Saturday, January 30, 2010

Marking The Path Has Won An Award!

Thank you to Susan from The Reliant Self for nominating Marking The Path for the Best Blog Award. Susan's blog is written in a very entertaining style that provides informative tips on everything from how to make your own soap, preparing for an emergency, what to do with powdered milk, and much more. Where were you during Y2K? A great site! Visit her when you get a chance.

The Best Blog Award rules:

To accept the award, you must post it on your blog along with the name of the person who has honored you with the award, and include a link to his/her blog. Then you must choose 15 other blogs that you believe deserve the honor of Best Blog. You must contact each of the bloggers you choose and let them know you have honored them. Include a link to your post, along with the rules, so they will know what to do.

It was not an easy task choosing which 15 bloggers to give this award to, because so many people deserve this honor. Here are my picks in no particular order:

Nikon Sniper – I absolutely love Stephen Baird's photos.  Very talented!

A Handmaiden’s Journey – Alli shares her experiences as a young believer in a fresh and honest way.

Artisan of the Human Spirit – Tony provides an award-winning view on Christian living.

Christian Thoughts – Sonya has a big heart for helping people "navigate life."

Faded Ladies – Deb and Rose are two lovely ladies who practice the fine art of encouragement, while burning the candle at both ends. I'm praying for you Rose!

Good Morning Ladies – A beautiful person who urges us to keep going no matter what life brings.

Harmony – Uniquely His – I enjoy Shirley's loving but honest views on life.

John Threesixteen – John is a man who truly loves the Lord and loves to share God’s Word with others.

Joy Unspeakable – Jane is a person whose mission is to help others find their joy … and she does it so well.

Just a Sinner’s Thoughts – One of my first readers … TheSinner brings fresh insight into "real" Christian living.

Writing4Heaven – Kromagg73 shares his honest insights into the up and downs of the life of a believer.

U|SK8 – I applaud these young men who live by the theme “Skate Hard! Pray Hard!”

The Journey to Destiny – LaVetta is a beautiful person who has dedicated her blog to motivating fellow believers. Very inspiring!

The Balance Beam – Charlene uses humor to help her readers learn how to find balance in their life.

Untraveled Path - Costume Queen came up with a great idea to invite bloggers to celebrate 14 Days of Thankfulness. The 14 days have come and gone, but the site is still very interesting to return to.

Susan, thanks again for the award.  I believe it is important to encourage one another, and you have certainly encouraged me.  I think I feel a sermon coming on ...

May God bless you all!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Overcoming Troubles

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
(Habakkuk 3:17-19)
General George Armstrong Custer is a name familiar to everyone. He was an Indian fighter in the west over a hundred years ago. Despite all of his bravery, he is best known for his defeat to the Sioux Indians at the Little Big Horn River. His troop was ambushed, and all 250 men perished.

But there was one way that Custer could have easily won the battle against the Sioux. If Sitting Bull had sent his braves one by one against Custer, instead of sending all of them at once, the Sioux could have easily been beaten, and the history books would read quite differently today.

It’s a lot like troubles. If troubles would just come one by one, we could easily defeat them. But when troubles come, they come in squadrons against us, and they overwhelm us, just as Custer was overwhelmed at the Little Big Horn.

You all know what I’m talking about. At times we have troubles that just seem to gang up on us all at once …

• The dog runs away …
• Our arthritis acts up …
• Bills are coming in faster than the money to pay them …
• Our children won’t act right …
• The car breaks down …
• When our spouse walks away …

I could go on and on and on. We can handle our troubles one at a time, but they never seem to come just one at a time.

Psalm 118 attests well to the coming of trouble: “all nations surround me …. They surround me on every side …. They surround me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns … I was pushed so hard that I was falling!” (Psalm 118:10-13 RSV)

Trouble is a familiar foe. It seems to have a pass key to every home, and a reserved seat at our dining room table.

We can understand when trouble comes to the wicked and ungodly. After all don’t their actions deserve the trouble they get into? But when trouble comes to us or to other innocent people, it is a far different matter.

There seems to be four different attitudes we take towards trouble when it comes knocking at our door. There is unbelieving … intellectualizing … resigning … and believing.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getting Reacquainted with Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
(Psalm 23)

Psalm 23 has to be one of the most quoted texts in the Bible. This powerful psalm only contains six verses, but they are 118 words that meet us in times of need.

