God Has A Plan

Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Even when everything seems dim and things are just not going your way, you need to stop and remember that God has plan for your life.  God’s plans are not always our plans, but in the end His plans are always better than ours.  For He knows what is best for us.  Which means sometimes we have to need to suffer and go through hard times, but it is part of His sovereign plan and we will be better off because of it  in the long run.

God had tried many times to get the attention of the people of Judah.  Their brothers of Israel already had gone into captivity, but Judah still went down the wrong path.  For their good, they also need to go into captivity.  But God told them, He would rescue them in 70 years and He did.  Seventy years after the captivity began, Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians and the Jews were able to return to the land and start rebuilding.

God promised to restore hope to them and He did.   God promises to restore hope to us and He will.  God has great plans for our lives, we must remain faithful and trust Him to see us through.  He is faithful!

Dear God, I thank you that You are faithful, even when I am not.  Help me to trust in You with my whole heart.  When I get down, help me to remember that You have great plans for me and that I need to remain faithful to You and trust in You.  You are so amazing.  Thank you for loving me so much to have a plan for my life! Amen.


All are Welcome

Acts 10:34-35
34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

As much as the church had grown, it was still filled with only Jewish converts.  The apostles were only focusing on them, not realizing that the Gospel was to be for the gentiles as well.  In verse 28, Peter had said that it is unlawful for the Jews to meet with the Gentiles.  They were still following the law, but God wanted His church to be filled with people from all races and ethnic backgrounds from around the world.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples to go the remote parts of the earth and share the good news.

Salvation is available to all.  Jesus did not die for only one group of people.  He died for everyone who would believe.  You might be shocked to find out that the everyone, really means everyone!  We are to love people of different backgrounds than us and share the Gospel with them.  For in Heave all are welcome who believe.  It will be made up of people from all over the world.  It will one big rainbow of people worshiping their God.

Jesus has made all things clean.  No longer should the law divide us.  All are welcome in the Kingdom!

Dear Jesus, I thank you that You died for all of the people.  People of different races and ethnic backgrounds.  I thank you that salvation is offered to the Gentiles, since I am one.  Help me to love other people, regardless of race or nationality.  Help me to share the Good News with them.  Amen.

You Want Me To Do What?

Acts 9:11-15
11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;

Ananias was minding his own business when he received a vision from the Lord.  God told him to go and look for a man from Tarsus named Saul.  Ananias knew the reputation of Saul.  He heard all about how this Saul, had locked up and abused the Christians in Jerusalem.  He had heard the rumors that Saul was coming for those who followed Jesus in Damascus now.  The man was no good and Ananias wanted nothing to do with him.  When God told him to go, he responded with a “wait, what?  Who do you want me to find?  Are you sure?”  Was God serious?  Saul came here to seek Ananias and do him harm, but now God wants him to seek Saul out.  “Are you sure Lord?”  Of course God was sure.  He had many plans for Saul.  Saul was to go and be instrument for Him and bring the Gospel across the known world.  Many people would be saved both then and even now, through the ministry of Saul, who would later be called Paul.  Ananias by listening to God changed the world.

Dwight was busy at work in his uncle’s shoe shop, when Edward Kimball came looking for him.  Edward had met Dwight at church.  He had second thoughts about coming as he had approached the store, but he decided to go through with it.  Edward talked to Dwight and told Him about Jesus, though he thought he did a lousy job, his mission was successful.  Dwight, for the first time, realized he needed Jesus.  He ended up asking Jesus to save him that day.  The day was April 21st, 1855.  Dwight is better known by his initials, D.L.  He ended up being one of the greatest evangelist in the 19th century.  D.L. Moody would go all over the US and England telling people about Jesus.

Sometimes we are apprehensive about sharing our faith, but we never know what the seed will do.  So many people have been blessed because these two men were saved.  Ananias and Edward Kimball are unsung heroes.  People willing to fully follow God and do whatever he asked of them.  Are you ready to do that?  Am I ready to do that?  We need to be ready to heed the call.  There is no telling if the seed we plant will bless the whole world for years to come.  When God asks us to go, we need to go because He has great plans to accomplish.

Dear God, help me to share Your Gospel with those who need to hear it.  Help me to not talk myself out of it, but to trust Your plan.  Forgive me for the times I have chickened out.  Help me to love others enough to share the Good News with them. Amen.

Righteous Branch

Jeremiah 23:5-6
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. 6 “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.’

The rulers in Jeremiah’s days were corrupt and out for themselves.  Sound familiar?  Men and power do not mix very well.  Men who get some power usually thirst for more of it.  When they get it they do not act very godly.  But one day, God will raise up a Righteous Branch, from the line of David.  He will rule with complete power and yet He will not be corrupt.  He will do what is best.  He will be just and righteous.

This Branch of course is Jesus.  One day He will take His seat on David’s throne and rule forever and ever.  His will be a perfect Kingdom.  Sin will have no dominion in it.  Evil will be done away with.  Peace will rule the land.  What a glorious and awesome day that will be when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will reign forever and ever!  I cannot wait for that day.

