Monday, June 30, 2008

06 30 08 A Time Just Like This!

“‘What if you don't say anything at this time? Then help for the Jews will come from another place. But you and your family will die. Who knows? It's possible that you became queen for a time just like this.’ Then Esther sent a reply to Mordecai. She said, ‘Go. Gather together all of the Jews who are in Susa. And fast for my benefit. Don't eat or drink anything for three days. Don't do it night or day. I and my attendants will fast just as you do. Then I'll go to the king. I'll do it even though it's against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die’.” (Esther 4:14-16 NIrV)

The Queen was willing to put her life on the line to save many of her people. She could have just quietly sat back and hoped some one else would take the risk. She could have protected herself and her family. She could have kept her heritage secret and hoped to be spared. But Mordecai boldly warned her, her family would be discovered and die also. Someone would stand up and help the Jewish people. Why not Queen Esther? Why not this time…this moment…A TIME JUST LIKE THIS?

In reality, we put our life on the line every day in this world. We never know what we will face in day-to-day living. The question is this: Who are we living for? So many need so much help today, yet we need so much for our own family! Are we willing to lay everything on the line for God’s will? Are we willing to risk it all to please Him over everyone else?

With all the poverty we see day by day; with all the disasters occurring at every turn; with all the hurt and pain of economic upheavals; where do we turn, who do we help, how can we make a difference?

God places us where we are for A TIME JUST LIKE THIS! There is a need right in front of our eyes, in our neighborhood, in our job, in our local church. Even though it may take sacrifice; even though it may be against what is politically correct; even though it may be against the law; even though it may put our life in danger; we must do what God calls us to do!

What is it God is pressing upon your heart? A TIME JUST LIKE THIS requires faith, sacrifice, and character. Paul would say to live is Christ and to die is gain. What are we willing to live for? What are we willing to die for? Are we willing to step up as the Queen did and say:

“I'll do it even though it's against the law. And if I have to die, I'll die”

Is God not worth it? These are the times to make bold steps in life!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

06 25 08 WRITE IT DOWN

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin…I write to you little children…I write to you fathers…I write to you young men…Therefore, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. And this is the promise that he has promised us…eternal life. (1 John 2 NKJV)

John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, was constantly reminding those around him to love one another, even into his old age when they had to carry him into the churches to speak. They ask him why and his reply was simply that it was what Jesus taught. John said that if we all would just do that, things would fall into place. Isn’t that what Jesus said as well…love God and love your neighbor? My friends in New Orleans always remind those serving Katrina victims to simply love on people the way Jesus did.

John was a very simple and uncomplicated person and he no doubt remembered the innocent way children came to Christ and how he first believed. All John had to hear from the mouth of John the Baptist was,

“Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:35-36 NKJV)

John continued to recall how important those few simple words were and he lived by them, spoke about them, and he wrote about them. It’s funny, but that’s how God gave us His message, love letters if you will. He simply told people to WRITE IT DOWN. Not everyone had paper at the time (it may have been on stone tablets) but God chose a simple way for us to remember things about Him. You see, he knows about our memory. He knows all about our senior moments! Like most of us, I too am not going to do it unless I WRITE IT DOWN. Today, if God were to speak through someone, he may choose e-mail, a blackberry, text messaging, or blogging, but He would still want us to WRITE IT DOWN so we and others would remember! We have to take note of GOD throughout the day.

God told the prophet Jeremiah

Write it in a book for yourself all the words I have spoken to you.”
(Jeremiah 30:2 NKJV)

Imagine if Moses would have said, “That’s ok Lord, I’ll remember, I don’t have to write these things down.

The Lord said, Write these words…” (Exodus 34:27 NKJV)

So here’s our challenge: Are we writing His words that we hear each day? Are we writing out our prayers as people share their needs with us (so we can pray for them)? Are we writing our needs down, so we can lay them out before God? Are we taking notes in Bible study and on Sunday morning? Are writing and highlighting in our Bibles to revisit when we begin to doubt? God still speaks…in circumstances, through people, in simple things, in catastrophes, and in a still small voice. We need to record it somewhere to keep it fresh and to keep us at the level of innocence and acceptance as when we first believed. Keep a note pad and a pen handy (or PDA, or whatever new gadget there is) and WRITE IT DOWN!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

06 24 08 God’s Math

“God supplies seed to the planter. He supplies bread for food. God will also supply and increase the amount of your seed. He will increase the results of your good works.”
(2 Corinthians 9:10 NIrV)

God’s ways are not our ways and His math is not our math. It doesn’t add up the way we think it should or the way we plan it. But the answers are far beyond what we could ever figure out!

