Monday, September 25, 2017

A Prayer for When You Fear Death

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 25th
A Prayer for When You Fear Death
By Greg Laurie

"The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?" – Psalm 27:1

Have you ever been stung by a bee? It's not a fun experience. But though it's painful for the person being stung, it's fatal for the bee.

When a honeybee stings a person, it can't pull its little barbed stinger back out. This is a one-time experience for them. They had better think carefully about who they are going to sting, because once they do it, they are not going to survive.

When a bee stings you, not only is the bee's stinger left in you but also part of its abdomen and digestive tract, as well as nerves and muscles. This massive abdominal rupture kills the bee shortly after it stings.

That is what happened when Jesus died on the cross. In his enduring hatred for God's Son, Satan thought it would be a great idea to have Jesus betrayed, arrested, beaten within an inch of His life, and then crucified and put to death on a Roman cross. The devil said, "This is my moment. I am going to sting Him. I will have a role in His death. When He dies, that is the end of Him." Everything went according to Satan's plan, and like a bee, he flew off thinking he had succeeded.

But everything went according to God's plan as well, and the sting of death was its own defeat. As 1 Corinthians 15:54 –55 says, "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"

Where is the sting of death for the believer? It is ripped out, because at the cross, Jesus took the stinger out of death. This is a great truth. As Christians, we no longer need to fear death because our souls will live on forever with Christ.

Dear Lord, we will face many terrifying events throughout this life, but may we never forget that the ultimate victory belongs to you. Through your sacrifice, death has been defeated. As we continue to walk in your truth, help us to set our eyes on Heavenly things.

Amen.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How to Cry Out to God

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 24th
How to Cry Out to God

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. Matthew 14:29-30 KJV

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life's circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart's concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God's children to express trust in the Lord's ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, wealso lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, "I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain." When we call aloud for help in Jesus' name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.

Dr. Charles Stanley

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Yes You Can!

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 23rd
Yes You Can!

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:8 NIV)

A friend who was down in the dumps wrote me a letter a few weeks ago. His life was full of problems. His heart was full of worries. He was low on hope. He ended his letter to me with this question: "We can't really change this crazy world we live in, can we?" I answered him immediately and started my own letter with these words: "Yes, we most certainly can!"

I can still remember one of the first times someone changed my world. She was the music teacher at my elementary school, the guitarist at our church, and a family friend. I had a huge crush on her too and wanted to impress her more than anything. I had no talent at any instrument, however, and my singing while enthusiastic was quite awful. One day she let me try playing her guitar. I did my best but could only stumble along. When I was done I put my head down. "I guess I am not very good," I told her. She looked at me with her kind eyes, smiled, and said: "We are all good at something. You just need to find out what you are good at. Then you can share it with the world."

Those simple words changed me. They planted a seed in my soul that continues to grow to this day. They made me realize that I had something to give to others. I had something inside of me that was good and that could change this world for the better. I just had to find it, bring it out and share it. And that is what I have tried to do all of the years since that fateful day.

Can you change the world? Yes you can! You can change it and make it better every single day of your life. You can change it one choice, one person, and one kind act at a time. All you have to do is share your goodness. All you have to do is live your love. Mother Teresa once said: "God doesn't ask us to do great things, only small things with great love." Make your love great then! Live well! Do good! Change the world!

Joseph J. Mazzella

Friday, September 22, 2017

Just a Little Thing...What Harm can it Do?

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 22nd
Just a Little Thing...What Harm can it Do?

How often have you heard someone say "It's just a little thing..."

Romans 3:23 tells us "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

The worst murderer, the child molester, the drunk in the gutter...the worst thing you can think of is not a more punishable sin than that "little white lie". The wisest man on earth spoke about little foxes and vines: "Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes."  (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV)

The great Johnstown Flood of 1889 began as a little crack in the dam but the end result was 2,209 persons lost their lives and property damage was US$17 Million.

Other little things are important, too. A smile, a hug, a kind word -- a little thing to be sure but it can make a world of difference in someone's life.

Have you ever had the blessing of holding a newborn in your arms? Such a little thing to be sure but what a joy it is.

Recently I learned the value of a little thing! I loaded my aging washing machine to begin my usual laundry day chores. The washer filled, swished, drained and -- stopped! I tried again. Again fill, swish, drain and stop! I live on a limited budget which has little leeway for a new washer. Oh what was I going to do? Pray! Yes, that was what I did -- oh, and call the repairman. After carefully checking each relay switch and each wiring connection he was about to give up; but being the careful technician he is, he just couldn't so he began to consider other possible causes. Ah ha! There was something between the two tubs. No, that wasn't possible -- but it was! A Sock! Just a little sock but a very expensive one to be sure. That day I learned firsthand the value of a little thing.

Now if I am tempted to discount the little things I remember my "very expensive sock" and know that the little things are important.

