CARVED IN STONE!

The expression that something is carved in stone generally means what the Pharaoh in the original ’10 Commandments’ movie once said. His comment was: “so let it be written, so let it be said”. That sense of permanence is what the first prophet Samuel records for us in 1 Samuel 7:12. Here he calls a stone memorializing the Lord’s help an Ebenezer stone.

Stones when placed as monuments bespeak many things. We use them at the head of a grave to honor a person and I believe to honor the Lord for His guidance on earth. The reason so many of the early ancestral gravestones included Bible verses and mine will one day as well.

Stones as memorials are also Scriptural. For example Christ as our foundation or cornerstone is foretold of in Isaiah 28:16. The verse rightly points out that only Christ gives us the assurance for confronting rightly all else that life puts before us.

In a sense a stone can also serve as a conscience crying out a reminder of that which is important to remember (Habakkuk 2:11). For me stone crosses, that atheists are so quick to want to remove from sacred sites, are one such example among many. To see a cross is often a reminder to look into your heart.

Christ definitely is or should be the chief cornerstone of our lives for with Him we can take on all that confronts us as Matthew 21:42-44 shares. With Christ I can not be beat. Now it is up to me to build on that stone (relationship) in a beautiful and glorious fashion (1 Corinthians 2:11-14). That is my job as I grow in righteousness. The very essence of who I am that will one day live with God, is a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), here to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ. Of this the Holy Spirit will witness for it truly is CARVED IN STONE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The foundation stone of Christ is steadfast when placed in our soul.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 1 Samuel 7:12 “importance of a memorial stone”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord You are my cornerstone.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What would you like to see carved on your memorial stone?
  2. What spiritual examples of stonework do you know of?
  3. How does having Christ help us conquer all that confronts us?
  4. How can we add beauty to a glorious relationship with Christ?

RELATED BLOG: Stones!

 

AN ANSWER TO PRAYER!

If you have ever felt frustrated over a  situation you found yourself in after asking the Lord for deliverance from it you are in great company. King David, one upon whom God showed great favor, felt the same way (Psalm 44:24). So also did the prophet Jeremiah who expressed his frustration by complaining to God as recorded in Jeremiah 12:1-4.

Perhaps the greatest frustration felt and expressed was our Savior Himself in the final moments before His death on the cross. In Matthew 27:46 we hear Him say: “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me”. The pain we feel when uttering our prayers are not so great as He Who died for all mankind’s sins.

So why does it seem God refuses to answer our prayers. God wants all of us to be saved. That requires we be driven to a point of confession and out of it understanding. As Psalm 66:18 tells us: “The Lord will not hear” if we have iniquity (sin) in our heart. We need to pray daily confessing our sin.

God also refuses selfish prayer (James 4:3). Prayers desiring personal gain rather than that which will carry out His will and further His kingdom is misplaced prayer. We should not doubt that God can and will answer our prayers (James 1:5-7) but they need to have proper intent and purpose.

God expects obedience and that requires we spend time reading and hearing His Word (Proverbs 28:9). Not only should we become familiar with the Word but God expects us to help those in greatest need (Proverbs 21:13) if we desire to be heard.

Today humble yourself unlike the pharisee of Luke 18:12-13. Come to our Lord in the right frame of mind and know you will receive AN ANSWER TO PRAYER.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Prayers prayed in proper fashion are promised to be heard.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 44:24 “plea to be heard”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I humbly beseech You hear my prayers.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Do you examine your heart before praying?
  2. Have you ever expressed frustration  with God?
  3. Do you express your sin frequently to God?
  4. What is your plan to help those in need?

RELATED BLOGS: A nation close to God and Requirements of Prayer.

WHO’S LEADING?

I suspect most of you when asked this question would respond with a question about who the teams are that are playing. In a sense that is what I am referring to as well but the team is not involved in a sport match as we know it but a far more important game known as ‘the game of life’.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read that: “eye has not seen, .. ear heard (nor)..heart felt what God has prepared for those who love Him”.  The beginning of a truly remarkable existence begins when God is warmly welcomed into our life and we no longer go it alone. It is as Proverbs 16:9 tells us where the Lord is now directing our steps. Growing closer to God now should become paramount in our lives. To help in furthering this we should all eagerly read God’s Word knowing that it allows us to know God’s thoughts after Him

Each day I awake I prepare for the wonders of this life yet I know by Christ’s own words that a greater reward will be mine in Heaven. I will be at the left hand of my Lord (Matthew 20:23) for all eternity. A mansion like no other awaits me as 1 Corinthians shared and Christ assured us of in John 14:2-3. That is the promise to each of us who welcome Christ into our hearts.

