Statement of faith

2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (NIV)

"The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.
- Warren


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: June 17, 2013                                  pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

One of my all time favorite songs is “Friend of God.” I don’t care when I hear this song it always makes me smile and my spirit is lifted. In my inner circle of “sisters in Christ;” a few of them have been known to see me twirling around with my hands raised like a little kid as I claim these words as my own. Let me share just a few lines of this uplifting tune. If you want to hear it in its entirety I usually enjoy listening to Travis Cottrell’s version of the song. It is truly amazing to be called a “friend of God!”

Friend of God
Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How you Love me
It's Amazing

How you Love me
It's Amazing

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

The great news of having a friendship with Jesus Christ is the promise that if it is genuine, it will never end. I love the account of restored friendship with Jesus at Calvary. When Jesus was crucified two criminals were on each side of him. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:40-43).

Last week I was compelled to encourage you as it relates to the brevity of life. I hope you had a chance to read that devotion. I cannot think of anything more important than to continue to help others experience the value and blessing of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus the ultimate “BFF” has you on His mind every second of every day and that should cause you to twirl around with joyful anticipation of Heaven.

The two criminals on each side of Jesus represent the choice each of us will be required to make at some point in our life. For some this decision will reflect that of the sinner who decided at the very end to turn to Christ. Although we need to praise God that salvation is still possible as long as we have breath in us; I have to ask, "why would one want to forfeit the rewards (blessings) of His faithful friendship until mortality becomes a reality?" Wouldn't it be better to turn to God early on to experience His amazing love, forgiveness, grace, mercy and fellowship throughout life?

Tragically some will chose the path of the other criminal. They will deny Christ to death and forfeit paradise. Today it is my prayer that “few” would become “many” as I end with Jesus’ teaching about entering the Kingdom.

Luke 13:22-30
Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied,
“The door to heaven is narrow. Work hard to get in, because many will try to enter, but when the head of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. Then you will stand outside knocking and pleading. ‘Lord, open the door for us!” But he will reply. “I don’t know you.” You will say, “but we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. And he will reply, “I tell you, I don’t know you. Go away, all you who do evil.” And there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets within the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. Then people will come from all over the world to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who are despised now will be greatly honored then; and some who are greatly honored now will be despised then.”

“Work hard to get in” seems to contradict the teaching that it is by faith alone that we are saved. It’s important to understand that Jesus was not saying that we have more “good works" to do in order to earn a place with Him in Heaven. He is reiterating a relational aspect. The Life’s Application explains it this way. “Obviously we cannot save ourselves – there is no way we can work ourselves into God’s favor. We “work hard to get in” through the narrow door by earnestly desiring to know Jesus and diligently striving to follow him whatever the cost. We dare not put off making this decision because the door will not stay open forever.

Knowing Jesus and being known by Jesus does not manifest void of repentance and acknowledgement of our sins. Jesus is explaining that despite the fact that many people will claim to know something about Him, only a few will actually acknowledge their sins and therefore accept His gift of forgiveness. We are told that there will be many surprises in God’s Kingdom.

It would be a tragic mistake to think that God will be looking at us through worldly eyes. It will not matter who we were, where we lived, what kind of status we held, our nationality, how much money we have, or who we knew. What is going to matter is this; were we committed to Christ? Did He know our voice? Were there common values between us? Did our actions reflect obedience to that of which He taught in His Word?

Friends, there is going to be a Heavenly feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Word seems to clarify that in order to be admitted, we must be known as a friend of the King (Malachi 4:16-18). Imagine for a moment the blessing it will be for the King to announce you as His friend. Imagine this introduction. “Today my friend is in paradise with me. We have known each other for many years. I have taught, he/she has listened and allowed me to help him/her every step of the way. It’s not always been easy and I have had to exercise much patience with him/her, but it’s been so worth it to have my friend here with me forever.” May your decisions bring about eternal blessings?

In Christ by faith,
Pam

Going Deeper:
What happens after death?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quiet-Time Reflections

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Week of: June 10, 2013                                                  pmcrawford1@gmail.com
Sharing by: Pam Crawford

Today is a gift, but it is also a mystery. We have no idea how this day will end, but oh how blessed is the one who knows the One who ends it. With that said I will simply ask that you reflect on the following revelation.