Wynona Gordon

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Power of Patience

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 21st
The Power of Patience
By Dr. Charles Stanley

9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. Hebrews 6:9-15 KJV

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn't moved for ten minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We're born with this trait--think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met. Patterns from our old "flesh" nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.

Let's consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both long suffering and perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure. In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines. What's more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable--or what He chooses not to give. This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God's direction.

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord's perfect plan and His blessing. Only when we trust our Father's will and timing can we rest peacefully.

What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Listen to Psalm 37:7, which says, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Take the Time to Dance

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 20th

Take the Time to Dance

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...He has made everything beautiful in its time."  (Eccl 3:1-4,11)

It was over twenty years ago. My young family and I had just moved into the house I live in now. I could hear my children playing in my son's bedroom while I washed the breakfast dishes in the kitchen sink. Our television was on the country music video channel and I was humming along to the tunes while I scrubbed the frying pan. Suddenly, I felt a gentle tug on the leg of my blue jeans. I looked down and saw my little daughter looking up at me with her sparkling blue-grey eyes. She had snuck back into the kitchen unheard. I smiled down at her, dried my hands, reached down and picked her up. I held her in my arms and we swayed back and forth for a few minutes to the music coming from the TV. Then she giggled, gave my neck a big squeeze, and motioned that she wanted down again. I gave her a final spin around, set her down, and watched as she laughed and ran down the hallway to play again.

I knew that she probably wouldn't remember this moment, but I made sure to place it carefully in the treasure chest of my soul. Even then I was aware of how fast she was growing up and knew that if I blinked I would miss it. I was right too. The days flew by far too fast.

Soon she was too "big" to dance with Dad anymore and hugs and kisses had to be done in private so I wouldn't embarrass her in front of her friends. Before I knew it she was in high school, then college, and then living on her own. Yet, when I look at my adult daughter these days part of me still sees that bright eyed little girl so full of laughter and love.

Time in this life is brief. Always remember then to take the time to dance. Take the time to love. Take the time to pray. Take the time to laugh and to sing. Take the time to give hugs and kisses. Take the time to watch the sunset. Take the time to thank God for every day you have.

Take the time to cherish each moment you are given. Life is too short not to be lived in joy.

By: Joseph J. Mazzella

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Something To Think About

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 19th
Something To Think About

At two degrees north of the Arctic Circle, in Inuvik, Canada, the sun sets for the last time below the horizon in early December. After nearly 30 days of darkness, the return of the sun is celebrated around January 6th at the annual Inuvik Sunrise Festival, with food, dance, music, snow carving, and winter activities.

1 John 2:8b – The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. (NIV)

While I was watching a documentary about the Sunrise Festival, a thought-provoking comparison popped into my mind. Great crowds of people were gathered together with upraised arms. All eyes were glued to the sky. Some were singing, while others were dancing, leaping, and cheering. They were all waiting breathlessly, expectantly, joyously for the moment that they had looked forward to for so long, the moment when the sun would return and peek above the horizon. Soon the frigid winter would release its icy grip, and the long darkness would be over. The sun would be back on its throne and reigning once again.

It struck me, that in the Bible, there is an amazing parallel to the return of Son of God.

Luke 21:27 – And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great (transcendent and overwhelming) power and [all His kingly] glory (majesty and splendor). (AMPC)

What a day of rejoicing that will be for those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, Who came to this earth to redeem mankind through the sacrifice of His life.

It is impossible to imagine how we will feel if we are privileged to be part of the crowd standing there as we hear His voice calling us up.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 – Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord! (AMPC)

Then, as we gather together with Jesus and His bride, the church, in the heavenly dining hall for the marriage supper of the Lamb, our feasting and rejoicing and singing and praising and thanksgiving will be far beyond our wildest imaginations.

I realize that the celebration of the return of the sun that I watched on the television was a very important highlight for the Inuit people of the Arctic, yet it pales into insignificance in light of the day of the return of the Son of God.

None of the Inuit ever doubt that the sun will return, because of their personal experience, so they watch with joyous expectation. Similarly, we who have a personal experience with the Son of God have no doubt that He will return, and it could be at any moment. So we, too, watch with joyous expectation, and we say, "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that the eyes of many people who do not believe that the Son of God will return to this earth, even though He promised that He would come back, may be opened. Heavenly Father, help us to rise to Your challenge of making disciples of all the nations. In Jesus' name, we ask. Amen.

Sharon Y. Greer
Ontario, Canada

Monday, September 18, 2017

Give God Your Worries

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 18th

Give God Your Worries 

by Chuck Swindoll

Isaiah 50:10 Let's get six words clearly fixed in our minds. These six words form the foundation of God's therapeutic process for all worrywarts.