This life is simply a stopping off point. As much as I enjoy travel I see and hear of all the problems we face especially in our cities. One day the city that will be ours will be the New Jerusalem God has designed in all its glory (Hebrews 11:16, Revelations 22:1-5).

To those who choose to play games with God and be on another team their outlook is as bad as it gets (Matthew 25:41). Choose wisely as it all depends on WHO’S LEADING your team.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY:  Prepare yourself for special promises and spiritual power.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 2:9 “what God has prepared for the faithful”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for Your presence.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who is leading your team?
  2. Explain 1 Corinthians 2:9 as you understand it?
  3. What has God prepared for us in this life?
  4. How will the New Jerusalem look?

RELATED BLOG: Step necessary for eternal life!

THE PURPOSE OF EVIL!

Before going any further it is important to understand that God is light and there is no darkness (evil) in Him (1 John 1:5). All evil is from sin and satan and in order to show the righteousness of God, good must then come out of evil. It is why I believe God can use any evil circumstance to show His power and purpose.

A good example of this was the hardened heart of the pharoah from which God delivered His chosen people Israel (Romans 9:16). The key here was that Moses did as should we today continue to cry out against evil.

Evil is part of mankind’s curse since original sin (Genesis 3:17-19). Those who want to live without guilt in a sinful fashion need to remove Genesis from the Bible and so macro-evolutionary theories have to be presented as absolute truth. Without Genesis there is no Creator, orderly creation or an explanation for evil much less the need for God.

We also must be careful that we don’t misinterpret evil as explained by Christ in Luke 13:1-3. The degree of suffering some face has absolutely no tie to the depth of sin in their lives. We are all equal sinners.  You break one law you have broken them all as the Scripture tells us.

Evil will always be with us and increasing in nature (Matthew 24:6-8). For we as Christians must understand it (Proverbs 22:3) and we must continue to preach the Gospel to all nations until Christ’s return (Matthew 24:14) against all that which is evil.

All believers will share in evil (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). The key is to bear it patiently as Job showed us (Job 2:7-10). The reason is the assurance we have through the Spirit of future glory and final victory so wonderfully show in the words of Romans 8:18-39.

Today what is critical is that we continue in faith where we find our relief (Hebrews 3:17-19) knowing that one day in Heaven evil in all its ugly forms will be no more (Revelations 7:14-17). THE PURPOSE OF EVIL is to bring us closer to our Lord and Savior Who conquered it on the cross.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The example of evil is to provide evidence for a more powerful and purposeful God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Romans 9:16 “cry out against evil”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord strengthen me in adversity to grow evermore faithful.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you handle evil?
  2. Have you ever blamed God for some seeming injustice?
  3. How do you understand the book of Genesis?
  4. Do you have an ‘end game’ focus?

WHO BRINGS YOU ENCOURAGEMENT?

In moments of deepest depression and brokenness or similar circumstances we need someone to lift us up. The obvious answer is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3 which tells us God is the source of all comfort. In this verse comfort I believe comes from a Greek word ‘paraklesis’ which means not only comfort but encouragement as well. God not only wraps His arms around us but gives us hope and a reason to go on.

When searching for this ‘paraklesis’ the Bible also points us to other sources such as the angels that met Jacob in Genesis 32:1-2 and provided guidance. This followed Jacob’s dream where there was encouragement received (Genesis 28:15).

Where I find my hope and encouragement when most ‘down’ is in God’s promises. The most important being a life with Him for all eternity. Turning to God’s Word is always uplifting. Joshua experienced this in Joshua 1:1-9 and serves as a good example for us.

In this life most evident in giving us hope are our best friends and family. A friend such as Jonathon was to David (1 Samuel 23:16-18) or a relative such as Esther was to Mordecai (Esther 4:13-16) are often as they should be available when our needs are greatest. We need to not be afraid to call upon them or to be called upon when others need us.

The important message is that we will all have times when we need comfort and inspiration to continue on. At those times we need to understand WHO CAN BRING US ENCOURAGEMENT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: We endure and are encouraged when others expend energy to be there for us.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Corinthians 1:3 “source of all comfort and encouragement”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for true friends and family.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Where do you find your comfort and encouragement?
  2. Make a list of God’s promises (covenants) found in Scripture?
  3. Have you ever been called upon when someone needed encouragement?
  4. Have you called others when you are in need of comfort and hope?