Seeds are no good left in the packet or left to rot inside the fruit. They must be dried out, planted within the soil, left to die, and then with the miraculous hand of God, raised from the ground, rooted in the soil, only to bear more fruit and hundreds more seeds. God takes what is dead, what most people throw away, and brings forth a harvest of fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Every farmer that plants a crop knows it’s God who brings the rains, supplies the sunshine, raises the seed, and yields the harvest. That same God allows floods, damaging wind, drought, insect damage, and other disasters. No one can figure Him out. It is by faith that the farmer plants, toils, and then waits for the harvest.

At times the harvest comes early and often. Other times the yield is weak and may take years to realize any increase or profit. But the work is worth it in the end!

“Then Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, there is no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of God’s kingdom who will not receive many times more in this age and in the age to come, eternal life.”
(Luke 18:29-30 NET)

Any work for God will be multiplied over the years. At times, it may not seem to be paying dividends now: all the hours, all the disappointments, all the ridicule and rejection, all the sacrifice. Faith is not about the now however, but about the then…the later…the eternal!

My pastor says a servant leader is measured by the battles, not necessarily the blessings. I am beginning to experience that! Well, the math did not add up for the battles of Moses, David, Gideon, Elijah, Hezekiah, Daniel and his friends, or even for Jesus. But in the end, GOD’S MATH won out. It always does.

We give, we work, and we walk in faith and by faith. Leave the math up to God! It’s too complicated to try to figure out!

Monday, June 23, 2008

06 23 08 Blessed Beyond Measure
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.”
(John 10:10 NIrV)

Ever hear the slogan, “It’s my money and I want it now!” How relevant to the culture we live in today! We really do believe we are entitled to the best. After all, we work hard, we work long, and we deserve to enjoy the fruit of our labor! This same attitude has found its way into the church as well. “I am a child of God; I am blessed and highly favored; I deserve…” Wait a minute!

When Jesus was speaking concerning the Good Shepherd, He described how sheep follow their shepherd and his voice. He protects them, nurtures them and leads them to peaceful green pastures. He protects from attack and shelters from harm. The sheep depend upon his guidance. He gives them a chance at life as best as he can give. So how did we become duped by the wolf!

We deserve nothing but death because of our sin. We are not entitled to anything! It’s only because of the blood of Jesus Christ that we receive favor with the Almighty! He and He alone grants us life…abundant life…in the fullest possible way…beyond our human measure.

When we face struggles, we want to blame God for not holding up His end of the bargain. But He never promised us a rose garden. We were promised troubles, storms, and challenges however. Just as the Son of Man suffered, we too will suffer with Him and for Him. We forget that part of the salvation bargain. We want abundant life now. Well, if we had it now, would we look forward to heaven? Would we say “Come Lord Jesus”? Rather, most of us would say, “Hold on, I like it here!”

“Jesus replied, "You don't realize now what I am doing.
But later you will understand."
(John 13:7 NIrV)

As for me, I have been challenged lately trying to understand what God is doing. At times I don’t really know. But I must trust the Good Shepherd to lead me. I may not be overjoyed at my circumstances, but later I will understand. Battles are not fought in a day and wars are not won without sacrifice. But even still, I receive glimpses of what it will be like one day with Him.

I do have life in abundance! The look of admiration from my wife, a word or gesture of appreciation from my children; my grandchildren reaching out toward me; the joy of experiencing someone accept Christ; hearing in some special way, “Well done” that only I can hear. These things bring joy and let me know I am BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE, even on this side of glory!

Friday, June 20, 2008

06 20 08 Were You There?

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
(Matthew 27:46 NKJV)

WERE YOU THERE when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you abandoned Me?" If we claim Him as our Lord and Savior, we were! When Jesus felt the burden and anguish of our sin, the Father turned His face from Jesus, and Jesus, for the first time in all eternity, felt alone, abandoned, and separated from God. God didn’t die on the cross, Jesus the human being did. His flesh died a human death and was raised by the power of God three days later. As the Lord became a sin offering for us, He suffered the pain for us. Now we no longer have to bear the death of sin, because of Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross for each of us.

Think of the pain and shame we feel when deep in sin. We feel alone, separated, as if no one seems to care. Now imagine Christ, eternally one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, suddenly torn from that relationship and for the first time feeling the pain of sin! No wonder He cried out! Sin left Him feeling abandoned as it does to us. So now we can understand a little of how Jesus felt... It's the same way I felt when I finally cried out to God, "Please save me! Where are You God? Why don't You help me?" Only Jesus didn’t just feel the pain and consequences of just my sin, but the sin of all mankind!

Now I understand why You cried out Jesus. How lonely You must have been. Hung on a cross for all to see; Beaten beyond recognition for something You never did; Ridiculed for sacrificing heaven's bliss for my disgusting acts. Oh, now I know how You must have felt, yet You said nothing! You did it all for me. I deserved it all, not You. Please forgive me Jesus. Now what can I do for You? Jesus did let us know what we could do. After God raised Him from the dead, he met with His disciples and instructed them,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo,
I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
(Matthew 27:19-20 NKJV)

We can’t keep Christ in the manger; on the cross; or in the grave! He is alive!!! We who have received His resurrection power, being saved by His blood, should now walk in such a way that teaches others all He has done for us, so they too may know Him in the forgiveness of their sins. If we died with Him, let's live with Him and for Him! We have good news to share! Our faith in Him is alive! Even when I feel abandoned, alone and cry out, “My God, my God…where are You? DADDY, are you listening? PAPA, HELP!!!” I know He understands!

Let others know, YOU WERE THERE!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

06 19 08 Unleash the Power!

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and ye shall be witnesses to Me in both Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in all Samaria,and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
(Acts1:8 NKJV)

Moses witnessed IT in a burning bush; held IT’S power in his hand through his staff as IT swallowed up snakes, parted the seas, and brought water from a rock. The Jewish people saw IT in a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. David received IT’S power in battle, in times of loneliness, and even in his deepest guilt and sin. Jesus’ disciples were told to gather together and wait for IT. IT has raised the dead, healed the sick, made the blind see, and IT calls sinners to the saving knowledge of the Savior.

What is IT? Well, IT’S not for sale on the internet. IT’S not something we can get at Wal-Mart. IT’S not found at a garage sale. In fact IT’S not for sale at all. IT’S free and IT gives anyone who applies all the power he or she could ever imagine possessing. IT’S the person of the Holy Spirit of God, given to the believer upon acknowledging his sinful nature and trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. It’s the only way to receive IT and there is only One who gives IT. IT’S powerful, peaceful, personal, and patient. IT’S kind and considerate. IT’S loving and forgiving. IT’S God alive and working within every believer…if we give it control.

So why do so many believers not use IT? It is a matter of will; God’s will against the will of our old sin nature. The devil would like every Christian to walk around thinking we have all the answers and all the power on our own. Many of us are guilty of this. We forget God in the small everyday things. Oh sure, we call on the power of the Holy Spirit when a child is ill, when we’re facing financial challenges, or when a relationship is going south. But if we don’t know how to use IT’S power in the little everyday things, we won’t be able to properly use it when we too stressed to even think in times of emergencies. We’ll automatically act in our flesh, and then scramble to ask God to pick up the pieces. To UNLEASH THE POWER of the Holy Spirit, it takes practice…I’m talking about practice…in the day-to-day things we face. I mean deliberate practice!

