Friday, 10 May 2013

Paradoxes of the Scriptures

Next Step Devotion

Many of the key teachings of Jesus on spirituality are expressed in paradox. A paradox is a statement that on first glance is wrong,  but upon closer thought reveals a deeper spiritual truth. This can prove a stumbling block for many non-believers when approached with the sovereignty of God's Word, and it can also prove difficult for the most mature of believers to reconcile.  If we allow our faith to hold to the true and Biblical paradoxes, then this will call for a bit of tension in our faith. It could possibly even lead to unresolved tension, meaning, we can't always wrap our finite minds around it.

Imagine a glass of water in which you drop a pencil. The pencil appears disconnected or disjointed, yet you know that the pencil is in fact entirely whole. This visual image can help us understand the concept of paradoxes in Scripture. Heaven is perfect, and earth is fragmented by the effects of sin. As a result, perfect heavenly concepts appear "not quite right" when they make their way into the earth. Our own human minds cannot fully comprehend the holiness of God....the "pencils" of God's perfect truth appear disjointed, so to speak.  

You may not realize just how familiar you are with Biblical paradoxes or how deeply embedded they are buried within your psychological file cabinet of memorized Scriptures. In fact, Biblical paradoxes often represent some of the most cherished of Biblical truths that frame the way we view and live life as believers. For example......:

God did not include these seemingly contradictory principles in His Word to confuse us. Rather, He calls us to seek out the meanings behind these principles so that we might gain wisdom. Proverbs 1:5-6 instructs us: 

"Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser.
    Let those with understanding receive guidance
by exploring the meaning in these proverbs and parables,
    the words of the wise and their riddles."

It may be tempting to simply glide over Scriptures that are more difficult to understand at face value, but God's desire is that we listen to become wiser and understanding to receive guidance for how we are to live our lives. Each of these paradoxes aptly applied will enable us to live more like Jesus, and thus lead more people to His salvation! There is POWER behind these truths. Power to save, to heal, to encourage, to free from bondage, to gain influence, to obtain honor, to find peace, and to open up the doorways to heaven. 

Jesus repeatedly declared to His disciples that "He who has ears to hear, let Him hear!" The Message puts it this way, "Are you listening to me? Really listening?" So let me ask you, "Are you listening? Really listening?" Are you digging deep into the often strenuous and perplexing work of rightly dividing the word of truth? If you are not, you stand just as those who followed Jesus wherever He went but completely missed the purpose for His ministry. Jesus came to bridge the gap between God and man through this death and resurrection, but He also came to set the standard for us to live by to bring God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 

These paradoxical truths are like keys that unlock the doorways to heaven, and God has given us those keys! (Matthew 16:19). We have choices to make each day we walk the earth when it comes to these paradoxical statements. Will we trust them enough to surrender when we desire to fight back, to give when it seems we have nothing left to give, to humble ourselves before others, to celebrate joyfully during the trials of life, and to count all things in this world as garbage compared to knowing Christ? 

All scripture is inspired by God and is given to teach us, rebuke us, and train us in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17). Let me encourage you to seek out the tough Scriptures, meditate upon them for as long as it takes, praying that God will give you revelation. When you seek Him with all of your heart, you will find Him! (Jeremiah 29:13, Proverbs 8:17). 

Interview Recaps

Key Scriptures

Matthew 10:39 - He who finds his life will lose it , and he who loses it for my sake will find it.

Matthew 19:30 - But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.  

Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Acts 20:35 -  It is more blessed to give, than to receive.

Mark 10:43-44  But it shall not be so among you: but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

James:1:2 - Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy!

Hebrews:11:6 - And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." 


Melissa Rogers 

Friday, 3 May 2013

God's Timing is Perfect

Next Step Devotion

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14

Just wait on God! Easier said than done right? Anyone who has ever journeyed through a season of waiting will testify that the times of waiting can prove the most strenuous,  the most weary of all in our walk with God. The word "wait" connotes a passive idea, that we are somehow just sitting around twiddling our thumbs until God shows up. Nothing could be further from the truth!

