Why me? Why now?

Romans 5:3-5 – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Why me? Why now?  . . . . . Two Fridays ago much like any other day I went to the gym. I jumped on the Elliptical and proceeded to “run” my 3+ miles. Later that night I was “privileged” to be a part of a Church lock-in for 7th grade boys. We played dodge ball and rough housed like you would expect with 7th grade boys. I managed 2 hours of sleep that night. I turned 49 the week prior and for a guy this old I’ve held up pretty well. I eat well, I’m active, my Cholesterol is good and other than a little stress at work my life is wonderful! How quickly things can change . . .

The following Monday I didn’t feel well so I went to see the doctor had a check-up/physical. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and went on my way. A mere 24 hours later I was being told by an emergency physician that I was having an acute Heart Attack and I was being rushed into surgery. He was right, within 48 minutes of entering the Emergency room I was being wheeled into my recovery room. They saved my life.

However, the questions brought on by this event, that have filled my head and heart have been too numerous to count. In regard to my health, we made a list of questions to ask the Cardiac Specialist and the first one was . . . Why me? Why now? . . . . This question applies to my demographics but also to my faith. Psalm 73:16 – But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task,. Here I am a pretty healthy guy and BOOM! I’m one bad decision away from being dead. Had I decided to drive into work that morning that may have been the outcome. Thus far 2011 has not been a banner year for me, no matter what I do I just can’t seem to get on top of things. So again I cry out to God for answers to things I have no way of knowing.

In the end, when we’re faced with life’s dilemmas, we must rely on our faith in God’s Word to see us through these periods. We must look to the good that comes from such events to bring about His purpose, build our character and strengthen our faith in Him so we may share it with others. There is no greater purpose in life.

In the weeks to come, I will have more to say about this event and the little things that has God pointed out. I closing, I thought the fourth verse from Jesus Loves Me was very appropriate here. It’s a great reminder of His sacrifice and how we should approach everyday of our lives  . . . . .  God Willing!

 Jesus loves me! He will stay, close beside me all the way.

Thou hast bled and died for me, I will henceforth live for Thee.

Psalms 94:19 – When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of God’s Word

2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.

Liberty – 1: the quality or state of being free: a: the power to do as one pleases b: freedom from physical restraint c: freedom from arbitrary or despotic control  2:a  a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege b: permission especially to go freely within specified limits

This coming Monday we’ll celebrate Memorial Day. We’ll honor the numerous men and women who have fought and given their lives to protect our Liberty. A quick rundown of that number goes as follows (killed in battle): Revolutionary War – 4,435; Civil War – 140,414; WWI – 53,514; WWII – 292,131; Vietnam War – 47,369; War on Terror – 4,615.

The deaths above represent the cost for the United States to be the Home of the Free!  The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins as follows; We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Over the last couple of years, but dating back many more, our Government has grown substantially. While we can argue that point all day I do not think anyone will argue that ethics in business and government are becoming more rare every day. John Adams said, Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  

The decline of leaders, who live by principal (God’s Word), rather than by personal gain, can be directly attributed to the increase in Governmental control of all aspects of our lives. We have the freedom to what we want, but now more than ever, what we want is not according to the Word of God. As our ethics fail and we turn away from God and His Word we will continue to lose our Liberty. So while sometimes it may seem like a lost cause, YOU have the power every day to follow God’s Word and receive the Liberty that He first granted and our fallen soldiers have fought so dearly to protect.  . . . . . God Bless America!

Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

There is no Tomorrow

James 4:14 – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

 Tomorrow, a word we use often; a place in time that we will never be; often, the root of worry and uncertainty. Last week our pastor was speaking about “Our Call to Ministry” and the suffering that goes with it. During his sermon he made this statement, “The only promise we have is today”. This prompted me to think about “Tomorrow”. For such a small word Tomorrow has so much meaning and prompts so many different thoughts. Regardless of how cliché it might be to say, “There is no Tomorrow”, it’s a very real statement.

I think for many, in our pursuit to be relevant, we look to tomorrow to be the person we failed to be today. So what are YOU living for today?

When we base our lives on things (material possessions, notoriety, wealth, etc.) that are temporary, it’s no wonder that we look to tomorrow to be a more fulfilling day. James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

 When we base what we are doing “today” on the Word of God and strive to live the servant life that Jesus did, we are much more fulfilled in everything we do. 1 Kings 12:7 – “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.”

 The Bible speaks of the Word of God as a Rock, a solid foundation. When our lives are centered around US and OUR STUFF nothing seems to fit together. When we live our lives for Christ, EVERYTHING we do is built and made better upon His solid foundation, Today and yes even Tomorrow!

 1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.   

Conformed?

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to see parts of two movies. The first, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, I saw only the last 30 minutes or so. In the end, this young co-ed became the Valedictorian of her School and the final scene was portrayed as very bright and uplifting with “Molly” delivering a speech on how her generation was going to change the world for the better. The caveat to this ending is that in she became a “demon”. Not the ending I was expecting . . . .

The second movie was Toy Story 3. I saw bits and pieces of this one and about the entire last hour. In the end, Andy, who is leaving for college, decides to give his beloved toys to a neighborhood girl. The toys themselves sacrificed their own safety to help the other toys escape danger. Lastly, Woody the Cowboy, Andy’s all-time favorite toy, who Andy was going to take with him to college, stows away with the other toys to be played with by the little girl.

Our world is full of great and wonderful things. The advancements we have made in media / technology are indisputable. However, in social matters and what is and isn’t acceptable, our world is falling apart. There are no longer any boundaries to what we’re subjected to. In the first movie the ending I described was portrayed to be HAPPY!?!? A girl was just transformed into a Demon and you would have thought it was the ending to Snow White. Is this really what we want to teach our younger generations? Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.- Proverbs 22:6. In Toy Story 3 the ending was full of selfless acts for the benefit of others. The greatest among you shall be your servant – Mathew 23:11. I also need to add that in one scene Woody was in a box looking out, the light was coming through the cut-out handle and reflected off the Gold lettering of an NIV Bible. All-in-all Toy Story 3 was a great movie and there are plenty more out there like it. I’m just amazed by the amount of other media trash, which is now considered mainstream, that we have to sift through to find the good stuff.

Have you conformed to what the world is delivering to you and your children or are you making the effort to expose them and yourself to the things in this world that still honor God?

1 John 2:17 – And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Lost and Found

Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you’ve driven a car for any length of time you have been lost at one time or another. Pop Culture portrays men as stubborn fools that would rather wander aimlessly for hours than stopping and asking for directions. I can’t say that hasn’t happened before but in general, you have to think that when we get lost, eventually we’re stopping for directions to our destination. However, there are times when a person might not know they are lost. Maybe they were given wrong directions or maybe they got distracted and made a wrong turn.   

Our lives mirror this scenario. With life being so demanding it’s easy for us to get distracted by the things that make us feel good in the moment but probably aren’t the best thing for our eternity. It’s also easy for us to associate with and seek advice from people that aren’t living a Godly life. Maybe, you’re looking to the daily horoscope for direction in your life. If we apply this back to our driving scenarios it would be like consulting a map from a city that doesn’t exist, Good luck on that one!

We’re all subject to these scenarios; the rich, the poor, all creeds and colors, at some time we’re all lost. Some have been lost all their lives, for the rest of us, we just wander off every once in a while. In the verse above Jesus went to Jericho and came upon the Tax Collector Zacchaeus. Jesus was scorned by the people for befriending this “sinner”. Zaccheaus was repentant and Jesus Lived to save the lost. This applies to you, me and anyone else that seeks Him. If we are truly seeking His direction, He will give it.

I once was Lost, but now I’m found!     

1 Timothy 11:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost

On the JOB Training

Job 19:23-27 – Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

I’ve been writing these devotionals for about 2 years. I have made it part of my life and in doing so I try to write them based on personal experiences or something I’ve observed during the previous week or so. I consider them my outreach to whoever may read them. If just one person is affected by all the devotionals I write until I die, it will be worth every effort I have and will spend writing them. Until recently I’ve really never had a problem finding material or a subject to write about. However in the last few weeks it has been very hard and the devotionals I have written have felt “forced” and without feeling or real meaning. So the last couple of weeks I have taken a step back to examine myself.

Now let me preface this by saying I consider myself a fairly “young” Christian & my faults are too numerous to list. However, I know my heart is in the right place and like Paul I am “running the race to win the prize”, 1 Corinthians 9:24. I have been very diligent in my Bible study and quiet time. So I am left to wonder why I haven’t been able to find the words for my devotionals. It begs many of the same questions Job had for God.

We all know it’s so easy to praise God in times of victory and good fortune. Job showed us all that regardless of our Misfortunes God is always good and that unwavering faith will be rewarded. Having just finished Job, I put my full faith In God through my Savior Jesus Christ. It’s not always easy, . . . that’s why we can all stand a little on the “Job” Training!

Psalms 69:13 – But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Healing

Jeremiah 17:14 – Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.

God gave each one of us one of His most unique creations, The Human Body. Our eyes are so complex that they are composed of over 2 Million working parts. Our feet contain over 25% of our body’s bones. Your nose “remembers” over 50,000 different scents. I could go on but I think you get the idea. One of the most amazing things is how our bodies heal. God gave our Skin, Bones, Muscles and other tissues the ability to regenerate. Take your basic knee-scrape or cut hand, in a matter of a week or two, what was previously a bloody mess now looks like nothing happened.