All of the stresses of this world will disappear.  We will not worry about anything, for He will take care of us.  We will not be in need, for He will provide.  We will not experience dark times, for the Light of the World will shine bright.  Will not experience injustice, for He is just.  He will be our all in all.  Everything will revolve around Him.  Come soon Lord Jesus, our Righteous Branch!

Dear Jesus, I so look forward the day of Your return.  To the day when You set up Your Kingdom.  A day when the evil will be wiped out.  Oh what a day it will be, Oh Lord.  Come soon, Lord Jesus!  Amen.

A Witness

Acts 7:58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Stephen, one of the seven chosen leaders of the first church, had been arrested and is now standing trial before the council of leaders.  The Jews could not contend with him, for he was destroying any argument that they made against him.  He stood before them and gave a defense of the gospel. Talk a bold sermon, he held the leaders feet to the fire by saying they like their fathers were rebelling against God.  This set the people off and they go out to stone Stephen.  They leave their jackets at young man named Saul’s feet.

Saul witnessed this whole ordeal, he might of even been a leader in the charge.  He gets to see how Stephen dies.  He sees him praying to Jesus to forgive them.  He sees the look on his face, the peaceful look on his face.  I do not believe that look ever left his mind.  A few years later, Saul would be the one being stoned.  I wonder if he thought of Stephen as he himself was being stoned years later.

When we go through tough times, we have to remember who is around us.  People are watching on how we handle things.  They see if we live in a way of trusting God or totally freak out over it.  Eyes are on us and it is important to handle things well, so that we can leave a good witness of He whom we serve.

Dear Lord, help me to handle adversity well.  Help me to be a good witness to you when things are not going my way.  May Your peace rule in me.  Amen.

Our Help

Jeremiah 20:10-11

10 For I have heard the whispering of many, “Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!” All my trusted friends, Watching for my fall, say: “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him And take our revenge on him.” 11 But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.

Jeremiah felt alone.  He was speaking up for God and the people were persecuting Him.  One of the priests had him arrested and then beaten, because he spoken for God.  Even his close friends had turned on him.  Jeremiah was feeling all alone, but then he remembered that God was with him.  If God is for, then nothing can stand against us.

Jeremiah remember this truth.  We need to remember it as well.  We are in a world that is not friendly to Christianity.  More people mock God than serve Him.  People believe in a lie, that they think will make them happy.  Jeremiah lived in a similar times.  The people had walked away from God and were walking in their sinful ways.  They did not care about what God said.

We have hard times ahead.  We must remember we have help.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  The 300 men of Gideon’s army destroyed the 135,000 men of the enemy, because God was on their side.  If you are a child of God, He is on your side.  He promises to help and God does not lie (Titus 1:2).  Like Jeremiah, you are not alone.

Thank you Lord for being therefore me.  Thank you for not leaving me nor forsaking me.  Thank you for being an awesome God.  There is no one like You.  Amen.

Heart Problems

Jeremiah 17:9-10
9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the top reason people die.  One out of every four deaths in linked to it.  According to God, we all have heard problems.  Our hearts are deceitful and full of sin.  For out of heart comes sin and we all are sinners.  Jesus said:

Matthew 15:18-20
18 “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 “These are the things which defile the man;

We all have a heart problem, because our hearts are infested with sin.  It is ingrained in them.  All of the evil we have in our hearts, God knows about .  He knows our dark, secret sins.  He knows the hatred for somebody, we will not let go.  He sees the lust we have.  He sees the jealousy in there.  He sees the idolatry we have.  Nothing is hidden from God.  He is able to search our hearts and know everything.

But the good news is, He still loves us.   He knew all about the sin, before sending His Son.  He knew the wickedness and that did not keep Jesus off of the cross.  He knew the betrayals and yet He still sent the Spirit to live in us who are His children.  Nothing and I mean nothing can take God’s love away from you and from me.  If you have accepted Jesus as Your Savior, You are secure in Him.

We must be wise in our living.  If you had physical heart problems, the doctor would put you on a diet.  God wants us to be on a diet as well.  The diet consists of reading the Bible, praying, hearing good preaching of His Word, and enjoying true fellowship with other believers.  These things will improve our heart problems, but will not totally fix them.  Only when we get to Heaven, will the problem be fixed forever.

However if you have not believed and trusted in Jesus, you are in trouble.  For God knows your heart and knows all of the wickedness you have.  Which means, there is no way you will be “good enough” to get into Heaven.  You have no shot.  But the good news still stands for you, God still loves you.  He is calling you to come to Him.  Jesus died on the cross that we might be forgiven of our sins and that our heart problems one day will be fixed.  For in Heaven, we will not have heart problems, there will be no sin.  God wants you to come to Him and trust and believe that Jesus is the only way.  Ask Him to save you.  Ask Him to cleanse you.  Ask Him to forgive You.  Confess your sins to Him.  And you will become His child.

