, all of our hopes are centered on the Lord Himself.

 

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.”   Psalm 31:24   NASB

 

“For I hope in Thee, O Lord; Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God.”  Psalm 38:15  NASB

 

“O Lord, You alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood.”  Psalm 71:5  NLT

 

Maybe you have already gone through the experience of placing a lot of hope in someone and being greatly disappointed in them or letdown by them sometime later. You might be asking yourself, “How can I be sure this won’t happen if I place my hope in God?”  Consider the following verses in 1 Peter and Hebrews.

 

“Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And because God raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory, your faith and hope can be placed confidently in God.”  1 Peter 1:21   NLT

 

“These two things cannot change: God cannot lie when He makes a promise, and He cannot lie when He makes an oath. These things encourage us who came to God for safety. They give us strength to hold on to the hope we have been given. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong. It enters behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place in heaven, where Jesus has gone ahead of us and for us. He has become the high priest forever, a priest like Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20  NCV

 

You may be wondering where is ‘behind the curtain in the Most Holy Place in heaven’? The Ryrie Study Bible says it is,” In the presence of God. Believers have as strong encouragement as Abraham had in his time, because Jesus has already entered into the presence of God and assures us of our entrance into heaven as well.”

 

This next verse is as fantastic as the ones we have just read.  Not only is the Lord our hope, but He also gives hope to us!  There is no way for you to live a hopeless life when your hope is placed firmly in the Lord!

 

“I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in Him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   Romans 15:13    NCV

 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvoord and Zuck says about this verse,” Joy relates to the delight of anticipation in seeing one’s hopes fulfilled. Peace results from the assurance that God will fulfill those hopes. These are experienced as believers trust in Him. As a result believers overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Now consider the following wonderful hopes that are yours if you are a follower of  Jesus Christ.

 

 

“But I will keep on hoping for You to help me; I will praise You more and more. I will tell everyone about Your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim Your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much You have done for me.”  Psalm 71:14-15   NLT

 

“But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are. My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He truly is. This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ is holy.” 1 John 3:1b-3   CEV

 

“And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts.”   Romans 5: 2b-5a   NCV

 

“Jesus treated us much better than we deserve. He made us acceptable to God and gave us the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:7   CEV

 

“The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”   Psalm 147:11    NIV

 

“But we belong to the day, so we should control ourselves. We should wear faith and love to protect us, and the hope of salvation should be our helmet. God did not choose us to suffer His anger but to have salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us so that we can live together with Him, whether we are alive or dead when He comes.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8 NCV

 

 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says about this verse that,” the hope of salvation guards their heads from attacks on their thinking. The salvation they look forward to is deliverance from the wrath to come when the Lord returns…Followers of Christ have a sure hope; they are not as others who have no hope.”

 

“We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as His children, including the new bodies He has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.”   Romans 8:23b-25  NLT

 

You might be asking, “Where can I get this patience from? I’m not a patient person by nature.”   Reading the Bible regularly can greatly increase our patience and give strength to our hope.

 

“Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us. The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope.”    Romans 15:4   NCV

 

Maybe you are not a believer and are asking, “How can all these great hopes be in my life?”

 

“But we have the true hope that comes from being made right with God, and by the Spirit we wait eagerly for this hope.”  Galatians  5:5   NCV

 

Now, consider what the Bible says about unbelievers’ hopes.

 

“Papyrus plants cannot grow where there is no swamp, and reeds cannot grow tall without water. While they are still growing and not yet cut, they will dry up quicker than grass. That is what will happen to those who forget God; the hope of the wicked will be gone. What they hope in is easily broken; what they trust is like a spider’s web.”  Job 8:11-14   NCV

 

“What hope do the wicked have when they die, when God takes their life away? God will not listen to their cries when trouble comes to them. They will not find joy in the Almighty, even though they call out to God all the time.”  Job 27:8-10   NCV

 

“I have not put my trust in gold, or said to pure gold,’ You are my security.’ I have not celebrated my great wealth or the riches my hands had gained. I have not thought about worshiping the sun in its brightness nor admired the moon moving in glory so that my heart was pulled away from God. My hand has never offered the sun and moon a kiss of worship. If I had, these also would have been sins to be punished, because I would have been unfaithful to God.” Job 31:24-28   NCV

 

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness, but the expectations of the wicked are all in vain.”  Proverbs 10:28   NLT

 

It is easy to see that one of the great benefits of becoming a follower of Christ is that God gives you powerful, sure, and complete hopes in place of weak, fragile, and empty ones.

 

Visit the Become page to find out how to become a follower of Christ starting this very moment.

 

 

 

 

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Joy in Happiness

 

 

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What do you want the most in life? Huge question isn’t it? When was the last time you took some time to think about that?

Some people want to have better health. Some want to live a very long life. Others want to see their children grow to become successful adults. Still others want to find someone to marry.

Ask people around the world what they want most out of life and you will find high on their list of answers,” I just want to be happy.”

Did you know that God wants you to be happy too?

The biggest key to you being happy is making God the first priority in your entire life.

“Happy are those who are like this; happy are the people whose God is the Lord.”  Psalm 144:15 NCV

Another vital key to you being happy is making the regular worship of God important in your life.

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds – His name is the Lord – and rejoice before Him.”   Psalm 68:3-4  NIV

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.”   James 5:13  NIV

Another crucial step to you being happy is to regularly study God’s truths in the Bible and live by them.

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be happy.” Proverbs 16:20  NLT

“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is happy.”  Proverbs 29:18   NLT

An additional key to you being happy is to serve other people. You might say, that doesn’t make sense, how can doing things for someone else make me happy?

Listen to what Jesus said to His followers,” You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”   John 13:13-17   NKJV

Happy are you if you do them. Do what exactly? Do as I (Jesus) have done to you. And what did Jesus do? He washed His followers’ feet as a way of serving them in a humble and thoughtful manner in order to meet their need.

If you put God first in your life, make regular worship of Him important in your life, study His book the Bible regularly and live by it, and serve other people, then God can give you more happiness than you could ever obtain any other way.

“I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope.”  Romans 15:13   CEV

 

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Joy in Life

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According to http://geography.about.com the world’s population was around 200 million in the year 1 A.D., it was around 275 million in year 1000, it passed 1.6 billion in the year 1900, and in 2011 will be around 7 billion people.

 

China has the largest population of any country in the world.

http://www.internetworldstats.com says that in 2011, over 1.3 billion people live in China. This is almost as much as the population of the entire world just one hundred years ago! 

 

The number 7 billion is too staggering to take in. All of these people have one thing in common – they are alive. However, they have not all found life.

 

Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 NCV,” Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road.”

 

The NLT translates those verses like this,” You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.”

 

There are several very important things the Lord Jesus tells us in these two brief verses.

 

First, He tells us that true life is found only in God’s Kingdom. If we were left to figure things out by ourselves, we would not know where to find true life. Since the Lord loves us so much, He tells us where to find it.

 

Second, He invites us to enter that Kingdom. He wants everyone including you to be in His Kingdom. He urges you to accept His invitation because He loves you and wants the best for you. You will only find His best inside His Kingdom.

 

Third, He tells us that only a few people will decide to enter through the gate and travel on the road that leads to true life.

 

Fourth, He tells us that most people will decide to enter a different gate that leads to an easy path, a more popular road. The people who travel on this road try to enjoy it while they are on it. While they are on this road they try to ignore God, make no commitment to God, and have no faith in God. They try to leave God completely out of their lives. Hell is at the end of that road. But it won’t be at the end of your road if you make the right decision.

 

 

We discover an amazing thing about the gate which leads to true life. This gate is different to any other gate. This gate is actually a person.

 

“Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before Me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come in through Me will be saved. Through Me they will come and go and find pasture. A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy, I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.”   John 10:7-10   CEV

 

Jesus proclaimed that when we come in through Him we are saved, we find pasture, and we have life in its fullest! What a tremendous gate He is!

 

What did Jesus mean when He said we would come and go and find pasture?

 

www.sheep101.info explains why pasture is important for sheep. “The pasture resource is often the most neglected part of the sheep enterprise, yet it usually provides the majority of nutrients to the stock. Well-managed pastures that are properly grazed have the potential to minimize feed costs and increase profits. Pasture is the most natural diet for sheep…”

 

www.wikihow.com  says,“ Sheep will spend about 7 hours a day grazing. An estimated 2 acres of pasture is needed for 6 sheep.”

 

Jesus wants us to know that He will provide our most vital needs day after day. If we spend many of our waking hours each day acknowledging His presence in our lives, He can nourish our souls, just like the pasture nourishes the sheep. After we graze in Jesus’ pasture, we do not need to go to any other pasture to find nourishment. We can return to His pasture day after day and be filled each time with all that we need. Jesus’ pasture does not have bare patches or weeds. His pasture is nothing but rich soil from one end to the other producing the healthiest of grass which continues growing and is good for us.

 

Jesus made another incredible statement about how we can find true life. It is found in John 14:6   NLT  ,”Jesus told him,’ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.’ “

 

Not only is Jesus the Gate we go through to find true life, He is that life! Jesus had a great ability to say a few words that had far reaching impact. This was one of those occasions.

 

A footnote in the Life Application Bible at John 14:6 says,” As the way, Jesus is our path to the Father. As the truth, He is the reality of all God’s promises. As the life, He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally.”

 

If I do not have faith in Jesus, if I have never received Him as Saviour and Lord of my life, then I do not have true, eternal life.

 

“Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.”  Ephesians 2:1-2    NLT

 

God makes His marvellous life available to you and me because He is so merciful to us.

 

“But God’s mercy is great, and He loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, He gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.”  Ephesians 2:4-5   NCV

 

“God has also said that He gave us eternal life and that this life comes to us from His Son. And so, if we have God’s Son, we have this life. But if we don’t have the Son, we don’t have this life. All of you have faith in the Son of God, and I have written to let you know that you have eternal life.”        1 John 5:11-13   CEV

 

If you have never done so, right now you can place your faith in Jesus, and pray to God asking Him to save you and give you new life forever with Christ.

 

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Joy in Success

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Many books have been written about how to obtain success. The best book on the subject is still the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about how you can be successful in life.  God wants you to succeed in life. Your success is important to God.

 

The first thing we need to know is what success is not.

 

“Then He said, ‘Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.’ And He gave an illustration: ‘A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said,’I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ But God said to him,’ You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.’ “   Luke 12:15-21  NLT

 

The man in this story had a false illusion of what success was. He was a selfish man. His main focus was on himself and his possessions. He assumed he would live for a long time. He thought that what he worked for belonged all to him. He believed that what he owned would meet all of his needs for as long as he lived. He did not think that he needed anything else or anybody else in life. He had enough wealth to help other people with some of it but he was not interested in doing that. He left God completely out of his life. Many people alive today are like this man.

 

Jesus said that God called this man a fool. One thing is certain, when God calls someone a fool, that person is not a success.

 

Jesus also said, ‘Real life is not measured by how much we own’, and ‘a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.’ Therefore it is clear that a successful person is someone who has a rich relationship with God.

 

Consider another great story Jesus told,” Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say? I will show you what everyone is like who comes to Me and hears My words and obeys. That person is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When the floods came, the water tried to wash the house away, but it could not shake it, because the house was built well. But the one who hears my words and does not obey is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation. When the floods came, the house quickly fell and was completely destroyed.”  Luke 6:46-49   NCV

 

Jesus is saying that the person who comes to Him, hears His words, and obeys them is a success. Their house is built well because its foundation is on the right thing.

 

“Because of these things, this is what the Lord God says: ‘I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem, a tested stone. Everything will be built on this important and precious rock. Anyone who trusts in it will never be disappointed. I will use justice as a measuring line and goodness as the standard. The lies you hide behind will be destroyed as if by hail. They will be washed away as if in a flood.’  “  Isaiah 28:16-17  NCV

 

“But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness,’ “  2 Timothy 2:19   NLT

 

‘The foundation that has already been laid is Jesus Christ, and no one can lay down any other foundation.”  1 Corinthians 3:11  NCV

 

Build your life on God’s truth and on Jesus Christ, and you will be a success. He will show you what true success is, and make it possible for you to realize it.

 

Before we become Christians, our ability to think has been corrupted and twisted by sin. So the world’s idea of what is success is totally inaccurate. 

 

“Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.” Romans 12:2  CEV

 

God’s way of thinking is far superior to ours. Therefore, the definition of success based on the world’s way of thinking is far inferior to God’s.

 

“ ‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the Lord. ‘and My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.’ “   Isaiah 55:8-9   NLT

 

“We humans make plans, but the Lord has the final word. We may think we know what is right, but the Lord is the judge of our motives. Share your plans with the Lord, and you will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:1-3  CEV

 

“Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.”  Proverbs 16:3  NLT

 

Many successful people are written about in the Bible. Consider the following verses and it is obvious what these people had in common.

 

“If you obey the laws and teachings that the Lord gave Moses, you will be successful. Be strong and brave and don’t get discouraged or be afraid of anything.” 1 Chronicles 22:13  CEV

 

“He (Uzziah) obeyed the Lord by doing right, as his father Amaziah had done. Zechariah was Uzziah’s advisor and taught him to obey God. And so, as long as Zechariah was alive, Uzziah was faithful to God, and God made him successful.”  2 Chronicles 26:4-5  CEV

 

“Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of the Law continually. Mediate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.”  Joshua 1:7-8   NLT

 

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was never another king like him in the land of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.”  2 Kings 18:5-7a  NLT

 

“Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said,’ Listen my friends, if we trust the Lord God and believe what these prophets have told us, the Lord will help us, and we will be successful.’ “ 2 Chronicles 2:20   CEV

 

All of the people we just read about became successful in the same way. They all trusted in God. They were all faithful to God. They all studied and obeyed God’s teachings. And when they did these things, God gave them success.

 

God will do the same for you and I if we do all the things that they did.

 

 

 

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Joy in Meaning

 

 

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What is the real meaning of life? Is the meaning of life determined by each person? Does life truly matter? What makes our lives so important anyway? Does anyone know the answers to these questions? Are there actual answers to them, or can we only guess?

 

The best way to find answers is to look for them in something or someone greater than ourselves, something or someone who will be around for as long as we need meaning, and something or someone who will provide meaning to us.

 

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

 

From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said,’ We are His offspring.’

 

Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:24-31   NIV

 

This fantastic portion of the Bible answers all our questions and shows us how to find meaning in life.

 

God created the world and everything in it. He is Master and Ruler over heaven and earth. He does not need anything from anyone outside of Himself in order to maintain or improve the quality of His existence. These facts prove that God is infinitely greater than we are.

 

God gives all people life and breath and everything else. God gives us the abilities to live, move and exist. We are God’s offspring. God created and will always create all people everywhere. These facts prove that God will be around for as long as we need meaning in our lives.

