Friday, July 25, 2008

07 25 08 Never Standing Alone

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last
He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25 NET)


Job has been utterly stunned by his friends (here it’s Bildad) and no doubt feels completely abandoned by his friends and God. But for all of this despair rises a new hope and a stronger faith. Job realizes he will eventually find vindication with the Lord. The Lord is his kinsman-redeemer, his vindicator, his protector. All that Job faces, he trusts in God and though life seems futile and despairing, final victory is assured with God for all who place their trust in Him. One who places his complete trust in the Savior is NEVER STANDING ALONE.

We all need to endure hardships at some point in life. Some face more than others. But look at Job; who will ever face these kinds of situations in life? Yet he still worshiped the Lord through it all (Job 1:20) …even as he struggled at times with understanding His will. No matter the circumstance, the challenge, or the length of testing, when we stand with Christ we are NEVER STANDING ALONE!

It’s great to have Godly friends and family to stand with us. It is so pleasing to receive encouraging words and timely gifts of love and gratitude. It’s such a relief to know others are there to pick up the pieces when things are unraveling. It’s comforting to receive wisdom from Scripture and God-inspired counsel. But let’s face it; there will be times when no one will quite understand our situation. We will be falsely accused. People will believe lies. They will twist the facts, even the Word of God to fit the situation. Physically, we will feel all alone.

But there is one who sticks closer than a brother. There is a God who promises to never leave us, never forsake us, and never allow anyone to pluck us out of His hand. Even in the middle of a horrendous sin, He is willing to forgive if we are wiling to come broken and humble. He is faithful and just to forgive each and every repentant soul and He stands by the innocent who suffer for His sake. He so loves us! His child is NEVER STANDING ALONE unless we refuse His companionship. Even then, He still pursues us!

Here’s the key: the more we pursue Him, the more intimate we become with Him and the more we are able to say we are NEVER STANDING ALONE ,even when facing the most challenging of circumstances.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

07 23 08 Letting Go…

“Don't be upset because of sinful people.
Don't be jealous of those who do wrong.
Like grass, they will soon dry up.
Like green plants, they will soon die.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live in the land and enjoy its food.
Find your delight in the Lord.
Then he will give you everything your heart really wants.
Commit your life to the Lord.
Here is what he will do if you trust in him.”
(Psalm 37:1-5 NIrV)


At times it seems as if all the ones who are winning are cheating in some way: steroids in sports, tax fraud and shady business deals, unscrupulous real estate deals, and illegal selling of drugs and guns. Even in the simple things like waiting in line for a stop light, doing the speed limit, or stopping before turning on red: Does anyone want to do right anymore?

David, in this acrostic psalm speaks wise and simple words here in Psalm 37: Don’t worry about it. Keep making good choices in God’s sight. God sees all that is going on and He has His eye upon those who do evil as well as those aiming to please Him. No matter who makes gains in this economy, who wins the trophies, or who arrives first at the next red light or stop sign, the Lord values things by a different standard! It’s a matter of LETTING GO of what the world says is successful and believing God’s plan for us!

David states that he was once young (verse 25), yet even though he is now older; he has still never seen the righteous forsaken by God. People may reject us and even family may think we are just a bit loony, but God is on our side as we honor Him. The author of Hebrews says it like this:

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
(Hebrews 13:5 NIV)


If we just trust Him, LETTING GO of this world’s values and the pressures people put upon us. In the process of LETTING GO, we experience the comfort of His hands!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

07 22 08 He’ll Do His Part

“God is working in you. He wants your plans and your acts to be in
keeping with his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13 NIrV)


The Holy Spirit is responsible to produce Christ-like character in us. It’s not what we do after we accept Christ as Lord and Savior; it’s what the person of the Holy Spirit begins to work within us at the moment we call on the Lord to save us from our sinful nature. Well, we do have to do one thing; surrender. We must surrender our will. We must surrender our attitudes. We must surrender some relationships. As we surrender our desires, we allow the Spirit to work. This process is called sanctification and it is a process. This does not happen overnight.

We cannot reproduce the character of Jesus on our own strength. New Year’s resolutions, willpower, and best intentions are not enough. Only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives. HE’LL DO HIS PART! Yet we still want to put the blame on God at times.

