Have you ever gone to your ATM and read the message, “Insufficient funds”? I have good news for you—If you are a Christian, God has placed more than you will ever need in heavenly resources; as the Bible says, we have “Everything needed for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
At Harvest Orange County we’ve begun a brand new series in the book of Ephesians. I am calling this series Live, Love, Fight.
It’s hard to believe, but another year has already passed.
I am still wondering where my personal spaceship and robot maid are, as seen in The Jetsons cartoons. Or at least a hoverboard, like Marty McFly had in Back to the Future II.
I would settle for Baymax from Big Hero 6.
Time seems to go so much faster as you get older. But C.S. Lewis said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
So now, 2014 is in the rearview mirror and we face the uncertainties of a new year. It may contain both promise and pain, triumph and tragedy, happy days and sad ones.
So how are we to look at this new year? With great hope, because our God is on the throne. He is in control of all things, including our lives.
As we enter into a new year, remember that God is in control—that God is sovereign. He always has a plan!
“He does as He pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop Him or say to Him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?'” (Daniel 4:35 NLT).
When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you come under His protective care. God is fully aware of everything that happens to you. And thankfully, God is never asleep on the job. He is always paying careful attention to the smallest details of your life and is in complete control of all circumstances that surround it.
As Solomon observed, “There is a season for everything.” We are not victims of the “fickle finger of fate” or dumb luck. If you are a Christian, then you have come into God’s providence, which means that he will guide and direct your steps. God is doing exactly what He wants to do for His plan and for your good.
Sometimes His plans don’t make sense to us, but remember that He has a plan—and it is a good one!
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
In Isaiah 55:8, God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (NKJV). We focus on the immediate. God focuses on the ultimate. Our world is the here and now. God’s plan is over all; it is panoramic.
As Christians we are all a “work in progress” and God will work “all things together.” Did He not do that for you last year? Philippians 1:6 reminds us that we can be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV).
Good news: God finishes what He starts!
I think someone should establish a national Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Maybe they already have. I know I for one appreciate those officers who serve our communities, our nation, and us.
I am a chaplain for two police departments and I personally know a lot of cops. There are also many who attend the church I pastor. I have done too many memorial services for officers killed in the line of duty, and I can tell you that other officers, even if they did not know the person who died, take it very hard. They are a fraternity, a family.
These are people just like us, who have, in many ways, made a sacrifice to literally risk their lives each and every day for relatively little pay. I think this appreciation is overdue, especially in the light of the NYC police officers who were just murdered: Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Something that has just come out is that Officer Ramos, who was a Christian, would have been commissioned as a lay chaplain this past Saturday—tragically, the day he was shot.
The Bible tells us that these courageous men and women who serve in law enforcement are doing God’s work: “The authorities are sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of course you should be afraid, for you will be punished. The authorities are established by God for that very purpose, to punish those who do wrong” (Romans 13:4).
I know that those in law enforcement are not all perfect, and that there are some bad apples in the mix. But that is true of every profession—including ministry, I might add. But by and large, those that serve us in law enforcement are fine and upstanding people and they deserve our respect and admiration.
So if you see a cop today, let them know you appreciate them!
P.S. If you appreciate police officers, or are one, speak out right here.
Leave your comments.
I am so deeply sorry to report that my friend Frank Pastore has died. I know that Frank is in heaven right now. He was a faithful follower and servant of Jesus Christ. I am confident Frank was welcomed into God’s presence with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Enter into the joy of your Lord!”
Christians, in a sense, never really die. We just leave one shore to go to another. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
It’s heaven’s gain, but it is surely our loss. Frank Pastore was a man of God that used his platform, both as a former major league pitcher and a radio personality, to point people to Jesus Christ.
His broadcast, The Frank Pastore Show, was the number-one talk show in Christian radio, and that was due to the unique gifts God gave to Frank.
Frank loved the gospel. On many occasions, when I had the privilege to be a guest on Frank’s show, he would ask me to present the gospel and invite people to Christ. I always appreciated that.
For many years, we had Frank open in prayer for our Harvest Crusades and he was and is loved by thousands. The sadness we feel right now is not for Frank, for he is with Jesus, where there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore.” The sadness we have is for his wife, Gina, and his two children and all of us who will deeply miss him.
After our son Christopher went to be with the Lord, over four years ago, I had many conversations with Frank, both on and off the air, about heaven. Frank believed in heaven with all of his heart and pointed many people there, and now he is in that wonderful place promised to all who trust in Christ.
Let’s all be in prayer for the Pastore family in these very difficult days ahead.
I will miss Frank, but I know I will see him again.
We’re taking over Greg’s Blog to let you know that today is Pastor Greg’s 60th birthday!
Wish him a happy birthday in the comments below!
— The Harvest Staff
Pastor Greg has requested that no gifts be sent for his birthday. If you feel inclined to give something, you can give to the cause of evangelism by donating to Harvest Ministries in his honor here.
