Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Tribute to my Daddy

Proverbs 22:1 says that "a good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth…" I am very happy that my Daddy chose for me a good name!

We are all familiar with the following scripture, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." 
The scripture tells us of the gift that God gave to us as provision for our sin, is a gift given to all humans who accept it, regardless of who we are.  
In this way God's love is unconditional.

In much the same way, my earthly father's love for me has been unconditional. Even though I have not always been an obedient son -- by not honoring him as I am required -- nevertheless my Daddy has loved me.

Therefore, whatever I manage to write in this letter is in no way sufficient recognition of the impact and influence that my Daddy has had on my life. 

Whatever I manage to write in this letter is in no way sufficient expression of my admiration and respect for my Daddy. 

And whatever I manage to write in this letter is in no way sufficient confession of my love for my Daddy.

The scripture 1 John 3:18 says "…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

I know that I do not always act in ways that please my Daddy, but I also know that I am always loved by him because he always acts in ways that let me know that he loves me.

All of Daddy's family has been blessed by his generosity.
Yes, my Daddy is a giving man.  

I do not know of anyone more generous in giving to others.

And not only has he shown love and concern for me and his family, but to others as well.

Many times I've seen him help the needy on the street, reaching into his pocket and giving to them to meet their needs.

Over his lifetime, how many families has Daddy helped to move into a home? I don't know exactly, but I'm sure that it is in the thousands! 

He has helped people move into homes by evaluating their character, not their credit score.

Love at its core is not something you feel, an emotion, although you may feel it. 
Love is something that you do.
Love is proven as something that you do, though you may or may not say it. 
I can always see my Daddy's love in what he does.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We are God's creation

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

As believers, by the grace and mercy of our Father, we have all been born again to a new life in Christ.  We are no longer our old selves, but are a new creation.  Our new life is the life that God intended us to live before sin came into the world. 

"The old is gone. The new has come" 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

We've been created by God to fulfill His purpose in our lives.  He intends that we should do many good things.  Through his Holy Spirit, God makes known to us in our hearts all that He requires of us.  In pray and reflection, through reading His Word, we will come to understand.  

We recognize you as our creator.  Strengthen us daily to answer Your calling on our lives.  Make us humble creatures, ready to walk with You.  We pray in the name of Your Son Jesus Messiah. Amen.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Story of the Cross

The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was not an accident.  Instead, it is part of God's redemptive plan for mankind, set in motion at the foundation of creation.

God created man with freewill. Since the day Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, disobeying God and activating sin the world, man has been in need of redemption.

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, man continued to live in disobedience towards God.  

God's redemptive plan has been completed with the sacrifice of Jesus Messiah on the cross at Calvary. 

Jesus died for the sins of mankind.  Only Jesus, who was  pure and perfect, could be sufficient sacrifice, a complete atonement for the sins of mankind, now and forever.

Redemption from sin is a free gift of God's mercy and grace.  We need only accept Jesus, believing Him to be the atonement for our sins and believing Him to be the Son of God. 

"I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live through faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

We thank you for your precious gift of Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth.  You gave him the form of man, that He might live on the earth and die on the cross, a substitute for our sins, the death that we rightfully should have received, fulfilling the cost of our sin.
We pray in the name of the Son.  Amen

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A tribute to my mother

To my mother on your eighty-fourth birthday:

Dear Mama,

I want to take this opportunity to recognize and honor you.  

For you have loved me with the love of Christ.  
For like His children I have many times been undeserving and disobedient.
Like Christ, you have continued to love me unconditionally.

Mama, you have modeled for your children and grandchildren the life that Christ has called us to live --  helping others, living unselfishly, and always caring more for the needs of others than those of your own. 

God commanded us in Exodus 20:12  to "Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the LORD your God is giving to you."

Though I have failed to honor you as I should have, you are nevertheless fully deserving of honor.

Looking back to my childhood, I see in so many ways that you were deserving of honor.

You demonstrated for us how a woman lives a godly life and you modeled for us the character of Christian mother.  You always made sure that Susan and I were in Sunday School and Church.  When summertime rolled around we were in Bible School and when there was a Church camp, you drove us across the state to participate.

You encouraged me in confirmation class and I joined the church when I was 10 years old.

When I went away to school, hardly a day went by that I didn't receive a letter from you sending me news, encouragement, and just letting me know that you loved me.

