Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psalm 27: 3

"Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident."

The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India last week, which started on November 26, 2008 has left a trail of economic and political upheaval in that country, in addition to the emotional and mental distress which was felt by all, there and around the world. Here is the thing. Financial attacks can come from a variety of sources and a variety of circumstances. We can never tell what life events are going to occur that can have a financial impact in our lives. A divorce, loss of a job, major illnesses, natural disasters, and wars all have economic consequences that many of us are ill-equipped to deal with, and sometimes are beyond our control. In circumstances like these, we need to put our full confidence and trust in God to lead us out of crisis. We should never let circumstances dictate the path of our lives, instead we need to look to God to help us keep our sanity during rough times, and to help us come out victorious!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Proverbs 37:21

"The wicked borroweth and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy and giveth."

The righteous person is a giver, but the wicked person is a taker. People who take and take but never give are always a drain on society and others. They are a drain both financially and emotionally. Who likes to be around people who are mean and stingy? Who likes to be around people who are always trying to hustle you? Who likes to be around people who take advantage of your generosity to enrich themselves at your expense? They honor selfishness and greed, which are negative traits. Let us instead become givers. Givers enrich the world with their generosity, and spread goodwill and prosperity. It is only through giving that we can all find peace and true prosperity.

Devotional of the Week November 23-29

1 Corinthians 1: 18-25

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and weakness of God is stronger than men."

Ah yes, the mystery of the gospel! To some the message of the gospel is foolishness, and to others the gospel just gets in the way of what we want to do. A religion of do's and dont's is the last thing people are looking for in today's world; yet without the do's and dont's the whole world would fall into chaos. The message of the gospel says, "Do love your neighbor, do nice things for others, do help others in need, etc., etc." The message of the gospel also says, "Don't hurt others, don't kill, don't steal, don't lie; however, if you do these things forgiveness is available for all who repent."

Does this sound like a message for you? It's your choice.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1 Timothy 6:8

"Having food and raiment let us be therewith content."

In today's modern economy we are trained to be discontent with what we have or do not have. We feel as if we need more and more stuff in order to be content. The apostle Paul was an itinerant preacher of the gospel to the Gentile communities of the Roman empire. He had to be on the road a lot, away from home, yet he found contentment in having very little, and was satisfied as long as he had food and clothing. This is a great lesson for us today. We need to train ourselves to find peace, joy, and happiness, even when we have very little. You see, contentment is really a state of mind and attitude that one adopts regardless of circumstances. Yes, when we lack basic necessities we will feel miserable; however, when we learn how to control our insatiable desire for more and more material goods, then we will find that we do not need to have 100 pairs of shoes, 5 cars, a TV in every room, the lastest gadgets, and the newest fashion fad to be happy. We instead need to learn how to find joy and happiness from within than from without. The joy which leads to contentment and happiness from within is lasting and real. The pleasure from material goods is temporary, and if we do not continue to fill our lives with new things, then our pleasure diminishes. That is why an economic depression is a depression. People get depressed when they cannot go out and spend money and buy a lot of things!

In this time of economic crisis many are forced to live on less. Some have adapted very well, and continue to enjoy their lives, in spite of having less money to spend. Others however have become depressed because of shattered dreams due to the weakening ability to purchase. Let me tell you something, I too had been disappointed in my lack of ability to purchase or build my dream house; but you know something, I have learned to be satisfied with what I have, and take pleasure in what I have. I have food, clothing, and shelter; that is more than millions of people around the world. I am thankful for what I have, and if God chooses to open that opportunity again for me to get that dream house, then I wait on that.

Devotional of the Week November 16-22

Acts 4: 13-20

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled: and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak hencerforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

Whenever we are faced with life's challenges, we are sometimes tempted to give up or give in. The early disciples of Christ faced many challenges and opposition to the gospel, but they never even gave a second thought to giving up or giving in to the opposition. As children of God, we too should never give up or give in to opposition when we are doing God's work. People may oppose us, or try to malign us, but the work which we do speaks for itself. The good works that we do stand as living proof as to what we are all about. When we feel discouraged or disheartened, all we have to do is look at our work, and the fruit of that work, and take pleasure from knowing that we are making a positive difference in the world.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Luke 6:38

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

During this time of financial crisis, many interpret this scripture to mean that if we give money then we will receive more money than what we had given away. Unfortunately however, this is a very narrow interpretation of this verse. In addition, no mention is made of money in this verse, yet many of us assume that Jesus was speaking about money. All that Jesus was really saying is that if you are a giver, or a person who is generous, then you will benefit abundantly from the generosity of others in return.

Do you want to experience true abundance? Then give of yourself, time, talent, and finances to others. Give money to those in need, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless. Perform those random acts of kindness to even perfect strangers. Give love and affection to those around you, spend more time with your children and/or spouse, volunteer at your children's school, or at a hospital. There are just so many ways in which we can give of ourselves, time, and resources. If we do that, and give of ourselves to others, then God will look down from heaven, and reward us for our generosity.

I know for myself, volunteering at church to teach the teen class has been a rewarding experience. No, I do not get paid for my services at church, but teaching this class has sharpened my Biblical knowledge, and has led me to a closer walk with God. Because of those weekly classes, I am able to have a positive impact on the youth in our church. My reward has been the satisfication of knowing that I am helping others and making a difference in their lives. In addition, teaching the teen class has also helped me in my career as a Physical Therapist. My ability to educate and instruct my patients and co-workers in healthy living has become more effective, because of better teaching skills on my part. Truly, when you give, you get back so much more.

Here are some practical tips:

1. Are you out of work with lots of spare time on hand? Try volunteering somewhere. When you volunteer, you gain practical skills that can help you land a future job. The volunteer job can also provide you with valuable references and the ability to network with others in finding a job.

2. If you are employed, volunteer to do extra work at your job. Your boss will see you as a valuable employee, and will be more reluctant to fire you or lay you off from the job.

3. Be kind to others, but do not look for the person to whom you have been generous, to return the favor. You may be in for a big let down; but people sometimes do surprise us and return a favor, especially in situations of need. In most instances however, your reward will come from someone else whom God will send to reward you, or from someone who remembered some kind thing you did for them long ago, and they now want to show their appreciation with some type of material gift. People have acquired houses, cars, money, furniture and so on, in this way, because someone wanted to reward them for their kind acts.

In conclusion, be generous and life will be generous to you!

Devotional of the Week November 9-15

Psalm 46

1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
4. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
8. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Let us take comfort knowing that God will always be there for us, even during our times of greatest need. We can always rely on Him to give us the strength we need to face our problems, and to give us joy, hope and peace. He brings us calm, even in the midst of the storms in our lives. There is nothing and no one who is as great, and all-powerful as our God. He will save us.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ecclesiastes 9:10

"Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."

In this tough economy, people are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment. Many have been laid off jobs, and are having a hard time finding new work. For people who are unemployed I say, do not despair. It may be that being unemployed may afford you the opportunity to discover new skills that you did not know you had. It may be an opportunity for a career change, and to start something new. It was because of job loss that I discovered my present career as a Physical Therapist.

If I had not lost my job at the bank, which I hated, but thought I could not afford to leave, I would have never thought that there was a career waiting out there for me, that gave me personal satisfaction, and security. In my walk with God, I had developed a keen interest in natural health and wholesome living. My old job at the bank did not afford me opportunities to explore the world of wholistic living, but I kept myself well-informed on the subject while on the old job. When I lost that job and started working in health care, I continued to deepen my study in wholistic health and became quite knowledgeable, but I still did not know which liflelong career path to choose. Should I be a nurse? A physician? Finally, I met a fellow student at college who was studying to become a Physical Therapist, and she told me all about the career. From that instant I was hooked, and God opened up opportunities for me to study and excel in this field. By keeping myself busy,and never giving up, I was able to make a career change for my life.

Devotional of the Week November 2-8

Romans 10:5-17

"For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring Christ up again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalf confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whomsoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace,and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel, For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Take comfort in knowing that God is a God of all peoples. He is not just the God of the Jews, or the God of white people, black people, or red people. He is the God of us all, regardless of our nationality or ethnic background. Because we are all His people, we can rest assured that His promises in the Bible are for us all, and are not just for a special group of people. We can read His word and claim His promises for our lives, just as the children of Israel claimed His promises for their lives. In His love, Jesus has broken down the partition and wall of separation, that separates us from God. We can therefore go with confidence before God with our requests, needs and wants, knowing that He hears us when we call upon Him.