Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Did Mary know all this when she said to the angel after the announcement of her pregnancy, in Luke 1:38..."Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word".? I believe she believed God, but to what extent I do not know. She knew He was the Son of the Most High, but did she believe that He would do all this? This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs because Mary, who carried the Savior for nine months, raised Him, and saw Him work, might have not known the full impact of His coming. But she did know He was the Savior.
Monday, December 22, 2014
There are countless times in the Old Testament where He came down from heaven, and from mountains. He showed us glimpses of Himself throughout the Old Testament. Then He came to us in flesh. Now, if we have faith and believe in Him, He steps down to us, and dwells in us. What other god would do that? What other god died and rose again and lives forever? What other god would come to our level, and chase after us? No other god would, and cannot, because they are lifeless.
Jesus was there when God picked up the dust and will be there to create the New heaven and earth. Christmas can be a time to acknowledge that. This Christmas, will you acknowledge that He stepped down for you? Mary's pregnancy was like no other. Jesus' birth was like no other. And the way God had all of it played out, with Him lying in a manger, in such a humble way, God had to have stepped and stooped down low enough for us to touch Him. That's how much He loves us.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Friday, December 5, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
The Israelites wandered the desert and found that there was no water. They were of course not happy, forgetting their Lord, their Provider. They came to Marah where the water was bitter and boy the grumbling began! Moses was told by God to throw a tree into the water. It then became sweet, and they were able to drink it. It was as if God said to them, "I told you so". "Now", He says, "Are you happy"? Then they were hungry and complained, so God gave them manna from heaven, and may have said, "Are you happy now"?
The Lord had Moses go up Mount Sinai to meet Him because He was giving The Ten Commandments to Moses to give to the Israelites. Moses went up the mountain again after the Ten Commandments was told, to get the tablets to which they were on. Moses was gone for 40 days and nights, and no, the Israelites were not happy yet. In fact, they panicked, and made a golden calf to worship. How many times would it take for God to rain miracle after miracle to make His people happy? It was never good enough. In fact, they got so sick of the provision of food God gave them, that they asked for meat, and boy did God rain meat down on them so much, that they were sick of it. God may have asked again, "Are you happy now"?
I don't know how many miracles it took, but it took 40 years wandering in the desert for God to get their attention. They still grumbled and complained. They were going to a land of Promise and complained the whole way. God wasn't happy either, so a whole generation died, without seeing The Promise Land. Don't miss out on God's blessing due to your grumbling and complaining because life is not going your way. I may have put a little humor in this by the question God could have ask, "Are you happy now"?, but what will it take for you to be happy with God's plan for your life?
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Abraham and Sarah laughed at God. Jacob lied. David committed adultry and murder. Jonah ran away. Mary was a virgin and gave birth to Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector. Peter needed anger management. Thomas doubted. Martha worried. The woman at the well had many marriages and was living with a guy. Barnabus had words with a Paul. Timothy was just a kid. Paul hated Christians in the beginning and had them killed.
Yes, God has a sense of humor. He used all these people in their sinful ways and in Mary's case, an impossible way, and gave us a life--giving Gospel, despite human error. He even illustrates us as sheep, in a round about way saying we are stupid. Yes, humans and sheep alike are stupid. He loves us so much though that through these men and women, we have His-story, and Jesus came through these people, so that we may be redeemed from laughing at God, lying, committing adultry or murder, running away from God, cheating people out of money, getting angry, doubting or worrying, or being faithful to one spouse.
He also came so that we may not break friendships with harsh word, or not worry about being to young, and worry what others will say about it. He came to change persecutors lives and make them powerful preachers. The last laugh is from God. If you say, "I can't be used". God will use you in that area you doubt, so watch out and be careful the next time you mess up and think you're in the clear. God'll get you then.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Monday, June 30, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Ben also knew he had to tell the truth to the others. He gathered them around the table at the Bartholomew's home. He was frightened that they might judge him. He was still young in his faith. "I have a confession to share with you all", he said. They were all eyes and ears. Ben didn't have the nerve to tell them but silently asked God for the words. He paused as they looked at him with anticipation. "The plan that night before I accepted Jesus, was to...", he tried to explain. Pastor Manuel spoke up. "Was to kill us, am I right?" Another pause from Ben. "Yes, you, Drew and Sheila. Will you forgive me? And will God?", Ben pleaded. Drew spoke up. "We knew we were going to be killed, and we all forgive you, and better yet, God had forgiven you the second you gave your life to Him". Ben gave a sigh of relief. "Did you really think we wouldn't love you, knowing this"? Pastor Manuel asked. Ben was at a lost for words and felt so much joy that he wept.