We've often heard the phrase "God's timing is perfect," but coming to trust that phrase is an entirely different story. This is especially true when we are facing the seeming deadlines of humanity - My loved one will not survive another year without miraculous healing; I'm already 35 and have not conceived a child; I must move to this new city and begin my new job next week and our home has not sold - our circumstances can quickly cloud our vision of God's sovereignty. 

For what in your life are you waiting upon God? Are you growing weary in the waiting? Does it seem as though you will never receive the answer you are crying out day and night to receive? 

I think there is a much more pressing question to be asked. What do you hope to gain through your waiting? Is your entire focus zeroed-in on your request, almost as if it's a prize to be won. While the Holy Spirit within us may nudge otherwise, it is so easy to be drawn into the thinking that somehow our faithfulness to endure will prove we are worthy to receive our requests. 

Now, I'm not saying that our persistence and consistency in prayer hold no weight when it comes to petitioning our Father (See Luke 18). However, in Luke 18 where Jesus teaches us to persist in prayer,  He closes with a poignant question: "When the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on earth who have faith?" We are to persist in the asking, Yes. But the lesson God is truly attempting to teach us through this parable is that the purpose of our persistence is faith. If we just had faith perhaps all the knocking and crying out wouldn't stand so necessary. 

Perhaps you are like me and are sitting there thinking to yourself, "Here we go again! Another if you just had a little faith lesson." I'll be the first to admit the desire for tangible answers. I want to know the "A" and the "B" that I need to add together to get to "C." Why can't God just tell us step 1, 2, and 3 and presto our prayers are answered? I believe God's methodology is found in the book of James. Let's read it together:

"For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." - James 1:3-4

Did you catch the end of that? The waiting, the enduring, makes us "perfect and complete, NEEDING NOTHING." How can we endure through a painful season of waiting, never actually receive what we are waiting for, and then come out the other side needing nothing?

Paul shared in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had discovered the secret. Whether he had received all that he needed (and Paul was certainly in need of much! - food, clothing, health for example)  he  was complete and content. The enduring pushed him to become more and more like Jesus, who is altogether perfect and lacks nothing. The same is true for us. As we endure through the waiting, keeping our eyes focused on the truth that our entire lives purpose is to grow more and more into the image of our Lord Jesus, we will reach a place of peace and contentment, no longer needing what we have been asking for. We will come to see that all we truly need is more of Jesus. 

God's timing truly is perfect, even when it does not feel to be so. Waiting on God tough. In fact, it's more than tough. It can be grueling! But back to my question - What do you hope to gain through your waiting? Do you desire to be more like Jesus? Do you want to know what it feels like to find peace and contentment in all things? Do you want to be able to walk through life free from all the pressing deadlines of humanity, focused in on the only finish line that truly matters...our future eternity in glory? 

I want to be clear. God does answer prayer!! I've seen God perform miraculous healing  allow miraculous conception, provide financial breakthrough and bring loved ones who were thought without hope to the saving knowledge of Him. God answers prayer! But if you are in that season of waiting on answer, I encourage you to fix you eyes on Jesus. 

Come before the throne with an open heart desiring to receive ALL that God desires to teach you throughout this journey. Allow God to make you more like Him. When we transform our thinking to view the painful wait as an opportunity to become fully developed into God's image, the cries of our heart no longer weigh as heavy burdens. We are able to simply trust God's timing and find joy in the fact that every day we wait and endure we am moving one step towards heaven. In that place of contentment, we lack nothing. 

Interview Recap

Key Scriptures

Habakkuk 2:3 - For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

Isaiah 40:31 - But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord

Galatians 6:9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

2 Peter 3:8-9But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Ecclesiastes 3:17 - I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and purpose for every work. 

Romans 5:3-4More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.


Melissa Rogers

Moody Radio South 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Failure is Not Final

Next Step Devotion

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchhill

"My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." - Abraham Lincoln

"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement." - C.S. Lewis

Moses, Aaron, Job, Jeremiah, King David, Peter, Paul, Mark, even Jesus........ what do all of these super-heroes of the Scriptures have in common? Each of these men were used mightily in God's plans and purposes for the world. However, each of these men also experienced moments of seeming failure.

