By Tim O’Malley
Welcome to Life Lessons. Life is a journey and is filled with many surprising twists and turns. A wonderful reality is that we are not journeying alone because the Maker of the Universe is watching over our every step. Sometimes the road is rough and uphill and sometimes we are carried on His shoulders. But in all circumstances, He said that He would never leave us or forsake us. These articles reflect my journey with the Lord Jesus Christ and boast of His great love and power at work in my life and in the lives of others. My prayer is that they inspire you to seek Him with all your heart, because in doing so, you will find Him.
Touched by an Angel.....Really!
(My Personal Testimony)
By Tim O'Malley
We’ve all seen episodes of ‘Touched by an Angel’ and most of us have heard the stories in the Bible of how “...the angel of the Lord encamps round about those that fear Him, and delivers them.”- Psalm 34:7. The Bible has quite a lot to say about the role and ministry of angels. I remember as a child how my mother would pray with me before bedtime and tell me how my guardian angel was always watching over me. Little did I know that I was one day going to experience their ministry in my life.
I grew up in a very solid Christian home where family prayer was taught and lived. As a child I felt very close to the Lord. Unfortunately, when I became a teenager, I thought it was no longer cool to go to church so I stopped going. Interestingly, things started going wrong in my life and I found myself getting into a lot of trouble. I’ll spare you all the ugly details and just tell you that God started sending me messages through the difficulties I began to experience. Each time I ignored His warning, my troubles increased.
I’m not sure how I survived my High
School years other than the fact that God’s hand was upon me. When I was
19, I went out partying with my friends up to Big Sur on the central
Highway 1 runs about 150 miles from
I’ll never forget that night. We got out
of the car to look at the stars. It was pitch black, no moon, and the
stars seemed so close that they almost knocked you over when you looked up.
They stretched all the way to where the sky met the ocean. I began to
realize how big God was and how puny my life was in comparison. My friends were
all hootin’ and hollerin’
and all I could think about was God. We got back in the car and proceeded down
this one long stretch in the middle of nowhere that runs along the edge of the
cliff. The only sign of civilization was the next campsite in
As we were driving along this winding treacherous stretch of highway, we saw four girls with their thumbs out hitchhiking. We drove right past them and one of the guys in the car said, “Wow, man, like were there four girls back there?” “Larry” slammed on the breaks and said, “I knew there were four girls back there!” So, we slowly backed up the car for quite a distance, and sure enough, to our surprise (and delight) there were four girls hitchhiking. I said, “Whoa, four girls, four guys, this is our lucky night!” I rolled down the window and started to talk to them when all of a sudden they started to sing ‘Silent Night’! One of the guys in the back seat said, “Aw man, they’re Jesus freaks!”. Stunned, we just sat there and listened to them. As they sang, there was something about them that seemed very pure and innocent. Their faces were beautiful, not the type of girls you would expect to see running around that time of night. I thought to myself, “They look like church chicks.” As they sang I also began to feel very ashamed at the life I was living and once again felt my need to change my life and return to the Lord. When they finished, one of the girls said something like, “God bless you!” or “Jesus loves you!” and they ran back down the road and disappeared into the darkness. We jumped out of the car and yelled, “Wait! Come back!” We ran after them but could not find them. We looked down the road and over the steep cliff and across the road; we looked up the steep mountainside. They just vanished! We looked at each other and said, “Whoa! Did you see what I saw?” “Yeah, man, but where did they go?” We quickly got back in the car and sat there in stunned silence, totally freaked out.
The rest of the way home, it was very different. I don’t think anyone said a word for a long time. All I could do was quietly pray that we make it home safely and that I would have a chance to get my life in order and return to the Lord and His favor. I thought, “Could they have been…..?…..Nah!…or could they?” It wasn’t until a year later that I discovered the Truth and had a “Close Encounter of the Best Kind”. In next month’s column, I’ll share the rest of the story with you…. it gets better! As the Bible says,
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation?” –Hebrews 1:14
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13:2
By Tim O'Malley
In last month’s article, (link) I shared about the ministry of angels and the role they play in our salvation:
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation?” –Hebrews 1:14. And in another place, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13:2
Well, what about bad angels, or is there
such thing as bad angels? We know the Bible also has a lot to say about bad or
fallen angels as well. Believe me, it’s not like the WB would portray it!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” –Eph.6:10
We’ve all heard stories and jokes about
the devil; however, the battle that is going on for our souls is no joking
matter. Jesus said that Satan (a fallen
The Rest of the Story
When I got back from
I used to go to the beach a lot. Back in the early 1970’s I would frequently encounter “Jesus Freaks”. Now these people were typically hippies, long-haired leaping gnomes in sandals carrying Bibles. They would always come up to me and say, “Did you know that Jesus loves you?” I said, yeah man, “I’m Catholic!” Then they would say, “But are you saved?” Deep inside, I would think, I hope I will be. My friends would yell at them and curse at them, but deep inside I knew the JF’s were right. I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful and happy they were. Even some of my hard-core party animal friends were becoming Christians, but I felt I was not ready for this, nor did I want to give up all my “fun”.
But God, in His great mercy, is a loving Father and strong disciplinarian. The more I fought off the temptation to turn my life around, the worse things got for me. I could write a book on the troubles I went through on my journey of trying to ignore God. It wasn’t until I was arrested for possession of marijuana that I began to take God seriously. I had just turned 18, too. I was now considered an adult and couldn’t call mom and dad to come and get me out of trouble, so I had to spend some time in jail awaiting arraignment. I was very fortunate to have caring and merciful parents who got me a lawyer who found a way to get me out of jail and have the case thrown out on an illegal search and seizure defense. I was so thankful to my parents and God for getting me out of trouble. But you think I would have learned my lesson, wouldn’t you? My “friends” came over with some tickets to a Led Zeppelin – Black Sabbath concert. I said, “No man, I can’t go. I have to get my act together.” They said, “C’mon man, just don’t carry anything in your car.” I caved in and went. I didn’t have to bring any drugs to the concert at the “Fabulous Forum – Home of the Los Angeles Lakers”. All I had to do was breathe. There was so much grass being passed around, you could get a second-hand high just from the smoke! I’ll never forget when Black Sabbath took the stage, they looked like demons dancing and singing about their lord of darkness. I never noticed it before, but it seemed kind of creepy.