Dear Jesus, forgive me for my heart problems.  Even though I am saved, I still have a lot of wickedness in my heart.  Please help me to deal with these and grow closer to Jesus.  Help those who read this and are not saved come to You.  Call them to You and may they hear You.  Amen.

Be An Encourager

Acts 4:36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement )

In this verse we get introduced to a man named Joseph.  We know him better as Barnabas.  Barnabas was nickname given to him by the apostles, because he was an encourager.  If you were feeling discouraged and left out, you want to have Barnabas near you.  He specialized in speaking up for the little guy and encouraging them to grow.

We see an example of this later in Acts when Barnabas was sent to the growing church in Antioch.  He rejoiced and encouraged the young church.  Not only that, but he left Antioch and went to Tarsus, to look for Paul.  Paul was still on the outs with many in the church.  They did not trust him because of what he did before he was saved.  Barnabas went and brought him to Antioch and the Apostle Paul started his exciting journey.  Barnabas encouraged him to use the gifts given to him by God.

Paul and Barnabas eventually left Antioch and went on a missionary journey.  At first, John Mark joined them, but he did not last long before leaving them.  The next time they were set to go visit the new churches, Paul wanted nothing to do with Mark, but Barnabas (who happened to be a cousin of Mark) spoke up for him.  He encouraged Paul to take Mark, which led to a break up of the duo.  Barnabas held his ground and was a great encouragement to Mark.  For later we see Mark and Paul serving side by side.  If Barnabas had not encouraged either man, who knows what would have happened.

What about you?  Are you an encourager?  Do you seek ways to build others up?  Do people leave you encouraged to serve the Lord more?  Enouragers are energy givers, they refill your batteries.  Are you energy giver or taker?  These are all questions we need to ask ourselves.  God wants us to be encouragers.  He wants us to build each other up.  He wants us to bring energy to people, to encourage them to live lives pleasing to Him.  Do we do that?  Or are people more discouraged after talking to you?  It is time to take a hard look at ourselves to make sure we are doing what God wants us to do.

Dear Lord, help me to be like Barnabas.  Help me to build others.up and encourage them.  May people leave my presence feeling recharged and more excited to follow you.  Forgive me for the times where I discourage people and suck their energy away.  Help me not to be like that.  Amen.

Prophecy Fulfillment

Acts 3:18 “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

The Old Testament is filled with prophecies about Jesus.  He fulfilled many of them with His first coming and will fulfill the rest at His second coming.  The organization, Jews For Jesus was a chart on their website listing 40 of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus, where they are prophesied and where they are fulfilled.  The odds of Jesus fulfilling these prophecies are astronomical.  The odds are so high only one person could have ever fulfilled them and that is Jesus.

The prophecy mentioned by Peter in the above verse comes from the “Suffering Servant” prophecy in Isaiah 53.  The book of Isaiah was written hundreds of years before Jesus and it uncanny how well the prophecies in Isaiah 53 match up with what Jesus went through.  It told about how Jesus would be silent and He was.  It says He would be pierced and He was.  It says that our sins would fall upon Him and it did as He hung on the cross.  It said He would be cut off from His generation, predicting His death, and He did die.  Jesus fulfilled all that was predicted of Him.  He fulfilled the prophecies about Him.  These prophecies testify that He is the Son of God.

Dear Jesus, I thank you for all the evidence there is about You.  I thank you for all that You did for me.  I can never repay You for that.  You are so amazing and so worthy of my praise.  No one is like You!  Amen.

What Shall We Do?

Acts 2:36-37
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ -this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

Jerusalem was in a panic.  The Holy Spirit had come down on the believers on the Day of Pentecost.  A big crowd had gathered around the Disciples and Peter got up to speak.  He referenced prophecies in the Old Testament and how what had happened that day was talked about by the Prophet Joel.  Peter goes on to tell them about Jesus.  How His death had been planned by God Himself, as a sacrifice for their sins.  He told them that Jesus was raised by God and His body did not undergo decay.  He told them that Jesus had returned to Heaven and was exalted at the right hand of the Father.  Peter told them that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.

The people were so intrigued.  The Holy Spirit was already working in their hearts.  Their hearts were open to the truth being told.  Their response was asking, ‘What shall we do?’  That is a question, that some point we need to ask and decide.  What are we to do with Jesus?  Do we believe He is who Peter said He was or not?  We must decide whether we will believe in our hearts, that He is Lord and our only hope or not.  If we want to go to Heaven we must choose to believe.  We must choose to call on His name.  Verse 21 says all that call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Have you called on the His Name?  Have you ever accepted Jesus in your heart as your Savior? If not, make today the day.  Call out to Him and ask Him to save you from your sins.  Ask Him to forgive you.  The good news is that He will.

Dear Jesus, thank you for sending Your Spirit to us.  Thank you for the convicting work which He does.  Thank you for pursuing me and saving me.  You are my only hope.  There is nobody like You.  Amen.