Coming Soon

searchBy David McCasland

A “Coming Soon”announcement often precedes future events in entertainment and sports, or the launch of the latest technology. The goal is to create anticipation and excitement for what is going to happen, even though it may be months away.

While reading the book of Revelation, I was impressed with the “coming soon” sense of immediacy permeating the entire book. Rather than saying, “Someday, in the far distant future, Jesus Christ is going to return to earth,” the text is filled with phrases like “things which must shortly take place” (1:1) and “the time is near” (v.3). Three times in the final chapter, the Lord says, “I am coming quickly” (Rev. 22:7,12,20). Other versions translate this phrase as, “I’m coming soon,” “I’m coming speedily,” and “I’m on My way!”

How can this be—since 2,000 years have elapsed since these words were written? “Quickly” doesn’t seem appropriate for our experience of time.

Rather than focusing on a date for His return, the Lord is urging us to set our hearts on His promise that will be fulfilled. We are called to live for Him in this present age “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Marvelous message we bring,
Glorious carol we sing,
Wonderful word of the King;
Jesus is coming again! —Peterson

Live as if Christ is coming back today.

Touching Moments

imagesBy Steve Goodier

I read that an insurance company survey revealed that spouses who habitually kiss their mates in the morning are projected to live longer than those who don’t. It also indicated that these people may have fewer auto accidents and lose less time at work due to illness. I won’t begin to interpret what all this means, except that it seems that people in intimate relationships seem to be happier and healthier.

But what about that “touching moment”–that kiss or a tender hug? If intimacy is vital, is the simple act of touching another person also important?

I once was asked to give some emotional support to a prisoner who was awaiting trial. I found him in the county jail and he and I visited for a while in a prison conference room. He didn’t know me and seemed afraid to let down his defenses. So we talked about nothing more important than how long he may be incarcerated and whether or not he was guilty of the crimes with which he was charged. He shared nothing of his fears at this dark time in his life. I felt as if we had not “connected” in any meaningful way and, after an appropriate length of time, I stood to leave.

On impulse, before I turned away from him I reached for his hands. He grasped mine tightly and dropped his head. Neither of us spoke – we just stood facing each other clasping hands. After a moment, he began to cry. As he sobbed, he continued to hold tightly to my hands. Somehow the connection, the human touch, melted a dam of ice and allowed his emotions to gush forth.

When his sobbing subsided, he wanted to talk. Only this time he spoke of his fear and loneliness and he told me of his concern for his family while he was imprisoned. All the while, he held onto my hands like a drowning man clinging to a life saver. I believe that because of the touch, an act of basic human contact, he felt safe enough to share deeply.

There is power in a caring touch. I knew a woman who went to a massage therapist once a week, even when she felt fine, just because she needed that dose of physical contact. The lack of touch can be one of our greatest impediments to emotional intimacy and happiness.

When film star Marilyn Monroe was asked if she ever felt loved by any of the foster families with whom she lived, she replied, “Once, when I was about seven or eight. The woman I was living with was putting on makeup, and I was watching her. She was in a happy mood, so she reached over and patted my cheeks with her rouge puff—for that moment, I felt loved by her.”

Maybe you are in need of more closeness. And perhaps you know of those who are hungry for some assurance that they are loved by someone and not all alone in this world. Your touch may accomplish what your words can’t. And those touching moments can change a life.

You Make Me Laugh

Curve Hand

A guy was on the side of the road hitchhiking on a very dark night and in the middle of a storm. The night was rolling on and no car went by. The storm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him.

Suddenly he saw a car coming toward him and stop. Without thinking about it, the guy got into the back seat, closed the door and then realized there was nobody behind the wheel!  The car started slowly; the guy looked at the road and saw a curve coming his way. Scared, he started to pray begging for his life. He hadn’t come out of shock, when just before he hit the curve, a hand appeared through the window and moved the wheel. The guy, paralyzed in terror, watched how the hand appeared every time right before a curve.

Gathering his strength, the guy finally jumped out of the car and ran to the nearest town. Wet and in shock, he went to a restaurant and started telling everybody about the horrible experience he went through. A silence enveloped everybody when they realized the guy was serious.

About half an hour later, two guys walked in the same restaurant. They looked around for a table when one said to the other, “Look John, that’s the dummy who got in the car when we were pushing it.”

Thanksgiving: The Power of a Thankful Heart

imagesDebbie Przybylski

Rejoice evermore.17 Pray without ceasing.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.

Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, the enemy loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.

Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances?  Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart.

A Heart of Gratitude

images-2By Charles Stanley

Today’s passage instructs us, “ In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thess. 5:18). That directive might seem easy when life is going well. But if painful situations arise, expressing gratitude can become difficult.

It’s interesting to note that this instruction to thank the Lord in all things was written by Paul—the apostle whose loyalty to Christ earned him severe persecution. You might wonder how he was able to be grateful to God.

While many situations weren’t to his liking, Paul knew that His riches in Christ Jesus far outweighed any earthly discomfort. Consider the blessings he so valued, which are available to all believers. First of all, we are invited to have a personal relationship with the one true God—the omniscient and omnipresent Lord of all creation. Second, our Creator loves us with an everlasting and unconditional love. Third, He sent His Son to die as payment for our sin debt so that we could spend eternity with Him. As a result, when we place our trust in Jesus, we are freed from the fear of death.

And the list of blessings keeps going: God adopts believers as His children and seals them with His Spirit (Eph. 4:30). He has a plan for every life—and bestows special gifts and empowerment to make it happen. He also promises to meet every need through His limitless resources (Phil. 4:19) and provides His Word and indwelling Spirit to guide us.

No wonder Paul was grateful! Today, make your own list of reasons to give thanks, and be sure to count Paul’s blessings as your own. Let God know how appreciative you are.

The Summit

imgresby Max Lucado

Jesus says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

I wish I could say it happens all the time; but it doesn’t. Sometimes He asks and I don’t listen. Other times He asks and I just don’t go. But sometimes I follow. I leave behind the deadlines, the schedule and walk the narrow trail up the mountain with Him.

You’ve been there. You’ve turned your back on the noise and sought His voice. You’ve stepped away from the masses and followed the Master as He led you up the winding path to the summit. The roar of the marketplace is down there, the perspective of the peak is up here.

He gently reminds you, “You’ll go nowhere tomorrow that I haven’t already been.” “The victory is already yours.” “My delight is one decision away—seize it!” Ah, the words on the sacred summit. A place of permanence in a world of transition.

A Growing Church

images-1By Mark Ward

What Is Important In A Growing Church

In Acts 2:41-47 we see a wonderful picture of what happens when the Holy Spirit of God begins to work in the lives of a group of people. It tells us what the atmosphere is like when people are totally sold out to the Lord and living for Him. We see several things happening in these verses:

People are saved and added to the church—Vs. 41

Bible teaching becomes a priority—Vs. 42

Fellowship among believers is stressed—Vs.42

Prayer becomes a common part of their lives—Vs. 42

Verse 46 tells us that they met daily, broke bread together and had a joyful but humble attitude.

Verse 47 tells us that they praised God, had favor with all people and the Lord added to their number daily.

My prayer for [our church and all churches is]: that God’s Holy Spirit would fall and lead us to continue to be a Church where people are coming to the Lord, being baptized and taught God’s Word. I pray that our Fellowship would be exciting and God’s love would permeate everything we do . . . !

Used by permission of Mark Ward

Miracle Rain

imgresLife is hard for the villagers who live on a hilly terrain in the Yunnan Province of China. Their main source of food is corn and rice. But in May 2012 a severe drought hit the region and the crops withered. Everyone was worried, and many superstitious practices were carried out as the people attempted to end the drought. When nothing worked, people started blaming the five Christians in the village for offending the spirits of the ancestors.

These five believers gathered to pray. Before long, the sky darkened and thunder was heard. A heavy downpour started and lasted the whole afternoon and night. The crops were saved! While most of the villagers did not believe God sent the rain, others did and desired to find out more about Him and Jesus.

In 1 Kings 17 and 18 we read of a severe drought in Israel. But in this case, we are told, it was a result of God’s judgment on His people (17:1). They had begun to worship Baal, the god of the Canaanites, believing that this deity could send the rain for their crops. Then God, through His prophet Elijah, showed that He is the one true God who determines when rain falls.

Our all-powerful God desires to hear our prayers and answer our pleas. And though we do not always understand His timing or His purposes, God always responds with His best for our lives.

In what ways have you seen God answer prayer in the past?

What needs do you have to bring before Him today?

What do you want to thank Him for?

Through prayer, we draw upon the power of the infinite God.

From Our Daily Bread By Poh Fang Chia ,

Be Meek—Be Happy

images-1By Billy Graham

Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.—Matthew 5:5

In His characteristic way Jesus was saying something quite shocking and revolutionary to His listener with these words, “Happy are the meek.” He was saying something quite the opposite of our modern concept of the way to happiness. We say, “Happy are the clever, for they shall inherit the admiration of their friends”; “Happy are the aggressive, for they shall inherit a career”; “Happy are the rich, for they shall inherit a world of friends and a house full of modern gadgets.”

Jesus did not say, “Be meek and you shall inherit the earth.” He, more than anyone else, knew that meekness was a gift of God, a result of rebirth. Jesus was not issuing a command in this Beatitude nor saying, “You ought to be meek, that is the way to live.” No! He was saying that if we want to find the secret of happiness, that if we want to enjoy living, then “meekness” is a basic key.

Prayer for the day—May I truly reflect Your meekness in my life, Lord.

Taken from Day by Day with Billy Graham, ©1976

Veteran’s Day

god_bless_america.jpgRomans 8:36 – As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (KJV)

from onlinedevotionals:

Many years ago, a paramedic showed me a soldier’s knapsack Bible. It belonged to his uncle, who had been killed in World War I. The Bible, along with his other possessions, had been returned to his grieving family. As they looked through the Bible, they discovered these words from Romans were underlined in pencil: “For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” They seemed to describe the young man’s horrifying experiences of trench warfare.

Alec, the paramedic, felt as though his young uncle was speaking to him beyond the grave, letting him know that his death at the Somme was a sacrifice for the freedom of the people back home. But his message didn’t end there. Verses 38 to 39 were double underlined, revealing the young soldier’s faith, which death could not diminish nor destroy.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (KJV)

In the midst of all our carefree leisure, happy pursuits, and personal freedom, does our faith match up to that of the young soldier?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, nothing can ever separate us from You, but sometimes we take that for granted. Remind us of Your sacrifice, Your loss, Your passion that has given us this wonderful opportunity to live beyond death, to hope above adversity, to have faith in the face of danger and trouble. In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.