The following year, things got worse as I ignored more and more warnings from God. My mom and dad always prayed that God would “keep His hand on my shoulder” and protect me in spite of myself. It seemed like the more they prayed, the worse I got. One Saturday night in September when I was 20 years old, I was out partying down the street at a “friends” house. It was just a few minutes after midnight when “Rick” said, “Hey check out this new album. He put on Black Sabbath. I did not know that the members of the group were into Satanism and witchcraft. An interesting note here: the lead singer was Ozzy Osborne. Gee, don’t we all look up to him and want to raise a family like his? Anyway, don’t get me started here. I wasn’t aware of all this background, all I was aware of was that I began to feel very uneasy as the heavy metal guitars came droning in with lyrics from Satan himself. I had never experienced anything before like I was experiencing at that moment. I felt like there was an evil presence in the room, I started to feel panicky and was getting cold and my skin was turning pale. My “friends” looked at me and said, “Hey, man are you all right?” I looked at the clock and it was about 5 minutes after midnight. I heard a quiet voice inside my head say, “It’s Sunday, you should be in church today, but look at what you are doing to your life.”
I looked over in the corner of the room by the speaker and there seemed to be a dark shadow and heaviness in the air. It scared me. I jumped up and said to my “friends”, “Man, there is something in here, I’m getting’ out of here!” I ran out the door and down the street toward my house. Whatever was in the room seemed to be following me. I heard something laughing and mocking me. I got to my house, ran into my room and fell on my knees and begged God to take this thing away and protect me.
Suddenly, the strangest thing happened to me. I saw my life begin to pass before me. This really scared me because I had heard that this happened to people when they die. I knew that if I died, I would go straight to hell because of my sins. I saw what played like a movie of my entire life. I saw all the things that I thought God didn’t know about. All my secret sins and thoughts were laid bare. I felt totally naked and exposed before God with nothing to hide. I cried out to God and asked Him to forgive me for the mess I had made of my life. Suddenly it became very still and quiet and I found myself looking at my body slumped over the side of the bed. I felt totally cut off from God and the rest of the world. I must be dead, I thought. I felt a loneliness come over me as I saw the sad faces of my family whom I thought I would never see again. This was hell, total separation from God. I began to give up hope and get used to the fact that it was too late. I had been given so many chances to repent, but now I was lost for eternity. I became overwhelmed with grief. I put my face in my hands and began to weep. Then someone put their hand on my shoulder. I looked to my right and saw a big hand and a very large man standing next to me. I heard something inside me say, “It’s your guardian angel.” I thought, whoa, I forgot I had one! I was so amazed. He was so big that his shoulders touched the ceiling. It was definitely a man and not a woman. There were no wings or feathers. He was dressed in brilliant white and was transparent, because I could see my window curtains through him. He leaned down and said to me, “Now bow your head and ask the Father for forgiveness.” I wasn’t about to argue away what seemed to be the hope of a second chance. I poured out my heart and asked the Lord to forgive me for all my sins and for all the things that were exposed when my life passed before me. Amidst my tears I heard a voice, a quiet comforting voice say, “Go and sin no more.” I didn’t know the Bible very well back then, but later discovered that those were the words that Jesus spoke to the woman who was going to be stoned to death for committing adultery. As He spoke those words to me, an incredible feeling of the Father’s love and peace washed over me. I wept.
The next morning, when I awoke, I jumped
out of bed and said, “Whoa, was that a dream or did it really happen?” The
experience was just as fresh in my mind at that moment as it is to this day. I
felt an incredible peace inside. I felt love for everyone. I went outside and
it was as if I had been born all over again. The sky never looked so blue, the
birds and flowers never so beautiful. I went to church that day and gave my
life over to the Lord. When I went to Communion, I felt like an ocean of love
was pouring out of me. People were staring at this hippy with long hair,
bandana tied around his head to keep his hair out of his face, moustache and
goatee, and grateful tears streaming down his face. I have never been the same
since. It has been 30 years since that moment and I have never returned to that
ugly, messed-up life that died in
Lord, forgive me for my sins. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I believe that you died on the cross for my sin and rose again for my salvation. Please come into my heart. Be the Lord of my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” –2 Cor.6:1,2
Hey, it gets even better! In next month’s article I’ll tell you what happened next:
“This is what I will do in the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams…and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” –Acts 2:17,21
“If we asked, then You’d come
And send Your Rain on everyone.
You know what I mean?” –- Martin Smith, Delirious
Yes, I know what you
mean! In the Bible, rain and water are often used as a metaphor for the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Do not leave
It was September of 1973, I was 20 years old and just had the most powerful experience of my life. I was born-again, a new creation in Christ; the old had passed away and I was forgiven! Each day was full of wonder and then…
...just when I thought that I had experienced the ultimate, the Holy Spirit began to move again! In my previous article, I shared what led to this marvelous place where I now found myself. I was so hungry for God! The Bible came alive; not only did I understand it, the words seemed to jump right off the page into my heart. I was on fire for Jesus, and I let the whole world know it. I shared my experience with all my old party animal friends. Some were pretty amazed, because they knew how I was before; others were scared that it might be contagious, and the rest just blew me off as a “Jesus Freak”. There were some things that I had to give up. The Lord began to strip away all my bad habits and bad friends. And for good reason, as Scripture says in 1 Cor.15:33, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” Many whom I thought were my friends were not. But, for everything that I gave up, the Lord gave back a hundred times! Some call it the cost in Pentecost.
For four long months I had no friends. It kind of reminded me of when Jesus was crucified, all the disciples ran away because they were scared. Every day I would just sit around and read the Bible and other inspirational books, but I had no fellowship. My parents began to worry about me and prayed that I would meet some good Christian friends. My mom told me about a prayer meeting that was going on at church and that there were some young people she wanted me to meet. She said that you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit there and that His gifts were being experienced there. That sounded pretty good to me, so I went. It was like the floodgates were opened. There were people my age praising and worshiping God with awesome rock-n-roll-like songs. Being a musician, I really got excited. I expected a bunch of nerds singing Gospel quartet, but these were all a bunch of long-haired leaping gnomes like myself! Within a month I had made some awesome friends and was asked to be the director of the praise band and to lead worship.
I knew that I couldn’t
do this without God’s help. At that time in the early seventies, there was a
move of God that people in the Catholic, Protestant and non-denominational
churches called the Charismatic Renewal. It was a revival where people were
experiencing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and were receiving the gifts of the
Holy Spirit as taught in I Corinthians 12-14.