Moses's anger caused him to never enter the promised land he journeyed toward for over 40 years. Job lost everything humanly possible except his life, yet God counted him more blessed than all men. Jeremiah was imprisoned and exiled for proclaiming his message, and King David is renowned as the "man after God's own heart" despite adultery and murder. Peter failed on multiple occasions, failing to respond to Jesus' requests for prayer and denying Jesus as the moment he was needed most. Paul only become "Paul" after redemption from his days of tracking down and killing those who professed Christ. Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas on the mission field. And finally, Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for every sin of the world, lived life as a homeless, impoverished, rejected and ridiculed individual. He was constantly accused of blaspheming the very God from which he came! He caused rejoicing in the dungeons of hell at his crucifixion....but we know how that one turned out don't we!

God's Word is notorious for choosing broken, shameful, reprehensible "failures" and transforming their lives and destiny for the glory of God. For sure, some of the most admired and studied figures throughout the entire Bible are those that also experienced the greatest failures. Some of these failures were a consequence of sin, while others faced earthly failures (loss of status, finances, or rejection). Both are covered by the grace and forgiveness available through Jesus Christ. However, it seems there is no escaping the intense personal pain experienced in the wake of failure, no matter the form. 

This week on New Day Cafe we sought to encourage you in God's truth that "Failure is Not Final." In fact, the seeming failure that you may be facing could only be the beginning of what God has in store for you life. As with the testimonies of Jim Vacelli in Indiana and Ashley Harrison at The Foundry Rescue Mission, no failures of the past can disqualify you from God's grace. Moreover, past failures can provide the foundation for a testimony that will transform and redeem the lives of others who may be walking the same path. 

Jim described himself as an atheist, addicted to drugs and pornography. His destructive lifestyle soon became a direct agent in the failure of his marriage. Every good thing, every hope for the future seemed shrouded by his own failures, and as such he chose to take his own life. But God!! God had bigger plans for Jim's "failure," and at the moment before taking his own life, Jim felt a force push him to his knees. He cried out to Jesus the first time, and God came with his eternal redemption and salvation. Today Jim is remarried and serving as a teacher within his local church community. 

In our interview with Dr. Erwin Lutzer about his book Failure: The Backdoor to Success, Dr. Lutzer encouraged us that no matter what the circumstances, failure can provide the catalyst needed for spiritual victory. It is the realization of our depravity that we can become humbled at the feet of Jesus and able to receive his blessings and wisdom with a pure heart. Dr. Lutzer also explained how we may take on a false understanding of what failure and success is in God's Kingdom. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Lutzer's book that provides an eternal perspective:

Heaven will be filled with surprises! Many "successful" Christians will be nobodies and some whose lives were strewn with the wreckage of one failure after another will be great in the kingdom.

Most of us have unclear ( usually false) notions of success. We hear testimonies of converted movie stars , professional singers , or those who are "successful" in some vocation. Unconsciously , we assume that all Christians should be like them.

Perhaps we have forgotten that not many wise, noble, and mighty are chosen by God. We judge ourselves and others by a false standard.

Perhaps today your eyes are clouded by the "failures" that lay before you. Maybe your marriage has failed, or your business went under during the economic recession. Perhaps your children have turned from the faith and you are constantly bearing the weight of what you could have done to turn their hearts towards Christ. Maybe you are a minister who is facing the rejection of what you believed were loyal church members, causing you to question the calling for which you have offered your life so sacrificially. You may even be bearing the weight of condemnation for slipping back into a sin that you have publicly announced as having once conquered. While emotions of shame, guilt, or regret may seem overwhelming, there is hope in the mercy and character of Christ. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that when we accept Christ and repent of our sins, we are transformed into completely new creations! No trace of our past, or even our future failures can thwart God's plans and purposes for our lives. "All things work together for the good of those who love him (God)," is not just a scriptural verse to make us feel better about our circumstances. That verse found in Romans 8:28 is the all-powerful living word of God, and it is applicable to any and every circumstance you may be currently facing. By faith we must believe God's word that He turns beauty into ashes and replaces mourning with shouts of joy. 

Jesus death marked perhaps the greatest moment of "failure" for every single one of his followers. Yet Jesus' resurrection turned the entire concept of failure upside down, providing hope and restoration for the eternity of mankind. Whatever sense of death you may be feeling as a result of failures in your life, never forget that our God is a God of resurrection and restoration who redeems the iniquities of man for the eternal glory of His name!