RELATED BLOG: In need of comfort!

WHEN IS IT FINISHED?

One of several memories in my life was when I and my family were asked to return to the hospital after my fathers death. The impactful moment was walking into the room where his body lay. My first reaction was that it was not my dad and it wasn’t. That is to say it was his physical form but his essence or spirit was gone.

When Christ died He gave us a taste of our ultimate death. Christ said “it is finished” and His spirit left His body (John 19:30). Who we are is not the outside appearance or items such as money, power, etc. Who we are is the characteristics of our spirit.

To better understand that we first turn to 1 Kings 21:5 and see that the spirit is the center of emotion  as Jezebel shared when addressing Ahab. For me it is why understanding and living out the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is so important. Emotion is critical to our relationship with God. Not only does the spirit contain our emotion but also our passions (Ezekiel 5:14). Be passionate but make sure the  passion is the proper type properly placed.

Our spirit can and must be controlled. If not it has a will of its own (Proverbs 16:32) and can be led down a path of destruction. It is why it is so imperative that we invite the Holy Spirit into our life to help serve as divine influence. If we do not it is not beyond our Lord hardening our spirit (Deuteronomy 2:30) for continuing in its evil ways. For me it is clearly evident in the world today as I look at the nature of humanity.

Finally, as we began, we must understand the spirit leaves the body at death (Ecclesiastes 12:7). That is what death is when the spirit leaves the body to return to God for eternal disposition in some fashion at some time. WHEN IS IT FINISHED? When we take our last breath and our spirit leaves its earthly container.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our spirit  springs to its salvation when we sincerely follow our Savior.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 19:30 “Christ’s final moments”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord help guide my spirit in its right path.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do you understand the final moments of life?
  2. Have you ever been witness to someone’s death and how did it make you feel?
  3. What are the fruits of the spirit to develop in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23)?
  4. What brings out the passion in you?

OUR SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX!

That which is most valuable to us we desire to protect. An example of a place for that protection is a bank safety deposit box. For me it is here I put that which cannot be replaced. Paul nearing the end of life had this same concern. He entrusted to God his (and our) most important possession which is the soul (2 Timothy 1:12).  A gift originally given to us by God that would one day return to Him.

We can be assured that our soul is secure in God along with numerous other assurances laid out in His Word. The first found in 1 Thessalonians 1:4 is that we are chosen by God. He sent His Son to redeem all from their sin. Our responsibility is to accept the free gift of faith which brings this first assurance to us.

In fact we were always meant to be one with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15). Life was never meant to be “the blind (satan) leading the blind (those who reject Christ)”. Life was meant for us to be in union with Christ as Paul shared in vs. 15. A place where no blindness exists.

This same Christ Himself assures us of everlasting life in John 5:24. We are told by Jesus that “he who hears My word an believes in Him (God) Who sent Me has everlasting life”. What an assurance that is. The assurance is great yet many fall flat on their face here. They assume Christ only a good man (if that) and to hear much less obey God’s Word is simply asking to much they think.

I am totally convinced of the saying that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. At my last breath in this world that I take in the same moment my first breath in the eternal world is released. This is what gives me “peace with God” (Romans 5:1). Indeed God is OUR SAFE DEPOSIT BOX. Of this we can be assured.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The assurance of Heaven comes with the atonement of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: 2 Timothy 1:12 “God is our safety deposit box”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for writing my name in the book of Heaven.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What assurances do you have in life?
  2. Are you at peace with God?
  3. Are you one with Christ?
  4. What do you believe happens when you take your last breath?

ALL THINGS NEW AGAIN!

Closing out one year and preparing for a New Year is something I enjoy each year end. I take time to reflect and record what all has happened this past year and how I can use it as a foundation to build on the next. A new foundation built on the past is one that can either be a time of joy for the promise it holds or a time of sorrow reflecting on what was once great. This was the experience mentioned in Ezra 3:12 when the second temple foundation was begun.

For me knowing that as life changes I have to adapt I seek the joy of the newness yet to come and that is most important and personal when it comes to the body of man or my body in particular. It begins with Romans 8:23 where realizing that the Resurrection of Christ was for us that through it we have a redeemed body or new body which eagerly seeks reunion with the Redeemer.

This new body will take on the final preparation when it is raised from the grave (John 5:28-29)  and changed like unto God’s glorious body (Philippians 3:21). Imagine that for a moment. Many start out a New Year resolving to get back in shape, loose weight and try to recapture our youth when what should be our highest resolve is to do what is necessary to continue to grow like unto His image.

This glorified (transformed and magnified) body (Romans 8:30) that only comes through Christ will stand in judgment before God (2 Corinthians 5:10) but I believe it is to receive one of the 5 crowns of righteousness for what we did in our earthly bodies. Those who in this life choose not to believe and live a life of sin will be judged in a different manner.

At that point we can say with Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 that our “whole spirit, soul and body” will appear before our Lord and remain in His presence for all eternity. ALL THINGS WILL THEN BE NEW AGAIN.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The body of man takes on a spiritual body through the blood of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 3:21 “changing what was to what will be for all eternity”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the promise of glorification.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How do old and new foundations work in your life?
  2. How does a person find optimism in each new day and experience?
  3. How can you grow daily in God’s image?
  4. How do you imagine a glorified body to be?

AFTER DEATH THEN WHAT?

All of us will one day die unless there is a rapture or Christ’s return in our lifetime. That is a cold hard fact and so it is appropriate we take a little time looking at what I call our ‘eternal presence’ that remains when our bodies are laid to rest.

One verse I find great comfort in is Matthew 28:20 where Christ’s final words are “…lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”. Knowing Christ is by my side at all times gives me strength and provides me with joy and protection as I can always be assured that His divine presence will guide me along life’s way.

We can know this from our personal experience and from numerous examples in Scripture including how God guided Moses and the Israelites out of Egypt and the subsequent days of their travel. In fact in Jeremiah 32:27 we read of God telling Jeremiah to be assured there is nothing He (God) cannot do which one should naturally expect of an omniscient God.

So if that is the case what about us? I believe as Paul expressed in Colossians 2:5  that though we are absent in the flesh after our earthly death we too are present in the spirit for those we leave behind. Paul goes on to say that this is one reason for our remaining steadfast in our faith as we can be assured of a spiritual presence. AFTER DEATH THEN WHAT? We live on in the presence of Christ and with our spirit to help keep our families and friends steadfast in their journey of faith until one day we are reunited for all eternity.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Divine presence helps us prevail until we receive God’s precious promises.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 28:20 “Christ ever present with us”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for being by my side.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you felt Christ’s presence in your life?
  2. Is God guiding your life?
  3. What is your families faith history?
  4. How does God and our ancestors speak to us (note: not through mediums and seances)?

WHAT WILL BE YOUR LEGACY?

In our anxiousness to make money and live the good life few of us take the time to put our life in order according to what I believe are the 6 elements of life by which we can serve as a model for others. Those elements from most important to least are faith, family, freedom, friends, finances and fun. Sadly the world seems in disarray because we have reversed that order putting fun and acquiring money by both ethical and unethical means first and occasionally living a life of faith and having time for family.

The importance of faith and how we are to handle it is pointed out in Psalm 78:5-6 where God makes it known to Jacob that all He (God) commanded is to be passed on to ALL future generations. This is clearly pointed out by Paul in Ephesians 6:4 when he speaks of the role of the father to be the spiritual head of the family bringing up the children in the way of the Lord. How quickly the men in our society have forgotten that and we all suffer the consequence.

One additional matter I would caution people of faith on are the words of Colossians 2:4. Part of the problem in trying to live out a righteous life are smooth talking individuals who twist and use words in a fashion that they transfer truth to an untruth. Be watchful for these individuals and stand on the truth of God’s Word clearly understood alone.

Regarding legacy and a clear understanding of God’s Word I would offer 3 primary Biblical figures who serve as examples of what to pass on to heirs. The first is Abraham who showed that our legacy is our children and all that we are (for example the six elements previously mentioned) is to be passed on as an inheritance (Genesis 25:5-6). It behooves us then that we live our lives according to the will of God.

Next we have David who in 1 Kings 2:1-9 we see pass on with his final breath spiritual advice including the words to walk before God “in truth with all their heart and all their soul (vs. 4)”. Indeed transferring property and more importantly a life of faith is the ultimate legacy.

Finally we have Christ Himself who in John 14:15-27 speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The package is now complete. For each of us to be born again living a life fully wrapped in our Lord and seeing that all future generations receive the Holy Spirit as well. The correct answer now is clear but the question remains WHAT WILL BE YOUR LEGACY.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: A true legacy is a life lived fully in our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Psalm 78:5-6 “God’s priority for mankind”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord thank you for the legacy You have given to me and my family.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How would you prioritize the 6 elements listed above?
  2. Are you passing on your faith?
  3. How do people transfer truth to an untruth?
  4. What will be your legacy?