Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Show Hospitality to Strangers

by Margaret Nichols

From Strong’s Concordance and New American Standard Version:

Alien (1616) – stranger, foreigner, alien, pilgrim, sojourner, guest, visitor

From the root (1481) – basic definition: “to turn aside (from the road)” for the purpose of lodging for the night, to sojourn (as a guest), to dwell (as a stranger). This root essentially means to live among people who are not one’s blood relatives. God directed the Israelites to practice the “Golden Rule” with those non-Israelites who wanted to live among them as proselytes… Because of disobedience, the Jews were exiled in Mesopotamia to sojourn there.

Job 31:32 (Job speaking), “The Alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the travelers.”

Romans 12:13, “…contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

1 Timothy 3:2, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” – Qualifications of an elder.

Hebrews 13:2, “…do not neglect to shoe hospitality to strangers…”

1 Peter 4:9, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tell Me The Story One More Time

By Tim Challies
(condensed and adapted by Julie Nichols)

Reading Michael Wittmer’s excellent new book The Last Enemy, I came across a powerful little story that I wanted to share with you. I trust you will enjoy it as I did.

My friend Jeff stopped by the hospital to visit one of his dearest senior saints. Charlotte was in her eighties, but she had been young enough in heart to blossom under Jeff’s ministry.  Charlotte said learning God’s story had changed her life. “I get it now,” she told anyone who would listen. “The parts of the Bible make sense when you read them in light of the whole.  For the first time in my life, I understand how my salvation fits into the larger picture.”

Now Charlotte was dying. She chatted with her pastor about family, church, and the general quality of hospital food, and then Jeff said a prayer and promised to come see her again.

Jeff was minutes from home when his cell phone rang. It was the floor nurse calling from the hospital.  “Charlotte told me to contact you,” she began. “She said that it’s time for her to die. She told me to tell you not to hurry; she’ll wait until you get here.”

Jeff turned his car around and drove slightly faster than Charlotte had recommended. When he entered her room, panting from his swift jog from the parking garage, Charlotte called him over to her bed. She took his hand, looked into his eyes, and said, “Pastor, tell me the story one more time.”

For the next twenty minutes, with a heavy but grateful heart, Jeff reviewed the story that had saved their lives. He told Charlotte about their gracious, triune God who created our world from love and for His glory. He put us here as His “image bearers” to take care of this world on His behalf (see Genesis 1:26-28).

Jeff then described the destruction of the fall and how our rebellion against the one, true, and living God had shattered everything we were meant to be. We were “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

Jeff and Charlotte remembered how God refused to let the world end this way, and He sent His Son to rescue us from sin and death. Our loving Lord was crucified, dead, and buried, but three days later He shocked the world by rising from the dead.

Jesus ascended to heaven where He rules the world and intercedes for us before our merciful Father. He will soon return to make all things new. He will restore our humanity, repairing our relationships with God, each other, and creation. And He will bring joy to the world, far as the curse is found, by abolishing sin, disease, and death. No more tearful goodbyes! Because Jesus lives, we too shall live—with Him, here, glorifying God and enjoying Him forever!

Jeff’s voice cracked and Charlotte’s eyes filled with tears. “It’s true,” she whispered. “I know it’s true.” She turned to Jeff and patted his arm, “It’s time. It’s going to be okay.”

As Jeff prayed beside her, Charlotte raised her eyes toward heaven, and with a serenity that comes from knowing how the story ends, she repeated the words “thank you, thank you, thank you.” By the third “thank you” she had fallen asleep, and on the fourth she was waking up in heaven.

Taken from The Last Enemy: Preparing to Win the Fight of Your Life, 2012 by Michael E. Wittmer. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids MI 49501. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ugly Birds or Precious Children?

25,000 children worldwide starve daily and my government puts thousands of people out of work and even sets aside many more millions of acres of land for an owl, an ugly bird, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator!

