GOD FORGIVES, CLEANSES AND ACCEPTS

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart .”—Psalm 51:17
The term ‘sacrifice’ is often associated with something that you give up in order to do God’s will. There is a much deeper meaning to this word. Sacrifice goes right to the core of who you are.

More than anything else, God is concerned with you offering your spirit and your heart to Him. A spirit that is proud and a heart that is hard will never be acceptable to God. When your spirit is broken and you come before God with your pride in pieces, God receives you with great grace and mercy.

When your heart is contrite and you walk tenderly before Him, God assures you of His forgiveness, His cleansing, and His acceptance.
 

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to come before you with a contrite heart. Amen

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: HIS FOOTSTEPS, MY PATHWAY 

DISTRACTION

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that by you do not have the love of the Father in you .”—1 John 2:15
Anyone who has read the Bible is familiar with the apostle Paul, author of a majority of the New Testament. He gathered a committed group around him and set off on several missionary journeys, spreading the gospel and laying a foundation for the church as we know it today.  However, not all of those companions were as committed as Paul. Take Demas, for example: “Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
 
He loved the world and deserted Paul, and perhaps he even deserted the faith.  How would you like it if all that was written about you was your desertion?
 
Jesus was against distraction in the parable of the sower.  In Matthew 13:22 Jesus explains: ‘The thorny ground represents those who bear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.’ 
 
Jesus’ admonition is clear: When God’s Word is choked out, worldly things like making money, entertaining sinful behaviors, and distracting relationships grow in the void.
 
John describes as a craving: “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world” – John 2:16. A craving is something you are desperate for, a longing that screams for attention and pushes you to fulfill it.  We see cravings in addicts.  The only way to really combat a craving that is a distraction is to crave God’s Word more.
 
Be desperate for God.  There’s a choice: be a Demas who ends up distracted or a woman who is desperate for Jesus and ends up hearing, “Well done!”

STAY BLESSED

WE ARE COMPLETE IN CHRIST

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.”—Colossians 2:9-10
Nothing needs to be added to Jesus’ Person or position to make Him more complete. Because He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily, He does need to be or have anything else. Because He is the Head of the church, He does not need to receive more authority. Because He has all power, He does not need to receive more strength.

When Jesus comes into your life, you have received completeness. If you were an empty house, He would be the complete furnishing; if you were an empty plate, He would be the complete meal. If you were a violin, He would be the symphony, if you were a book cover, He would be the manuscript, if you were a vase, He would be the floral arrangement.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: HIS FOOTSTEPS, MY PATHWAY 

TURN TO GOD

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”—Matthew 11:29
In our daily walk with the Lord there are certain things that we need to be aware of and guard against. We can carry things that God wants us to lay down, we can take up things that God does not want us to carry, we can neglect things that God wants us to observe, or we can look at things that God wants us to turn away from.

God has called you to turn away from your weakness and embrace His strength; turn away from your weakness and embrace His strength; turn away from your restlessness and embrace His rest; turn away from your heaviness and embrace His joy; turn away from your own understanding and embrace His wisdom; turn away from your own energy and embrace His power; turn away from your selfishness and embrace His love.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: HIS FOOTSTEPS, MY PATHWAY 

PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING

 If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;” – 1 Peter 2:9-10 (New Living Translation)    

INTRODUCTION

As children of God, we have to know that we have been empowered to live practical, fruitful and effective lives because we have been changed from the inside out.  Apostle Peter says that God has given great and precious promises through which we are able to participate in His divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

We have indeed been given power to live practical holy, pure and righteous lives.

Enjoy it, practice it and assist others to do the same!

A LIVING SACRIFICE TO GOD

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.  In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

 Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,  “I will take revenge;  I will pay them back,” says the Lord.  Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them.  If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:1-21 (New Living Translation)

God’s goal for us is that through a personal relationship with Christ we become morally pure, spiritually whole, separated from evil and devoted to God and His purposes.  God can be trusted to do exactly what He has promised to keep His people “strong to the end” as they remain true to His call and purposes and to be in “fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

LIFE BY THE SPIRIT

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.“ Galatians 5:13-26 (NIV)

DOING GOOD TO ALL

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.   Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” Gal. 6:1-10 (NIV)

SUBMISSION TO THE AUTHORITIES

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.

LOVE, FOR THE DAY IS NEAR

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Romans 13:1-14 (NIV)

Stay blessed!

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RESPONDING TO TOUGH TIMES

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take . “—Proverbs 3:5-6
Tough times have a way of revealing our true nature. If two people were to face the same dilemma, one may grow closer to God and bear fruit while the other becomes anxious and doubts God’s faithfulness. How we respond to trials makes all the difference.
 