WORRY ABOUT NOTHING, 

PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING

What qualifies as a worry? Anything that drains your tank of joy—something you cannot change, something you are not responsible for, something you are unable to control, something (or someone) that frightens and torments you, agitates you, keeps you awake when you should be asleep.

All of that now needs to be switched from your worry list to your prayer list. Give each worry—one by one—to God . . . .

Tell Him you will no longer keep your anxiety to yourself . . . .

The more you practice giving your mental burdens to the Lord, the more exciting it gets to see how God will handle the things that are impossible for you to do anything about.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Wisdom for the Way (Nashville: J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tickle My Ear

TODAY'S DEVOTIONAL - September 17th

Tickle My Ear

Exodus 20:18-19 (DARBY)
18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off, 19 and said to Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Moses had just been on the mountain. God had spoken to him and given him the Ten Commandments. These people were afraid of God because of the thunder and lightning. Moses told them that the reason God let the lightning flash and thunder roll was so that they would not fear God but be in awe of God.

Today there are a lot of people who Don't have the awe of God. They want to go listen to a man instead of listening to God. They choose to go to a    church where the whole Word is not spoken, where the teacher will tickle their ears. Paul's prophecy to Timothy has come true:

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (NLT)
2 Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and follow strange myths.

Are the teachers and preachers you listen to true people of God? Are they truly born again? Are you listening to someone who tells you what you want to hear or a truly Biblical teacher?

Do you trust only in the teaching of others? Do you spend time in the Word? Do you really study it and not just read it to calm your conscience? In your prayer time, do you give time for God to speak to you or do you do all the talking so you won't have to listen to God?

Spend time in communion with God through personal Bible study and prayer. Find a minister that God speaks through and gives you the truth of the whole Word of God.

by Dean W. Masters

Saturday, September 16, 2017

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 16th
DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED

“‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said” (2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NIV).

Sennacherib king of Assyria who was the then world power came to invade the land of Judah. He threatened the people to surrender to him instead of yielding to the words of encouragement from Hezekiah the king of Judah. The people had every cause to panic because of the military successes of that Assyrian king and his predecessors. However, they gained confidence from what Hezekiah said because they believed as Hezekiah said that Sennacherib depended on human resources while they had the divine backing. The LORD indeed helped the people, and the human resources of Sennacherib failed him woefully.

People tend to rely on human and material resources today, and they may be using them to oppress other people. However, the oppressed should not be discouraged. If they can put their trust in God as the people of Judah did, God would help them in His own way and His own time. No matter the strength of the oppressor, the Lord has promised, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous righthand” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV), “…because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NIV).

Who or what is the “Sennacherib” that has “invaded” your life and that is making you to be afraid or discouraged? Is the thing or person threatening you and you are about to lose hope? Do not be discouraged! Like Hezekiah, I am imploring you to trust in God. He is with you. He will fight your battles, and you will soon testify to His goodness over your life.

In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Prayer Point: Pray that you will not be discouraged in spite of any opposition you may have.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Prayer

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 15th
Prayer

One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.

The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, "Lord, I hate buttermilk."

The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going.

The deacon continued, "Lord, I hate lard."

Now the pastor was totally perplexed.

The deacon continued, "Lord, I ain't too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix 'em all together and bake 'em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits."

He paused, "Lord help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don't like, whenever we don't understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and
see what You are making. After you get through mixing and baking, it'll probably be something even better than biscuits." Amen.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Take Life as It Comes

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 14th
Take Life as It Comes
by Chuck Swindoll

Ecclesiastes 11:6
The only way we can come to terms with reality—is by trusting God, regardless. No ifs, ands, or buts.

If I am a farmer and God allows a flood to come and wash away my crops or God chooses to give me the beautiful season rains and a bumper crop, I trust Him and I give Him praise.

If I am in industry or some profession and someone throws me a curve and God allows my whole world to be reversed, I trust Him and I give Him praise.

I take life as it occurs. I don't waste time in the pit of doubt. Nor do I worry over crop failures and strikeouts.

We can't wait for conditions to be perfect. Nor can we wait for things to be free of all risks—absolutely free, absolutely safe. Instead of protecting ourselves, we have to release ourselves. Instead of hoarding, we are to give and invest. Instead of drifting, we are to pursue life. Instead of doubting, we are to courageously trust.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Wisdom for the Way (Nashville: J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Copyright © 2017 Insight for Living Ministries. All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bird in the Garage

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 13th
Bird in the Garage

Once we had a bird get into our garage. WE don’t know how long it had been in there when we heard it flying around hitting the walls and ceiling. WE tried to help it find the way out the big opening but it wouldn’t go out. It would fly up to the ceiling toward the opening but always go above the garage door which was up on its track. Sometimes it would rest on the door itself. After a long time of chasing it, the bird finally flew towards the back wall into the corner behind a freezer. WE could hear it flopping around back there. We finally got the bird out. WE carefully scooted it outside and shut the garage door so it wouldn’t get back in.

