Testimony – Jose

I give thanks to God for the love He showed me since I was born.

I had the great privilege to be brought up in a Christian family. My mother particularly, was a strong help for my spiritual growth. So my knowledge of God increased in this environment. Thanks to the Bible I was discovering step by step along with the personal stories of my mother, I started to understand how good it is to be a Christian. In my teenage, my understanding of the real nature of the Christian was brightened.

I made up my mind: I wanted to be obedient and pleasing to God.

My faith had grown and I desired God’s personal approval. At that time, I learnt how important it is to have personal experiences with God and to be saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. My search started then and in my prayers I asked God for this salvation. Deep in my heart, I was wondering how I could be sure of being saved and I wanted to hear God’s voice with my ears. While wondering I waited my entire teenage years. Meanwhile, I tried my best to be a real Christian, but at that time, I began to discover the temptations of sensual pleasures. I started swinging between two worlds, following my friends. Yet, I thank God for His Spirit Who warned me at the right times and brought about circumstances to prevent me from drifting too far. Anyway, by the end of high school, as I was neglecting to pray earnestly for my salvation, God made a way at last to help me overcome sin. He led me to true repentance, forsaking bad desires and deeds. I endeavoured in honesty but I didn’t hear the sweet voice of God. God had saved me but I didn’t want to believe it.

I’m thankful to God that He finally helped me understand that Salvation is by faith.

Some months later, He showed me His favor when I was up against a problem and I heard His Spirit whispering to my mind, “do you think I would deliver you if you weren’t my child?” It encouraged me and my joy was absolute a year later when God renewed His encouragement. Through the Bible, He spoke personally to me, “Come back to me for I have redeemed you!”

Since that day, I experienced the Love of a Father for his child and I can say, “It’s simply wonderful”. God is my all in all. I continue to grow spiritually, my life is in His hands and I live in peace with no condemnation in mind.

I encourage everyone to receive Jesus as their personal Saviour, for He takes control of everything if we just obey.

Foot Surgery – 8 May

Foot Surgery

“God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.” – 2 Samuel 22:33

Having surgery on both feet meant I was forced to slow down my usually fast gait. Initially I was in a wheelchair, dependant on my husband for my most basic needs, and then I faced a painful rehabilitation period. The support boots I was given would not have appealed to me before surgery, but after the wheelchair, I was glad to wear them while the broken bones healed. When I took my first few steps, I soon realized that the boots not only supported me, but also protected my broken feet from harm. As I slowly regained strength, I became very appreciative of the public facilities for people with disabilities and everything else that eased and aided my recovery.

Recuperating gave me a new insight on spiritual hardships that we face. The Lord allows trials to come into all of our lives for different reasons—maybe to prepare us for a future role He has for us, to make us more empathetic toward others, or to teach us lessons we could not gain otherwise. Like recovering from a physical ailment, those trials are challenging, often painful, and require much patience. However, the Lord is always there to provide the aid and support we need to make it through.

Looking back, I can remember many times in my life when the Lord helped me as I went through hardship and was spiritually weak. As a young Christian especially, it seemed that any trial could have shaken my trust in God. I was dependent on Him for my most basic needs, yet He always supplied what my soul required. He strengthened me through prayer, gave me promises from His Word that I could stand on, and encouraged me through church services and the family of God. Those aids did not make the trials easy, but they helped tremendously.

Now that my bones have healed, I wear a custom-made support in my shoe when I plan to be on my feet for long periods of time. How comforting and humbling it is to know that the Lord continues to provide custom-made support for us in our walk with Him! As long as we remember where our strength comes from, He will always help us through whatever comes our way.

Lost In Seattle – 7 May

Lost in Seattle

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.” – John 14:6

Years ago, my wife and I were entertaining some friends from South Africa. We took them on a tour of Seattle, Washington, beginning with the Space Needle. Parking was scarce, so we ended up walking several blocks from our car to the Space Needle. From there, we decided to visit the Science Center.

The weather was nice, so I went to take our coats back to the car. You might be able to guess what happened next: I got lost. After an hour, I did find the car, but not before I had exhausted myself and caused my wife and our guests some concern for my safety. One good thing came of it though—I learned a profound lesson. My guest, an older gentleman, told me that in the future, when looking for my car, I should go back to the first place I had visited after parking and start looking from there. It is a simple concept, but it illustrated a deeper truth.

In our Christian walk, it is also possible to get “lost.” Perhaps this happens because of a lack of faithfully reading and praying, or maybe because some circumstance in life challenges our faith. We may forget why the Gospel is so wonderful and why we are living to glorify God. When we lose sight of those fundamental principles of our faith, it is easy to feel lost.

At those times, it is important that we have a good strategy for getting back on the right path. We could spend much time trying on our own to find the right way, but our focus verse reminds us that Jesus is the Way. No matter how confused or disoriented we are, we can always look back to our first experience in the Gospel—salvation through Jesus—to get re-oriented. Once we remember that first step, everything else comes back into perspective. Gratitude overwhelms us and we remember why we love God and why we chose to serve Him.