Whether it’s a parent struggling with a teenage son, a husband attempting to work out relational issues with his wife, or the challenging task of honoring God in the workplace, we must realize that each temptation or challenge we face, we are able to face it with the power of Christ living within us. We can do as Christ would do! UNLEASH THE POWER; minute-by-minute, hour-by–hour, day-by-day. Practice then becomes habit, which becomes a lifestyle. Would to God, that every believer has a lifestyle and a testimony of living under the power, the control of the Holy Spirit! How much more Kingdom work would be accomplished?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

06 18 08 Identity Theft

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
(John 10:10 NKJV)

In this day and age there are people who make it their job to steal your identity! They seek out your personal information, such as credit card information, social security numbers, driver’s license, etc. They don’t want to be you, they just want the privileges your name and information gives them…access to your money!

We as Christians have access to certain privileges because of what Christ did on the cross for us. He imputed (placed in our account) His righteousness to us when He suffered, died, and then rose from the grave. Much like a bank account deposit, Christ’s sacrifice replaced our sin with His righteousness. The sin was withdrawn and the righteousness of Christ shows on our statement! We must believe it however and live like it. We are redeemed sinners, saved by the unmerited favor of Christ (grace) and recipients of His mercy (we don’t get what we deserve for our sins!).

So here we are (if we truly are believers) walking, scurrying, and sprinting through life, redeemed from the hell we deserve, free to serve the living God, and we allow a thief to take away our identity right before our eyes! At times, we freely give our identity away and take back the identity of a sinner! Oh yes, we have alarm systems on our cars and homes, pictures on our credit cards, and locks on our computers, but what about our character? Is our reputation protected? Is our testimony safe? Is our witness secure? Why would a convicted criminal, now set free, choose to go back into that prison? Why would a millionaire leave is check book, credit cards, and banking information open for anyone to access? We need to protect our spiritual identity! God has invested plenty into our lives!

Peter told us that we must:

“…be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil
walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
(1 Peter 5:8 NKJV)

Satan simply struts around picking and choosing whom he can ruin. He wants to lie about who we are and Whose we are, much like he did to Adam and Eve. “Are you sure you belong to God, after all you’ve done?” He puts doubt in our minds concerning what we can do and ways we can serve God. “You can’t possibly believe that God will allow you to do that do you?” Finally, he gets us so confused we begin to doubt if we’ll even to make it to heaven. “You know sinners aren’t allowed in heaven”, he whispers.

We must be careful each day to strengthen our faith through prayer, the reassurance of Scripture, and the encouragement of friends in the faith. Satan just can’t stand a Christian willing to walk by faith, despite what things may look like. We have to see spiritually, not depending on physical eyesight! Our faith is the security we possess to protect our identity with Christ. Each day, we must remind ourselves, that though we walk on this earth;

“…our citizenship is in heaven,
from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior,
the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Philippians 3:20 NKJV)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

06 17 08 Now What?

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
(Acts 1:14 NKJV)

So what do we do in this challenging time? We go to church and hear wonderful sermons. We listen to encouraging messages on Christian radio. We sing along with inspiring songs. Perhaps we witnessed a play or maybe even accepted Christ for the first time as Lord and Savior. Maybe we, for the first time, really understand what it means to be a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, a real DISCIPLE. We’ve been moved to change things in our lives and truly be on fire for Christ. NOW WHAT???

I think we can learn something from the early followers of Christ. They must have been devastated by the things they saw and heard during the first Holy Week! Their promised Messiah had been turned in by a friend, arrested, beaten, spat upon, drug through the streets, humiliated publicly, and finally crucified and put into a grave. As sad and defeated as they must have felt, now they have seen Him alive, they’ve touched Him, and been told to waitNOW WHAT???

Sound familiar? Have we not been torn apart and dejected…defeated by the sin we lived in…dejected by circumstances…saddened by others’ choices? Then the Savior touches us and renews our hearts and we were so excited! Jesus is here, yet really not here. He is with us, yet so is the temptation we face every day. We talk about His peace, His love, and His grace, yet we are bombarded with hatred, racism, violence, pornography, cursing, provocative and indecent situations, and so much more every day. Though we know the Lord, we still find ourselves waiting for His return…yearning. Do we think the early followers of Christ had it easier than we do? Let’s remember, they faced jail, murder, boiling oil, beatings, crucifixions, and more! How did they do it? They were prepared and obedient to the Lord’s instructions:

“He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’.”
(Acts 1:7-8 NIrV)

The early followers of Christ remained prepared, obedient, and on one accord! Oh if we all could just be one! If we were only prepared to face each day, studying His Word, and allowing it to rule us. If we only obedient to His directions and commands. Imagine if the Body of Christ, the entire Body, could be on one accord! Even if we could just have that small cluster of close friends we could trust for encouragement, challenge, accountability, and fellowship in Christ.