 

A footnote at Acts 17:29 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible explains,” ‘Offspring’ is from the Greek word genos meaning race”, and that this refers to God creating the entire human race beginning with Adam.

 

God is not far from us. He wants us to seek Him and reach out for Him. He wants us to repent so we can have a living relationship with Him filled with meaning.

 

A footnote at Acts 17:27 in the NIV Life Application Bible explains,” God is known in His creation, and He is close to every one of us. But He is not trapped in His creation – He is transcendent. God is the Creator, not the creation. This means that God is sovereign and in control, while at the same time He is close and personal. Let the Creator of the universe rule your life.”

 

A footnote at Acts 17:30 in the Oxford NIV Scofield Study Bible explains,” ‘Repent’ is the translation of a Greek verb metanoeö, meaning to have another mind, to change the mind, and is used in the New Testament to indicate a change of mind in respect to sin, God, and self… Repentance is not an act separate from faith, but saving faith includes and implies that change of mind which is called repentance.”

 

God commands me to repent of my sin, change how I think about my sin. He commands me to stop making excuses for it, stop thinking it is no big deal, and start thinking it is as evil as God says it is and I must remove it from my life. 

 

God commands me to repent because He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice. God’s judgment of everyone who ever lived adds tremendous meaning to our lives.

 

If we were never judged for our behaviour on earth, then what we did down here would not matter at all. If we could do any and every bad thing we wanted and get away with it forever, never having to answer to God, then it would be totally pointless for us to try to display any good qualities. Life would be meaningless and senseless.

 

But God will judge our thoughts, words, and actions. That gives all of them great meaning and importance. God will make sure evil is dealt with and His truth and holiness prevail. He is superior to us, He is supreme over us, He will have the last word in our lives.

 

Many places in the Bible give reasons why God will judge every one of us after we die.

 

One of the main reasons God will judge us is to demonstrate that Jesus did not die for nothing.

 

 

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.”    Hebrews 9:27-28  NIV

 

The following verses indicate that God will also judge us to show us that He is God, He is holy, He is ruler over all, He is more powerful than all, and He alone deserves to be worshipped.

 

“Because it is written in the Scriptures;’ As surely as I live ,’ says the Lord, ‘Everyone will bow before Me; everyone will say that I am God.’  So each of us will have to answer to God.” Romans 14:11-12  NCV

 

“Lord God All-Powerful, You have done great and marvelous things. You are the ruler of all nations, and You do what is right and fair. Lord, who doesn’t honour and praise Your name? You alone are holy, and all nations will come and worship You, because You have shown that You judge with fairness.” Revelation 15:3b-4  CEV

 

“The Lord All-Powerful will receive glory by judging fairly; the holy God will show Himself holy by doing what is right.”  Isaiah 5:16 NCV

 

“But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from His throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.” Psalm 9:7-8  NLT

 

The next verses explain that God will judge us to punish sinful behaviour that people thought they had gotten away with.

 

“God says,’ At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked.’ “ Psalm 75:2  NLT

 

“You stand up to judge those who do evil, O God, and to rescue the oppressed of the earth.”  Psalm 76:9    NLT

 

“And yet you say,’ I haven’t done anything wrong. Surely He isn’t angry with me!’ Now I will punish you severely because you claim you have not sinned.”  Jeremiah 2:35  NLT

 

“I saw a great white throne with someone sitting on it. Earth and heaven tried to run away, but there was no place for them to go. I also saw all the dead people standing in front of that throne. Every one of them was there, no matter who they had once been. Several books were opened, and then the book of life was opened. The dead were judged by what those books said they had done. The sea gave up the dead people who were in it, and death and its kingdom also gave up their dead. Then everyone was judged by what they had done. Afterwards, death and its kingdom were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Anyone whose name wasn’t written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”   Revelation 20:11-15   CEV

 

The verses that follow explain that God will not only judge us to punish sinful behaviour, but also to reward behaviour which was acceptable to Him.

 

“Then at last everyone will say,’ There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.’”   Psalm 58:11 NLT

 

“For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.”     2 Corinthians 5:10  NLT

 

“God will reward or punish every person for what that person has done. Some people, by always continuing to do good, live for God’s glory, for honor, and for life that has no end. God will give them life forever. But other people are selfish. They refuse to follow truth and, instead, follow evil. God will give them His punishment and anger.” Romans 2:6-8  NCV

 

“So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6   NLT

 

These next verses show that God will also judge us because He will not allow the ugliness or filth of our sin to ruin His perfect kingdom.

 

“Your kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Love and truth are in all You do.”   Psalm 89:14 NCV

 

“But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that!” 2 Peter 3:13 CEV

 

The following verses reveal that God is fully qualified to judge us and will make no mistakes.

 

“He is coming to judge the world; He will judge the world with fairness and the peoples with truth.” Psalm 96:13  NCV

 

“But, Lord All-Powerful, you are a fair judge. You know how to test people’s hearts and minds”  Jeremiah 11:20a    NCV

 

“But I know! I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”   Jeremiah 17:10  NLT

 

Jesus said,” I promise you that on the day of judgment, everyone will have to account for every careless word they have spoken. On that day they will be told that they are either innocent or guilty because of the things they have said.” Matthew 12:36-37   CEV 

 

“Everything you were taught can be put into a few words: Respect and obey God! This is what life is all about. God will judge everything we do, even what is done in secret, whether good or bad.”    Ecclesiastes 12:13-14   CEV

 

We can show God the greatest amount of respect by giving Him first place in our lives. Receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives as Lord and Saviour is the first step to doing this.

 

We obey God when we live according to what His Word, the Bible, teaches. We also obey God when we follow the leading of His Holy Spirit.

 

If we do these things God will reward us when our turn to be judged comes, and we will discover immense meaning in our lives on earth.

 

 

 

 

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Joy in Peace

 

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A few years ago a celebrity in his 20’s was found dead in his apartment. Also found there were half a dozen different types of sleeping pills and pain killers. He once told reporters that the previous week he had only slept an average of two hours each night, his body was exhausted but he could not stop thinking.

 

There was a time in his life when another celebrity used to take more than 10 sleeping pills a night, asking his employees to get the prescribed pills under their names, and personally traveling to doctor's offices in other cities to obtain them. At other times he arranged for doctors to give him a sleeping drug by intravenous. One person said the celebrity relied on that drug like an alarm clock. Each night he would decide what time he wanted to wake up the next morning and at that time a doctor would stop the intravenous drip that delivered the drug. One night that drug caused his death.

 

Still another celebrity said he often took as many as 90 pills in a day. He said two thirds of them were sleeping pills. The rest were pain killers. He said he took pills from the time he got up in the morning to when he went to bed at night.

 

Peace was absent from the lives of each of these people. It is obvious from their stories that peace cannot be found in pills or popularity. Their money could not buy them peace either.

 

The web site stress.about.com once took a survey. The people who responded said the main causes of stress in their lives were their jobs, their finances, their personal relationships, their children, and their daily schedules. The site goes on to say chances are, many things in your life cause stress, and that stress affects your health and happiness.

 

As we can see, many people lack peace in their hearts and in their lives. How about you? Would you like to have more peace in your own life? Is peace missing completely from your life today?

 

Where can we find peace that will last and that will make a difference in our lives?

 

“I told you these things so that you can have peace in Me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”  John 16:33  NCV

 

“So Gideon built an altar there to worship the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace.”  Judges 6:24a   NCV

 

Peace is an important aspect of the Lord’s very nature.  Real peace originates in the Lord. He is the source of the rich peace we need. Therefore we find the peace we long for in the Lord Himself.

 

In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, a footnote at Judges 6:24 says - the Lord is peace, the author and giver of peace, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

 

God and real peace go together naturally. Wherever you find one, you find the other.

 

“God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:33a   NCV

 

“May the Lord of peace Himself always give you His peace no matter what happens. The Lord be with you all.”   2 Thessalonians 3:16   NLT

 

Not only is God filled with peace, but there is more great news for you. He wants you to know that He wants to give His peace to you too! That is why there are so many places in the Bible that talk about God giving His peace to His people. Consider the amazing verses which follow.

 

 

“Honesty and justice will prosper there, and justice will produce lasting peace and security. You, the Lord’s people, will live in peace, calm and secure.”  Isaiah 32:16-18  CEV

 

“I will give peace to your country; you will lie down in peace and no one will make you afraid. I will keep harmful animals out of your country, and armies will not pass through it.”   Leviticus 26:6   NCV

 

“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show His favor and give you His peace.”   Number 6:24-26  NLT

 

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace.”   Psalm 29:11   NIV

 

“‘I will give peace, real peace, to those far and near, and I will heal them’, says the Lord.”    Isaiah 57:19   NCV

 

Jesus said to His followers,“ I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”   John 14:27   NLT

 

“You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ, dear friends in Rome. God loves you dearly, and He has called you to be His very own people. May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:6-7   NLT

 

We will have God’s peace when we confess to Him we are lost sinners and show we believe the Good News by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior.

 

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”   Romans 5:1   NLT

 

“Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with Him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.”  Job 22:21   NLT

 

“For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.”  Ephesians 6:15   NLT

 

We will receive peace from God when we study His Word the Bible and apply its truths in our lives.

 

“I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His people, His faithful ones.”  Psalm 85:8a   NLT

 

“Those who love Your teachings will find true peace, and nothing will defeat them.”   Psalm 119:165   NCV

 

“The Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to My commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling like waves.”  Isaiah 48:17-18   NLT

 

We will have God’s peace when we have full confidence in Him to take care of us, and when we thank Him for all we have.

 

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!”    Isaiah 26:3   NLT

 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7   NLT

 

We will have God’s peace when we allow Him to direct our thinking.

 

“If people’s thinking is controlled by the sinful self, there is death. But if their thinking is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.”  Romans 8:6   NCV

 

“Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful.”  Colossians 3:15   CEV

 

The results of God’s peace in our lives are wonderful.

 

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”    Proverbs 14:30   NIV

 

 “Obey God and be at peace with Him; this is the way to happiness.”  Job 22:21   NCV

 

Recognize that the Lord is Peace and wants to give peace to His people. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Study God’s Word the Bible and apply it in your life. Have full confidence in God to take care of you, and thank Him for all that you have. Allow Him to direct your thinking. Then you will experience the great results of God’s peace in your life.

 

 

 

 

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 Joy in a Book

 

 

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Askville.amazon.com says that more than 3 billion books were sold in the United States alone in 2005.  

www.bowker.com says, “Bowker's Books In Print® database offers valuable information on more than 7.5 million U.S. book, audio book, and video titles, as well as 12 million international titles, making it the industry’s largest bibliographic database.”

Wiki.answers.com says some reasons why people read are to improve language skills, understand complex topics, challenge their thinking, find an escape, and forget about their problems.

With the millions of books in print right now, why read the Bible?

First of all, the Bible says that it is a living Book. Hebrews 4:12-13,” God’s word is alive and working and is sharper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts. Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before Him, and to Him we must explain the way we have lived.”  NCV

This means that the Bible is a very honest Book, letting us know exactly what God thinks of us and telling us exactly how to live to please Him before the day comes when we meet Him face to face.

Psalm 19 gives more great reasons to read the Bible.

Verses 7-8,” The teachings of the Lord are perfect; they give new strength. The rules of the Lord can be trusted; they make plain people wise. The orders of the Lord are right; they make people happy. The commands of the Lord are pure; they light up the way.” NCV  

Verse 11 tells us the end result of all of these wonderful things,” By your teachings, Lord, I am warned; by obeying them, I am greatly rewarded.” CEV    The NIV translates this same verse,” By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

Psalm 119 gives more marvellous reasons to read the Bible.

Verses 1-2,” Happy are those who live pure lives, who follow the Lord’s teachings. Happy are those who keep His rules, who try to obey Him with their whole heart. They don’t do what is wrong; they follow His ways.” NCV  

Verses 9-11,” Young people can live a clean life by obeying Your word. I worship You with all my heart. Don’t let me walk away from Your commands. I treasure Your word above all else; it keeps me from sinning against You.” CEV  

Verse 18 ,” Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in Your law.” NLT.  The NCV translates this same verse,” Open my eyes to see the miracles in your teachings.”

Verse 24,” Your laws are my greatest joy! I follow their advice.” CEV  The NCV translates this same verse,” Your rules give me pleasure; they give me good advice.”

Verses 34-35,” Help me understand, so I can keep Your teachings, obeying them with all my heart. Lead me in the path of Your commands, because that makes me happy.” NCV

Verse 40,” I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with Your goodness.” NLT

Verses 44-45,” I will keep obeying Your Law forever and ever. I have gained perfect freedom by following Your teachings.” CEV

Verse 52,” I find true comfort, Lord, because Your laws have stood the test of time.” CEV

Verse 54,” No matter where I am, Your teachings fill me with songs.” CEV

Verse 64,” Our Lord, Your love is seen all over the world. Teach me Your laws.” CEV

Verse 81,” I long for You to rescue me! Your word is my only hope.” CEV

Verse 89 ,” Lord, Your word is everlasting; it continues forever in heaven.” NCV

Verse 92-93,” If Your law hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery. I will never forget Your commandments, for You have used them to restore my joy and health.” NLT

Verse 101,” I obey Your word instead of following a way that leads to trouble.” CEV

Verse 133,” Guide my steps by Your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil.” NLT

Verse 143,” As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in Your commands.” NLT

Verse 162,” I rejoice in Your word like one who finds a great treasure.” NLT

Verse 165,” Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble.” NLT

Verse 168,” I obey Your orders and rules, because You know everything I do.” NCV

2 Timothy 3:16 gives more magnificent reasons to read the Bible,” All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing people what is wrong in their lives, for correcting faults, and for teaching how to live right.” NCV

 

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  Joy in Jesus   

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The opening sentence of the book of Mark says," This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark 1:1 CEV

It did not take long for this book to refer to something joyful. The purpose of the book of Mark, and of the entire Bible, is to tell us good news.  On the other hand, when you watch the news on TV or listen to it on the radio, notice how much of it is negative. The goods news Mark refers to is about a person, a very special person - Jesus Christ. The Bible recorded many of the great things He said and did.

We feel deceived and disgusted when we are told an athlete we admired used illegal drugs to accomplish his or her feats.  But Jesus did not use performance enhancing drugs or banned substances to do any of the incredible things He did.  Jesus will never let you down because He is the Son of God.

1 Peter 2:6 says about Jesus, "The Scripture says: ' I will put a stone in the ground in Jerusalem. Everything will be built on this important and precious rock. Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disappointed. ' " NCV

Also, Jesus said in John 15:11, " I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. " NCV.  Jesus wants you to be filled with as much joy as is possible!  As a matter of fact, another version of this verse says, "I have told you this so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" NLT

Jesus also said in John 10:10, " A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest." CEV   Another version writes the second half of this verse this way, " I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)."  Amp.

