But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives. (2 Peter 3:10-11 NIV)

Have you heard the latest predictions? The world is coming to an end on December 21, 2012 – so some people think. Search Google and find out for yourself about some of these wild predictions. Does this put fear in your heart?

Our Bible passage was written almost 2000 years ago with a message that is quite similar, but the world seems to have dismissed this warning. Only a few have taken it seriously in recent years. But now with this new prophecy more people are tieing it together.

These doomsday predictors are missing one significant point. The day of destruction will come like a thief in the night. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus tells his disciples, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

According to this passage contemporary prophecies like December 21, 2012 are wrong. How can any mortal man have more knowledge about the end of time than Jesus and all the angels in heaven?

The Bible tells us there will be rumors of this kind in the end times. So for that reason I believe the end times may be very near. We may see it in our own lifetimes. But we have no guarantee of three more years, it could come today or tomorrow or next week. Like Jesus said in Matthew 24:44, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

The other side of this issue is that the end of the world may not happen for another thousand years. Many have predicted a specific day for Christ’s return and the day came and went without incident. These people were prepared to go to eternity, but they weren’t prepared for tomorrow and the day after that. Our nation and world have become very unstable in many ways. We need to be paying attention and preparing ourselves to survive within our communities by working together and living in harmony with one another.

What would Jesus find in your heart and life if he came today? Are you focused on yourself or on the needs of others? 2 Peter 3:11-18 offers a plan of action for preparing for the last days. Become pure and blameless. Live at peace with God.

Make certain of your salvation. Your life in eternity is at stake. Seek the LORD while he may be found;  call on him while he is near.. (Isaiah 55:6)

Are you ready? Jesus is eagerly waiting for you to seek his face.

Dear Father God, guard over our hearts and lives. Help us to seek you with all our hearts so we will be ready for you when you come. Guide our steps in the way you would have us to go so that we may spend eternity with you in heaven.

For more on the end of time, read both of these chapters in their entirety by following these links: 2 Peter 3, and Matthew 24.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NIV)

Do you have days, sometimes weeks, months, even years, when you find it hard to be thankful? …times when life’s disappointments and burdens weigh you down and you find yourself dwelling and stewing over them? It seems unpatriotic or sacrilegious to mention such a thing now, one day before Thanksgiving, but for many it is reality. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring with them great expectations of family celebrations and traditions… and disappointment over unmet expectations.

I suggest Colossians 3:16 may offer some insight to how we can rise above these situations and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. If we cultivate the peace of Christ in our hearts, and if we make it a matter of will to keep our eyes on Jesus, we will feel his presence lifting us up even in our disappointments. The Bible often mentions a “sacrifice of praise.” This happens when we praise God in spite of our disappointments, even daring to praise him for the things that cause us grief. In my own experience, it has been the hard times that brought me closer to God. What I would have missed if life had always gone my way – what a spoiled brat I would have become.

Make your Bible your favorite book. A good concordance may help you find scriptures to meet your particular needs for the day. The Psalms are a great place to go when your spirit needs a lift. Spend time in prayer, and sing praises to God. If you listen to Christian music, especially scripture and praise songs, you bring in the assistance of those recorded voices to lift your spirit. Be pro-active in your praise and sing with them. God isn’t concerned over how well you sing, but he loves the sound of your voice when it is praising him. If you feel like crying, then cry your heart out to God. Remember that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He cares about your grief. Keep the music playing until you have cried it through, and let the praise songs lift you up into his presence.

A song that brings out how God blesses us through our trials is entitled, Through it All. Click the link and listen to the version I found on YouTube by The Booth Brothers. I hope these words bless you like they do me.

Father God, help us to truly be thankful to you as we experience the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Bless the needy out of your bounty so they can see your face and feel your peace.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Read John 14 (Click on the link to read it in NIV or select your prefered version when the window opens.)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

You hear it a lot today… “I’m a good person. I don’t need the church or all that Bible stuff. I’ve tried to live a good life like Jesus said we should. I’m not worried about the afterlife because I believe God will be okay with how I’ve lived my life.”