“Why won’t You change things Lord? How long will I have to put up with this God? Just take it away Jesus!”

Well, truth be told, the Holy Spirit wants to do these things, but we won’t surrender. We want to be in charge. We can’t simply imitate Christ. We must allow His Spirit to inhabit us…fill us…control us. Love, patience, kindness, peace; all these fruits are attainable each and every day, if we allow the Spirit free reign within us. If we do our part, HE’LL DO HIS PART! We just have to get off the throne and give God His rightful position in our lives.

It’s an idea that goes directly against the culture we live in today. But then again, hasn’t Jesus always been rather counter-cultural? Let’s dive in and swim against the tide… HE’LL DO HIS PART!

Monday, July 21, 2008

07 21 08 I Have Decided…

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother,
and wife and children, and brothers and sisters,
and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14: 26-27 NET)


Discipleship…it’s a popular word today and a challenging word at the same time. It’s popular, but is it fully defined or understood. Is it just another fashionable program added to the church calendar or is it truly something we are committed to carrying out in a way in which we better honor the Lord and serve others. The requirements of discipleship include putting Christ first, valuing him above life itself, above our family activities, and certainly above all our material possessions. In short, the true disciple is the one who has learned to die to himself/herself, take up their cross daily, and follow the Lord. The mathetes in Greek is a learner, a pupil, a follower, in this case of Jesus Christ. Though this phrase has become somewhat cliché today, I HAVE DECIDED to do just that!

We must remember that God chooses His disciples, we don’t! The men the Lord chose as his disciples were not necessarily the brightest, wealthiest, or the most influential group in their communities, though that is probably whom we would choose. They were young, middle class Galileans—a diverse group without any formal, theological training. However, we don’t want to discourage the wealthy and educated from becoming Christ’s disciples. A successful business person can be just as effective and committed to Christ as an unemployed teenager, yet simply because a person does well in business does not necessarily make one a good disciple of Christ.

When anyone; rich, poor, young, old, male or female makes the statement: “I HAVE DECIDED to follow Jesus”, they realize the rewards are not material, the work is not easy, and the results are not immediate. They give that up for the presence and gentleness of the Lord, for his grace to carry out every task He gives them and the resulting intimate fellowship with Him.

God knows His children and calls them by name. We in turn must answer the call. Being forgiven and saved from sin is one thing; and what a miraculous thing at that! Praise the Lord! Being a disciple is another step of faith however. It is an active as well as a proactive process requiring commitment and sacrifice on a daily basis. Oh yes, the harvest is indeed plentiful, but the dedicated laborers, but I am afraid the true disciples, are so few. We must indeed pray that the Lord of the Harvest sends more in this time of false teaching, mixed messages, and sugar-coated presentations of the Gospel.

The Lord challenges each of us today and every day to take up our cross and follow Him into the battle field. Let’s answer that call…I HAVE DECIDED, I have committed, and I have made up my mind, to be His disciple.

Friday, July 18, 2008

07 18 08 God alone is God

“You are great. You do wonderful things.
You alone are God.
Lord, teach me how you want me to live.
Then I will follow your truth.
Give me a heart that doesn't want anything
more than to worship you.
Lord my God, I will praise you with all my heart.
I will bring glory to you forever.”
(Psalm 86:10-12 NIrV)


This psalm of lament is one where David speaks of his lowly condition, yet the joy in knowing that God is yet so merciful and wonderful in all His ways. David desires to learn more about himself and the God he serves, so he is able to praise Him and serve Him all his days. Even in distress and under attack, David seeks to praise God and bring glory to His name. David realizes, GOD ALONE IS GOD; all by Himself.

Only God can do the things He does and do them the way He does. At times, He is not easy to understand. His ways are not our ways. Many times He speaks and works in special ways to specific individuals. God is unchanging and consistent, but He still can be unpredictable and unique. At times we don’t know why, we don’t know how, we don’t know when, but we know GOD ALONE IS GOD!

My desire is to have not only the heart of David, but the intimate relationship with God he had as well. I want all I do to honor God and I desire to please Him in every aspect of my life. I want my heart to be on one accord with God’s heart. No matter my condition or the environment I might be in, I want to be at peace with Him and in intimate fellowship with Him. As David said, “teach me how you want me to live”, then I can handle any situation while still bringing Him glory!

