< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: January 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Live to give!

Life is about giving and serving and sharing. It’s not about how much you get, but about how much you give.

A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we do not faint.” Galations 6:7,9

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Monday, January 29, 2007

God is good

I’ve had this written in my daytimer so long, I don’t even remember where it came from, but I love it:

God is good and His plans for us are good. When we follow Him, He will show us the right way to go. It may not be an easy way – but it will be the right way. And when you come to the end of your life, the end of the journey, you will know your life has counted. You will have the assurance that you have made a difference. You will know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is good. You will know because He is your friend. He has walked beside you. He has led you. He has guided you. He has strengthened you. At times He has carried you. At all times He has loved you and believed in you.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snake on a stick

I love the "ah-ha" moments in the Bible when something in the New Testament really explains something in the Old Testament. There is a story in Numbers 21:4-9 about how the Israelites were grumbling about God and Moses. God sent deadly snakes among the people of Israel because of their sin. The people asked Moses to pray to God for relief and God told Moses to make an image of a poisonous serpent out of bronze and set it high on a pole so that "everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live."

In the book of John 3:14-15 Jesus uses this story to prepare Nicodemus for the revelation He was about to give Him concerning His redemptive work on a cross. He said, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life."

The Israelites would never have thought of the bronze snake as their salvation from the biting serpents. Looking at the very thing that was killing them to save them.

What the Israelites were told to do in the desert we are told to do with the cross. Sin is the serpents biting us. Jesus became sin on a cross. He told Nicodemus that He would be so identified with sin, death and punishment that He would be lifted up like a snake."

2 Corinthians 5:21 says "For our sakes He made Him who knew no sin - sin, that in Him we might become the rightousness of God."

Like the Israelites with the snake, it's something we would never have thought of ourselves.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul wrote, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." God deliberately chose something people see as folly so we can know salvation is God's doing. Not ours! He has created a way for us to live with Him for eternity. Believe it.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thoughts on Temptation

From Matthew on The Temptation of Christ –
“Just as metal has to be tested far beyond any stress and strain that it will ever be called upon to bear, before it can be put to any useful purpose, so a man has to be tested before God can use him for His purposes.

The Jews had a saying, “The Holy One, blessed be His name, does not elevate a man to dignity until he has first tried and searched him; and if he stands in temptation, then he is lifted in dignity.”

Now here is a great and uplifting truth. What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin. It is not meant to make us bad, but to make us good. It is not meant to weaken us, but to make us emerge stronger and finer and purer from the ordeal. Temptation is not the penalty of being a man; it is the glory of being a man. So, then – it is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use.

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Why do we study prophecy?

28% of the Bible is dedicated to prophecy. About 100 prophecies predicted Christ’s first coming and Jesus fulfilled every one of them. There are five times that many prophecies in the Bible that concern His second coming, and if Christ came back today, no prophecy of the end times necessary for His return would go unfulfilled.

Although Jesus tells us in the New Testament that we aren’t to know the day, only the Father knows that, we can know the season. And we are in the season.

Why do we study prophecy?

We study prophecy that’s already history to show us we can believe God and trust His promises.

We study the prophecy of the end times because; it challenges believers to holy living in an unholy age. Ephesians 5:17-21 tells us to walk in the spirit. We need to be in God’s will. Studying future prophecy also gives the church a greater challenge to evangelize and to fulfill Christ’s great commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19) When we share our faith with others, not only do we help others, but also our own convictions are strengthened.

And we study prophecy so we are not deceived. Jesus said the truth shall set you free. We are to know the Bible! Daily reading of the Bible is a must for Christians. Proverbs 3:6 tells us to seek God’s guidance in life and teaching. 1 John 4:1-3 tells us to ask if the message or teaching glorifies Jesus Christ.

Doing all of this keeps us in a state of readiness. In Matthew Jesus tells a parable of a servant who expects his master’s return at any minute. He doesn’t waste time running to the door, but diligently pursues his work so it’s completed to the master’s approval at His coming. We are commanded both to work and watch so we are ready.

God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to behold!

