Friday, April 28, 2017

Empty Promises!

Empty Promises! We like Peter deny Jesus out of fear. 

John 13:36-38 (GW)
36  Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “You can't follow me now to the place where I'm going. However, you will follow me later.”
37  Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, why can't I follow you now? I'll give my life for you.”
38  Jesus replied, “Will you give your life for me? I can guarantee this truth: No rooster will crow until you say three times that you don't know me.
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, www.godsword.org)

Living daily by faith requires daily surrender. We cannot stand on our strength, trust in our ability, or faithfully serve God by sheer determination. No matter how sincere, how committed, or how strongly we desire to follow God and live for Him; we will fail if we try to live by our own power and might, human ambition, or desire to please others. The life of faith comes through the death of our sin-filled self-nature (our old Adam). However, that sin-filled self-nature does not die without a battle and self-preservation can cause us to deny even our closest friends.

If we were in Peter’s place would we have denied Jesus? Maybe we need to take a closer look into our lifestyle or our daily encounters with people; do we try to hide our light of faith to keep our friendships intact? Do we keep our mouths shut when we are given opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus with a neighbor, a relative, or a friend? Denial can take the form of silence just as easily as a verbal expression. Fear can cause us to keep our mouths shut or to say things we don’t really mean or believe just to avoid conflict and confrontation. 

Our human nature, that sin-filled self-nature, continues to fight for the control of our life. It fills us with fear and anxiety. It puts self-preservation ahead of friends, family, and even our faith. It needs to be put in its proper place, every day! It needs to be reminded that it has been rendered powerless by the power of God’s Spirit in the waters of our Baptism. Thank God for the gift of Baptism! It is God’s gift of grace. It serves as a constant reminder that the old Adam has been drowned.

Our life in Christ is a life of submission and surrender, the death of self and new life in Christ. We live by the power of God in us. We live for Him, through His strength, dependent upon Him, renewed by Him, by faith in Him – faith that was given as a gift from Him. Our old self is nothing and will only cause us to sin and fail. Our new self, living in submission and under the power and authority of Jesus Christ, has the power to resist sin, speak words of truth, and proclaim Jesus as Lord even if it causes us to face ridicule, persecution, or death.

 
This is our daily struggle. We fail, God forgives! We fail, God forgives! Again and again! And through this struggle God helps us to grow in our faith. He teaches us to depend on His strength and to trust in His provision instead of our old self-serving nature.


Dear Lord, Give me the courage to trust in your strength and to resist the self-preservation of my sinful self-serving nature. Humble me. Forgive me. Fill me with Your Spirit. Crush the fear of disbelief and allow me to rest in the peace of your authority over my life.    

Monday, October 17, 2016

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 40

Subtitle: There is hope! God has not left us on our own!


Psalm 40:1-17 (GW)

1  I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry for help.
2  He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure.
3  He placed a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see this and worship. They will trust the LORD.
4  Blessed is the person who places his confidence in the LORD and does not rely on arrogant people or those who follow lies.
5  You have done many miraculous things, O LORD my God. You have made many wonderful plans for us. No one compares to you! I will tell others about your miracles, which are more than I can count.
6  You were not pleased with sacrifices and offerings. You have dug out two ears for me. You did not ask for burnt offerings or sacrifices for sin.
7  Then I said, “I have come! (It is written about me in the scroll of the book.)
8  I am happy to do your will, O my God.” Your teachings are deep within me.
9  I will announce the good news of righteousness among those assembled for worship. I will not close my lips. You know that, O LORD.
10  I have not buried your righteousness deep in my heart. I have been outspoken about your faithfulness and your salvation. I have not hidden your mercy and your truth from those assembled for worship.
11  Do not withhold your compassion from me, O LORD. May your mercy and your truth always protect me.
12  Countless evils have surrounded me. My sins have caught up with me so that I can no longer see. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost heart.
13  O LORD, please rescue me! Come quickly to help me, O LORD!
14  Let all those who seek to end my life be confused and put to shame. Let those who want my downfall be turned back and disgraced.
15  Let those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” be stunned by their own shame.
16  Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad because of you. Let those who love your salvation continually say, “The LORD is great!”
17  But I am oppressed and needy. May the Lord think of me. You are my help and my savior. O my God, do not delay!



When I started this series of reflections I wanted to create a tool that would encourage others to share their faith with confidence knowing that God’s Word does not return empty. I had set a goal of posting once a week, as life’s challenges and other activities got in the way, I changed my goal to posting once per month, even that goal became difficult to maintain. I originally thought that it would take me three years to get through the 150 Psalms (averaging one per week). When I recalculated my goals, I thought I would get to Psalm 40 in about three years (posting 13 times per year). It was doable but not obtained. Here I am, 6 years later, finally posting a reflection on Psalm 40.

Many things have happened over the past 6 years, in my ministry, in the world in which we live, and in the life of the church. Six years ago, I would never have thought that marriage in our country would be redefined to include two women or two men in union with each other, (from a biblical perspective, it is impossible to join two men or two women together in a marital relationship), but now according to our government it is legal. As shocking as that is, just this month, so called sane elected officials, are mandating that boys who want to identify as girls should be allowed to change and shower in the same facilities as girls and girls who want to identify as boys should be allowed to change and shower in the same facilities as boys. Any school, official, parent, child (either boy or girl) that objects is subject to punishment under anti-discrimination rules, loss of federal support, or some other form of punishment. All of this makes me want to shout out in anger some, not so very kind words. It appears that morality in America has fallen into a “horrible pit”.

David wrote, “I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure. He placed a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see this and worship. They will trust the LORD. Blessed is the person who places his confidence in the LORD and does not rely on arrogant people or those who follow lies. You have done many miraculous things, O LORD my God. You have made many wonderful plans for us. No one compares to you! I will tell others about your miracles, which are more than I can count.” Psalm 40:1-5 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Societywww.godsword.org)

There is hope! God has not left us on our own! God has already sent His son Jesus Christ into the world to destroy the power of Satan and pay the price for our sin. Those who are influenced by Satan would have us believe in lies. Satan would have us believe that each individual has the right to do whatever feels right for them, that individuals don’t need God, or need to follow the natural laws that God created that establish order in the world. When Satan convinced the elite of the world that they evolved from lower beings and that we are continually evolving, he opened the door for the perversion of our entire society. And our society, like many that have gone before, will be reduced to nothing, because it is of the world.

Where does our hope come from? It comes from the LORD. David’s empire was built by the help of the LORD. David also experienced multiple trials; personal family rebellion, personal attacks, corruption within the ranks, and moral failures. However, David also recognized the authority of God in his life and leaned on God to rescue him from his enemies. Even in the midst of persecution, David professed and proclaimed his faith in God, the only one who had the ability to control the outcome of his life. David laid it on the LORD to redeem him. We must do the same! Only God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit – the Triune God) can provide and deliver us from the evil in this world. Only God, through the work of Jesus Christ, can redeem and forgive the sins of those who hate Him. Only God, the true God, the God of the Bible, through the power of the Holy Spirit can lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Our role is to proclaim the good news trusting that God, through the power of His Word, will produce the results.

I have decided that this is a fitting place to end this journey. I have a dream to create these reflections into a forty-day meditation series for lent or some other occasion. They would be edited and would include four parts. First, the reading of a Psalm for the day; second, the reflection on BOLD outreach promises; third, a place for discussion questions and answers; forth, a place to journal highlighted by a photo from God’s creation.



The BOLD Outreach blog will continue with a broader focus in the future as I will share highlights from outreach based resources and personal stories of encounters with people along the way. Until next time, blessings as you BOLDly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with the people  God places in your path.


DCO Peter      


Monday, February 1, 2016

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 39

Subtitle: What is the value of our work?


Psalm 39:4-7 (GW)
4  “Teach me, O LORD, about the end of my life. Teach me about the number of days I have left so that I may know how temporary my life is.
5  Indeed, you have made the length of my days {only} a few inches. My life span is nothing compared to yours. Certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind. Selah
6  Each person who walks around is like a shadow. They are busy for no reason. They accumulate riches without knowing who will get them.”
7  And now, Lord, what am I waiting for? My hope is in you!
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, www.godsword.org)


What is the value of our work?
If we spend our days working for material gain to the neglect of our families or other relationships, who will benefit when our life comes to an end?

If we encourage our children to get good grades and push them to focus on their financial future, while we neglect to teach them about Jesus Christ and the faith required for their eternal life; Have we wasted the time we have been given and the opportunities to really make an eternal difference in the lives of those we claim to love?

We keep the peace in our families while we watch those we love walk away from God and the salvation that only Jesus Christ can bring. Is this really love? 

Love tells the truth, even if it hurts, because love means we care for the eternal safety and salvation of those we love. Love isn’t afraid to hurt the feelings of those we love if in the end we save them from eternal destruction.

What is the value of our work?
God has told us that our works will be tried by fire.
If what we have done is built with straw it will be consumed.
On the other hand if what we have done is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ then it will last. 
Relationships forged from steel are formed in fires where the truth is spoken in love and where faith in Christ is put to the test. Peace on earth isn’t nearly as important as forming a relationship with the one who has the power to forgive or destroy sin and the unrepentant.

What is the value of our work?
To point our children, families members, or loved one to the one who saves.
     David knows that this one is the LORD, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah.
We know that this is Jesus Christ, the Sent One, the Son of God.
He lived, died, and rose from the dead. He gives us life worth living.

If we would only spend half as much time pointing our children to Jesus as we do pushing them to achieve better grades in school, our time would be better spent. All of the education and money in the world cannot make up for an eternity spent in Hell.

Yet there is good news, a BOLD Outreach promise from God; 
    OUR HOPE IS IN JESUS!
Jesus will rescue those who call upon Him for help.
    Spend your time wisely. 
    Teach your children about Jesus their Savior.
He will save those who trust in Him. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 38

Subtitle: A “Come to Jesus” moment.

Psalm 38:1-22 (GW)
O LORD, do not angrily punish me or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have struck me. Your hand has struck me hard. No healthy spot is left on my body because of your rage. There is no peace in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear. My wounds smell rotten. They fester because of my stupidity. I am bent over and bowed down very low. All day I walk around in mourning. My insides are filled with burning pain, and no healthy spot is left on my body. I am numb and completely devastated. I roar because my heart's in turmoil. You know all my desires, O Lord, and my groaning has not been hidden from you. My heart is pounding. I have lost my strength. Even the light of my eyes has left me. My loved ones and my friends keep their distance and my relatives stand far away because of my sickness. Those who seek my life lay traps for me. Those who are out to harm me talk about ruining me. All day long they think of ways to deceive me. But I am like a person who cannot hear and like a person who cannot speak. I am like one who cannot hear and who can offer no arguments. But I wait with hope for you, O LORD. You will answer, O Lord, my God. I said, “Do not let them gloat over me. When my foot slips, do not let them promote themselves at my expense.” I am ready to fall. I am continually aware of my pain. I confess my guilt. My sin troubles me. My mortal enemies are growing stronger. Many hate me for no reason. They pay me back with evil instead of good, and they accuse me because I try to do what is good. Do not abandon me, O LORD. O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my savior. (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, www.godsword.org)



The weight of the LAW is a crushing burden. It kills a mortal man because of his sin. Without a savior we would all be without hope. If this psalm sounds like the nightmare of a living hell, well that is the reality of living in sin in a sin filled world. We have a few choices, but none of them will help us fix the problem. We can try to drown the pain in alcohol or take the edge off with pain killers and drugs. However, the reality of these attempts only mask the real problem and cause more pain in the end.

Sin is like an infection, unchecked it will only get worse. What is rotten on the inside starts to ooze and smell and drive people away. The body cannot heal itself without outside help. It needs the skilled hands of a surgeon to remove infected tissue and clean up the surrounding area. There is only one who can do this. This is the work of the one who created us in His image and who is able to recreate us again. Our Lord and Savior Jesus is the only one who is able to remove the sin and guilt from our lives and give us a new life in Him.

Jesus is able to do this because He met the demands of the LAW by standing in the path of our punishing blows and taking them upon himself. Our Savior died in our place to set us free from the punishment of our sin. Death had no power over Him because He lived without sin. He came back to life and gives eternal life to everyone who trusts in the forgiveness and salvation He provides.

Sometimes we have doubts and the guilt comes back to haunt us. We wonder out loud if God really paid the full price for our sin. We let despair get the best of us and we try to escape the pain on our own. We don’t like to hear the words that condemn us, but we need to understand that they are meant for our good. We cannot by our own power or strength believe in God or come to Him, we cannot come to Him with anything to offer in exchange for our salvation, we can only come us beggars pleading for mercy.

It is the broken and contrite that will receive forgiveness and salvation. And that leads us to the BOLD Outreach promise of this psalm. No one is beyond help! Every broken person who trusts in Jesus Christ, the Savior / Messiah, will be rescued from the destruction of sin now and into eternity. Some have called it their “Come to Jesus” moment. It is truly an awakening that opens our eyes to the helplessness of who we are, and the reality of who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is. It is God's LOVE for us that compelled Him to die for our sins. He wants everyone to be with Him for eternity. He forgives those who ask for forgiveness and surrender their lives to His will. He grants eternal life to everyone who trusts in Him for salvation. BOLDLY GO and TELL others this GOOD NEWS!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Five Reasons I Find FaithHappenings.com Encouraging

Daily Encouragement for Christian Living



Faithhappenings.com is a new website designed to encourage Christians in their faith life. Authors, musicians, and bloggers share encouraging words that point to the Holy Scriptures and address real life issues facing Christians today. FaithHappenings.com is also a place where you can find local churches to attend, local support groups to join, local family friendly events to attend, and so much more. Here are my 5 tops picks for why I am encouraged by FaithHappenings.com.