They told me that I needed to attend a Leadership Conference if I was going to
be involved in leading worship. So I went to this huge gathering of people at
I have never been the same since. Over the years I have come to learn that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time experience. I have also come to learn that it is not meant to be just a private experience, but that its purpose is to empower us for service to others and to be His witnesses. Just as the rain waters the dry barren ground and causes the earth to bear fruit and to bring refreshment, so it is with the Spirit’s work in our lives. The more we empty ourselves of us, the more space there is for us to be filled with Him, to be used, and to become fruitful in our ministry to others. So I encourage you, if you really want to be used of God and anointed to serve others, pray this prayer today:
Lord, open the floodgates of heaven, let it rain, let it rain. Empower me by the anointing of Your Holy Spirit, that I may be Your witness and servant and bring forth fruit for You. Baptize me in Your Holy Spirit that I may know how to worship You in Spirit and in Truth. Send a season of refreshing from Your throne and set me apart to announce your praise and establish Your kingdom. In Jesus Name. Amen.
For further study: Old Testament- Isaiah 55:1-12; Hosea 10:12; New Testament-John 3:5-8; John 4:4-24; John 14:15-17; John 15:26; John 16:5-15; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-21; Acts 11:16; I Corinthians 12:1-31; 1 Corinthians 14:1-40; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 8:26-27; Rev.22:17; Galatians 5:22
By Tim O'Malley
A chicken and a pig were walking down the road one day when they approached a billboard. The sign had a breakfast ad with a plate of bacon and eggs. The chicken proudly stated, “That’s what I gave up!” The pig stared at the chicken in disbelief and said, “Yeah, easy for you! I had to give my whole life!”
Hmmm, what does it really mean to give the Lord your whole life? I was 20 when I gave my life to Jesus Christ, or at least I thought I had. Just weeks after accepting Christ as my Savior, I was about to find out what it meant to also accept Him as Lord. I was always afraid, if I became a Christian that I would have to give-up stuff. I realized, though, that there was nothing really worth hanging on to when I considered the hell He delivered me from and the eternal suffering that awaited me if I died in my sin. I was soon to encounter the first real test of my commitment.
Music had always been my first-love. I was a musician and played guitar and bass professionally for some years. I loved Rock-n-Roll. One of my favorite groups, The Who, was appearing in concert. Since the concert was going to sell out fast, the promoters had a lottery to allow people to purchase tickets in an orderly manner. I took the day off work to stand in line just so I could purchase tickets. I ended up getting seats almost in the front row. I was so excited that I was bragging to all my friends about the location of my seats.
One day, I was laying out in my backyard soaking up some rays. As I lay there I was talking to the Lord in prayer. Suddenly, I heard this still-small voice in my heart say to me,
“Tim, I want those tickets.” I thought to myself, “I’m just imagining this, right Lord?”
Then I heard, “If you want to be My disciple you must take up your cross, leave the world behind and follow me.”
In protest I said, “But Lord, You don’t know what I went through to get those tickets!”
“Yes I do.” He said. “If you love Me you will follow Me and obey Me.”
I lay there struggling with this, but I felt His peace that passes all understanding. I said, “Ok, Lord, they’re Yours.” I got up, went in to the house, picked up my tickets and walked out into my backyard. I got down on my knees, lit a match and held the flame up to the tickets and offered my “sacrifice” to the Lord. The strange thing was that I felt good about it. I was filled with peace.
A week later, the reward came. I was at a conference on the Holy Spirit, when during the praise and worship, the Holy Spirit flooded my soul with such an intense wave of His love that I thought I would be crushed under the weight. I have never been the same since! It propelled me into a new ministry of leading praise and worship at our church. I began to understand the scripture from Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses…” Interesting that the word witness in Greek is ‘martus’ where we get the word, ‘martyr’. I think of the chicken when I think of my ‘sacrifice’, but it’s the pig that is the real example. What I gave up is nothing compared to what God gave up:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”- John 3:16
By Tim O’Malley
Merle was a member of our prayer
community and was known for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon her life. When
she prayed, things happened. One evening at the Old Towne Mall in
Kids, don’t try this at home unless you know Jesus and are empowered and anointed by the Holy Spirit! There is a story in the Book of Acts, where the seven sons of Sceva tried using the name of Jesus without having a relationship with Him and ended up receiving the beating of their lives. (See Acts 19:13-20). In Ephesians 6:12, Paul says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God….”
When a believer is baptized in the Holy
Spirit, a whole new world is opened up. There are wonderful blessings of
consolation, but there is also a new awareness of spiritual warfare. It’s
nothing to be afraid of, because the battle belongs to the Lord. Anytime we
think it’s our battle and approach it as such we can be assured of defeat. But
recognize that it is His work and His power and victory is sure. It was no accident
that after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River and the Holy Spirit came down
upon Him that He was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan
for 40 days (Luke 4:1-13). There Jesus encountered spiritual warfare and came
forth victorious. We know that Satan’s defeat was at
Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 that “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses…” The word ‘power’ is ‘dunamis’ a Greek word from where we get our word ‘dynamite’. When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, we are anointed with dynamite like power. In fact, Jesus said that anyone who has faith in Him will do the works He does and even greater, because He has gone to the right hand of the Father and has sent His Spirit (John14:12-14).
Jesus also said,
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” – Mark 16:17-18
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:38-39
Notice that it wasn’t just for the 1st Century Church, but it was also for their children and all who are far off (us!). Thank you, Jesus!
“So why wait any longer? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away by calling on his name.” – Acts 22:16
By Tim O’Malley
We are all familiar with the story
from the Book of Joshua about the Battle of Jericho and how through praise and
worship, the walls came tumbling down and the children
“Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples;
To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
To execute on them the written judgment--
This honor have all His saints.
Praise the LORD!”
- Psalm 149:6-9 NKJV
There are more, but four things that Satan hates is the high praise of God, which some have interpreted to mean praise anointed by the Holy Spirit; the Word of God, which is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb.4:12); the name of Jesus and any mention of the Blood of Christ which was shed for all and which was the defeat of Satan (Rev.12:7).
But let us consider the
power of praise for this months article. There is a
wonderful account in the 1 Chronicles about King Jehoshaphat and the children
"Listen to me, all you people
Then King Jehoshaphat fell to the
ground with his face to the earth, and all the people of
Early the next morning the army of
After consultation with the leaders
of the people, he
determined that there should be a choir leading the march, clothed in sanctified garments and
singing the song "His Loving-kindness Is Forever" as they walked
along praising and thanking the Lord! And at the moment they began to sing and
to praise, the Lord caused the armies of
- 2 Chron 20:15-22 TLB
What an awesome victory. Notice who King
Jehoshaphat put on the front lines, it was the choir! Now I know what you’re
thinking, “They must have been pretty bad, lets make
the enemy listen to them!” Seriously, you usually place your fiercest troops on
the front lines, but here God demonstrates the power of praise. Because at the
moment they began to sing and to praise, the Lord caused the armies of
By Tim O’Malley
“I had to make this movie,” Mel Gibson said. “I couldn’t not make it.” Mel Gibson was referring to the Passion of the Christ, a movie that depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion. It’s amazing how much controversy has been created by this movie, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Mel Gibson said he hoped that everyone who sees it is led to a saving faith in Christ. When asked about the attacks on him for making the movie that have come from all quarters, he said, “This all from the Enemy. He doesn’t want anyone seeing this movie.” And why is that? The Apostle Paul gives us insight in his letter to the Romans where he states: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."” - Rom 1:16-17 (NIV)
The movie begins with verses from one of the greatest passages in Scripture outside of the New Testament; they are from the Old Testament in the Book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied to the Southern Kingdom of Judah and began his ministry in 740 BC. The Book of Isaiah is rich in its foretelling of the coming of the Messiah (Christ) and the suffering He would have to endure to atone for our sin. It also foretells His ultimate victory over sin and death by His resurrection from the dead. The entire Gospel is contained in these exciting verses that were written over 700 years before the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us! This month we celebrate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Christ, the Anointed One. This Easter season let us revisit these Words that proclaim the Good News of our salvation. May this Gospel, which is the power of God for your salvation, fill your hearts and minds as you meditate on the greatest story ever told.
See, my Servant shall prosper; he shall be highly exalted. Yet many shall be amazed when they see him-yes, even far-off foreign nations and their kings; they shall stand dumbfounded, speechless in his presence. For they shall see and understand what they had not been told before. They shall see my Servant beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know it was a person standing there. So shall he cleanse many nations.
But, oh, how few believe it! Who will listen? To whom will God reveal his saving power? In God's eyes he was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want him. We despised him and rejected him-a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn't care.
Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed-and we were healed! We-every one of us-have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God's paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us!
He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he stood silent before the ones condemning him. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that he was dying for-that he was suffering their punishment? He was buried like a criminal, but in a rich man's grave; but he had done no wrong and had never spoken an evil word.
But it was the Lord's good plan to bruise him and fill him with grief. However, when his soul has been made an offering for sin, then he shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again, and God's program shall prosper in his hands. And when he sees all that is accomplished by the anguish of his soul, he shall be satisfied; and because of what he has experienced, my righteous Servant shall make many to be counted righteous before God, for he shall bear all their sins. Therefore, I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great because he has poured out his soul unto death. He was counted as a sinner, and he bore the sins of many, and he pled with God for sinners. -Isa 52:13-53:12 TLB
By Tim O’Malley
Have your ever asked the Lord for something and tried to “help” Him by answering your own prayer? Having begun in the Spirit, are you trying to continue in the power of your flesh? If so, this can have undesirable results as you may have already experienced. Abraham tried to do just that with some hazardous results.
Since 9/11, it has become obvious that we
are in a new type of conflict. We are being attacked from without and from
within. So where did all this anti-American sentiment come from anyway? There
are differing opinions and a variety of reasons, but the core reason is that we
This age-old conflict actually has its roots in the Book of Genesis in the 16th - 21st chapters. In a nutshell, God made Abraham a promise that he would become the father of many nations even though he was well into his nineties and Sarah, his wife, was barren. As time went by and Sarah still had not yet conceived, Abraham and Sarah decided to “help” God. Sarah suggested that Abraham should have the “child of promise” through their servant, Hagar. Abraham “reluctantly complied” and Sarah became jealous and began to mistreat her. Hagar ran away and the angel of the LORD found her crying in the wilderness and took pity on her. The angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”
“The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild ass of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”” Gen.17:11
Ishmael became the father of all the Arabs, “his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him”, and today many of his descendants, most notably the radical Islamist terrorists, “live in hostility toward all their brothers”. What started out as an attempt by Abraham to fulfill God’s promise in the power of his flesh has turned into a family feud and erupted into a worldwide conflict.
Standing as a monument to this conflict
is the Dome of the Rock mosque in
Now there is a great lesson for us to learn from this. When God makes a promise, let Him fulfill it His way. It is “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord”. -Zech. 4:6 “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” -Gal.3:3. The conflict and struggle that we are witnessing today is the result of a bad decision on Abraham and Sarah’s part and now we struggle with the consequences. If we would just be patient and take God at His word and trust Him to accomplish it in His way and in His time, it would spare us some very undesirable results. So next time you hear about this conflict on the News, let it be a reminder that we can’t answer our own prayers or try to “help” God by fulfilling His promises.
Let it also be said that God makes all things work for the good in spite of our mistakes. For God so loved the world, and that includes Arab, Jew, and all mankind, that He gave His only Son Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life.
By Tim O’Malley
If you were a slave or a prisoner, what price would you pay for your freedom? This 4th of July, we celebrate our nation’s 228th birthday and mark our Declaration of Independence. There is no doubt our nation has been blessed by God and that because of that blessing we enjoy an abundance of wealth and many freedoms. You may have heard it said that “Freedom is not free”. The ultimate price has been paid over and over to gain and then to maintain our freedom. Many have given their lives and we reap the blessings of their sacrifice. I salute all the brave men and women who have paid that ultimate price.
However, in the midst of the freedom that we enjoy, there are still many who are not free. We need to stop and ask ourselves, “Am I really free?” What or who controls me? I know what it is like to be free as an American, but there was a time when I was not free within. I had no power to stop doing the things that were destroying my life. I would try to stop drinking, smoking and getting high, but the dependence on these things just to feel “normal” made it seem impossible to quit. There are many other enslavements that can take hold and destroy us. Paul gives us a list in Galatians:
“The acts of the sinful nature are
obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft;
hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions,
factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did
before, that those who live like this will not inherit the
Besides the obvious addictions to drugs and porn, what about the other addictions like over-eating, video games and TV? Sometimes the slavery is so severe, that it changes our personalities and we become very unpleasant to be around. I know. That was me, until I prayed a very simple but powerful prayer: “Jesus, help me.” The change was real, because Jesus is real and “if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36). I never realized the depth of my enslavement until I was set free. Paul in his letter to the Galatians said,
“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law…..
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Gal 5:13-26 NIV
One thing is for certain, if as a nation we are going to be free, it has to begin within. Freedom must take hold in our hearts and the Spirit must control our lives. Only then can we declare our independence from sin because our dependence is on the Lord. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” - 2 Cor 3:17-18
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 6:22-23
“Freedom is not the right to do what you want, but the power to do what you ought…”
I have come to learn that freedom is not the right to do what you want, but the power to do what you ought, and we can only have that ability if our lives are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us do what we ought and turn from our sin and place our faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commands. Freedom is not free, but cost the life of God’s only Son, that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. This 4th of July, let us praise and thank the Lord for the ultimate price He paid to secure our freedom from sin and death, and let us mark our Declaration of Dependence on Him.
