Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Easy to fit in . . .

“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 its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.(John 15:18-19)
It's so easy to "fit in" today. Simply agree with the popular agenda, or at least do not voice your displeasure too loudly. Go along with the majority, after all, you don't want to make any waves! Don't rock the boat! With all the various issues we are facing as believers, it is easy to simply go about "our" business and slip quietly in and out. We can pray our quiet prayers, read our quiet bible, go to our quiet bible studies, attend our quiet CHRISTian schools and events, and even attend our quiet churches on Sunday. But wait, it's ok to get loud and excited in the church or even at a game. I forgot for a moment! I thought we were to be about our Father's business . . . Just don't get too riled up about Jesus and His Word outside of the church or when we are away from our CHRISTian supporters and friends. If we find ourselves alone or up against a crowd of unbelievers or disbelievers, than we should "fit in." Right???? As one very well known person would say today:"WRONG!!!!" Jesus said it best in the verses above. The world HATED Him! The world MURDERED Him! Why do we think we can quietly slip in and out without anyone noticing? Are we NOT CHRIST followers? Are we hiding in the background as Peter once did? I am afraid that if things are going easy for us and we are fitting in very nicely, thank you very much, that we have some soul searching to do! It's easy to "fit in" but what a challenge to "stand out"! Dr. Seuss had it right: Why fit it when you were born to stand out?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Just a Vapor on a Windy Day . . .

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is life? It is a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting IS evil. (James 4:13-16)
Have you ever seen a vapor, a puff of smoke, even your breath or a cold windy day . . .you see it and then seconds or minutes later, it has disappeared, gone in the wind. It is also much like following a balloon realease: we try to follow the balloon which seems to be going the highest and then . . .it is out of sight. Our life is the same. We may believe that next week is long off. The next ten years seem like an eternity away. Yet in God's eyes, the ETERNAL and EVER-LIVING God, life is timeless. Today is simply a puff of smoke. Our lifetime, be it 50, 60, 70, even 100 years is nothing compared to eternity! He holds time in His hands! So in our planning, be sure to include God. God, if you will, may I graduate high school? Lord, if You see fit, may we have a great family vacation this summer? Or perhaps even more relevant, Lord, is it possible to have a little snow today . . .maybe even a delay of an entire day off? You get the picture. To not include God in our plans is really just sinful. After all, He created us and He controls us and everything around us. We are simply a vapor on a windy day compared to eternity, yet to God, we are so precious! Let's remember to keep Him precious as well. He is after all . . .still God!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Just ASK!

I simply LOVE working with teens today. As challenging as they can be, they have so many questions and I know Who has all the answers . . .God. Now if, if they will only trust HIM!!!!!
If any of YOU lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him as in FAITH, with NO doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a DOUBLE-MINDED man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-7)
Trust me young people, God wants you to know the Truth and to trust Him with your lives. . .I do as well!!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Getting Ready

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.(Romans 13:11-14)
If Paul would be encouraging and admonishing folks to prepare for Christ's return some 2,000 years ago, should we not be ready now? How caught up are we in this world? How CHRIST-like are we? How hard do we have to look in society to see "the Day" coming? Beware...Be encouraged...Be prepared! He IS returning and soon!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Not About ME!!!

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that YOU, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Many times, as we go through life's challenges, we may feel as though we are the only ones suffering. Yet as we observe the world, we see quite the opposite . . .we have it pretty good, even in our worst struggles! God will not only supply our needs when we are indeed in need, but will also encourage and supply us to think of others . . .even in the midst of our need. As we focus on others, God takes care of us as well. We always have something to give, even if it just a smile, five minutes of our time, or a simple conversation. As we remove the focus off our troubles and seek others to help, our problems seem to lessen. This is God at work!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Convicting Look in the Mirror

Therefore, as the elect of God, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering,; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against one another; even as Christ forgave you, so you MUST do. But above all these, PUT ON LOVE . . . . (Colossians 3:12-14)
What a challenge we as believers face these days! Everyone criticizing everyone. Everyone jumping on one bandwagon on another and choosing sides. Well, as a CHRIST follower, we have only one side . . .one choice; The side of the God of the Bible! We MUST be forgiving, patient, kind, loving, humble, meek. We CANNOT be critical and condemning. We MUST grant forgiveness and second chances as God does for each of His children. As I take a look in the mirror, I am convinced that with all the grace God has afforded me, I need to stop getting caught up in the back and forth of life and simply be more like Jesus!

Monday, January 23, 2017

What are We Showing the World?

You therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you not steal? . . . For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you (Isaiah 52:5), as it is written. (Romans 2:21-24)
Paul is admonishing the Jewish people, especially the leaders, who are teaching and preaching God's Word yet living contrary to it. He lets them know that simply being a Jew and being circumcised is nothing to God under this New Covenant. God looks at a man's heart and actions, not his ethnicity. God is not concerned with our family name, public rituals, or church membership. He demands obedience! Today, we have so many churches and so many preachers . . .on every corner and every TV station, yet our society is crumbling. God is calling us to "live" like CHRISTians, not just say we are . Are we too guilty of blaspheming His name among the non-believers? We must be careful not only what we say, but where we go and with whom we hang out. Character still counts!

Friday, January 20, 2017

I Hear You Lord!

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake . . . For this is the will of God, that by doing good, you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men . . . as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bond servants of God. Honor ALL people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. HONOR the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.( 1 Peter 2:13-18)
Ok . . .I hear You Lord. But man, this can really be tough at times! In a world where our politicians and other authorities are not only unethical but even illegal at times, this is a very tough choice. However, obedience is always a tough choice if you think about it. Look at Dr. King. Look to Jesus. So in these turbulent times, choose obedience over what may be socially acceptable. Even in disagreement, we can be obedient and respectful . . .to God and authorities here on earth.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Kingdom Agenda

So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, "Do business until I come."(Luke 19:13)
The master left three months wages for his workers and instructed them to work . . . They were to take care of the master's business while he was away. We too are to be busy. . . .not necessarily making money, but doing Kingdom work! We cannot get caught up in useless "agendas" of the day. Jesus intentionally and purposefully addressed specific causes in His day . . . lepers, tax collectors, Pharisees, the blind, the poor, the hungry, the hurting . . .yes, even we the Gentiles! Injustice mattered to Jesus and it should matter to believers today. We cannot simply sit idly by, attend church on SONday, and allow things to happen all around us. We cannot simply wait around for Jesus' return either. He tells us to "occupy" until He comes! We are not motivated by politics or social agendas, but by the love of God within us! Upon Christ's return, He will restore all things and execute perfect justice for all. However, until He does, we as believers are to express God's love and justice by showing mercy and kindness to everyone we encounter!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Agape EVERYONE

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute youthat you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect(Matthew 5:43-48).
In 1957 Dr. King gave a sermon using these verses. He reminded folks then and reminds us today; we have to LOVE even our enemies, yet we do not have to LIKE them! We may not LIKE what they say or what they do. We must, however, LOVE everyone. We must LOVE even our enemies and pray for them . . .even do good to them with the hope of winning them for Christ. We may have the opportunity to defeat the enemy, yet we must WIN the enemy . . .for JESUS' sake!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Justice . . .Just Us and God!

But let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. (Amos 5:24)
From Old Testament to New, from the oppressed people of God to those denied freedoms years ago in our Nation up until today . . .God's message is clear: He knows, He cares, and He will have victory! We as a people of God must stand up for justice but in a way that is God-honoring. We must be careful not to fall in line with what is culturally popular or socially acceptable and rely upon His Word and His character.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
I thank God for the life and legacy of Dr. King. Despite the times, his legacy lives on and God's Word still rules and over-rules. Character still counts with God and must count with His people. We must march on as a Body!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wonderful Rains . . .

But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields. (Job 5:8-19)
Job thought rain was such a wonderful and magical thing! We tend to dislike it, unless we are drought-stricken farmers or thirsty families in a remote village. Crops need to grow and children need to be fed with a supply of water from God alone! It is amazing how the Lord picks up billions of pounds of water, removes dangerous salts and chemicals, and gently allows it to fall upon the earth to supply our needs. It only makes us stand in even more awe when we receive the violent storms now and then. Just how and why does God allow a little or a lot? Only God . . . So cherish the rains. Enjoy the snows. And yes....bask in the sunshine! Even through the storms, know God is in control and doing wonderful things!!!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Safe in the Valley

Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. (Luke 21:21)
Like being nestled safely in the mountains, protected from severe winds and storms, so it is with God. We can run to Him for protection...comfort...strength. One day all will run to the hills in fear. However, to be eternally secure one must run to the Lord NOW! Safe in the valley...surrounded by THE Mountain!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Safe in the Valley...Surrounded by Mountains

For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.(Isaiah 54:10) Sitting here and seeing the vast array of mountains around me, this verse simply surrounds me with peace! God's love is simply unshakeable and unending. It goes on and on around me. Yet I must be focused deep in the valley to really experience it. We think of valleys as pits or down periods in life. However, they can also be times of peace and being surrounded and protected by His love. Here in this valley, I see His greatness and I ask Him to allow me to stay focused upon that...even if I have a mountain top experience. In the end, it's all God anyway!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ahhhh...the mountains!

Those who trust in the Lord Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, So the Lord surrounds His people From this time forth and forever.(Psalm 125:1-2) Respite. ..Rest...Relaxation. ..Revival!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Underdog . . .Three Days Later!

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galile: The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again? Then they remembered His words . . . (Luke 24:5-8)
Sometimes, the UNDERDOG wins! Just like in sports, the game is NOT over until it is over. Things may look a bit gloomy for a while, but we play the entire game until the whistle blows or the horn sounds. In sports, many times the best team is only on paper. As we read the names on the roster, we can't possibly see how a team can be defeated. Then the game plays out and the game is just about over with that very team with the lead. Yet something happens within the trailing team . . . with one last gasp victory is snatched away from the jaws of defeat! Jesus had seemingly been defeated. He was murdered upon the cross. He was sealed up by the Roman guard in a burial cave. It had been since Friday evening and it was now Sunday morning . . .soon to be SONday morning! As the women went to mourn and prepare a body for burial, they found VICTORY in the form of an angel . . ."HE IS RISEN!!!!" Are you feeling a bit defeated at times? Do you sense the enemy has the upper hand? Is time running our in your spiritual life? Never give up . . .while we yet breathe there is HOPE . . .there is VICTORY . . .there is the UNDERDOG . . .there is JESUS!!!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Embrace the Cold

From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds of the north. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen. . . . Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God . . .(Job 37:9-14)
We shiver when just hearing the forecast; cold, windy, chance of snow with temperatures in the single digits! We shudder when we look outside and see the icicles forming by our windows and hear the howling of the winds. Yet we also witness the beauty of it all; crisp, clear air, a blanket of fresh snow covering the ground, and a stillness . . . As we go through life we learn to appreciate the seasons, but also the various aspects of God's character. This time of winter let's come to appreciate His cleansing grace and His breath of fresh mercies upon our lives. Even as we look forward to the warm summer breezes, we can still appreciate the clean, crisp winter bite. God is awesome no matter the season! He does not change. Winter, summer, spring or fall, He is still the One Creator of all!!!! He is still GOD . . .

Friday, January 6, 2017

Refreshing Snow

Like the cold of snow in time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters. (Proverbs 25:13)
Snow refreshes the atmosphere. It cleans the air and we can "smell" the freshness in the air. One who is faithful pleases those who have taught or trained him. Teachers are proud of students who remain faithful to their lessons learned. Parents beam at children who are respected and successful in life. Employers tend to use those they can trust to represent the company with pride and respect. Even the Bible tells us the God will reward the faithful servant (Matthew 25:23). The cold of snow is definitely a refreshing feeling. Let's please God and others this day by being a refreshing, FAITHFUL servant!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Still GOD . . . ALWAYS will be!

Be diligent to,present yourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. But shun profane and idle babbling, for they will increase to MORE ungodliness. And their message will spread like CANCER. ( 2 Timothy 2:15-17)
WARNING!!!!! God's Word DOES NOT CHANGE with the times. It is still HIS Word and still TRUE! From Genesis to Revelation, His Word is TRUE and He is STILL God. I can't state this any clearer than that . . .today more than ever!!!!
AMEN!!!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Vital Signs

A psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah, . . . O God, You are my God; I earnestly seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)
Wow . . .what an image! Like one seeking water in a dry and arid land . . .cracked soil . . .hot blazing sun . . .mouth so dry your tongue is sticking to the the roof of your mouth . . .vultures flying overhead awaiting your death. All vital signs are perishing quickly . . . This is what it looks like to really seek the Lord! He should be "vital" to our very living. He is our very breath. He is the nourishment we need daily. Without Him we cannot survive! He should make our heart beat and our blood flow! Is this how we feel? What must we do to change? What possibly could we desire more?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Eternal Hope in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefined and that does NOT fade away, reserved in heaven for you . . . (1 Peter 1:3-4)
Thank God that Jesus gives fresh starts! No matter where we have been or how badly we may have failed, Jesus is waiting with open arms to reassure His children, "It's ok . . .I am here for you!" Whether it's the first time of asking Jesus to forgive our sins or the umpteenth time, He is there ready and waiting to offer grace and an fresh start. This is so reassuring for me because I blow it so often! It's not that I do not want to honor Christ and do all He has for me to do. It's just that I fail so often. Yet He gives me hope in His promises. (1 John 1:9) His promise of forgiveness and new life encourages me to move past my failures and to strive even harder to please Him by serving others. Each night I must admit I am somewhat disappointed that I did not do more for Jesus. Yet He encourages me . . .there is tomorrow . . . there is today . . there is eternity!!! Live today like it is the LAST day of our lives here on this side of heaven. If we blow it, then there is tomorrow! Be encouraged . . .

Monday, January 2, 2017

Attainable Goals . . .This takes TIME

But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:5-6)
New year resolutions are often made one day and forgotten just days later. We set unrealistic goals and desires which we could never achieve. Rather, set attainable goals, . . .goals we can reach incrementally. Day by day and week by week we can see progress, or even back up a bit. My desire for the new year is to become more like Christ. I want to spend more time with Him so I can get a better understanding of Who He is and who He wants me to be. I believe if I am with Jesus more, He will rub off a bit more on me. . . much like what happens with our friends and family anyway! As John wrote above, I want walk as He walked in how He spoke, how He treated others, and how He honored our Father daily! This will take TIME . . . .

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! ” ...