You taught me the value of my cultural heritage and an appreciation of history in our town, county, and state. You took Susan and me on a trip to Virginia where we visited many historical places, encouraging us to learn from those who had come before us. You supervised my Boy Scout troop in cleaning out the trash from Miss Ida's house to make way for the Bedingfield Inn.  I remember you encouraging me and helping me to write a history paper in high school about a village being started in Lumpkin named Westville.  

And not only have you influenced your own family by living you faith, you have influenced countless people in your church and community. You have cared for the needs of the sick and disabled in your church.  You has served in many capacities but none more important to the children of your church than that of Sunday School teacher.  

Thank you for correction and punishment when I misbehaved.

Thank you for not disowning me when my hair was too long.

Thank you for your forgiveness when I got into trouble.

Thank you for loving me when I didn't show thankfulness.

Thank you for the unmerited favor you have given to me.

Thank you that when I thought that I needed a van you made curtains for it and helped me decorate it.

Thank you for the example that you set for me of empathy, energy, thoughtfulness, compassion, encouragement, drive, enthusiasm, and love.

Our grandmother Gatewood's words are true:

"I need no picture of my Mother's face. So full of loving kindness, strength and grace.
Her home a haven and refuge sweet.  And she's the center and charm of it."

I love you Mama.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Romans and service

"Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice - alive, holy, and pleasing to God - which is your reasonable service.  Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God - what is good and well-pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:1-2 NET

Because of the wonderful work of salvation that God has done in our lives, we must now give back to God a life of service dedicated to Him. 

Paul first asks us to live our lives in humility.  Each of us has been given gifts by God.  Though our gifts my not be the same as that of our neighbor, we must not think more highly of ourselves. Instead, we should learn to use the gifts that God has given to us in ways that are pleasing to Him.

Paul then asks us to live a life of love. 

  • Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. 
  • Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing the second fiddle
  • Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.  Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.  Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
  • Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
  • Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.
  • Laugh with your happy friends when they are happy; share tears when they're down.
  • Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up.  Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.
  • Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone.
  • After you've got it in you, get along with everybody.
  • Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do.  "I'll do the judging," says God.  "I'll take care of it."
  • Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink.  Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.
  • Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Romans 12:9-21 MSG
Father we pray that  we might renew our minds each day in Your Word.  Make our hearts into that of a servant.  Make us into humble creatures, ready to walk with You.  Let us live lives of love, dedicated to You. We pray in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Romans and salvation

Following Romans 3:23, Paul turns his focus from sin to salvation.

"But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:25

This is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible.  

Think of a person on trial by a judge.  As sinners, we are all in need of forgiveness. We know that we are guilty and stand in judgement by God. 

Yet, instead of the sentence that we have earned and deserve, God pronounces our innocence and right standing with Him. 

What just happened?  Was it something that we did?

No, we simply went in humility to God and believing not on our own inadequate work, but on the perfect work of Christ which God then reckons to us.

This pronouncement immediately changes our relationship with Him. 

We are no longer guilty.  Our sin debt has been paid completely.  We are now in Christ and have right standing with God.

Was there a cost to us for this gift of salvation? No, it is a gift freely given to us by God, its basis being God's own grace.

Father, we thank you for you gift of salvation made available to us through the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.  Though His blood, we are saved and come into right standing with You. We pray in the name of Christ. Amen.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Romans and sin

I'm currently studying Romans in Disciple class.  Our teacher divides Romans into five parts: sin, salvation, sanctification, setting aside of Israel, and service.

The first part deals with sin.  

Sin is any action of man that separates him from God. Sin came into the world through Adam. Paul makes it clear that all mankind is under judgement for sin.  No one is exempted.

In chapter one, Paul identifies several areas where man's sin is condemned by God. 

The first is man's ungodliness and unrighteousness.  Since the creation of the world, God's eternal power and divine nature have been made clear to man by that which God has made. Therefore man is without an excuse. The result is that God has given them over to the desire of their hearts. Romans 1:26

Man's failure to acknowledge God results in God giving them over to a depraved mind. Romans 1:28

Man is also condemned for judging others. 

"Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else.  For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things." Romans 2:1-2

 This sin results in God's judgement. Romans  2:3

God also condemns the Jew who teaches his children the law, but does not carry it out himself. Romans 2:17-22  

Paul goes on in quote the Scriptures to demonstrate that all of mankind is under judgement for sin. Romans  3:9-18

Paul rests his case that all are under judgement in Romans 3:20:
"For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20

We acknowledge that we are all under judgement for the sin we have committed again You. We cry out for your mercy!  We repent and accept your gift of redemption and salvation through Your Son's work on the cross.  We pray in the name of Christ. Amen

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend to Remember

Jaime and I returned home this afternoon from  "Weekend to Remember" held in Montgomery.  This is our second.  We attended in Atlanta in 2010.  George and LeeAnne attended Atlanta in 2011.  Jay and Jessica, Orlando in 2011.

If you are not familiar with "Weekend to Remember", it is a marriage ministry of FamilyLife. It is designed for couples interested in growing stronger marriages by incorporating God's truth into our relationship.

We joined 250 couples seeking to experience renewal and growth in our marital relationship.  

I'm not going to try to outline or condense the weekend, but I'll mention a few points that were important to me.

Marriage is designed by God and is defined by God. It is about more than just our happiness.  Marriage is at the center of God's purpose for mankind.  

God purpose for marriage contains three concepts.

First, marriage is intended to mirror God's image.  

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27
Jesus spoke of the  oneness of marriage, created by God in Matthew:

"…Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female,  and said 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." Matthew 19:4-6

Jesus also prayed for us that believers who are of one flesh may also become one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

"The glory you have me, I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one -- I in them, you in me -- that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me." John 17:22-23

Second, marriage is intended to mutually complete one another -- to experience companionship.Companionship in marriage is God's provision to replace isolation  and meet our deep longing for a close intimate relationship.  This relationship comes ahead of our relationship with our children.  It is also important that children see their parents' marriage as the priority relationship.

Oneness in marriage is only possible when we consider our spouse before ourselves.

In Philippians, Paul says:

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 

Finally, marriage is designed to multiply a godly legacy.  Marriage provides the divine context for having children.  Neither women nor men are made emotionally, spiritually or physically to raise children by themselves.  Child rearing requires a united effort.

And God blessed them.  And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Genesis 1:28a

Lead us down the path that brings oneness to our relationship with our spouse and with You.  Keep us reminded that if we fail to draw closer to each other and to You, we can only be drawn apart and into isolation. We pray in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

God's Word

Believers talk to God through prayer and listen to Him though His Word. The Bible is His divinely inspired Word.  My focus here is on God's Word.

My first memory verse is:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful in teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16

God did not physically write the Bible himself.  Instead, the scriptures have been written by the hand of man, but divinely inspired by God.

As believers we accept the Bible as God's truth and the revelation to man of God's character. Though written over a period of over 1500 years, on 3 continents, and by more than 40 men, the Bible remains inerrant.  Neither does it contain contraction.  

When we read the Bible, we should read it expectantly, listening to God as He speaks to us. Sometimes we are convicted of a sin that God makes known to us.  Other times we are uplifted by His love for us. We may receive guidance in times of difficulty and support in times of sorrow.

My second memory verse is:
"Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you will be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8

In this verse, Joshua refers to the "Book of the Law" or the Torah.  We know this writing as the first five books of the Bible, God's divinely inspired Word, written by Moses.

Don't let it "depart from your mouth", but keep it on your lips each day.

We are commanded to meditate and to do it.  Read God's Word.  As you read, listen, allowing God to speak to you through His Word.  

But meditation is not enough.  We are tasked to "do everything in it." This means that God wants us to apply His Word that He speaks to us to our lives.  He wants us to live obediently.  

Yes God wants us to live obediently, but look at our benefit. The result will be that we will live lives of prosperity and success!  

Our grandmother has a wonderful poem entitled The Bible.

O Word of God eternal, preserv'd through all the ages,
O gift of God supernal, with wisdom on thy pages.
O lamp of life, so radiant, shed light upon my way,
O pow'r of God, invariant, save souls today, I pray.

O book of inspiration, by the Holy Spirit sent,
God's message of salvation, for the whole wide world 'twas meant.
O word of revelation, the love of Christ revealing,
The one book of creation, no act of God concealing.

O sword of God, so piercing, that severs joints and marrow,
The love of God rehearsing, who cares e'en for a sparrow.
O wonderful discerner, of the thoughts of ev'ry heart
Oh, let me be a leaner of every sacred part.

O hammer of God, that breaks the stubborn and stony heart,
O comfort of heart that aches, with balm for every smart;
O wonderful Word of God, unerring and unfailing,
Applied to my sinful heart is sure and all availing.

Cordelia Hawkins Gatewood

Father, we thank you for Your Word.  We thank You that You speak to us through Your Scriptures.  We lift up Your Name in praise and thanksgiving for all of Your many gifts. We pray in the name of Christ. amen

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Obedience in Christ

Obedience may be the most called for command in the Bible.  