By Tim O’Malley
How can I know God’s will? This is by far one of the most important questions we can ever ask, for our place in eternity depends on it. Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt 7:21-22 (NIV).
So just what is the Father’s will anyway? Again, we can look to God’s Word. Jesus said,
“For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:40 (NIV)
Those of us who call ourselves Christians, believe this without question, but it is one thing to believe this and another to be attentive and obedient to the instruction we have in God’s Word. We understand God’s will in the Big Picture, such as what is necessary for our salvation; but what about the smaller things in our daily lives? “What do you want me to do in this situation, Lord?” “Where shall I go?” “How can I accomplish this?” “What do you want me to do with my life?” “How do I know if she or he is the right person to marry?” You know the list. How can we be certain that it is God guiding us and not just our own will or stubborn desire?
When it comes to seeking the knowledge of God’s will and receiving guidance, I have found a method that is extremely effective. In the past, before high-tech navigational systems, ships used to rely on the stars for travel at night and also for lights in the harbor. A lighthouse would point them in the direction of the shore and the alignment of lanterns to direct them safely into harbor. The lanterns when aligned in a straight row would guide the vessel through the reefs and rocks safely to its mooring in the harbor. There are three lanterns that need to line-up in our circumstances in order for us to have knowledge of God’s will. They are:
· The Bible
· The Peace of Christ
The first point of light is the Bible, God’s written Word. The Psalmist said,
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Ps 119:130 (NIV)
Paul tells us in his second letter to Timothy that
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NIV)
The Bible is the Manufacturer’s Handbook. The B-I-B-L-E also stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. The Word of God is a “lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” Ps.119:105. If Scripture is not clear to you with regard to a particular question, there is always WWJD or “What Would Jesus Do?” If you want to know what God is like, look at the life, teaching and actions of Jesus. God, Himself, became a Man to give mankind a concrete, definite, tangible idea of what kind of person to think of when we think of God. God is like Jesus, Jesus is God Incarnate, in human form. That is why Jesus is called The Word of God because He is the Father’s walking, breathing, living revelation.
Part of listening to God’s Word is obedience to His commands and to obey those who are in authority, particularly our parents if we are still living at home. Our parents have a vital role in counseling us and giving us advice. Even Jesus was obedient to His parents. (Luke 2:51) When it comes to making a decision, do we have the blessing and confirmation of our parents or those in authority? I have known friends who thought God was telling them to do something that did not fit with their earthly responsibility. God does not typically ask married men to leave their wives and family to the neglect of their care to go get involved in some missionary work as noble as the calling may be; nor would God ask us to sacrifice something that would be detrimental to our health, such as refuse blood transfusions, which is a disastrous misinterpretation of God’s Word. Where God guides, God provides.
In Paul’s letter to the church at
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Rom 12:1-2(NIV)
Also, do we have fellowship with the Holy Spirit? Are we listening to His direction and to the still-small voice that says, “This is the way, walk in it.” As faith-filled Christians, our attitude should be to
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NIV)
The Peace of Christ
God is also a God of order not chaos or confusion. If you are confused, wait on the Lord. This brings us to the third lantern of guidance: God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. Paul tells the Colossians,
“The Peace that Christ gives is to be the judge in your hearts; for to this peace God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful. Christ’s message in all its richness, must live in your hearts.” Col. 3:15 (TEV)
Paul uses the Greek word, ‘brabeuo’ (brab-yoo'-o); for the word ‘judge’ or some translations use ‘rule’. The word means to arbitrate, or to govern. In other words, Christ’s peace is like an arbitrator which helps us to choose wisely and make the right decisions. I have found it helpful to not rush into a big decision but to “sleep on it” or make the decision and live with it for a day or two. Typically, if this is the right thing to do, it will be in agreement with God’s Word; it will be confirmed by our parents, pastor, or those in authority over us; and God’s peace will rule in our hearts. Finally, to prepare your heart to know God’s will here is some wisdom from Scripture,
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess 5:16-18 (NIV)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:4-7 (NIV)
By Tim O’Malley
The greatest thing in life is to know God personally. The simple truth is that there is a God who created you and loves you very much. He gave us life and deserves our gratitude and love. Consider God’s call to the prophet Jeremiah:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth."
But the LORD said to me,
"Do not say, "I am a youth,'
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.
Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth,
and the LORD said to me,
"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.- Jer 1:5-9 NASU
Jeremiah was a teenager, just like many of you who are reading this. Paul the Apostle told Timothy,
“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” - 1 Tim 4:12 NIV
We, however, young and old, have a basic problem. We have chosen to disobey Him and sin against Him; all of us have done wrong and failed to do what is right. (Romans 3:23). We may not be more sinful than our neighbor, or we may be far worse than anyone we know, it does not matter. Either way, we are guilty before God. (I John 1:8).
God is perfect, completely good, always right and fair. He cannot tolerate sin. He cannot simply overlook the fact that we have chosen to disobey Him. The Bible says "the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23). This means that the fair payment for our rebellion against God is death. It is the punishment that we deserve.
Jesus, the one and only Son of God, came to earth and lived a perfect sinless life. He was crucified even though He was completely innocent. He received the punishment that we deserved. He was the perfect sacrifice, He was put into our place and took on Himself the sentence of death that should have been ours. (Romans 5:8).
Jesus did not, however, remain dead. After three days, He rose from the grave and later ascended into heaven. He will return for all those who are trusting in Him as their Savior.
Jesus died for you. You can be saved by asking Him for forgiveness from your sins. If you are willing to repent of your sin, He is waiting to forgive you. It doesn't matter what you have done in the past, if you cry out to Jesus for forgiveness, He will not reject you. The word "repent" literally means "to turn away from." You need to look at your life, admit that you are a sinner, genuinely desire to turn your back on that sin, and ask Him to forgive you. If you do this, He promises to forgive you.
True Christianity is not about what church you attend, or how your parents raised you, or what country you were born in. Being a Christian means that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that He is your Savior. It's not good enough that your priest, pastor, mother, or aunt knows Jesus, you must know Him for yourself. They cannot believe in Him for you, you must believe for yourself. They cannot repent for you, you must repent for yourself. God has no grandchildren, only children!
Jesus is everywhere all the time. He can hear you now if you ask Him for forgiveness. Please turn your life over to Him NOW. Time slips by so quickly, don't miss this opportunity. If you want to pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior, you can say a prayer something like this:
"Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I know the truth is that I have sinned by my own choice, and I am the one responsible for it. I know that I have earned punishment from You, and that the fair punishment would be death. Jesus, I believe that You died in my place. Forgive me for my sin. I cannot cover or take my sin away, I am relying totally and only on You. You are the only one who can save me. I reject my sin, I turn away from it, I repent. Come into my life, take away my sin, and show me how to live my life in a way that is right and pleasing to You."
If you prayed this prayer, and by faith invited Jesus into your heart, you have become His child! You are a new creation in Christ! Whether you are old or a teen, or somewhere in-between, you are born anew! Make sure you pray everyday, read your Bible, and share this Good News with others. For this is God’s promise to you:
“For if you tell others with your own mouth that Jesus Christ is your Lord and believe in your own heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in his heart that a man becomes right with God; and with his mouth he tells others of his faith, confirming his salvation.”
“For the Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed. Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect: they all have the same Lord who generously gives his riches to all those who ask him for them. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Rom 10:9-13 TLB
By Tim O’Malley
This is the first of a two part series on the things that please and displease the Lord. This article takes a look at what Scripture describes as the seven things that God hates. The Bible has quite a lot to say about these things so I added references to the end of each section for those of you that desire a deeper study on the topic.
Back in the fourth century, one of the fathers of the early Church was the great scholar, Jerome. He made a very important statement when he said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” His statement carries a great truth since Jesus is the “Word made flesh” as well as the embodiment of God’s message. God, Himself, became a Man to give mankind a concrete, definite, tangible idea of what kind of person to think of when we think of God. God is like Jesus; Jesus was God Incarnate, in human form.
His appearance on earth is the Central Event of all history (His Story). The Old Testament sets the stage for it and the New Testament describes it.
Jesus suffered, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead to restore our broken fellowship with God. The Bible is His Story. Our faith in Jesus and trust in His Cross and Resurrection, and our acceptance or rejection of Him will determine where we will spend eternity! I say this to underscore the importance of learning, believing and obeying God’s message as it is revealed to us in the Bible. Jesus said, “Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and obey it.”- Luke 11:28. Paul the Apostle tells us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instruction for right living. So that the man who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim.3:16,17.
As we read and study the Scriptures we become aware of what is near and dear to the heart of God. One of the infallible signs of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life is to cause you to hunger and thirst for a relationship with the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. After my rebirth, I was filled with a strong desire to learn what pleases the Lord as well as what displeases Him so I could avoid those things. This month, I want to share what the Bible has to say about the things that displease God.
The Book of Proverbs states the following:
“These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren. –Prov.6:16-19
Let’s take a closer look. The first is
It’s interesting to me that this sin of pride is what caused Satan to fall. Note this passage from Isaiah 14:12-17:
“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.” Isaiah 14:12-17
Notice all the “I” statements, which is typical of pride. In reference to this event, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17
It’s interesting to me that this sin of pride is what caused Satan to fall. Note this reference to Satan in this passage from Ezekiel:
“You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in
ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they
You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness
was found in you.
Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes
on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.
All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end
and will be no more.' " –Ezekiel 28:11-28
It’s no wonder that Peter tells us “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
For a deeper look: Ps 10:4; Ps 18:27; Ps 73:6-8; Ps 101:5; Ps 131:1; Prov 30:13; Isa 2:11; Isa 3:9; Isa 3:16.
· A lying tongue.
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. It was Satan who lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and told her that she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit. We all know the outcome of that! Jesus makes it plain when He said to the Pharisees, “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:42-44.
For a deeper look: Ps 5:6; Ps 120:2-3; Prov 12:22; Prov 14:5; Prov 26:28; Hos 4:1-2; John 8:44; Rev 22:15
· Hands that shed innocent blood.
This is another sin that has its roots in the Book of Genesis. We are all familiar with the story of Cain and Abel and how Cain killed his brother Abel because of jealousy. Ultimately, it was God’s beloved Son who was slain as an innocent Lamb for guilty Mankind. See Hebrews 12:22-29.
For a deeper look: Deut 27:25; 2 Kings 24:4; Prov 1:11; Isa 1:15; Isa 59:3-6
· A heart that devises wicked plans.
The Scriptures state that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jer. 17:9. It’s pretty easy to point the finger at others, but how many times have we entertained thoughts of hatred and ill will towards others and how we could get even with them? Like the others in the list, this is another characteristic of Satan. If we walk in the Spirit and love one another, there will be no room in our hearts for wicked plans.
For a deeper look: Gen 6:5; Ps 36:4; Prov 24:8; Jer 4:14; Mic 2:1;Zech 8:17;Mark 7:20-22
· Feet that are swift in running to evil
Are we quick to rush into judgment about others? Are we in a hurry to seek revenge? It’s amazing how popular it is to spread the “dirt” about someone. You see a lot of it in the media today and in the celebrity gossip tabloids.
For a deeper look: Prov 1:16; Isa 59:7;Rom 3:15
· A false witness who speaks lies
One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” I pity those who lie in a court of law and falsely accuse innocent people; their judgment will be most severe. The enemy deployed this tactic when Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and false witnesses were hired to declare lies about Jesus. The word “devil” comes from the Greek word “diabolos” which means “accuser”. We also get the word “diabolic” which means devilish. In the Book of Revelation Satan is referred to as the “Accuser of the Brethren”. See Revelation 12:7-12.
For a deeper look: Ex 20:16; Ex 23:1; Deut 19:16-20; 1 Kings 21:10-15; Ps 19:5; Ps 19:9;
Ps 25:18; Ps 27:12; Ps 35:11; Matt 15:19; Matt 26:59; Acts 6:13
· And one who sows discord among brethren
Paul, in his letter to the Romans said, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Rom 16:17-19
For a deeper look: Prov 6:14; Prov 16:28; Prov 22:10; Prov 26:20; 2 Tim 2:23; James 3:14-16
James 3:18; 3 John 9-10
Next month: Learn what pleases the Lord
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” - Eph 5:8-11
By Tim O’Malley
This is part two of a series on what pleases and displeases God. Last month I shared what the Bible identifies as the things that God hates:
“There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes,
a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”
If I know what displeases Him, I try my best to avoid them. On a more positive note, in this article I want to share my top-ten list of the things that please God. These I have learned from Scripture and my own journey.
Looking back at my journey, what a difference between age nineteen and age twenty! My nineteenth year was turmoil, the last three months of my twentieth year was peace. It was at that time that a near-death experience drove me to knees and I invited Jesus into my heart and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord, and to save me from myself. He not only saved me from myself and the path of destruction I was on, but He saved me eternally, healed me physically, and filled me with love, joy and peace unlike anything I had ever dreamed possible in this life. He also anointed me with the Holy Spirit which instilled a powerful desire to serve Him and His Church. Instead of being obsessed with how I could please myself, I had a new-found desire to please Him instead. Now, thirty-two years later, I am happy to report that I still desire to please Him. The Bible says,
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:14-17).
From infancy, my parents taught me by word and example how to live a life of faith and the importance of love for God and the importance of Scripture. Though I fell away as a teenager, the foundation they laid helped me to find my way back. In my journey I have learned a lot about the things that please the Lord. If I were to make a top-ten list of things that Him, it would look like this:
1) Faith (Hebrews 1:6)
“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.”
2) Feeding the Hungry (Matt 25:35)
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat..”
3) Giving drink to the thirsty (Matt 25:35)
“I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…”
4) Welcoming the stranger (Matt 25:35)
“I was a stranger and you invited me in…”
5) Clothing the poor (Matt 25:36)
“I needed clothes and you clothed me…”
6) Caring for the sick (Matt 25:36)
“I was sick and you looked after me…”
7) Visiting those in prison (Matt 25:36)
“I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matt 25:31-40).
to your parents (
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”
9) Being thankful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)
“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
10) True Religion - Caring for the orphans and the widows (James 1:27)
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
You can make up your own list, but these I believe are the ones that are near and dear to the Lord’s heart so I want them to be my life’s goal. May the Lord bless you as you strive to learn what pleases Him. He who calls you is faithful and will complete His work in you if you let Him.
“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:21-24)
By Tim O’Malley
It was a little
over a year ago on April 12th, 2004, when Katie, 18, was on her way
I was at a family
Katie McCann, 1986 – 2004
Katie McCann, was a cheerleader at
Katie was very proud of the national win, said her father. "She was very excited. She loved cheerleading. She'd done it for many years," he said.
"She was an incredibly hard worker," said her coach, Teresa Triliegi. "We needed more tumbling on the team. She worked herself to the bone to try and get tumbling skills by competition, and she did."
Katie, a graduate
Katie’s dad said, "They wanted to go swim at the
beaches. Katie wanted to see
"Everyone loved Katie," he said. "She was kind to everybody, bubbly. She loved to meet new people." "Oh my God, she will be missed," said her dad.
There was another Spring Break tragedy this year. Many of you reading this know or know about Brittany Curcio from RBHS. All it took was to make one wrong choice and lose her life over it. My son Brian, is a sophomore at RBHS, with whom I’m very proud of for his and his friends efforts to collect money for the family. It was a major wake-up call for many of the teens who knew her. Our deepest sympathy and prayers go out to her family. Another beautiful girl with so much life ahead; who would have known? This can happen to any teen and to any family. Let’s talk to our kids and hug them while we still can.
Brittany Star Curcio
1990 - 2005
As a parent, I can’t imagine a greater sorrow than having to bury a son or a daughter. When tragedy strikes, we ask: “Why, God?” As a believing Christian, I can only hold on to the promise that “God makes all things work for the good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) The only thing more tragic, would be that our loved ones pass in to eternity without Christ. Katie and Brittany both came from Christian homes, let us pray that they have found grace, mercy and peace.
My question to you reading this: What would you do differently, if you were given a glimpse of the future and saw your picture in PB&F with a beginning and ending date under it? What if today was the day that you were to meet the Lord? Are you ready? It is the knowledge of that coming Day that keeps me on my knees and keeps me trusting that “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.” (Phil.1:6) The psalmist said, “Lord, teach us to number our days so that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Ps.90:12) If you have any doubts or fears about your place in eternity and want to be ready, pray this simple prayer of faith:
Lord Jesus, I invite you to live in my heart. I believe that you died on the Cross for my sins and rose again from the grave to give me new life. I ask you to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. I give to You all of my plans and I accept Your perfect plan for my life. I trust that you will complete this good work you have begun in me and bring me safely into Your Kingdom. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and change me in whatever way necessary so that I may know you more personally, love you more deeply, and serve you in everything I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
As I reflect on Katie’s and
Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
For related Bible Study see: 1 Thess 4:13-5:11; John 5:24-30; Matthew 24:36-44; Rev.22:1-21.
By Tim O’Malley
Why? Why me, Lord? What have I done wrong to deserve this? I’m too young
to die! These were some of the thoughts racing through my head when, at the
ripe old age of 42, I was told that I had prostate cancer. Like dealing with
someone’s death, you go through the stages of shock, denial, grief, anger and
then acceptance. But being a Christian and walking with the Lord for the past
22 years, I had learned a little about hardship, suffering, disappointment and
My marriage was in trouble, my kids were in trouble, my job was in trouble, now my very life was in trouble; “Lord, I am sick and tired of trouble!” I complained. “This is NOT what I signed up for!” But the Lord in His great mercy said, “My grace is sufficient for you. Trust in Me.”
I don’t know how I could have handled this without the Lord. I had come to know Him in intimate fellowship; I had experienced times of great anointing and joy in the Holy Spirit. There was no doubt (and still no doubt) that the Lord is real and loves me with a love I can’t fathom. What I wasn’t prepared for were the lessons of the Cross and the fellowship of His suffering. My first natural inclination was to try and figure out what sin I had committed that would cause the heavy hand of the Lord to come down and punish me. But then I read in the Bible the story of the man born blind. The people asked Jesus if it was his sin or his parent’s sin that caused the blindness. Jesus said that it was neither. The reason for his blindness was so that the glory of God may be revealed (in the man’s healing).
I remember the day that I was going to go under the surgeon’s knife to remove the cancer in an effort to save my life. I understood the risks of surgery and the possibility that the surgery may not lead to a cure and the possibility (though remote) that I may never wake up after the surgery. As I was lying on the gurney just minutes before surgery, the surgeon came over to check in on me to see how I was doing. I asked him, “Is it okay if I pray with you?” With a look of surprise he said, “Sure.” I took his hand and prayed something like, “Lord, I surrender my life to you and to the hands of Your surgeon. I ask that You bless his hands and use them to heal me. I trust You for a successful operation in which You will be glorified. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.” After the prayer, he said, “Wow, thank you. No one has ever asked me to pray before!” The next thing I remember was climbing up onto the operating table and pictured myself curling up into the palm of God’s hand.
I was in recovery for about eight hours before I woke up and found myself in some considerable discomfort. The doctor came in and told me that everything went as well as could be expected in surgery and that he was confident that everything would work out fine. He then said, “I want to thank you for praying with me. That really touched me. No one has ever done that before. I grew up in the Episcopal faith and haven’t been to church for awhile. I am touched by your faith. Thank you.” I felt totally blest and privileged that I was given the opportunity to share my faith with him and doubly blessed that he was touched by the Holy Spirit, and triply blest that I was still alive.