Like it or not, hardship is part of life. Becoming a Christian doesn’t change that fact (John 16:33). What shifts in our understanding of God’s sovereignty—nothing touches our life unless He permits it. Consider David, for example God allowed a murderous king to pursue him for years (1 Samuel 23:15; 1 Samuel 23:25), but David responded to adversity with faith and called God his stronghold and refuge (Psalm 59:16).
 
If we let them, challenges can grow our faith, change our perspective, or deepen our compassion. But no matter what, the Lord is available to help us in our affliction (Psalm 46:1). Either we can turn toward Him for comfort, guidance, and support, or we can get angry and resentful that we’re not being rescued from our valley.
 
When affliction strips away every crutch, one has only the Lord to depend upon. Though some people are destroyed by that kind of situation, others are built into undaunted believers.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: IN TOUCH.ORG 

JESUS CHRIST NEVER CHANGES

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. “—Hebrews 13:8
People change all the time. One day someone is in power, the next day he is out of power; one day someone makes a promise, the next day that promise is broken; one day someone is your friend, the next day that person is your enemy.

Isn’t it good to know that when you read the newspaper or listen to the news, you will never hear a headline that states, “There’s something different to report about Jesus.” Jesus Christ never changes. Who He is, is who He was. Who He was, is who He will always be.

There are no shocks or surprises in Jesus’ character, in His person, or in His position. His heart is the same, His love is the same, His glory is the same, His faithfulness is the same, and His promises are the
same.

STAY BLESSED
SOURCE: HIS FOOTSTEPS, MY PATHWAY 

GOD IS OUR REFUGE

The eternal God is your refuge; And underneath are the everlasting arms; I will say of the LORD, ”He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Deut. 33:27, Psalm 91:2 (NIV).

INTRODUCTION

In today’s society, a person charged with manslaughter is likely to call a lawyer to defend him so he can stay out of jail.  In ancient Israel however, such a person would flee to the nearest of six cities designated as “cities of refuge” – Num.35:11.  The cities of refuge combined issues of urban planning, justice, and religion in some interesting ways.  

God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to create cities of refuge – six in all where those who inadvertently kill someone can run and find refuge and avoid the avenger.  My imagination tells me that those who ran there would feel a deep sense of relief and gratitude.  Relief, that they will not be killed and gratitude to God who in His eternal wisdom had made such a provision.  I believe that these cities of refuge had all manner of people – those who belonged to high class, middle class and lower class of society. 

But while there, no one could really stand on ceremony and insist on social status.  All had one thing in common and that one thing was that by God’s grace they have been saved from sure and certain death.  This is the extent of God’s love – He makes provision for us to escape the certain death that comes from sin.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Rom. 6:23.

Let us spend a little time thinking about this our God who is our REFUGE – our hiding place, our fortress, our stronghold – providing a place in Him where we can come for peace, stability and calm:

  • when the enemy comes against us;
  • when life’s pressures mount, and
  • when our inner peace gets very shaky.

Legend has it that Moses penned Psalm 91 at the beginning of the wandering of Israel in the wilderness.  In this Psalm, we find assurance that if our relationship with God is intimate and very close then:

  • we will be totally be protected by Him; and
  • we will know Him as our refuge and our fortress and put our total trust in Him.

Let us ponder over these three questions. 

Question 1:  What have you actively done or are you actively doing to be in an intimate love relationship with God?  Is God number 2 or 3 or 4 in your life?  Are other things so important that you have relegated God to a place where you call on Him only when you need Him?  If that is the case then please change your mind because it is unacceptable.

God must be 1st in our hearts and in our lives.  He deserves the first place – He must be our all in all.  We must deliberately and willingly enthrone Him as our LORD.  Jesus says in Luke 14:26 that unless we “hate” mother, father, husband, wife, even our own lives we cannot be His disciples.  Jesus is love so obviously Jesus is not talking about hating our closest relations but merely emphasizing that we must love Him deeply and totally, and be willing to leave all things for His sake.

During the wilderness exile of David, when he was fleeing from King Saul, he used the imagery of REFUGE more than any other scripture writer.  Many psalms of David mention God as our refuge because David knew that his true shelter was God and not the numerous caves he found himself in.  It was Jehovah God who kept him, protected him and sustained him physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It was Jehovah God who comforted him and counselled and gave him grace to be humble.

Question 2:  How has God been your REFUGE and hiding place?  For us, we have accepted by faith God’s grace of salvation, Jesus Christ, our Refuge.  He is the Person to whom we may go to with every complaint and dilemma.  He hears us in times of trouble.  No matter what we have done we may go to Him, seek His forgiveness and find safety in Him.  No one can permanently harm us when we are in Christ and when God is our Shield.  Jesus is the defender of our lives and we need not shiver with fear before people and circumstances.  As Paul wrote in Rom.8:31 “if God is for us, who can be against us”? 

