December 29, 2017 Memory Verse

Romans_8_38-39

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Cracks And Scars

Porch 3

Our porch has been in need of restoration for several years. My wife and I have often talked about needing to re-stain and seal the wood on and off for a number of years. Each year we look at the porch and see new cracks in the wood from the wood drying out and being weathered. Living in Texas is harsh on the wood, with the extreme heat in the summer.

Yet as we much as we talked about refinishing and restoring the porch, it kept getting put off. The reasons were different each time, but usually centered around two main things. One is having the finances to pay for the materials to restore it. The other is having the time to do the required work.  I’m not sure which one was more common than the other, it definitely went back and forth on it.

After some planning, we were finally able to start the work on the porch. As I started, part of me was wondering if it would be worth the effort. The deck of the porch was so worn out and cracked, that it looked like it needed to be sent to the graveyard. There did not seem to be any real hope of being able to restore it without completely replacing it.

Porch 2

Yesterday, two of my boys and I started working on putting on the stain and sealant. We chose to start on the railings first. As we started, we quickly realized that doing the railings were going to be very slow and tedious. They were rounded, with a design of several curves in it. After a couple of hours, only one small section of the railings were done. It was very discouraging. I only have a couple of days to work on this, and wanted to get it finished, in the midst of many other things that we are doing or have to do with Thanksgiving break.

In the late afternoon, I decided that instead of finishing the railings, I would focus on getting the deck finished. This was to get it sealed prior to night when it would get dirty again. I did not want to have to wash it again, in order to finish the deck.

Doing the deck only took about two hours of work. And it made the porch look great and gave me hope that it would get completed.

Porch split

As I was putting on the stain and the sealant on the deck, I noticed the difference it was making. Looking at the railings, it looked nice, but I could not see how much of a difference it was really making. The deck was much different.

God opened my eyes to see something in that old porch. As a human being I go through a lot of things. Often I make choices that are bad and cause damage in my life. Other things happen that are outside my control and create scars in my life. Left alone, those damages and scars only get worse. They look terrible and my life will continue to fall apart.

Left on its own, the porch was going through the damage of the sun and wind over the years. It was cracking and sagging under the weight of time and weather. The porch does not have the ability to repair itself or maintain itself correctly, it needs outside help.

If I am left on my own, I will also sag and crack under the weight of sin in this world, both personal and the sins of others. Just as the porch needed help from someone, so also I am need of help from someone. The help that the porch can get, can be from myself or someone else. However, the help that I need to restore me can only come from God.

Jesus shed His blood on the cross to be able to remove the sin from my life. Although He has removed the sin, the scars and damage are often still seen. However, as I allow His Spirit to live in me, it creates a new heart and life in me. I am no longer black with sin, but white with the righteousness of Jesus. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I have new life in me.

2 Corinthians 5_17

As this porch is being finished, I am seeing new life in it. It is being restored. If you look at it closely, you can still see the damage from years of neglect, but standing back from it, the porch looks almost new. It is a new creation.

Those cracks and scars are a reminder of what had occurred and the work that is required to keep it from happening any more.

In my life, there are cracks and scars from years of spiritual neglect, yet, they show me what God can still do in me. God can still use me, despite the cracks and scars.

In your life, it can be the same way. Allow God to restore you to what you are meant to be. Allow Him to work in your life to restore you and give you a heart of flesh. Allow Him to use those cracks to reach others and be real to them about past shortcomings. God can and will use you, if you allow Him to work in you to restore you, cracks and scars.

Playing Games

Playing Sports

Every weekend, all over the country people are playing games. Millions of people are watching those people playing games. Right now it is football season in America. Middle school, high school, college and pro-football games are being played by many players. This does not even include the people who get together for a quick fun game in their backyard or down at some park, the non-organized games.

Throughout the year there are different games being played. There is soccer, baseball, volleyball, golf, wrestling, and too many others to name all of them. Some people like to play multiple different types of games, while others just play one.

I have never been a person to play on a team that plays for regular competition. When I was in high school, I did try out wrestling for a while, but gave it up. I liked it, but not enough to practice everyday for an hour or two.

Over the years I have always enjoyed going out and playing a quick game of baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf, and other games. Just to go and have a little fun, although I never played on a regular basis. Although now that I am much older and have a large family, I rarely to never play those games in more. I would rather spend time with my family.

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There are days now when I take a couple of my boys outside and throw a ball or frisbee around some. With my younger boys, I will often play a game of tag, light-sabers, or hide and seek. And unless one of my boys are playing a game, I don’t watch any sport being played.

When I play a game of football, basketball or most any other sport, I can have a fun time, but in reality I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t know the specifics of playing the sport or being really good at it. Unless I am with a bunch of others who are really good at it, I will most likely lose the game. I am only going through the motions of playing a good game.

I have never been one to sit down and watch any sport, although I can enjoy some if I am watching it at your house with you. If I am watching a football game on tv, I can easily get up and leave it in the middle and really not care about the score in the end.

A&M football game

Why do people love to play or watch games being played?

Playing games is about competition and being the best. People want to escape the struggles of daily life and go have some fun. If one consistently looses all the games he plays, usually he will change the sport or just stop playing. No one wants to constantly lose.

