Sunday, February 28, 2010

Suffering Transformed

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

We live in an often hostile world. We all experience suffering and disappointment, but God is in the business of using our difficulties and setbacks for our ultimate good.

Joseph dreamed he would be a leader, but after sharing his dream with his brothers, they seized Joseph and sold him into slavery. He was chosen to serve an Egyptian leader named Potiphar. Everything that Joseph touched prospered, because the Lord was with him. After serving faithfully in Potiphar's house, Potiphar's wife – who was enthralled with Joseph - tried to entice him and desired to sleep with the Hebrew slave, but he refused. The woman then accused Joseph of making sexual advances toward her, and Joseph was sentenced to prison.

Joseph remained in prison for some time, but God's hand was upon him even in that dark place. Joseph was entrusted with the charge of the prisoners. The keeper of the prison committed them into his hands.

Thirteen years lapsed since his brothers betrayed him, then Joseph was given the opportunity of a lifetime. He was asked to interpret Pharaoh's dream. God gave Joseph the dream's meaning. He explained to Pharaoh that Egypt would experience seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph wisely determined that someone should be put in charge who would save grain during the years of abundance to be used during the time of scarcity. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as second in command of Egypt, and his God-given insight saved multitudes from starvation.

His brothers came to Egypt in search of food. Joseph met them and chose to forgive them. He viewed his suffering as part of God's overall plan. He said that you desired to do evil against me, but God meant it for good.

God transformed Joseph's suffering by His sovereign hand. And He works in our lives as well. When we place our pain and disappointments into the Father's hand, He eventually brings healing, victory, and promotion into our lives. As we stay faithful to God, He weaves His goodness into our lives and causes the days of darkness to be eclipsed by the sun.

We do experience pain in this life, but in the midst of our suffering, God is there. The Lord calls us to forgive our oppressors, and He eventually elevates us out of our hardships and causes us to shine for Him. His plan is to use us for His kingdom and for His glory. Let's choose faithfulness, let's embrace forgiveness, and let's offer all our emotional pain to Jesus. He loves us and He will transform our suffering into great glory. He will vindicate us and cause us to prevail.

Dear Sovereign Lord,

I worship You. I give to you my sorrows – the hurtful things I don't understand. I give you my pain and ask You to transform my suffering into victory. Lord, have your way in me. Help me to be faithful, and help me to forgive those that have harmed me. I entrust myself in Your care. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Oh Lamb of God

From the many wounds on Your back come healing
Your wrongful death begets life
Victory springs from death's dark valley

Your work on the cross wrought an abundant harvest
So Great a Salvation for all who believe
Unthinkable pain secured our place by Your side

Thank You Oh Lamb of God
You suffered in our place
The just for the unjust
The righteous for sinful man

Now those who trust You
Have been given Your robe of righteousness
Clothing weaved at the foot of the cross

By Your blood, we reign as kings in this life
Royalty bows before Your throne
Thank You Oh Lamb of God

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Greatest of These

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Faith is crucial to the Christian life. We could not have become born again without it. We put our faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. Because of this faith, which comes from God, we entered into God's family.

Hope is also invaluable to us. Hebrews 6:19 calls hope an anchor for our souls. Hope causes us to be firm and secure in our relationship with the Lord. It is an expectation for the promises of God to come to pass in our lives and in the lives of others.

But more important than these two critical attributes is the quality of love. The love that comes from God shows compassion to others regardless of what is or is not reciprocated. A Christian who loves with the love of God will extend kindness to another even if that person does not love in return.

We are called to love even our enemies. This is not possible through our own power. We can only love those that hate us through the grace of God. In Romans 5:5, we are told that the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. He empowers us to love others, and He fills our hearts with adoration for God.

Let's make it our goal to love God, other believers, and those that do not yet know the Savior. Let's open our hearts to all people. We can not do this in our own ability, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can. Let's remember that of all the qualities we can seek for our lives, the greatest of these is love.

Dear Father God,

I worship You. Thank you for pouring your love into my heart through the Holy Spirit. I love You Lord and I choose to love others as well. Teach me to walk in your unfailing love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Your Gift

We have different gifts according to the grace God has given us... Romans 12:6

How are you wired? How has God gifted you? Are you an encourager? Are you motivated to pray for the sick? Do you love to invite people into your home and entertain them? Do you have the gift of prophecy? When you discover how you are gifted, you learn how you minister best to those within the Body of Christ and to those that do not know Him.

I like to write. I penned a gospel tract, that was never published, so I print it myself. It looks very professional and I often give it out to people I meet. This is a natural way for me to evangelize. Both my wife and I are relational. We like to spend time with friends of ours who have not accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord. We often pray for them and do our best to say sensitive to the Spirit's promptings. We have had the wonderful opportunity of leading some of them to the Lord.

If your gift is hospitality, you could invite an unsaved neighbor over for a meal and develop a friendship with that person. At the right time, you could share with them your testimony.

You are unique, and God has made you the way you are on purpose. Your personality, God-given talents, and spiritual gifting equip you to serve the Lord in a way that is extraordinary and special. You may not be able to preach like Billy Graham, but you are able to influence others in the way that God designed you to.

If you don't know what your spiritual gift(s) is (are), seek the Lord and look over Scriptural passages that describe the different gifts (see 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 4:11-12). When we serve others within the Body, we should pay attention to what other believers say about our giftedness. Other Christians may see things in ourselves that we don't see. Ultimately, it is the Lord who will confirm to us what our gifts are.

As we use our gifts to serve others, the Lord will cause us to increase. He will add to our talent and ability causing us to become more effective than we were before.

Let's identify what our gifts are, and let's use them to bless the Body of Christ and draw those that don't know the Savior into an abiding relationship with Him.

Dear Father God,

Thank you for gifting me to serve you. Help me to realize how I am uniquely made, and enable me to reach others by your grace through the way you have created me. I thank You and praise You for loving me enough to use me to touch others. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 15, 2010


A cheerful heart is good medicine... Proverbs 17:22

Our Lord was not a limp and frowning figure. The Scripture says that he loved righteousness, hated evil, and had more joy than all His companions (Hebrews 1:9).

Healing flows from a heart full of cheer. God's life floods the heart and soul of the person that knows how to play. We all can take ourselves too seriously. God wants us to place our problems in His caring hands and trust Him to meet our every need. He desires for us to relish in our relationship with Him and with each other. He wants us to enjoy our lives.

When I was a young Christian, I carried a weight of guilt like a ball and chain. I didn't understand that God loved me. But slowly I began to see that God was on my side. He lives in me to enable me to succeed in the Christian life. His grace is all we need, and His grace gives us joy.

We can have fun in the presence of the Lord. We can find freedom in our relationship with Christ. Let's bask in the love of our Father God. When we fall, let's run to the Savior. He will forgive us and help us to follow Him, and He will restore our joy. Let's imitate our Lord who loved righteousness, hated evil, and rejoiced more than all His companions. His life is a life of joy and His joy brings us healing and wholeness. Smile, the God of the Universe delights in you.

Dear Father God,

Thank you that Your great love for me makes me happy. I choose to rejoice in You. I choose to enjoy my life. Thank you that You took my guilt and nailed it to the cross. I receive Your freedom. I receive your grace. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn. Psalm 89:15-17

Developing a lifestyle of praising God is an exercise in humility. When we worship the Lord, we begin to see how big He is. A consequence of this is that we begin to see how small we really are in comparison. It follows that we will start to realize our need to depend on Christ. And as we continue to worship Jesus, we will begin to depend on Him more and more.

1 Peter 5:5b-6 says, “ 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” When we boast in our own accomplishments, when we look down in a condescending way towards others; we kindle the anger of God. The Lord says He opposes such behavior. But when we keep a humble heart, the Father bestows His favor upon us. He actually stoops down to lift us up.

The Psalmist said that God favored him so much the Lord exalted his horn. The word horn in the Bible often refers to strength. The Scripture is saying that as we walk in humility, God exalts us and strengthens us spiritually. The Lord wants to increase us, but the only way to become greater in God's kingdom is to recognize how poor we really are. Blessed are the poor in spirit. When we learn to humble ourselves, we are blessed. One of the primary meanings of the Greek word for blessed is to be happy.

The world teaches us to build up ourselves and take pride in who we are. We are told to rely on our own power. This is supposed to lead us to success and happiness, but many follow this path only to find emptiness in the end. God wants us to glory in Him. As we do, we will find his strength to succeed and His everlasting joy for the journey.

Let's cultivate a lifestyle of worship and praise to God our Father. Let's put on the gentle garment of humility. To do this is to cooperate with God and find His great favor.