These words have entered many a sick room. They have been recited at many a funeral. And they have dried many, many tears. But it is our familiarity with this text that may keep us from the daily help this psalm can actually provide.

Today I want us to get reacquainted with Psalm 23. These gentle, yet powerful words that are as familiar to us as the Lord’s Prayer or John 3:16.

Let’s discover what makes this psalm so helpful to all who apply its message?

We begin with Verse 1, which presents the Shepherd.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Living Righteous In an Unrighteous World

“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations,
and Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9)

We live in a world full of unrighteousness.

People today have put the love of money before the love of God. Tricked out cars, electronic gadgets, and celebrities have become the idols of today. Many people do not think twice before using the Lord’s name in vain. To some Sunday has become just another day of the week. Many do not respect themselves; much less honor their parents. Murder is rampant. Adultery and stealing are rarely blinked at. And, it seems everyone wants something that belongs to someone else.

So, is it possible to live righteous in an unrighteous world?

Daniel did it. The Bible tells us that the prophet Daniel was just a teenager when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem and took him captive. The Babylonians were idol worshippers, but Daniel was determined to live by God’s law. He was educated at the king’s court, but he refused to defile himself by doing anything that was against God’s will. Daniel’s enemies tried to destroy him because he refused to stop praying to God, but God‘s grace protected Daniel and his enemies were destroyed instead. Daniel was a man who lived out his commitment to God during very troubled times, and his devotion to God brought him protection, favor, promotion, authority and prosperity.

Abraham did it. Abraham was raised up in a family of idolaters. God singled him out and told him to leave his family behind. God knew that Abraham could not continue among his people because he would be in danger of being contaminated by their sin. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him the father of many nations. God made this promise despite the fact that Abraham had no children at the time, in spite of the fact that he was an old man, and despite the fact that his wife was past childbearing years. Abraham believed God’s Word, and he remained faithful and obedient to the Lord. His reward was that all that the Lord had promised came true and a nation was born.

Moses did it. Moses was born a Hebrew. His mother saved him from death by placing him in a basket and putting it in the river. He was found by the daughter of Pharaoh, who adopted him, and raised him in the house of Pharaoh. He lived among the idol worshipping Egyptians; but he never forgot where he came from. He fled Egypt, only to return a man of God. He was commissioned as leader of the Israelites, secured the deliverance of his people, and led them out of Egypt. He overcame the complaints, disobedience, and idolatrous acts of his people. He remained stead fast to the mission God had presented him with, and even though he never stepped foot in the Promised Land, he was found worthy to be present with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:1-8)

Jeremiah did it. Jeremiah was a prophet during a time when most of the people of Jerusalem had stopped worshipping God. He spent his life seeking to turn the Jewish people back to the Lord, but his repeated warnings of inevitable judgment were met with severe opposition, persecution and imprisonment. He prophesized that the Babylonians would take over the city, but his people thanked him by throwing him into prison. Even after the prophecy came true, Jeremiah remained dedicated to God, and his passionate love for God and His people never diminished.

Paul and Silas did it. They were persecuted, beaten, and cast into prison. However, even in the mist of their adversity, they prayed and sang praises to God. When an earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, the doors of the prison opened, and the chains that bound the prisoners fell to the ground. Paul and Silas were free, but rather than running off like the rest of the prisoners did, they remained and brought salvation to the jailer and his family.

So, is it possible to live righteous in the midst of unrighteousness? The answer is yes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What If? Why Not?

“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:31-33)

We have seen the close of another year … another decade.

The year 2009 was definitely a year of change. The United States saw Barack Obama sworn in as its first African-American president. We bid farewell to Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, Patrick Swayze, and even the charismatic Oral Roberts. Countries braced themselves for the bird flu epidemic and the H1N1 pandemic. Soldiers fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, the world slowly began to recover from the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression.

It may have been a year of difficulty for you as well. Perhaps you were one of the thousands who lost their job or even their home due to the economic conditions of today. Maybe your doctor diagnosed you with a serious illness, or you lost a loved one to death, divorce or desertion. Perhaps you struggled with an addiction, or saw someone you love suffer from one. You may have been the victim of a crime committed against you, or perhaps you are paying the consequences for a mistake you made.

Last year was certainly a year of change and difficulty, but now we have reached a New Year … a year of new possibilities … a year of new beginnings.

I have two words for this New Year. Those two words are: “What If?”