Thursday, December 31, 2015

I resolve to____________________ in 2016

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your heart, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Another year ending and a new one beginning: Have you made any RESOLUTIONS

Everyone does it. I need to lose weight. I need to save money. I need to get a better job. I need to get in touch with my family. 

As I read above, I see something that could not only make my new year better, but would actually make me and everyone around me better: love God . . . love people . . . love myself

If I can commit to these basic truths, I believe it will be a better year. 

Will you too make these your RESOLUTIONS?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Resolutions for Teens?

For all the promises of God in Him are "Yes", and in Him "Amen", to the glory of God through us. Now He Who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:20-21)

Most of us received a gift or gifts this CHRISTmas. Why were they special? Who gave them? If you like the gift, WHY? Was it the gift or the giver that made it special? As we ponder the New Year, everyone is tempted to make resolutions

Let's compare our resolutions to God's promises. What is the difference? God does not waiver! His "YES" is always YES and His "NO" is always NO! He keeps all His promises! 

God's promises always fulfill our wildest dreams and desires . . .but we must wait! The Bible tells us to love God with ALL our heart, soul, and mind. This may be the chance to make the best decision we have ever made; to love God totally

It has to start some day. What better day than today?Will you do that  . . . today?  

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

We can never out wait God

The strength to go on produces character.  Character produces  hope. And hope will never let us down. (Romans 5:4-5)

There is much to be said about patience. . .waiting on God. He never let's us down. He is always right. Waiting is hard for us in this day of fast everything. 

But wait I say upon the Lord!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTmas Eve Reminders

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

CHRISTmas Eve 2015. . . Hustle . . . Bustle . . . Racing here and there for last minutes gifts and other items. The rush is on. Racing against time . . . but whose time? We all are in a race, yet it not to the stores, the relatives homes, or even to church. Our race is life! If we are truly blessed,we will get 70-80 years on this earth as we know it. However, life goes on beyond that. 

For the believer, life goes on in the presence of our God and Savior. For those who choose not to believe, life is extended in hell, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth the Bible tells us.  

In this season, when people ask if you believe, we tend to think of the jolly fat man who gifts to all. I have another One in mind however, this CHRISTmas Season: Do YOU believe in the One who laid His life down for all who choose to believe?  

Today, choose to run the race of a CHRISTian and follow the One who is also coming . . . Maybe not this evening, but soon!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE Reason!

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and Who is it Who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

Shopping, traffic jams, fighting for parking spots, crossing off the gift lists . . . All part of the CHRISTmas Season. But should it be so? With all the fuss over the season, all of us put the REASON on the back burner at times. Even the most devout of believers forget why we give gifts. Let's remember what our Savior said to the Samaritan woman once again:

"If you knew the gift of God . . ." 

If we could all only remember the real REASON we rush out for the perfect gift for the ones we love. It should be to reflect the love God has toward us. I give a gift because I want to reflect the love God has for me toward others. This is my motivation. This is my REASON

God so loved me that it causes me to so love others. So the cost of the gift does not really matter as much as the love reflected in the gift. Even if I cannot purchase a gift, I can offer a service, some time, even a simple phone call or letter. 

I know we all say it and write it, but year after year CHRIST disappears more and more  from the Season.  Let's really remember the REASON behind CHRISTmas this year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hope . . .

"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, STAND FIRM. Let NOTHING move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is NOT in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

I write this with a heavy heart this morning thinking of a close brother who has lost his adult son tragically while on travel. However, it does remind me that this CHRISTmas is really not about a BABY, but about a SAVIOR who went to His death for our sins and then powerfully took up His own body and walked out from the grave to grant us eternal life with Him! 

Though physical death may take us all one day, we are eternally alive in Christ if we trust Him while we are yet living. The GIFT of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ is what we must GIVE away, above any other gift, this CHRISTmas. I offer encouragement not just to my brother and friend, but to all who may be grieving or suffering this HOLYday Season. 

To the BELIEVERS, death is a temporary set back leading to an eternal residence with our Lord and Savior. In order to have a reunion of friends and families, we must decide TODAY: Have YOU made the decision for your eternal residence? I REST with my SAVIOR this CHRISTmas and for eternity! 

Merry CHRISTmas . . . despite the pain, we can have JOY . . . One day we will celebrate together again.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Old Words. . . Timely Words. . . Real Words. . .Effective Words!

In that day says the Lord, I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast, and those whom I have afflicted; I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever. . . . . But you Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting . . . (Micah 4:6-8, 5:2)

God's promises remain . . .

I am learning to place more meaning on Old Testament words, prophesies, and promises. Growing up in my CHRISTian walk, I became comfortable reading the New Testament and treating the Old Testament as God's Word, but not very relevant. I guess as I grow older, I recognize the power of promises and legacies. I realize the promises God has fulfilled not only in Israels's life, but mine as well. I also realize the legacy I must leave behind as a CHRISTian husband, father, grandfather, and man. 

Though I have fallen short too numerous times to recall, I must stay grounded. I must remain faithful. I must be humble. I have to remember from where God rescued me and never go back. I am determined to finish well so those I leave behind can say I was faithful to the One who is faithful to me. 

I will never be ashamed of where I was, who I am, and what God is doing with me! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Never a BREAK from the Lord

I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord . . .He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. . . The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalm 121)

As my students break for CHRISTmas and the New Year HOLYdays, this is my prayer for them and all our staff. . . 

Lord keep us mindful of You and keep our trust in You. You alone are our Provider and Protector. Thank You for all You have done for us, even keeping us from dangers we never even knew were present. As we celebrate Your birth, encourage us to remind others that You indeed are coming again. Live in and through us over this break and bring us back together again renewed in strength and vigor to learn of You but more importantly to live for You!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

CHRISTmas Challenges

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to call him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sin . . . When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name JESUS. (Matthew 1:20-25)

Joseph was confused. Here he was engaged to a wonderful young woman and ready to move on with what he planned to be a wonderful life. Then he heard the bad news. She was pregnant! The child was not his. They had not been together physically. Why this Lord? Why to me? What kind of woman was this Mary anyway? What am I to do? 

He received all the answers to his questions as the Lord's angel revealed the news to him while he slept. One thing was for sure, Joseph trusted the Lord enough where he was not up all night worrying! Once he awakened from receiving the news Joseph, did what he was told. We do not read of any wavering, just obedience and trust. 

What if we could be so obedient to our Lord? What if we could be so trusting? Joseph lost no sleep worrying. He even stayed resting throughout the dream, continuing in sleep and when he woke up, he simply did what the Lord told him to do. We don't read of panic, stress, or unrest. Just trust and obedience . . . 

As a husband, father, son, and brother, all I want for CHRISTmas is to be like Joseph; trusting and obeying God with my life and family!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's the most___________ time of the year . . .

What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made Him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned Him with glory and honor, and set Him over the works of Your hands. You have put  things in subjection under His feet. . . . Therefore in all things He has been made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining  to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:6-8,17-18)

Sadness . . . Disappointment . . . Separation . . . Illness . . . Death . . . All these things do not stay away during the CHRISTmas Season. 

They arrive just as do the relatives, friends, shopping trips, meal preparations, and oh yes, the financial costs! We live in a world where the celebrations are not void of disaster.    Bad things happen during good times. Not so pleasant memories arise right in the middle of the most joyous occasions. 

But thank God, for the CHRISTian, we have a Savior, a Friend right beside us who has been through it all and is ready and willing to not simply assist us but also to make a way through the situation. He will allow us to enjoy the festivities despite the not-so-pleasant memories or challenging circumstances. 

As He walks us through the valleys, I pray we can experience the JOY He brings to our world even this CHRISTmas Season!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Small but Significant City

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)

O little town of Bethlehem . . . The "house of bread". The shepherds still keep watch there today. A small town now a place ruled by Palestinian police where the Nativity church hosts vendors and visitors alike. Yet it was prophesied by Micah in the eight century B.C. of a Savior to be born in this relatively small town of no more than one thousand people.

Never think you are too small or too insignificant for God to use you. At this CHRISTmas time, we too just might be a "small, unknown, insignificant" person in many eyes, yet God can and will use us. We simply must be ready and available. We never know when He will put His finger upon us and say, "Now is your time, My child." None of us are insignificant in our Father's eyes. We all have a purpose and a reason. 

The difference in being used and left on the shelf is  in the preparation. Are we ready? Are we willing? Are we available? Will we be a silent star or a shining light? It's up to us! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Come and see . . . Go and tell!

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12)

A very simple, yet profound statement, wouldn't you say? The message was given to some very plain and lowly people as well. Shepherds were not the most highly regarded of the day back during the birth of Jesus. They were not the members of the Sanhedrin or the tax collectors. They were not the members of the Roman government. They were simple shepherds, making their watch over there flocks during the night. 

Jesus still comes today in the simplest ways to the most common of people. He is not only for those with money or those dressed in suits. He is reaching out to us all . . . young and old, rich and poor. He has the same message today that He brought when He was born: Salvation!

What would our reaction have been had we received such a message? Would we have run to the baby or put it off for another day? Would we have too occupied with jobs and other obligations to see the baby? The shepherds "came with haste" to see Jesus and "made widely known" what they saw and heard concerning the baby. Are we eager to visit with Jesus today and do we tell others what we know of Him? 

Maybe we should take some notes from the shepherds?

Friday, December 11, 2015

No Other Option

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Once saved by the sacrificial grace of God, we cannot go back to our old ways. If we do, it makes the death of Christ all in vain. If I think I can obtain anything good on my own, I am making Christ and His Word to be a lie. 

All I have I owe to Christ. All I am today is because of Christ and His mercy towards me. I have no choice but to strive to live by His Word and to humbly accept what He has for me. I cannot allow this world or anyone in it to dictate my life. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Knowing the Enemy, Knowing 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. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, "O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the Living God . . .therefore I will put a hook in your nose and My bridal in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came. . . . For I will defend this city, to save it, for My own sake and for My servant David's sake. (2 Kings 19:14-34)

As we struggle, not just against flesh and blood, but also and more importantly against spiritual powers, we must search the Scriptures and see and experience how many of God's warriors faced these battles. 

Here King Hezekiah was facing threats from a mighty force who had previously swept through towns and cities, destroying everything in his wake. But Sennacherib now faced a foe whom he had never fought before; not King Hezekiah, but GOD! King Hezekiah knew in Whom to turn. 

God will not be mocked. He will not be disgraced. His children will be protected. When in battle, remember it is not our fight, but the Lord's. 

Do all you can possibly do physically, but leave the rest to God. He has been, He is, and He will be VICTORIOUS!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I hear you . . .

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

Many times we forget as believers Who we are talking to in prayer. Yes, we have learned to pray in the Name of JESUS to our FATHER in heaven. However, there is the Spirit of God living within us! Seldom do we address Him by name. Seldom do we seek His advice and listen to His guidance. 

Now I know Father, Son, and Spirit are one. Don't get me wrong. But if we would simply embrace the One already with us . . . ready and willing to assist, to explain, to guide, to comfort . . . how much more equipped would we be?  

If we would only realize the One we seek is right within us 24/7 how much more powerful would our lives be? I have been focusing upon  listening to God lately. Do I hear His voice? Am I quiet enough to recognize it? Am I limiting my voice in prayer to hear from God or am I simply talking way too much? 

I just do not want to hear from God, but obey Him, rest in Him, be pleased in doing His will. It is not enough to talk to Him, but I want to hear from Him and be obedient to His voice, His will. 

What about you?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Against all odds . . .

Give ear to my words O Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You . . .for You O Lord will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield. (Psalm 5)

When is the last time you prayed for yourself? The psalmist David often found himself surrounded by the enemy; physically, spiritually, and emotionally. He had run to hide in the caves and even feigned craziness to hide among his enemies. Yet he knew in Whom to turn. 

"Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psalm 139:7)

God cares when it seems no one else is concerned. He cares when it seems to all be going haywire. He cares when it seems as though the entire world is against you. God cares. God knows . . . God loves you and me! Trust Him with your concerns. Trust Him with YOU!

Monday, December 7, 2015

That time of year . . .

. . . Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:12-14)

This is a challenging time of year. Not everyone is joyous. Not everyone is full of CHRISTmas spirit. Many are depressed, suffering from memories of loved ones recently gone or from relational struggles. Many are lonely, alone, and in need. 

These are the times when God's people must look above their own needs and seek others to assist, to encourage, to love. Even if we are struggling, we must look to others to give. It is what Christ would have us to do. As we meet others' needs, our needs diminish. 

Rejoice in the coming Savior. Be patient, knowing He sees our struggles and knows our pain. Stay in prayer and be a light in the darkness!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Worship anyway!

O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; incline Your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to the grave. . . Lord, I have called daily upon You; I have stretched out my hands to You. . . But to You I have cried out O Lord, and in the morning my prayer comes before You. . . Loved one and friend You have put far from me, and my acquaintances into darkness. (Psalm 88)

When there is pain in the offering . . . When worship seems more like work . . . This is when it means the most. I thank God for the ones who still encourage and still cause me to press on . . . Praise God anyway!

It is SONday!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Remember . . .

But Jesus said to them, "They do not need to go away. You give then something to eat." And they said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." He said, "Bring them to Me.". . . (Matthew 14:18)

Jesus meets every need, even when things seem impossible. As we look back over time, we can all remember a time when we thought we would never make it, yet we did. It wasn't us, it was the Lord. 

Think back . . . Thank Him today for what He has done and will do!

He is faithful!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Judas In Me

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us. . . for if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11)

Judas had the opportunity to not sin. Yet he chose to betray the Lord for a few pieces of silver. We often wonder why he did it or why the Lord allowed him to do it. Yet do we ever wonder why we betray the Lord? Yes, we betray Him every day for a job, a friendship, a habit . . . simple choices!

Yet while we still SIN, He still offers grace! He still offers forgiveness. He still offers His hand of reconciliation! Rather than look at Judas as some horrible piece of less than human flesh, perhaps we can see ourselves in his actions. 

What do we find ourselves so lured by that it keeps us from really knowing Jesus? What is keeping us in the shadows rather than in deep intimate relationship with the Savior? I know I can't think too highly of myself. I have failed too numerous times in my walk with Jesus to worry about Judas. 

We all have a bit of Judas lurking inside. But we have time to change . . . .

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Make the Impossible Possible

Moreover, by them (the Lord's laws) Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward . . . Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Strength and my  Redeemer. (Psalm 19: 11,14)

God is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. Most of us can agree on these facts I believe. His ways are perfect. He never errors. He never fails. Though His Laws and His guidelines may seem difficult, they are in fact attainable and the rewards far outweigh the disappointments we receive when we do indeed fall short.  

Following God's direction far exceed the momentary joys we get from sin for sure! If we would only wait . . . hold on . . . God is there for us! Many times we simply convince ourselves that we cannot do it. We just can't make the right choice. It is too difficult. Yet God is able. He provides His Spirit within each and every believer to guide us and even live through us. He also provides so many other weapons and tools to use . . . Other believers, devotionals, the local church, the internet . . . 

Just as we seek out sin, we can seek out the things that are noble, just, trustworthy, and God-pleasing. It begins with prayer . . . simple heart-wrenching conversations with the Father. He stands ready and willing to equip us with every piece of armor we need for the day, even for the moment

Try God!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Motivation to Do What?

A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, the simple pass on and are punished. (Proverbs 27:12)

Decision-making can be tough, especially for one making every effort to follow God and to please Him. Many times, what looks like the right decision is not always the best decision. Often the least popular decision is the best for all concerned. 

What decisions are you facing today; friendships, memberships, academics, travel plans? Some may seem rather small or insignificant at the moment, but in time these decisions may be life changing . . . even life-destroying! I am of the belief lately that the smallest decisions lead to big results. 

Some thoughts to consider before making a final decision. . . . 

Seek biblical wisdom; gather facts; don't be hasty; check motives; learn from the past; seek wise counsel; check the warning signs; weigh the various outcomes; examine your integrity before God; how would I better impact the Kingdom?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tic Toc . . . Tic Toc . . .

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God; and the PEACE of GOD, which surpasses ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

It's that time of year . . . No, not for making the Christmas list and mailing it off to Santa, but to begin to wonder and worry if we can get it all completed in time. The year is winding down, the weather is turning colder, and time is getting short. 

Has this been done . . . Have I completed that . . . Will I have time for those things . . . Can I make this or that event??????? 

There always seems to be more things to accomplish yet not enough hours or days to complete the tasks. This is when we learn how to trust God and leave everything else at the cross. We seek His wisdom and do what we can humanly do, then leave the rest to God. We cannot ever please everyone or do everything that is required of us. 

We have to cheat something Pastor Andy Stanley has written. What will cheat today . . . this week . . . this month? Chose wisely my friend, then be at peace; a PEACE only you and God will know!

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...