I may not understand all that is going around me, but I can understand that GOD ALONE IS GOD! I can rest in that! He alone is my DADDY and I am His child. As He teaches me His ways, I give Him free reign in my life and I desire to honor Him with all my heart and bring Him glory forever. He does wonderful things and I worship Him…GOD ALONE!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

07 17 08 He’s There…He Cares…He Answers Prayer

“Ask, and it will be given to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks will receive. He who searches will find. The door will be opened to the one who knocks. Suppose your son asks for bread. Which of you will give him a stone? Or suppose he asks for a fish. Which of you will give him a snake? Even though you are evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11 NIrV)

No matter if it’s the first time, the tenth time, or the umpteenth time of calling out to God…HE’S THERE. If it’s s friend in need, a community disaster, or a heart that is broken……HE CARES. If we will simply admit that we are helpless sinners in need of mercy and grace from perfect and holy God…HE ANSWERS PRAYER.

A sinner, lost for eternity merely needs to humbly come (with a sincere repentant heart) to God and acknowledge His power and position as God, seeking His forgiving grace through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. HE’S THERE waiting…listening…anticipating. A believer merely needs to call out in the middle of fear and uncertainty and find a peace that only the Creator of the universe can bring; right in the center of fiercest the storm. It may be something as simple as finding the car keys or as devastating as finding a lost child. He can calm the storm and He can calm us. HE CARES about our every need! The Bible tells us to ask the Lord…for wisdom, for peace, for our basic needs and for the miraculous as well. Why? …because HE ANSWERS PRAYER.

“For you are a protector for the poor, a protector for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm, a shade from the heat.”
(Isaiah 25:4 NET)


DADDY wants the best for us, but according to His plans, His designs, and His will for us. My God is still and awesome God. My God is still the Rock. My God is still the Alpha and the Omega. He is still a friend of sinners and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He is still no respecter of a person’s wealth or stature, but He seeks the one with a contrite heart and broken spirit. He still so loves me and the rest of the world. And He still cries out “Come to me”…the weary, the heavy burdened, the children, the widow, the orphan, the needy, the rich, the sinner. We must come on His terms though. Everyone who seeks the living water…”Come”! God told Moses “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He spoke through Isaiah to say, “I am the one…” (Isaiah 48:12). In His final words to the apostle John, the Lord repeated:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!” (Revelation 22:13 NET)

Yes, right now (July 17, 2007) God is still God! HE’S THERE…HE CARES…HE ANSWERS PRAYER .

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

07 16 08 BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING

“Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come to him with songs of joy.”
(Psalm 100:2 NIrV)


Obedience is a major form of worship! Partial obedience doesn’t get the job done. In fact, it is disobedience! We cannot pick and choose what part of God’s will for us we want to obey. We can’t expect to always understand it all either. Many times our Father just says do this because I said so…the explanation may come later. As our parents have told us many times, “It’s for your own good!” It may be BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING at the moment.

We earn nothing with our obedience. We don’t do good to get things. We do good to honor God. Knowing and trusting DADDY has our best intentions in mind and plans for each of us to succeed, we trust Him and obey His direction; even His discipline!

“But Samuel replied,
‘What pleases the Lord more?
Burnt offerings and sacrifices, or obeying him?
It is better to obey than to offer a sacrifice.
It is better to do what he says than to offer the fat of rams’.”
(1 Samuel 15:22 NIrV)


Many of us put such emphasis upon formal services, planned ministry, and scheduled events. We do it all with such good intentions and with an honest effort to please the Lord. This is fine. However, the emphasis must be upon doing it the way God requires, not the ways that bring attention to us…to me. It’s so rewarding to ask God where He wants me and what He wants me to do; to see Him working and join Him, than to spend a whole lot of energy doing my will and pleasing my desires. We all need to listen a lot more to His voice before we plan and do.

Much of the work God has for us is already going on and we just have to make ourselves available. What God needs is more Indians and less chiefs, to recall a saying from the distant past! God needs laborers, willing to roll up their sleeves, put on their boots, and be prepared to get a little dirty, a little sweaty, a little hungry, and a little weary. He wants our hearts and our hands! He desires His children to desire Him.