Thomas van Kempis, a Catholic monk and author from the fifteenth century, once said, “Without the Way, there is no going; Without the Truth, there is no knowing; Without the Life, there is no living.” Indeed, Jesus is the only Way. Today, if you feel lost or confused, you can return to the true meaning of life by going to Jesus. You need not wander any longer.

In Good Hands – 6 May

In Good Hands

“And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.” – Genesis 33:2

Before I left home for a four-month trip out of the country, my dad was very nervous. In fact, from his reaction to my decision to leave, someone who did not know him well might have thought he was angry. Yet, I knew he was only concerned for my safety. My dad does not like to risk losing the things he holds dear, no matter how small the risk might be. Thankfully, as the time of my departure drew near, the Lord gave him peace about the situation. God showed my dad that He could protect me in a foreign country just as well as He had protected me for my entire life in the United States.

While it is important to appreciate and take care of the blessings we have in life, we must be sure we do not hold those things too close, withholding them from the One who gave them to us and hindering Him from using them for His purpose. In the account our focus verse comes from, Jacob had to let go of everything he valued. He began by letting go of the least precious of his possessions—his cattle and flocks. He sent part of those goods ahead as a peace offering to his brother, Esau, to appease him for stealing his birthright. Then, when he saw the great army accompanying Esau, Jacob sent his handmaids and their children across the brook too. As Esau drew closer, Jacob sent Leah and her children across, and finally he sent the ones he held most dear—Rachel and Joseph.

 

Jacob was a true example of trusting God. All the signs indicated that Esau was still angry over his stolen birthright and blessing, and Jacob thought his brother might destroy everything sent before him. Yet, Jacob knew God wanted him to make right the things he had done to his brother, so he obeyed God and put everything in His hands. When it was all done and Jacob had let go of everything, God was satisfied. God softened Esau’s heart toward Jacob, and peace was restored between the two brothers.

Like Jacob, we need to put everything we have “over the brook” if we want God to work for us. We cannot keep even the most precious of our treasures. It is difficult to trust someone else with what we cherish, but who would care for those things better than the loving and merciful God who gave them to us? Even though our hearts tell us to hang on, it is to our advantage to let go so God can use those things for His glory. If we give our treasures to the Keeper of all things, they will be in good Hands.

Greenwich Mean Time – May 5

Greenwich Mean Time

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

Recently, my wife and I had the privilege of visiting London, England. We stayed in a section of town where the Royal Observatory is located, which is on the Prime Meridian—longitude zero. There, the time, commonly known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), is set for the whole world. All other time zones follow this clock, and life would be very confusing without it.

Thinking about that standard of time, I began to ponder God’s perspective of time. Time is one of the most valuable things God gives us in this life, and it is vital that we have our perspectives on the matter aligned to His. God’s view of time is sometimes different from ours because He views time in light of eternity; however, we can learn much about His perspective through His Word.

 

One fact about God’s time is that seeking Him is an urgent command. As soon as He speaks to our hearts, it is time to respond! Scripture says, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found” (Isaiah 55:6), and, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). We do not have to wait for an appointed time to seek God; He wants us to seek Him now.

The Bible also tells us that we are to be laborers in the Gospel today. Not next week, or next year, or after we are “settled” in life, but today. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). We do not know when the night will come, but it has not come yet, so we must work for Him today.

The Psalmist said, “My times are in thy hand” (Psalm 31:15), and that is a fact for us as well. It is in God’s hands to end our time on earth through death or Jesus’ Second Coming, and He has already appointed the timing of those events. In fact, God has even appointed the day when one of His angels will declare that “there should be time no longer” (Revelation 10:6), and then eternity will begin. Thus, we need to act with the knowledge that this life is only temporary, and the life hereafter is eternal. If we keep that in mind, we will follow the good advice someone once passed on to me: “Live in such a way that what you do in life outlives you.”

Our life is the duration of time that God gives us to accomplish something for Him. If we follow the wise counsel of our focus verse, we will surely be pleased when Greenwich Mean Time “is no longer.” May God help us to thank Him for giving us the precious commodity of time, and to use it for His glory.

Father in Heaven, Help me to be faithful to use the time that You have given me for the honor and glory of Your name. May it be said of me, “He may rest from his labors, but his works do follow him.” Amen.

Gifts – 4 May

Gifts

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” – James 1:17

“I got your package today!” my niece told me excitedly over the phone. Several days before, I had mailed her a birthday gift, and she had been anxiously waiting for it. When it arrived she was so happy to get it, and she made sure to call and thank me.

We all love to receive gifts, whether for a special occasion or for no reason at all. Gifts are even better when the gift giver takes time to think of something we will like or need. When someone is thoughtful enough to find a gift that we will truly appreciate, and then they purchase it for us simply because they love us, we are most grateful.

Our Heavenly Father is truly the best Gift Giver. His primary gift is that of salvation, bought with Jesus’ own precious Blood—a very high price for a gift! Sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are also available to all. Sometimes God gives us a healing when we are sick or injured, or comfort when we have sorrow. Many times, He gives us blessings of joy and peace, showering us with His precious Holy Spirit. He knows exactly what we need and is ready to give it, and when we receive His gifts, words cannot express our thankfulness.

 

It will take our entire lifetime to receive all God has for us, yet some gifts He wants to give right now, such as salvation, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Unlike waiting for a package to arrive in the mail, there is no reason to wait for these gifts—they are only a prayer away! And just as a birthday gift is not something we earn, we do not earn God’s gifts either: He gives them to us when we ask with a sincere heart.

These gifts are all free, but it is up to the individual to claim them through faith. What gift is waiting for you today? God, who “daily loadeth us with benefits” (Psalm 68:19), has something for you. Go ahead and claim it!

Secret Place – 3 May

Secret Place

“There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen: The lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.” – Job 28:7-8

A missionary was once transferred from one village to another, but because he did not know how to find his new village, he had to follow a guide through the dense jungle. This missionary began to be wary and questioned the guide as to whether their trail was in fact leading them to the right village. The missionary persisted to the point that the guide said, “See these wounds in my arms? See these scratches on my brow? See this machete? I made this trail!” At that point there were no more questions.

Our focus verse speaks of a place that the vulture’s eye has not seen, and the lions do not know exists. This is a place where we can commune with God—a place of peace and calm where no enemies lurk in the shadows, and there is no fear of interruption or attack. It is a place that cannot be destroyed by the things we experience in life, because it is hidden away from this world. No one is there but God and the soul who seeks Him.

Anyone can find this place of quietness, but we will not find it in the jungle. We find it on our knees by our beds, at the altars of our churches, in our prayer closets at home—we find it in prayer. Our Guide, Jesus, leads us along the path that He created—and we know He made the path because of the stripes on His back and His nail-scarred hands. When He died on the Cross, He made an entryway into the Holy of Holies, a place of solemn communion with God. That secret place of peace forms around us when we close ourselves in with Christ and fully surrender our will to Him.

One of our greatest endeavors in life is to find this place of full surrender. It cannot be seen with the naked eye, but the eye of faith knows that it is there and can find it by persevering in prayer until the light breaks through. And because of Jesus’ sacrifice, “whosoever will” may come to this haven of rest.

Have you seen the place which the vulture’s eye hath not seen? Have you walked where the fierce lions have not trodden? Our Guide knows where it is, and we have no reason to doubt where He leads. If we follow Him, He will take us there.

London Olympics needs your prayers

Yes, it is round the corner. It is exciting, it is fun, it is great to see areas being developed. But unfortunately, the Devil always wishes to turn a moment of shared happiness into a moment of pain and terror. Also, we will meet so much more people on the street, on the bus, on the underground and overground, which presents so much more people we can minister to and tell about Jesus saving grace.

So, as we remember the olympics, let’s pray for the light of Jesus to reach to empty souls, even in countries where they do not have the open opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ. May we be shining examples, radiant in God’s love. We cannot share Christ if we do not have Him in our hearts. We need to have Jesus’ blood on our hearts and His grace within us.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. John 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

We pray for peace before, during and after the events. Get encouraged from Psalm 27:1-3.

1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of
my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Be Ye Not Troubled – 2 May

Be Ye Not Troubled

“And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.” – Mark 13:7

When the war in Iraq began, it seemed virtually impossible to escape the many images of warfare. For weeks, the news of “wars and rumors of wars” was broadcast twenty-four hours a day on television and radio. Even after the intense news coverage ended, disheartening stories from around the world seemed to flow without end. We read of unstable governments posing a threat to our nation, minority groups in other countries who are powerless and oppressed, and diseases with no cures that spread at alarming rates. To be sure, these are distressing days.

The news reports we hear about are serious and not to be ignored, but if we are not careful, we could find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Thankfully, God is our help in these trying times. We cannot escape the fact of war, but we can keep a balance between watching the news and reading the Word of God.

There is comfort in God’s Word. Promises in the Bible remind us that we serve a God who never ceases to be in control, regardless of what circumstances look like or what the media report is. Our focus verse tells us that He knew these trying times would come, yet He said, “Be ye not troubled.” We can care for those who are hurt by the evils of our day, but we need not be troubled. The same God who spoke the world into existence is still in control of everything that happens upon it.

When we surrendered our lives to God through His Son Jesus, we entered into a covenant with the Most High God. He promises to keep and protect us, and He will shield us in the time of trouble. While we stay abreast with what is going on around the world, let us not neglect to stay in tune to God’s voice and obey His Word. God can never fail—He is faithful and true.