Friday, March 31, 2017

Use It or LOSE IT ...... Got Jesus?

“Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine. For everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:21-25‬ ‭(Mark 4:21-25)NLT‬‬ http://bible.com/116/mrk.4.21-25.nlt
Who would hide the fact that just met the most wonderful person in the world and that they will be married? Why would someone not tell everyone about a great time they just experienced? Why are we quiet about our Savior? Why are we afraid to tell others? Why won't we pursue Him even more? Why be satisfied with just a little bit of a good thing? We all have heard it said that if you don't use it, you will lose it. That goes for muscle, talent, and most everything in life. While the Bible tells us we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), we must be SURE of our relationship with Christ. Do not take it lightly. Are YOU sure? Then WHAT are you hiding and WHY?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Finishing well

And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)
Many times we will go places where we know there will be trouble. There will be challenges. We will face battles. Yet like with Paul, we must go! We must complete the task before us. God has made each one of us unique to carry out unique tasks in life. Seek His will and then boldly carry it out. Everyone will not understand at times, but knowing we are doing what God has required will be the only assurance we will need. Finishing well is important. It is critical in our relationship with the Lord. We are here, after all, for God's glory and His will, not for ourselves!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Misunderstood?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:15-17)
Never be ashamed of the "haters"! What can they possibly do to you? Can anyone keep us from the love of God? That should be our only fear!(Romans 8:35) After all, not everyone will understand our relationship with the Lord because it is "our" relationship! However, Peter reminds us to be prepared to share Christ with everyone with meekness (power under control) and fear (respect to God and people). It is hoped that even if they poke fun at us, they will come to understand our commitment and we will earn their respect even if they do not choose to come to know Christ for themselves. It is always better to suffer for doing good than evil! God knows our struggles!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Give us THIS day . . .

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
God will humble us now and then. As He did His people in the desert, He will humble us in order for us to realize we must depend upon Him. We will do without at times. We SHOULD do without at times. When we can no longer provide for ourselves . . . when the world no longer satisfies our every need . . . then we realize Who it is Who really provides.
He alone is God!
Jesus used this verse to counteract Satan when He was tempted. As we Fast this Lenten Season, let us remember it is God and He alone Who gives us our daily bread!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Humbled

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.(Psalm 51:10-12)
As part of my most challenging chapters of Scripture, I can't think of a better reminder at Lent: Create afresh in me O Lord. Renew and refresh me by Your Spirit! How often I take advantage of the mercies God grants to me. How many times I abuse the grace. Daily I seek His forgiveness without much thought to how I have grieved Him.
Thank you Father for thinking of me at the cross. Thank you for giving me another chance. Help me Holy Spririt to be reminded daily of how small I am in Your sight yet how much You think of me. Humble me to be used by You for Your glory and for Your purposes!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trust and Obey . . . . No Other Way!

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”(Mark 2:5-12)
Today we get a simple reminder from Mark: Jesus HEALS! I love the reaction off the one who was healed as well. He was told to get up and go home by Jesus and he did as he was told . . ."immediately"! What a reminder for you and me. When Jesus tells us something(when we read it in the Bible or are taught it) we need to obey immediately! No hesitation . . . no questioning. . . . no doubting. Trust God at His Word. Reflect on that today!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Here Comes the Groom!

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:1-3)
Lent . . . What a time to retreat spiritually and focus upon the coming off our Savior. Not the first coming as Mark was referring to as John the Baptist was calling out for his disciples to "prepare", but rather the Second Coming! As John was preparing the way for Christ to assume His role of ministry, so too are we to prepare and be ready for His Coming. Is it not true that Jesus could in fact be on the way? Are we prepared to meet Him, here on earth or in heaven? Are our family and friends? It's time to straighten our crooked paths and prepare our hearts not only to celebrate His resurrection and ours, but to be sure others know as well. WE are His messengers today!!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

TRUST GOD!

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
Trust God! Two simple words but if we, if I, can only really come to TRUST GOD with our circumstances, things would be much better! Our circumstances and the world around us may seem to be in a constant state of confusion and the Lord may even change the way He chooses to deal with man throughout time. However, God's character remains consistent. So when Scripture tells us that God is faithful, we can TRUST GOD with that promise! So put on that armor today. Sharpen the sword. Do battle! But allow God to lead!!!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In His Presence

I copied this directly from my morning Lenten devotional this morning. Why? . . . . because God knew I needed these words! Is it not so very precious that our God and Savior knows exactly how to comfort and stregthen us exactly when and how we need it? I had already selected "my" verses for the day, but as I read my daily reminders, I heard from my Daddy! Bless God indeed! I am so humbled by His mercy and grace . . . by His lovingkindness and awesome timing. He indeed knows me and what I need when I need it. I cannot thank Him enough. I will BLESS THE LORD AT ALL TIMES!!!!
Psalm 34 (NKJV) The Happiness of Those Who Trust in God A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. 34 I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel[a] of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. 20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. 22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Give It Up!

Then one poorer widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrants. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12:43-44)
Two "mites". . . a "quadrant" . . . the smallest of copper coins in Roman money, which was equal to a half-penny of our money today! Why would Jesus say she gave more than the rich folks who put so much more in the treasury? We like to go back and forth about tithing, yet here in this exchange with His disciples, Jesus basically said until we give all we have and totally trust Him , we have really given nothing. No, He doesn't say we have to give away all we have, but we must give ourselves to Him!(Matthew 19:21) Like the rich young ruler, until we get our priorities straight, we will be lost, "sad", and "sorrowful". Living a life dedicated to Christ will bring nothing less than inner joy, peace, and satisfaction in knowing that God is pleased. That alone will allow one to get a good night's sleep!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Woe!

WOE . . . Wait just a minute! This was the warning from Jesus to the Pharisees and leaders of the Temple in His day. He warned His folowers:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do NOT do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. . . . But all their works they do to be seen by men. . . . But WOE to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!(Matthew 23:2-13)
Do we teach, preach and tell others how the Bible instructs us yet we do not follow our own beliefs and teaching? Do we say " Do as I say, not as I do"? Woe to you and me as well! Young people learn more by example than by instruction. That's been my experience as a coach, teacher, and mentor for the past thirty-five years or so. During this Lenten Season, let's give up the phoniness and live a life of "example". Perhaps it will rub off for the entire year!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Patrick stood upon Christ and His desire to save the lost. His desire led him back to Ireland to share CHRIST. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness . . . (Ephesians 6:14) As we celebrate a "legend" and a culture, let's celebrate for the right reasons . . . Lent is the perfect time to celebrate and rededicate to winning lost souls! Wear green as a reminder to "go" and seek and save the lost!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Giving Up . . . .Control!

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.(1Corinthians 9:24-27)
Human appetites, in themselves, are not sinful. In fact, they're God-given. However, because of our fleshly weaknesses, they need to be controlled. When our appetites rule us, we're in trouble. Paul likened the Christian life to that of athletes who are so focused on winning the race that they exercise self-control in every area of their lives. We cannot control our appetites without help. It is human nature to over indulge. We know the entire bag of chips is not to be eaten within 30 minutes, yet we somehow finish it during one TV show. We know how much is too much, yet we have another helping of mac and cheese or a third dip of that favorite ice cream. However, the Helper, the Counselor, the Paraclete (the One Who comes alongside us) is here to help us maintain focus and in some cases common sense. He can also help in other areas of self-control. Fasting is a great way to practice spiritual discipline over our desires. It is a great way to learn to give over control to God the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged . . . Today is day 16!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Have you met THE Rock?

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22) Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder. (Luke 20:17-18)
As Jesus taught in the Temple, the chief priests and scribes, even the elders, began to question His authority. He spoke in parables, so those who did not "know" Him were confounded. Once Jesus made it clear, they began to put a plan to do away with Jesus. Yet they feared the amount of people who were now following Him. Have you "fallen upon" the Rock? Have you repented of your sinful lifestyle and asked for His mercy and grace? If we do not seek Him now, while there is still time, we will eventually be crushed into powder when facing the Judgment! What better time to review our state before the King of kings than this time of Lent!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A 100% Chance of CHANGE!

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Nothing should come as totally unexpected with a seasoned believer. After all, in this world, we should expect the unexpected. Just look at today's weather: Just a day ago we expected at least ten inches of snow. Yesterday they said perhaps five inches or so. This morning we woke up to an inch or two of snow and sleet and freezing drizzle. Go figure! It is the same with the people and activities of this world. THe bible is full of rich prophecies and excellent guidance as to today and tomorrow! The more we study, the more prepared we are to handle not only the unexpected, but especially the disastrous. Be sure to represent God well in every circumstance . . . in good times and bad . . . in the everyday and in the not so everyday. God is still in control and His Word is True and will come true! Trust Him!!!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Can You Handle the TRUTH?

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
""What is truth?" (John 18:38) Pilate asked Jesus this during His final days on earth. It is still the same question many ask today. The problem is that when they are faced with the TRUTH of the Bible, they reject it. It does not "fit" into their lifestyle or the choices they have made. It is not comfortable. Well my friend, TRUTH cannot be what we want it to be. There is one YRUTH. When it bumps up against my desires or plans, I must choose to accept His Word or my own opinion. I have come to learn that His way is the best and only way to true freedom and peace in this world. What about you?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Solitary Life

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place;and there He prayed. (Mark1:35)
As I grow older, I have come to realize how solitary the CHRISTian life can and maybe should be. (Luke 14:25-33) The closer I draw to Christ the more I find myself alone . . . in my beliefs, my choices, and my desires. The more I find myself singled out or neglected, as crazy as it may seem, the more comfortable I feel. However, this is a challenge when God calls me to spread His Truths. It is definitely a challenge to be called to teach and disciple yet the more I do, the more it seems others are repelled. I am challenged more and more. I am even attacked on a subtle level level. Friends and family withdraw, ignore, and even "forget". My flesh tells me to simply draw back and go to the caves as David did. Yet I am reminded to simply depart to that solitary place daily, some days often, to be renewed, encouraged, and energized to press on. While my love and understanding of my Savior and His Word grows deeper, I realize it comes with a price.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Cleaning House

Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves?"(Mark 11:17)
Jesus had just cleaned out His Father's house . . . His house. People were getting cheated in the house of God. Folks could not even give a worthy sacrifice because they were being swindled before they could even purchase a sacrifice. They were not getting an even exchange for their currency. What a time to examine our "house"! Today, it's more like we are cheating God! He is giving us His all everyday, yet we come into His house and offer minimal praise, a "tip" of an offering, and hardly any effort in labor. What would Jesus do if He walked into our homes and churches today? Would He turn it upside down?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I hear "VOICES"!

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. . . .(Romans 12:3-9)
Words of advice from a wise sage, Pastor Charles Stanley this morning . . . "Are you letting the Lord use His character-shaping tools in your life? Our culture has no shortage of worldly voices and pressures that fill minds and influence behavior. Only when we intentionally schedule time for God, His Word, and His people can Christ do His transforming work in our lives." God places us in certain places and places people in certain positions in our lives for us to be groomed and shaped through His Word and examples. If we refuse to allow God to use these people and situations to shape us, we are being stiff-necked and stubborn, telling God , if you would, that we do not need His sharpening. While we may listen to the voices of Oprah, Dr. Phil, or some other Hollywood mogul, it is God we need to hear from. With so many voices, are we able to discern God's? During this season of Lent, please take time to hear from God!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Once and Future King

"Hosanna! Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!" (John 12:13)
"Hosanna". . . .an exclamation of praise in the Jewish festivals . . .Lord save us! (see Psalm 118:25). Those who saw Jesus as He entered Jerusalem hailed Him as God's anointed One from the house of David . . . the Messiah they had been longing for all these years. However, they did not anticipated the kind of King He would be; a suffering and sacrificial King indeed. Whom do we look for today? Is it a Savior to rid us of financial woes? Is it a Savior Who will fix all of our wrongs and provide us with a happy life? Is He Messiah, the Promised One, the Coming King, Who saves us from sin and invites us into a personal and eternal relationship with Him? Are we not much like then Jews and see Jesus as the "fix" to all of our ills? This Lenten Season, may we be reunited with the true Messiah and not the one the world offers. He is not a bail out loan nor a bank buy off. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual and future Kingdom. Let's not get it twisted? But He is coming . . . .

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Trumpet Call

Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound am alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for,the day of the Lord IS coming, for it IS at hand . . . (Joel 2:1)
The prophet is calling God's people to repent as they will go through a serious desolation from locusts and caterpillars. Joel calls them to return to God and repent . . . to fast and pray . . . to seek God's mercy. God answers our sincere call for His mercy. He honors heart-felt repentance. Our best weapon against evil is prayer. Our best weapon to avoid judgment is repentance. As the trumpet was sounded, the people were warned of coming judgment. We too have been warned. We too must respond. Are we provoking God or seeking His face for forgiveness? What a time to reflect and repent . . .draw closer to God!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Did Jesus Fast?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." (Matthew 4:1-3)
So why do we even have Lent? Is is a celebration? Is it time for simply giving up so we can go right back to something forty days later? Why after all, did Jesus fast? Was it for Himself, for us, or for Satan to try once again to thwart His plans for our salvation? As we progress through the Lenten Season,let's focus upon "why" we do things and not simply doing them to do them!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Be Encouraged...Don't Back Down!

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 the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the Gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a Holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in ChristJesus before time began . . . .for this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:6-12)
Never be ashamed of your faith. Don't ever allow anyone to put you down or make you feel badly because you name the name of Jesus! People need to "see" and hear Jesus more than ever today . . . especially among the young people. It will not always be easy as Paul wrote to Timothy, but understand that you are NOT alone! We all go through the ridicule and whispers.
Be strong and of good courage . . the Lord YOUR God is with you wherever you go!(Joshua 1:9)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's About Time!

Honor all people. Love the BROTHERHOOD. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:17)
Peter reminds us that we are to love ALL people. In His day the Roman government did not value all human life as equal. There were 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Yet Peter reminded the reader that ALL were created in the image of God! Everyone should be respected, even if they do not respect you or me! However, Peter calls believers to have a special love. How we treat one another is a symbol to the world. Our relationships should be so strong and deep that the world will want it for themselves! They should want to be a part of our "family". How we act as individuals reflects upon us all. Peter goes on the call us accountable to "fear" God . . .to hold God and all He is and requires in high regard, above all other things. God must be first. If the world sees us regarding God casually, than we have lost our witness. Finally, he reminds us to honor the king and all in authority. Just listen to our public airawaves, watch the news, view social media: the space is filled with ridicule, disdain, and utter disrespect for those in authority. This is no different in our CHRISTian circles either! While we are not to condone nor ignore their evil, we DO NOT have a license to speak out or act ungodly. One BODY, one SPIRIT, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one GOD and FATHER of us all (Ephesians 4:4-6). . . . It is about time that we live like we KNOW!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ashes to Ashes . . .

So then, each of us shall give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
Ashes to ashes and dust to dust . . . .So what is Ash Wednesday anyway. We will see many people today with a black cross across their foreheads. What exactly is that? Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season for Christ-followers around the world. Some carry the mark of the cross. Others go to even more extremes during the next forty days . . . some covered in ash and sack cloth . . .some to even hang upon a cross for a short time. However, this time of Lent is not mentioned in the Bible. It was conceived from secular celebrations for the Christian as a time to prepare for the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. For some it is a time of self-denial. For others it is a time of giving to those less fortunate. For most, it is time of renewed communion with God and recommitment to His Word. No matter the actions we take, we indeed should be taking time to be more reflective upon our sinful condition before a holy God! As we take a spiritual look in the mirror, we see how ragged we are and how holy and perfect God is. So these next forty days should be a challenge for us all, no matter the steps we may take, to repent, to pray, to sacrifice, and to renew our faith. After all, He is coming back and we want to be ready!
Where do you stand before a HOLY, PERFECT, and ALL-POWERFUL God?

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! ” ...