Joy comes in the light of morning. Reward comes when we see Him in all His glory and we hear “well done”. Abundant life is not promised in this world, but with the Lord in eternity. Let’s find joy in obedience, service, and worship! The result is a blessing of peace. Nothing beats His peace! It’s BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING for sure.

Monday, July 14, 2008

07 14 08 Free to Worship….Free to Live…..Free to Serve

“Jesus said, ‘Believe me, woman. A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know. Salvation comes from the Jews. But a new time is coming. In fact, it is already here. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father is looking for. God is spirit. His worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth’.” (JOHN 4:21-24 NIrV)

As Jesus approached the Samaritan woman, there were many special things going on. First, the Jews would prefer not to travel through Samaria and engage a people they simply hated. Secondly, a Jewish man would not be speaking with such a woman in public. On top of that, He asks her for a drink of water! Isn’t that just like Jesus?

He doesn’t care what the tradition says. He ignores the popular prejudices of His people. He is not politically correct. His whole motive is to reach the heart of the sinner…meet the needs of the hurting…give liberty to those who are bound. He does it with compassion, truth, and gentle and loving honesty.

Jesus knows all about the woman’s personal life and her failures in relationships with men. He knows the attitudes of the Samaritans and Jews. He is fully aware of the worship styles of both people groups. However, His concern is with the relationship the woman has (or doesn’t have) with the God of the universe. Does she know the man she is talking to is the ONE with the living water? Here is the One who offers total freedom. He overcomes racism, prejudice, relational failures, economic troubles, and physical liabilities. Personally knowing the Lord and Savior makes us FREE TO WORSHIP…FREE TO LIVE…FREE TO SERVE.

Jesus simply introduced Himself to the woman and engaged in conversation. What if we did the same in every day life? What if we stopped avoiding certain types of people and engaged them? What if we stopped ignoring folks as we walked past and actually introduced ourselves? How many more opportunities would we have to introduce Messiah to those who are still searching? As Jesus told the Samaritan woman…the time is already here! We are FREE TO WORSHIP HIM…FEE TO LIVE FOR HIM AND FREE TO SERVE HIM! So let’s do it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

07 11 08 UNCHARTERED TERRITORY

“By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
(Hebrews 11:7 NET)



Noah was about to enter UNCHARTERED TERRITORY. The NIrV version reads that “God had warned him about things that could not yet be seen”. You recall, it had never rained before as we know it. There was never any threat of the rivers rising or the local levees breaking. There was no warning siren or tropical storm forecasts from the local weathermen. For the first time the Lord whispered to someone, “it’s gonna rain!”

Did Noah wait for confirmation? Did he check the Farmers’ Almanac or the Weather Channel? There is no written evidence that he did anything but obey the Lord.

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
(Genesis 6:22 NIV)


I have the examples before me. Of course the Bible is full of men and women of faith. But even before my very eyes I have witnessed the lives of men and women who have faithfully and without wavering followed God’s call into UNCHARTERED TERRITORY! So even though I have faced very challenging times along with my wife and family lately, I have His promises…I have His witnesses…I have a Savior!

I have a BIG God who still does BIG things for little people like you and me. He specializes in the miraculous and the unbelievable. However, I believe that He still is…that He still does…that He still cares. He still rewards the diligent and the steadfast. He still hears from the downcast and the hurting. He still sits on the throne high above and rules all things down here below. Many believe this is UNCHARTERED TERRITORY. I believe it’s where God wants me to be: safe in His arms, led by His Spirit, and fed from His hand.

I see it every time it rains and His rainbow smiles upon me. “I promise…”

:)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

07 10 08 Severe Warning

I don’t know about the weather in your area lately, but here in MD and along the East Coast it seems as though every time it rains there is a SEVERE WARNING. After so many warning, even our six year old is getting used to them. As a father and husband, I want to be sure everyone is safe and the house secure, but with so many warnings day by day, I find myself becoming frustrated! I actually enjoy just a nice steady rain now…no lightning, no thunder, no wind, no flooding, no clean-up.