1.    I receive a daily Scripture verse sent to my email that reminds me to trust in God. (I chose the daily scripture verse option when setting up my personal account.)
2.    I receive a brief devotion or reflection that speaks to issues that I can relate to. (I chose the men’s short devotion as a personal preference when setting up the account, there were several options to pick from, and several bloggers that could be followed.)
3.   I like having the ability of finding family friendly events in our area on the Upcoming Events calendar page. My local FaithHappenings.com site is StCloud.FaithHappenings.com. While, the site is still in the growing stages, you can find several family friendly activities in the communities surrounding St. Cloud. Better still, anyone can post their family friendly event on the site for free. The only requirements are – first, you must create a FREE personal account on the site; and second, it must be an event that promotes family fun that is appropriate for all ages. (To create your FREE personal account, follow this link to FaithHappenings.com and create your account today.)
4.    I like receiving the FH Daily quotes, cartoons, videos, and historical tidbits. These are a fun way to brighten up my day.
5.    I like that our local St.Cloud.FaithHappenings.com site contains contact and web links to over 200 churches in the area. Some of these churches have taken the next step in creating a specific page highlighting their distinct ministry offerings, service times, and missional purposes. These pages are sharable on Facebook, Twitter, Pintest, and Google+, which makes it easy for you to share information about your favorite congregation with your friends.
6.    Bonus Point: Churches that list on the site are welcome to post their upcoming events, classes, concerts, and fundraisers on the Upcoming Events calendar for FREE.


Check-out FaithHappenings.com today and create your FREE personal account. As a bonus for signing up you will receive a free e-book from Christian Audio.com and 20 music downloads from Integrity Music. Don’t delay - Do it today.                    

DCO Peter    
  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 37

Subtitle: Let it Go, Trust in the LORD

Psalm 37:1-10 (GW)
1  Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things.
2  They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants.
3  Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
4  Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5  Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act {on your behalf}.
6  He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.
7  Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with {an evildoer} who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
8  Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.
9  Evildoers will be cut off {from their inheritance}, but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land. 10  In a little while a wicked person will vanish. Then you can carefully examine where he was, but there will be no trace of him.

(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, www.godsword.org)



There seems to be a preoccupation with evildoers these days. It makes news; something exciting to talk about, it sparks our curiosity. Every night the news is filled with some story about an evildoer, such as, ISIS and the war against anyone ISIS considers an infidel. Or the battle against God’s design for marriage, or the behavior of an extremist gunmen, or the defense of those who hold a total disregard for unborn children, and the list goes on and on. Little is said about the rejection of God’s Word and warnings of condemnation for not following God’s commandments, but that would be politically incorrect and biased and might cause the feelings of non-believers to be hurt.

Scientism has become our new standard for religion. Human reason, lust, the fulfillment of personal desires, financial security, sexual freedom, entertainment, personal achievements, and PC (Pseudo Christ – the LOVE God who looks the other way and says “That’s OK, enjoy yourselves, I’ll always love you.”), have become alternate idols to bow down and worship. Evolution has become the acceptable explanation for the origin of earth and mankind. Equality will soon mean equal to all other animals on the planet with equal protection against use for food, clothing, or death for the benefit of mankind. (Unless you are an unwanted, or unplanned, unborn baby human – no assumed rights will be granted; however, if a dog or cat were treated the same way unborn children are treated PETA would be all up in arms about the inhumanity of the treatment.)

So much for my venting, it is easy to become preoccupied by the actions of evildoers. God has a few choice words of advice for me.  Do not be preoccupied with evildoers. Do not envy those who do wicked things. They will quickly dry up like grass and wither away like green plants.”  Psalm 37:1-2

My LORD has promised to provide forgiveness of sin for me, for you, for ALL of us who place our trust in HIM. The evildoers do not believe in the LORD. Anyone who does not believe in the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ’s death will not receive forgiveness, without forgiveness the penalty for sin remains intact. The penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a place we call Hell.

The evildoer has only one hope for salvation; it is the same as ours, which is forgiveness through Jesus Christ. They need our pity. They need our prayers. They need our presence. They need to be shown the love of Jesus Christ. Do not become angry with those who are doing evil for they do not know what they are doing. They are under the control of their master, Satan. They need to be set free.

On this side of heaven we struggle with sin and the temptation to chase after evil desires, or lustful pleasures. Daily we need to be set free from sin that would keep us from trusting in Jesus Christ. Daily we need to surrender ourselves to the LORD. Daily we need to wait with hope for the LORD who delivers us from sin. Once we were evildoers, but now we are forgiven. Our past deeds are forgotten by the LORD who erases all of our sin.

Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with {an evildoer} who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes. Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil. Evildoers will be cut off {from their inheritance}, but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land. In a little while a wicked person will vanish. Then you can carefully examine where he was, but there will be no trace of him.” Psalm 37:7-10

If God can forgive my sin, He can also forgive the sins of those who haven’t yet trusted in Him. Our BOLD Outreach Promise in this chapter is that everyone who trusts in the LORD will be made righteous. Their sin will be removed and they will inherit eternal life.

Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act {on your behalf}. He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:5-6