Friday, December 30, 2011

In His Arms

I had it all together, until it all fell apart. I was an Ivy League educated physician with research accolades, a successful practice, a loving and devoted husband, and a gifted, handsome son. And even a fulfilling, creative hobby that had become a passion – ballroom dance – that my husband and I could share and that had carried us across the globe to share our love of dance with others.

Yet on April 17, 2000, the beautiful melody of our carefully orchestrated lives came to a screeching halt in a crescendo of offbeat discords. A call from the police had interrupted our son’s tenth birthday celebration at a theme park the day before, as the alarm at my mother’s house had sounded and she could not remember how to disarm it, or even how to unlock the dead bolt at the front door to let in the police. When we arrived she was wielding a butcher knife, trying to cut the wires to the blaring alarm, and then she planted herself against the wall, stubborn as a mountain goat, as we pleaded with her to come to the hospital with us.

Over the next few hours she quickly returned to her mild mannered, loveable self, and the doctor could find nothing wrong. Yet I feared that she had had a mild stroke and that Alzheimer’s disease was stealing away the mother I loved, just as it had her mother who had been my constant companion from the time I was born until she died when I was 14.

My grandmother had left me a legacy of faith and prayer that sustained her through a lifelong series of hardships. As a 16 year-old bride she emigrated from the Ukraine to Nova Scotia; lost nine children – all but my mother -- in childbirth or to pneumonia in early infancy; and lost her husband to a brain aneurysm when he was only 35. She moved to New York as a single parent, raising my mother by working long shifts in a bakery as she had never learned to read or write. Yet she was faithful to God through it all, praying to Jesus, drawing strength from her faith in Him, and even scrimping together enough money to donate to her church a beautiful mural of Ruth gleaning in the wheat fields of Boaz (Ruth 2:8).

Despite my grandmother’s example, I had always been a seeker – praying to God without knowing Him, reading the Bible dispassionately as a student of literature and history without grasping its significance (2 Timothy 4:3-4). In college I explored New Age philosophies and Eastern religions, never finding the truth I desperately hoped would transform my empty life and fill it with peace and joy.

An evangelist sat next to me on a long train ride when I was in college, patiently explaining that the only way to Heaven was through Jesus, Son of God (John 14:6), Who came to earth wrapped in human flesh (John 1:14) to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. His death on the cross paid the debt for all our sins, past, present and future, so that whoever acknowledged and turned away from their sins, and had faith in His death, burial and resurrection, would be forgiven and have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-28; John 3:16). But I was a know-it-all, self-righteous, desperately lost college girl who resented the intrusion into my study time and argued with the well-meaning stranger over the merits of reincarnation.

My futile search continued, leaving me empty and unsettled about my future and about how to cope with setbacks, sadness and trials. On that life-changing morning of April 17, 2000, my husband and I had to travel from Florida to New York for a dance competition, even though our dancing had taken giant strides backward and we could barely step on the dance floor without bitter arguing. Our son was hurt and disappointed that his birthday was spent mostly in the doctor’s waiting room, and my mother’s health was uncertain at best.

That morning we stopped at my office before leaving for the airport, only to find more bad news and chaos. The mail brought notice of two separate legal actions, each without basis, yet both attacking my professional credibility and threatening my career. To make matters worse, our office manager announced she was quitting without notice, leaving the practice in utter turmoil.

As we rushed off to the airport, I was too numb to care, overwhelmed by the office situation, my mother’s health, the legal battles, our son’s missed birthday, and our dancing which now brought more frustration than joy. We boarded the plane with feelings of resignation and doom, and my shoulders and neck were as tense as wet ropes wrung dry. My mouth felt like chalk, and my head throbbed as if a salsa band inside clanged off key and off time. I strapped myself into my seat and pinched my eyes shut for takeoff.

I tried to fight back the tears when suddenly there was no need to fight anything. The tension melted away like glacial ice warmed by the radiant sun, flowing into living water that engulfed me and floated me upward. A divine embrace protected and sheltered me, blessing me with complete peace, perfect love.

“Jesus,” I said aloud. It was both a prayer and a greeting. In His arms the words I had heard before without understanding, that He was my Savior and that through Him I had eternal life, became the only truth, the only reality worth knowing. At that moment I knew I would follow Him anywhere. In Him I was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), my sins forgiven (Romans 8:1-4), a child of God (Romans 8:14-17). I had been His enemy (James 4:4) and rebelled against His truth, yet He had adopted me as His own and even had appointed me to be His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), to tell others of how He had changed my life (Matthew 28:19) and to honor and glorify Him in all that I do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23).

As I remembered the evangelist who had told me of Jesus two decades earlier, I hoped he was not discouraged over planting seeds of truth and love seemingly wasted on my hardened heart (Matthew 13:3-23). I look forward to seeing him in glory and thanking him for the effect his words ultimately had in showing me the Way. Through the years I have thought often of that encounter, and of my grandmother’s loving model of faith and prayer, as they remind me that God’s Word never returns void (Isaiah 55:11) and that our work for Him is never in vain (Hebrews 6:10).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Less is More

The world equates grandeur and power with showy displays of wealth, force and excess. Worldly success is measured in mega-numbers, whether dollars in bank accounts or bodies in church pews. Music is blasted at deafening volume, and even food is super-sized.

But God, the source of all power, wisdom, love and light (1 John 4:7-8; 1 John 1:5), is often understated and subtle when He speaks. If you’re distracted by the world’s fanfare, you can miss what He has to say.

He spoke to Elijah not in the roar of the wind, in the shaking of the earthquake or the blaze of the fire, but in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).

God first brought His only begotten Son, Creator and Ruler of all, to this earth not as a conquering warrior, high priest, or revered king, but as a lowly infant. The Son first appeared not in the battlefield, temple, or palace, but in a filthy stable, born among the animals (Luke 2:7). His first utterance was not a declaration of leadership or an eloquent sermon, but the helpless cry of a newborn.

Yet that humble beginning marked the greatest story ever told – Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). God the Son left His throne in Heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35), and wrapped Himself in human flesh. His earthly life and ministry reflected self-sacrificing love, forgiveness, humility, and self-control. He was born not only to teach us about God the Father, and about how He wants us to live, but He was born primarily to die. He could have summoned legions of angels to rescue Him from an agonizing death (Matthew 26:53), but He went meekly as a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7, Acts 8:32) arguing nothing in His own defense.

His holy, sinless life was the perfect, and only, sacrifice that could reconcile Holy God to sinful man (1 John 4:10). As His death on the cross paid in full the punishment due all our sins, past, present and future, He redeemed us from sin and death. When God the Father looks at those who trust His Son, He no longer sees our sins, but only the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 8:1-4).

He died not just to pay for our sins, but to rise again, that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13), and abundant life (John 10:10) the moment we repent of our sins and place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

But for us to receive the full blessing of being in His perfect will, we must hear what He has to say. If our own voice clamors for attention, we will drown out His still, small whisper (Psalm 46:10; Zechariah 2:13). If we fill our life with our own grandiose plans for accomplishments we believe we can achieve in our own strength, there will be no room for Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yielding to Him, preparing our heart to receive and cherish Him, will allow His light to shine through us (Matthew 5:16) and His living water to flow through us to bless others.

If we are king of our own life, we, like Bethlehem, will have no room for the Holy Infant, Emmanuel (Luke 2:7).

We must decrease so that He can increase (John 3:30), our lives becoming vessels emptied of self and filled with His glorious presence. We should rejoice in our frailty, knowing that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, allowing His power to rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

This Christmas, my prayer is that each of us will receive the Gift of His Son (2 Corinthians 9:15), and that we will give back to Him the gift of our own lives, so that our fleeting time on earth (James 4:14) may be transformed from our own inconsequential purposes to His eternal glory (Romans 5: 1-2; Romans 15: 5-7;15-17; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 5:10; Psalm 84:11 ).

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Be Fruit-full!

When God told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful,” (Gen. 1:28), He was of course referring to having children, yet I believe He also wanted the first husband and wife to have productive lives according to His will, having dominion over all the animals.

Now that we are in the age of grace, we can also interpret “Be fruitful” to mean not only to be prolific and productive, but also to produce the fruit of the Spirit so that people know we belong to Christ by our words, our works, our attitude, and our behavior (Luke 6:43-45).

When we get married, we have on opportunity for the light of Christ to shine, not only through each of us individually, but through our new, combined family and community. For that to happen, each of the partners individually, and combined in the marriage, must have the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9). This will keep us from the works of the flesh, which can destroy individual lives and a marriage through evil deeds and thoughts including adultery, hatred, anger, drunkenness, etc. It is a daily battle between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal. 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

We can’t work to produce the fruit of the Spirit, and it is not naturally found within us, but it flows from us when we are saved, turn away from our sin, and put our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven. Then the Holy Spirit indwells us and produces this fruit, if we yield to Him and die to our sin nature (Gal. 5:14-16).