This is to say nothing however of the spiritual battles we face day-to-day! We have yet to have a weapon staring at our face telling us to back down, leave, surrender or deny our faith. Not yet… But read this confrontation King Hezekiah was facing.

“When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the LORD’s temple. He sent Eliakim the palace supervisor, Shebna the scribe, and the leading priests, clothed in sackcloth, with this message to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz: ‘This is what Hezekiah says: This is a day of distress, insults, and humiliation, as when a baby is ready to leave the birth canal, but the mother lacks the strength to push it through. Perhaps the LORD your God will hear all these things the chief adviser has spoken on behalf of his master, the king of Assyria, who sent him to taunt the living God. When the LORD your God hears, perhaps he will punish him for the things he has said so pray for this remnant that remains.’”
(2 Kings 19:1-4 NET)


Assyria’s King replied,
“Tell King Hezekiah of Judah this: ‘Don’t let your God in whom you trust mislead (2 Kings 19:10 NET)

Hezekiah went to the Lord:
“It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. They have burned the gods of the nations, for they are not really gods, but only the product of human hands manufactured from wood and stone. That is why the Assyrians could destroy them. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power, so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you, LORD, are the only God.”
(2 Kings 19: 17-19 NET)


God’s response…?
“This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I have heard your prayer concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria’... So this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria:
‘He will not enter this city, nor will he shoot an arrow here.
He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors,
nor will he build siege works against it.
He will go back the way he came.
He will not enter this city,” says the LORD.
I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’
That very night the LORD’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When they got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses so King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh. One day, as he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword.
(2 Kings 19:20-37)


When faced with a SEVERE WARNING, unnerving news, or unavoidable distress, we must do as King Hezekiah did…turn to the Lord. Before we react, we must act in prayer. At times prayer is all we can do and then we wait upon the Lord. At other times we pray then go to action. A SEVERE WARNING can bring severe conditions. God may calm the storm, but other times He calms those of us in the storm so we may act properly in the middle of it. As we go to our knees acknowledging God as the God, we find strength to stand and do battle!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

07 09-08 Win Now or Win Later…or Both?

“I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.”
(Philippians 3:14 NIrV)


In major league baseball, around the All-Star break (the middle of the season), many teams do an assessment of their performance and make a decision: Do we trade for better players to have a greater chance to WIN NOW, or trade away players and improve WIN LATER, knowing we can’t possibly win this year? Is there a way to do BOTH? Then there are teams that just stay where they are; there goal is simply to compete, but not really to win.

In life, we face many of the same crossroads along the way. It may be in regards to our jobs, relationships, or most importantly, in our walk with the Lord. The prophet Jeremiah stated that God has a plan for each and every life, and that plan is to WIN…to succeed! How many of us really desire to win? How actively do we pursue the crown? Do we keep our eye…our heart, upon the prize?

What is the prize? Is it attainable? Better yet, Who is the prize? Paul says the prize is not wealth, homes, vehicles, job security, or even a retirement fund, but Jesus!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
(1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV)


Everyone should want to be the champion. Everyone who competes should compete to win, or get out of the game! The Latin root for the verb to compete is competere, which means to seek together or to strive together. Would to God that as we compete in life, we strive together to seek the Lord’s will and win His favor. We encourage one another; pick one another up when one stumbles; and meet one another’s needs along the way. What if I took the focus off me and put it upon the prize…Christ Jesus?

While victory is secure for the believer (WIN LATER), we also have victory today! (WIN NOW). Why not choose BOTH? Maybe we have to trade in some bad habits or bad relationships that are bringing us down, keeping us from winning. Perhaps we can add a few things to strengthen our walk: a mentor, prayer partner, small group, consistent Bible study, Bible classes, or commit to a ministry of community service. Just maybe we are strong enough where we are in life and on target, walking victoriously day after day. Praise the Lord!!!!

The point is, in Christ we are winners! We WIN NOW, we WIN LATER. We possess BOTH!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

07 08 08 I WANT TO DO GOOD…

“I don't understand what I do. I don't do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. I do what I don't want to do. So I agree that the law is good. As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them.”