There is much that we can know in this life, knowledge upon knowledge, but unless we discover the love of God and a love for humanity and of all God’s creation, we are nothing. 1 Cor.13

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Higher Standard

As Christians we are called to a higher standard. To live in such a way that no one can find fault with our lives as we walk with Christ. Whatever happens we should conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that our ministry will not be discredited.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Quiet Time

Questions we should ask ourselves and then listen for the Holy Spirit’s response:

1. Is there an action or behavior in my life God wants me to stop?
2. Is there an action or behavior God wants me to begin?
3. Is there a person I have wronged? If so how should I approach this person and ask forgiveness?
4. Is there a person who has wronged me whom I have not yet forgiven?
5. Is there a person God wants me to care for, to serve, or to show love to? What would He have me do?
6. Is there a sin in my life that I need to confess and change my actions?

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What Nehemiah can teach us about prayer

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the Persian king, Artaxerxes. This means he was the person who ensured the safety and the quality of the king’s food and drink. It was obviously a much-trusted position.

Nehemiah was a descendent of one of the numerous Jewish families who had chosen to remain in the East when the first exiles went back to Jerusalem.

But, Nehemiah loved his homeland even though he had spent his whole life in Babylon and when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem, the holy city, were in such rubble, the news upset him and he went straight to God. The story of Nehemiah is how he goes to Jerusalem to rebuild those walls and does so in a miraculous 52 days! But, it is also the story of spiritual renewal and rebuilding a people’s dependence on God. When we take our eyes off of God, our lives begin to crumble just like Jerusalem’s walls.

When Nehemiah went to God in prayer, he then looked for ways with God’s help to improve the situation. We are God’s hands and feet on earth. Too often we pray without looking for what God wants us to do. We show God we are serious when we combine prayer with thought, preparation and effort.

Nehemiah’s prayer demonstrated all the elements of effective prayer:
1. He praised God
2. He offered Thanksgiving
3. He offered repentance– not just for himself, but for the whole nation
4. He made a specific request
5. He ended with a commitment

Praying like this helps clarify the problems we are facing. It reminds us of God’s great power to help and it puts into words the job we have to do. By the end of this prayer we can figure out what we need to do. If we pray the right way, difficult decisions fall into proper perspective and then appropriate actions can follow.

Also, Nehemiah prayed not only for help, but also for success. When God’s purposes are at work, we shouldn’t hesitate to ask for success. And lastly, Nehemiah prayed constantly, even when talking to other people, because he knew God is always present and in charge. And he could confidently send up little emergency prayers throughout the day because he had established a relationship with God during times of extended prayer.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Tell others you consider them to be a gift from God

Tell your friends and family you consider them gifts from God with gifts that say so! Make them feel special! Remind yourself that little baby is God’s gift every time you see him or her in these charming onesies and bibs. And how about yourself? The Bible says you are His treasure! You are special!

Shop here for Gift from God t-shirts and gifts

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Everything is a Call

I keep asking for God’s “big call” on my life – what He wants me to do – what direction to go in – when in fact, everything I do should be a ministry.

Take time when someone wants to talk, use extra time for more Bible study or writing, smile, touch someone who needs that, pitch in, send a card or a note, make someone feel good, share God’s word, share your stuff, share yourself! Make things nice for someone! Give money. Say nice things only about people!

It may never be one call. The calls can be as numerous as the needs!

Lord, help me see every opportunity and respond to the needs around me.

God has planted me where I am. I need to look carefully for opportunities to serve Him here.

You can’t help everybody, but you can help a few. It’s that few that God will hold us accountable for.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Trust and Obey

God loves the whole world, but shows love to those who love and obey Him. He lavishly loves everyone, but demonstrates His loving mercy to the obedient.

The following is from Beth Moore’s book – “Breaking Free

Imagine you’re in heaven and standing by God as He lovingly shows you His plan for your life. It begins the day you were born. Once you received Jesus as your Savior every day after is outlined in red. You see footprints walking through each day of your life. On many days, there are two sets.

You ask, “Father, are those my footprints every day and is the 2nd set when You joined me?”

He answered, “No. The consistent footprints are Mine. The 2nd set is when you joined Me.”

“Where were You going, Father?”

“To the destiny I planned for you, hoping you would follow.”

“But, Father, where are my footprints all those times?”

“Sometimes you went to look at old resentments and habits. Sometimes you chose your own path. Other times your footprints appear on another person’s calendar because you like their plan better. Sometimes you simply stopped because you would not let go of something you could not take with you.”

“But, Father, we ended up ok even if I didn’t walk with You every day, didn’t we?”