Love refers to “agape,” the self-sacrificing love best portrayed by Christ on the cross, shedding His blood to be the perfect sacrifice and complete payment for our sins (Matt. 26:27), and God the Father giving His only begotten Son so that sinners could be reconciled to Him (John 3:16). God is love, and if we know Him, we will love one another (I John 4:7-8)

Joy in the Lord can be constant even in times of trials and tribulation, no matter what the external circumstances. As born-again believers, we have reasons to be joyful (Philippians 4:4) – God loves us; He has forgiven our sins; He allows us the privilege of prayer 24/7, He has indwelled us with the Holy Spirit; He communicates with us through His Word; He has adopted us as His children and appointed us as His ambassadors, He will return for us, and we will live eternally with Him in Heaven (1 Peter 1:5-8).

Our peace, which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven, that we are reconciled to God, that He works all things together for our good, and that we have eternal life in Him. (Romans 5:1-2)

The fruit of the Spirit we’ve spoken of so far are sweet and pleasant, but we can’t pick and choose which fruit of the Spirit we would like – they all come together when we are saved and the Holy Spirit indwells us. That’s why Paul refers to it as fruit of the Spirit, and not fruits of the Spirit. Some, like long-suffering, or patience, are not as pleasant, because they are the result of trials and tribulation (Romans 5: 3-5). But self-sacrificing love requires suffering, sometimes brought on by the one we love, or at least putting the other person’s needs ahead of our own. Self-sacrificing, agape love is patient, kind, seeking to meet the needs of the other person, always thinking the best of the other person, not expressing anger, being constant through all circumstances. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

The Greek word for gentleness in Galatians 5:22 is the same word which is translated kindness in 2 Corinthians 6:6. It means goodness, wanting to please others and to be pleased with what they do, mildness of temper, calmness of spirit, not easily flustered, polite, always putting the needs of others before your own (2 Corinthians 10:1, Psalm 18:35).

Goodness is another fruit of the Spirit expressing doing good for others, spiritually by educating them in the Word, and meeting their physical needs also (Romans 15:1-4; Exodus 34:6; Psalm 107:9).

Faith is the belief we must have in order to be saved and in order to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Our faith is in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Son of God, the perfect, holy sacrifice to pay for all our sins. In Galatians 5:22, the word “faith” also refers to trustworthiness, keeping your word and promises, keeping the secrets or confidences of others. God is faithful to keep His Word and His promises, and He is faithful and unchanging in His love for us, and we should strive to do the same (Psalm 119:90; Isaiah 25:1).

Believers are meek because their power and destiny are based on the indwelling Holy Spirit, not on their own strength, status, or circumstances (Matthew 5:5). Paul tells the believers that to be good ambassadors for Christ, they should be humble and meek, patient toward one another, and putting up with each other’s faults (Ephesians 4:1-2)

As Christians we have access to all the wisdom and power of God within us through the Holy Spirit, but when others ask us about it, we must answer meekly, not showing off that power, but sharing the truth with humility and love (1 Peter 3:15). Jesus could have summoned legions of angels to rescue Him from the cross and to destroy His enemies, but instead He went meekly like a sheep led to the slaughter.

If a wife who is saved is married to an unsaved husband, He may become saved through her meekness. He may see Christ in her not through displays of power, but because she lives a sanctified life, is submissive to the will of God and of her husband, and puts her husband's needs ahead of her own (1 Peter 3:1-4). In marriage, as in life, submission to the one in authority does not diminish our power but confirms it, and is pleasing to God.

Temperance means power or control over the sin nature, including tendencies toward sexual immorality, drinking alcohol, using other intoxicating substances, angry outbursts, and overindulgence. Galatians 5:23 says “Against such there is no law,” meaning that we will never get in trouble by using too much self-control. Temperance is a stepping stone to patience, godliness, and self-sacrificing love (2 Peter 1: 5-8).

All the fruit of the Spirit represent qualities of Jesus Christ Himself. The 9 words emphasize different aspects of these qualities, but they are all interrelated and based on self-sacrificing love. Similarly, all the names of God emphasize His different attributes, but they all describe the same God. When we are saved, all these qualities enter our heart through the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we don’t always show these qualities because our sin nature fights against them.

In marriage as in life, we will show the fruit of the Spirit if we die to self and yield to the Holy Spirit, loving God and loving one another, doing His will and putting the needs of the other person ahead of our own. In a Christ-centered marriage, the wife can submit to her husband because the husband loves her completely and with a spirit of self-sacrifice.

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Highly Favored

The angel Gabriel told the virgin Mary that she was “highly favored” with God, yet she was “troubled” when she heard this news (Luke 1: 26-29), with good reason. After recovering from the fear and awe Gabriel caused her by his visitation and life-changing news, Mary had so much more to face as the reality hit her of this incredibly difficult yet significant assignment.

As a teenaged, betrothed virgin, she was pregnant, not with just any child, but with the Son of God conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30-35). She would face rejection and criticism by her community, and the hurt and bewilderment of her fiancé Joseph, who thought she had been unfaithful and betrayed him (Matthew 1:18-19). She would escape the prying eyes and wagging tongues by traveling to the hill country to reach her cousin Elizabeth, an old woman also miraculously with child (Luke 1:36-40).

Then Mary and Joseph would set off for Bethlehem (Luke 2:4) on a long, bumpy journey with her precious Child bouncing up and down with each step of the donkey. She would wonder why no innkeeper could find room for the promised Messiah or His earthly family (Luke 2:7). She would endure the pain of childbirth in a smelly stable on scratchy hay, without any earthly comfort or help other than that given by her inexperienced husband and the warmth of the animals.

She would wonder why the King of Kings was not welcomed, recognized, and worshipped by most of those He came to save (John 1:10). She would face the pain and fear of knowing that Herod was trying to kill Him (Matthew 2:16-18) and that a sword would pierce Him and her soul also (Luke 2:34-35).

Yet the Bible says she was highly favored. How had she found favor with God? When faced with the impossible, Mary knew she had no strength, wisdom, experience or support of her own, and that the Lord Himself was her strength and her salvation. She turned it all over to Him, accepting His will and her role as “the handmaiden of the Lord” (Luke 1:38) with grace, courage and praise (Luke 1:46-49). He chooses those whom He favors not based on their ability, but on their availability and yieldedness to His will.

How did God show His favor toward Mary? God often favors His chosen servants not with worldly success, power, prestige, comfort and riches, but with trials that He can use to accomplish His will to His glory. Yet if He called you for a specific mission, He will provide all you need to complete it.

God sent angels as ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) -- He sent Gabriel to Mary to inform her of His plan (Luke 1:30-35); and He sent an angel to Joseph so that He would help Mary carry out this plan (Matthew 1:20-25). He sent Mary to Elizabeth so that they could encourage and uplift each other (Luke 1:39-45). He sent angels to tell shepherds to worship the newborn King (Luke 2:8-20) and He sent a star to lead wise men to also worship Jesus (Matthew 2:2-11), giving Mary confirmation that her Child was indeed the Son of God. He spoke through dreams to protect Jesus from the evil plot of King Herod (Matthew 2:12-23).

We can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5,8), but with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37).

So no matter what our weaknesses or what resources or experience we seem to lack, let’s be yielded to God’s will, and give Him praise as He works through us! His grace is sufficient; His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); and to Him belongs all the glory!

Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.… And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.… 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Have you ever thought about how a lowly, plodding caterpillar becomes a glorious, free-flying butterfly? At precisely the right time in its life cycle, the caterpillar attaches itself to a twig and forms a shell, or chrysalis, around itself. Within that chamber, it releases digestive enzymes that completely destroy what was once the caterpillar. From that pool of raw materials, new tissues form that are unique to the butterfly and in no way resemble those of the caterpillar. With precise timing, the new tissues develop into the new creature, complete with wings as delicate and intricate as fine lace.

But the amazing process doesn’t stop there. Before it can take flight, the newly born butterfly has to free itself from the chrysalis representing what is left of its old self. As the fragile wings fight to emerge, the abdomen pumps fluid into the wings to give them strength. Once the butterfly breaks free from its imprisoning shell, it rests upside down for sunlight to dry its wings, and then it has the power to soar from one colorful, fragrant flower to the next. The struggle is essential for the butterfly to live and to fly – if a well-meaning onlooker cuts the chrysalis to “help” the butterfly out, its wings will shrivel up and it will die.

If God has engineered this incredible transformation of caterpillar to butterfly (which totally deflates any evolutionary argument of “chance” formation not only of the caterpillar, but of the completely redesigned butterfly), how much more can He work the miracle of transformation in our lives?