Joy begins with Jesus.

When you find Jesus, you have just found joy.

Years ago it was said that to find real joy in life, think of the word JOY as an acrostic. You can find genuine joy by focusing your life on Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third. This is very true.

In the 1990's I came across an excellent TV program called The Joy of Music.  The host was Diane Bish, a master organist. The program filmed her and other fine musicians performing great music at locations around the world.  She once performed at a nearby city and I was happy to bring my mother to attend the concert.

There is a certain level of joy that can be obtained from hearing appealing, well-performed music. Consider the amount of money people are willing to pay for concert tickets. The human ability to make music was created in us by God. Animals do not have the ability to compose songs or make and play musical instruments.  Imagine what the world would be missing if all music disappeared.

The highest level of joy that we can obtain in life cannot be found in music, entertainment, sports, travel, fame, money, drugs, sensual pleasures, career, possessions, or any other things.

The highest level of joy that we can obtain in life is found in Jesus. The joy He gives reaches our entire being.

Jesus said it Himself, "Yes, your joy will overflow!"

 

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Honouring Twelve Special People

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On Friday July 20 the world became a much poorer place. During a few senseless, tragic, painful, and chaotic minutes, the lives of twelve precious people were horribly ended in Aurora, Colorado, USA. Out of respect and dignity for them I will not go into details about how their lives ended. Not only did their families and friends lose someone special that day – we all did.

I wish that I could rewind the clock and then cause time to skip over those awful minutes so that those dear people would still be with us.

Although they lived thousands of miles away and I never knew or met any of them, this tragedy has made them seem much closer now. I now want to know more about who they were so that their lives were not lived in vain. Maybe as I learn more about them I will discover something good they started which I can finish – perhaps not as well as they would have done it, but out of respect for them and for the good of humanity everywhere, I will do my best to complete it well.

For the sake of these fine people we must resolve to do this in order to bring some good out of the despicable evil that took place.

I saw an article today about the lives of these twelve people and read it carefully. The report said at least four of these people sacrificed their own lives by shielding others from gunfire. I consider all twelve of them to be heroes.  

During those ugly moments which no one could possibly foresee or be prepared for, these people displayed the highest possible amount of heroism, courage, and love for others. May we all show more love, care, concern, and compassion for others from now on. May we all be more willing to do for others from now on, even in day to day situations where circumstances are not as extreme as what these twelve people encountered.

They who had no weapons displayed more power than the one who did. The strength of their character during a terrible crisis is an inspiration to all of us.

When Jesus died, the hopes and dreams of family, friends, and followers were crushed. They found it incredible that He died at such a young age. They felt that the painful way He died was excruciating to bear. Yet His death led to great things in the future which could not have happened if He had not died.

The first great thing is that Jesus came back to life. He could not have come back to life if He had not died first.

“I passed on to you what I received, of which this was most important: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that He was buried and was raised to life on the third day as the Scriptures say.”          1 Corinthians 15:3-4   NCV

The second great thing is Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins so that we could have a close relationship with God.

“Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.  God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with Him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. In other words, God was using Christ to restore His relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and He has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.”                               2 Corinthians 5:17-19    GW

The third great thing is Jesus’ death and resurrection makes eternal life possible for us when we put our complete faith in Him.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection. I am life. Everyone who believes in Me will have life, even if they die.  And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never really die.”                              John 11:25-26b   ERV

The terrible loss of these twelve people has crushed us now, and is excruciating to bear. Although it may seem incredible to imagine now, this loss can lead to great things in the future, and we all must hope together and support each other so that it will.

 

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A True Hero

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www.cbc.ca and www.digitaljournal.com reported the following story in Canada in 2011

A B.C. RCMP officer is being hailed as a hero after saving a 15-year-old girl. He was injured by an out-of-control truck but he was able to throw Buffy-Anne Troy to safety first. The truck was coming down a hill and lost control on the ice, starting a series of collisions that ended with a pickup truck pinning Moir against the Troy vehicle, crushing his leg.

Constable Jim Moir, 45, was talking to the girl at the side of the road after the truck she had been travelling in with her family slid off the road and into a ditch near Yale. A sand truck coming down a hill lost control on the icy road and struck a yellow highways vehicle, pushing it toward them.  Seeing what was taking place, Moir shoved the girl into the ditch.

“This was obviously a split second decision where the constable realized what was happening, and his first thought was to do whatever was necessary to protect this girl,” says Sgt. Peter Thiessen, spokesperson for the RCMP Lower Mainland District Regional Police Service, in a press release. “He clearly put her safety ahead of his own.” 

Buffy-Anne told The Province that she remembers the truck coming toward them and she felt hands pushing her away, and then found herself stumbling and falling into the ditch. When she got up she heard her mother shouting that the police officer was trapped between two trucks, and that those present got him free in about 10 minutes.

“I feel amazed that he would do that,” she told The Province. “He’s a real hero because if it wasn’t for him, I would be seriously injured or dead. I’m so grateful.”

RCMP reported that Moir had gone to the area in response to a multi-vehicle accident. Because freezing rain had made roads so slippery his vehicle slid into a tractor trailer when he was trying to park on a hill, breaking a light on the police car.

After speaking with the truck driver he crossed the road to speak with the Troy family.

Moir, a member of Fraser Valley Traffic Services, has been with the RCMP for 18 years. His leg was crushed in the accident and he is expected to be off work for a few months. 

There were no other injuries.

 

When I read this amazing story I thought of the following great Scripture:

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”   Romans 5:6-8   NLT

Please consider with me these twelve thoughts:

The officer risked his own health to save the girl’s – he could not do this for everyone though.  Jesus gave His own life to save everyone’s who has ever been born.

The officer pushed the girl out of the truck’s path so that he took the pain from the collision instead of her. Jesus took our sins on Himself so that He took the punishment for them instead of us.

The girl was unable to save herself and the officer pushed her to a safe place at just the right time. We were unable to save ourselves and Jesus died for us at the right time to bring us eternal safety.

The officer’s actions were motivated by duty and courage. Jesus’ actions were motivated by holiness and love.

The officer’s act that one time saved this girl from serious injury and may even have saved her life. Jesus’ act one time saved forever the lives of all who trust in Him.

The man was paid a salary to do the job of an officer. Jesus was not paid anything to die for us.

The man did the job of an officer only during certain hours each day and certain days of the week.  Jesus can save people’s lives around the world every moment of every day.

The officer acted to save the girl without knowing anything about her character, what she had done, or even her feelings about police officers. Jesus died for us knowing that we are sinners, knowing some of us ignore Him, do not care about Him, swear using His name, make fun of Him, or hate Him.

The officer was only able to help the girl in certain situations. Jesus can help us in any situation we face.

If the officer moved to a different city, retired, or died, he would no longer be available to help the girl in any situation. Jesus is always available to help us.

After the incident, the girl may not have ever seen the officer again. Jesus is always near and is always with us.

After the incident, the girl had a different view of the officer. After we trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for us, we have a different view of Him.

Let us look at this wonderful Scripture one more time:

“When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die. But God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”   Romans 5:6-8  NCV

I hope that sharing all of this will help us to appreciate this Scripture even more, and love and appreciate our Saviour Jesus Christ much, much more.

 

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Have Faith in God

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“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”   Psalm 20:7-8   NIV 

It is interesting what people put their faith in from day to day.  

A company sent an invoice that was obviously very inaccurate. When an employee was asked about the amount charged they quickly replied it could not be wrong because it was obtained by a machine.  

Thankfully other people looked into the matter and the charges were completely cancelled. 

When we type an email and then press the send button we are convinced the other person has received it. But if they had closed their email account, their computer was stolen, or they were an employee now no longer with the company, they will never see our email. 

We leave a message on an answering machine and believe that means the other person definitely received it. But messages are sometimes accidentally deleted, or lost due to technical problems. I have an answering machine that loses all the messages every time I simply change its battery.

“Some trust in chariots, others in horses, but we trust the Lord our God. They are overwhelmed and defeated, but we march forward and win.”  Psalm 20:7-8  NCV

So why do we place so much faith in machines or other things that cannot even think, reason, or care about us?

Here is an even bigger question – why do we place so little faith in God whose ability to think is infinitely superior to ours, whose capacity to reason is incomparably greater than ours, and whose love for us exceeds all of our love for Him added together? 

Why are we more willing to place our  confidence in an inexpensive answering machine  than we are in the God who lives forever, rules forever, and who created us and keeps us alive everyday? 

“Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stood upright.”  Psalm 20:7-8   NASB 

Consider how much God does for us each moment just to keep us alive. 

For example, science.howstuffworks.com says,” The brain performs an incredible number of tasks including the following:  It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.  It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching). It handles your physical movement when walking, talking, standing or sitting.  It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions. “

“Your brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves make up a complex, integrated information-processing and control system known as your central nervous system. In tandem, they regulate all the conscious and unconscious facets of your life.”

“Your brain is made of approximately 100 billion nerve cells, called neurons. Neurons have the amazing ability to gather and transmit electrochemical signals -- think of them like the gates and wires in a computer.”

“Neurons come in many sizes. For example, a single sensory neuron from your fingertip has an axon that extends the length of your arm, while neurons within the brain may extend only a few millimeters. They also have different shapes depending on their functions.”

And then www.wereyouwondering.com has this to say about our liver,” It serves a vital function in almost every system in your body; from hormone and digestive enzyme production to blood filtration and the last stop in chemical digestion of medications. It is both an endocrine and exocrine organ, and along with the heart, brain and pancreas is an organ that we cannot live without.”

“Your liver also manufactures some very important hormones (endocrine function). It produces Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF 1); a hormone responsible for stimulating body growth in children. Thrombopoietin is a hormone produced by the liver that regulates platelet production in your bone marrow.”

“Your liver, along with your kidneys, are an important organ in glucose metabolism. The liver converts glucose into glycogen. Glycogen provides the body with short term energy storage. Long term energy storage is contained in fat cells. Muscle cells can also convert glucose to glycogen. “Gluco” refers to sugar. The liver converts glycogen back to glucose for immediate use.”

“The liver stores vitamins and minerals for short and long term use including Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, iron and copper.”

When we also think about all the other parts of our body and how God alone keeps them functioning for us how can we be unwilling to place our faith in Him?

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.”  Psalm 20:7-8   KJV

Someone might say they know somebody whose kidneys or some other organ stopped working and they died, so why didn’t God keep theirs functioning.  One reason is to show the rest of us what happens when that organ doesn’t work and to make us more grateful to God that ours does work. Someone might say that is a simplistic and unsympathetic answer.

Six years ago my father died due to various health problems, and I certainly miss him. When he died I had a choice to make.  Blame God for my father’s death and be bitter and ungrateful to God, or thank God for the years He allowed me to know my father, for taking him to heaven where he is in perfect pain-free health and joy, and for giving me good enough health up to now so that I can still serve Him enthusiastically.

God is worthy of our complete faith, trust, and confidence. If someone has difficulty placing faith in God, the problem is not with God. In the same way, if someone has difficulty believing if they climb into a cage with a hungry tiger that the tiger will hurt them badly, the problem is not with the tiger.

“Some people trust the power of chariots or horses, but we trust You, Lord God. Others will stumble and fall, but we will be strong and stand firm.”  Psalm 20:7-8   CEV

 

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Hope For You

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The following are portions of a February 12, 2012 report on ABCnews.go.com which included contributions from the Associated Press:

“ Whitney Houston, the American singer whose battles with drugs, alcohol and ex-husband Bobby Brown marred her star power, died on Saturday. She was 48. 

Whitney Houston's publicist confirmed the singer's death to ABC News. Her cause of death is not yet known. Representatives from the Beverly Hills Police Department confirmed that the singer died in a hotel room at the Beverly Hilton hotel. 

Today, TMZ reported that Houston's aides found her in the bathtub of her hotel room with her face underwater. An autopsy is expected to be conducted today or Monday, according to KABC.

Whitney Houston was scheduled to perform Saturday evening at a pre-Grammy Awards party. She was last photographed on Thursday, when she appeared dishevelled and disoriented in front of the Tru Hollywood nightclub that played host to a pre-Grammy Awards party. 

At her peak in the 1990s, Whitney Houston was a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. She was one of the world's best-selling artists, selling out stadiums. 

Her struggles with drugs, alcohol, rehab (she went at least three times) and Brown, against whom she filed a charge of domestic abuse in 1993, pushed her out of the spotlight.

The six-time Grammy winner staged a comeback in 2009, but was dogged by rumours that she was using drugs again.  That year she told Oprah Winfrey why she took a break from show business -Whitney Houston said, "It was too much. So much to try to live up to, to try to be, and I wanted out." 

Whitney Houston returned to rehab in May of last year seeking treatment for drug and alcohol dependence. "Whitney voluntarily entered the program to support her long-standing recovery process," her publicist said at the time. “

Some people were surprised and others were even shocked to hear about Whitney Houston’s death. Still other people said it was just a matter of time.

Do you think there was anything she could have done differently to avoid this catastrophic end, or was it truly inevitable? When she was among the top in her profession, could anyone have foreseen that some time later her life would begin to deteriorate significantly until one day she would die alone in a bathtub? How is it possible that someone can become one of the best at what they do, yet have their life end disastrously long before it should have? 

Many questions like these will be asked and discussed in the days and weeks ahead. 

It is sad to watch someone’s life decline before our eyes over a period of time. We find it tragic that someone would die at such a young age. It is hard for us to believe that someone who displayed so much talent and was extremely popular for years would have their life end like this.

What can people battling serious problems learn from what happened to Whitney Houston? 

If you are battling a problem that is stronger than you are, you need help from someone stronger than the problem in order to defeat it.

“Jesus and His followers went to the other side of the lake to the area of the Gerasene people. When Jesus got out of the boat, instantly a man with an evil spirit came to Him from the burial caves. This man lived in the caves, and no one could tie him up, not even with a chain. Many times people had used chains to tie the man’s hands and feet, but he always broke them off. No one was strong enough to control him. Day and night he would wander around the burial caves and on the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones. While Jesus was still far away, the man saw Him, ran to Him, and fell down before Him.

The man shouted in a loud voice,’ What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I command you in God’s name not to torture me!’ He said this because Jesus was saying to him,’ You evil spirit, come out of the man.’ 

Then Jesus asked him,’ What is your name?’  

He answered,’ My name is Legion, because we are many spirits.’  He begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of that area. 

A large herd of pigs was feeding on a hill near there. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us into the pigs; let us go into them.’ So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs – about two thousand of them – rushed down the hill into the lake and were drowned.  

The herdsmen ran away and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind.”   Mark 5:1-15a  NCV

This man had a problem. The problem was stronger than he was. The problem was also stronger than other people because nobody was able to tie him or control him. Many times they tried to deal with his problem and could not.

The man and other people were completely powerless against this problem.

