Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Grace . . . Receiving what we DO NOT deserve.
Mercy . . . Not receiving what we DO deserve.
Discipline . . . Proper correction given to bring one into obedience or required standards.
And have MERCY on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with FEAR, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23)
Grace and discipline . . . When do we hold back? When do we drop the hammer? How does God operate? Well, perhaps we can learn from His Word.
If one simply has a poor self esteem, thinking they are too bad for God, not worth our efforts, we need to gently bring them to the realities of Christ and His standards. On the other hand, for those who know better, well they need to be reminded of God's wrath and His utter hate for sin! We can only look to the Jewish people for the evidence in how God dealt personally with them.
God gives us all room for repentance . . . but not too much room!
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in ALL your conduct, for it is written (in Leviticus 11,19, &20), "Be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16)
Strong words here from one who knew the consequences of sin. Peter experienced the out-of-fellowship feeling for sure! He knew the pain and anguish of disappointing the Savior.
Many times we do not feel this pain. We are way too casual with sin and forgiveness. We tend to excuse far too much of our actions.
I like how Peter says gird up the loins of your minds. To me this refers to a deep, gut-searching decision to follow the Lord, rather than a flippant statement.
Can we decide to throw away these casual attitudes when it comes to Christ? Can we be serious with our relationship now as well as in eternity?
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord that He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you can be STILL." (Exodus 14:13-14)
Be still. Wait upon the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. God has a plan for His people to succeed and not fail. What great, historical, and proven advice, Since the beginning, God has been telling us to trust Him, wait upon Him, and even count our trials and troubles as joy! Yet we still do not always follow His advice . . . We still believe we know better and can handle things all by ourselves.
We can really be DUMB at times, can't we?
Whom or what do we fear today? What enemy is chasing us down? Why are we looking over our shoulder? What is facing us tomorrow that God cannot handle? Is He still not God? Face that giant and watch God knock him down . . . Move him out of your way . . . Allow you to walk right over and through that challenging valley!
The DELIVERER still delivers!
Monday, October 26, 2015
They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt . . Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. AMEN! (Jude 1:18-24)
Challenging days present opportunities for God to receive glory. The more we feel unprepared, the more God supplies. The more we feel ridiculed and criticized, the more God provides assurance and comfort. As we progress through our journey, not everyone will trust our motives and efforts, yet as we walk with the Lord and trust Him and His plan for ourselves, He will show up and eventually we will experience His joy as well.
Hang in . . . Stay focused upon Him. The enemy can come in various forms. Do not focus on the opposition, simply do what God has enabled you (and me) to accomplish!
Sunday, October 25, 2015
And He said to me, " My grace is sufficient for you, My strength is made perfect in weakness." . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
It seems the stronger we think we are, the more we believe we are in control, then the more things fall apart . . . relationships, health, careers, plans. Take heed.
Remember Job? Yes, Job! God may be trusting us so much that He is allowing all these things to occur so we can give Him glory!
Stay focused. Stay grounded. This life is not for eternity, but our relationship with our God is!
Friday, October 23, 2015
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which SHALL be revealed in us. . . For we were saved in this hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly await for it with perseverance. (Romans 8:18-25)
I can't wait for the weekend! I can't wait for Thanksgiving break! I can't wait for CHRISTmas! Then the time arrives . . . and it's gone!!! The things we look forward to in this world are nice breaks from the everyday routine, yet when they arrive, it seems as if they fly by so quickly. Even when we receive things we have eagerly desired, when we get them, the thrill of receiving the item seems to never be as exciting as the wait.
All these things are temporary: they do not and will not last forever. There is always the next thing . . . the better thing . . . the more exciting thing. However, as the writer reminds us, the things of God, the things we cannot see quite yet, are not temporary moments of excitement, but rather eternal in nature and reward!
So while we might find glimpses of joy in these moments of pleasure on this earth, as we learn to anticipate God and work toward heavenly rewards, we find real lasting JOY knowing that everything we do for HIM will last forever!
I CANT WAIT!!!!!!
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Rejoice ALWAYS, pray WITHOUT CEASING, in EVERYTHING give thanks; for this IS the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not QUENCH the Spirit. . . . He who calls you is FAITHFUL, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)
Hard words to swallow when things are challenging. Rejoice? Keep praying? Be thankful in EVERYTHING? Me? Really God? Are You sure?
I guess the real question is; "Do we really trust God?" I know we say it when we are in church, or when we are discussing Him with others, or even telling others to trust Him . . . but do we really trust Him when things get really heavy?
When the car repairs are more than the paycheck . . . When the grades were final before the work was complete . . .When the work lasts longer than the hours in a day . . . When the last nerve has been plucked last week?
How will God ever get the glory if we keep acting in the flesh. If we keep trying to figure things out or fix things, how in the world can God do it?
Maybe just once, we will wait upon the Lord . . .
Then we will be able to say "It was God!" Then everyone else will see Him at work as well!
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Therefore be patient, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord IS at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, THE JUDGE is standing at the door! (James 5:7-9)
We all enjoy hearing from God and then telling others what He is telling them. Well, fellow believers, this time James is talking to you and me . . . brethren!
We have to stop whining. We must be patient. We need to stop the grumbling within our very own churches and families. It is NOT pleasing God. I must admit . . . I do it too. Why do we do this? . . . Why can't we do that? . . . Are we doing that again?
I don't think we realize how we are affecting one another . . . how we are affecting God! Imagine how we feel when our family is constantly bickering and complaining; at odds with one another. Now imagine how God feels about His family, the Church. He is, as James reminds us, standing at our door listening in . . .
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is NOTHING too hard for You! (Jeremiah 32:17)
So what is troubling you today? Where are the doubts? Any fears? Wondering what tomorrow will bring? Do you still trust the One who made all things and sustains all things . . . even you and me? It's our human (sin) nature to worry and to doubt. It is our lack of faith in the God who designed and build this world with simply His voice that causes us to doubt Him. He breathed life into man and made us in His image, yet we think He has forgotten us!
Please forgive us Lord. Help me . . . Help us all . . . to trust in these words once again:
But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL these things SHALL be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Monday, October 19, 2015
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
Once once receiving the Holy Spirit, we see here in Acts 2 the excitement from the disciples. While we know of the thousands that were saved on that one day, it is also important to remember that the disciples continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching! Today especially, we must continue the biblical doctrines the apostles laid out.
We cannot compromise. Truth is truth and must remain truth. Study His Word . . . Meet with one another on regular occasions . . . Take communion seriously . . . And pray continuously! We are one in Christ!
Friday, October 16, 2015
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all and through all, and in YOU all. . . Till we all come in the UNITY of faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:5-13)
Oneness . . . It is the goal of teams, schools, businesses and families alike. It is also the goal God has in mind for His Body of believers. We live separate lives throughout the week and even when we get together for SONday worship, we separate by denomination, age groups, and ethnicity. It is NOT the way God intended. God's goal for us is to reflect heaven . . . one-ness . . . one functioning body in Christ. This should not simply be the goal of individual churches, but THE Church . . . all churches under the banner of the blood of Jesus. Whether we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, AME, Full Gospel . . . whatever . . . We are called to be ONE!
If the world sees division within those calling themselves Christ-followers, than how are we to effectively witness of a grace-filled God? How are we to tell of a Savior that calls everyone to repentance when we discriminate? If we reject the sinner how are we to convince them that Jesus loves sinners?
Is ONE TEAM still just a DREAM? God help us and heal us!!!!!
Thursday, October 15, 2015
There is something about that name . . . Redskins, Cowboys, or that wonderful name . . .
R A V E N S !!!!!!!!!!
But there is a better, stronger, more perfect name . . . that name is J E S U S !!!! SAVIOR . . . What a name. What a Person! What a God! Do you know Him?
. . .that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth. (Philippians 2:10)
Jesus is my Captain. I have joined His team for eternity. What a name! But others have chosen to align with other squads.
There is the work squad, the neighborhood squad, the cool squad and the "those who will help me get ahead" squad. There may even be the church squad or the gym squad. Then of course we have the "ones we watch the game with" squad.
We all have those groups or squads we identify with from time to time. All these identities may be fun at times, but some may even be detrimental. Above all, we need to identify with our Savior and give Him our allegiance. He is, after all, the one and only undefeated Champion!
Who is receiving your cheers, your support, your strength? What jersey are you wearing within your heart? Whose team are you on today? Are others able to recognize the team you have joined?
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance, or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. . . Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes and good looking. And the Lord said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one." Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. (1 Samuel 16:7-13)
Oh, if we could see what God sees. We are so quick to decide who is better or more qualified by looks, degrees, or pedigree. We look at a resume without looking at the heart. A nice suit, a fresh hair style, a recommendation, a great way of articulating . . .all lends to a great impression. But only God knows the true integrity of a person. . . their heart.
David was not the best looking, strongest, oldest, wisest, or most experienced. He did not look the part. Yet God had His eye upon David's heart!
How do we choose today? Is it based upon education, experience, background, ethnicity, social status, memberships? Take time to check out one's heart . . . their character . . . what God knows about them.
While we may be able to get a general idea of a book by reading the cover, it is not until we get deep into the story that we actually understand the message!
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love it's own. Yet because you are NOT of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
Why am I such a misfit? Remember the song from the CHRISTmas cartoon, "Rudolph, the Rednose Reindeer"? Never quite fitting in? Always seem a bit odd? Feeling weird more often that normal? This is something to think about as a Christ-follower.
Are we trying too hard to fit in? Are we trying to please the wrong people? Where is our allegiance anyway?
As we ponder these thoughts today remember this: We may never really fit in this world. Jesus told us so . . .
Monday, October 12, 2015
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep . . . . So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man. (Proverbs 6:6-11)
This is such timely wisdom for this day and age. While there are many who are hard at work (and at times working way too much!) many are simply spending too much time waiting for work and waiting and expecting hand-outs. We were once a proud nation of hard-working men and women here in the United States. Lately it seems we are a nation of "entitlement". Our banks have been bailed out. Our auto industry has been bailed out. Our insurance companies have been bailed out. Unemployment benefits are extended for years and years. Temporary assistance to families in need has become a way of life for way too many! Tax loopholes allow the rich to get richer at the expense of the working class.
Please do not get me wrong: I am not condemning those in real need and in dire straits. I am criticizing our government for making it way too easy for many to live an life of the sluggard while our future generations rot away. Hard work and it's rewards have been replaced with "get rich quick schemes" and "get what is mine" attitudes. Others simply find ways to "live off the system". God cannot be pleased with this at all.
We as Christ-followers must instill in our youth the hard work ethic by example and by biblical teaching. Work is a blessing and the labor we put forth to provide is not in vain! Now is not the time to rest upon our laurels but to do whatever we need to do to supply our families' needs. God rewards effort, not laziness!
Friday, October 9, 2015
And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." So the Lord said, "If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be pulled up the roots and be planted in the sea', and it would obey you. . . . So like wait you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, " We are unprofitable servants. We have done what is our duty to do." (Luke 17:5-10)
When the apostles asked for an increase in faith, Jesus shared a lesson on obedience. Strange? No, it is not strange with Jesus! Jesus did not always answer a question directly. Many times he responded with another questions. Other times, like in this case, He responded with a short story or parable to teach a practical lesson. Jesus reminds us all that as we are obedient in serving God, being careful to do all He teaches us, we will see and increase in faith.
As we serve others, we experience the presence of His Spirit. As we follow His commands, we become closer to Him. At the end of a day when we please God, we are satisfied. Faith cannot be strengthened without obedience in our actions. Actions are to reflect our faith. Faith and actions go hand in hand. One increases the other! (James 2:14-26, Ephesians 2:8-9)
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and ALL WHO ARE IN AUTHORITY, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in ALL godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Prayer is not to be taken lightly. It is not simply for us either as Paul tells us. We are to lift up ALL those in authority so it may be well with us. We are not simply to pray for their decision-making and for their protection, but for their SALVATION as well! The closer our leaders are to God, the better off we all will be.
However, Paul says to pray for ALL who are in authority. This includes our immediate supervisors at the job, our pastors of course, our police personnel, school leaders and teachers, and of course parents everywhere! Leadership involves much in the way of decisions; daily decisions, short-term plans, long- term plans, emergency plans, contingency plans, personnel decisions, and plans concerning infrastructure. All this planning requires wisdom and understanding. Where in the world do all the answers come from anyway?
If anyone, ANYONE lacks wisdom, James says we should "ask of God"! How can our leaders ask of someone they may not know or may be forgetting? Pressures of decision-making can lead to rash decisions. This is where we all come in . . . Let's remember our leaders today and PRAY!
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hair of your head are all numbered. Do NOT fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:28-31)
There is much o be concerned about in our world for sure; wars, terrorism, crime, racism, economic hardships, health issues, and more. Concern is one thing, but FEAR is a totally different animal! As families, it is commendable to be concerned and plan for the future in order to be prepared. However, the best preparation one can ever have for the future is a secure and active relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of this world . . . Jesus Christ! This alone removes fear.
If He indeed cares for the diminutive sparrow, how much more does He care for you and me, the ones made in His image in order to glorify Himself? Have we really ever considered this fact? Ponder that today: Creator God loves me more that anything He created and He wants to provide for me here and spend eternity with me when life here is completed . . . Can we all saw WOW?!?!?!
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord. So the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. (Jonah 2:7-10)
Tired? Weary? Disappointed? A bit jealous of others maybe? Questioning God? Welcome to real life . . . but welcome to a real relationship with a real God!
Jonah, God's man Jonah, had some real issues; some of which included anger, bitterness, prejudices, and doubt. He even ran from God and his calling. Yet even as God dealt directly with Jonah, he called upon the Lord and the Lord answered. He repented and God delivered and still accomplished His will in Johah's life.
We may find ourselves at odds with God. We may disagree for a bit about what He wants and how He is doing things. But stay at it. Stay in touch with God. He will not abandon us and we should never abandon Him.
Call out . . . Cry out . . . Sell out! God can and will always come through . . .even from the depths of the belly of a fish!
Monday, October 5, 2015
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
As in the day of Noah, many today are going about their everyday life ignoring the call to repent. . . ignoring the need to turn to God and away from the world and its magnetic pull. As a result, like those in Noah's day, many will be eternally lost. One day, and soon may I suggest, the Lord will return and it will be too late once again. The ark of safety will be shut up and those left behind will be left moaning and pleading for God to rescue them.
Please make today the day we call out to the Lord for repentance, for forgiveness, for mercy, for salvation. If today we hear His voice, we must respond . . . not tomorrow. Tomorrow is promised to no one but those who have found safety in His arms!
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before you; and shall say, Destroy them. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
Friday, October 2, 2015
Look . . . Up in the sky . . . It's a bird . . . It's a plane . . . No, it's a new SUPER HERO!
And He sat down and called the twelve. And He said to them, "If anyone would be first, he must be the last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)
Most of our super heroes had special powers. They could fly, leap tall buildings, run at superhuman speeds, possess tremendous strength, stretch beyond human limits, or some other unbelievable feat. Jesus did all these . . . and came back to life from a brutal death . . . all while saving anyone who calls upon His name from a fiery, eternal hell!
So how can we be like Him? How can we too be a Super Hero? We must serve like He does . . . by giving our life up for others! Now go strap on that cross, put on that helmet, grab that sword and follow . . .
There is a world to save!
Thursday, October 1, 2015
Jethro mentored Moses . . . Moses mentored Joshua . . . Joshua mentored the remaining elders . . . Eli mentored Samuel . . .Samuel mentored kings including David and David mentored his son Solomon . . . Elijah mentored Elisha and Jesus mentored twelve pretty influential guys. Finally, Paul mentored a young pastor named Timothy along with Titus and other local leaders of the young Church. Though mentoring is not mentioned literally in the bible, it is a biblical principle. However, in our modern Christian circles, we do not pray, worship, even "fellowship" generationally much anymore.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Mentoring builds authentic relationships that can and will have generational and eternal rewards. However, beware . . . Little eyes are upon us . . . We all are responsible for the generation coming up behind us!
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)
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