In the physical, He unites a single egg and sperm into a completely unique being who develops from that single cell, not yet visible with the naked eye, but within nine short months fighting her way out of the dark, protective cocoon of her mother’s body to enter a new world of light, sound, and love. God knew that unique person before she was even knitted together in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5), and throughout her life He keeps track of every hair on her head (Luke 12:7).

Each day, cells throughout our body die so that new cells can replace them, allowing the transformation from sickness to health, from life to death (Psalm 30:2-3). A seed planted in the ground decays before it is transformed into a living plant (1 Corinthians 15:36).

Physical changes, such as water vapor in clouds condensing to form rain (Job 28:24-26; 36:27-30) or freezing to form snowflakes, each one different from the next, follow laws God established for these daily miracles we often take for granted. Chemical reactions He engineered transform elements and compounds into very different substances, with dramatic results that allow all kinds of observable and incredible phenomena such as those that fuel our cars and even our bodies.

In the spiritual, the transformation is no less dramatic. As we are born again (John 3:3-8), we become new creatures, progressively conformed to His image. Like the emerging butterfly, the struggles and sufferings we undergo are an essential part of that process (Philippians 3:10). Ultimately, the saving power of God’s love transforms us:

--From sin to righteousness! (Psalm 51:1-10; Isaiah 61:10; Romans 6:18)

--From death to eternal life! (John 3:16; Romans 6:23)

--From worldly darkness to His light! (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:22-24)

--From defeat to victory! (Philippians 3:12-14; Psalm 30:1)

--From sadness to joy! (Psalm 30:5,11; Revelation 21:4-5)

--From anxiety to peace! (Philippians 4:6-9)

--From enemies of God to children of the King, joint heirs with Christ, and ambassadors appointed to spread the Good News of the Gospel! (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13-15).

--From corruptible bodies to glorified bodies! (2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Romans 8:18-23; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).

Praise God that through our faith in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, He can wash away our sins, turn our sorrow into joy and praise, and renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 30). As we die to our old sin nature, we are born again and progressively shaped through sufferings into His image (Romans 6:3-11; Philippians 3:10). He can transform us from a sinful wretch to a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) destined for eternal life with Him!

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection…11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fellowship of Christian Bloggers

Thanks to Tony Kummer, creator of the Devotional Christian website, for including Saved by Grace in the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers!

children's ministry blogs

If you have a moment, please visit this website including many inspirational Christian blogs. We are honored and blessed to be included here.

Tony also has a related children's ministry website with many great ideas and free resources for sharing Jesus with children.

May you all have a blessed week!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Be Thankful for the Giver!

With the Thanksgiving holiday begins the official Christmas shopping season, as stores vie for our attention and our dollars while we seek the perfect presents for our loved ones. No matter how much we try, some gifts fall short, and instead of the joyful surprise and appreciation we had hoped for, we hear a polite “Gee, you shouldn’t have,” or “It’s the thought that counts.”

Often we try to give our loved ones, especially our children, what we know they need instead of what they think they want. Classic books, educational software, warm mittens and socks get left behind under the piles of wrapping, while the child disappears into his room with the worldly video game given by a well-meaning family friend or relative. For an older son or daughter, a membership to a towing and roadside protection emergency service has a lot less appeal than a gift card to the mall, until that fateful night when their car breaks down on a dark, lonely road.

Hopefully as the child grows up he would realize that Mom and Dad gave gifts motivated by their deep love and caring, wanting to nurture him and to guide him along the right path. Better yet, he would be thankful not only for the gifts, but for the giver, realizing that he was blessed with loving parents who wanted to encourage their child to follow God’s perfect plan for his life.

It may be a lot to hope for such maturity in our children, especially if we ourselves are less than thankful for the gifts God gives us. Even when things are going well, we tend to gloss over God’s many blessings upon us. In the Thanksgiving season, and whenever we take the time to reflect on God’s provision, it is easy to give thanks for what we perceive as blessings -– religious freedom, prosperity, good health, loving relationships, quality time with our family.

But do we faithfully thank God for those blessings that are harder to recognize? When we go through trials of sickness, financial loss, death of a loved one, rejection, divorce, do we give thanks? Our first reaction may be to question God or to be angry with Him. Yet Paul tells us to give thanks in EVERY thing, for this is the perfect will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

How is it possible to be thankful for trials? Clearly not in our flesh, but only through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who teaches us that God is sovereign and all-powerful; that He loves His children infinitely (1 John 4:9); that it gives Him great pleasure to give His children good gifts (Matthew 7:11); and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

This side of glory, we cannot always understand or see the amazing ways that God is using tribulation in our life to accomplish His perfect will for us. We do know that trials can strengthen our faith in and dependence on God, can build our character by conforming us more and more to the image of His Son, and can give us the compassion and experience needed to help others going through similar circumstances (Romans 8:16-18; Phil. 3: 10-14).

If we trust and love God, we can be thankful for all things. The phrase “He really shouldn’t have,” truly applies with Him, because it is beyond our comprehension that the Creator of all things would willingly subject Himself to the suffering needed to pay for our sins in full (Colossians 1:12-29; 1 John 3:16). With Him, the thought really does count, because He thought enough of us to give His only Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Romans 8:32), so that all who repent and trust in His death, burial, and resurrection have eternal life (John 3:16; 2 Thess 2:13-14; Romans 1:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). How amazing that as Jesus faced the agony of crucifixion and the even more painful separation from His Holy Father as He took on our sins, He thought of us and prayed for us in the Garden of Gethsemane! (John 17)

At Thanksgiving and always, let us give thanks not only for every thing, but especially for Him, our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer (Psalm 103:3-5; 104:1-15) Who loves us enough to give His only Son to save us, to clothe us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), to give us eternal and abundant life in His presence (John 10:10), to adopt us as His children (Romans 8:14-17) and joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7), and to appoint us as His ambassadors on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20) and joint rulers with Him in eternity!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Praise Him with Dance!

As born-again Christians (and active members of a Baptist church), my husband and I often get funny looks when people learn that we are dancers. God has blessed us with musical, dancing, and choreographic abilities, and we believe He would have us use these gifts to His glory and to spread His Word to an audience unaccustomed to hearing the Gospel.

It is true that the Bible condemns worldly forms of dancing, such as the dance Herodias’ daughter performed to entice Herod to execute John the Baptist (Mark 6:22-28), or the naked dancing of the Hebrews before the golden calf idol they had made (Exodus 32:18-25).

However, about two thirds of the references to dancing in the Bible portray it in a positive light, as a form of praise, worship, and expression of joy. Dancing is contrasted with mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4; Jeremiah 31:13; Lamentations 5:15), and it was used to celebrate victory in battle (1 Samuel 18:6; 30:16) and the return of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:25). Miriam led the Israelite women in a dance of praise after God parted the Red Sea to deliver them from Egypt(Exodus 15:20-21). David danced before the Lord to praise Him for bringing the Ark back to Egypt, and when his wife Michal disapproved, she was punished by not bearing any children (2 Samuel 6:14-23).

Two of the Psalms call on worshippers to praise God with dance as well as music!
Psalm 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Psalm 150:4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Through the years it has become clear to my husband and me that our ministry is to dance to Christian music for audiences that may be largely unchurched, in settings that are more secular than sacred. Our prayer each time we set foot on the dance floor is to honor Him with our dance, to dance for His glory, and to soften hearts to His Word. We have been blessed to have missionaries and people in church leadership praying for us in this mission.

If God calls you to a specific work, He will see you through it! God has blessed our ministry by granting us the strength to continue in physically demanding choreography, including overhead lift work, despite my husband’s heart condition (mitral valve regurgitation) and our age. We are old enough to be the parents or even grandparents of most other performers in this style, and we have been dancing together for more than 20 years even though the career of a male dancer in this style is usually limited to 5 years or less because of injuries and overuse.

God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness; His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); and with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Philippians 4:13)

Isaiah 40: 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

He has opened doors for this ministry exceeding abundantly beyond what we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20), and it is amazing to look back over the years to see how He began preparing us for it long before we were even saved! (Jeremiah 29:11)

Lately God has also blessed me with Christian lyrics to secular and classical songs, which we dance to in the hope that the audience will be more attentive to the words when they recognize the music, and that the next time they hear the tune, their hearts will remember the Christian message.

Some of our pieces are on YouTube:
“Save Me!” (2011; lyrics/vocal by Laurie Collett)

“All I Need is You” (2011; lyrics/vocal by Laurie Collett)

“Power and Joy” (2009)

“O Holy Night” (2008)

“Silent Night” (2009; Theatrical Waltz)

If you feel so led, please view them. Your prayers for this ministry would be greatly appreciated.

To lead souls to the Lord, believers need to go where the lost are, bringing God’s Word and the good news of the Gospel outside the church (Matthew 28:19-20). In any endeavor, vocation, or hobby, God calls us to do all to His glory, that others may see Him through us and want to follow Him.