Interview Recaps

Key Scriptures

Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 4:22-24To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Colossians 1:21-22 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.


Melissa Rogers
Moody Radio South

Friday, 19 April 2013

Step Out in Short-Term Missions

Next Step Devotion

The sun is shining, baseball is in full swing, and summertime is on the horizon! This is the time of year when we all anxiously anticipate that feeling of freedom that seems to naturally come with the summer. Even those of us who do not enjoy a "summer break" from our daily duties rest in the hope that the summer season seems to be a little less hectic. Family vacations, catching up in the garden, family reunions, and in some cases, a relaxing of church nightly activities are just a few short weeks away. 

But what if we began to look at the extra summer hours appearing in our schedules as not only an opportunity to relax, but rather an opportunity to serve? What if the body of Christ chose to trade the finances set aside for our trips to Disney World and Gulf Shores in favor of a mission trip or outreach ministry to a community in need? There is no denying that our nation is hurting. The states of Alabama and Mississippi are reeling from the effects of tornadoes, hurricanes, and financial recession. What an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus Christ across our communities!

This is not to say that we should not enjoy our family vacations, summer reading, or vegetable gardens. On the contrary, God established from the 6th day of creation that we should enjoy seasons of fulfilling and rejuvenating rest. However, scripture promises that those who invest time in refreshing others will themselves will be refreshed (Prov 11:25). If you have ever been on a short-term missions trip or served in an outreach capacity, you understand this verse fully. There is perhaps no other activity more satisfying, more invigorating, more purposeful than that of serving others in need. Perhaps this is because God created us for this purpose? Our service to fellow man is a pleasing act of worship to the Father, and we were created to worship (Rev. 4:11)! When we serve others it is as though we are serving the Lord, and as a result we reap the blessings (Mark 9:41).

You may be thinking, "I don't have the money for a vacation, let alone a mission trip!" Well, our goal this week on New Day Cafe was to share with you several short-term missions and outreach opportunities within our own listening area with which you and your family could serve this summer. There are countless ministries, churches, and organizations that are in need of volunteers, whether for one day or several weeks, to help continue their service to the community. We encourage you to take a look at the following list of ministries, outreach opportunities, and short-term missions ideas. Consider how you and your family and/or children  could use the summer months to make a lasting difference in the lives of others:

Local Ministries/Organizations:
Short-Term Missions/Outreach Ideas:
  • Call a local church and ask if there are any needs (construction, cleaning, donations) that the body of Christ could help meet.
  • Throw a fundraising event (bake sale, bike ride, etc.) for a local ministry. 
  • Donate your time at the local Crisis Center to sort donations or serve food. 
  • Assemble Hygiene kits to send to disaster areas (tornado/fire/flood disaster area)
  • Collect baby items and clothing to donate to a local pregnancy center. 
  • Provide a meal for local teachers during school preparation week.
  • Make and distribute goodie bags to teachers with needed items (expo markers, highlighters, staples) 
  • Provide a meal for a local ministry team such as Samaritan's Purse or Habitat for Humanity. 
  • Call your church and see if there are any upcoming short-term missions trips. 
  • Gather your youth/college group and give free yard care (mowing, edging) to a local neighborhood with elderly residents. 
  • Take your children to visit a local nursing home, giving cards or singing songs. 
  • Do a "Free Car Wash" where you distribute gospel tracks or Bibles to customers.
We pray the above ideas will spark a passion in your heart to step outside of the box this summer and use your time, energy, and resources in ministry to your community. Jesus calls us to "go therefore into all the world," but it starts right where you are. Let's shine the light of Christ this summer!

Interview Recap

Key Scriptures

Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power with the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  

Proverbs 11:25 - A generous person will prosper. He who refreshes others will be refreshed.

John 20:21 - And Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, so I am sending you."

Galatians 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest. 

Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And whom shall go for us?" And I said, "Hear I am. Send me!"

Mark 9:41 - Truly I tell you, anyone who gives a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Melissa Rogers
Moody Radio South

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Blessed Life!