How do we make Christ our refuge?  How do we come to that place of knowing that He is responsible for keeping us safe?  Proverbs 18:10 is our answer – “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe”.  This is so because of the many names of God:

  • He is El Shaddai – the Almighty, all sufficient, all bountiful God.  He is the One who fulfils every promise of scripture – 2 Cor.1:20.  He is faithful.
  • He is El Elyon – the Most High God who rules over peoples and nations and whose strength and power no one can resist.  Christ is our impenetrable shield and our protector.
  • He is El Olam, the everlasting God, our God who is eternally consistent.  Christ is the stability of our life – when things seem to fall apart.
  • He is El Roi, the God who sees.  He watches over us, seeing and knowing all that happens in our lives.  He comes at the right time to help us.
  • He is Jehovah Jireh – the God who provides all our needs according to His unlimited bounteous resources.

We can go on and on about the names of God – all of which are reflections of His attributes and character.  That is the God to whom we may run for shelter!  He is our hiding place and our refuge.

Question 3:  From what troubles have God delivered you?  Psalm 91:3-7; 10-13 and 16.  We need to intimately know this our God and receive from Him all that He has for us so that we will experience peace, perfect peace in this dark world of sin.

Will you commit to Him today as your REFUGE?

Hymn

A Safe Stronghold our God is Still – MHB 494

1. A SAFE stronghold our God is still,

A trusty shield and weapon;  

He’ll help us clear from all the ill        

  That hath us now o’ertaken.

  The ancient Prince of Hell            

  Hath risen with purpose fell;

  Strong mail of craft and power         

  He weareth in this hour—    

  On earth is not his fellow.    

2. With force of arms we nothing can,                    

Full soon were we down-ridden;        

But for us fights the proper Man,       

Whom God himself hath bidden.       

Ask ye: Who is this same?       

Christ Jesus is his name,                  

The Lord Zebaoth’s Son           

He, and no other one,

Shall conquer in the battle.    

3. And were this world all devils o’er,

And watching to devour us,           

We lay it not to heart so sore

Not they can overpower us.   

And let the Prince of Ill            

Look grim as e’er he will,        

He harms us not a whit:                  

For why? his doom is writ

A word shall quickly slay him.

God’s word, for all their craft and force,        

One moment will not linger;  

But spite of hell shall have its course—                  

’Tis written by his finger.         

 And though they take our life,           

 Goods, honor, children, wife,             

 Yet is their profit small:          

 These things shall vanish all—                    

 The City of God remaineth.                                                                                                                      

Stay blessed!

Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sundays 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 Fm – Saturdays 7:30 pm; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymns and their Stories.

FORGIVENESS

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “If you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you “—Matthew 6:14
The Greek word for forgiveness used in the New Testament means “to give up the right to something” hence, to give back your right to redress or grievance.  To offer forgiveness and yet hold a grudge against someone is really not forgiveness at all.  Man’s forgiveness is marred by his hesitance to forget; God’s forgiveness is complete.  On one occasion, Peter asked Jesus, how often am I to forgive my brother if he goes on wronging me – as many as seven times?  Jesus answered, Not seven times but seventy times seven – Matt. 18:21-22.  In other words, never stop forgiving!
 
Forgiveness never comes easy, but it is an absolute must if we are to free our lives of hatred and revenge.  Forgiving each other comes so much easier when we remember that God has extended forgiveness to all who will receive Him. If you expect His forgiveness, treat your fellow men as God treats you.  Try it; make it a daily part of your life.  You will be better for it. 
 
TRY THIS…
If you are thinking, I just cannot forgive, may I share a formula for forgiveness that never fails.  Begin to earnestly pray for the one who has hurt you, and soon you will discover God’s grace to forgive – and forget.

STAY BLESSED

AFFIRMING AND SUPPORTING THE WOUNDED

SCRIPTURE TEXT: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”—Psalm 34:17-19
People with wounded hearts can be found in all walks of life. They are the people we characterize as having “hit bottom” or “made a mistake” or “taken a wrong turn.” Their offense can range from the least to the greatest. Some experience marital separation or divorce; others lose their jobs or take a cut in pay; still others lie or cheat or get caught in an illegal or unholy act.  Some are wounded not because of what they did personally, but because their circumstances changed and they got caught in the crossfire.  They are hurt because they became entangled with the wrong set of acquaintances.
 
Do you know any people who have wounded hearts? The wounded are our spouses, our kids, our neighbors, our friends, our ministers, our leaders. They are people at work, in our family, or in our church.  Christ has the power to heal a wounded heart and put people back on their feet.  And you and I can be the link to that power. There are ways that Christ can use you to restore the wounded. You can be a friend or forgive wounded people to help them back on their feet.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, empower me with grace and strength to be a source of encouragement to the wounded. Amen

STAY BLESSED