He holds you close and smiles, “Yes, child, we ended up ok. But, you see, just OK was never what I had in mind for you.”

Father, help me walk with you daily – all the way.

Remember all of Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.”

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Friday, January 19, 2007

What is the meaning of life?

Christians are told that the chief aim of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To glorify God means to reflect Him so that others see Him through you. Jesus did this on earth. He tells us in the Bible “when you see me, you have seen the Father.” Our goal is to become like Christ, which then glorifies God. To enjoy Him forever is to know that whatever is happening, you are in His hands, He will take care of you, and having peace with that.

There is a wonderful story called ‘The Refiner’ that is based on a verse, Malachi 3:3. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” and also on Isaiah 48:10 which says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not with silver, I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.” The story goes, “I heard a silversmith talk about refining silver. He said, “I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace. The silver is too precious to risk losing. If the time necessary for refining were exceeded by the slightest degree, the silver will be injured. If I take it out of the furnace too early – it won’t be purified. When the silver is in the furnace I must focus on it and not let anything distract me, waiting for the exact moment to take it out. I know the silver is pure when I can see my face reflected there.”

If our goal is to become more like Christ, to reflect God, this story tells us that trials are a necessary part of the process. When a trial comes my way, my first inclination is to ask God to save me from it. But, sometimes He doesn’t save me! He is the great silversmith. While I’m in the furnace He focuses and watches. His job isn’t a quick rescue mission. His job is to purify. He has plans for us and will never forsake us!

God’s grace is sufficient.

We fulfill what we are meant to do when God is recognizable in us! To Glorify God is to show Him to the world!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Promised Land - Heaven

We can learn a lot from the Israelite’s journey to the Promised Land. Heaven is the Christian’s promised land. It is a wonderful place, promising rest, peace and fellowship with God. Canaan promised the same to the weary wanderers.

God separated the Israelites from the rest of the world. He wanted them to be Holy. They were given rules to live by. They learned how to worship and how to have relationships with others. Christians are called to be separate from the world. We also have rules to live by. The Ten Commandments and The Golden Rule are just as necessary today as they ever were. We are to worship, obey and trust God that someday we will get where we are going and our journey will be worth it.

What He told them in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is in the Bible for us to know and study. Through Moses, God brought the Israelites out of the bondage of slavery. Through Jesus, God brings us out of the bondage of sin. God told them all along what to do to become free and saved. He does the same for us. Their journey was taken in faith. So is ours. When they camped, God told them to put the Tabernacle in the center: God should be the center of our lives also.

In Deuteronomy 1:2 we see that the Israelites spent forty years on a journey that should have lasted eleven days! Christ’s return is taking longer than the early Christians expected. God was preparing the Israelites to live in the Promised Land. He is preparing us to live in Heaven. Our Promised Land is Heaven, and we’re going in!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What does the Lord require of you?

The Bible tells us that we are required to fear the Lord and to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve Him with all our heart and all our soul and to keep His commandments.

It tells us we should delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night. (Psalm 1:2) To do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) To put on compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience. (Col.3:12) To forgive others as God has forgiven us. (Eph.4: 32) To go to church and to encourage each other. (Hebrews 10:24-25) To speak encouragingly, not with bitterness, wrath, anger or slander. (Eph.4: 29,31)

Some people may say, “Hey, wait a minute! I thought all I had to do was accept Jesus and I had it made!?”

Well, if you’ve accepted Jesus, you DO have it made, but you also have a responsibility. That responsibility is to become more like Christ. And to do this you have to examine your heart. Ask yourself if your heart changed when Christ came into it. Ask yourself if you are doing things out of unmerited love or for selfish reasons. Jesus said people would know His disciples by the love they show. We are saved to praise the glory of God’s grace. We need to ask ourselves if we are doing that. Often!

Our faith is displayed in our actions and what we do daily has the ability to glorify God. The easiest way to check ourselves I think is to use the popular saying, “What would Jesus do? Would Jesus do this out of love? Or for some selfish reason? Would He DO anything at all?” I think we would always find that He would always be a doer of the Word and He would do everything out of love. We are required to do no less.

Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor.10:5

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Monday, January 15, 2007


I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need I was blind

But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind!

Shop here for Kindness T-shirts and Gifts

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Christian actions

Make living your life with absolute integrity and kindness your first priority. Put others first, whenever possible. Be genuinely interested in the lives of other people. Look them in the eye and really focus on what they are saying. Care about them as individuals. Ask about their families. Listen! Listen! Listen!