The next few weeks were pretty uncomfortable, but there was a wonderful peace in my heart that everything was going to be ok. The great victory for me was being able to respond to His grace and to surrender my life.
The pathologist report came back that the cancer had spread to the margins of the prostate, but they could not tell whether or not it had spread beyond. Only time would tell.
The next couple years, were mixed with wonderful fellowship with the Lord and you guessed it, trouble! This time it was my job. One day while driving with my boss and visiting some of my customer accounts, he asked me about the cassette tape hanging out of my tape player by Michael W. Smith. I shared with him about Christian Contemporary Music and also shared my testimony with him. Well, apparently, it didn’t set real well with him. He turned on me and began to load me up with loser accounts and began to harass me about not bringing in enough business. I could see that he was trying to set me up for failure so he could have reasons to fire me. I decided it was time to change careers.
On top of this, my wife was complaining of her unhappiness about our relationship and finances and once again threatened divorce. Rather than retreat from all this, I went back to school to learn information technology and earned a diploma in Network Engineering Management. It was very stressful working full time and going to school three nights a week. In the midst of this, I was trying to maintain my health and made frequent follow-up check-ups to make sure the cancer was not coming back.
To my dismay and my doctor’s disappointment, my PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen tests, began to rise. PSA is used as a marker in men’s blood to monitor prostate health. The sudden rise indicated that there were some cancer cells beginning to cause the rise in my PSA level. The doctor recommended that I undergo radiation of the area where the prostate was removed to try and destroy any remaining cancer. This was NOT good news. However, I knew I had to do this to survive, though there was no guarantee. So, every day, except weekends, for two months I had to go through 5 minutes of radiation therapy and continue to work and go to night school.
I grew weak from the radiation as time went on, but was able to finish school. I finished with a 4.0 GPA and my instructor, who was also the Dean of the school, liked my work and the speed in which I was able to learn. He also happened to be the Network Manager for the Department of Children’s Services which managed the 24 hour Child Abuse Hotline, and invited me to come to work for him. There it was, my chance to leave a loser career and do what I enjoy, which was to play with computers. The Lord blessed me in my new career and I quickly reaped the financial benefits as well.
My trips to the doctor were frequent to track the success or failure of the radiation therapy. So far, so good; my PSA dropped like a rock. As time went on, I continued getting the good reports on my PSA levels. My career in Information Technology was soaring and so was my salary. Life was good. But just when I thought I was out of the woods, trouble once again came knocking. This time trouble kicked the door down and my wife of 21 years filed for divorce. “Ok, Lord,” I said, “I still trust You.” I realized that I had two choices: bitter or better. By the grace of God, I chose better. By His grace I was able to forgive my ex-wife, forgive myself for my failures, and believed with my whole heart that God causes “all things to work for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom.8:28).
The good news is that He does have a purpose for us; and that is to glorify Him whether we live or die. It has been almost 10 years since my surgery. My PSA has continued to drop, I’m alive and well. The Lord in His abundant generosity has also given me a treasure. He brought a very special lady into my life who has become my wife. I’m so happy I don’t know what do with myself sometimes! Jesus is still the Lord of my life and that includes the mountain top experiences as well as the valleys. As the Bible says,
“Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” (Lam.3:22)
So are you in trouble? If so, I encourage you to trust the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He will not let you down.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8:31-39)
By Tim O’Malley
Reflecting back on when I was in High School, one of the great lessons I
learned was the value of true friendship. I have always placed a lot of
importance on friendship. I have had lots of “friends” and very few real
friends. The Bible says that “Bad companions corrupt character.” I learned the
hard way that there are those who claim to be your friend, but unfortunately
could really care less about you.
I was popular in high school because I loved to party, had money and held lots of parties at my house. I had a cool Mustang and loved to go cruising with my friends. I played bass in a Rock Band and played some of the local dance clubs in
This was at a time in my life when the Spirit of God was calling my name, but I was ignoring Him. The Lord was telling me that I was going down the wrong road and hanging out with the wrong people. Unfortunately for me, I ignored His promptings in my heart and ended up paying the price.
Things began to go terribly wrong. Along with my “friends”, I got more heavily involved in drugs and ended up in jail several times and nearly died from a drug overdose. I began to realize that if I died in my sins that I would end up in Hell. I made several attempts to try and turn my life around, but my “friends” were always there to encourage me to party with them. I finally came to the realization that my life was already a living hell and I was on the brink of eternal loss and separation from God and those that I loved. It was one evening that I was on the verge of death that I cried out to the Lord and He came and rescued me. It was shortly after that I learned the lessons of true friendship.
I was 20 years old and was born-again and given yet another chance. The Spirit of God was moving in my life and I was so incredibly filled with peace and joy. In my excitement I went and told my “friends” about my conversion experience and about how real Jesus was. Their reaction? No surprise here; they said, “Poor Tim’s brain finally got fried by the drugs.” Others said, “Careful, Tim is a Jesus-Freak now.” But I would just tell them, “Jesus doesn’t make people freaks; He makes freaks people.” Just a few said, “Wow, Tim, you seem so different, you seem really happy.” It’s interesting that my phone stopped ringing; my “friends” gradually disappeared. The amazing thing was that I didn’t miss them. I then began to realize how shallow some of them were even to the point of being back-stabbers. I went for six whole months without any friends. Everyday, I would spend my time in fellowship with the Lord as I read His Word. Then one day, my Mom told me that she had been praying for me that I would find some good friends. She told me about this Bible study that was being led by this guy that was my age and that he had long hair like me. So I went to check it out and saw some of my old friends there who had had similar experiences of encounters with the Lord and were now on fire with love for God and for His Word.
A whole new world was opened to me. I went back to Church and got involved in playing my guitar and ended up being appointed by my pastor to lead praise & worship for our church’s Praise Band. I met a lot of new friends who are still my friends today. They are genuine, loving, true and fun to be with. The difference was like the difference between Heaven and Hell. Someone once said that “A house is known by the company it keeps.” The people we hang out with will influence our character for good or for bad depending on their morality. Besides, friends don’t let friends do drugs or anything else that is harmful. Do your friends give you life or do they give you death? The choice is yours. As for me I will choose life, I will choose to serve the Lord and fellowship with His friends. How about you?
Theme Song: The Power of Your Love © Copyright 1992, Word Music a division Word, Inc and Maranatha! Music, All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Life Lessons © Copyright 2006, O’MalleyCat Publishing, All rights reserved.