But Jesus was different from people. Jesus is the Son of the Most High God. 

Jesus has power that all people put together do not have.  Jesus has more power than the best rehab center on earth.  Jesus absolutely defeated this man’s problem so his life was completely changed.

Notice the great transformation that took place in this man. 

He used to be restless and angry, wandering alone in caves and deserted areas. Now he was sitting relaxed and peaceful, near a crowd of people.

His clothes had become smelly, filthy, and torn in many places. Parts of his clothes may even have been ripped right off. Now he was fully and properly dressed. 

His mind used to be harassed, tortured, and assaulted by demons day after day. Now his mental abilities were functioning normally.

This man was transformed from the inside out. 

.It was God and the power of God that caused this amazing transformation to happen. No one else and nothing else could do it. 

If you are battling a problem that is stronger than you are, you need the power of God to defeat it.  

Before this man met Jesus, if the people who knew about this man had been told one day that he was found dead in a forest somewhere, none of them would be surprised. In fact they would have fully expected it.  He was living in burial caves, and the way his life was going, it looked like  he was eventually going to die in one. Some might even have been glad or relieved to hear of his death because they would feel the community was now safer. They gave up on this man a long time ago. 

If this man was living today some people may have phoned him for a while to try and help him, and after a time the phone calls would stop. Others may have tried to contact him by mail, but one day the letters would stop. A few may have dared to try and visit him to see if there was anything they could do for him, but soon the visits would stop too. 

And everyone would agree he is just too far gone, he is beyond help, it is not worth it to keep trying. We would go on with our lives and in the back of our minds anticipate hearing some day that he was found dead alone, away from family, away from home, away from help. 

This man’s problem overwhelmed him, took over his life, and affected every area of his life. He lost his wife, lost his children, lost his job, lost his home, lost his friends, lost his good reputation, and even lost his clothes. 

Many people today might not have an army of demons living in them, but they have a drinking problem, a drug problem, a gambling problem, an anger problem, a violent behaviour problem, or some other problem that has taken over their life. Their problem has affected one area after another of their life. Their problem is in the process of ruining their entire life and the lives of people close to them. Maybe you have a problem like this. 

If you are battling a problem that is stronger than you are, you need the power of God to defeat it. 

The first thing you need to do is make Jesus Lord of your life.  Visit the Become page to find out how.  When Jesus is Lord of your life, His power will begin to work in your life to give you victory over your problem.

The second thing you need to do is contact a Christian organization that can help you in your problem area. Visit the More page to find one.

 

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 Live Like a Champion

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The following are portions of a report from www.latimes.com on February 17, 2012:

 

“ Gary Carter, a Hall of Fame catcher from Fullerton who helped lift the New York Mets to a dramatic victory over the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, died Thursday in Florida. He was 57 and had brain cancer.

Nicknamed "Kid" for his grit and youthful exuberance, Carter was an 11-time All-Star.


"Nobody loved the game of baseball more than Gary Carter," Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver said Thursday. "Nobody enjoyed playing the game of baseball more than Gary Carter. He wore his heart on his sleeve every inning he played. For a catcher to play with that intensity in every game is special."

Former Expos pitcher Steve Rogers, who is now a players union special assistant, played with Carter in Montreal. "Gary and I grew up together in the game, and during our time with the Expos we were as close as brothers, if not closer," Rogers said. "Gary was a champion. He was a 'gamer' in every sense of the word — on the field and in life. He made everyone else around him better, and he made me a better pitcher."

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, who was Carter's teammate with the Dodgers in 1991, remembered him as "not only an incredible ballplayer but an incredible person."

"I always admired him when I played against him," Scioscia said, "and it was a pleasure to play with him."

Carter was a rare player who would stand outside the park and talk to fans at length. In spring training, he set aside time to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

Carter finished his career with an NL-record 2,056 games caught and is one of only six catchers with more than 300 home runs and 1,000 RBIs.

 

Carter's father died in 2003 at age 84, only 17 days after his son called to tell him he had been elected into baseball's Hall of Fame. “

I have watched a lot of professional baseball games over the years and saw many talented players.  Some of the best catchers I remember seeing were Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees, Manny Sanguillen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ted Simmons of the St Louis Cardinals, and Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds.

 

I was also privileged to watch Gary Carter, who ranks right up there with the most outstanding catchers in professional baseball history. I remember watching him early in his career play some games as an outfielder as well.

 

He quickly became known for playing the game with lots of enthusiasm and effort. He would run at full speed and jump into a solid outfield wall to try and catch a baseball. He had a cheerful personality and for years was one of the most popular and skilled players on the Montreal Expos. He was an excellent defensive and offensive player.

 

He was the type of player who meant more to his team than mere statistics could indicate.

 

I watched his great performance that helped the New York Mets win the World Series Championship in 1986.

 

In general, Gary Carter was a person who left a positive, lasting impression on those who knew him or watched him play baseball. We do not have to be a professional athlete or famous person to leave a positive, lasting impression on others.

 

Gary Carter explains on his website www.garycarter.org the reason for the enthusiastic and positive approach to living he was known and admired for:

 

"The Baseball Hall of Fame is something every player dreams about, but being a member of God's Hall of Fame is the greatest achievement of all. God offers each of us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. When we accept God's gift of salvation, our name is written in The Book of Life, guaranteeing us a place in heaven forever."

 

"I made that decision during spring training in 1973, and prayed asking Jesus to come into my heart as Lord and Savior. It was then that I first realized that when Jesus died on the cross, He died for me and paid for my sins. Accepting His payment was all I needed to do. I couldn't earn my way into heaven. You can become a member of God's Hall of Fame too, by making the same decision today."

 

Gary Carter was a champion but not because he won the World Series. He was a champion because of how he lived his life with Jesus Christ as the Lord of it. You and I can become champions for the same reason.

 

Gary Carter showed lots of enthusiasm during his life on earth, so imagine how much he is showing in heaven right now.

 

Romans 12:11-12 NLT says,” Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.” 

 

 

 

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Meet Jesus

 

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You may have heard that in February 2012 a man named Davy Jones died.  If his name is unfamiliar to you, forty years ago he sang with a music group called the Monkees. They also had a comedy show on TV at that time. I was around 10 years old back then and can still remember watching that show regularly with my friends. In those days we also enjoyed shows like Batman, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, and the Flintstones.

 

We liked the Monkees show so much that we often played a game of pretending we were each one of the four musicians. We had a lot of fun with that game.

 

The Monkees would sing one of their songs on each show. The chorus to one of their songs went like this:

 

‘Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind.
I'm in love, I'm a believer!
I couldn't leave her if I tried’

 

I’m going to come back to the words of that chorus in a few moments, but first let me tell you about a cousin of mine. He comes from a very interesting family. He is one generation older than I am, and he was a pastor for many years. He had six brothers, and the amazing thing is – they all became pastors too.  Their father was also a pastor.

 

I have not seen this cousin often over the years because he lives in a city about 500 kilometres (300 miles) away.

 

However, once in a while he would visit us in our city and preach at a local church.  I still remember one message he gave over 20 years ago based on John chapter 12.

 

"The next day a great crowd who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast heard that Jesus was coming there.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Jesus, shouting, 'Praise God! God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
God bless the King of Israel!'  Jesus found a colt and sat on it. This was as the Scripture says,  'Don't be afraid, people of Jerusalem! Your king is coming, sitting on the colt of a donkey.' 

 

The followers of Jesus did not understand this at first. But after Jesus was raised to glory, they remembered that this had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

 

There had been many people with Jesus when He raised Lazarus from the dead and told him to come out of the tomb. Now they were telling others about what Jesus did. Many people went out to meet Jesus, because they had heard about this miracle.

 

So the Pharisees said to each other, 'You can see that nothing is going right for us. Look! The whole world is following Him.' There were some Greek people, too, who came to Jerusalem to worship at the Passover Feast. They went to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said, 'Sir, we would like to see Jesus.' Philip told Andrew, and then Andrew and Philip told Jesus."     John 12:12-22   NCV

 

My cousin drew our attention to what the people said at the end of this portion of scripture – Sir we would like to see Jesus.  Some versions translate their words, “ Sir, we would like to meet Jesus.”

 

They had heard about Him. They had heard about His powerful teaching, His tremendous wisdom, His great ability to answer all questions.  They heard about His marvelous miracles. They heard about Him healing sick people, and casting demons out of other people. They heard about the deep love and compassion He showed people. They heard that even though He was doing all of these incredible things, He took time to spend with children.

 

 

They came from far away and were eager to see and meet Jesus.  They had heard so many wonderful things about Him that they were no longer satisfied with just hearing about Him or knowing about Him – they wanted to meet Him personally.  They wanted to get to know Him.

 

Has your faith reached the stage where you are no longer satisfied with just knowing  more things about Him? Have you become eager to know Jesus, to have a relationship with Him?

 

The following verses show us how vital this is to a strong Christian life.

 

All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised Him from death.    Philippians 3:10a   ERV

 

I know the one I have faith in, and I am sure that He can guard until the last day what He has trusted me with.   2 Timothy  1:12b    CEV

 

I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better.      Ephesians 1:17   GW

 

Jesus said,” I am the Good Shepherd; and I know and recognize My own, and My own know and recognize Me.  Even as [truly as] the Father knows Me and I also know the Father--and I am giving My [very own] life and laying it down on behalf of the sheep.”    John 10:14-15    Amp. 

 

After Jesus had finished speaking to His disciples, He looked up toward heaven and prayed: Father, the time has come for You to bring glory to Your Son, in order that He may bring glory to You.  And You gave Him power over all people, so that He would give eternal life to everyone You give Him.  Eternal life is to know You, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one You sent.    John 17:1-3   CEV

 

Now think about the words from the Monkees’ song one more time.  Allow me to rephrase those words in terms of our Christian faith.

 

The closer the look we have of Jesus and the more we get to know Him,  the stronger we will believe in Him,  and the more we will love Him. We will also have no desire to doubt or leave our Christian faith.

 

Are you a strong believer in Jesus?  Have you ever personally met Jesus?  Do you know Jesus today?   If your answer is “no”, visit the Become page to find out how this can change beginning right now.

 

 

 

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Generous Joy

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We are all familiar with the happy feeling we experience from getting. We are born with a natural desire to get things. Much advertising appeals to that desire. So do TV game shows, lotteries, and gambling. Children do not have to be taught how to want to get things.

The first sin recorded in the Bible involved taking and getting. Adam and Eve took fruit from the one tree God told them not to eat from, and the result was they got knowledge they were not supposed to have. “The woman saw that the tree was beautiful, that its fruit was good to eat, and that it would make her wise. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of the fruit to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6  NCV

Look at a newspaper or its web site and you’ll rarely see space devoted to giving. But you will see a lot of space devoted to buying, acquiring, and having things. Many TV and radio commercials try to attract you to spend and buy everything from cell phones, furniture, cosmetics, and food, to cars, trips, and on and on.

However, this approach to life is the exact opposite of  God’s character and how He wants us to be. 

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2  NIV

These verses tell us that when we show love to others and when we give to others, we are imitating God! He set the example and we need to follow it. The verses also tell us that we cannot love without giving – ‘Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us.’

The NLT translates these verses,” Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave Himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to Him.”

Not only is our act of giving important, but our attitude in giving is also important.

“Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give. But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. God loves people who love to give. God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others. The Scriptures say,’ God freely gives His gifts to the poor, and always does right.’ God gives seed to farmers and provides everyone with food. He will increase what you have, so that you can give even more to those in need. You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.”  2 Corinthians 9:7-11   CEV

God loves people who love to give because they are imitating Him. And He can do great things through them. God does not feel sorry about giving to us, nor does He give to us because He feels forced to – we should not feel like this when we give either.

If we are giving because we want to get a bigger tax deduction that is also not the right attitude.

Giving can also turn people’s attention toward God which is a great result, “Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.”

There is a power in giving because it is like you are transferring some of your joy to somebody else.

 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25  NIV

 

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Human Joy

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On August 5, 2010 a copper and gold mine collapsed near Copiapo, Chile. 33 miners were trapped more than 600 metres below the surface. They were confined to an area of about 500 square feet – about the size of a small studio apartment. For 17 days the men had no communication of any kind with the outside world. All each man ate was two spoonfuls of tuna a day during that time.

After weeks of digging, rescuers started pulling miners up to the surface on October 12 -  70 days following the initial collapse. A special metal capsule 190 cm by 54 cm which was attached to a cable was lowered to the area where the miners were. They entered the capsule one man at a time and were carefully pulled to the surface. Families and friends above expressed tremendous joy at the sight of these men alive that day. The Santiago Times estimated the total cost of the rescue operation at $20 million U.S.

This amazing story makes me think about our situation and what God has done for us. Like those trapped miners, we are also trapped in a serious predicament that we cannot get out of ourselves, even if we combined our efforts together.

Romans 3:23 says,” Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.”  NCV

Like the miners, we need outside help to get out of that predicament, become free, and continue living.

Romans 5:6,” When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God.”  NCV

Also like the miners, each person must decide whether to accept the rescue offered to them.

“But although the world was made through Him, the world didn’t recognize Him when He came. Even in His own land and among His own people He was not accepted. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan – this rebirth comes from God.” John 1:10-13  NLT

Any miner who refused to get in that capsule would have remained in the trapped area and eventually die.

Also like the miners’ story, there is only a limited amount of time we have to accept the rescue offered.

“We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ Himself were here pleading with you, ‘Be reconciled to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. As God’s partners, we beg you not to reject this marvellous message of God’s great kindness. For God says,’ At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2  NLT

And like the miners’ story, when one accepts the rescue offered there is a tremendous amount of joy expressed above.

Jesus said, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”  Luke 15:7   NIV

Finally, like the miners’ story, the rescue effort cost was very high.

“This is how God showed His love to us: He sent His one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through Him. This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent His Son to die in our place to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10  NCV  

“He did not spare His own Son but gave Him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.” Romans 8:32  NCV

“You were rescued by the precious blood of Christ, that spotless and innocent lamb.” 1 Peter 1:19   CEV

 

Details of the Chilean miners’ story obtained from www.cbc.ca and www.guardian.co.uk

 

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Joy in Disappointment

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In November 2010 the score was 27-25 in a championship football game. The team that was losing had one last chance. On the last play of the game they needed to kick a field goal (worth 3 points) to win. The clock counted down to zero, and the kick missed the target.

However a referee called a penalty on the other team on that play for having too many players on the field. So one more play had to take place, only this time 10 yards closer to the target. This time the kicker made the field goal, and his team won 28-27 !

Sometimes in life we are disappointed or discouraged when things do not go our way at first.