There they were; a small group of fairly new believers (some for two to three years, some just for a week or so), gathered in a small building, holding a prayer meeting, waiting for further direction from the Lord. Then they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit! They boldly carried out the work…continuing the work day by day, and people were getting saved each day, sometimes by the thousands! (Acts 2:5-47) NOW WHAT? Do we need another event to excite us? Do we need the Lord to personally give us a jump start again? Isn’t the fire of the Holy Spirit enough to keep us prepared, obedient and on one accord? Be encouraged today! There is power in the blood of the living Savior and there is power in the unity of His people. He dwells within each believer. Let’s draw upon His strength and unity.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lay It Out Before God

"And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord."
(2 Kings 19:14 NKJV)

Have you ever been overwhelmed with things; so overburdened that you feel the walls caving in, squeezing you, and pressing you to do something? The pressure of everyday life; finances, job security, health, relationships, all can cause us to react. Do we run? Do we panic? Do we just give up and surrender to it all? Do we take a stand? Let me suggest trying what King Hezekiah of Judah did when faced with the mounting attack of the enemy. LAY IT OUT BEFORE GOD!

Hezekiah realized that the surrounding armies of Assyria were mighty and strong and had been terrorizing nations all around Judah. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib had boasted against the God of Israel, claiming he had defeated the gods of all the other nations, who was this god? Hezekiah realized what he needed to do. This battle was not his to fight, but it was indeed the Lord’s!

Hezekiah prayed acknowledging God as his Jehovah Nissi, our God who leads us in our battles. Hear the king’s words:

“Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. He said, ‘Lord, You are the God of Israel. You sit on Your throne between the cherubim. You alone are God over all of the kingdoms on earth. You have made heaven and earth. Listen, Lord Hear us. Open Your eyes, Lord. Look at the trouble we're in. Listen to what Sennacherib is saying. You are the living God. And he dares to make fun of You! Lord, it's true that the kings of Assyria have completely destroyed many nations and their lands. They have thrown the statues of the gods of those nations into the fire. And they have destroyed them. That's because they weren't really gods at all. They were nothing but statues that were made out of wood and stone. They were made by the hands of men. Lord our God, save us from the powerful hand of Sennacherib. Then all of the kingdoms on earth will know that You alone are God.’” (2 Kings 19:15-19 NIrV)

Through the prophet Isaiah, God then reassured the king saying,

Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah. Isaiah was the son of Amoz. Isaiah said,
“The Lord is the God of Israel. He says,
I have heard your prayer about Sennacherib, the king of Assyria’...
I will guard this city and save it.
I will do it for myself. And I will do it for my servant David.'”
(2 Kings 19:20 & 34)

Oh if we could all get this! We try so hard to fix things on our own. If we just realize the many major battles we face (even small ones) are plans of the enemy to surround us, threaten us, and break us of our dependency upon God and to smear our witness for the King of kings. If we would only LAY IT OUT BEFORE GOD: ask Him to gently incline His ear to our cries, look down upon our weaknesses and frustrations, help us to acknowledge our ineptness and how others doubt His work in our lives, and to please reach down and rescue ussave usenable us to be a witness for Him and His name through it all. Imagine hearing within your heart, “I have heard you son. I got this!”

The more we allow God to work in and through us, the more others will see just how great He is! Isn’t that our goal in life, to bring glory and honor to our DADDY so others may come to know Him as well? When we feel surrounded and pressured by the powerful enemies of this world, take time to envision the army of the saints and angels on our side; all led by the Lord of Hosts! The battle is won!

Sometimes we forget the power we possess when we give up control!

Friday, June 13, 2008

June 13, 2008 Family Values…from The Father! (II)

Happy Father's Day everyone...even to the single moms who have the daunting task of being both mom and dad within the home!