Colossians 3: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Have you ever wanted a “do over?” Unfortunately, we can’t take back ugly words spoken in anger and haste, nor can we wipe from history’s pages mistakes we’ve made and hurts or wrongs we’ve inflicted in the process. Time and opportunities lost can never be bought back.

But our God is a God of second, and third, and seventy times seven chances (Matthew 18: 21-22). The moment we put our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation, we became a new creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). This change is so dramatic that Jesus spoke of it as being born again (John 3: 3-8).

With His grace, we can start over every time we repent of our sins and ask Him for forgiveness. We can put behind us mistakes of the past and reach forward to our brilliant future (Philippians 3:12-14) as His children and ambassadors. He can wash away our sins, turn our sorrow into joy and praise, and renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 30; Psalm 51).

He divided time into day and night (Genesis 1:5), so that we could remember not to carry over hurts, grudges, or anger into the next day (Ephesians 4:26). We can cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) each night as our head sinks into the pillow, and we can praise His name each morning as we realize that His love is as faithful as the sunrise. Each day is His special gift to us, worthy of rejoicing over (Psalm 118:24), and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Meditating on His Word is the perfect way to renew our mind (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23). Rather than letting the world dictate what we think and how we act, we can keep our eyes fixed on Him and focus on His light, love and goodness (Phil. 4:6-10). If we ask Him to, He will align our mind more and more with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), being conformed to His image even if through sufferings (Phil. 3: 9-10).

Like Paul, we should be torn between the desire to be here on earth with our loved ones, serving them and others while we seek to do God’s will, and the desire to trade in this ailing body and corrupted heart for the glorified, sinless being that awaits us (Phil. 1: 20-24; 2 Corinthians 5: 1-8; Romans 8:18-23). Our ultimate renewal shall come in our holy new body, with our new name (Revelation 3:12), living eternally with Him in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

One Extra Hour!

What would you do with one extra hour? For those regions observing Daylight Savings Time, this Sunday is the time change most of us prefer. As we set the clocks back one hour, it seems like we get an extra hour to sleep or to stay up late doing what we enjoy or what we need to do. Of course, we don’t really get any extra time. The clock keeps on ticking, and our time left on earth gets shorter with every passing second, as does the time before we will see Jesus face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12). Our life is “but a vapor” (James 4:14), as short-lived as the visible puff of air we exhale on a cold day.

As we compare our lives with those around us, we notice that money, talents, health, intelligence, power, beauty, and other blessings are not distributed equally among us. Every good and perfect gift comes from above (James 1:17), and God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10), distributing them according to His divine plan and His holy justice. The devil, who relentlessly paces the earth (Job 1:7) and who is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), jockeys to obtain position and favor for his henchmen, while trying to remove these advantages from believers who are productive for God.

But in terms of time, each of us has the same opportunities and limitations. Each of us has 24 hours in a day, no more and no less. When that day is gone, it’s gone forever. We can’t store, buy, borrow, steal, or create time.

But we can redeem the time! (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). With prayer and the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can make each moment on earth have eternal significance. Once the clock stops on earth and we enter eternity, time lasts forever. So our top priority here should be to maximize our experience there, realizing that we will enjoy eternally the rewards we earn for our earthly service.

Every soul led to Christ, every believer encouraged and uplifted, every gift given with the right motive to further His kingdom, will be the gold, silver and precious stones that will endure the fire of judgment (1 Corinthians 3: 12-14) and be a crown we can lay at Jesus’ feet (Revelation 4:10-11). Imagine what it is like to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21; Luke 19:17) and to be rewarded with positions of responsibility in the Millennial Kingdom!

God created and controls time just as He created and controls everything else. One day to Him can be as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and His power is so unlimited that He created the universe in six literal days (Exodus 20:11; 31:17). He created day and night as a measure of time (Genesis 1:5), and set aside one day of seven as a day of rest to divide time into weeks (Genesis 1:31-2:3; Exodus 20:11; 31:17). His creation and alignment of the sun, moon and planets gave rise to time divisions of months, seasons and years (Genesis 1:14).

He designed our bodies to have internal rhythms in tune with those daily, monthly, and yearly cycles. Because He even designed atoms to have their own internal frequencies, extremely accurate atomic clocks can measure time using the microwave signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels.

Time marches on, but nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26). He can even stop the sun and moon in their tracks in answer to prayer if it serves His purposes (Joshua 10: 12-14). He can add 15 years to a life that should have ended, although when He did so for King Hezekiah in answer to his prayer (2 Kings 20: 1-11), there were negative consequences that Hezekiah could not have anticipated, including defeat by Babylon (2 Kings 20:12-18) and Hezekiah’s son Manasseh growing up to be one of the most evil kings Israel ever had (2 Kings 21: 1-6).

If you knew that that extra hour on Time Change Sunday, or any hour, would be your last, how would you spend it? I think most believers would get their hearts right with God by earnestly repenting of their sins, making right any wrongs by asking others for forgiveness and by forgiving them, expressing love to family and friends, and telling everyone who would listen that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

But we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:13), or even another hour, so as we decide how to spend our time, shouldn’t we make the above our top priority? Yes, the demands of work, school, family, and everyday life are many and pressing, but we can find ways to redeem the time and make every moment count.

Before we rush off in twenty different directions tilting at windmills, we can take time to read God’s Word (Psalm 119:97,105,133),and to pray that He would open the right doors, show us the right paths, and guide us through the day’s journey (Psalm 5:3; 143:8; Mark 1:35). The peace and wisdom found in prayer will order our thoughts and steps (Psalms 37:23; Proverbs 3:5-6), calm our anxieties, and make us more focused and productive in all we do. Whatever we do, we can do it to glorify God in an attitude of service and excellence (Colossians 3:23).

While showering and dressing, we can renew our minds (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23) with Christian radio or CDs. If we’re stuck in traffic, we can use the time to listen for God’s directions and to pray for our loved ones. While we wait in a checkout line at the supermarket, we can pray that all those in the store who are not saved will come to know Christ as their Savior, and that all the believers there will grow in faith, wisdom, and fruitfulness. Or, we can strike up a friendly conversation with the person behind us in line and pray that God will open the door for us to witness.

In the waiting room at the doctor’s office, why not bring our Bible to increase our wisdom, joy and peace, instead of thumbing through old magazines? Someone might ask us about what we’re reading, and it could be a divine appointment to share the meaning of God’s Word in our life.

In a sense, every hour that we’re on earth is that “one extra hour,” because it allows us a new beginning, a time to start over in ways that are pleasing to Him. So let’s not waste our allotted time – let’s redeem it!

Friday, October 28, 2011

What to Wear?

As I passed by the TV my husband was watching last night, a clip came on of a “surprise guest” on a talk show. The gentleman entered the set wearing a business suit and an Obama mask, and when he lifted the mask, the surprise was that it was President Obama himself!

Celebrity masks are big sellers at Halloween, but that clip made me wonder if the face we present to the world each day, even if our own, is more of a mask than our true self. Do we rush out of the house Sunday morning grumbling about how our spouse or children made us late, have murderous thoughts about the driver who cut us off, and then enter church with a cheery but somewhat forced smile?

This time of year always prompts discussions of how Christians should react to Halloween. The celebration began as a pagan ritual calling forth and consulting with spirits of the dead and celebrating death itself, at a time when the coming winter forced farmers to kill off sickly animals. Skulls and skeletons were important emblems representing death. The holiday was then was appropriated by the early Christian church as All Saints’ Day revering martyrs, and the night before was All Hallows’ Eve.

The Bible is clear that Christians should not take part in sorcery, witchcraft, fortune telling or other dealings with the spirit world, for we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 19:31; Isaiah 8:19; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Galatians 5:19-22; Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17). Costumes resembling demons, skeletons, wizards, vampires, or witches would therefore seem inappropriate.

Yet, some “Halloween alternatives” for children, such as a Parade of Nations to inform children of customs and native dress in lands where missionaries serve, may be educational, fun, and a good opportunity to explain the Great Commission and to explore the lives of missionaries. Even passing out candy and “Jesus Loves You” stickers or tracts may be a good ministry and witness opportunity.

But while we’re considering how or whether to dress up our children on October 31, we should address the deeper question of what to wear each day to honor Christ. Dressing modestly in attire that He would find pleasing and that would set us apart from the secular world goes without saying. But we need also to consider our countenance – are we so busy with worldly cares, or so preoccupied with physical beauty, that we neglect to let His light, peace and joy shine through us? (Matthew 5:14)

Our Bible study class verse is Proverbs 31:30: Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

If our relationship with Christ is foremost in our heart, others will see it on our face, even if they don’t recognize the source of that inner beauty. To be told “I want what you have in your life, even though I don’t understand what it is or how to get it,” is not only a great tribute to the Savior Who changed us, but an open door to witness about His love.

