Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Iron Sharpens Iron (Proverbs 27:17)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

This simple proverb speaks of how one person can effect another.  It emphasizes the positive shaping ability one person can have on the character of another.  We can sharpen others, and they can sharpen us.

We can make this positive impact on others through the example we set for others.  When we see a friend struggling to persevere in his studies, we can encourage him to trust God and work hard.  When we see a friend deceive her parents, we can encourage her to tell the truth even when it hurts.  When we see a friend waiver in his faith, we can remind him about the character of God and share a verse from scripture.  When we see a friend wrestle with obedience to God’s ways, we can encourage her to obey God.

We can also look for godly, mature people to sharpen us.  It takes humility to admit we need sharpening, but an honest reflection of our lives reveals we get dull, and we need the sharpening effect of a godly influence.  We can get plugged into our youth group to be sharpened by our youth leader.  We can join a Bible study to be sharpened by individuals in the group.  And if we have Christian parents, we can be sharpened by their example and advice.

Who are you sharpening? Who sharpens you?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Made Alive - Ephesians 2:4-6

I am grateful to be alive!

Ephesians 2:4-6 explains how God makes us alive.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

Before we conversion, we are spiritually dead. Our sinful nature and our sins separate us from our holy God. But, this all changes when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. God makes us alive, grants us faith, and empowers us to believe in Jesus. Jesus’ finished work on the cross restores our relationship with God. We become alive, and we can look forward to being alive forever with Him.

My personal battle with cancer gives me a whole new perspective on this passage from Ephesians. Physically, cancer was getting the best of me. Through God’s healing hand, diagnosis, and fantastic medical help, I am alive today. Spiritually, my sinful nature was getting the best of me. Through God’s loving initiative, healing touch, and Jesus’ death, I am alive today. To Him be all of the glory!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alive

I am grateful to be alive!

On Tuesday, August 27, 2013 I was diagnosed with cancer. Praise God, I have been in remission since January 2014.

I have multiple myeloma, cancer of the plasma of the bone marrow. It is treatable, but not curable. In all likelihood, I will be dealing with this decease the rest of my life.

The fall of 2013 was a blur. My treatment began in earnest in September 2013, and I had a stem cell transplant using my own stem cells in January 2014. I experienced both divine miracles from God and the benefits of world-class medical care.

If I had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma 40 years ago, I am quite certain I would not be alive today. The same may be true if diagnosed 20 years ago.

More than ever, I am grateful to be alive. Sometimes when I’m walking my dog trees, flowers, or the sky will catch my eye, and I will have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness to be alive. Sometimes when I’m talking with my wife and children, I will become aware that it is a privilege and a joy to be alive to enjoy them. Sometimes when I’m driving home from work, I’ll become keenly aware of the blessing to have the physical strength to work.

You may be facing a trial big or small. You may be enduring a physical ailment. You may be experiencing relational challenges. Life is hard. Life is full of difficult moments. Life can be overwhelming.

I pray that God will give you moments where you feel his love, you know he is near, and you are grateful to be alive.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Through the Storm


The chorus states:
   Christ alone; cornerstone
   Weak made strong; 
   in the Saviour’s love
   Through the storm, He is Lord
   Lord of all

And verse 2 declares
   When darkness seams to hide His face
   I rest on His unchanging grace
   In every high and stormy gale
   My anchor holds within the veil
   My anchor holds within the veil

This song has particular meaning as Hurricane Matthew has crashed upon the southeastern coast of the States. My wife’s parents live in Jacksonville, FL, and we have many friends in Glynn County, GA, a place we called home for six years.

Christ alone is the cornerstone – the one we can count on to hold us strong in the midst of storm. He is the one who can calm the storm or empower us to walk on water in the midst of the storm. Sometimes he removes trials from our lives, and sometimes he holds us up as we walk through the trial.

Trials are bound to come. We are either currently in a trial, just come out of a trial, or about to enter a trial. That’s life in a fallen world. But, we have an anchor to keep us steady as the heavy winds and fierce storms of life come.

May we all experience His amazing and unchanging grace. May we all see and know his love and protection.

Praise God, my family and friends are safe in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Let’s continue to lift up the many that are suffering and recovering from this storm.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Pray Like Paul – Ephesians 3:14-21

In many of Paul’s letters, he pauses to pray for his readers. Paul teaches about doctrine, he exhorts towards obedience, and he consistently pauses to pray. Paul knows the importance of the work of the Spirit in the believer. He knows our desperate need for Jesus Christ. He knows we cannot accomplish anything without spiritual transformation.

His prayer for the Ephesians is a plea we can pray for ourselves, our teens, and our children. Let this passage guide your prayers. Change “you” to specific names – your name, your child’s name, or your youth group member’s name.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

To God be the glory!