Make your actions match your good intentions. Stand out from the crowd. Thank people. Send a card or thoughtful note. People will want to be with you and your life will be filled with joy and loving kindness.

Make it a goal that your home’s atmosphere is produced by your inward trust, constant joy in God, your peace, kindness and firmness, even when it’s not easy.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Facing the Giants

I just saw quite possibly the best movie ever! If you haven’t seen Facing the Giants do yourself a favor. It’s inspiring, uplifting, a great story and gives God the Glory!

I won’t tell you too much of the story in case you haven’t seen it yet, but some thoughts I took away that are important are:

When the wife was told they couldn’t have children and they knew they couldn’t really afford to adopt, the husband asked her, “Will you still love God if we never have children?” – She tells God she will.

Never stop loving God!

For more then 6 years a blind man walked the halls of a Christian high school and prayed for each kid as he passed their locker. During one of the Bible classes a boy accepted Christ and then another and then the entire class started praying for each other – and as the coach watched he had a flashback of the man walking the halls praying.

Never never stop praying!

When a boy needed to kick a 51-foot field goal and had never kicked farther then 35 feet, he said it was impossible. The coach asked him if he believed God could use him to kick that far. The boy said, “Yes, if He wants to.” The coach replied, “Then you just do your very best and let God do what He wants with it. But, you have to do your best!”

Always do your best at everything because; it honors God, because it shows we know God can use us and it’s an attitude of expecting God to work through us.

And finally, until God sends you somewhere else – bloom where you are planted!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

God gives us peace in times of trial

I heard a story on Christian radio today about a man who had lost just about everything and if he didn’t find some money before the end of the day he would lose what was left.

He prayed about it and while he was praying he felt an overwhelming sense of peace and joy come over him. Later that day a letter was found at his front door with a check in it. His reaction to this is what was so profound. He said, “I was so glad I felt the peace and joy before the solution to my problem.”

Suffering is a blessing because of the opportunity it gives to testify to God’s grace both by words and by life.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

More thoughts on suffering

Every loss we suffer is a death of something. And every time we suffer loss, we encounter an opportunity for the loss to bring gain for Jesus’ sake by allowing His life to be revealed in us. (He suffered loss and betrayal and temptations to be an example to us.)

Christ gives us the invitation to rise to a new life – a more compassionate life, a wiser life, a more productive life and yes – even a better life.

Is God so sufficient to me that I don’t even need to complain or seek pity or sympathy from others?

Psalm 50:15 – Trust me in your times of trouble and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What is the Lord teaching me through my suffering?

Something to focus on if you are suffering:

Sometimes it may be to see the consequences of my actions and turn from sin. It can always be to trust and love Him and praise Him through it all to show people Christ in us. And that our faith is strong and not dependent on “happenings” but in the knowledge we are saved.

Lord, please help me have faith that You are using this time for my good. Help me not complain and help me be patient so that it glorifies You. Please give me greater power to bring blessing out of every pressure and trial.

Have you been selected to struggle for God’s Glory? Your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume of God’s song. Use your problems to glorify God.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Isaiah 53:11 says that Jesus will one day see the results of His pain. Or to be exact, “He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” People will believe Christ’s message and be called righteous.

This of course is already happening. Jesus is seeing new believers all the time.

But, someday, when He comes back to reign with His church, everyone who is alive or ever lived will bow down and say He is Lord. Philippians 2:8-11 says every knee, in heaven, on earth and under the earth. This means believer or not!

Man was not created to be separate from His creator. There is a longing inside that he doesn’t even understand and tries to fill in many ways. Someday that longing will be filled with eternal fellowship with Christ.

Eternal life with God (and remember, everyone has eternal life, they just won’t all be spending it in the same place!), but eternal life WITH GOD is a promise for all believers. After Christ’s judgment on the earth He promises us a new heaven and a new earth and we will reign on this new earth with Christ and then live in this new heaven forever.

When this happens all suffering and sorrow will end. Isaiah 25:8 says, “The sovereign Lord will wipe away tears from all faces.” There will be no more death. It also says, “He will swallow up death for all time.” He will remove it. There won’t even be a trace left.