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
(Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 NIrV)

God is reemphasizing His commandments to the families through Moses once again. The parents (Dads too!) are to be the primary teachers of our children, not school teachers, not coaches, not mentors, not even the pastors. And we fathers must be held accountable to what is being taught within the homes. We are the priests, the spiritual leaders and the Lord requires us to be the stewards (house managers) of the home! We can’t keep putting all the work and responsibilities on Mom and be content with going to work five or six days a week! THE FATHER will hold us accountable!!!

Check out the example above as Moses shared what THE FATHER taught him. Let’s honestly examine our lives. Is God’s word established our heart? Do we as Dads meditate upon His word, spend time in reading and applying His word, gaining more and more of His wisdom for our lives? Do we as fathers teach our children, have personal devotions with them, and speak of the Lord’s greatness throughout the day, pointing out His majesty as we spend time with our families? Do our children see us in personal devotion and ever hear our heart talks with the Lord? Are the Lord’s values felt in our greetings, witnessed in the agreements we make, and experienced even as we enter a room? Is His love felt by our wife and children in our embraces, in the time we give them, in our efforts to protect them?

Finally, do visitors feel the presence of Christ as they come to our door? Does the pizza delivery person sense a different kind of spirit in us as they bring dinner to our home? Do neighbors see a consistent pattern of godly activity in our lives? Do our community and church family know they can count on us for integrity, accountability, and trust? In other words, are we as fathers carrying out the mandate from God to be fruitful, multiply, influence and make disciples of our family members and other acquaintances in our life?

It’s my prayer that I and all fathers will do our best to learn from the Word of God and then teach others to teach others about His love, from the time we awake until we lay down for the evening. May our FAMILY VALUES be directly FROM THE FATHER.

Happy Father’s Day…to You DADDY and to every father who reads this message!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008 Daddy…Daddy…Daddy II
(He must love to hear our voice!)

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and it will be opened to you…
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
(Luke 11:9-13)

Prayer is not a formal petition that needs to go through speech writers, spell checks, rewrites, and approvals. It does not require certain key words or required prerequisites, except one: we acknowledge that we can only come to God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, whom He sent to live in the flesh and die on the cross, only to rise from the grave and become the perfect sacrifice (propitiation) for our sins. Prayer is a time of father and child sharing real needs, real hurts, real concerns, and real love. It’s letting Daddy know our heart and Him supplying our needs. It’s real simple, as Jesus explained above. Just as we parents give to our children, God gives to us. More importantly, He gives us power through the person of the Holy Spirit!

There is one thing most of us lack: the innocence we had as a child.

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself as a little child is
the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:3)

God is not a pompous, uncaring, untouchable government official. We need to look to Him as our Daddy (“Abba”, Papa), perhaps the Daddy we never had. Imagine the joy we feel when we hear our child call out our name. Imagine the joy God must feel as we call out His name… “Daddy, I need you! Daddy, protect me! Daddy, HELP! Daddy, thank you for caring for me! Daddy…Daddy…Daddy!” He must love to hear our voice! We need to grow in our desire to hear His voice as well!

When is the last time we crawled up in Daddy’s lap and really shared with Him? Have we grown too old to let Him love us as only a Daddy can? Aren’t we still (and always) His child? Only if we know Him as Lord and Savior as well! Ummmm…..something to think about as Father’s Day approaches!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

06 11 08 Life Is Lived In Fragments II

“Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.” (Job 13:15 NKJV)

Who really knows if what we’re going through is a blessing or a curse? Is our present situation a result of sin, testing, or simply life as we know it today? Job hears the criticism of a friend, this time Zophar, that his situation is the result of some hidden sin that God is now punishing Job for. At times in our lives, we will not really understand the situation. We will receive all sorts of counsel, suggestions, and criticisms. It may just be we need to confess a sin, but perhaps it’s just a test to strengthen our faith and our dependence upon our DADDY. One thing we know, we will never completely understand the mind of God. Our ways are NOT His ways. We only have a glimpse of His wisdom, majesty, and glory while we’re here on earth. At times, it’s best to simply live for the moment to please God, despite what we’re going through. We just have to trust Him!