Through all the ups and downs, I have found a hope that has sustained me through the dark times and given me peace and confidence at all times. I believe this hope can be yours, no matter what your present situation. But what happens to your hope when life takes a sudden, unwanted turn?
You walk around a corner and find yourself face to face with a personal crisis…the passing of a loved one…the ache of loneliness…the worry over a stormy marriage…the agony of a son or daughter who has chosen a destructive path. The Bible tells us of a hope that will see us through the darkest of valleys and sustain us in the driest of deserts. And beyond the practical help God offers for every situation in this life, He points us toward the ultimate hope of eternal life in heaven, and the unfailing encouragement of our Lord’s any-moment return.
This book will not only help you but will be a tremendous tool as you try to help others going through crisis.
You can order a copy at Amazon.com.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
One of the first things I remember about the day I put my faith in Christ was the sense of peace filling my heart. It was as though someone had lifted a heavy burden from me.
It wasn’t until later, when I read the Bible, that I learned about God’s promise of peace to every believer. He has given it to us as a gift.
This peace, however, doesn’t come from what or who we are, but from what God has done—how He has justified us in response to our faith. A wonderful byproduct of this reality is a deep inner peace that floods our soul.
You can’t just live as you please
But we can’t have this beautiful effect without the beginning cause. If we are fighting with God—resisting His plan and purpose for our lives—then we won’t experience this supernatural peace.
I think many people would like to have the desirable results and benefits of the Christian life without having to pay the price. In other words, they would like to know that they are forgiven and going to heaven when they die, but they still want to live as they please. They don’t want to put their complete faith and trust in Jesus.
That sort of attitude just won’t fly. We can’t have the pleasing, life-transforming privileges of God’s peace without first meeting God’s requirements. Scripture tells us through Jesus Christ, “God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20 NLT).
The only way
The only way we will experience the peace of God that passes all human understanding is through the blood of the cross, the blood that Jesus shed.
You cannot have the peace of God until you first have peace with God.
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]. (Ephesians 2:10 AMPLIFIED)
A traveler was visiting a logging area in the Pacific Northwest and was interested in seeing how the logs that would be used for furniture were chosen. As the logs came down the stream, the logger would suddenly reach out and hook one, pull it up, and then set it down. He would sometimes wait for a few minutes before grabbing another. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his choices.
After a while, the visitor said to him, “I don’t understand what you’re doing.”
“These logs may all look alike to you,” the logger said, “But I can recognize that a few of them are quite different. The ones that I let pass came from trees that grew in a valley. They were always protected from the storms. The grain is rather coarse.
“The logs that I pulled aside are from high up on the mountain, where they were beaten by strong winds from the time they were quite small. That toughens the trees and gives them a fine grain. We save these logs for choice work. They’re too good to be used for ordinary lumber.”
Ask Peter or Joseph
It was through the trying and testing that the logs were prepared for choice work.
The same could be said of us as Christians. If you were to ask Moses how he became who he was, he would remind you of his trials with Pharaoh and his times of testing in the wilderness. If you were to ask Joseph, he would most likely refer back to his years as a slave, his imprisonment on a false accusation, and his imprisonment in Pharaoh’s dungeon. Talk to Peter, and he would probably point back to his denial and how he learned many difficult yet important lessons.
Maybe you find yourself facing something similar in your life today. Maybe God is preparing you for a choice work.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
There are times in our lives as Christians when God will, or won’t, do things or not do things that we want Him to do, and it won’t make a bit of sense to us. And because we don’t see the big picture, we may falsely conclude that God has abandoned us. But we need to trust Him during these times, remembering that Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. In other words, what God starts, He completes.
Remember that wonderful word from the first chapter of Philippians? “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6 THE MESSAGE).
I often forget things
It seems that as I get older, I get distracted and forget things all the time. But what if God forgot about us?
What a frightening thought. Imagine being in the midst of a fiery trial as God is watching and waiting for that moment to take us out of it. Then the phone rings, and He’s gone for a decade!
Thankfully, God never forgets about us. He remains—forever and ever—in full control. He knows exactly what He is doing. He will complete what He has begun.
God is planning for tomorrow
Sometimes, in the middle of that process, we may think that the Lord is missing it. But He isn’t. We’re the ones who are missing it. From our limited human viewpoint, we think of the temporal, but God lives in the eternal. We are thinking of today, but God is planning for tomorrow . . . in fact, He’s already been there.
We are thinking of comfort, but God is thinking of character. We are thinking of an easy time, but God is thinking of how to make us better people.
So let’s trust Him. Whatever our circumstances or hardships, let’s believe His promise to His children . . . . All things are working together.
You can watch the Southern California Harvest on TV around the world on TBN this coming Saturday.
I will give a message called “A Second chance in life “, and there will be music by Phil Wickham and Revive among others.
The broadcast will be at 2:00 P.M., Pacific Time. For more info, click here.