“I will praise You, Lord! You saved me from the grave and kept my enemies from celebrating my death. I prayed to You, Lord God, and You healed me, saving me from death and the grave. Your faithful people, Lord, will praise You with songs and honour Your holy name. Your anger lasts a little while, but Your kindness lasts for a lifetime. At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate.” Psalm 30:1-5 CEV

The man who wrote these words, David, had been in a tough situation. Things were so bad that he could have died, but God healed him and spared his life. David could have given up, like the football team that was losing, but God came through for him when it appeared a bad result was unavoidable. David went through a night of crying because of his situation, but God came through for him the next morning and caused him to celebrate! 

When we are overwhelmed with disappointment, discouragement, or bewilderment about what is happening in our lives, we need to do what David did.

First, he praised God – “I will praise You, Lord!...will praise You with songs.”. In other words, he complimented God, commended God, showed his appreciation to God, applauded God, spoke highly of God.

Second, he thanked God – “You saved me from the grave…and You healed me.” He gave credit to God for sparing his life and healing him. He showed gratitude to and dependence on God for rescuing him from a bad situation.

Third, he worshiped God – “honour Your holy name.”  He admired God, showed respect to God, loved God, adored God.

Fourth, he did not give up on God – “At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate.” When it appears to us that nothing more can be done, things are too far gone, there is no more reason to hope, God is still able.

“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame.” Psalm 25:1-2a   NIV

We please and honour God when we trust Him while we are in a disappointing situation.

“Why are you downcast, O my Soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.”  Psalm 42:5  NIV

We also strengthen our faith when we trust God during those times. It does not take a great deal of faith to trust Him when things are going well. It requires more faith to trust Him when things are not.

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7  NIV

 

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Joy in Job

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By Job, I do not mean work, I mean a man named Job. He lived many centuries ago. One book in the Bible is named after him and records a lot of things about him. This book is very intriguing because there are various views about who wrote it and when, and about exactly where and when the events described took place. Some thought this may have been the oldest Bible book written even though the events contained in it are not the oldest found in the Bible. For example the creation events found in Genesis took place prior to what we read in Job.

The main subject of Job is human suffering. The book describes how he lost loved ones, possessions, and his health. Job contains more chapters than any book in the New Testament, and the 6th highest number of any book in the entire Bible.

You might be thinking,” Why does the Bible write so much about suffering? I don’t want to read a book like that.”

Here are some reasons why.

First, the Bible is a realistic and relevant Book to human life everywhere in the world in every era. The Bible acknowledges that human suffering exists and deals with the subject. I would rather read a book like that, than one that pretends suffering does not exist or ignores it.

Second, our suffering matters a great deal to God.

 

For example,  Lamentations 3:19-25 says,” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself,’ The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him!’ The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for Him and seek Him.”   NLT

 

Also, when one of Jesus’ close friends Lazarus died, Jesus cried. John 11:33 & 35-36,  ” When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, He was terribly upset…Jesus started crying, and the people said,’ See how much He loved Lazarus.’”  CEV

Jesus loves you as much as He loved Lazarus.

Jesus cried along with humans even though He knew He was going to bring Lazarus back to life soon after.

Jesus cried even though He is the Son of God. Think of it!

Third, there is joy contained in the book of Job. The final chapter of the book says," The Lord now blessed Job more than ever." Job 42:12a  CEV

Job faced great difficulties. But practicing believers who lived since then have also, yet joy can be seen in their character. I am thinking of people like Corrie Ten Boom, Joni Eareckson Tada, David Ring, and Nick Vujicic for example. Click on their names to know more about them. Their lives have encouraged and inspired many people.

Hebrews 2:9-10,” But we see Jesus, who for a short time was made lower than the angels. And now He is wearing a crown of glory and honour because He suffered and died. And by God’s grace, He died for everyone. God is the One who made all things, and all things are for His glory. He wanted to have many children share His glory, so He made the One who leads people to salvation perfect through suffering.”  NCV

Romans 8:16-18,” God’s Spirit makes us sure that we are His children. His Spirit lets us know that together with Christ we will be given what God has promised. We will also share in the glory of Christ, because we have suffered with Him. I am sure that what we are suffering now cannot compare with the glory that will be shown to us.” CEV

 

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Joy in a Well

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“Isaac left and settled in Gerar Valley, where he cleaned out those wells that the Philistines had stopped up. Isaac also gave each of the wells the same name that Abraham had given to them. While his servants were digging in the valley, they found a spring-fed well. But the shepherds of Gerar Valley quarrelled with Isaac’s shepherds and claimed the water belonged to them. So the well was named ‘Quarrel’, because they had quarrelled with Isaac. Isaac’s servants dug another well, and the shepherds also quarrelled about it. So that well was named ‘Jealous’. Finally, they dug one more well. There was no quarrelling this time, and the well was named ‘Lots of Room,’ because the Lord had given them room and would make them very successful.”  Genesis 26:17-22    CEV

While reading this story I became filled with joy and had to share it with you.

You say,’ What is so exciting about a story of wells? They are just holes in the ground’.

This great story reminds me very much about our lives.

In the days when this story took place, people did not have water running through pipes to a tap in their home.

Nelson’s Bible Handbook, Daily Life in Bible Times explains on page 33,” Every family needed water. Sometimes they built their own private cistern (an artificial reservoir dug in the earth or in a rock to collect and retain rainwater. Holman’s Master Study Bible page 1727) to store rain water; but most often the water came from a spring or well in the middle of the village. A few Old Testament cities were built above underground springs; Megiddo and Hazor were two of these cities. In Hazor a woman would walk through the streets to a deep shaft. Then she descended two manmade slopes for 9 metres (30 feet) and five flights of stairs to the water tunnel, where she followed more stairs to the water level to fill her large water jug. She needed considerable strength to climb back out of the watershaft with a heavy water jug.”

So, in order to stay alive, people had to have a well nearby to get drinking water.

The story in Genesis begins by saying the wells were stopped up. A well that is stopped up cannot keep anybody alive. Similarly, before we become Christians we are spiritually dead.

“In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God.” Ephesians 2:1  NCV

But later the people found a spring-fed well that was continually receiving water to supply the needs of a lot of people. That means the water in this well was fresh, clean, and kept on coming so that it could keep many, many people alive. Jesus is our spring-fed well.

Jesus compared ordinary water to Himself when He said,” People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14   NLT

The story goes on to say the people named one well Quarrel. Before we become Christians we are opposed to God, we do not like God, we argue with what the Bible says, we do not want to listen to God or do what He says.

“This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions.” Colossians 1:21   NLT   

“We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way.”  Isaiah 53:6a   NCV

"We act just like people described long ago,” In those days Israel did not have a king. All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”   Judges 21:25  NCV

The story continues by saying the people named another well Jealous. God does not want an endless quarrel with us. He wants us to belong to Him, and have a peaceful, joyful relationship with Him. Therefore He gave the world His Son to die for our sins and our sakes so that we would not quarrel with Him anymore.

“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near through the blood of Christ’s death. Christ Himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:13-14a  NCV   

“Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honour God with your body.”  I Corinthians 6:19-20  NLT   

Finally, the people named a third well Lots of Room. This makes me think of freedom.

“That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for His people until God gives full freedom to those who are His – to bring praise to God’s glory.”  Ephesians 1:14   NCV

Jesus said,” If the Son gives you freedom, you are free!”  John 8:36  CEV

If you put your faith in Jesus and live for Him, this freedom can be yours today.

 

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         Positive Joy      

                 

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Attitudes are contagious. And people with attitudes in common enjoy each other’s company. If the attitude is not a good one, this can be a problem.

“My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!” Proverbs 1:10  NLT

Spend time with people who want to do wrong things and you risk eventually doing wrong things with them.

“Don’t follow the ways of the wicked; don’t do what evil people do. Avoid their ways, and don’t follow them. Stay away from them and keep on going.” Proverbs 4:14-15 NCV

I remember when I was in high school, a few classmates would go into stores and steal snack foods. They would come out of the stores laughing at what they did. I refused to participate in what they were doing.

The wisdom of God says,” I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17  NIV

The wisdom of God also says,” For whoever finds me finds life and receives favour from the Lord. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:35-36  NIV

Do not make the tragic mistake of trying to live your life without the wisdom of God. Instead, seek the wisdom of God by reading His book the Bible, and you will put yourself in a position to receive good things from Him – a higher level of life and favour.

“The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” Proverbs 11:5-6  NIV

Avoid being in situations that could cause your life to be wrecked or trapped by evil desires. We hear sad stories of celebrities and other people whose lives are crumbling because of evil desires. Many times they did not commit the destructive acts by themselves - they had help from others whose lives are also messed up. Neither money nor popularity was able to prevent their lives from falling apart. Guard your life, it is very valuable!

“If you search for good, you will find favour; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” Proverbs 11:27  NLT

The first and best place to look for good is in the Bible.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15  KJV

“And the Scriptures were written to teach and encourage us by giving us hope.” Romans 15:4   CEV

The more time you spend reading the Bible, the stronger your faith and life will become. Your ability to choose friends who are good for your life will also increase.

“There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.” Proverbs 12:20  NIV

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26  NIV

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20  NIV

“For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” Job 15:34-35   NIV

If you are spending time with friends who are discouraging you from reading the Bible or getting to know God, those friends are a very negative influence on your life. Stop allowing them to pull your life down. You need to start looking for friends who will influence your life in a positive way, friends who will encourage you to spend time with God and with His book the Bible.

Begin now to surround yourself with good friends who are seeking to grow closer to God and will help you do the same – you will be so glad that you did this.

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV

The NCV translates that same verse,” Do not be fooled:’ Bad friends will ruin good habits.’”

And the CEV translates that same verse,“ Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.”

 

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   Signs of Joy 

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that it was good. Then He separated the light from the darkness." Genesis 1:1-4  NLT

What does this have to do with joy?

First of all, God is the source of real joy.

Secondly, this passage says," And God saw that it was good."  - good things lead to joy.

Thirdly, God created the earth for you.

The sun that makes beautiful sunsets possible, He created for you. He could have chosen to make the sun simply turn on and off like a light bulb.

The jewel-like stars and moon that decorate the sky at night, He created for you. He could have chosen to make the sky completely pitch black from end to end throughout the entire night, night after night.

The huge variety of flowers in innumerable colours, sizes, and scents, He created for you.

The breath-taking mountains, lakes, fields, and trees, He created for you. He even adds more beauty to some trees by making their leaves change to other beautiful colours before they fall to the ground. Instead of creating bodies of water in various shapes all over the world, He could have chosen to make plain ugly giant buckets with taps sticking out of them which He would fill with water once in a while.

The thousands of kinds of birds, animals, fish, even insects, He created for you. Just the number of different types of one animal is amazing. Differenttypesofdogs.blogspot.com says there are currently 800 species of dogs on the earth, and about 45 million dogs are presently alive. I have two of them and I think I will stop at that number for now.

God created this earth and so many different things on it - not because He needed a place to live. Not for Himself. Not because He wanted to fill a blank space with something for Him to look at - like we do when we hang a painting on a wall.

He created it all for you. 

It gave God great joy to create all of this for you.

It gave God even greater joy to create you.

It will give God the greatest joy to have an ongoing close personal relationship with you.

Jesus said, "In the same way, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life."  Luke 15:10  NCV

 

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  Surprising Joy 

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In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we read in chapter 10,  ”This is the history of the families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah. Many children were born to them after the Flood. The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah…The descendants of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca…Canaan was also the ancestor of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites…The descendants of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash….” NLT

Reading this chapter brought me a lot of joy.  Someone might say,” How can reading a bunch of names bring any joy? I never even heard of any of those people! “

Here is the reason for the joy. In the previous chapter we read in verse 1,” God blessed Noah and his sons and told them,’ Multiply and fill the earth.’” NLT  Then in verse 15 God said,” and I will remember My covenant with you and with everything that lives. Never again will there be a flood that will destroy all life.” NLT  (A covenant is an agreement or contract.)

So each name and tribe listed in chapter 10 confirmed over and over that God is gracious  and that He keeps His promise.

His grace was His instruction to Noah and his sons to multiply and fill the earth – God permitted this to happen even though He already knew that most of the people born after the Flood would be just as disobedient to Him as most of the people who lived before the Flood.

His promise was the pledge to never again cause a flood that would destroy all life.

The Flood occurred many centuries ago, so how can this bring joy to you now?

Here’s how. Malachi 3:6,” I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from My decrees and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. But you ask,” How are we to return?’”  NIV

This can bring joy to you because God’s character is the same today as it was then. God does not change therefore His attitude and position towards humanity has not changed.

You can rely on God to be as gracious to you today as He was to Noah and his descendants– in other words He loves you so much that He is willing to even give you what you have not earned or deserve.

You can also rely on God to keep His promises to you today as much as He kept the one He made to Noah and his sons to never again cause a flood that would destroy all life.

God is promising to you too that if you return to Him, He will return to you.

How are you to return to God?

Here’s how. God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, ”If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”  NIV

And Acts 3:19-20 says,” Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and He will send Jesus your Messiah to you again.” NLT

 

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Worship Joy

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There is a football team that is so bad their stadium security staff try to prevent the players from entering the building.

Ever notice how fans behave at a football game? They focus their undivided attention on the players, do not contain their excited emotions, jump up and down, cheer, clap their hands, sing, chant phrases, and some even yell themselves hoarse. Many of them are loyal to the home team. A lot of them even wear hats or shirts with the team’s name on them. They spend a lot of money on the tickets, food, and souvenirs. Some of them spend even more money to travel to other cities to watch their favourite team play there.  

They do all this for players who probably do not know them personally, do not love them,  have never done anything for them, and who are mere human beings just like they are.

Therefore, how should we worship the One who knows each of us personally, who loves us, who has done so much for us, and who is God?

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100  NIV

This Psalm is so fantastic I am going to write it for you again in another version.

“Shout praises to the Lord, everyone on this earth. Be joyful and sing as you come in to worship the Lord! You know the Lord is God! He created us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep in His pasture. Be thankful and praise the Lord as you enter His temple. The Lord is good! His love and faithfulness will last forever.” Psalm 100 CEV

What is this Psalm telling us ?

God deserves worship that is loud, and filled with excitement  and joy from our hearts  from everyone on earth. He deserves this because He is God, He created us all, we who follow Him (i.e. sheep) belong to Him, and He is our Shepherd (i.e. provider, protector, guide).

Before we even arrive at church we should be getting excited – “Be thankful and praise the Lord as you enter His temple.”

We should be thrilled when we walk through the church doorway because we are moments away from worshipping God who,” is good! His love and faithfulness will last forever.” !!!

Here is another Psalm that shows clearly how and why we should worship God.

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvellous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations. He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn – shout for joy before the Lord, the King. Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy; let them sing before the Lord, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” Psalm 98   NIV

Read that Psalm again and imagine how much noise, how much movement, how much enthusiasm, how much absolute joy, and how much celebration is going on!! This is the kind of worship God deserves !!!

Here are more verses that show us how and why to worship God.

“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2  NIV

“The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour!” Psalm 18:46  NIV

“All of you angels in heaven, honour the glory and power of the Lord! Honour the wonderful name of the Lord, and worship the Lord most holy and glorious.” Psalm 29:1-2  CEV

“Shout praises to the Lord! With all that I am, I will shout His praises. I will sing and praise the Lord God for as long as I live.”  Psalm 146:1-2  CEV

“Shout praises to the Lord! Our God is kind, and it is right and good to sing praises to Him.” Psalm 147:1  CEV

“In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Hovering around Him were mighty seraphim, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with the remaining two they flew. In a great chorus they sang,’ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!’ The glorious singing shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire sanctuary was filled with smoke. Then I said,’ My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of a sinful race. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!’ “  Isaiah 6:1-5   NLT

“When Jesus was starting down the Mount of Olives, His large crowd of disciples were happy and praised God because of all the miracles they had seen. They shouted,’ Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory to God.’ Some Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus,’ Teacher, make your disciples stop shouting!’ But Jesus answered,’ If they keep quiet, these stones will start shouting.’”  Luke 19:37-40  CEV

 

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New Year's Day

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According to www.suite101.com,  making that annual New Year's resolution is a tradition that much of the populace has followed for centuries. New Year's resolutions can be traced back as far as 153 B.C. when Janus, the ancient symbol for resolutions, and mythical king of Rome who had two faces, could look back to reflect on the past with one face and forward to the future with the other.

Some believe that New Year's resolutions were started by the early Babylonians who began a tradition of returning farm equipment they had borrowed throughout the year. Wherever the origin started, making New Year's resolutions has remained a custom that is still widely practiced today.

Among the most popular resolutions are getting fit, eating right, managing debt, saving money, obtaining a better job or education, and reducing stress.

www.asianetindia.com has this to say:

Everyone wishes to bring hopes and festive spirit to overcome all the darkness of the past year. People across the globe celebrate the world's biggest celebration to make life more beautiful, peaceful, and meaningful.

People of different cultures celebrate the day in different ways by exchanging greetings and wishing their relatives, friends and colleagues to start all things with a new beginning and the completion of all desires which were left unfulfilled last year.

The beginning of the new year is a great time to start fresh and work toward the things that you want from life.

The number one resolution, year after year, is to get into better physical condition. Other popular resolutions are seeking a soulmate, quitting smoking or drinking, organizing things in the house, starting a new hobby, traveling, and moving to a new house.

Here are some humourous resolutions found at  www.newyearfestival.com:

I will not bore my boss with the same excuse for being absent. This year I will think of some more excuses.

I will do less laundry and use more deodorant.

I will avoid taking a bath whenever possible and conserve more water.

Many of us approach a new year with enthusiasm because the hope that some aspects of our lives will be different or better makes us optimistic. People like new things. Children love receiving new toys. Adults like buying new clothes, trying new recipes, traveling to new places, and they like that new leather smell inside their new car.

All of the popular resolutions mentioned above share one thing in common – God is left out. Yet the Bible has a lot to say about new things that can greatly improve your life.

“I patiently waited, Lord, for You to hear my prayer. You listened and pulled me from a lonely pit full of mud and mire. You let me stand on a rock with my feet firm, and You gave me a new song, a song of praise to You. Many will see this, and they will honor and trust You, the Lord God.”  Psalm 40:1-3   CEV

“The Lord’s love never ends; His mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord, Your loyalty is great.”  Lamentations 3:22-23  NCV

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put My Spirit in you so you will obey My laws and do whatever I command.”   Ezekiel 36:25-27   NLT

“Then He (Jesus) took a loaf of bread, and when He had thanked God for it, He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,’ This is My body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ After supper He took another cup of wine and said,’ This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you – an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.’ “  Luke 22:19-20   NLT

Jesus said,” I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are My followers if you love each other.”  John 13:34   NCV

“Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with Him? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”  Romans 6:1-4   NLT

“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between Himself and us, and He has given us the work of making peace between Himself and others.”  2 Corinthians 5:17-18  CEV

“You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God.”  Colossians 3:10   NCV

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. This is the new, life-giving way that Christ has opened up for us through the sacred curtain, by means of His death for us.”   Hebrews 10:19-20   NLT

“Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, He has given us new life and a hope that lives on. God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear.”   1 Peter 1:3-4  CEV

“But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that!”  2 Peter 3:13   CEV

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying,’ Look, the home of God is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.’ “                     Revelation 21:1-3   NLT 

All of these new things combined are incredibly fantastic!  In fact there are no words in any language that can describe how great they are!

You don’t even have to wait until the beginning of a year to start benefitting from them. The moment you pray to God, admitting you are a sinner, asking Him to forgive you, and inviting Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour, these amazing new things from God will start to tremendously improve your living!

“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God.”  Romans 5:11  NLT

The best way to make resolutions is by devoting time to prayer about them and asking the Holy Spirit to place them in your heart. 

Resolutions should be focused on God, not on ourselves - therefore seek to make resolutions that honor Him, that bring Him glory.

For example this would include resolutions which involve increasing your service to the Lord, or improving your relationship with the Lord, or strengthening your Christian character.

Begin by making just two or three resolutions. If you try to make more, you may find it difficult to keep your focus on them.

Write the date and the resolutions down in a place where you can refer to them from time to time. Resolutions which are not written can gradually become resolutions forgotten. You may even want to write a few words indicating your progress each time you refer to them.

At least once a week mention these resolutions specifically during your prayer time with the Lord, asking Him to help you carry them out. Ask God to give you the ability to accomplish the resolutions instead of trying to accomplish them in your own strength.

When you notice progress made in the area of any resolution, praise and thank the Lord for it! Acknowledge God's role in your success and He will be pleased and give you even greater success!

Be open to the Lord leading you to add one or two more resolutions to your list from time to time.

The resolution making process I have just described will enable you to fulfill God's will for your life, find more purpose in life, and get much more out of life starting today!

 

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Valentine's Day

                                       

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The origin of special days on the calendar is very interesting to learn about.

Valentine’s Day is one of them.

According to www.essortment.com, “February 14 is Valentine's Day, the day on which we celebrate and explore love in all it's many ideals. How a day for lovers came to be celebrated during the middle of February is an interesting and ages old story. The story of Valentine's Day begins during the heyday of the Roman Empire, which held a festival every February. This Lupercian Festival was held in honor of the god of fertility and during the festivities young men would get to choose their mate. At the time marriage was a common occurrence, but when Claudius became Emperor he changed all of that. Fearing that men would refuse their duty to fight because they would not want to leave their wives behind, he outlawed all marriages. Young couples still fell in love though and still wished to marry and they took these desires to the Catholic Bishop Valentine who, understanding love, began to secretly marry couples. When Claudius found out, he had Valentine arrested and ordered put to death. While waiting in jail, Valentine began exchanging letters with the jailer's daughter and soon had fallen in love with her. The day he was to be beheaded, he wrote her one last note and signed it: "˜From Your Valentine'.  “

According to www.history.com,” One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death….

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today…

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)…

Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. “

The story is one of love versus power.  Some might be tempted to think, power won because Valentine was imprisoned, then put to death.  But in the centuries that followed, Claudius's name has been largely if not totally forgotten.  Nothing about him is celebrated anywhere. 

On the other hand Valentine’s name lives on. Every year one billion cards are made and given with many including Valentine’s name on them. And the day named after him encourages people to show love to those who are important in their lives – which is a great result.

In the Bible there is also a story of love versus power.

“Then the man left and told his people that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Because Jesus was doing this on the Sabbath day, some evil people began to persecute Him. But Jesus said to them,’ My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.’  This made them try still harder to kill Him. They said,’ First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Now He says that God is His own Father, making Himself equal with God!’”  John 5:15-18   NCV

“Then the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus. But Jesus knew what they were planning. He left that area, and many people followed Him. He healed all the sick among them.”  Matthew 12:14-15   NLT

Here is what happened later on:

 “Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of His wounds.” 1 Peter 2:24   NCV

 “Christ also suffered when He died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners that He might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.”  1 Peter 3:18   NLT 

Today the names of those Pharisees are unknown, and no celebrations are held in their honour.

But the name of Jesus has been proclaimed all over the globe in the centuries that followed.

Not only is He celebrated every Christmas and Easter season, but at least one day every week people gather together to sing to Him, worship Him, pray to Him, learn about Him, teach about Him to others, testify about Him, and more!

“Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians  2:9-11   NASB

Finally, the Lord wants us to recognize that He loves us and will be our Saviour if we place our faith in Him. This is a great result for us.

Maybe it has been a long time since anyone said to you," I love you."  Or maybe no one has ever said it to you.

 “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s judgment.”  Romans 5:8-9   NLT 

Jesus said," If you love Me, you will do what I have said, and My Father will love you. I will also love you and show you what I am like."   John 14:21  CEV

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."   Romans 5:5   NIV

"Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that He lets us be called His children."   1 John 3:1a   CEV

God loves you very much today. To find out how to experience God's love to the fullest extent possible, visit the Become page.

 

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St. Patrick's Day

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There are several fascinating stories about the man referred to now as St. Patrick, and about the special day named after him. 

Here are just a few of the remarkable details. 

Earthskids.com says,” Born under the name Maewyn Succat in the year 387, the man we now know as St. Patrick was kidnapped by raiders as a boy and sold into slavery in Ireland.   There he became a shepherd and endured many hardships and trials that led him to a deep and profound spirituality. (Answers.com quotes from Gale Encyclopedia of Biography that during this period," In his words, ‘The love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened.’ " Wikipedia on Answers.com quotes St. Patrick as saying during this period,” …I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain…”)  According to tradition he escaped captivity by following the guidance of an angel, then traveled back to his homeland where he entered the church and became a priest.  After his ordination as a bishop he returned, as a missionary, to Ireland where he impressed the people with his courage, wisdom, and compassion -- setting off a wave of conversion that eventually engulfed the entire island.  “

en.wikipedia.org elaborates on his return to Ireland saying, “In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of  the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.”

Answers.com provides more details, quoting from the Oxford Dictionary of Saints,” Patrick was British by birth, the son of a decurio (town councillor) who was a deacon, while his grandfather was a priest. The place of his birth was somewhere in the west between the mouth of the Severn and the Clyde, called Bannavem Taburniae. While still a youth, he was captured by Irish pirates and reduced to slavery for six years. The location of his service (mainly in tending his master's herds) is not certainly identified, but he used the time to pray, in contrast to his earlier years in Britain when he ‘knew not the true God’ and did not heed clerical ‘admonitions for our salvation’. After six years he was told in a dream he would soon go to his own country. He either escaped or was freed, made his way to a port 200 miles away (perhaps on the SE. coast), and eventually persuaded some sailors to take him with them. After various adventures in a strange land, including near-starvation, Patrick returned to his family, much changed. He received some form of training for the priesthood, which included the Latin Bible which he came to know well; but it was not a ‘higher education’, the lack of which he regretted, and for which he was criticized. His own Latin writings are simple but articulate, sometimes ironical… One of the traits which he retained as an old man was a consciousness of his being an unlearned exile and formerly a slave and fugitive, who learnt to trust completely in God.”

Answers.com quotes from The Religion Book that St. Patrick once described how God helped him this way," ‘I was like a stone lying in deep mire,’ he wrote. ‘And He that is mighty came, and in His mercy lifted me up, and verily raised me aloft and placed me on top of the wall.’ "

st-patricks-day.com says,” Saint Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a ‘most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God’ … Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been - the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice…

Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide.

So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins….

Big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades, ‘wearing of the green,’ music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!"

en.wikipedia.org says,” Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, in hopes of making a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase ‘the wearing of the green’, meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from a song of the same name.”

Here is an astonishing story of how the Chicago River is made green every St. Patrick’s Day.

greenchicagoriver.com says,” For the past 43 years the Chicago River turns green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration…. In 1961 Stephen Bailey was approached by a plumber who was wearing some white coveralls, they knew this only because they could see some of the original color. These coveralls had been mostly stained or dyed a perfect shade of green, an Irish green to better describe it. It was when Stephen Bailey asked how the coveralls got this way, that they discovered that the dye used to detect leaks into the river turned green, not just any color green, but the perfect color green…. One of the initial problems was that there was no recipe for dying rivers green. Chicago was the first and only city to do it. So the question was: Do you use a few handfuls of dye or a carload?

One-hundred pounds was used the first year. The river stayed green for a week! The second year, 1963, we cut to 50 lbs, the river was green for three days.

We finally decided to use 25 lbs and that did the job for one day.

In 1966, the environmentalists accused the parade committee of polluting the river. They complained that the dye was oil-based and was detrimental to all living things.

Bailey laughed when he heard their argument but agreed to find a new compound that would do the job and appease the critics.

The committee experimented with a number of vegetable dyes and after a bit of trial and error, the current 40 lbs of new dye was hit upon. It produces a carpet of green for four or five hours. “

Here are some great verses in the Bible where the colour green is mentioned.

“Someday, I, the Lord, will cut a tender twig from the top of a cedar tree, then plant it on the peak of Israel’s tallest mountain, where it will grow strong branches and produce large fruit. All kinds of birds will find shelter under the tree, and they will rest in the shade of its branches. Every tree in the forest will know that I, the Lord, can bring down tall trees and help short ones grow. I dry up green trees and make dry ones green. I, the Lord have spoken, and I will keep My word.”  Ezekiel 17:22-24 CEV

A footnote in the Life Application Bible explains the general meaning of these verses this way,” Only God could give the people true hope. God said He would plant a tender sprig, the Messiah, whose kingdom would grow and become a shelter for all who come to Him.”  The Messiah refers to Jesus.

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare,’ The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is nothing but goodness in Him!’ ”   Psalm 92:12-15  NLT

When you live close to God, your entire life becomes filled with purpose, and can make a positive and significant impact on other people. Trees do not produce fruit to feed and benefit themselves, the fruit they produce feeds and benefits others (people). When my father was elderly he spent the last few months of his life in poor health and in a hospital. He produced fruit even then – nurses told me they marveled at his positive attitude, kind words, and sense of humour. They said he never complained, was never grumpy, and they were happy to take care of him.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength. He leads me on paths that are right for the good of His name.”    Psalm 23:1-3   NCV  

Is God your shepherd today?  Are you allowing Him to lead and direct your life? When you answer yes to both questions, God can give you the provision, peace, and strength described in those three verses.

 

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Easter

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Around the world there are some popular love stories that have captivated people for generations.  Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Mark Antony, Heer and Raniha are examples.

 

These three stories and many others have one thing in common – one or both of the people in love dies in the story.

 

This is one of the reasons these stories are so popular.  The desire to love and the desire to live are two of the strongest feelings people possess. So stories that deal with these primary human desires will certainly attract our attention.