Others will ask, “How can God punish these ‘good’ people?”

I don’t believe God wants to punish people as much as people want to imply. That isn’t the problem at all. The problem is that God didn’t create a perfect and glorious place like heaven for people who don’t want him.

At the beginning of time God created the heavens and the earth. He brought mankind onto this earth, and he gave them the choice to accept or reject his commandments. Just as Adam and Eve rejected his first and only commandment in the Garden of Eden, man has continued to reject his commandments unto this day.

God gives us the opportunity to accept his forgiveness for our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ. It was no small sacrifice for Jesus to endure the crucifixion and death on a cross to pay for our sins. The choice is ours. Do we want God or don’t we? If we choose Jesus we choose God. If we don’t choose Jesus we are saying we don’t want his Father, the God of all creation.

Those who don’t want God, have no right to expect him to open heaven’s doors to them when their time comes. By choosing not to follow God’s commandments people have messed up the earth already. The problems of humankind’s sins are escalating before our very eyes. Why should we expect God to allow this to happen to his glorious heaven as well?

So what about the punishment of hell? Do people who have tried to be good in their own strength but didn’t choose to accept Jesus have to be punished the same way as terrible criminals do? I won’t attempt to give an absolute answer here, only food for thought. If all the people who accepted Jesus go to heaven to be with God, Jesus, and all the heavenly angels; and only those who chose not to accept Jesus are left outside to fend for themselves with Satan and all his demons who are eager to offer their brand of spiritual help, what is it going to be like? 

The final word will be one of two: You wanted him and accepted him. {Or} You didn’t want him – you rejected him.

Father God, I pray for those who don’t understand, for those who are so willing to let themselves be fooled into believing their only measuring stick for entering heaven is how they measure up to the persons around them. Wake us all from our slumber and give us eyes to see who you really are. Show us your compassion.

Read the entire passage of John 14. It is so powerful.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses read the Ten Commandments to the people after he brought them down from the mountain where God gave them to Moses.

In chapter six Moses instructs parents to pass on the teachings and commandments of God to our children and our children’s children. Verses 4-9 are so powerful:

 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

How powerful and convicting are these words! I’m divided over how I should punctuate that last sentence… Perhaps it should read, “How powerful and convicting are these words?” At question is the spiritual temperature of Christian people today in a land that has been blessed to the point that God’s people have taken him for granted.

Re-read verse 4. Is God really first in our lives? We don’t have the option of setting God on a shelf along-side our wide-screen TVs, and our other personal treasures and beliefs. First means first, as in number one.

Re-read and consider verse 5. Where are our hearts and our souls? Where do we put our energy and our strength? Are we giving God our all, or is he getting snacks along the way – like the biscuits we throw to our dogs every now and then?

Verse 7 should be written on the heart of every Christian parent.     “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Is this happening in our Christian homes today? Do our children hear about God and Jesus at home, or do we expect our Sunday school teachers to do all the teaching on the Sundays we happen to show up? I am thankful that I have known a few strong Christian parents who took this verse seriously, and their children are a living testimony to the fact that they did. But unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be the norm in many church-going families today. When was the last time you talked to your child about Jesus? How are you setting the example to put God first in everything? Have your children seen you reading your Bible today? Have they heard you pray? God holds parents accountable to instruct their children in matters of faith. If you love God with all your heart, you are teaching your children faithfully.

Father God, you have told us what you want us to know, but we haven’t always been willing to listen. Enable us to clean out our spiritual ears so that we may hear you. Help us to clean up our rusty dusty hearts so that we may love you fully. Never let us forget the price you had to pay just to get our attention, let alone to forgive us of all of our sins. Help us to draw nearer to you every day of our lives. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

I can’t help but have a mixture of feelings as I read this passage. God’s love is so true, so faithful, so deep…  But my love is so faltering, and so conditional, so dependent on my fickle moods.