We as followers of the Lord Jesus must pray for inapt government leaders and at the same time do all we can to "Deliver those who are being taken away to death." Proverbs 24:10.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

God Rules All History

 by Doug Nichols.
When I was discouraged recently, and praying over the US situation with so many of our political leaders uttering and living in deceit,  my wife Margaret shared with me what she had just written in her personal devotions that morning, “God rules all history (His-story) – the coming and goings of kings and rulers, the rise and fall of empires and nations, the beginning and ending, and usefulness of organizations and missions.”
 “…as I have planned; so shall it be; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand … this is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth and this is the hand that is stretched out over all nations. For the Lord of Hosts has purposed and who will annul it?  His hand is stretch out, who will turn it back?” (Isaiah 14: 24, 26, 27).
“Our God rules in the individual lives of people on earth.  In my life …, ‘I cry out to God most, to God who fulfills His purpose for me’” (Psalm 57:2).

Whether individuals acknowledge God or not, He is controlling each or their lives – for righteousness, good, or for judgment.  “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand!’ (Proverbs 19:21).

adapted from August 23, 2012 entry

How Did I Vote and the Welfare of the Country

People ask me who I voted for in the recent US elections.  I simply say, “I voted for you! I voted for the welfare of America.  

I voted for the poor that they would be able to have meaningful jobs and employment.  I voted for low taxes to enable business to flourish to hire more immigrants and others.  I voted for the welfare of America in the world with a strong military.  I voted for the future help and welfare of Israel.  I voted for the rights and life of the unborn. I voted for the poor immigrants that they would be able to have legalization of citizenship and opportunities for employment.  I voted for the sanctity of families that little boys and girls would have a mother and father, a home where the father has meaningful work, and if need be, the wife also.  

I voted for education, schools that have parental influence in the education of their children. I voted not for falsehood, but truth. I voted for proper health care and being able to choose any doctor, and not be strapped with a huge bureaucratic system with long lines and delayed care like Europe and Canada. 

I voted for a balanced budget and no debt so that my children and grandchildren will not be under the bondage of governmental bureaucracy.  I voted for energy independence providing inexpensive fuel for all, especially the poor, as well as providing many jobs.

When I was a child, I thought as a child and, therefore, I thought that others and the world would care for me. I believed in Santa Claus who would give me anything I wanted.  But when I became older, I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  However, I am ashamed to say that most of my country voted for Santa who would give free abortion, free contraceptives, free food, free medical care, free everything, not realizing that suddenly they will be slaves on Uncle Sam’s plantation.

However, as Christians we are to “seek the welfare of the city [the country]” we are living.  To be a light of the gospel in the darkness that people may in repentance and faith, trust Christ and grow in Him to His glory.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Discouraged, but Trusting God

Early November 7, I was very discouraged, not at who lost the Presidential Election, but who won! 

The person (and the party) is a proponent of excessive, aggressive abortion (not only abortion on demand, but by a simple request for any reason); the lose of religious freedom of Christian institutions, organizations, and missions; excessive debt and taxation; gay marriage; symbolism over substance;, forced health insurance that is extremely expensive and will bankrupt the country and the lose of good health care for all; the result of many poor worldwide being adversely effected by the millions of US jobless as a result of his policies; anti-protective military; anti-Israel; an anti-constitutionalist; and many other factors. 

Yes, many are even greatly disappointed and embarrassed by actions of fellow citizens swayed emotionally to vote for such a person and party.  

This morning I was reading Proverbs 7 and the description of a man (a people) who follow after the deceptions of others. “Suddenly he follows her (the deceived following the deceptive one) as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool” (Proverbs 7:22).

Romans One describes how God gives people “over to the lust of their flesh.”  This is where we are these days.  People voted for a party of sugar-daddies, of Santa Clauses, who give everything but really only provides gifts which enslave!

Praise God we can continue to trust Him as He is the one who raises up and puts down leaders, and He even uses the evil of men to praise Him.  

Even though dark, difficult days are here, this is exactly the time we, as Christians, need to shine and vote daily with the gospel and Christ-like lives shining in the darkness for His glory!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day One from 31 Days in Proverbs (Helpful Thoughts from Doug Nichols)

Day One from 31 Days in Proverbs (Helpful Thoughts from Doug Nichols)

Always Learning

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel...The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:5 & 7).

We need to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18) by spending time reading and studying His Word. Godly men and women are readers of the Word of God and good books; books which help us in life and ministry for Christ and to others, for "…only fools despise...instruction" (Proverbs 1:7).