In life, there is another game that many people like to play. It is a game with God. They want to claim they are believers in God, but really are playing a game with Him.

Even with God, people want to win their own way. God has plans for each person, however, the person does not always see those plans as a winning plan. They see them as struggles and problems, not solutions and winning.

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It is easy to claim to know God and claim to follow God. No one can honestly say you are wrong. Claiming to know God is not the same as following God. If you are not doing what God wants you to do, you really don’t know God and are definitely not following Him. In the end He will claim that He does not know you.

Every week millions of people go to some church, claiming to be a Christian. They are faithful to going to church every Sunday. If all a person saw of them was on Sunday, they would appear to be a good Christian believer in God. They appear to be walking with God.

People in church

Looking at many of those same people throughout the week in the rest of their world, may show a different picture. Many refuse to take time to pray or read the Bible. Very few say anything about Jesus to those they come in contact with. Their words are not loving and compassionate. Their actions follow the ways of this world, rather than those of God.

This is a game that they are attempting to play with God. People often think that they are doing good, when in reality they are only doing their own thing and not following God and His ways. They can appear like they know what they are doing and are doing good, but in reality are falling and failing in the end.

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When Samuel was looking for the new person to be king of Israel, he looked at many of Jessie’s sons and thought they were the one. They appeared to be the best and doing right. However, they were just playing a game. God looks at the heart of a person and really knows who they are and what they are about.

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Playing games with God is not a good thing to do. God sees through the façade of what one is doing. He sees into the heart. You cannot fool Him in any way.

You do not want to be found in the end that you played a game with God, trying to fool Him. Live your life for God from your heart. Follow God with all of your heart, and not just in word. Be His true and faithful witness in this world everyday of the week, not just on Sundays or in church.

 

 

Ezekiel 47:12 River Flowing With Life

Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. Ezekiel 47:12

In the vision Ezekiel is given, he sees water flowing from the sanctuary. The farther he follows that flow of water, the deeper it gets. It becomes a full river, giving life to all around it. Not only do fruit trees grow around it, but each tree bears fruit every month, providing food and healing for the people.

The river that is flowing represents God’s Holy Spirit flowing out from the temple providing life wherever He goes. God is a God of life, not death. His goal is to bring more life to every person. While the Israelites are in captivity for sin against God, He is telling them that there will be a day that He will flow among them bringing life to all who come.

Although the temple no longer exists, there is the church today. The church is made up of people who believe in Jesus. Whoever believes in Jesus is given His Holy Spirit to work in and through him. God’s Holy Spirit still flows out like a mighty river bringing life, food and healing to all who enter His river.

He brings life through the work of Jesus on the cross. He brings food by showing men how to live and serve God on this earth. He brings healing to both the body and the soul of every person who follows Jesus.

Most people are willing to accept God’s river, Holy Spirit, in their own lives, however, many do not allow Him to flow through them to others.

As a believer, you can allow God’s Holy Spirit to flow through you. You have a mission to bring life, food and healing to all who are around you and you will see fruit on a daily basis.

Do not be like some and hoard everything to yourself. Do not sit in condemnation of others, but bring life to them. Jesus forgave you, so you can forgive others. His commission to you was to go and make more disciples.

Allow God’s Holy Spirit to flow like a river to others and bring them real life.

I pray today that you will know God’s Holy Spirit in your life; that you will allow God to flow through you to others; that you will bring life, food and healing to those around you; and that many will know Jesus because of you.

Ezekiel 37:5 Dry Bones Live

This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. Ezekiel 37:5

God brought Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones and asked him if those bones could live. Ezekiel states that only God knows the answer to that. God then tells him to tell the bones that He will breath life into them and they will live again.

Bones are a sign of something that is dead. All the flesh that was on the bones are gone. All the blood vessels that surrounded the bones are gone. Nothing is left but death.

Seeing a whole field of dry bones, would leave a person in horror or sadness. It is a sign of a lot of death. All hope of life appears to be gone and nothing can be done about it. It is just a large open graveyard that sits on top of the ground rather than being buried.

People live their lives just like the dead bones lying on the ground. They go through the motions of being alive, but in reality are dead. They are dead in sins, appearing to be enjoying the best of this life. All are living without any real hope or purpose in this world. Although they are physically walking around on this planet, they are dead in spirit, dead like those dry bones in the field.

Once a person believes in the work of Jesus, God puts on a new life on the person. He is clothed with the righteousness and life of Jesus. God gives him a new heart of flesh. There is new hope and life that was never there before.

If you are going through life and feeling like there is no purpose or real living, you need to give Jesus a chance to show you a new life. Following God can give you the real meaning of life on this earth. You do not have to go through each day with no hope, thinking it is all worthless with no meaning.

Life is there for the taking. With Jesus you will have joy and love that will strengthen you. You will become a new creation in Jesus. Your old bones will be renewed with new life. Do not remain dead in sins and be a pile of dry bones.

I pray today that you will know Jesus personally; that you will accept the life God has for you; that God will fill you with a new life and purpose; and that your bones will live in the power of God.