The Bible also says that someday the present system of the universe will roll up like a scroll. (Isaiah 34:4, Matthew 24:29, Isaiah 16:22 and Isaiah 65:17) Our physical selves will rise again. (1 Cor.15: 50-53) Someday nature will be returned to its intended balance and harmony. And joy, understanding, justice and peace will characterize Christ’s rule. (Isaiah 29:17-24)

Someday, all of God’s creation will be as He intended. History is in God’s hands. He is in control! Our understanding of this truth effects what we believe about suffering, the spiritual world, our faithfulness to Christ, our rewards in Heaven and the way we live.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Christian online store helps you surround yourself with God’s Word

I’ve just added a half dozen new designs to my own online store http://www.givitup.com

This is what I say about it in the section header: Be a light in the darkness by sharing your faith. Displayed beautifully and proudly on givitup's t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, aprons, mugs, mouse pads, magnets, pillows and much more; they are also meaningful gifts for those you love and who love the Lord.

I think there are enough negative and crude t-shirts out there. Christians need to present a positive view.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Surround yourself with His Word

There are so many beautiful and inspiring verses in the Bible. I underline them, put exclamation marks and stars in the margins, rewrite them on the blank pages in the front and back of my Bible, write them on small pieces of paper and carry them in my daytimer.

Some people have posters or pictures framed with verses that are especially meaningful to them. The ones we’ve chosen as our life verses and the ones we love the most or feel like we really need to remember and work on – we want in front of us at all times.

God actually told the Israelites to do this! Here's what He said when He gave them the law, “Hear, O Israel: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart: and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Frontlets, also called phylacteries, were small leather cases containing pieces of parchments on which were written four passages from the old testament: (Exodus 13:1-10, 11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9;11,13-21) Men wore them on their foreheads and on their left arms during morning prayer.

We need God’s word in front of us daily; as we walk, sit, lie down and talk; to inspire, to comfort, to teach and encourage.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Random thoughts on God's Glory

Glory = the outward shining of the inward presence of God.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the exact replication of God. And Jesus told his disciples that if they’ve seen Him, they have seen the Father.

R. Kirby Godsey in his book “When We Talk About God…Let’s Be Honest” writes, “God is in the heart and soul of our being, and we cannot know ourselves fully until we know God. God is present in us, and in Christ we see how God’s presence in a person redefines the character of being a person.”

The human job description can be reduced to one phrase; “Reflect God’s Glory.”

God lets you excel so you can make Him known. Never forget the source and purpose of your success. (1 Chronicles 29:12) Give God the Glory!

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Show me your glory!

Moses had spent 40 years as a shepherd when God called him to lead His people out of Egypt. Shepherds have always held a special place in the Bible. David, “a man after God’s heart”, was once a shepherd. It was shepherds on the night the baby Jesus was born that a host of angels appeared to and Jesus is often referred to as the Good Shepherd. Shepherding is a quiet, lonely profession where there is plenty of time to listen for God’s voice.

It wasn’t easy getting the Israelites away from Egypt, but it was harder still living with them in the desert! Moses was in charge of at least 2 million people. People, who just like us, one day are good and one day disappoint God. Moses constantly intervened with God for the people. In fact in some conversations with God when both were disgusted with them, God would refer to them as “YOUR people” and Moses would come back with, “but, YOUR people….” Neither wanted to claim them!

For as much time as Moses spent talking with the Lord, and the Bible says in Exodus 33:11 that the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a friend, Moses yearned to know God better. He wanted God’s total guidance in dealing with these people and in doing God’s will. At one point when God threatened to take His presence away from what He called “these stiff-necked people” Moses said, “If thy presence will not go with me; do not carry us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15) Moses wasn’t willing to make a move without God. Moses related God’s presence with His favor when he asked, if God didn’t go with them, how would they know they had found favor in His sight?

Today, Christians don’t go anywhere without God. We have His Holy Spirit inside each of us. The Holy Spirit is evidence of God’s favor with us, but we need to listen for His guidance and obey Him.

Moses also asked God to let him know Him better. At this point Moses probably knew God better then any other living man. But, it wasn’t enough for Moses. To know God, really know Him, means to be changed by that knowledge. And once a person is saved they will act differently. They will show God’s love, reflect His light, spend time with God and worship Him with great joy. And finally, Moses wanted God to show him His glory. God chose to do this by showing Moses His goodness and His character, revealed by His name. He told Moses He was “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. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-7) God shows us these attributes of Himself because we are called to have them too. Christians are to have goodness, mercy, compassion, grace, love, faithfulness and be slow to anger.