 

There is another great story about someone who loved others. In this story the one who loved dies also.

 

“When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die. But God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”  Romans 5:6-8  CEV

 

Before Jesus did this He said to His followers,” Now I tell you to love each other, as I have loved you. The greatest way to show love for friends is to die for them. And you are My friends, if you obey Me.” John 15:12-14   CEV

 

Jesus also said to His followers,” I am the Good Shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. No one can take My life from Me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For My Father has given Me this command.”  John 10:14-15,18   NLT

 

The major difference between this love story and all the others is that the person who died came back to life again !

 

The angel said to the women,”Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus, who has been crucified. He is not here. He has risen from the dead as He said He would. Come and see the place where His body was. And go quickly and tell His followers, ‘Jesus has risen from the dead. He is going into Galilee ahead of you, and you will see Him there.’ “  Then the angel said, “Now I have told you.”   Matthew 28:5-7   NCV

 

This is the most important message of Easter. If Jesus had remained dead, this story would be as tragic as the popular stories mentioned at the beginning. But Jesus defeated sin and death for our sakes and lives forever!! He is more alive than you or me because He is the source of life!

 

“I am the way, the truth, and the life! “ Jesus answered. “Without Me, no one can go to the Father.”                   John 14:6    CEV

 

“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and He was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that He didn’t make. Life itself was in Him, and this life gives light to everyone.”   John 1:1-4  NLT

 

Now when magicians do magic tricks it is simply to show off their skills. But when Jesus came back to life it was no trick. And He did not come back to life just to show off His abilities or powers. The reason He came back to life has everything to do with you.

 

“In the past you were spiritually dead because of your sins and the things you did against God. Yes, in the past you lived the way the world lives, following the ruler of the evil powers that are above the earth. That same spirit is now working in those who refuse to obey God. In the past all of us lived like them, trying to please our sinful selves and doing all the things our bodies and minds wanted. We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people. But God’s mercy is great, and He loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, He gave us new life with Christ.”  Ephesians 2:1-5   NCV

 

According to en.wikipedia.org, Easter eggs or spring eggs are special eggs that are often given to celebrate Easter or springtime. The egg is a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. The egg is widely used as a symbol of the start of new life, just as new life emerges from an egg when the chick hatches out

.

You can have a new life starting this very moment by receiving Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Saviour of your life.

 

“What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did.”  2 Corinthians 5:17-18a    NLT

 

Once again, according to en.wikipedia.org, the Easter Bunny is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. He brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter.

 

The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility. Rabbits are prolific breeders. The females can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first.

 

God’s desire is that many people have life.

 

“The Lord isn’t slow about keeping His promises, as some people think He is. In fact, God is patient, because He wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.”  2 Peter 3:9  CEV

 

Referring to Jesus, the Bible says this,” But although the world was made through Him, the world didn’t recognize Him when He came. Even in His own land and among His own people, He was not accepted. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God!”   John 1:10-12   NLT

 

“This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God so you will know you have eternal life.”   1 John 5:11-13   NCV

 

 

 

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Mother's and Father's Days

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According to en.wikipedia.org, the modern Mother’s Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, yet most commonly in March, April, or May as a day to honor mothers and motherhood.

 

One of the early calls to celebrate a Mother's Day in the United States was the ‘Mother’s Day Proclamation’ by Julia Ward Howe, written in 1870.

 

Also in the United States in 1912, Anna Jarvis trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and created the Mother's Day International Association.

 

As the US holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood, like Mothering Sunday in the UK or, in Greece, the Orthodox celebration of the presentation of Jesus to the temple.

 

Many African countries adopted the idea of one Mother's Day from the British tradition, although there are many festivals and events celebrating mothers within the many diverse cultures on the African continent. 

 

The tradition of gift giving to mothers on Mother's Day in Australia was started by Mrs. Janet Heyden, a resident of Leichhardt Sydney, in 1924.

 

In India, Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. It is quite famous in urban areas, where gift giving to mothers is observed.

 

In Indonesia, Mother's Day is celebrated nationally on December 22. It is celebrated by expressing love and gratitude to mothers. People present gifts to mothers, such as flowers, hold surprise parties and competitions such as cooking competitions.

 

In Pakistan, Mother’s Day is celebrated with various media channels having special shows to celebrate this day.

 

Mother's Day in the Philippines is celebrated every second Sunday of May. A Filipino mother is called the "light of the household" around which all activities revolve. Family members treat their mother for lunch/dinner out, spend time together in a park, or shopping at the mall. The most popular treat for their moms is to bring her time to retouch, like going to spa, hairstyle, body massage and the like.

 

In most countries, Mother's Day is a recent observance derived from the holiday as it has evolved in America. When it was adopted by other countries and cultures, it was given different meanings, associated to different events (religious, historical or legendary), and celebrated in a different date or dates.

 

According to en.wikipedia.org, Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in many countries and on other days elsewhere.

 

The first observance of Father's Day actually took place in Fairmont, West Virginia, United States on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monogah mining disaster several months earlier in Monogah, West Virginia on December 6, 1907.

 

On June 19, 1910, an independently-invented Father's Day observance was celebrated through the efforts of  Sonora Smart Dodd  of  Spokane, Washington, United States. After listening to a church sermon at Spokane's Central Methodist Episcopal Church in 1909 about the newly recognized Mother's Day, Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition, as well. She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, a Civil War veteran who was left to raise his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child when Sonora was 16 years old.

 

In Thailand, Father's Day is set as the birthday of the king. December 5 is the birthday of the current king.

 

In Taiwan, Father's Day is not an official holiday, but is widely observed on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is bā. This pronunciation is very similar to the character "爸" "bà", which means "Papa" or "father".

 

Beginning with 2010, in Romania, Father's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May and it is recognized officially by the state. Out of the 27 states in the European Union, it was the only one without an official Father's Day.

 

More phone calls are made in the United States during Mother's Day than during Father's Day, but the percentage of collect calls on Father's Day is much higher, making it the busiest day of the year for collect calls.

 

There are many wonderful verses in the Bible that tell of various ways people can be a great blessing to their families and in turn be blessed by them. Allow me to share just a few of them with you here.

 

“Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.”  Proverbs 17:6    NLT

 

Matthew Henry says about this verse in his Bible Commentary,” It is an honour to parents when they are old to leave children, and children’s children, growing up, that tread in the steps of their virtues, and are likely to maintain and advance the reputation of their families.

 

It is an honour to a man to live so long as to see his children’s children, to see his house built up in them, and to see them likely to serve their generation according to the will of God.

 

It is an honour to children to have wise and godly parents, and to have them continued to them even after they have themselves grown up and settled in the world.”

 

“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a wise wife is a gift from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14    NCV

 

It is a testimony to the generosity of good parents when they continue giving to their children right up to their dying day. Such parents are often generous not only with their possessions, but with even more valuable things like their love, time, wisdom, experience, and encouragement.

 

“Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you. Don’t neglect your mother’s teaching. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.”  Proverbs 1:8-9   NLT

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”   Deuteronomy 6:5-7  NCV

 

We never forget the genuine Christian faith we observe in our parents, and grandparents. The faith we see in their lives reinforces whatever Christian truths they try to teach us.

 

“The church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much.” 1 Timothy 5:3-4   NLT

 

We can never fully repay our parents for all they have done for us. We should consider it a privilege to look after them in the later years of their lives – it gives us an opportunity to give back to them.  This is one of the many ways that God demonstrates His great wisdom – by designing our lives on earth like this.

 

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”  Psalm 127:3    NLT

Another version words that verse this way,” Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.”  CEV

 

If you have children, no matter what age they are now, when you think of them or look at them or talk to them – how often do you think that they are a gift, a blessing, and a reward from God Himself to you? Children are very good at sensing what is in their parents’ hearts.

 

Dear friend, I hope today that you are part of a family that is a blessing to you in many of the ways that you have just read.

 

If not, then I have two encouraging thoughts to leave with you.

 

First, starting today, ask God to help you be the first in your family to be a blessing to the others.

 

Second, become a part of God’s great family today – visit the Become page to find out how.

 

 

 

 

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International Workers' Day

 

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There is an official holiday for workers around the world. According to uk.ask.com, this day is called International Workers Day, or May Day, or Labor Day, depending on the country. It goes on to say that,” May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries.

In Chile, most stores and public services close for the entire day, and the major trade unions organize rallies during the morning hours, with festivities and cookouts in the later part of the day, in all the major cities.

In Sri Lanka the government held official May Day celebrations in major towns and cities, during which party leaders greeted the crowds. Workers carried banners with political slogans and many parties decorated their vehicles.

In Hungary, May Day was officially celebrated under the Communist regime, and remains a public holiday. Traditionally, the day was marked by dancing around designated "May trees."

In Portugal it is a holiday for parents to spend some time with their children.

In Serbia, the 1st of May is a day off work and a day out of school. People celebrate all over the country, usually having barbecues outside.

May Day is an important celebration in Italy. Very popular is the Concerto del Primo Maggio ("1 May's Concert"), organized by Italian Labour Unions in Rome in Piazza San Giovanni. It is attended by more than 300,000 people every year, and involves participation of many famous bands and songwriters.”

People place a great deal of importance on work and business. Some people think that business runs the world even more than governments do. When we meet someone for the first time, one of the first things we ask is what kind of work they do.

Business is one of the main topics on news broadcasts. Every day we are told how many points stock market indexes moved, and how many cents company stock prices changed. There are even people called floor traders paid to observe changes in stock prices each second!

This world is obsessed with business, but how many people find any joy in their work?

People work at thousands of different kinds of jobs around the world. But that is only the beginning. There is also community volunteer work, work we do at home, and work we do for friends and relatives.

Only the Lord knows how many millions of hours people around the world spent doing these various kinds of work in the past 24 hours.

Since work is a big part of our lives, God tells us many things that will greatly benefit us in this area.

“Keep the Sabbath as a holy day, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You may work and get everything done during six days each week, but the seventh day is a day of rest to honour the Lord your God.”       Deuteronomy 5:12-14a   NCV

God tells us several important things in these few words.

First, God must be the main priority in our lives, not work or business. God’s command is to set apart one day of each week to worship Him and honour Him.

Second, that one day of the week is also necessary for us to provide much needed rest. A proper balance between work and rest is essential for our health. Non-stop work is not healthy and eventually we can become sick from it.  God did not create us to be able to work constantly without rest.

Years ago I remember a friend of mine who was a church pastor. He was doing great work, but was not taking enough time to rest. He eventually suffered a burnout and was forced to take months off from his work. He told me about this experience. He said,” I found that I no longer had any energy to do anything.”

Thirdly, we can expect work to take up a lot of our time. We might need up to six days out of seven to do all the work that is necessary. Even if work takes up six days out of seven, the time we take to worship God in a single day is more important.

“How happy are those who fear the Lord – all who follow His ways! You will enjoy the fruit of your labour. How happy you will be! How rich your life!”   Psalm 128:1-2   NLT

If God is the main priority in my life, if I honour Him, and live according to what He says, He will make my labour productive and bless my life. This is a tremendous truth.

One thing that frustrates people is doing work for nothing – this is unproductive and unsatisfying.

Notice that God is not saying that He will make you rich financially, He says your life will be rich, which is a very different thing – far better than money. If God is the main priority in my life, if I honour Him, and live according to what He says, then He will bless my entire life in many ways – this will make my life rich.

The Bible also has important things to say specifically about work we do for the Lord.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.”   2 Timothy 3:16-17   NLT

The only way we can learn what God wants to teach us in the Bible is by reading it. And since the entire Bible is inspired by God and is useful to teach us, it is vital to read the whole Bible. This is God’s way of preparing us in every way so that we are fully equipped for every good thing, all the work, He wants us to do. If we try to prepare ourselves in a way different to God’s way, we won’t be properly prepared nor will we be fully equipped to do His work.

It is crucial that a Christian study the Bible regularly. Reading books or magazines about the Bible, or listening to someone else talk about the Bible are good, but they are not enough. They cannot substitute for studying the Bible myself.

Jesus said,” As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”  John 9:4   NIV

There are at least two important points here. We should not neglect doing God’s work, on the contrary we must do it. Also, we have a limited amount of time to do work for the Lord – when night comes for us, we will no longer be able to work. This is all the more reason for us to do as much for the Lord as we can while it is still day. We should approach His work with a sense of urgency because we do not know how much more time we will have to do it.

 “Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because He is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work. We work together as partners who belong to God.”                                           1 Corinthians 3:5b-9a   NLT

This portion of God’s Word is filled with incredible truths concerning the work we do for the Lord, and especially the work of communicating to people how to become a Christian and be right with God.

Here are just some of the great truths we see in these verses.

First, our job is to communicate the message, but it is always God and not us who produces the result. God is far more important and powerful than we are throughout the entire process and task.

Second, we must see each other as partners working together for God. We are not competitors trying to grab the largest part of the pie. Therefore since we are partners, we need to do more than just tolerate others doing the same work. We will get much more done for God if we cooperate and make plans to work together with other people. God’s work cannot be done properly or effectively if each worker is working by themselves.

“Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of His body the church. Under His direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”   Ephesians 4:15-16   NLT

As we saw earlier, God wants all believers involved in the task of communicating to people how to become a Christian and be right with God. But as we see in the Ephesians passage, God also assigns special work to different believers to do. When we do those tasks the results are breathtaking – we help other believers grow, be healthy, and full of love!

“My dear friends, stand firm and don’t be shaken. Always keep busy working for the Lord. You know that everything you do for Him is worthwhile.”  1 Corinthians 15:58   CEV

What we do for the Lord is worthwhile even if we do not see results right away or at any time. What we do for Him is worthwhile even if it is hard, even if some people oppose it, even if we are criticized or ridiculed.

The following passage from Hebrews gives us more great encouragement to work for the Lord.

“God is fair; He will not forget the work you did and the love you showed for Him by helping His people. And He will remember that you are still helping them. We want each of you to go on with the same hard work all your lives so you will surely get what you hope for. We do not want you to become lazy. Be like those who through faith and patience will receive what God has promised.”  Hebrews 6:10-12   NCV

Now consider this next amazing verse found in the very last book in the Bible.

“Then I heard a voice from heaven say,’ Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’  ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit,’ they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.’ “  Revelation 14:13  NIV

The Life Application Bible has a great footnote at this verse. It says,” While it is true that money, fame, and belongings can’t be taken with us from this life, God’s people can produce fruit that survives even death. God will remember our love, kindness, and faithfulness, and those who accept Christ through our witness will join us in the new earth. Be sure that your values are in line with God’s values, and decide today to produce fruit that lasts forever.”

 

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Thanksgiving

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According to en.wikipedia.org:

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.

Thanksgiving in North America had originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, Native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season.

Wilstar.com quotes United States’ President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation made in 1789,

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. “

 

These outstanding statements are a wonderful demonstration of what true thanksgiving is. They point out many of the things that I should be thankful to God for, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Whether the country I live in has a Thanksgiving holiday or not, I still need to be thankful to God daily for so many things like those I have just read.

Showing God that I am thankful to Him is an indispensable attitude in a Christian’s life. The verses that follow illustrate this clearly to us.

“Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.”   Hebrews 12:28  NLT

This great verse shows us that our attitude of thankfulness to God and our act of worshiping God are closely connected. Our worship of God would not even be genuine if we were not thankful to Him.

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.”  Colossians 2:6-7   NLT

These wonderful verses show us that our thankfulness to Jesus is closely connected to our obedience to Him, and our faith in Him.

“Give thanks to the Lord and pray to Him. Tell the nations what He has done.”  1 Chronicles 16:8   NCV

This magnificent verse shows us that being thankful to God, praying to Him, and telling others about Him are closely connected.

The introduction to the book of Nehemiah in the Contemporary English Version Bible says,” Twelve years after the last events of the book of Ezra, a Jew named Nehemiah received bad news about Jerusalem: The walls of the city were still broken down, and the burned gates had never been replaced… Enemies even planned attacks against Jerusalem and tried to have Nehemiah killed. Finally, the walls and gates were finished and dedicated to God, and they became a sign that God had blessed His people.”

Here is what happened after the walls and gates were finished and dedicated to God.

Nehemiah writes,” I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.”  Nehemiah 12:31a   NIV

What an open, unreserved, and complete demonstration of thanksgiving to the Lord that was!

“You are my strong shield, and I trust You completely. You have helped me, and I will celebrate and thank You in song.”  Psalm 28:7  CEV

This beautiful verse shows us that one of the ways we can express our thankfulness to God is by singing to Him, just like the choirs did in Nehemiah’s time.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever.”  Psalm 30:12  NIV

We should never want to stop being thankful to God.

“I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”  Psalm 7:17    NIV

We should be thankful to God because of His holy character.

“God, we thank You because You are near. We tell about the miracles You do.”  Psalm 75:1   NCV

We should be thankful to God because He is close to us.

“Thank the Lord because He is good. His love continues forever.”  Psalm 107:1   NCV

We should be thankful to God because He is good and His love for us will never end.

“Sin is what gives death its sting, and the Law is the power behind sin. But thank God for letting our Lord Jesus Christ give us the victory!”   1 Corinthians 15:56-57  CEV

We should be thankful to God for allowing Jesus to die for us to give us complete victory over sin and death!

The more you express thanksgiving to God for all of these things, the stronger and deeper your Christian life will be.

 

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Remembrance Day

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uk.ask.com says that,” Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the members of their armed forces who have died on duty since World War I. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918, as the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918. “

When we take time to remember these people we show them our gratitude and respect, and that we honour them. We also show them that they are important to us.

The Bible also mentions several things which believers need to remember. When we remember the right things, our lives will be greatly blessed by God.

“Remember what happened long ago. Remember that I am God, and there is no other God. I am God, and there is no one like Me.”   Isaiah 46:9    NCV

I begin by quoting this verse because it is vital that we remember and realize that God is the one and only Supreme Being – there is no other.  It is essential that this fundamental truth be clear in our minds to prevent us from being led astray in our faith.

“I have already told you what the Lord Jesus did on the night He was betrayed. And it came from the Lord Himself. He took some bread in His hands. Then after He had given thanks, He broke it and said,’ This is My body, which is given for you. Eat this and remember Me.’ After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in His hands and said,’ This is My blood, and with it God makes His new agreement with you. Drink this and remember Me.’  The Lord meant that when you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about His death until He comes.”                                       1 Corinthians 11:23-25   CEV

Here is another fundamental truth we need to remember – Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins.

“Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that He was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach.”  2 Timothy 2:8  NLT

This is another fundamental truth which is crucial to remember – Jesus came back to life after He died for your sins and mine.

“Keep your Creator in mind while you are young! In years to come, you will be burdened down with troubles and say,’ I don’t enjoy life anymore.’ “   Ecclesiastes 12:1   CEV

We show God that we honour Him and that He is important to us when we remember Him and think about Him whether things are going well in our lives or not. Some people only think about God when they have a problem, and forget all about Him and ignore Him after the problem is resolved. Other people remember God when things are going well, but forget about Him when problems come and try to handle them without His help.

“Depend on the Lord and His strength; always go to Him for help. Remember the miracles He has done, His wonders, and His decisions.”   1 Chronicles 16:11-12  NCV

“Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things He does for me.”  Psalm 103:2    NLT

When we remember the great things God has already done and continues to do, that gives us confidence that when we depend on Him and His strength, and go to Him for help, He will be able to do what we need.

“The Lord is our God, bringing justice everywhere on earth. We must never forget His agreement and His promises, not in thousands of years.”  1 Chronicles 16:14-15   CEV 

It is so important that we remember God’s many promises to us that this web site has a Promise page. Each week you will find marvellous promises from God which apply to your life if you are a Christian.

Paul wrote to Christians in the city of Philippi,” I thank my God every time I remember you.”   Philippians 1:3  NCV

We need to remember other people who are a part of God’s family, and we need to thank God for them. Imagine if you were the only Christian in your city or country. How long could you continue living the Christian life all by yourself?

“They only asked us to remember the poor, and that was something I had always been eager to do.”           Galatians 2:10  CEV

“Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God.”  Hebrews 13:16   NLT

Not only is it important to remember other Christians, we must also remember people who have needs. It is not enough to just think about them, we should do what we can to help them too.

“But the truly happy people are those who carefully study God’s perfect law that makes people free, and they continue to study it. They do not forget what they heard, but they obey what God’s teaching says. Those who do this will be made happy.”  James 1:25    NCV

If we study God’s Word the Bible continuously, remember His teachings and obey them, He will make us truly happy. This is fantastic to know!

If you remember all of the things above, God will greatly bless your life on the inside and on the outside.

 

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Christmas

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en.wikipedia.org says,

“Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world, including many whose populations are mostly non-Christian. In some non-Christian countries, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration (e.g. Hong Kong); in others, Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Countries such as Japan and Korea, where Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations and Christmas trees. Christmas celebrations around the world can vary markedly in form, reflecting differing cultural and national traditions.

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Nigeria which is marked by the emptying of towns and cities as Nigerians that have been "successful" return to their ancestral villages to be with family and to bless those less fortunate. As the towns and cities empty, people jam the West African markets to buy and transport live the chickens, goats and cows that will be needed for the Christmas meals.

In Bangladesh, Bengali Christians greet family and friends by saying Shubho Boro Din, or Greetings of the Great Day, and offer traditional sweets and pithas (traditional Bengali cakes). Their homes are decorated with local Christmas handicrafts while artificial stars signifying the Star of Bethlehem are hung on rooftops.

Christmas in the Philippines is one of the biggest holidays on the calendar and is widely celebrated. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world's longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols heard as early as September 1.

The major day of celebration in Norway, as in most of Northern Europe, is December 24. Although it is legally a regular workday until 16:00, most stores close early. Church bells toll in the Christmas festival between 17:00 and 18:00, and many people attend the church service thereafter. In some families the Christmas story from Luke 2 will be read from the old family Bible. The main Christmas meal is served in the evening.

The singing of carols is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivities. On the first day of Christmas, many carolers walk through the streets of the towns and villages, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible.

Christmas is filled with over 30 traditions found only within Mexican Christmas. Over nine days, groups of townspeople go from door to door in a fashion of when the parents of the unborn baby Jesus Christ looked for shelter to pass the night when they arrived at Bethlehem, and are periodically called inside homes to participate in the breaking of a candy-filled pinata.. At midnight on Christmas, many families place the figure of baby Jesus in their nacimientos (Nativity scenes), as the symbolic representation of Christmas as a whole

Carols by Candlelight is an Australian Christmas tradition that originated in southeastern Australia in the 19th century and was popularized in Melbourne in the 1930s. The tradition has since spread around the world. It involves people gathering, usually outdoors in a park, to sing carols by candlelight, accompanied by a band. Today, the largest such event is held annually at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne's King's Domain Gardens on Christmas Eve, since 1938, 71 years. The event is televised across the country.”

These are just a few of the many fascinating and exciting Christmas activities which occur around the world. It is wonderful to be a part of  these celebrations as long as we do not lose sight of the heart of the Christmas story.

The Christmas story is simple, yet profound. It seems ordinary, yet is miraculous. It is local, yet far reaching in its impact. It took place at a moment in time, yet affects all of history and even eternity. It is a story whose Author is God Himself. He wrote the script, and He is the star.

“As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ’ Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said,’ do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:20-21  NLT

Now, many people are aware that Christmas has to do with Jesus’ birth. However they do not realize who He is, or they are confused about who He is. People have all kinds of opinions about who they think He is. Some say He never existed, some say He was not sinless, and some say He didn’t actually die on the cross or come back to life.

God gave us His book the Bible, so that we would know the truth about many crucial things, such as who Jesus is. Therefore, instead of me giving my opinion about who Jesus is, I will let you see the true answer from the Bible itself.

“This very day in King David’s hometown a Saviour was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. You will know who He is, because you will find Him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay.”  Luke 2:11 CEV

This is what an angel from God said to shepherds working in a field near where Jesus was born. Notice the angel told them,’ You will know who He is.’  God also wants us today to know who Jesus is.

“All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘ The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name Him Immanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.’ “  Matthew 1:22-23  NCV

Some people refuse to believe that when He lived on earth, Jesus was God and human at the same time. They reject what God plainly states in His book the Bible. They deceive themselves and mislead others by saying that Jesus was just a man. This erroneous opinion is based on either not knowing what the Bible says, or refusing to believe what they know it says. Jesus was not ‘just a man’ without being God, at any point of His existence in Heaven or on earth.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up out of the water. Then heaven opened, and He saw God’s Spirit coming down on Him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said,’ This is My Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with Him,’ “  Matthew 3:16-17  NCV

“The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!...Before this I didn’t know who He was. But the one who sent me to baptize with water had told me,’ You will see the Spirit come down and stay on someone. Then you will know that He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen, and I tell you that He is the Son of God.”   John 1:29, 33-34  CEV

“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent Him to save them! No one who has faith in God’s Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn’t have faith in Him has already been condemned for not having faith in God’s only Son.”  John 3:17-18  CEV

Jesus is not someone simply to be admired, or sung about – He must be responded to. I  can choose to either have faith in Him to save me from my sins, or not to have faith in Him. The end result of the first choice is salvation, and the end result of the second is condemnation – the Bible is clear on this.

Jesus said,“ The Father wants all people to honour the Son as much as they honour Him. When anyone refuses to honour the Son, that is the same as refusing to honour the Father who sent Him. I tell you for certain that everyone who hears My message and has faith in the one who sent Me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life.”  John 5:23-24    CEV

“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without Me, no one can go to the Father. If you had known Me, you would have known the Father. But from now on, you do know Him, and you have seen Him.” Philip said, “ Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.” Jesus replied,” Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don’t you know who I am? If you have seen Me , you have seen the Father. How can you ask Me to show you the Father? Don’t you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with Me?”  John 14:6-10a  CEV

Now that you have seen who Jesus says He is and who the Bible says He is, what is your response to Him right now?

“Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.”   Acts 4:12    CEV

Jesus said, “All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out ( I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me).”   John 6:37    Amp

 

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beautiful mountain sky and lake horses at sunset waterfall and rainbow heart shaped by hands in front of sunset bright sun behind white clouds orange and black butterfly on leaf soaring hawk in blue sky red and yellow autumn leaves and pine cones

 

 

Statement of Faith

 

1.       There is only one God. He is Master, Maker, and Sustainer of the entire universe and everything in it.

The Lord created the heavens. He is the God who formed the earth and made it. He did not want it to be empty, but He wanted life on the earth. This is what the Lord says: “I am the Lord. There is no other God.”    Isaiah 45:18 NCV

2.       God has always existed and always will. He exists in three distinct Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.   John 1:18   CEV

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,  and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.   Matthew 28:19 KJV

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  1 John 5:7 KJV

3.       God is the origin, the ultimate source of all life, including human life. God creates each person uniquely, and they are a human being from the moment of conception.

You made my whole being; You formed me in my mother’s body. I praise You because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in Your book before I was one day old.      Psalm 139:13-16 NCV

4.       God gave His Son Jesus to the world so that He would sacrifice His life one time, dying on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all of humanity, coming back to life on the third day, making it possible for anyone to live forever with God by placing their faith in Christ.

“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said,” do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.      Matthew 1:20b-21   NLT 

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me – that Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day as the Scriptures said.     1 Corinthians 15:3-4   NLT 

Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.      Acts 4:12   CEV 

Jesus told him,” I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”     John 14:6  NLT      

5.       Our sins have separated us from God. We cannot live in the presence of a holy God in our sinful state.

You help all who gladly obey and do what You want, but sin makes You angry. Only by Your help can we ever be saved. We are unfit to worship You; each of our good deeds is merely a filthy rag.      Isaiah 64:5-6a  CEV 

God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, He freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered His life’s blood, so that by faith in Him we could come to God.       Romans 3:22-25a CEV

6.       Anyone who rejects Christ and the salvation made possible through Him alone, will face eternal separation from God in hell, followed by the lake of fire.

Jesus said,” Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road.”    Matthew 7:13-14   NCV  

The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.      John 3:36   NIV

And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.  Revelation 20:11-15  KJV 

7.       Anyone who receives Christ as Lord and Savior becomes born again,  receiving new spiritual life through the Holy Spirit which lasts for eternity. This eternal life begins at the moment of salvation, continues in Heaven, culminating in the New Jerusalem in the presence of the Lord and all His people.

Jesus replied,” I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.”     John 3:3  NLT

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did.     2 Corinthians 5:17-18a  NLT  

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did.      Titus 3:5-6   NLT 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and there was no sea anymore.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband.   And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Now God’s presence is with people, and He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone.”   Revelation 21:1-4  NCV

8.       Jesus Christ will return to this earth at any moment to take all His followers out of the world to be with Him forever.

We are filled with hope, as we wait for the glorious return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.     Titus 2:13  CEV 

And just as it is destined that each person dies only once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died only once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again but not to deal with our sins again. This time He will bring salvation to all those who are eagerly waiting for Him.      Hebrews 9:27-28   NLT

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet Him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.  Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  So encourage each other with these words.   1 Thessalonians 4:15-18  NLT

9.       The devil is an evil spiritual being opposed to God. He constantly seeks to do harm to humans. He will ultimately be punished by the Lord by being thrown into the lake of fire.

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.    1 Peter 5:8-9a   NLT

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  Revelation 20:10  NASB

10.   The Bible is God’s word to humans, inspired by God, inerrant, infallible, and the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.   

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.       2 Timothy 3:16-17   NLT 

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.       Proverbs 30:5   NIV

 

 

 

 

 

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