Next Step Devotion

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Have you noticed my keen notion to begin many of these devotions with hymn lyrics? While I cannot assume this is the case for all of our readers, many of us grew up proclaiming these age-old lyrics on each Sunday morning. These melodies rooted themselves thoroughly in our minds and spirits. If you are like me, I dare to admit that these lyrics often pop into my brain much more quickly during a time of questioning, trial, or prayer than even Scriptural verses. When pondering the phrase "The Blessed Life," there was no stopping the melody of this infamous doxology of our faith...."Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!!From this beautiful doxology flows the direction I believe God desires for me to take this devotion today. 

What comes to mind when you hear the word blessed. Perhaps the blessing of children, that "quiver full of arrows?" Physical health, job security, or the ability to retire may represent blessing to you. Perhaps for others the word blessed has even taken a negative connotation, the unfortunate consequence of absorbing too many prosperity sermons and laboring too hard without feeling as though you've seen any of the fruit. Blessed has become a term we often use to judge another's stance before God and favor with man. Just as Job's "friends," we sit and measure ourselves against the apparent blessings of others, condemning those who are struggling, asserting it must be a consequence for some hidden sin.  

I do not mean to sound cynical, yet this is the predominant thought-process of our culture. Christians are meshed together with Buddhists, Hindus or even Atheists in a "karma-like" understanding of blessing. What we receive balances out to how much we give, how much we sacrifice, or how "good" we are. Oh but praise be to God that the blessings of our ONE TRUE GOD are so far beyond our cultural understanding. Each and every blessing from the one true living God is eternal, having implications for our lives today and our future eternity. Each blessing is from above (James 1:17) and purposed to give glory and honor and praise to God forever (Ephesians 3:21). 

So let's step back a minute as we consider blessings in our lives as believers. In our interview this week with June Felix, former New Day Cafe co-host and founder of Life of Prayer Ministries, June shared that while we often view blessings as material things, God's blessings are spiritual in nature and are given to us so that we can give HIM maximum glory through our lives. Let's go over that again. Blessings are not for US. Blessings are for GOD. But how can this be? If God is giving us the blessings of health, peace, and salvation, then how can we say He is giving these for Himself? They come from God to begin with right? Yes, every blessing comes from God, for He is the originator of all things good. However, God blesses us so that we might bear fruit of blessing back to Him through the manifestations of worship, service, and love to others. 

Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has blessed us with EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING in the heavenly realms. I  just love that! You mean I have EVERY spiritual blessing? That's what God's Word says. But we must not skip over the very beginning of that verse so that we might reach the blessing part... the verse begins "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The blessing is proceeded by praise! We saw this as well in our interview this week with Pastor Lorenza James of Tabernacle Baptist Church. Pastor Lorenza shared with us the beautiful words of blessings found in Psalm 133. In this passage, unity among God's people is compared to the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron's beard and ran down his robe. This time of anointing for the Levitical priests was one of profound worship. The fragrance from this anointing oil rose up as incense before God's throne. And there, the Lord commanded blessing. We again see this idea of blessing for God's people wholly connect to praise and adoration for our Lord.  

So how can we apply this to our lives? When we take a look at many of the spiritual blessings promised to God's people, we must learn to view these blessings as not entirely for our own benefit (while they certainly do help us personally!). We must seek the Lord for how He desires for us to use these blessings to in turn bless others and give Him glory. What are some of the spiritual blessings? Here are a few we discussed this week: 

When we receive the devastating news that a loved one has died, we are blessed with God's peace that surpasses our understanding. It is through this peace that we are able to continue praising our Lord and Savior "who gives and takes away." When we are lost in thought and unable to confidently make a solid decision about an important matter, God blesses us with access to spiritual wisdom and insight. This wisdom allows us to make the decision that will most completely align with God's word and further His purposes for our lives. When we have labored and labored through the toils of life and feel as though we will never reach the point of breakthrough, we have the blessings of refreshment that come through the streams of living water that flow within our spirits. This stream allows us to gain the strength needed to endure in obedience to God's call on our lives. This in turn gives God glory, blesses others, and spurs the body of Christ along in hope and good works. This is the epitome of "all things working for good." The blessings of Christ do bless us, but they also bless others and give glory to our Father. 