Throughout the Word we can find this command over and over. 

I have two memory verses this week.  The topic for my memory verses this week is "Obedience to Christ". Here is the first verse:

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21 NIV

What a wonderful reward we have in exchange for our obedience.  We will be loved by God and Christ, and will have Christ show himself to us. With such a magnificent promise of divine love and confidence that Christ's nature is being revealed to us, how could we not accept His will for us that we keep HIs commands? 

My second memory verse is:

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 NIV"

Paul is calling us to consecration.  In light of God's mercies for us, we dedicate our whole selves to be transformed into the living image of Christ.   We are to surrender to His will and commands, and living in such a way as  to bring glory Christ.

Paul then goes on in Romans 12:2 to command us not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed to His image. Renewing our spirit daily in the Word.

Our grandmother wrote to us the following poem:

By the mercies of God, I beseech you
Your body to Him to present,
A sacrifice, holy, acceptable,
Which will bring you heart's ease and content.

Be ye daily renew'd in your spirit
To this world be not conformed;
Thus you are proving the good will of God,
To His image being transformed.

Day by day, lay your life on the alter
In complete surrender to Him;
Let your love and your purpose ne'er falter,
Thus your living will glorify Him.

Cordelia Hawkins Gatewood

We face each day decisions where we have the opportunity to accept or reject obedience.  Make each an opportunity of acceptance of Christ's love.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A new life in Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
God wants us to become reconciled with Him. This has always been His plan for us and He draws us to Himself.
When we accept His invitation by receiving Jesus into our hearts, we experience a transformation. We become new creatures, having the Holy Spirit living inside us.
The fact that we become this new creation results in the replacement of our old, morally unsound self with an entirely new one. A new self that desires to grow as a believer in a new direction and with new convictions.
The source of our new creation is Christ!
As we live in your sphere as Your new creations, we are thankful that the old has gone and the new has come. We ask that You guide and direct us as we walk as You lead us. We pray in Christ's name. amen

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Living in peace

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage." John 14:27

When Jesus told his disciples that He would be going away, He explained to them that the Holy Spirit would be coming to them from God as their helper, advocate, and to be their counselor. Through the Holy Spirit we are to have peace daily.
The peace that Christ brings to us is a gift. We can only have it when Christ comes into ours hearts. How will we respond to His gift?
We respond with acceptance of God's sovereignty over our lives. When we accept our circumstances, knowing that God plan for each of us is a good plan that is created specifically for us, we are strengthened to face all trials with courage. Using the same faith though which we received Him into our lives we can step out, facing each day in faith.
"If I'm going to have the peace of God in my heart I must accept His view of my circumstances and rest in His love and power to see me through it. " Dr. Charles Stanley

Perhaps Paul best expresses this idea best when he said:
In every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

Thank you for the Holy Spirit who provides peace to us each day of our lives. Peace no matter our circumstances. Help us to respond to Your gift of peace in the way you intended -- through our relationship with You provided by Christ. We pray in the name of Your Son. Amen

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Conviction and condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

"Conviction" and "condemnation" are terms that you may have heard, but not fully understand.

In reading your bible and listening to sermons, we will frequently hear the terms that may at first seem to be very similar.

It is important to see that the two are very different.

Conviction happens in the believer's life when the Holy Spirit tells us that something that we have done or are contemplating is not in agreement with God's will for us.

For example, if we have not prepared well for a test we are to take in school, we may have considered the possibility of cheating. We know that cheating is wrong and we hear the Holy Spirit telling us so.

Maybe we have heard something about someone at work that we don't know to be true, yet we repeat it to a co-worker. Again, the Holy Spirit is there to tell us what we've just done is wrong and let's us know that we should repent and ask for forgiveness.

In these two examples, the Holy Spirit is convicting us. He is helping us to remember what is right and what is wrong.

God created us for fellowship with Himself. We were created for His pleasure.

When we choose to live apart from God, we live in sin. The result of this sin is condemnation by God.

Once we become Christians, we are no longer condemned by God for sin. That is the good news! Being born again makes us new creations in Christ. We are no longer our old self and Christ now lives his life in us and through us.

If we sin after becoming Christians we are not condemned, but through repentance, we receive forgiveness through Christ's death on the cross.


We rejoice that we are no longer living under condemnation, but are new creatures in Christ. We thank you for the Holy Spirit who convicts us of any wrong doing and for Your grace to grant us forgiveness. We pray to you in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen