Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It Takes TIME

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
There is one way to "hear" from God . . . through His Word! It is very simple. We do not have to search very far. Preachers are preaching it. Singers are singing it. Authors are writing it. But as Paul says in Romans 10:16, all have not obeyed! Paul asked if all have not heard. Their sound has gone out among the entire earth (Romans 10:18, Psalm 19:4) So what is the issue? Why are so many saying they cannot hear God? We are simply not READIING His Word enough and for understanding and proper application. Oh, folks are going to church, singing Gospel songs, and reading the Bible for sure. However, it is a surface action. THE Word is not penetrating to the heart. It is not sinking in. It is NOT transforming, cutting through bone and marrow, or causing revivial of the HEART and MIND. Reading and studying, as we often tell our children, does not simply involve looking at the words. It involves a detailed application of the words. It is no different with God's Word. We must be in prayer, underline, take notes, look up words, get definitions, look at the history, and make personal application. We must also invite the Holy Spirit in to further understanding! Oh, God is speaking for sure, but do we have time to understand?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Humbly Submissive

Likewise, you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Proverbs 3:34) Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for YOU. (1 Peter 5:5-6)
Humility . . . What a misunderstood and confused word today. We even "brag" that we humble at times! True humility comes when we can naturally accept others when they succeed. It shows when we can easily submit to those in charge. It is revealed when we are overloooked for positions even though we may be more qualified. It is often revealed or exposed in our prayer life! Teachers and mentors must model this for pur young people. Our youth today are pushed to be the best, and that is not a bad thing, if it is "their" best. Everyone cannot be "the" best. In fact, only One is GOOD, right? Doing our best and celebrating when others are better is praiseworth. Accepting less than we expected is honorable when we have done all we can to succeed. Realizing that my plans were not God's plans is noble and a humbling experience indeed. Practice submission. It is not a bad word! It begins with me!!!!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

The HOLYday Season

Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord.(1 Chronicles 16:8-10)
The season is upon us . . . . It's official! Thanks doesn't end with the Thanksgiving weekend! As a believer, we have much to be thankful for each and every day. While we take time to cherish family and friends and all the wonderful times we have had together, as CHRIST followers, we have so much more of which to be thankful. In fact, it is because of GOD that we have the family, friends, and good times! So let these next few weeks of what many call the holiday season be a HOLYday Season . . . times when when we practice putting God at the top of list each day, thanking Him for all we have, all we are, and all we may be planning to accomplish! Happy HOLYdays everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A LOUD Thanksgiving!

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a LOUD voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered them and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? We're there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner (a Samaritan)? And He said to him,"Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well." (Luke 17:15-19)
Please do not ever be ashamed to let people know how good God really is . . . all the time! He is ALWAYS good! He is good in the everyday things and He is good in those special days. He is good when we are struggling and He is good when things go really wrong. Thank God that in an evil and sick world, there is One that is good . . . God! (Mark 10:18) I want to give a LOUD thanksgiving shout out to all who have been so good to me . . . my wife, family, church family, work family, and ministry friends. Challenges have come and gone this year, but one thing remains faithful . . . the love of God and His people. He has allowed just enough for me to handle and provided all I have needed to get along. God, You have once again demonstrated Your strength and grace to me and I THANK YOU above all!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Talk with "SOUL"

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenanace. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You . . . .(Psalm 42:5-6)
Ever wonder why so many "believers" allow the world to get them so upset . . . so "down" . . . so dejected? We say we know the Living God and that we "blessed and highly favored", yet we find ourselves caught up in the back and forth debating and angry exchanges of the world. We say that "God is on the throne", but we still want what we wish for to occur. What we are lacking today is a little talk with ourselves . . . a sincere talk with a lot of "soul" if you would. If "we are who we say we are", to quote a former NFL coach, then we really have to decide within ourselves how we are going to act. If we are truly Christ followers, then we must stop following this world and its blueprint. . . . Just STOP!!!! Why so upset? Why so down? Why so angry? Hope in GOD . . . Praise GOD . . . Remember Who He is and Whose we are! Get that SOUL up and working . . . and LIVING! There is nothing more disheartening than a people with no SOUL! Be thankful for what we have, where we are, and Who has us!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Do We Really Care?

Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful . . . For the same measure that you use , it be measured back to you. (Luke 6:36-38)
This section of Luke is often misquoted and misunderstood. Clearly, we are to be merciful to others and show grace, because God has shown the ultimate mercy and grace to those of us who choose to believe. He has not punished us for sin, but granted us an eternal relationship with Him! Wow . . . . But as the verses go on, we have to be careful how we talk to others. The verses DO NOT say we are NOT to judge others, but to be careful in that as we point out failures and sin in fellow believers, we are to be sure we are not GUILTY as well. We must check our own life's decisions carefully in order to be a better friend and witness. We need to care more about our friends and family and not give in to this society's casual way of calling people friends!
As believers, we are to CARE. We are to LOVE. We are to be ACCOUNTABLE!

Friday, November 18, 2016

How Do We Talk to God ? Do We Even KNOW Him?

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15)
Do we really KNOW God? I mean, REALLY know God . . . .? If we do, then we should know His will for us. We may not know every detail every minute of the day, but by knowing God and His character, we should be praying more and more for His will to be done and less and less for our own selfish and prideful desires. So what is God's will? Here are a few tings I have come to learn over my years of seeking Him . . . We know He wants all to come to know Him (2 Peter 3:9). We know that He wants every believer to "make disciples" of everyone we come in contact with . . . or at least attempt to do so. (Matthew 28:18-20). We know He desires for us to be "salt and light" in how we live our lives" (Matthew 5:13-16). We actually read from Jabez the kinds of prayer God answers (1 Chronicles 4:10) So as we read and experience how others sought to know God, even observing it in folks today, we too can come closer to knowing Him, serving Him, and pleasing Him. Our prayers will become more of agreements with God than pleas before Him. They will challenge us more and grieve God less. We will thus become more like Him and start accomplishing more of His will here on earth . . . as it is in heaven! (Matthew 6:10)
And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God, must believe that He EXIST and that He rewards those who DILIGENTLY seek Him!(Hebrews 11:6)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thank You!

In EVERYTHING give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you! (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
I know we all go through some tough times now and then. At times it seems like one thing after another. But we have a LOT to be thankful for while we are here. Many times I sit down and make a list of all God has provided me; it causes me to get the focus off of me and place it on God and others. You know what? It makes me feel better! So I sit here less than 24 hours after shoulder surgery and I choose to thank God for: *Life and life in Him to be particular; *My wife, children and grandchildren, and extended family who love me in spite of me; *Mom and dad who did their best; *A church and pastor who hold God's Word as eternal Truth and hold me to it; *A job where people value me as a person and genuinely care; *An education that allows me to work where I can use my gifts and see the daily impact upon young people; *Students and families who are open to the things of God and not afraid to try the things they learn; *Doctors who care about me as a person; *A home,food,two vehicles, and income which allows us to care for our needs; *A mind that allows me to function clearly; *Anyone reading this, and the hope that you too know my God and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I challenge you....make YOUR list......

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A GRACIOUS Heart!

Dedicated to my wife, children, and all the young folks God has led my way . . . for all the blessings He has given to us . . . even in the struggles!
Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name . . .I cried out to You O Lord, and to the Lord I made supplication. . . . Hear , O Lord and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper. . . .O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever. (Psalm 30:4-12)
No matter the circumstance, no matter the trial, no matter the struggle . . . GOD IS GOOD! Everything He allows is for His glory and our good. We may not see it right away, but if we stay focused upon Him and not the circumstance, we will see His hand it all. Even our darkest days can bring the most exciting testimony when all is said and done. Seek His face and His Word. Focus upon the Lord and not the problems. What is it God is doing? How does He want us to react? How can I please Him and keep "me" out of the situation? Praise God! Thank God! Have a GRACIOUS HEART just because He is God and He knows what is best . . . even the struggles!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In or Out of the Body?

He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend. The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, but He overthrows the words of the faithless. . . . Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge. . . so that your trust may be in the Lord . . . make no friendship with an angry man and with a furious man do NOT go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul. (Proverbs 11:11-25)
The "pure" heart is free of contamination. It is not harmful in ANY way. "Grace" is defined a unmerited favor in the CHRISTian realm and as "simple elegance" for a general definition. Either way we define purity and grace, we come up with a heart that is not contaminated or poisoned by this world but rather overflows with elegance and underserved kindness in words and deeds. The more we focus upon God and His Word, the more our heart is shaped into this image and our life reflects it. The more we give in to this world's agenda of entitlement and selfishness, the more we get "lost" in the bitterness, anger, and frustrations of this world. In a society that challenges our very core beliefs, everything we say and do reflects our heart, our beliefs, and our faith (or lack thereof), in a God Who is still Alpha and Omega! One faith, One Lord, One baptism . . . One Body . . . . Are you in or out?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Anticipatory Thanks!

I will give thanks to You, LORD! With all my HEART, I will tell of Your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
The HEART is the center of our body, in general,location and in physical function. Life-sustaining blood flows in and out through the many arteries, veins and capillaries as vital nutrients are carried about the body to various tissues and organs. Cut off one area or another and the entire body can be impacted. As with the physical HEART, the spiritual heart of man is both the center of our being and from it flows our faith. What we believe at the "core" shows in our daily actions. The words we speak, the plans we make, even the thought S we entertain all flow from the beliefs in our heart. A "thankful HEART" anticipates God acting and intervening in our lives and looks for His work to be accomplished. It seeks opportunities to share His blessings and to tell of His goodness. A "thankful HEART" has a "want to" deep inside to praise God and to see others experience Him as well. It builds up inside and overflows to everyone who encounters the HEART! However, if we allow the enemy and those on his squad to cut off or block our appreciation of God, it can cause malfunctions and even spiritual AND physical death. We must be on guard daily to be HEART-healthy each day.
Do we anticipate God's goodness? Are we preparing to thank Him in advance? Can we feel it building up . . .flowing out . . . eager to be shared? Is this attitude "flowing " in and through us?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stop the foolishness

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1Corinthians 15:58)
Do not give in to the cultural pressures. We the Chruch must BE the Church! Do not be moved. Stand! This effort will not go unnoticed nor unrewarded!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A HEALING HEART

Therefore I remind you to STIR UP the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. . . Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That GOOD THING which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (2 Timothy 1:6-14)
Those of us who call ourselves genuine Christ-followers, with the HEART and MIND of Christ, must be assured and reminded to access and use His power in these trying days. While it is easy to get caught up in the bitter debates, angry words, and even violent protests, the HEART of the believer knows to PRAY and SEEK His face. A believer under the control of His Spirit is not FEARFUL nor in doubt that God is indeed still on THE Throne of our lives and this Creation. The POWER we execute is that of His grace and forgiveness. THe LOVE we exhibit should trump the hate we witness on all sides. The MIND with which we plan and act is one of sound doctrine and judgment. Despite the things we witness and read, we need to have the HEART of Christ more than ever. . . . a PRAYERFUL heart for all concerned, especially those in authority on every level of government. We are NOT to encourage riotous activity, slanderous words, or evil plans. The Christ-follower is now called to be a PEACE-MAKER and a HEART-HEALER, not a brawler or one of angry and bitter words.
Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be called SONS OF GOD. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnes' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)
These are not simply words for Matthew's day, but how Jesus laid out the CHRISTian life! Today if we hear His voice, we must NOT harden our HEARTS, but rather usher in the Spirit of PEACE and a HEART of HEALING!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stay Grounded!

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both SURE and STEADFAST, and which enters the PRESENCE behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even JESUS, having become HIGH PRIEST forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:19-20)
Melchizedek, the King of Salem to whom Abraham paid tithes (Genesis 14:20,Hebrews 7:2)had no record of birth or death. Jesus, our King as well as King of Jerusalem, with no beginning or end, is thought by some to be a "theophany"(preincarnate appearance of the Savior). Whether He was or not, the fact remains that Jesus IS our eternal High Priest and eternal Sacrifice, since ripping the veil and becoming our direct access to God's grace and mercy. No matter the world's activities, our FAITH remained solidly entrenched in the promises of God. Winds or change blow through the political realm, economics, and social circles. God remains God!
Now we pray. . . for kings and all who are in authority (1Timothy 2:1-3) . . . politics, community, churches!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

God Shed Your Grace on U.S.

On this day, when many will cast a ballot for President of the greatest nation on this earth, many will do it flippantly and many will even choose not to vote. Christ-follower . . . Whatever YOU do .. . Be sure to do it with biblical guidance and a clear conscience before God. He holds the future in His hands. No policy, no program, no politician can do what God can and will do. We are accountable to God for every decision we will make and this one may just determine the fate of our children and grandchildren! This is NOT just an election. This is not about black or white, male or female, middle class or upper class, democrat or republican . . . this is about in WHOM WE TRUST! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pUVC1vVnXZ8
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His HEART to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose GOD is THE LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance. (Psalm 33:10-12)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Matters of the HEART

For the next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I am focusing myself on the "heart". While it is the center of our bodies, it seems that not simply physically but emotionally and spiritually as well, most of life's issues are centered at "the heart".
The HEART, or "kardia" in Greek, occurs more than one thousand times in the Bible. It is the most common reference to human beings in the Bible!
While man observes the outside, God looks at the heart. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his 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." (1 Samuel 16:7) Even with the best of x-ray machines, imaging, or other modern tools, man will never know the issues of the heart as our Creator. He formed us within our mothers' wombs and knows not only the physical make-up, but also those emotional and spiritual challenges one faces. If heart disease is the leading cause of death today, then as the Maker and Healer of all our heart issues, would it not only be beneficial, but necessary to give our "heart" over to Him?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Health Issues

As we all get older and face mortality, we think more and more about whom and what we leave behind. When doctors tell us of warning signs and medical risks, while we would be smart to heed them, I do place a higher emphasis upon the Holy Spirit and His wisdom and judgment than the doctors. It is not that I do not respect the doctors immense knowledge and experience, I simply trust and depend upon the Lord more! That being said, have we thought about our latter years lately? What if we are told that we face impending health issues? What if the doctors warn of past and or present conditions that could lead to an early departure? The closer our relationship with the Lord, the more confidence we have facing any challenge, in particular our health. Exodus 15:26, Psalm 103:3, Jeremiah 30:17, Deuteronomy 7:15 all speak to the "Healer" Who is God. Asa, sought the medical experts rather than God and died! (2 Chronicles 16:12-13) Ahaziah sought out the god of Ekron and died (2Kings 1:2-4) Doctors do a great work but they in no way compare to the Creator and Sustainer not just of this world, but of you and me. In my mind, when I hear a doctor's prognosis and diagnosis, I take this as a second opinion. I then go to the Lord for His opinion and make a decision from there.
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick . . . . (James 5:14-15)
He is still JEHOVAH-RAPHA . . . The Lord Who heals!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Knowing God. . .

But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. My foot stands in an even place; in the congregations I will bless the Lord. (Psalm 26:11-12)
Integrity is so very important when it comes to faith and trust in God. We can have all the right thoughts and opinions of others, but what we know and what God knows counts. Guilt can kill! It brings on stresss, anxiety and other health problems. Forget about others opinions and your reputation. Focus on INTEGRITY before God. Knowing one is on solid ground with the Lord can lead to greater mental health and peace of mind. Knowing we are one with Christ brings stability in life, despite the chaos around us. Stand tall and stand firm in God's Word. As waves crash and winds blow, keep your feet on solid ground. God has this . . .

Thursday, November 3, 2016

To W(w)hom do we Turn?

Peter is writing to those "pilgrims" who had migrated to Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Today that would be the area of Turkey or Asia Minor as it was known in Peter's day. They no doubt we're going through some very challenging days in the early church.
. . . you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuiness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, Whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith . . .the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
Pastor Rick Warren (Saddleback Church in CA) writes that "We don’t get faith by sitting in a Bible study group or just talking about it. Faith is like a muscle; it develops by being used. The more you use your faith, the more it gets stretched. And the more it gets stretched, the more God is able to bless your life." While no one invites trials or looks forward to tests in life, they are opportunities to glorify God. Rather than choose to grumble, mumble, and stumble, we can turn to our God who knows our needs and desires to show up in our lives for all to see. Though we do not "see" Christ today, He is seen and witnessed in how we the Church handle the things life throws at us. Trials are a real opportunity for us and those unbelieving around us, to really experience His love and His power.
While there are many remediies, cures, and programs to correct things in life, first turning to Jesus draws us closer to Him and increases our trust in Him. If it worked for the early Church it is alright by me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith WILL save the sick and the Lord WILL raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15)
911. . . . Call a doctor! EMERGENCY!!!!! We hear of a bad medical report and we panic. We call around to others. We seek a second or even third opinion. We want to hear good news. Many times we seek the highest rated doctors or the newest cure. How many times do we go directly to THE Doctor? I believe that Jesus Himself can still heal! I believe that, as James instructed above, that prayer still heals as we call upon Him Who created us and sustains us. I first live out my faith in Him and allow Him to give me the prescription. Thank God for doctors and nurses and even medications, but I still count upon Jesus first. He is my first Source of advice and healing.
I await the testimony!!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Outreach or In-House Entertainment?

As the population began to convert to Christianity in the Celtic region (largely due to Patrick) Samhain began to lose popularity. However, rather than eradicating the evil practices, the Church gave it and other holidays a Christian "twist" to bring paganism to Christianity. Costumes now replace disguises and candy has replaced fruit . . . but should CHRIST followers "celebrate"?
Let's look at the root of the holiday . . .
Is there anything uplifting, pure, lovely, or praiseworthy? Is there anything noble or of good report? In other words, does it in any way honor God?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any VIRTUE and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
I know I may sound a bit prudish or rather conservative. I realize we have to reach people where they are. However, many of our activities geared to our "saved" folks need not be geared toward the "lost"! If we are truly doing an outreach, than let's "reach out to the lost" but "disciple" the saved! Meet those who know the Lord with "meat" rather than "milk". Milk is for babies . . . . I am afraid we are becoming the early Church from Patrick's day . . .maybe it's just me?????

Just so You Know

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear  a Son, and shall call His name  Immanuel. (Is...