God gives Christians His presence in the Holy Spirit and His knowledge in His Word, the Bible. These show us God’s glory; which we are called to reflect to the World.

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:3

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Thursday, January 04, 2007


Nothing about Christ’s crucifixion happened by accident. Christ’s sacrifice was foreshadowed in every sacrifice since Genesis. God prepared His people for generations with the idea that a sacrifice could atone for their sin. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life.” The wages of sin is death. Something had to die. Something PERFECT had to die.

The first time blood was shed in the Bible was after Adam and Eve sinned and God killed an animal to use its skins to clothe them. This was a sacrifice for individuals. The first Passover, where families killed a lamb to put its blood on their door so the angel of death would pass over, was a sacrifice for families. The burnt offerings that Israel offered for years were sacrifices for the nation, and Christ’s sacrifice of Himself was for the world. The animals used in sacrifice always had to be acceptable to God. They had to be perfect. As Christ was.

The sacrifices taught; that by using perfect animals and holy priests, that God is holy. By demanding exact obedience to how they were to perform the sacrifices, that they were to have total submission to God’s laws, and by using animals of great value, the high cost of sin and the sincerity of their commitment to God.

Sacrifices symbolically transferred our sin to the animal and then the animal died instead of us. In Hebrews we learn that the sacrifices the Israelites were offering weren’t good enough. Hebrews 9:9 says, “gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper.” All the cleansing the priest did was external and the sacrifices were a pale copy of the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which came later. Also they had to sacrifice over and over again. Jesus’ sacrifice was once and for all.

God begins to tell His people that He expects more from them then their offerings. 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

Sacrifices were important because they prepared people for Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect because He perfectly lived God’s will. He was perfectly obedient. Only he could truly make us right with God and give us the power to stay that way.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The way, the truth and the life

Jesus prepares His disciples for His leaving in John 14:1-7. Sometimes we think the disciples were terribly spiritual and terribly wise because they lived with Jesus for three years; talked to Him daily and witnessed His healings and miracles first hand. Before He was crucified and left them and sent the Holy Spirit back though, they were VERY much like us!

Jesus tells them in this chapter that He is going to His Father, but it was okay, they would be together again and that they knew the way. The disciples probably looked at each other slightly panic stricken and it was Thomas who spoke up. “Lord, how can we know the way? We don’t even know where you are going!?”

And can’t you just see Jesus with a little smile on His lips, His eyes shining. These disciples amused Him so often. They tried so hard and they loved Him so much, but most of the time they didn’t have a clue! And He said, “You know ME! I am the way!”

And that’s what we need to know too. God gave us an amazing gift in His son. We don’t know everything, but we know Jesus and that’s enough.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Good advice for Christians in the New Year

How to Live from Romans 12:9-13 and 15-18

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of saints, practice hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all.

Jesus said, “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight.” Matthew 10:27
This means to be quiet when things are the darkest – listen to God. He will give you a precious message for someone when it’s light again.

To resent and resist God’s disciplining hand is to miss one of the greatest spiritual blessings we Christians can enjoy this side of Heaven. Christians who are strong in faith grow if we accept and not become bitter and resentful. If we accept with joy we know God is controlling our lives. There is joy to be discovered in suffering. A lot of those who suffer are more enviable than those who seem to be set apart, untouched like a piece of fine china in the locked chest. Without dark clouds in our lives we would never know the joy of sunshine. We can become callous and unteachable if we do not learn from pain.

When we are weak and powerless, God is there to give us strength. When we lack wisdom, He will supply it. Healing is not instantaneous; it is a process. When we admit that we cannot heal ourselves and fall to our knees and ask God to take over, we will be on the road to spiritual health.

Psalm 91:15 promises: “He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.”

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Our natural tendency when we have a painful happening in our lives is to go into action – sometimes it is wiser to wait and just be still. The answers will come.

There are many times when God withdraws to test your faith. He wants you to trust Him in the darkness. Reach up in faith. His hand will be there. God will never leave or forsake us.

We are called to encourage, support and let lonely, hurting people know they are not alone. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to comfort others.

A Psalm to remember when raising children (Ps. 72:15)
“Pray continually and praise daily.”

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