God can do the same kind of healing with our souls. When we are injured we long to be healed. A twisted ankle or broken hand can inhibit our ability to get around and do things as efficiently as we would normally be able. When we are living our lives opposed to God’s Word we encounter the same sort of obstacles. Those who knowingly live a life sin, eventually long to be healed too. The life of sexual immorality, drugs, stealing, dishonest business practices, etc. leave an empty heart that longs to be filled. Philippians 1:11 – filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

God can heal us on the inside much quicker than he can on the outside, all we need to do is ASK. In the above verse Mathew Henry describes this healing as an “ever flowing fountain that is always fresh, like spring-water.” He compares it to sin, “a puddle that is clear and fresh in the beginning but eventually gets muddy offering no refreshment whatsoever.” John 4:14 – but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

God Heals, God Heals, Glory to God, God Heals . . . . Psalms 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

copyright 2011 – faith-armor.com – jim hampton

Sad Happy

Sad Happy

Ecclesiastes 7:3 – Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 

I was speaking with a co-worker last week, light conversation about this and that. He was telling me how he had eaten some popcorn the week before and had one of those pesky kernel husks lodged between his back tooth and gum. Everyday that passed the pain seemed to get worse. This went on the better part of a week and then finally it came loose. I was amazed by his next statement, he said “it was like I was born again”. I know he was just joking but it’s no mistake how his experience with his tooth mirrors the life of those who are saved. 

When we live our lives apart from God and His word, all the little things seem to agitate us, something as small as a rude driver can throw us into a tirade. When we are close to God, the peace that he instills in us allows us to walk through the small storms with barely a wince. If we continue to live apart from God our lives fester like my friends gums did. For those who have a full life of this, we see the relief on their faces when they surrender to God’s will. What a blessing!

This can also be true with believers who continually sin. When we finally surrender and repent, the proverbial weight of the world is lifted from our shoulders.

Psalms 119:71 – It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

Do you know of a situation like this? feel free to share it below . . . . Faith & Blessings!

Weekly Devotional: Spring Cleaning

Psalms 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

The changing of the seasons is always an exciting time, especially Spring and Fall. Fall brings football and cooler weather. Spring brings forth new life, warmer temps and for a lot of people, it’s time to open up the house and do a little cleaning.  We look at spring as a time of revival, we re-arrange, purge and organize. We clean out the garage and get the lawn equipment ready. We go through our closets and toss out clothes that fit last year. Seriously though it’s an exciting time of year and why shouldn’t we all try to get rid of stuff we no longer need?

Well the same applies to our hearts. With all the stuff we allow ourselves to be exposed to our hearts are bound to accumulate a little dust. We become immune to the world and how it would like us to be. 1 John 2:15 -16 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. Give Praise, just as we can clean those closets, through Christ Jesus, our hearts CAN also be cleaned!

In the scripture above the word “create” is used in exactly the same way it was used in Genesis 1:1. Creating something from where there was nothing. Above and beyond that is the divinity associated with it. Only God can achieve this kind of creation. When we lose our purpose to live according to God’s word, very rarely does it occur without our knowing so. When we do stray it is generally a progression, wow, what a contradiction in terms! what I mean is like the dust that accumulates during winter we tend to fall away from God a little at a time. However, God is always waiting for us to come back into his arms. Luke 15:10 – Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 

Spring Cleaning can be a refreshing start to a wonderful time of the year. So while you’re busy cleaning out those closets take a look inside your heart and ask God to give you the cleaning of a lifetime!

Titus 3:5 – he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit

 

Weekly Devotional: Hand in Hand

Romans 15:2  — Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

A couple of weeks ago I injured my left hand. Since that time I have had my hand in a splint and have been unable to use it. Now the blessing was that I am right handed but you never know how much you rely on your left hand until you do not have it to use. The little things that I have always used my left hand for in support of my right hand turned out to be pretty important.

There was a time when helping our neighbors was as much a given as paying taxes. With all of the “progress” we have experienced over the last 100 years, like many “values”, being a good neighbor has become a casualty. Back in the day, neighbors helped each other with almost every aspect of life, from raising children, to raising barns. Romans 14:9 – So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

If we learn anything from “the world” it’s to look out for ourselves and take care of “#1”.  If we learn anything from the Bible it is to love our neighbor more than our self. Do you have a neighbor or neighbors that you do not know? When was the last time you asked a neighbor if they need some help? Just like the left hand helps the right, We are called to help each other. My world will be much better when I am able to use both hands freely, I have no doubt our world will be better if we would all reach out to our neighbors and give them a “hand”!.

 1 Corinthians 10:14 – Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24