But one thing I can count on – if I immerse myself in His word and bathe myself in prayer, my feelings of relationship with Christ become like a full cup. And as I drink my fill, I find myself wanting more.

The problem is that even though I know this in my head, and it penetrates into my heart when I take the time; I all too often get too busy with stuff, and days pass with only spurts, bits and pieces of relationship.

This verse is Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Philippi. This should be a reminder for us – to pray for each other that we will continually seek, find, and grow in the love of Christ, that we will grow in knowledge of Christ, and that our insights will be deep. Then we will have Godly wisdom to guide us in all our lives and we will be able to joyfully serve Him and bring peace to our hearts and glory to His name.

Father God, lead us in your righteousness. Draw us unto you. Give us willing spirits to continually seek and love you with all our hearts. Help us to bear the fruit of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give to us. In Jesus name we ask. Amen.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

1 John 2:1-6 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Sin. Repentance. Forgiveness. Freedom from sin or freedom to sin again?

Jesus’ redemption on the cross is the greatest gift ever given. We ask for forgiveness and Jesus forgives us. It’s free. It’s a gift.

Read the passage above from 1 John 2:1-6.  According to verse one, the apostle John wrote this so that we wouldn’t sin. His goal was to help us to rise above sin. Then John added that IF we sinned, that Jesus would come to our defense speaking to God on our behalf.

We live in a time when sin is flaunted in public everywhere we turn. I quit watching TV years ago because it sickened me to see virtuous living ridiculed and sin exalted on a regular basis. Sadly, Americans have allowed the media to deaden our senses to sin so that tolerance of sin is now virtuous while standing up for morality is portrayed as bigoted and an affront to the world. Of course virtuous living is an affront to Satan, but now we have allowed Satan to cloud our vision.

We have been given a standard to live by. God has given us his word in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. Most homes have at least one copy of the Bible somewhere. People who identify themselves as Christian are likely to have several Bibles in various translations. But the percent of people, even Christians, who spend time daily, or even weekly or monthly reading God’s Word, is very low. We make great claims about how we believe in the Bible, but we don’t take time to read it for ourselves. We have allowed the self-serving elite of Hollywood redefine our values while we make our own assumptions about what the Bible probably says, or what it would say if God decided to re-write it today (as if even God had changed his mind).

Verses 5-6 in the above passage say “But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” How can we obey his word if we don’t read it? How can we walk as Jesus did if we don’t take the time to learn how he walked?

All the spiritual praise in the world cannot cover up our blatant willful sin. God is merciful, but he is also just. He knows our hearts. We may have praise on our lips even while our hearts are far from him.

Yes, God forgives our sins, and he keeps forgiving. But repentance is agreeing with God that our sins are sinful. If we are not trying to overcome sin, we are making a farce of our repentance. God is not mocked. He knows our hearts.

Father God, thank you for your gift of salvation. Thank you that you were willing to make the sacrifice for us while we were yet sinners. In you mercy, enable us to come to You with our whole hearts. May our praise be sincere. Help us to trust You, the one who created us, to know what is best for our lives. Help us to accept Your commands and to walk in them. Help us to live by Your Spirit and to be empowered by it. And never let us accept any counterfit spirit or way of life as Your will. Give us Your discernment that we will always know Your voice. May our love for You be pure. Help us to order our steps in Your Word that we may please You in everything we do.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.  Prov 16:5 

In the present generation little attention is given to the sin of pride, yet pride was the sin that caused the downfalls of both Satan and the first man.

The downfall of Satan is recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15 . His sin was his pride. He was the most glorious of all the angels God had created. His glory led to his pride, and he attempted to set himself above God.

Satan tempted Eve with the same sin of pride. (Genesis 3) He said to Eve, “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” You know the story, Eve ate the fruit and gave some to Adam who was with her. They could be like God, they could make their own rules.

It was Satan’s pride that cost him the highest position among the angels in heaven and separated him from God. It was Adam and Eve’s pride that got them banned from the Garden of Eden and separated them from God.

The same sin of pride and the desire to do things our own way have separated mankind from God since the beginning of time. Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites continually turned their backs on God and went their own way. When Jesus Christ came to earth, the religious leaders of the Jewish people were jealous of Jesus’ popularity and power. They were proud of their positions and didn’t want people to honor Jesus over them. Jesus challenged their hypocrisy, and their jealousy in turn led to their Crucifixion of Jesus.

The cycle didn’t stop then, nor has it stopped today. Human nature tends to want to do it “my way.” It is nowhere more obvious than in today’s supposedly “enlightened” society. Many universities turn out students who blatantly challenge the existance of God. Some people revere the Bible only as long as they are not expected to read it or use it for a guide to make decisions. Others mock those who take the Bible seriously.

Proverbs 14:1 tells us: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” 
Proverbs 16:5 says: The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. 

There are many forms of pride, and they touch us all. It can be blatant as the denial of the existance of God. Or it can come in more subtle forms such as the deliberate choice to ignore the commandments in the Bible. We are prone to assume we know more than God about what is best for us. We fail to pray because we think we can handle whatever will come our way. Then when our backs are against the wall and we are desperate, we pray fervently and wonder why He seems distant.

Galatians 6:7 tells us: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 

What seeds are you sowing in your life? Are they seeds of faith or seeds of foolish pride and self sufficiency? Allow God to examine your heart and reveal the sins that puff up so quickly and separate you from Him. Agree with Him in confession and seek his face with all your heart.

Father God, you know our hearts. We think we know ourselves until we get close to your light. Then, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t like what we see.  Help us to daily seek your face and to put our full trust in You, come what may.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.. Proverbs 14:34

What an appropriate verse for our Independence Day weekend. Our nation began with a group of people who valued righteousness enough to sail across the ocean and start a new life in a land that would allow them to worship God according to their own consciences. Others crossed the ocean for varied reasons, but the very words of our Declaration of Independence and our US Constitution support the fact that our country was established by people who had an awesome respect for God.

For many years our nation has been blessed by God as the people have given Him a place of honor in our nation. Sadly, there has been an eroding of that sense of honor for God, especially in our governing bodies. Those of us who came of age in the “Hippie Generation” should have seen it coming, but we were too willing to look for wisdom in all the wrong places. Some of us have recognized the folly of our ways and turned to God allowing Him to show us where we went wrong.

We can scold our government officials and put the blame on other people until we exhaust ourselves in wearyness. Or we can choose self-examination. Exactly where is my own heart in matters of righteousness? Would I be embarrassed if someone were able to read my thoughts at any given time? We can’t hide them from God, but we can put up a front that others can’t break through.

What is my model for righteousness? God has given us His Word in the Bible. Most people who call themselves Christians will say that the Bible is the greatest book ever written. They will revere it by keeping it in a special place and dust it if needed, but seldom take the time to read it or use it to search out God’s heart on a special concern. Sadly, when many who call themselves Christians hear what the Bible says on a given topic they are quick to add, “Yes, but I think …”

If there is hope for our nation, it will come when righteousness replaces the rampant sin that we have embraced. And that will happen one person at a time.

Father God, forgive our foolish ways. Incline our hearts to you before it is too late for our country. Bring your church to its knees in repentance. Then send your disciples out to the world when they are equipped to bring in a harvest. Start with me Lord. Clean out the places that only You and I know need cleaning out.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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Isaiah 53:1-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What was behind it all? Why did Jesus allow people to abuse him the way He did? I remember a time when a friend of mine suggested that Jesus had just given up on the world and let His enemies put an end to His life. According to my friend there was an article in Playboy magazine about it.

Read what God had to say about Him before Jesus ever came to earth. Here is Jesus’ destiny spelled out in words only those who choose to be ignorant can deny. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself in Isaiah 53:1-9.

Jesus didn’t attract crowds because he was handsome or winsome in his manner. He attracted crowds by doing miracles of healing and feeding people.

The people loved him for the things he could do for them, not for his messages of faith. His true followers were few. He knew the people’s hearts and thoughts. He knew they would abandon him when there was conflict.

Jesus experienced the sorrow of this knowledge long before he experienced the sorrow in its highest hour: his crucifixion, separation from God Himself, and death. He experienced the torture of the Roman soldiers. First their ridicule, then the crown of thorns, then the beating with the whip containing fragments of bone to tear His flesh. Then he had to carry his own cross up the hill (until he stumbled and fell under its weight and a bystander was ordered to carry it the rest of the way). He was then nailed to the cross, the cross was lifted up and dropped into the post-hole that had been dug in the ground. There he was left to die a grueling death of suffocation that resulted from the way crucifixion was designed to torture its victims.

Why did Jesus do this? Why did he allow this to happen to Him without opening His mouth to defend Himself? Because He knew that He was the only person in all eternity who would be in a position to be the sacrifice to pay for our sins. The only sacrifices God would accept had to be perfect in every way. No other human would ever be able to come close to this, yet Jesus had fulfilled the requirement completely.

All of Jesus’ sufferings were endured for one reason alone: to show us his unconditional love and to pay the price God requires to cover our sins. Put your name in the scripture verse every place you see a pronoun such as “we” or “our” or “us.” It is that personal.

If you accept this wonderful news along with this most gracious gift, then you are accepted by God as His own. You will be welcomed into His Kingdom when this fleeting life is over. If you reject this news as foolishness, then you declare yourself to be a fool who says in his heart there is no God. (See Psalm 14:1) There is no hope for you outside of what you get in this life.

If you have accepted His gift of salvation, you will be blessed. Consider how you have thanked Him? Do you simply say “Thank you, sir” and then go your own way forgetting the price he paid for your sins? I can not imagine a more ungrateful heart.

A gift is free, true, it is getting something for nothing. But I can’t help but wonder if many think they have accepted this gift when in fact they only accepted a fake ticket, like the thousands who ate the bread on the hillside when Jesus fed the multitudes. They ate the physical bread but rejected the spiritual bread Jesus had to offer. They ate to fill their stomachs, not their hearts.

Consider fresh and new if you have indeed accepted God’s gift of salvation. Reread Isaiah 53:1-9. If you heart is not filled with the kind of gratitude that makes you want to serve Him, you may never have accepted his true gift of salvation in the first place. Don’t settle for temporary bread to fill your stomach, accept the true Bread of Life. Accept Jesus for who He is, not who you want to make Him out to be, and your heart will be filled with gratitude and joy.

Father God, you know my heart. Break it if you must, but don’t allow me to settle for temporary bread that makes me think everything is OK with You when there may be real problems I need to deal with. Open my eyes and my heart to the awesomeness of your sacrifice for me so that I can respond with nothing less than full gratitude and a life dedicated in service to you.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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1 Timothy 6:10 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Timothy warns us against the love of money which causes us to turn our eyes away from God. This principal comes to mind when I watch the flocks of Pine Siskins that have covered our bird feeders this winter. Most of these birds are content to gather together and enjoy the free food. But there are a few in each flock that are determined to claim the whole dish for themselves and agressively chase all others away. We onlookers laugh at the absurdity of it all, as the tiny bird could not eat the pile of seeds in the dish. Furthermore, while the bird so relentlessly defends his claim he doesn’t have time to eat.

God owns everything. He promises to care for us, his flock. If we trusted Him to keep his promises, we wouldn’t have to expend so much energy guarding our posessions. Is God watching out His window in heaven and laughing at our pettiness? Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and allow the Heavenly Father to bless us out of his unlimited supply.

Father God, help us to keep our eyes focused on You. Restore our trust when our anxious thoughts take our eyes off of You, and restoreYour peace. Enable us to be satisfied with Your provisions and to hold them with open generous hands.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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