Revelation 20:11-15: 
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens  fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV) 

BREVITY OF LIFE
What is this Book of Life? As I understand it, it represents the names of those who have put their trust in Christ to save them? The vision given to John indicates that there are no gray areas as it relates to the destination of choice. One will either choose to be united with Christ forever in Heaven; or separated from God to reside with Satan and his followers in Hades (hell).

What is the Lake of Fire? This is the place where Satan will never be a threat to man-kind again. Because Satan’s power is not eternal the Word of God tells us that he will eventually meet his doom, but it also tells us he will not be alone. In verse 10 of Chapter 20 we read “Then the Devil, who betrayed them, was thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur, joining the beasts and the false prophets. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Lately, we have had many opportunities to ponder the brevity of life. With the horrific nature of school shootings in this country; the destruction of entire neighborhoods as the result of storms, and more and more acts of terrorism; one can’t help but to reflect on the precious nature of life and how quickly it can all end. Each morning we rise and make our own plans for the day with no guarantee that we will return home. You only need to reflect on the recent news reports in this country to know that I am not exaggerating the fragile nature of mankind. In an instant the direction of life can be changed by unexpected tragedy and then it’s too late.

Although it is certainly important that we send our loved ones out the door each day knowing that we love them; it is more important that they know with whom they will reside should they be called from this world without the luxury of a warning. This is so important and I encourage you to adopt the mentality that silence is not golden when it comes to eternal decisions.

Many people will and have claimed Heaven without any relationship with Christ whatsoever. Maybe this is why Jesus spoke these words to His disciples found in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’

It appears from Matthew’s words that Jesus was introducing the concept of having a personal relationship with Him (knowing who He is) above religious intellect (knowing about Him). This might be hard for some of you to hear; but it sounds to me that Jesus will not be taking to the Father those who have rejected Him on this earth. Contrary to what some have believed, the Bible teaches that we don’t get our names written in the “Book of Life” void of Jesus Christ.

Opening the Word you will discover for yourself that it is only through what Jesus did at Calvary that we are offered the gift of grace (undeserved favor) and salvation (the gift of eternal life). It is also important to understand that it is not about how “good” we are or the “good things” we have done, because in the end it will all fade away. If our life does not include acceptance of Jesus Christ in our hearts, the Word makes it crystal clear it will have been in vain. Jesus tells us with great clarity that He is the way to the Father and nobody gets there by by-passing Him (John 14:6).

At this point I believe we might begin to see the value of Paul’s words to “pray continually or without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) as it relates to those in our lives who are rejecting Christ in their lives. People can say they believe in God, and in some cases they may even sit in church on Sunday mornings; but without the evidence of Christ in their everyday lives there may very well be an element of deception (James 1:19-27). Intercession is a wonderful avenue for God to draw them to Himself and through prayer we can be a part of His everlasting work.

I desire for everyone to know that placing ones faith in Jesus and having your name written in the “Book of Life” is the beginning of wonderful blessings. Make no mistake however that it will require repentance and relationship. Through this you will not only get to know God personally; but joy from that relationship will encourage you to love and obey God like never before. It will empower you to do good things for others solely because you want to honor and bring Him the joy. And, it will give you the courage to speak up (1 Peter 3:15-16) in ways you never imagined being inside you. It is a blessing to help others see that you don’t earn your way into Heaven. It is a “free gift” from the Savior and it is available to anyone who chooses Him. Time is short and I will pray for these words to be absorbed into someone’s heart today. If God lays someone on your heart, feel free to share this writing forward. Do not fear rejection of man as there is too much at stake.

So, how does one begin to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ if you have not yet taken the steps? First, you stop making excuses that the Word is too hard to understand and you open it. There you will find the power for life. Then set aside the busyness of life and make God a priority. Ask Him to help you understand what He desires for your life. Invite the Savior to come into your heart and rest in the assurance that His Spirit will help you discern and obey whatever you discover. As a believer you get to stand on the promise of John 16:13, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

By accepting Christ and applying God’s truths to our life; we get to know our Heavenly Father intimately. Imagine this blessing for a moment ~ your name, yes I said your name jumps off the page when the “Book of Life” is opened! I don’t know about you, but I can hardly imagine that moment. Praise you Father for never giving up on your creation.

Well, what will it be; eternal life or eternal death? Remember, tomorrow is not promised to anyone so choose wisely today. Be the voice of Jesus to this lost world. Share the promise found in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Be blessed

In Christ by grace,
Pam

GOING DEEPER:
“To Whom Are You Listening To?”

HELPFUL RESOURCES:

“Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” -2 Timothy 2:19