Even after Paul’s conversion, he struggled with sin. He stated that the law reveals our sinful nature and keeps us aware of the pull sin has even upon the saved souls. Oh yes, sin is still alive and tearing at our heart. The evil one wants to destroy our testimony if he can’t destroy us!

“I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can't. I don't do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don't want to do. I do what I don't want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.”

Paul acknowledges he wants to do good, but the sin nature wants to do evil. The sin nature is never destroyed as we live. It must be put in check. We must realize its power and do something about it. We need a battle plan.

“Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Deep inside me I find joy in God's law. But I see another law working in the parts of my body. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls the parts of my body.”

Oh yes, there is a war going on within our bodies, within our soul. There is real spiritual warfare taking place. I WANT TO GO GOOD…to honor God with my life, yet Satan is still doing his best to cause me to disgrace God and embarrass myself. I can actually feel the battle going on at times, it is so real! It must have really been a war for such a soldier as Paul.

“What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord. So in my mind I am a slave to God's law. But in my sinful nature I am a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:15-25 NIrV)

So how can I ever find any joy in this battle? Will I ever see the victory? I wanna’ do right; I really do! I want to please God and do the right things by my wife and family. I want to honor all my commitments and help everyone I see in need. I WANT TO DO GOOD…

The good news is that I can, but only through the Holy Spirit that resides within me, battling the sinful nature and desires. I can do all things (according to God’s will) through Christ who strengthens me! While I continue to struggle, I know victory is on the horizon! The battle is not mine, it’s the Lord’s!

Monday, July 7, 2008

07 07 08 Never Know

“But here is how God has shown his love for us.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:8 NIrV)


Some things in life I’ll never understand. Why do people park in driveways and drive on parkways? That’s a bit backwards! Why is it people get on planes but into cars? It’s much safer inside the plane! Why do we only see one shoe on the roadside? Where are all the people walking with just one shoe? While I may come to understand the issues above, one thing I’ll NEVER KNOW: Why does Jesus love me?

Many songwriters have penned this question in many ways. Who am I that You hear me…What other king would leave His throne…How wide is Your love…Why do You love me so…Why did You sacrifice Your life...Why me, Lord?

I may NEVER KNOW, oh but I’m glad!!! God so loves me! That’s amazing. It’s unbelievable; except by faith in the person of Jesus Christ. No one else can love me in this way!

When no one else loves me; when no one else seems to understand; when I feel isolated and misunderstood; one thing He tells me that I’ll always know:

"I will never leave you. I will never desert you."
(Hebrews 13:5 NIrV)


I may NEVER KNOW why, but I know that He does! That’s got to be enough for me. In times when every foundation on earth seems to be crumbling, God’s promises remain strong. His Word remains true and unchanging. His love is ever present. My relationship with Him is secure and growing stronger every day. He is mine and I am His. Some things we may NEVER KNOW, but when we know the Lord, we know it!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

07 03 08 FREE TO SERVE HIM AND OTHERS, or NOT

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5) And here is the second one. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Leviticus 19:18) There is no commandment more important than these." (Mark 12:30-31 NIrV)

Love God…love my neighbor: Jesus said these are the most important commandments given and that the Law was based upon these two premises. If we love God, we’ll obey Him. If we love our neighbor, we’ll respect him, care for him, and get along well with him. God is love and as we are made in His image, we are to reflect that love... real simple!

I wondered as I awoke from sleep this morning… “Why did the Lord wake me up today?” He is free to let me die in my sleep, remain unconscious, or awaken me. It’s His choice to grant me life and to keep me alive as He sees fit. I, on the other hand, am FREE TO SERVE HIM AND OTHERS…or NOT!

I am free to love my God and serve all my neighbors…here and around the world. I have the liberty to choose to obey His call to tell everyone about someone who can save anyone from their wretched life of slavery to sin. I have that freedom to obey, or NOT!

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:8 NIV)


To act justly…love mercy...walk humbly: God has indeed given us enough examples of what that looks like. We read about it in the Bible. We have seen it in the lives of folks like Mother Teresa, Dr. Billy Graham, and others. I have seen it personally in the lives of many around me day-to-day. So I have no excuse; I am FREE TO SERVE HIM AND OTHERS, or NOT!

I have the ability and freedom to show mercy to everyone I meet, to do my best that justice is served to everyone, not just the favored of society. I have the responsibility to walk humbly among my friends, family, neighbors…even those I have yet to meet. I need to represent Christ to a dying a lost world, because we all have a choice to make.

Will we choose freedom…or slavery?
Will we choose repentance or a lifestyle of sin?
Will we choose liberty with Christ, or remain in bondage eternally?

Jesus paid the price for our freedom. What will we do with it?

FREE TO SERVE HIM AND OTHERS, or NOT! Choose today....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

07 02 08 COME

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger’.”
(Luke 2:10-12 NET
)

At the manger, the angel bid the shepherds to “COME”. He told them the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. There response was to go and see for themselves what the angel had proclaimed.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 NIV)


Throughout His life on earth, Jesus invited all to “COME”. COME to Me if you are weary. COME to me and receive forgiveness. COME to Me and receive grace. Come to Me and receive peace. Let the little children COME to Me. Everyone in need of healing, COME to Me! The invitation is to all and for all: anyone, any where; every age, every ethnicity, and every experience. Everyone is invited because God so loves everyone. But we must COME under our own power and with a repentant heart.

At the cross, His outstretched arms begged everyone to “COME”. As He made the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus still was still inviting others to COME with Him. This time He invited the convicted thief who humbly sought a relationship with Jesus.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’.” (Luke 23:43 NET)

In Revelation, Jesus gives the final call for all to “COME”.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star!” And the Spirit and the bride say, “COME!” And let the one who hears say: “COME!” And let the one who is thirsty COME; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge.(Revelation 22:16-17 NET)

Have you COME to Jesus? Have you answered “Yes”? If not, the time is now! Just look around...things aren’t going to get any better! If so, is it a burden for you to invite others to COME? Is our attitude for Christ to COME as well? Maranatha……

“He who gives witness to these things says, ‘Yes. I am coming soon.’ Amen. COME, Amen, COME Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20 NIrV)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

07 01 08 Ready, Willing, and Humbled

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. He will rule forever over his people, who came from Jacob's family. His kingdom will never end.’ ‘How can this happen?’ Mary asked the angel. ‘I am a virgin.’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth is old. And even she is going to have a child. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. Nothing is impossible with God.’ ‘I serve the Lord,’ Mary answered. ‘May it happen to me just as you said it would.’ Then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:30-38 NIrV)

The anticipated Messiah would be born through a teenage virgin Jewish girl from Galilee, who was engaged to be married to Joseph (a descendant of the line of David). Wow! Imagine the excitement…the anticipation…even the fear! The Bible says Mary was greatly troubled and quite amazed at the angel’s words. It’s one thing to be living for God and anticipating great things, but this had to be amazing! Mary was READY, WILLING, AND HUMBLED to be used by God.

I know there are times when we can’t wait to be used by the Lord. We desire to please Him. We are so WILLING. We fast, we pray, we really think we’re READY. But are we really ready? Are we ever really prepared for what God will do? I believe the very key to be used of God is to be HUMBLED. I can’t believe Mary ever thought she would be the one to birth our Savior. But she did the groundwork in her faith, her service and her attitude before God.

I have learned over the years that I will never be worthy of any work for the Lord. I deserve to go to hell in a hand basket, as they say, based upon my life’s work. It’s only through His grace and mercy that I breathe today, much less find myself serving Him in ministry. I was always READY and WILLING to work, but at times I wanted the lime light that I thought came with it! Over the past 15 years He has HUMBLED me year by year…day by day…and even minute by minute! God still desires a broken heart and a contrite spirit!

Have you been HUMBLED? Many of the greatest servants of God have never been in the spotlight. They toil, labor, and sacrifice behind the scenes; saving lives, caring for children, feeding the homeless, and working 18-24 hour days with no one knowing but those closest to them. I have been so blessed to have seen this every day for the last 15 years in my pastor, his staff and family.
Mary’s response to the enormous task from God (after asking “HOW”) was not, “I can’t do this”, nor “This should get me on the Oprah show”. Rather, she replied:

“I serve the Lord...‘May it happen to me just as you said it would.”

one stable foundation,

Then  as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings  are here! ” ...