What sorts of blessings are you seeking? It is much easier to desire the blessings that we can see, such a money or job promotions, academic awards or popularity with others. However, the spiritual blessings that come from Christ run so much deeper than these earthly rewards ever will. The blessings of forgiveness, victory, refreshment, peace, etc will last forever....these blessings give us a taste of what we will enjoy forever in heaven with Christ. These blessings are just a preview of what is to come, and we should seek to radiate them through our lives so that others may also experience them, both now and for eternity. We truly do enjoy a blessed life because of the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. So, let's fuel those blessings into praise for our Father!

Interview Recap

Key Scriptures

Psalm 133:1, 3b - Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!...for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (KJV)

Matthew 5:11-12Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.(NIV)

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (NIV)

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.(KJV)

Psalm 5:12Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Galatians 3:14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Be Blessed,
Melissa Rogers
Moody Radio South 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Encountering Christ

Next Step Devotion

Have you ever had an encounter with someone that changed your entire life? One moment and you knew things would never be the same? Perhaps the moment you met your future spouse, or the first moment you cradled your newborn child? For those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that moment of surrender transformed us both now and for all eternity. 

Throughout scripture we see several life-altering encounters between God and man. When God sent His son Jesus Christ into the world, it marked the most paramount of encounters that ever was, is, or will be until Christ returns again. Colossians 1:15 reveals to us that "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God." God literally and physically came to earth that we might encounter His love, His holiness, His miraculous power, and His eternal glory. When viewed from the air we can catch a glimpse of the majesty and mastery of God's plans to redeem the world; however, the Biblical gospels give us a "boots on the ground" glance at the beautiful intimacy God desires to enjoy with each one of us. Jesus Christ portrays this as He ministers to the "least of these" personally and compassionately. 

There is much to learn about how we encounter God through the testimonies of Christ's encounters with men and women during His time on earth. Sometimes Jesus encountered people un-expectantly and of His own accord (Woman at the Well (John 4), Men on Emmaus Road (Luke 13) ). Other times an encounter resulted from a man or woman's own pursuit, making themselves available to both His healing power and sanctifying rebukes (Bleeding Woman (Mark 5), Zaccheus (Luke 19). Jesus encountered those on the brink of death, offering salvation and giving us a prophetic vision of His role as mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) (Adulterous Woman (John 8), Criminal on Cross (Luke 23). 

In what ways have you encountered Christ? Have you ever felt hopeless and dejected only to have Jesus Christ come and offer the hand of revelation and comfort you needed to move forward? Have you ever experienced a seeming "wrestling" with the Lord when you are seeking  His wisdom, His guidance, or His blessing? Have you ever stood on the brink of death, without any hope outside of miraculous intervention, and God stepped in with his healing power? Or maybe you have lay huddled beneath the weight of your sin and shame, only to have Jesus come and extend His hand of grace and mercy. 

I often hear comments such as, "I just wish God would speak to me clearly!" or "I just don't feel God in the my life right now." I've walked with dry and thirsty souls that are seeking to satisfy with everything but the living water Christ so freely offers. We all experience times such as these throughout the journey of life, but I want to challenge you today to ask yourself the question, "How have I encountered Christ?" When was the last time that, as the men on the Emmaus Road, your eyes were opened to the fact that Christ is walking right beside you? For some it could have been this morning as you began your day in His word! For others it may have been during a poignant sermon that pierced your soul. Or perhaps you have never experienced an encounter with the living God and your eyes remain blinded to the salvation found in Christ Jesus. 

On New Day Cafe this week our guest Pastors and ministers shared about either Christ encounters found in Scripture or those they have personally experienced. However, in each conversation stood one common theme; we must daily seek an encounter with Christ. Every morning we should awake expecting the Lord to talk to us, walk with us, open and close doors for us, bring revelation of His word to us, and heal and forgive us. When Christ came to walk among the earth it gave a preview of the relationship with God we each can now experience day-by-day. His death and resurrection ripped the veil separating God and man, opening wide the gates of fellowship (Heb 4:14-16).  Moreover, the presence of the Holy Spirit within us allows us to encounter Christ daily in our attitudes, thoughts, and emotions, giving us all wisdom needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). In Christ we experience a perpetual encounter with our Heavenly Father. 