There are a lot of people like this bird. They are trapped but they don’t know it. They try to get to heaven by doing good works. Jesus told us the following:

Matthew 5:19-20 (NRSV)
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Some try to keep all of the commandments. They, like the rich young ruler, think they have kept them all but have they? There is no one that ever lived except for Jesus Christ who did this. So how does one get to heaven? One must surrender his life to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can get to heaven except through Him. When one accepts Jesus as his Savior then he has the righteousness of God which is far better than the righteousness of the Pharisees. Then he will be free just like the bird that was helped out of the garage. The Christian will be free to know god’s love fully and to freely give that love to others.

An odd thing is that some birds that have finally gotten out of the garage still want to come back inside for some reason. The same thing can happen to someone after he becomes a Christian. He wants to live his best but gets caught up in legalism. This is like flying back into the garage. He is not free but is trapped into trying to keep the commandments to earn brownie points with God. WE are to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ but we don't do it to earn our salvation or to earn extra merit but do this through his power within us. WE will want to do his will because of his love for us and not because we are trying to earn his love.

Galatians 5:1 (NASB95)
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free ; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery .

Give your life to Jesus Christ and be led by his Holy Spirit. When you belong to Jesus Christ you are free to love. You will do what he wants because you want to and not because you feel like you have to.

Now if you are flying around in your own garage, get out of there and really soar!

by Dean W. Masters

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER YOUR SCENE?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 12th
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AFTER YOUR SCENE?

“So Haman was terrified before the king and queen.... So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (Esther 7:6b, 10a NKJV).

“Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him” (Isaiah 3:10-11 NKJV).

Recently, I was with a group of people that were discussing jokingly about somebody who has just left a position of authority. To this people, the person has become a subject of ridicule because he did not behave well to others when he was in authority. In fact, he can no longer relate well with others because his actions and inactions while in office are hunting him negatively now. Nobody even wants to be associated with him. I do not know this person, but, the comments of the people about him after he has left that office of authority made me think deeply about myself: if I leave the scene that I am presently, what will people say about me? Will I be able to move freely with the people over whom I once had authority? Will these people be ready to be associated with me after all those juicy things that come with the office are no longer there? What will I be remembered for after I have left the scene?

Every position of authority is tenured. It will come to an end one day either by time frame or ultimately by death. No position of authority is permanent. Even the position of permanent secretary is not permanent! Each of these positions is a scene. How are you acting yours? What will become of you after the scene when you are no longer in that position of authority?          

Examples abound in the Bible and in history of what became of some people after they left their positions of authority. Haman in the Book of Esther is a classical example. As second in command, he became worthless and died the very day he fell out of favour with King Ahasuerus. He was hung on the gallows he initially erected to hang Mordecai. His descendants were destroyed thereafter. His after-scene was so bad because of his wickedness when he was in position of authority. 

Apart from the “rewards” that people will give those that have left their scenes of authority, God will also bring their actions and inactions into judgment. The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12:14 NKJV. See also Psalm 58:11; 128:2; Proverbs 12:14; 13:21; Ecclesiastes 8:12; Jeremiah 17:10; Romans 14:10; Galatians 6:7-9; Ephesians 6:8; Hebrews 6:10; 13:16; Revelation 22:12).

What will happen after your scene of authority?


In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Monday, September 11, 2017

It’s Just Not Enough

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 11th
It’s Just Not Enough

“Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” Nicodemus saith unto Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” Jesus answered, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again.” John 3:3-6

If you know someone who’s not a Christian, don’t try to argue with them. Nobody was ever argued into the kingdom of heaven. Anything someone can argue you into, you can be argued out of. The problem is, they cannot see. Would you scold a blind man for not seeing? But a blind man would be foolish to say there’s no light just because he cannot see it.

There is light, but man needs more than light. He needs sight. “...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” They may have 20/20 sight, but spiritually they are blind. “Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). The eyes may be fine, but the heart is blind.

There are people you have shared the Gospel with—perhaps even members of your own family—but they haven’t a clue as to what it’s all about, and they never will, until the Holy Spirit opens their understanding.


It takes more than preaching to get somebody saved; it takes the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Pray, “O God, open the eyes of those who have been blinded, that the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God, might shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Before I ever preach, I get on my knees and pray, “O, God, for those who need Jesus Christ, give them sight.”

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

IF GOD DOES NOT ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS...

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 10th
IF GOD DOES NOT ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS...

“Why won't God give me what I ask? Why won't he answer my prayer? If only he would go ahead and kill me! If I knew he would, I would leap for joy...” (Job 6:8-10 TEV).

It is evident from the Bible and life experiences that God does not answer all prayers, even those of His righteous ones! Job was a righteous man. God, Himself, testified to this when Satan tried to accuse Job (see Job 1:8; 2:3). However, God allowed Satan to tempt Job by destroying everything Job had, including his children. Satan even “inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7 NRSV). In his agony, Job prayed that God should kill him, at least to save him from all these suffering (see Job 6:8-10). God did not answer the prayer. To add insult to Job’s injury, his friends were accusing him and his dead children of wrongdoing against God. In spite of Job’s travail and the seeming silence of God to his plight, Job remained steadfast in his faith in God. He could still declared, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” and “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 13:15; 19:25 NIV). It was as if he knew about this God’s promise: “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome” (Jeremiah 29:11 AMP). God did bless Job in multiple folds at the end of the day. Instead of doing what seemed better to Job, God did His best for him!

On many occasions, God has deliberately refused to answer the prayers of His righteous ones. These people would be bitter that God does not do what they seem good for them. It takes spiritual maturity to accept the refusal of God for one’s request especially when one is passing through unpleasant life challenges. One may think that one’s request is the best while God has a better plan than one’s best request.  If God does not answer your prayers, what would you do? Would you still remain steadfast in your faith in Him? Are you ready to take His refusal for your request in anticipation for His better plan for you?

In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Prayer Point: Pray for the grace to be able to accept the refusal of God for your prayer for your own good.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Are You a “Peace Corps” Member?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL - September 9th
Are You a “Peace Corps” Member?

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5:9

Several decades ago, you were really somebody if you joined the Peace Corps. But all this time later, how much peace has been established between brothers and sisters around the world as a result?

Do you know how to bring peace to earth and goodwill to all men? Introduce men, women, boys, and girls to Jesus Christ. That is the only way.

Churches are filled every Sunday, yet where do people go during the week? Are they sharing God’s salvation story with the lost? It’s not your faithful attendance to church that is going to bring peace to earth but your faithful sharing of the Gospel.

Jesus said His mission was not to be a diplomat, not to be a peacemaker, but to bring death to hatred, strife, and sin through His reconciling blood. There is no other way to a
Holy God, but through the cross. Are you living like a child of God and telling others about Jesus?

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

Friday, September 8, 2017

What Happens When We Procrastinate?

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you’”—Matthew 25:11-12(NIV).

Did you know there’s a Procrastinator’s Club? They’ve never met because they keep postponing their meeting. We can laugh about putting things off. Some procrastinate because the project is daunting or boring. Others find better things to do. There are, of course, those who have procrastinated so long the pile of tasks grows into a mountain they’re afraid to tackle.

People procrastinate for different reasons. Psychologist Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., identifies three basic types of procrastinators: 
• Arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.
• Avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.
• Decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

If you’re a procrastinator, can you relate to any of these? While I don’t consider myself a procrastinator, I do delay doing things I consider unpleasant, unimportant or not interesting.

We let things in our life pile up for various reasons, but in today’s world of social media and technology devices, it’s easier than ever to succumb to procrastination. We become distracted by the frivolous and foolish.

In Matthew 25:1-12, we read about 10 virgins, who took lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. The foolish five took lamps but took no oil. The prudent brought oil in flasks, along with lamps. The
bridegroom was delayed and the 10 grew drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, a shout announced the arrival of the bridegroom. All 10 virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones, whose lamps were running out of oil, asked the prudent to share. The prudent refused, saying, “No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”

As believers, we know Christ will return at an unknown time. We must be ready. In the Heaven. While the five who were not prepared left to find oil for their lamps, the bridegroom invited the prudent into the wedding supper and closed the door. When the foolish five finally returned and knocked on the door the answer was not what they wanted to hear, “‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’”

As believers, we know Christ will return at an unknown time. We must be ready. In the meantime, we are commanded to share with others the Good News about our Savior and Lord. We also need to forgive those who have hurt us, tell others we have taken for granted we love them and spend time with the lonely, the hurting and the unlovable. Don’t say, “Someday.”

Someday will be here sooner than you think. Are you procrastinating?

For more inspiration, visit my blog at carolaround.com

Copyright © 2015 Carol Round, All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Remember the Poor

6  But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the
apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10  Only they would that we  should remember the poor; he same which I also was
forward to do. Galatians 2:6-10 KJV

When Paul visited the apostles, they needed to make sure they were in agreement on a core gospel principle. They discussed a heady theological topic: did Gentiles need to become Jews first before becoming Christian? Did they need to follow the old ceremonial laws that had long distinguished God’s people from all others? After much discussion they decided that no, Christ was the new reality now, and Gentiles could become Christ’s followers without first needing to become Jewish.

Like many church discussions, this question was likely the center of attention for a while. Theological arguments can consume a lot of energy. Indeed, sometimes they can consume so much energy that the church may not have a lot of juice left to devote to other issues, including important ministries like caring for the poor.