Dear Father God,

Teach me to praise and worship you every day, throughout the day. Help me to have a humble heart. I believe as I walk in this manner you will lift me up in due time. No matter what your rewards are to me I thank you that knowing You is the greatest reward I will ever possess. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Be Salty

“Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.”
Matthew 5:13 (The Message)

I attended college at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. At the beginning of my Junior year, I was excited to move to a new dorm only available to upperclassmen. The layout of the rooms was such that the bathrooms were shared by four people in two rooms parallel to each other. Because of the set up, the four of us remained in close proximity of each other.

At this time, I was a new believer zealous to serve the Lord. One of my suitemates decided to decorate his room with pornography. This startled me. I asked as politely as I could for him to remove the obscene pictures. I told him that, as a Christian, these images were a temptation to me. My friend became upset. The next day I noticed that he covered the pictures with a sheet of paper that could be flipped up to reveal a naked girl.

I nervously approached him a second time and asked him to still take the pictures down; he refused. Later his roommate began reading the Satanic Bible out of curiosity. I tried to warn him of the dangers of reading such a book. But he and his roommate ridiculed me unendingly, and I eventually left that dorm building for a room in a different complex.

What was I doing in this college setting? I was being salt – attempting to season my surroundings with the preservative of godly influence. I realized that I needed to enforce some healthy boundaries. I could not honor the Lord with pornography in my field of vision. I had to speak up. We are not called to point out all the sin in others, especially to nonbelievers, but there are times when it's appropriate to speak the truth in love. This is what I attempted to do. Unfortunately, I was persecuted for my attempts to help my friends. But God gave me a new dorm room and I made new friends. This was the best thing that could have happened to me.

There are times when we must speak up. We must be willing to stand against the crowd and do what is right. God will give us the spiritual backbone to honor Him. If we don't, we will lose our saltiness and become ineffective as witnesses for Christ. If I didn't speak up in this situation, I would have begun to take on the attributes of the world. My life would have become compromised and sullied with worldly living.

Let's not bow down to the world, instead let's endeavor to reach them, while remaining pure and holy before God. While we extend our hands in compassion to reach the lost, let's choose to be salty.

Dear Jesus,

I submit to Your Lordship. I choose to honor You by living upright. Show me when I must speak the truth in love. Help me not to compromise. Instead, use me to bring your saltiness to a world that needs to taste and see that the Lord is good. In Your name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This Little Light

“Let me tell you why you're here. You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.”
Matthew 5:14 (The Message)

In the center of the dank caverns of Mammoth Cave National Park, I stood with my family and a group of tourists in dense darkness. Our guide then lit a match and the stone room radiated with light. Subtle brilliance refracted from the crystalline stalactites and stalagmites. Their shadows rose and fell with the flickering of the fire. One small flame brought illumination to a cave shrouded in black.

God's word brings light to our souls. Those that don't know the Savior walk in blindness. The things of God are foreign to them. We are to take the light of Christ to those around us who cannot see. They have no spiritual vision, but we have been chosen by God to shine on them with the love of God and the good news of salvation.

Let's look for opportunities to radiate God's love. Let's pray for those who don't know the Lord, that their eyes would be opened so they can see the light of the Father's great mercy toward them. Let's ask God to give us boldness. As we share God's word with them, we lay our lives down and become bridges that they can tread across to be transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.

God is good and His message to those lost in sin is the greatest news there is. As we seek the Lord, He will help us to identify those we can influence for the kingdom. In a non-condemning and winsome way, let's reach out to our world. Then we can sing with the children, “This little light of mine I'm gonna let it shine!” Our light was never meant to be hidden – let's show forth our Lord's splendor for all to see.

Dear Lord of Glory,

I worship You and praise Your name. Awaken my heart to the plight of the lost around me. Help me to do my part to see them come to a heart knowledge of You. Forgive me for sometimes missing out on opportunities you bring my way to influence others for Your kingdom. Help me to share Your love and your word with those that don't know You. With your power, I desire to see them come out of darkness and into Your dazzling light. In Your name I pray, Amen.

© Copyright 2010 by Tom Toya. All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Divine Oasis

Rushing waters
Gentle streams
Your refreshing
Comes to me

As I sit before You
I receive Your mercies anew

Thank you Lord for your rest
Peace so sweet
I am so blessed

No sweat of mine
No deeds I've done
Have bought Your blessing
Have earned Your love

Freely You pour out your grace
As I seek Your radiant face

Thank you for this divine oasis
A refuge in the storm
I'm seated in Your heavenly places
No longer weary, no more worn

I receive Your love for me
Let it overflow
I receive Your love for me
To others I will go
Your love I choose to show