It was later that night and they were all staying at the Bartholomew's for their last night together. Pastor Manuel called Sylvia, his wife. Her mother, Rebecca answered and spoke erratically and excitedly. All his kids got on the phone, all wanting to know how he was and when he would be home. Pedro talked for awhile, and then they all motioned for Sylvia. She shed tears of joy, hearing the news. They all thought that everyone was dead. Tears of joy ran rampant. "I love you, my Sylvia, and I will be home for dinner tomorrow night", Manuel said, then broke down, weeping, saying, "Finally, it's over". Amelia, his youngest, grabbed the phone again, unaware of the danger he had been in. "Papa? Do you still love us"?, she inquired. "Why do you ask my darling? I will always love you all with all my life". "I always love you too, Papa". He knew she didn't understand, and hoped she wouldn't remember this moment in her life, a decade from now. He suddenly felt extremely homesick. He said his good-byes to his family and went to his room the Bartholomew's accommodated him with.
Kyle thought of his dad. He called him to tell him the good news. Kyle's dad also thought they were all dead, just like the others and he had been grieving heavily for a time. When he heard Kyle's voice, his knees buckled and he gasped for air in disbelief. His son was coming home and he felt grateful and praised God for the gift He had given him. Kyle told him all that happened and how God had worked in even Ben, their one-time captor's life. "Dad, tomorrow we'll all be home, safe and sound", Kyle exclaimed. Kyle was proud of his best friend and thankful to God for how He worked in Drew's life. He also saw the change in Sheila's life and was glad. He felt peace and was reassured by his dad that all things work together for good, for those who love God. He hung up with his dad and chatted with the Bartholomew's while Sheila and Drew called their families.
The news came on just before Sheila's parents got her call. Their girl was alive and safe. Hope had finally come to their family and all was not lost. Sheila asked for forgiveness for the mess she got everyone in. Her parents looked past that. As long as they had their "little girl" in their lives, nothing else mattered. Sheila didn't even know how she got to where she was. She remembered the night she told her parents she was going to Freda's house. She even lied about Rhonda. She remembered back on how she started into drugs with Rhonda. It wasn't that Sheila had a terrible childhood. Her parents gave her everything, including love. It was experimenting that started it all, and one thing led to the next. Rhonda later, after Sheila's disappearance, was devastated. She then, cleaned up her own act and started going to the church Kyle and Drew went to. She gave her life to Jesus because of what Sheila was going through. Mr. and Mrs. Wharton shared that with her daughter, and they cried together, anticipating Sheila's arrival home. Sheila shared the love of Christ with her parents. They did notice the change in their daughter, and thought about what she shared.
Drew was talking with Aunt Rita. Aunt Rita was beside herself with joy. He also shared Jesus with her in telling her about their ordeal. She tried to argue the point but couldn't come up with a legitimate argument. Drew reflected back on the journey. He remembered the note he got in the mail about not following the rabbit trail and it being signed in blood Peter Rabbit. He wondered about that for awhile after getting off the phone with his aunt. He remembered the story vividly. Sheila was Peter Rabbit, who went where she wasn't suppose to go. Hernandez signed the note in blood as a warning. Drew reflected on this and was thankful that this rabbit story ended differently. He really loved Sheila and Sheila loved him. They sat together holding hands. They waited. All that time they all waited. Waited for the Lord. Jesus gave them the strength and courage through it all and they waited...In the end they were redeemed and rescued in many more ways than one.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Hernandez wanted Julio to handle this matter, and his orders to Julio was to "make them disappear". Julio had known Ben a long time. Julio was 15 and Ben was 16 when they were initiated into the gang. Ben looked after Julio and once or twice saved Julio's life. Now, Julio was ordered to take Ben's life. Were they just orders from the leader or did Julio really believe that Ben was a traitor, and want him dead? Julio was on his cell with Hernandez discussing the business at hand. He seemed determined and willing. Julio's mother and father died tragically in a drive-by shooting, while sitting in their 2-bedroom house, watching TV with him and his 3 little brothers. All 4 brothers shared their small bedroom together. Julio's father was a carpenter and his mother stayed home and watched the boys. They didn't have much, but they had each other. After his parents died, Julio quit school and went to work where his father worked, but couldn't feed his brothers, so a man by the name Hernandez gave him "a job". He was able to make ends meet, but the State still took his 3 brothers away a year later, and he never saw or heard from them again.
The van drove up and stop. Charles turned off the engine and the men took all of them to Julio and the goons who were with them. There were 3 others. Ben and Julio came face to face. Ben looked at Julio with courage and strength. No anger shown on his face. Julio cocked his head to one side, noticing Ben's courage. "You betrayed Hernandez, and you betrayed me, your best friend", was all Julio said, in a very quiet voice. Ben said nothing. Julio looked at Sheila for a moment and said to her. "You shouldn't have gotten involved with us, now look at all your friends". There was a spark of fear and guilt in her eyes, but she stayed silent as well. They were all scared, including Ben, but they believed God. "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living". Psalm 27:13.
Pete and Miranda Bartholomew had a secret, that no one in town knew. They lived in town most of their lives, got married 30 years ago in the church they are attending now, and raised 2 kids. They opened up the bookstore and coffee shop 15 years ago. They opened up at 5:30 a.m., and closed it up by 3 p.m. everyday but Sunday. What Pete Bartholomew did after hours, no one had a clue, but his wife. His kids, Jen and Adam, who were now 29 and 25, didn't know where their dad went out on nights, while they were growing up. Miranda kept quiet and kept everything to herself on that matter. She knew if people found out, it would be the end for Pete. He was in his "Study" when an urgent call came. He went to his wife, kissed her, got his coat and keys and left. Miranda prayed today, like she always had before, when he ventured out secretly. She knew what he was up to, but that was about all she knew. She never knew the circumstances or where he would be, or with whom he would be with. She just had to trust...God.
Julio decided that Drew, Kyle and Pastor Manuel would be the first three to die. He wanted Sheila to watch her friends die, and he also wanted Ben to suffer the most and watch them all die, then he would kill his best friend. They were all tied to poles in a circular form, where they all could watch each other die. There deaths would be by a firing squad. One shot to the head of each. None of them spoke...except Ben. "Julio, my friend. Do you really want to do this? I am so sorry I lead you astray all those years. Will you forgive me"?, he asked. "Wait! What?, are you serious? Shut up!", Julio shouted. "Kill the pastor first, then Kyle, then the boyfriend"!, he ordered the men. "Wait"!, Ben pleaded. "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing"!, Ben prayed. Julio glared at Ben for a long time. They next sounds that were heard were five shots and screams.
The FBI and INTERPOL came rushing in. Five shots went off. The three goons who were ready to kill the group of friends, and Pastor Charles and Rick were dead. Julio was on the ground weeping, "I'm sorry"! The agents untied them all and Ben went over to Julio and prayed with him. "How can you still stand by me? I was going to kill you", Julio asked while still weeping. The agents were going to take Julio in handcuffs, but Ben put his hand up for them to wait. He shared briefly about Jesus and hugged his long-time friend. The agents took Julio into custody, and Ben had no idea if his short testimony worked. Would Julio accept Christ in prison? Ben would have to fearlessly trust God. The coroner examined the dead bodies and took them away. An agent by the name of Julie Stockman assured all of them that Hernandez and all his men were taken down in every international city they occupied. She told them that there was one person in particular to thank for that. Pete Bartholomew came in. He had been working undercover for INTERPOL for 30 years, and no one knew, except his wife. He told the group he knew who they were when they arrived in town and knew what was going on at his church. He apologized for putting them in more danger and thanked God they were finally safe.