Job suggests in chapter 13 that even though he is going through a tremendous tragedy, he still trusts God. All hell is breaking loose, and then some, yet Job still trusts the Lord and His plan. Even Job has some learning to go through, but one thing he had learned; to trust God! LIFE IS LIVED IN FRAGMENTS. No matter how I feel or what I am going through, God is always good, always in control, and always has my best interests at heart. I must live the moment to honor God. Someone needs to see the Lord in the middle of the storm as well as in the middle of a celebration! We who believe must consistently show His wisdom, His peace, His gentleness, His mercy, His goodness, His love and His mercy. We are today’s Gospel!

James says it this way:

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield,
full of mercy, and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
(James 3:17-18 NKJV)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Worry & Peace?

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way…do not fret--- it only causes harm." (Psalm 37:7-8 NKJV)

WORRY can’t possibly co-exist with peace. PEACE is not a condition we can put on someone. It is received from an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. As we abide, or rest in the vine (John 15), we begin to bear the fruit of peace. (Galatians 5:22) PEACEof God is a gift the Lord allows us to experience as we walk in His will, trust in His promises, and come under His protection in times of trouble. PEACE with God is simply knowing we are forgiven of our sin, saved from eternal hell, and His forever. Possessing the PEACE of God is a different story altogether!

PEACE of God is knowing that whatever we go through, we trust that the Lord is working it out in our best interest and we will follow His will, not trying to fix things on our own. It’s the genuine smile on our face, the pep in our step, and the joy in our heart, despite the challenges we are facing. God has things in control! Trust Him…

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is life not more than food and the body more than clothing…Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30 NKJV)

There it is in a nutshell, from Jesus Himself: so why do I WORRY? What does an hour or two of worries add to my day anyway? It only wastes time that God could be using! Do I not trust God? How many times do I have to screw things up to finally allow God to work?

I have found this to be true: down on my knees, at the foot of the cross, is the most secure and peaceful place to be. If I will allow the Lord to take my desires and my needs and do with them as He pleases, then trust Him and not take them back, then I experience a PEACE that goes way beyond my finite understanding!

It’s in the storms of life, when we’re holding onto God with both hands, that we know He is Who He is. He is the great I AM, the First and Last, the Alpha and Omega, my Rock and my Redeemer…my DADDY!

No Jesus? No PEACE! KNOW Jesus? KNOW PEACE!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

06 09 08 Daily Reminder

“Don't be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free."
(Mark 10:43-45 NIrV)

While preparing for a mission trip to assist Katrina victims in New Orleans, LA, I was sent a reminder from the leaders there. It sticks with me as a DAILY REMINDER of who I am and WHOSE I am. My rights are really non-existent as I realize what my Savior has done for me! The following includes just a sampling of the things I need to be reminded of daily, as I attempt to please my DADDY….

I may have to give up a good night’s rest and trust God for strength and endurance:
I just might have to give up my preference of foods and accept His daily bread:
I may have to adjust my likes in clothing and allow God to cover me:
My timing and expectations must be changed to God’s timing and plans:
I must give up control and trust the Spirit to guide the wheel:
I just may have to sacrifice comfortable living for the privilege of good suffering for His sake:
Decision making becomes a point of trusting the sovereign hand of God:
Success must be measured according to God’s will, not my reputation among men:
Rewards must be replaced with joy in doing the Father’s will, not mine:
Being right; being heard; being recognized now comes from an audience of One: DADDY!

What rights do I have after what I’ve done compared to what the Lord has done for me? As Paul addressed the Roman believers on a missionary journey through Corinth (late AD 57) I’m sure he too was reminded of the rights of one redeemed by the blood of Christ.

“Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to Him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him. Don't live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.
(Romans 12:1-2 NIrV)

Friday, June 6, 2008


“When you fast, it ends in arguing and fighting. You hit one another with your fists.
That is an evil thing to do. The way you are now fasting keeps your prayers from being heard in heaven. Do you think that is the way I want you to fast?
Is it only a time for a man to make himself suffer? Is it only for people to bow their heads like tall grass that is bent by the wind? Is it only for people to lie down on black cloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast? Do you think I can accept that?

Here is the way I want you to fast. Set free those who are held by chains without any reason. Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves. Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain. Share your food with hungry people. Provide homeless people with a place to stay. Give naked people clothes to wear. Provide for the needs of your own family. Then the light of my blessing will shine on you like the rising sun.

I will heal you quickly. I will march out ahead of you. And my glory will follow behind you and guard you. That is because I always do what is right. You will call out to me for help. And I will answer you. You will cry out. And I will say, 'Here I am.'

Get rid of the chains you use to hold others down. Stop pointing your finger at others as if they had done something wrong. Stop saying harmful things about them. Work hard to feed hungry people. Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed.

Then my blessing will light up your darkness. And the night of your suffering will become as bright as the noonday sun. I will always guide you. I will satisfy your needs in a land that is baked by the sun. I will make you stronger. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water. You will be like a spring whose water never runs dry. Your people will rebuild the cities that were destroyed long ago. And you will build again on the old foundations.

You will be called The One Who Repairs Broken Walls. You will be called The One Who Makes City Streets Like New Again.”
(Isaiah 58:4-12)

Fasting is primarily defined and thought of as the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting. In the prophet’s words above above, we see God desire’s more…much more.

We fast out of ritual. We fast out of obligation. We fast out of obedience and guilt. Do we fast to be more like Jesus; to be more intimate with our DADDY; to be come humbled in placing others above ourselves and be more Spirit-controlled?

As we fast, we are to serve others and sacrifice our will for the good of others. Share the Gospel, give from our supply, meet obvious needs of others, and stop focusing on me! Stop oppressing others, pointing our fingers at others, and blaming the world system for our troubles. As we meet others needs, our needs are not so needy. God wants us to be concerned for others and let Him meet our needs. Notice the prophet’s words; as we stop some of our selfish ways, God says “I will”. As we begin to live the life of a Spirit-filled believer, God will meet our needs with blessings we will not be able to count.

So as we fast, let’s not focus as much on the food as we do on the Provider. It’s not what we eat that is hurting us so much; it’s what we’re not doing! Let’s be PURPOSEFUL, DETERMINED, AND FOCUSED, not just when we fast, but as we live!

Monday, June 2, 2008

06 02 08 Time Away

“A man may have many plans in his heart.
But the Lord's purpose wins out in the end.”
(Proverbs 19:21 NIrV)

We all have heard it said lately that family needs vacation time. Parents need it to relax. Kids need it for the new and fresh experiences. Teachers need it to just let go. Pastors and ministers need it to get away from the stress and worries of the 24/7 demands of leadership. Vacation not only gives us rest, but helps give us TIME AWAY to once again discern between the Lord’s purpose and our own selfish desires. It’s a time to reflect upon the past and plan our coming future.

“After he had sent them away, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone.”
(Matthew 14:23 NIrV)

“On one of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray.
He spent the night praying to God.”
(Luke 6:12 NIrV)

Even Jesus desired TIME AWAY: by Himself, with certain friends, and always with His Father…ABBA. When He was facing temptations and trials in the desert, He found strength in the written Word. When He needed strength and wisdom to face the His enemies and the cross, He found it in time alone with DADDY. Once He received guidance, He did not waiver in faith, but put all doubt aside and carried out His perfect will. Things may not have seemed right to others, but Jesus trusted the Father with the outcome.

“My brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of trouble. When you do, think of it as pure joy. Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need. If any of you need wisdom, ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone. He doesn't find fault. But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. People who doubt are like waves of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around.” (James 1:2-6 NIrV)

Trials are not to be feared, but a welcomed challenge. As we trust God, we experience joy in knowing He goes through it all with us. Faith through trials produces spiritual strength to endure not just the present trial, but confidence to overcome future tests. As we ask and trust God to meet our needs, we must believe and follow His lead. Sometimes God will calm the storm, as the song says, but other times He will calm us and allow us to endure…all to His glory.

Jesus endured a TIME AWAY from His Father as he went through more than 33 years of testings on our behalf. He endured that trial with personal TIME AWAY in prayer and private fellowship. It’s a good example to follow.

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...