In closing, are you encountering Christ daily? Are you pursuing His word and listening for the Holy Spirit with an attitude of expectancy? If not, let's "take the next step" together and seek a fresh encounter with the living God. 

Interview Recaps

Key Scriptures

Luke 24:30-32 - When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Matthew 4:10-11Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Ephesians 1:18-19I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength.

Luke 19:5-6When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

John 20:29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 11:21-22“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Melissa Rogers
Moody Radio South 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Power in the Blood!

We want to thank all of those who have given graciously towards the ministry of Moody Radio South during Share 2013! We have reached 100% of our goal, with total giving at $195,121.00! 

We can not thank you enough for partnering with us to help provide this important portion of our operating expense needs. 

Next Step Devotion

One of my most favorite hymns is There is Power in the Blood (Lewis E. Jones, 1899). Just take a moment to soak in the depths of these words:

  1. Would you be free from the burden of sin?
    There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
    Would you o’er evil a victory win?
    There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
    • Refrain:
      There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
      In the blood of the Lamb;
      There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
      In the precious blood of the Lamb.
  2. Would you be free from your passion and pride?
    There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
    Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide;
    There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
  3. Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
    There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
    Sin-stains are lost in its life-giving flow;
    There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
Would you do service for Jesus your King?
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;
Would you live daily His praises to sing?
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.

Yes, there is certainly POWER in the blood of Jesus Christ! However, this phrase, "power in the blood," can seem vague or confusing, and ironically lose the "power" of its statement. What does it mean to know the power of the blood? As Christians we are more prone to understand and cling to the power of the Holy Spirit, or the power of salvation, or the power of freedom from our past (as we should). Yet the foundation for every spiritual blessing that we receive as followers of Christ is wrapped up in Christ's blood. Without Christ's shedding of blood, we could  not and would not have access to salvation, the Holy Spirit, healing, freedom, hope, or peace.... 

This week on New Day Cafe we spoke with several Pastors and teachers about different aspects of the blood sacrifice of Christ and what it means for us today. Pastor Charles Lenn of Tuscaloosa First Assembly of God Church taught from Isaiah 53 where some of our most iconic scriptures about the Messiah are found: "He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him..." In verse 6 we reach the quintessential moment when Christ's suffering and sacrifice reveal their power:
"and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." ALL of our sins, ALL of our pain, ALL of our fears, and ALL of our mistakes were laid upon Jesus Christ, the Messiah, when He shed His blood in death on the cross.

It takes more than knowledgeable understanding of the power of Christ's sacrifice to alter your life.  It takes faith. You must daily walk in the faith that your fears can no longer control your mind and emotions because Christ endured the epitome of all fear on the cross. It takes faith to believe that the pain you are feeling so deep inside, the pain that is radiating through every fiber of your being can be healed as a result of the unimaginable and incomparable pain that Christ endured for you. It takes faith to believe that all your past mistakes, sins, and regrets are washed white as snow as the blood of Christ washes over you. 

While we could journey through all the prophecies, all the representations of Christ in the Jewish festivals and law, all the ways that the ENTIRE Bible points to Jesus Christ in order to brings more knowledgeable insight, at the end of the day the concept of Christ's powerful blood spans beyond the boundaries of logic. Perhaps God desired for this to be as such. He desires for us to trust by faith the sacrifice of love He made for us so that it will give greatest glory to Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Let's step back to the hymn for a moment. Within these lyrics we read several promises given through the power of the blood: 

- Freedom from the burden of sin
- Victory won over evil
- Freedom from lust and pride
- Cleansing from the "dirt" of the world
- A washing to make us "whiter than snow"
- New life flowing through us
- Power to serve Jesus, our King, though we feel helpless and unworthy
- Power needed to live daily for Him with a joyful spirit

Which of these promises do you need to receive a revelation of the power of the blood of Christ in your own life? There is "wonder working power" for you today. It was already shed, already given, and already secured for you at the moment of Christ's death and resurrection. Receive the power of the blood in your life today!

Interview Recap

Key Scriptures

Leviticus 17:11 - "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life."

John 19:30 - "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

Romans 5:8-9 - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!"

Ephesians 1:7 - "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace."

Hebrews 9:22 - "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." 

Revelation 12:11 - "And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony."