Monday, June 29, 2009

Eyes to See (A Fictional Story)

Andrew Willis has struggled for years to survive in a world where sight is taken for granted. Blindness has been his unwelcome guest since birth. He's prayed for eyes to see, but the darkness continues. As a teenager, He heard a preacher on the radio, who spoke of the free gift of salvation. The Lord opened his heart to the reality of heaven and to the mystery of God's grace. Ever since Jesus knocked on his door, he's ached for them. He prays daily for light to shine into their darkened hearts - those that haven't met the Savior. He knows that only God's light can bring repentance. Only He can bring understanding to those lost in sin.

Because of his disability, Andrew is unable to work; he receives money from the government to help him pay his bills. He also plays his guitar, sings gospel songs, and preaches on the street corner. He is not eloquent or scholarly. He holds no degrees, but Andrew has a heart for God. This one who cannot see the sun or the trees sees so much more than most people. His pursuit for the eternal pales in comparison to the average churchgoer.

I heard him preach one day on the street corner, dressed in tattered rags. He urged anyone listening to give their heart to the Lord and receive His forgiveness. Then he played his guitar and sang, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, who saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found was blind, but now I see...” I realized that this man truly understood those words.

There was something beautiful about him. He reflected Christ with stark simplicity and devotion. Conviction drew me closer. My perceptions about a life of faith and ministry were being challenged. I slowly walked over to Andrew and then asked him, “Would you pray for me that I would have a heart like yours. A heart that is focused and single minded in pursuing the things of God?” He smiled and said, “I will pray for you. Dear Lord, give my brother eyes to see the depth of his sin as well as the majesty of Your grace. And give him a burden for those that don't know you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!”

Unexpected tears fell from my eyes. I thanked Andrew and then caught a bus to go to school. I was working toward my doctorate in Theology. While on the bus, I silently prayed, Dear Father help me to have a soul that simply longs for you and that yearns to see others know you as well. In Your Name I pray. Something changed in my heart that day. Sophistication was transformed to childlike humility and faith. Perhaps for the first time I began to see - thanks to a poor blind man sold out to Jesus.

© Copyright 2009 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Gift from God

Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:14)

When I look at my wife Lou, I understand that the Lord has been kind to me. He has given me a wise and discerning woman who spurs me on to do the Lord's will. Though she is not perfect, she enables me to strive for excellence in all I do. She is beautiful inside and out, and I am so very grateful to God for giving her to me. She is my precious treasure.

To those that are single who long for a mate, I would say a few things. First make the Lord your greatest priority. Draw your significance from your relationship with Him and learn to appreciate and understand His grace. Second, pray - and pray specifically. Ask the Lord for the qualities you desire to see in your future spouse. Make sure that these attributes are not only physical, but encompass the entire person – spirit, soul, and body. Listen to the Lord and let Him guide you in this process.

Third, wait on the Lord. Let the Lord lead you and guide you to the right person in His time. Finally, while your waiting, get to know Christians who love the Lord and who are of the opposite sex. Create healthy friendships with them. Don't rush into anything. Take it slow. As you continue to pursue your walk with the Lord, God will bless you with that special someone.

I am glad I waited for my wife. When I married Lou, I was 36 and she was 40, and we were both virgins. We waited to find sexual fulfillment until after we were married. We wanted to honor the Lord in our relationship. I understand that there maybe those that read this who have made mistakes in this area. Christ's forgiveness is for you. You can be cleansed of your sin, and the Lord can still help you find a marriage partner. God is the God of a second chance.

Now that I am married, my day-to-day life has its ups and downs. Lou and I don't always get along in everything we do. We are very different from each other. These differences drew us together, but they can also cause us to argue. The great thing about having a Christian marriage is that the Lord is between us, and He helps us to love each other. He is the glue that always brings us back together.

All in all, I am grateful to Jesus for a woman of excellence - my gift from God. If you are single and believe that the Lord wants you to marry, then my prayer for you is that He will bring someone special to you in His perfect time, just as He did for me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Earthen Vessels

“For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”
1 Corinthians 4:11

During a Sunday worship service, the Lord gave me a symbolic picture. I viewed myself as a large block of hardened clay. The surface had many holes in it and bright light pierced through each hole. I thought of 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, which states, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

The scripture goes on to say that we carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our body. In my mini-vision I believe the holes in my body represented the times I experienced persecution and suffering. As we respond positively to the trials of this life, our character is transformed to be more like Christ. This gives the Lord the opportunity to shine through our weaknesses. His life is displayed through our frail bodies for the world to see. And it is in the difficult times of life that Jesus has the opportunity to shine
through us in the brightest way.

Dear Father,

When I struggle through the hard realities of life, help me to remember you are working out your character in me. Use the tough times to shape me and then shine your glory through me to a world that needs to know you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Symphony of One

You are our Father
Mighty and limitless
You are the Son
The very Word of God
You are the precious Holy Spirit
Whisperer of Dreams

The three are One
Their love for each other
Rises like a cosmic symphony
Each plays the notes Masterfully
Ebbing and flowing with sweet harmonies

God calls us in to receive from Him
He is the lover of our souls
How can we love such a one who is Love personified ?
The Lord of Glory loves us as we are

Let's sing to Him a song of praise
Our song not measured by its musical quality
But by the genuine gratitude that fills our hearts
Let's remember that because of what He did for us
We are one with Him

© Copyright 2009 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Preparing for the Future

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Eternity waits for those who know the Savior. Those that have embraced the free gift of God have the Lord's promise. In God's good time the believer is translated to that glorious place, where there is no crying, no pain, but only joy in the Master's presence. Death becomes the doorway to glory. When we lose someone we love, the experience is bitter-sweet. We are glad our loved one has gone on to be with the Lord, but we fervently desire to be with him or her once again.

It's important for us to plan for the future. We labor to make sure we have enough savings for our retirement. Those that have children desire to offer assistance towards their life and education. It's important to plan. But it is even more important to make sure we're ready for the next life. Every one of us will one day die.

But how do we secure for ourselves a home in heaven. Living a moral life does not guarantee us a place in heaven and neither does faithful church attendance. Eternal life is gift and it can only be received by placing our trust in Jesus. God the Father gave his one and only Son so that we would not perish, but so that we could have eternal life. When we accept Christ's death on the cross as payment for our sins, we become heirs of heaven. We must believe that salvation comes to us through the grace of God alone. We cannot earn our way to heaven. When we receive God's gift of grace, He changes our hearts. Then we begin to reflect Him in our actions out of gratitude for all He's done for us.

Just recently my father-in-law passed away. My wife Lou has so many good memories of him. Her father loved Lou very much, and she loved him. He will be greatly missed. The wonderful news is that Lou's father accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior. Because of this we know he is in heaven. One day we will see him, and our days together will never end. You too can own this promise. Jesus offers all of us a relationship with Him and the sure hope of an eternal home in heaven.

It is God's will for everyone to go to heaven, but not everyone will live there when they die. We can choose to receive God's gift of salvation or we can choose to live apart from God for all eternity in a place called hell. This is not pleasant to think about, but it is a reality. We all have been given a choice. Let's surrender our lives to the one who truly loves us. If you would like to receive God's wonderful gift of salvation, please pray a prayer like the one below and prepare for your future...

Dear Lord of Heaven,

Thank you for dying for me on the cross. Thank you for offering me your gift of eternal life. I believe you rose from the dead to give me new life. I recognize that I am a sinner and that I need your saving grace. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins. I accept your gift of salvation and I choose to follow you all my days here on earth. You are my Lord and Savior. I believe that you have change me and will help me to develop a relationship with you. Lord I thank you that one day I will see you face to face in heaven. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Master's Workmanship

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

God displayed the worth of every individual on earth by sending his Son to die in our place. The Father in essence was saying, “You are worth the life of my Son.” He loves us that much! The Lord wants us to know that we are precious to him and that we have inherent significance - we truly matter to God.

He has fashioned us with his masterful hand. We have been given special gifts and abilities. We are crafted in his image. 1 John 4:17 gives us a picture of how God sees us in Christ: “As he (Jesus) is so are we in this world.” We can cultivate a sense of confidence in knowing God views us through the blood of Jesus.

The Bible calls those that are born again the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). We have been made right with Him, and we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us (Romans 8:37). In Christ we are strong, and we can do all things through him. We can accomplish anything he asks of us.

God not only values us, he has made us each his masterpiece and has provided for us all we will ever need to fulfill his will for us in the earth.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for making me your masterpiece. Help me to draw my strength from you. I thank you that I can do all things through you who empower me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Gift of Christ's Righteousness

“He who knew no sin became sin so that we could become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior have stepped out of darkness and into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13). The Bible says we have been made righteous through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. He took upon himself our sin and exchanged it with the gift of his righteousness. We are righteous not by our own holiness, but by the blood of Christ. We are clothed in him and have right-standing with the Father.

Our place in him is secure. Because of this, we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy in our time of need (Heb 4:16). As we rest in the truth that we have been made righteous through the blood of Christ, the Lord will begin to cause his righteousness to affect our behavior. The work he has done within our hearts will progressively manifest in our outward behavior as we pursue our relationship with the Lord. This change will be wrought not through the sweat of self-effort, but through an ongoing faith in the Lord Our Righteousness.

Thank you Lord that you see me as righteous. Thank you for cleansing me of all my sin stains and thank you that I can now come boldly to your throne to worship you and to bring my requests to you my King. Lord, let me stand strong in the reality that I have been given the gift of your righteousness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Believer's Authority

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Genesis 3:1

The Scriptures call the serpent Satan crafty. The word used here also means to be subtle, shrewd, sly, and sensible. The devil tries to appeal to our sense of reason. He asked Eve, “Did God really say...?” Satan wants us to question the integrity of God's word, and he desires for us to question God's character. Make no mistake about it the devil is real. He and his emissaries are busy trying to speak into the lives of believers and unbelievers alike. He strives to blind the unbeliever from the light of the gospel, and he diligently aims his arrows of unbelief, discord, pride, lust, and rebellion toward the hearts of those that name the name of Christ.

When we submit to God and resist the devil, the devil must flee (James 4:7). We are to cloth ourselves with God's armor (Ephesians 6:10-19) and courageously do battle through prayer against the enemy of our souls. Our offensive weapon – the sword of the Spirit – is the spoken word of God. When we speak God's word in the face of temptation or in prayer for another, Satan and his army must run. The Bible says that greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). Those that have accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior have been given power over the devil and his demons. Luke 10:18-19 says,” I (Jesus) have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” We have been given victory over the enemy.

In addition to the spoken word of God, we have the name of Jesus as part of our arsenal against enemy forces. We can command Satan to leave us in the name of Jesus and he must obey. Spiritual warfare is part of the Christian experience and it is something we must engage in for the souls of men. When we pray for others we must stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. At times, He will lead us into spiritual warfare to deliver those in darkness or to those who are bound to a particular sin.

Our joy is not found in the fact that we have authority over the devil. Our delight is in the reality that spiritual warfare can help in bringing souls to Christ. Our joy is also found in the wonderful truth that Jesus has delivered us from Satan's kingdom and has translated us into the kingdom of God. Those of us that have embraced Christ have found delight in a loving relationship with God.

It is important for us to remember, however, that we are in a battle. The next time you are tempted by the crafty serpent, remember that you have authority over the evil one. Once you recognize his voice, take sides with the King of Kings and go to war.

If you have not accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. Please pray the pray below and mean it with all your heart.

Dear Lord,

Please forgive me for all my sins. I believe that you went to the cross so that I could be forgiven, and I believe that you rose from the dead. I ask you to deliver me from the power of Satan. I give my life to you. I surrender all to you. I thank you for making me victorious over sin and the devil. I acknowledge that it is only by your free gift of grace that I can be forgiven, and I thank you that because of your grace, I will one day go to heaven. I choose to follow you all of my days. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Preferring One Another

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2: 3-4

In our relationships, we represent Christ well when we seek to prefer one another in love. This should be our aim - to love others. We stoke the fires of God’s Spirit when we learn to practice God’s kindness.

This means we will have to be flexible. We will have to say sorry at times. We may even need to sacrifice our own desires to benefit another. God wants to prosper our marriages and our relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. He wants to make our lives attractive to unbelievers so that they will look to Jesus for fulfillment.

Jesus said, “My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay his life down for his friends (John 15:13).” As we serve others, God will make sure that our own needs are met, and that we experience the joy of Spirit-filled relations.

Dear Father God,

Show me how to prefer others in love. Help me to love my neighbor as myself, and teach me to practically look out for other people's needs above my own. In the name of my example, Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Generous Hands

We cast our bread upon the waters
Abundance returns on white-foamed waves
Sowing leads to reaping
We give, we receive
Only to give again

Our God arises in the time of famine
He is the Lord our Provider
He meets the needs of those who trust
In His unfailing love and abundant provision

The Savior's generous hands
Multiplied the loaves and fishes
He fed the multitudes

Jesus still works miracles
To those who see with childlike faith
To those who extend generous hands
For His purposes
Only to receive again

© Copyright 2009 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Call to Serve

“But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Luke 22:26

It is wonderful to bask in the blessings of God. The Lord longs to fill us with the richness of his word and he desires to immerse us in the waters of his Holy Spirit. He also wants to meet our material needs and heal our bodies. But we cannot live only to receive; we must give what God has given us to others.

If we are to grow in grace, we have to learn to serve. Christ washed His disciple’s soiled and smelly feet as an example for us. We can serve by ministering to those in our sphere of influence. Pray and ask God where and how he would like to use you. Perhaps your talents would shine in the children’s ministry at your church. You may have a gift of administration or evangelism. Serve where you are planted.

As you are faithful, God will promote you in the kingdom, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your labor changes people’s lives. Your humble service will bring joy to the heart of God. And as you develop a habit of serving others, your fellowship with the Father will wax sweet and strong.

Dear Lord,

It is my desire to serve others faithfully. Teach me to offer myself to others in your service. Use me in your kingdom to be a blessing to believers and nonbelievers alike. Let me shine for you Lord with your love, faith, and humility. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Aim High

Now Joseph had a dream... Genesis 37:5

It began as a dream. Many thought it. They viewed its light in the darkness, mirroring the sun's rays. Its strange luminescence intrigued them. Could a man walk on the moon? President John F. Kennedy believed it was possible. On May 25, 1961 he gave his famous speech where he declared that a man would one day set foot on the moon and return safely to earth. He believed this would be accomplished before the end of the 1960s.

The United States Government backed NASA financially, and the scientists and technicians labored feverishly to reach the goal set by their leader. On July 20, 1969 - roughly 8 years since Kennedy's speech - Neil Armstrong became the first man to stand on the surface of the moon. Then the Apollo 11 spacecraft brought Neil and the rest of the crew safely back to earth.

All would agree that this was a significant accomplishment. The accomplishment, like every achievement, began with the seed of a dream. A dream that required faith, cooperation, and hard work to bring to pass. What dreams do we have that lay dormant? What ambitions has God placed in your heart and mine? The Lord wants us to succeed. He wants us to pursue our God-given goals. I confess that a times I have fallen short in achieving the goals God has for me. But I desire to see all that God has for me become a reality. I desire to reach higher.

What are your dreams for your family? What are your dreams for the advancement of the kingdom of God? What are your personal aspirations? Let's set goals for our lives and let's apply ourselves to reach them. With God all things are possible. With His help we can achieve great things as long as the dreams we go after come from Him. Let's aim high!

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the dreams you've placed in me, and I ask you to help me bring them to pass. Forgive me for doubting and for standing on the sidelines. Help me to courageously go after the aspirations You've given me. In all I do Lord, help me to always seek first your kingdom. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2009 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Servant Leadership

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22: 27

Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords taught us how to lead others. On one occasion he knelt to wash his disciple’s soiled feet. Christ modeled His greatness by stooping to serve. He was, and is, a servant leader.

All those who hope to influence others must take the same approach. As we lead others, we must practice serving those we guide. This means that we are willing to“get dirty” with the problems and difficulties of others. When we minister to their needs it often inconveniences our lives. Washing people's feet is not glamorous. It was a lowly job reserved for servants, but Christ took up a towel and began the work.

On the cross, Christ showed us the full extent of his love. Jesus the Good Shepherd laid His life down for His sheep. Those who point the way in the body of Christ must be willing to serve with the same heart.

Dear Lord,

I worship you and thank you for your sacrificial love, which you demonstrated on the cross. Lord help me to “get dirty” with the problems and idiosyncrasies of people. Help me to serve others in love – washing their feet. Enable me to be a servant leader. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2008 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Beginning

In the beginning
He spoke the word
And spun the universe into existence
The earth and galaxies
Created by the Master - Three in One

In six days His masterpiece completed
Light and matter
Beast and water
Man and Woman
It was very good

Man knew God - intimately
But man and woman
Plummeted to the depths
Tricked by the father of deception

Yet God prepared a way
For fellowship restored
Now man and women can walk with God again
As in the beginning, through Christ's sacrifice

© Copyright 2009 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.