That’s why the final verse about the Jerusalem conversation is so wonderful. Yes, they all agreed theologically. But before they adjourned the meeting, someone said “Let’s not forget the poor in all this!” Paul could not have agreed more. It serves as a reminder to us today that no matter how certain we are to get all our theology straight, if in the end we are perfectly orthodox but ignore those who need our help, then we are forgetting one of the biggest things Jesus ever wanted us to do in the first place. —Scott Hoezee

Prayer: Help us always, O Jesus, to remember the least of these among us.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DETERMINE TO BE DISTINCT!

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:21-24 NIV).

“So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking” (Ephesians 4:17 NIV).

Genesis Chapter Five is one of such boring chapters in the Bible. It contains the list of people that lived and died for nothing spectacular. In this list is the story of a man that
was distinct—Enoch. He lived the shortest time of all the people in the list, but he lived with a purpose, and the chroniclers of the Holy Scriptures recognized it. Twice in the less than five verses that were devoted to him, it was recorded that he walked with God for most part of his years. A Bible commentator put it thus: “[Enoch] walked in the name and fear of God, according to His will, in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord then made known; he walked by faith in the promises of God, and in the view of the Messiah, the promised seed; he walked uprightly and sincerely, as in the sight of God; he had familiar converse, and near and intimate communion with Him….” In the Bible, another phrase for “to walk” is “to live.”

Enoch distinguished himself from the other people in the list by living his life for God. God rewarded him in His own way. The nature of this reward has become a subject of controversy among Bible scholars. However, what matters here is that God took note of Enoch’s distinction and rewarded him for it.

God is looking for people that will distinguish themselves in this perverse world by walking with Him. He wants people that will determine to walk or live in His fear and will, walk or live in all His commandments and ordinances, walk or live by faith and total trust in Him, walk or live uprightly and sincerely, and walk or live in intimate communion with Him. He is ready to reward such people accordingly. Will you be one of such people?  This year, determine to be distinct!

In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Vastness of His Blessings

by Janet Perez Eckles

A baby camel asked his mother, "Why do we have such large feet?"

A camel and her calf in a pen She turned to him. "God made us that way for a very special reason," she explained. "Our large feet are to keep us from sinking into the sand."

"Why the big eyelashes?" he asked.

"It's to protect our eyes from the sand."

"Why the big humps?"

"That is to store fat and have enough energy to go long distances in the hot desert!"

"I see!" The baby camel stretched his neck and looked up at his mother. "The large feet are to keep us from sinking into the sand, the long eyelashes are to keep the sand out of our eyes, and the humps are to store energy to travel...then what are we doing in this cage in the middle of a zoo?"

Ever feel you're locked in a cage?

I have asked the same question. Like the camel, I had all I needed to enjoy life. I had desires, dreams, wings to fly high to success. But instead, I found myself in a cage of grief and heartache. Certainly not the place I thought I belonged. At the age of 30, my eyesight closed in completely. I lost my joy, my purpose, and my freedom. Bars of gloom surrounded me.

A person in a cage Inside that cage, I longed for days gone by. Days when I could see. Days when life still held promises for tomorrow. And one night as I lay still, exhausted from fumbling in the darkness, God whispered:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18)

Of course, I didn't perceive what He offered. I had been busy circling around inside my cage of self-pity. But when His whisper brushed through my soul, all changed.

God has created you for much more.

With the eyes of my heart, I saw the door to freedom. I took His hand and walked out into the liberating fresh air of His grace.

Oasis in the desert Free again, I embraced the truth that God had created me for much more. That's why my feet of confidence kept me from sinking into the sand of self-pity.
And for my journey in the desert of life, I prepared ahead, storing a healthy supply of God's wisdom and packing a good supply of gratitude.

Gratitude? Yes, because unlike the baby camel, with God's freedom we know where we belong. We have the clarity of our purpose. We trust in His plans. And with each trial,
each difficulty, each wilderness and desert, pain and heartache, we relish in His freedom to overcome hurdles, triumph over tragedy, and turn cages into the vastness of
His blessings.

What path might God be making in the desert of your life?

Seeing the best of Life,

Janet

Monday, September 4, 2017

Waiting for Your Sunrise

"For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5

God allows us to have "blue" seasons where there is more weeping than laughing. What we must remember is, it is only for a season. That is crucial. Joy will come in the morning, just as sure as the sunrise.

If you get up tomorrow morning to see the sunrise, let me tell you what not to do. Don't try to make it hurry up. You can't do it. You can get a brass band and some cheerleaders, but that sun is not going to come up one second sooner than God intends.

Waiting on the Lord is like waiting on the sun to come up. You can't hurry it. You also can't stop it. God is going to bring a sunrise to your soul. Just wait for it. And trust Him while you wait.

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Leaving Home

Are you packing and getting ready to leave home, or facing a big change in your life with a lot of uncertainty? I know something of what you are going through, because I am, too. I was supposed to be moving, but now I am told that this is not the right time: all kinds of funding issues need to be figured out. I was really discouraged at first until I read what God told Abram (or Abraham):

Genesis 12:1b – Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. (NIV)

It was a very straightforward command. What I noticed was that Abraham willingly packed and went far from home without worrying about it. There were no indications of stress or worry bothering him. Look at his age! He was 75 years old and found himself having to move far away from home. He obviously trusted the Lord through the changing and difficult circumstances. We must, too.

I am older than Abraham was, and facing difficult modern decisions. I have packed what I thought I would need. A lot of things that I didn't need went into a container to go to the needy. Did I pack my worries? Not really — but I have to. In earlier years when I was moving, everything was noted and done. But now I am feeling confused and tired. I need to trust the Lord with all the circumstances involved in a difficult move!

Proverbs chapter 3 speaks to the heart about having trust in God's leading. That is very important — it involves submitting to Him. Read it carefully:

Proverbs 3:3a,5-6 – Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

Yes, I thought that I knew what was going to happen, but we should not lean on our own understanding. It is so encouraging, reassuring, and heartening to trust in the Lord, since I have no idea what my future holds.

What about you? Are you facing a change, having to move, looking for or taking a new job? Commit it all to the Lord. Commit to Him every decision that you make, and you will be amazed and relieved as He leads you into the future — safe and lovely!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we commit the decisions about our future to You, and we ask You to guide us through the preparations until we enter the new normal, safe and at ease, glorifying You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Iris Ford 

Parksville, British Columbia, Canada

Saturday, September 2, 2017

THE BLOOD OF MARTYRS

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24 NKJV).

As I was about to sleep recently, I checked my WhatsApp Messenger to see if there was any urgent message to be attended to (that has become my daily practice). I came across a video clip in a WhatsApp group with a subtitle "Pray for Syria". I could not bear watching the video clip to the end as it turned out to be one of those incidents where some Christians were being beheaded one after the other by their persecutors. The horror of seeing blood gushing out of the necks of the beheaded people at the one slash of the sword/cutlass could not make me continue to watch the video clip. In fact, I blamed myself for watching such a horrendous thing when I was about to sleep that night. It was as if I never heard or even watched such awful video of Christians being slaughtered like animals before. I kept on wondering why a human being would gruesomely kill a fellow human being in the name of fighting for one god who cannot defend himself. Then I remembered the paraphrase of a statement made by an early church leader called Tertullian in 197 AD: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." How true is this statement?

Jesus Christ proverbially stated that a grain of wheat has to fall into the ground and dies before it can produce more grain (see John 12:24). He demonstrated this by dying on the cross so that mankind might have eternal life. Right from the death of first known Christian martyr, Stephen in Acts 7, to the modern-day Christian martyrs, the blood of these martyrs, in most occasions, has really become the seed of the growth of Christianity. This has been proved from history. However, I still keep wondering: must people be killed before there is growth in Christian faith?

Persecution of all forms is inevitable in Christian life (see 2 Timothy 3:12). The more the Christian is persecuted or tested, the stronger he becomes in his Christian faith (see 1 Peter 1:7-9). The more Christians are killed for their faith, the more other Christians are united in prayer, and the more the spread of Christianity. Indeed, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

Nevertheless, are you ready to lay your life down for your faith? You may not be literally killed as a martyr, but are you ready to really be a witness with your action and words for Christian faith? (Interestingly, the English word, martyr, comes from the word for witness in the original Greek!)

In His service, 

Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).

Friday, September 1, 2017

Geese and Crabapples

"Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT)

Across from our house is a park that has some ponds which house ducks and geese. Now there are not many ducks but a lot of geese. They love to come into our yard to have a meal on whatever they can find. They love to eat the crabapples.

The geese will sit in a circle around the crabapple tree. One of them will get up, stretch his long neck, grab a limb and shake it so that crabapples fall to the ground. Then all get up and start eating. When all are eaten they will go back to the circle and wait for another goose to get up and grab another limb. The goose that shakes the limb won't get much to eat but they do take their turns so that all can eat.

Paul wrote in the Scripture above to the Philippians that this is what we need to do as Christians. We should not forget about ourselves but do more for others. This goes further than what Jesus taught when He said to do to others as you would have them do to you. Paul is saying do more for others than you would have them do for you.

Prayer: Our Provider, we praise you. We thank you for all your many blessings. Please forgive us when we get selfish and don't think of others. Help us to follow the teachings of your son Jesus Christ to do to others as we would have them do to us. In your holy name we pray, Amen

Thought for the day: Let us stretch our necks out to help others in our day to day living.

by Dean W. Masters

Thursday, August 31, 2017

His hand holds!

Do you know that there are forces in nature that science can’t explain?
Forces such as gravity, centrifugal force, and others.
Scientists can study them; they can analyze them; they can even measure them, but they don’t know why they are there.

One of the physicists who developed the Big Bang Theory puzzled over how we could live in a world in which practically every object was a potential nuclear explosion, and yet not be blown to bits.
Carl Darrow, a physicist at Bell Laboratories, wrote that these particles have no right to be alive at all—they never should have been created and, if created, they should have blown up instantly.
Yet there is something that relentlessly holds them together.

What is this force that keeps the universe intact?
Where does the power come from to keep us from instantly dissolving into one massive nuclear explosion?

The answer is found in Colossians 1:17-
Jesus "is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
Not only did He create all things (verse 16), but by His hand we are held together.

Jesus Christ is the power behind every mysterious force in the universe.

Someday at the time of His Father’s choosing and as 2 Peter 3:10-12 teaches-
Jesus will withdraw His sustaining influence and there will be a blowout such as none of us has ever imagined.

Then, after our old universe has passed away-
He will create a new heaven and a new earth, where we will live with Him forever. 2 Peter 3:13.

By just a word of His power-
Jesus holds all things together. Hebrews 1:3

He is the relentless force in the universe!
Although unbelieving men and women turn away from Him-
- we worship Him as the central figure in all time and space.

He is supreme.
He is eternal.
He is the Sustainer of all things.

There is no burden He could not carry for you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The real you!

The person you spend the most time with is you-
- so we tend to be pretty interested in ourselves.

I ask you:
Do you really like yourself?
Would you rather be somebody else?
Are you realistic about your strengths and weaknesses?

Socrates gets credit for saying, “Know thyself,” even though what he really said, was, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Either way, the message is clear.
Knowing ourselves is a key to the meaningful life.

Let me go a step further.

Since God is your Creator and He knows you better than anyone-
- why don’t you get to know God personally and then you’ll get to know yourself -
- the real you -
- better than you ever could on your own.

God gives us the way to know Him through Jesus and His Word.
If you get to know Him, you’ll come to know yourself and why you’re here.

And that is life at its best.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It’s time to turn

Why don’t people believe in Jesus?
God gives us the answer in the first chapter of John.
“In Him was life...” In other words, Jesus is the source of all life. “...and the life was the light of men.”

That means enlightenment about God, about life, its ultimate meaning and purpose.

John goes on to add “…and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

One big reason some people don’t believe in God is they just can’t comprehend it.

Man will put up an intellectual smoke screen with regards to ideology or concerning the existence of God!

But the major reason that man does not believe that God exists is-
- because of sin that causes man to be in spiritual darkness.

And because sin is man’s desire to be in control and do things his way, when the light comes on men scurry from the light-
- because they want to continue to live in the darkness; they still want to live life their own way.

Jesus is Light – the source of ultimate enlightenment about God and life.
Living in the dark is foolishness.

It’s time to turn the light on – and live.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How big is God?

I know it's hard to imagine how God could be concerned about every detail of our lives.
But He is!

Jesus said, "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7.

The real question is this:
How big is God?
The Bible says God isn't just concerned about big things (like running the universe).
Instead, God is so great that He is concerned about even the smallest and most insignificant things.

After all, He who put the stars in space also created the smallest subatomic particle and the tiniest microbe.
As the Bible says, "By him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible" Colossians 1:16.

But God wants you to know an even greater truth:
The reason He has a specific plan for your life is because He loves you.

If God didn't care about you ... or if He were too busy to bother with you ... then you would be right.
But God does care about you!

How do we know this?
We know it because God came down to this earth in the person of Jesus Christ, who gave His life so we could be with Him in Heaven forever.

My prayer is that you will turn to Him and accept the gift He offers you -- the gift of His salvation.
Then make it your goal to know His will -- and do it.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

HUMILITY!

James 4:8-10 "Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."
Back in the 60's I was serving as a Minuteman Missile Combat Crew Commander in Missouri. One Sunday our family was attending a church service and heard a man proudly offer a substantial gift for a special missionary project. He seemed so sincere and open that I was impressed.

After a few months of attending that church I happened to mention to the pastor about the generous nature of this man. It was then that I learned that he was not a regular tither or giver. The only time he contributed financially was when he could announce it to the congregation. The man was filled with pride.

Pride is an insidious thing and a quality that God despises. Unfortunately there are many proud people who are to be found in our churches, or at least claiming to be true believers. In today's Scripture we see what God thinks about pride.

When we come to God, we are to come with a broken and contrite spirit. We are told to make a move toward God and He will immediately draw near to us. It is then that we are to cleanse ourselves and focus our attention on Him. As we do, He will lift us up to be His radiant and faithful servants. Lord, give us a servant spirit!

Blessings dear hearts. Draw near to God today, trust Him completely and be a blessing!

Pastor Cecil