So as we look in the mirror October 31 or any other morning, let us remember 1 Peter 3:3-4, which tells us not to beautify ourselves with “that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

Praise God that His blood has washed away the stains of sin (Revelation 1:5) from the filthy rags of our own attempts at goodness (Isaiah 64:6), and that now we are clothed in the beauty of His salvation and righteousness:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

Instead of putting on a costume or other outfit meant to impress, let us put on the whole armor of God to fight off the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:11-17). For those who don’t know Christ, Halloween may be especially scary or just an excuse for drunken partying and sexual sin. But Christians should remember that on Halloween as on any other day, we must watch out because Satan is prowling about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Praise God that we have victory in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57), and that He Who is in me is greater than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mary or Martha?

Are you more like Mary or like Martha? (Luke 10:38-42) Surprisingly, many of us identify with Martha because doing, serving, and complaining suit us better than being, receiving, and listening.

When we keep busy, particularly if we are busy with Christian service, we feel like we are accomplishing something important. The rewards are usually tangible, as we may see hungry people getting fed, more people sitting in the church pews, or more tithes or donations to missions. We may feel that we are at least in part responsible for that measurable success. People may even notice our labor and thank us for it or give us positions of greater responsibility.

But if others don’t notice our efforts and accomplishments, or if we feel saddled with the lion’s share of the hard work, we may get angry and even complain, perhaps even to those we are serving.

Both Martha and her sister Mary loved Jesus dearly and believed He was the Son of God, and Jesus loved them (John 11:1-27). Martha showed her love by opening her home to Him and making sure everything was perfect for His visit. No doubt she had planned the meal long in advance and saved money to purchase the best ingredients to prepare His favorite foods. On the day He would come she must have cleaned every corner of the house, picked flowers to decorate the home, and perfumed the air with spices and the aroma of freshly baked bread. When He arrived, she may have washed His feet and plumped the pillows where He would sit, and then began cooking the delicious meal.

No wonder she became frustrated, running from hearth to table, as she practically tripped over Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet! Mary sat listening to His every word, instead of helping her sister prepare the meal. Martha’s anger caused her to lash out at Jesus, the very One Whom all her hard work was to honor!

But the Lord’s response was not what Martha had hoped for. Instead of rebuking Mary and telling her to help Martha with serving, Jesus acknowledged Martha’s concerns and her efforts, but praised Mary for her choice. Being in Jesus’ presence was precious to Mary, and she savored every loving smile and tender word He gave her, which could never be taken from her.

God created us for His good pleasure, for intimate fellowship with Him (Ephesians 1:4-9; Philippians 2:13). If we spend all our time working, even for good causes, and distracted by the noisy pleasures and demands of the world, we will have no time to hear His voice and feel His love. Those lost moments, the sweet fellowship we can share, and His wisdom specific to the task at hand, will never be regained. A wise theologian once said that he was too busy not to pray! Jesus set the example by starting each day alone in the company of His Father, and praying often (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 11:1-4; Matthew 26:36).

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

When I was a medical intern, a wise attending physician used to say, “Don’t just do something – stand there.” When faced with a crisis, it’s a natural instinct to rush around doing this and that in an effort to “help.” But that can be the worst possible response when the patient is suffering from an unknown condition. As the doctor administers different drugs or procedures that mask the symptoms, it may become more difficult to diagnose the actual problem, and the interventions may actually be harmful. It is often far better to observe the patient as the disease reveals itself, and to listen to those with more experience who are far better equipped to guide the evaluation and treatment.

Similarly, if we respond to a crisis or even to the demands of Christian life by rushing about in our own flesh, we often make things worse instead of better. If we’re floundering in the middle of stormy seas, swimming against the current may actually take us further from the shore. Far better to conserve our strength by resting in His embrace, waiting for His voice to guide us to safety.

Oswald Chambers: You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.

May God grant us the wisdom to be good stewards of the time, resources, and talents He has blessed us with, using them to serve Him, yet always returning quietly to His feet, content to be His child, following His guidance, filled with His love, joy and peace.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

God Answers Prayer!

As born-again Christians, we believe that God is in control and that His will is done. Why, then should we pray?

We should pray because His Word commands us to (Psalm 62:8; Luke 11:9-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), as an act of worship pleasing to Him, and because it changes us. Our prayers should not be directed toward changing God’s mind, since we know God does not change (Hebrews 13:8), but to align our mind and heart with the indwelling mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

God always answers the prayers of His children who are right in their heart attitude toward Him (Isaiah 65:24), meaning they are not coming in rebellion or lusting after the flesh (James 4:3), but rather in humble submission, earnestly seeking God’s will and His face. Sometimes He answers “Yes,” sometimes “No,” sometimes “Yes, but in the right time,” and sometimes “No, because what I want to give you is even better than what you have asked for.”

It pleases God to give good and perfect gifts to His children (Luke 11:13), so if we ask Him to meet our needs in accordance with His perfect will, we can expect to be blessed. The clearest example of this is the sinner’s prayer, which is one prayer God will always answer “Yes!” because it is His perfect will that all should be saved. When the lost person realizes he is a sinner, turns away from his sin, and trusts in Christ as the Son of God, the perfect sacrifice for our sins Who died on the cross, was buried, and rose again that we also may have eternal life, God will save him.

However, the blessing we receive from prayer may not always be what we had prayed for, and it may even seem to our limited vantage point to be quite the opposite. When we ask for healing of our loved one who is sick, and that person dies, we may despair that God has not heard our prayer or cared enough for us to answer it as we had hoped. Yet if that person was saved, God has indeed given him perfect healing and perfect peace, and he will use the situation to bring good into the lives of others in ways that we cannot begin to understand until we reach glory (Romans 8:28).

Paul asked God three times to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” a physical ailment that brought him great distress, but that kept his pride in check. God said “No,” because the lesson Paul learned of God’s grace being sufficient was a far greater blessing than physical healing would have been. This lesson enabled him to rejoice and be fruitful even when imprisoned, abandoned, and in other dire straits, because he was relying on God’s strength instead of trusting in his own flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

God the Father even said “No” to His own Son when Jesus asked that if it were possible, that the cup of suffering would pass from Him, yet the Son yielded to His Father’s will (Matt. 26:39).

God sometimes allows us to go through illness or other storms of life because they bring us closer to Him. If we seek His perfect will, He may sometimes calm the storm, as He did for His disciples in the boat on the troubled sea (Matthew 8: 24-27). But at other times, His perfect answer to our prayer may be to calm us instead, bringing us the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and the fellowship of His suffering that conforms us to the image of His Son (Philippians 3:10).

As we pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, helping us to pray in accordance with God’s will even when we don’t know what to ask for (Romans 8:26). He will teach us to trust Him (Proverbs 3: 5-6), deepening our faith (Mark 11:22-24) as we accept that He knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8), and that He will give us what is best for us (Jeremiah 29:11). Thank God for His infinite wisdom and infinite love, so that He answers our prayers in the best possible way!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Are You Too BUSY?

In spiritual warfare, the Commander in Chief of the Christian army is the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can march forth victorious knowing that the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47), and that we are on the winning side (1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 16:20).

Still, to be effective, we must know our enemy and his strategies. Satan is not God’s equal or even His opposite; as a fallen angel, he is a being who was created by God to have supernatural powers that are limited by God Himself. When he was Lucifer, an angel of light, God endowed him with great beauty, wisdom and talent. But when his sin of pride caused him to rebel against God’s authority and to exalt himself above his Creator, God exiled him from heaven, along with those angels who joined in the rebellion (Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12-15).

God allowed Satan temporary control of the world, its institutions and its governments (Ephesians 6:12). God allows Satan to tempt and attack even His own children, but always for our own ultimate good (Romans 8:28). Satan can do nothing to us that God Himself does not allow (Job 2:6). God turns Satan’s evil weapons into instruments designed for our good, to conform us more to the image of His Son through suffering (Philippians 3:10), to strengthen our faith on Him, to give us compassion and experience to help those going through similar trials (1 Corinthians 10:13), and even to give us greater joy in our mountain top experiences.

We should not be afraid of Satan or his demons, for God’s perfect love for us casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Even so, we should respect the devil’s power and understand his strategies. Satan may try to intimidate us, but we can prayerfully use the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6: 11-15) to fight him off, just as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).

As a former angel of light (2 Corinthians 11: 14), Satan may appeal to our sense of beauty, working through the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16), just as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:6). He surely will appeal to our pride, trying to convince us that we are self-sufficient and don’t need God. And as the father of all liars (John 8:44), he will distort the truth, which is why we need the discernment to realize that anything added to, taken away from, or changed in God’s Word makes it a lie.

All Satan wants is one little piece of our heart where he can set up shop (Ephesians 4:27). We must resist the devil, and flee from temptations that can harm us (James 4:7; Proverbs 6:27; 1 Corinithians 10:13). If we give in to that bad seed of doubt or fear that undermines our faith, or to that one sin that so easily tempts us (Hebrews 12:1), or to that false teaching that perverts the Gospel ever so slightly (2 Peter 2:1), Satan has established a stronghold. A single virus-infected email can crash your computer. A tiny drop of cyanide in a glass of pure water turns it to poison. Breathing in an anthrax spore can destroy our whole body. It is even more vital that we use the whole armor of God t0 repel Satan’s seemingly innocent intrusions.

When all else fails to neutralize effective, fruitful Christians, Satan tries to keep us BUSY. According to an Irish web designer in Galway, BUSY stands for Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Mature believers who are in God’s will may keep from sinning, at least in their actions. Yet they may all too easily get distracted by things that are not bad, but that keep us from God’s best. God wants us to be productive, but not so busy that we lose our focus on Him and fail to hear His voice. Unlike Satan, Jesus promises us a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light because He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Do we want to be like Martha, who loved Jesus but became too burdened with serving to sit at His feet, or do we want the joy and peace her sister Mary experienced by keeping her quiet time with Him her first priority? (Luke 10:38-42)

Time is the one resource that constantly gets depleted and can’t be bought back. When an opportunity passes by to witness to an unsaved soul, to encourage a fellow believer, to minister to someone in need, or to share love and joy with your family, it may never come again. Satan loves to keep us BUSY.

Do we serve on so many committees that we never have time to read God’s Word? Do we spend so much time tracking worldwide news that we don’t pray for missionaries risking their lives around the globe? At church functions, are we so preoccupied with preparing food, or passing handouts, or managing the sign-in, that we ignore those who need a kind word or a loving touch? Do we spend so much time at home cooking, cleaning or paying bills that we don’t notice when our loved ones just want us to spend quality time with them? Satan loves to keep us BUSY.

For those who have turned from their sins and trusted in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only Way, our eternal destiny in Heaven is secure. But how sad it would be to learn of His perfect plan for our lives that we missed because Satan kept us too BUSY.

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Collect Souls for Jesus!

Many people go through life collecting things. Some of these collections, like rare stamps or coins, may have great monetary value, and the collector may even count on selling his prized possessions to support him in his old age or to finance a child’s college education. Some collections have no intrinsic value but become an heirloom to pass on through the generations, like baby’s first tooth, lock of hair, photo, and rattle. Other collections, like dried flowers pressed in a book to commemorate special occasions, are valuable only to the collector for the memories they bring to mind.

While material collections may bring security, pleasure or happiness, we should be careful not to give them undue importance:

Luke 12:15 And [Jesus]said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Then there are the “collections” that can actually harm the collector or those around him – pornography magazines, leftover prescription medications, notches on a bedpost representing sexual conquests, music or DVDs reflecting questionable values, and empty chocolate boxes, wine bottles, or menus from restaurants where the collector overindulged fleshly appetites. Taken to an extreme, collecting anything material, even if valuable or pleasing, can lead to hoarding, with the resulting clutter preventing repairs and visits from friends and even endangering health.

But the bottom line is that when we leave this earth, we can take none of these collections with us, and we should use what God gives us to further His kingdom, storing our treasures in Heaven where they bring us eternal benefits (Luke 12:16-34).

As the Rapture draws nearer, we should all realize that the only treasure that matters is what we can lay at Jesus’ feet and that will withstand the purifying fire. The gold, silver and jewels that emerge unscathed from the fire of judgment are those deeds done with the right heart and the right motive to further Christ’s kingdom, while those “good deeds” we did out of pride or for our own selfish motives will burn up like wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor 3: 11-15).

One of the best crowns we can lay at Jesus’ feet is the soulwinner’s crown – a living crown of those souls we helped bring to Jesus (I Thess 2:19-20) – not necessarily by being the one who led the unsaved person through the sinner’s prayer, but rather by playing any part in the process. Planting or watering the seed by witnessing, sharing a tract, inviting someone to church, supporting missions can all make a difference (1 Cor 3:5-9). Not until we reach Glory will it be fully revealed to us how each prayer we prayed for missionaries, or how our gifts to support missions, led to specific people being saved! What a blessing it will be to meet these people in Heaven!

A prime example in the Bible of a “soul collector” is the apostle Andrew. As soon as Andrew was saved, he shared his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah with his brother Peter (John 1:41). Even though Peter, and not Andrew, became part of Christ’s inner circle, Andrew did not appear to grow bitter, but rather kept right on collecting souls for Christ. Although it was Peter who preached the sermon at Pentecost that led to thousands of souls being saved (Acts 2:41), Andrew must have shared in that crown to lay at Jesus’ feet, simply because he was the one who brought Peter to Christ!

Through Andrew’s passion for collecting souls, he was able to play a part in one of Christ’s recorded miracles by bringing the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus, resulting in the multitudes being fed, and no doubt many being saved (John 6:8-9). Later, Andrew shared the Gospel with the Greeks (John 12:20-22), even though many of the Jews did not yet realize that God intended for them to be part of His Kingdom too, and not just His chosen people the Hebrews.

So let’s follow Andrew’s example, lay up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:20), and be soul collectors for Jesus!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Are You Suited Up?

As soldiers for Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4), we are involved in spiritual warfare every day (Ephesians 6:12). Our sin nature attacks the indwelling Holy Spirit, and Satan wages war against God, His angels, and every believer. Time is short, and we must use each moment wisely and with Holy Spirit inspiration to gain ground in this battle. Until we meet Christ in the air at the Rapture, our marching orders are clear.

First, we must be saved, turning away from our sins and trusting that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ allows all who have faith in Him to have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:3-8; John 3:16), Then, we must stand fast on what we believe (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17), not being lured by the enemy into traps of false teaching. We must follow God’s general will for our lives, which is to study His Word, to follow His commandments, to yield control to the Holy Spirit, to submit to one another and uplift one another in self-sacrificing love (Colossians 3:12-25; James 2:14-17), to pray, rejoice and give thanks continually (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19); and to attend church (Hebrews 10:25).

We must follow the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) while there is still time. Those who heard and understood the Gospel before the Rapture, but rejected it, will be deceived by the supernatural acts and powers of the Antichrist, and their hearts will be blinded to the truth of the Gospel (2 Thess. 2: 8-12).

And finally, to be effective in this battle, and to follow the orders above, we must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). We wear a raincoat in stormy weather, a helmet if we’re riding a bike, and oven mitts if we’re lifting a turkey out of the oven. A pro hockey player would be laughed off the ice if he showed up for a game without his gear, and a surgeon would be banned from the OR without his scrubs.

Many people put a lot of time, effort and money into being appropriately attired for various activities, putting on each garment and accessory with care. Those who wear uniforms to work know that each part of the uniform must be neat, clean, and in good repair, or they risk losing their jobs. Being in God’s army means that we could be deployed on a special assignment at any moment, and that enemy forces will be waiting in ambush to destroy us and our mission (1 Peter 5:8). Yet how often do we foolishly set out without the protection of God’s armor?

The phrase “a chink in the armor” means that even a tiny hole or defect in the protective gear leaves its wearer vulnerable. Our defense is only as strong as the weakest link, which means we must start each day prayerfully putting on each piece of the armor of God.

The truth of God’s Word will guard our purity and keep us from sexual sin, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus is the breastplate protecting our heart from doubt as the devil criticizes us for our past sins (1 Thess 5: 8; Ephesians 6, v.:14). Preparing to spread the Gospel will keep our feet marching to places where we can witness for Him (v. 15). The attacks of the devil bounce off the shield of our faith in Christ, turning the attack back against Satan (v. 16).

Our salvation is the helmet (1 Thess 5: 8), protecting our head, our mind and our senses, allowing us to filter all we see and experience through the perspective of being a child of God. The sword of God’s Word is our only offensive weapon (Eph. 6: v. 17), and it is all we need! God used it to speak all of creation into being, Jesus will use it at the Battle of Armageddon to defeat Israel’s enemies, and it is enough for us!

So let’s get ready for battle, and prayerfully (v. 18) put on each piece of armor so we can fight a good fight (2 Timothy 4:7), ward off Satan’s attacks, and bring glory to Jesus!

Ephesians 6: 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, September 16, 2011

What’s the Hurry?

I believe that most born-again believers who seek God’s will have a sincere desire to lead people to the Lord. Through His Word, we have life-saving information that can change the destiny of souls from eternal punishment in hell to eternal and abundant life with Christ. So why wouldn’t we want to tell people? If we had practical, easy-to-follow information about how to cure a deadly disease like cancer, wouldn’t we be shouting it from the rooftops? (Luke 12: 2-3)

Yet, when it comes to witnessing, many believers feel inadequately prepared to share the Gospel, or too shy to share their faith with others, or too afraid that others will reject, mock or even persecute them for their “intolerant” or “narrow” Christian views. There are, of course, good counterpoints to all these arguments. We don’t need a seminary education to share the Gospel – the woman at the well, once realizing who Jesus was, rushed out and told everyone (even those who ostracized her) that she had found the Messiah, and she led many to Him (John 4:4-42).

For those who feel they are too shy to verbally witness to someone, God can use them anyway because He looks not for ability, but availability. The Holy Spirit will give them the words to say (Luke 2:11-12). Moses was a shy, stammering, reclusive desert dweller (Exodus 4: 10-12), yet God chose him to speak up to Pharaoh to set God’s people free from captivity (Exodus 3-4). And thanks to modern methods of communication, even the painfully shy or actually mute are without excuse – most people in the developed world can witness through the forum of the Internet, and anyone can enclose a tract with a bill payment, or even leave one with a tip in a restaurant or in a public place where it can be easily found.

As we get further into the End Times, Christians everywhere can expect persecution (Matthew 24: 9-10). In America we are still blessed to be able to assemble freely for worship and to have easy access to Bibles and Christian literature, while our brothers and sisters in other countries face imprisonment, torture, and even death for their faith in Christ. How often do American believers pass up opportunities to witness because we’re afraid our liberal friends will avoid us or think we’re politically incorrect?

Yet Jesus said that if we are ashamed of the Gospel, He will be ashamed of us before God the Father and His angels (Luke 2:8-10; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). Lost people may think we are narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and that there is no other way to Heaven (John 14:6), but we know that many will die and go to hell while trying to enter Heaven by the broad gate (Matthew 7: 13-14).

So let’s assume that we are born-again believers, seeking God’s will, with the ability to share with others how Christ has changed our life and maybe even with a few Bible verses to point someone to salvation. Let’s assume that we choose to obey God rather than to fear the criticism of men. Now we’re all set to witness, but do we? At that point a dreaded enemy drags down all our good intentions – procrastination.

We’re around our family a lot, so we’ll just wait for a better time to share the Gospel, when our spouse isn’t consumed with financial worries and our children aren’t pressured over final exams. We see our coworkers every day, but they’re not going to be open to hearing our testimony when we all have to work overtime to meet our deadline. We could invite our neighbors to church and tell them about Jesus on the way over, but they’d probably make us feel guilty for not mowing our lawn on Sunday like they do. And as for strangers God places in our path each day, we’d like to witness to them, but we have to hurry to get home, or to work, or to church, or wherever.

So we put off witnessing, which is why the laborers are few even though the fields have a bountiful harvest ready to be gathered in (Matthew 9:37; Luke 10:2). We’re not promised tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1), but we act like we have all the time in the world. We invest (or foolishly spend) our time in what’s important to us in this life (Luke 12:16-21), not realizing that our life is but a vapor (James 4:14). Before we know what hit us we’ll be face to face with Jesus, without excuse for why we didn’t share the Gospel. Or, we will be rewarded eternally for sharing the Good News of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross to pay our sin debt, and of His resurrection that all who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 4:35-36).

David Jeremiah retold an illustration first offered by New Testament scholar William Barclay, about Satan discussing with three of his demons their plans for tempting and ruining man. To paraphrase slightly, the first demon said, “I’ll tell them there is no God.” But Satan replied, “That won’t fool anyone – they know there is a God. The second demon said, “I’ll tell them there is no hell.” Satan said, “That won’t work, because men know deep in their hearts that they are sinners and deserve to be punished in hell.”

The third demon hit the nail on the head. “I’ll tell them there is no hurry.” Satan smiled knowingly and replied, “You will ruin men by the thousands. The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.”

So let’s not put it off a moment longer – let’s go share the Gospel today!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are You Still Standing?

As we approach the 10-year anniversary of 9-11, it is sad to remember that the twin towers of the World Trade Center are no longer standing. Instead, a painful void in the skyline symbolizes all the lives lost that day, as well as the loss of peace, security, freedoms, and other positive emotions and values that were threatened by these terrorist attacks.

Yet, still standing in the midst of the destruction was a 17-foot-long crossbeam, weighing at least two tons, miraculously planted vertically in the devastated landscape, with the correct proportions to represent a cross. This symbol reminds us that God had not abandoned us on that tragic day (Jer. 29:11-13; Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 91). His presence was clear in the countless stories of people spared from being at the Trade Center that hour because of strange “coincidences,” as if there are ever any coincidences with God (Romans 8:28).

His sheltering angels caught His children who leapt or were thrown from the burning buildings and carried them to Heaven. His Holy Spirit empowered those on Flight 93 to have the courage to crash the plane in a remote area of Shanksville, rather than let it destroy its intended target, which would have resulted in far greater loss of lives and national security. And His power, boldness, and self-sacrificing love filled the hearts of those firemen, police and rescue workers who gave their lives that others might escape death.

Yes, the 9-11 cross is still standing, now in the 9-11 museum despite lawsuits by an atheist association that is attempting to have it removed. But sadly, America seems to be teetering off balance from its foundation on Biblical principles cherished and upheld by those who framed this nation. As we as a nation turn our back on God, as we lose our footing down the slippery slope of political correctness, as we fail to take a stand for what is right, we will surely fall.

As born-again believers, it is our responsibility to humble ourselves and pray for forgiveness, individually and collectively as a church and as a nation:

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

And, as Christians, it is our duty to stand fast on the rock of our salvation, to stand up for what we believe, and to not back down in fear of those who speak against the truth or who seek to prevent us from worshipping the God of our salvation. When Paul tells us to put on the whole armor of God as we fight the battles of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6: 11-18), he tells us to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v.11), “to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (v. 13).”

As in any battle, sometimes we stride forward making great advances against the enemy, but at other times we are doing well just to hold our ground. The important thing is not to retreat, not to fall, not to backslide as Satan attacks us. As we remember 9-11, let us stand fast in our profession of faith (1 Corinthians 16:13), in our responsibility to uphold what is right in our nation and globally, in our unity to spread the Gospel (Philippians 1:27-28), in our love for one another, in our Christian liberty through grace (Galatians 5:1) and especially in our position as born-again believers, children and ambassadors of the one true God (Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 16:13-15).

Jer. 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, September 2, 2011

God Notices Your Labor!

As we celebrate Labor Day this weekend, many may be in less than a joyful mood due to financial worries. For those looking for work, the long weekend may be no different from other days, and just a painful reminder that they are unemployed. Many are working to make ends meet at a job that does not meet their expectations or qualifications. Others find that their job responsibilities have grown because fewer people are hired, but their pay stays the same or even decreases. Even worse, it often seems that our employers, coworkers or clients don’t notice our hard work or appreciate the good job we do.

But God always notices! He knows our hearts (Psalm 139:23), and He can tell whether we’re working in joyful service because of how He has blessed us beyond measure, or whether we’re going through the motions grudgingly, doing the minimum we need to do to get by.

By forgiving our sin debt, by giving His only begotten Son to die for our sins, and by giving eternal life to all those who repent and believe that Jesus rose from the dead (John 3:16), God has blessed us far beyond what we could ever imagine. And yet, He delights in heaping blessings on us even beyond that, and in great abundance (John 10:10; Luke 12:32; James 1:17). This gives us reason to find joy in all circumstances and to give thanks for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), even if our sin nature feels we have reason to complain rather than to be thankful.

For every task we do at work or at home, no matter how menial or insignificant it seems, there is a reason to find joy in it and give thanks for it. If we are washing our dirty dishes, we can be thankful for the good meal we ate, the family we shared it with, and for running water. If we’re losing patience because of customers’ endless complaints, we can be thankful that there are customers so that we have a job, and we can rejoice in the opportunity to bring them satisfaction and peace rather than anger (Matthew 5:9). In whatever situation we find ourselves, we can thank God by putting our whole heart, soul and might into glorifying Him, making each moment of our life a living prayer to Him. He will always remember and reward us for our service and worship even when no one else notices.

Col. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.… 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20), and Christians should give a good testimony at work and wherever a job needs to be done because we are willing to go the extra mile and with the right attitude.

Even when we assemble for worship in God’s house, no good deed is too trivial to escape His attention! A kind word or smile for someone who is hurting may be exactly what God intended to encourage that person to be faithful to His will (Hebrews 10:23-25). When was the last time we gave thanks to the person who showed up early Sunday morning to turn the air conditioning on, or to the person who made sure there was toilet paper in the restroom? Do we even know who these people are? But God knows and keeps track of their faithful service to His children and to all who come to hear His Word.

Hebrews 6:10 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.

Our labor is not in vain! Employers, coworkers, and customers, and even family, friends, and Christians, may not always show their appreciation, but God faithfully keeps track of all we do to His glory and will reward us in due time, if not in this world, then in Heaven where we can enjoy the benefits forever!

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Love in Christ, and may you have a blessed Labor Day weekend!

Laurie Collett

Friday, August 26, 2011

Get Ready!

As we check the news each day it surely seems that we are approaching the End Times, as event after event seems to fulfill Bible prophecy and Christ’s warnings of the end of the age -- earthquakes with increasing frequency and in unusual places, wars and rumors of wars, widespread famine, rising food prices, false prophets and teachers, and disease epidemics (Matthew 24). As millions on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard are getting ready for what could be the most devastating storm in half a century, we should be even more concerned about preparing for our spiritual destiny.

What should we do until the Rapture, when all who have trusted Christ as our Savior will be instantly caught up to meet with Him in the air, transformed into glorified beings, and spending eternity in the light of His presence? (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

First, we must be saved. We must turn from our sins and trust in Christ, and only Christ, to save us from the penalty of sin, namely death (Romans 6:23). We must have faith that His suffering and death on the cross paid for all our sins, past, present and future, so that when Holy God looks at believers, He sees not our sins but the perfect righteousness of His Son that reconcile us to Him (blog post). We must believe the Gospel of grace , that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ allows all who have faith in Him to have eternal life (John 3:16).

Second, we must know what we believe! We must stand firm in our beliefs (2 Thessalonians 2:15-17) and not be shaken by false teachers or scoffers! We must be ready, “in season and out of season,” (2 Timothy 4:2) to share God’s truth with others whenever the Holy Spirit opens the door to such an opportunity.

Third, we must follow God’s general will for our lives. This means following His Word to do those things we know He wants everyone to do, and not to do those things He doesn’t want us to do, which is not easy because of our sin nature! (Romans 7:14-25). He wants us to be joyful and thankful, to pray without stopping, to be led by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19), to study His Word, to tell others about how He has changed our lives, to attend church (Hebrews 10:25), to encourage and uplift others (1 Thessalonians 5: 11-19), to live together in harmony, and to have an attitude of submission, self-sacrifice, and love toward one another that will result in our meeting the needs of others (Colossians 3:12-25; James 2:14-17). He doesn’t want us to sin, i.e. to break the law of the Ten Commandments (Col. 3:5-10).

Fourth, we must follow the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). What a blessing that not only has God adopted us as His children (Ephesians 1:5), but that He has appointed us to be His ambassadors! (blog post). He has entrusted us with the awesome responsibility of going forth to spread His Word, to teach, and to baptize in His name. Not all of us can or should go to a foreign mission field, but each of us should be a missionary, or a witness for Him, in the unique sphere of influence where God has placed us, and each of us should support foreign missions through prayer and/or financial support.

Fifth, we must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) to be able to carry out God’s general will and the Great Commission. As we become more faithful in these, God will reveal to us more and more about His specific plan for our life, and to be in His perfect will is the greatest blessing we could ever have! We must recognize that we fight a spiritual battle daily (Ephesians 6:12), our sin nature warring against the Holy Spirit, and Satan and his demons fighting against God, His angels, and every believer. The world and its stress and empty values will try to seduce us from God’s priorities (Romans 12:2), but we should set our sights on heavenly things, lay up our treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6: 19-21), and keep our focus firmly fixed on Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4).

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Why should we follow these marching orders? Because Jesus is coming back soon, and time is running out! Let’s make haste to win crowns to lay at His feet (2 Timothy 4:8), to hear Him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21-23) and to enjoy the rewards He will give us throughout eternity!

1 Cor. 15: 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Love in Him,

Laurie Collett

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Ask Not What You Can Do For God!

Praise God that we don’t have to do anything to be accepted as His adopted children, because our salvation is not based on our works, but on His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). It’s true that once we are born again, we want to keep from sin and to do good works to further His kingdom, not because we have to, but because we want to! Our good works don’t get us saved, but they flow from us once we are saved because we love Him for taking us in despite our being so unlovable. Good works are the living proof of our faith (James 2:14-26).

But the amazing thing is that God loves us even while we are sinners (Romans 5:8). And that no matter what we do, He couldn’t love us any more or any less (1 John 4:8-10;19). Even though we were God’s enemies, He adopts us as His sons (Ephesians 1:5) once we turn from our sins and trust Jesus as our Savior. He doesn’t adopt us because of anything we can give Him, because He is completely self-sufficient and needs nothing, and because all that we have He gave us in the first place (James 1:17).

He adopts us because it is His will that all should be saved and come to repentance, and our coming to Him as children gives Him great pleasure because He loves us infinitely. Parents seeking to adopt a child don’t ask whether the child can pay rent, or if he can afford to pay for his own education, or if he will work in the parents’ business. It’s not about what the child can do for them; it’s about what they can do for the child because of the great love they want to share.

It’s the same way with Our Heavenly Father – we can’t earn His love or work our way to being adopted by Him – we can only trust in His infinite love and accept His gift of amazing grace. We are accepted by God because we trust in Jesus, His Son, and His perfect sacrifice on the cross to pay for all our sins. Jesus rose from the dead to give us eternal life, all of which is reason to praise Him! (Ephesians 1:6-8).

God’s mercy is to redeem us through the blood of Jesus, forgiving our sins that deserve eternal punishment in hell. Because of His grace, He gives us what we don’t deserve – eternal, abundant life with Him beginning at the moment of our salvation and continuing through Heaven and the Millennial Kingdom throughout eternity. We can trust His wisdom to give us what we need, not necessarily what we think we want. He created us for His pleasure, and nothing pleases Him more than to see us fulfilling His perfect will for our life.

Ephesians 1: 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God’s grace is to give us the inheritance worthy of His children, namely all His blessings including eternal life with Him in Heaven. He saved us for a purpose – which is to praise and glorify Him in all we do. So, ask not what you can do for God, but know through His Holy Word what He will do for you. And then, rest assured that as His child, you will want to spend your earthly days doing His will, praising, and glorifying Him!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett

Friday, August 12, 2011

Come to Daddy!

Have you ever stopped to think how awesome it is that believers have the privilege of calling the omnipotent Creator of all “Abba Father,” a term of endearment similar to “Daddy?” (Galatians 4:6)

Like a little child, we can run into His outstretched arms knowing that He will catch us, draw us close to Himself and love us infinitely and unconditionally (Luke 15:20). He is even more approachable and available than the best imaginable Daddy could be. Unlike an earthly parent, He always has time for us (2 Peter 3:8), and He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will never reproach us or punish us because His Son’s perfect sacrifice was the complete punishment for all our sins, past, present and future (Colossians 1:14).

This is not to say that He will prevent us from suffering in this earthly life, but rather that He will only allow us to suffer when it is for our own ultimate good or for that of others (Romans 8:28). Like a wise earthly father, God may allow us to suffer if He knows it is the only way we can learn from our mistakes and turn away from our sin to His perfect will for our life. Sometimes He allows us to endure trials so that our character can become more patient and compassionate, like that of His Son (Romans 8:16-18; Phil. 3: 10-14), so that our faith and dependence on Him will be strengthened, and/or so that we will have the experience to counsel and comfort others going through trials.

Thanks to the mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all who have faith in that Gospel are no longer enemies of God condemned under the law (Romans 8:1). Instead, we are reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:20-22), sons of God and joint heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:6-7). The Holy Spirit that enters us at the moment of salvation calls out to Abba Father, seeking fellowship with Him and urging us to be more like Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Oswald Chambers 8/8: Prayer in the Father’s Honor (from My Utmost for His Highest):

If the Son of God has been born into my human flesh, then am I allowing His holy innocence, simplicity, and oneness with the Father the opportunity to exhibit itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Son of God’s birth on earth is true of every saint. God’s Son is born into me through the direct act of God; then I as His child must exercise the right of a child— the right of always being face to face with my Father through prayer. Do I find myself continually saying in amazement to the commonsense part of my life, “Why did you want me to turn here or to go over there? ’Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ ” (Luke 2:49). Whatever our circumstances may be, that holy, innocent, and eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.

Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He having His wonderful way with me? Is God’s will being fulfilled in that His Son has been formed in me…, or have I carefully pushed Him to one side? Oh, the noisy outcry of today! Why does everyone seem to be crying out so loudly? People today are crying out for the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for God’s Son right now— no room for quiet, holy fellowship and oneness with the Father.
Is the Son of God praying in me, bringing honor to the Father, or am I dictating my demands to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the time of His manhood here on earth? Is God’s Son in me going through His passion, suffering so that His own purposes might be fulfilled?

So let’s allow the indwelling Holy Spirit to direct our prayer life, our hope in eternal glory, and our fellowship with Our Father! Let’s turn the reins over to Him, to make us more like Christ in every waking moment and to do all for the Father’s glory!

Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett