Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fair -Weather Fans Beware!

Loyalty is not simply a commitment to folks and things when it is all great. It is sticking with people, causes, and projects even when things might not be going so well. When a friend falls, we do not abandon them, but we are there to pick them up and help them back on their path. When plans and projects seem to be weakening, we don't simply bail out for something more popular, but we dig deep to see how we can rescue the cause and perhaps strengthen the plans. Look at the example God set forth for us:
But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that yet while we were still SINNERS, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
It is popular to abandon ship when things seem down and out. Bandwagons are full of fair weather fans. Judas thought the Sanhedrin had it right. People rejected a future president from Illinois once as he ran for Senate. Jesus thought you and I were to die for! I prefer to see things through. While all projects won't succeed, one can learn through failure . . . many times much more than through successes. Look at what God has accomplished through sinners like you and me! Fair-weather fans beware . . . the sun (SON)is always shining somewhere!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Keeping the faith . . .

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.(2 Timothy 4:7-8)
It is the end of school . . . Graduations from kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school, colleges and universities. Many have worked hard and put in countless hours of reading, studying, application, and more. Teachers have prepared lessons and exams. Grades are in and certificates, diplomas and degrees will be granted.
BUT FOR WHAT?
What is all the time going to accomplish? What will all the sacrifice bring? Has all the energy and dedication been beneficial and to whom? Paul directs us in the passages he wrote to Timothy not to focus on our achievents for our own gain, but for the glory of God! In all of our educational efforts, have we kept the FAITH? Have we compromised our beliefs for the sake of worldly success? Have we put our faith on the shelf to meet the goals of the world? So as we celebrate achievement, let's focus on what God requires has prepared for us. There is indeed another assembly on the horizon for each of us, but there will be no crowd . . . simply a face to face with the "righteous Judge".

Friday, May 26, 2017

Without Excuse

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith." For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.(Romans 1:16-22)
This is just a simple but challenging reminder that no matter where we find ourselves . . .no matter how much it costs in dollars or reputation . . .no matter who sees or does not see . . . We MUST stand for the things of Christ. While reputation is important, INTEGRITY remains constant. It is what God knows about us that matters!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Diligent Anticipation

And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.(Luke 15:20)
Compassion, yet still sticking to God's principles . . . The prodigal "father" did not accept any kind of behavior in his home. His son desired the things of the world and he allowed him to leave his home. He prayerfully anticipated his return, looking for him to return. When the son returned, the father ran and met him along the way. The son repented of the sin he had committed against God and His father and they were reunited. What an example. If we are to serve the Lord within our homes, we must never compromise God's principles, yet also be as compassionate as we can be to allow the repentant to return, as God does us. Hard as it may be, God will reward the diligence. He knows the struggles parents!We must think in "eternity terms".

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

STANDING . . .

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore,“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.(Romans 12:14-21)
If these words were read at a political speech, at a rally in downtown D.C., or a college or high school graduation today, there would be more than a few shaking heads and angry tweets! "Don't curse"? "Bless those that hurt us"? "Help those that hurt me"? "Oh, I got that "help" alright!!!!" Let's face it, living by THE Book is not quite like living by the books, the TV, or social media today. If we do, we are in the minority and not a part of any popular group. We find ourselves alone and many times on the defensive. . . and that is JUST how it is supposed to be!!! We as CHRIST-followers are NOT of this world. To truly be "blessed" (Matthew 5:1-16), we are called to be different. It was not meant to be easy to walk as a believer in the Messiah. It was not easy for Him as you might recall. He was murdered unjustly for doing the right thing! We must die every day to this world as we live for Him and His purposes. The world needs to see something different, not CHRISTians attempting to "fit in". We are the "called out" ones (1 Peter 2:9-12). . . "called out" of political parties, cultural movements, popular protests, mass movements, and mob rules. We are called to stand for Christ and His principles; even as we STAND alone.
So where do we STAND today and for WHOM?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It is the SOUL that Matters

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”(John 4:10-14)
The Samaritan women wanted to know why this Jew was asking her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. Jews did not deal with Samaritans, especially a Samaritan woman! However, that did not matter to Jesus. He was not interested in her ethnicity, gender, or culture, but rather her SOUL! We are created in the image and likeness of God . . . everyone of us. While God has instilled certain characteristics in each of us based upon our family background, history, culture, ethnicity and experience, we are still very much alike in our needs and wants. We all want to be loved, appreciated and valued. We all want to know we make a difference. We all want to matter to someone. Jesus showed His disciples and us that the Samaritan's SOUL mattered to Him. She needed love . . .geneuine love . . . agape love . . . the kind of love only the Spirit of God can give. We as believers possess that love in the person of the Holy Spirit. Pray that we will allow Him to move and breathe in us so every SOUL matters to us as well . . . whether it is those like us or those in our "Samaria"!

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Boring Because of ME!

So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God . . . (Haggai 1:14)
Many say "church" bores them. Many say they are not excited to go to church, to gather as a Body to pray, or to attend a conference or retreat to enhance their walk with Christ and relationships with one another. I must admit, I too have said "I am bored" at times. Bored with the "same old stuff" Sunday after SONday . . . .
Yet is it God's fault? Is it the leaders' fault? Maybe the fault lies with me! Of course it does!!!!
When this occurs, you and I need to pray for the Holy Spirit to stir up the enthusiasm once again that we had for God in days and years past. It's time to stop worrying about ourselves and to focus on the things of God . . . His work . . . His people . . . His agenda. Like in the days of Haggai, it must come from God. We must stop looking within ourselves and within the world to find excitement and pleasure. People will let us down. Programs will fall short. The child of God can only find satisfaction in the things of God! It's time to have God the Holy Spirit "rebuild" our enthusiasm.

Friday, May 19, 2017

On Assignment

. . .for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.(Ephesians 6:20)
An AMBASSADOR is an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country. As CHRIST-followers, we instantly become AMBASSADORS for Him as we go through life. People expect us to act a certain way, unlike others, because we are from God, not of this country or this world. Much like the fanfare we would see when our President travels from one nation to another or when a foreign dignitary such as Lady Diana would visit the U.S., folks line up to get a glimpse or hear from the person. So why do we not find ourselves responsible for the things we say and do? How is it we can join in with the ignorance of a culture or partner with the public displays of disrespect and contempt? Do we not realize the world is watching? Do we not realize we are representing CHRIST in everything we do and say? (Colossians 3:23) That Facebook comment posted . . . that Instgram share . . . that email copied and pasted . . . that Snapchat photo passed along . . . All opportunities to shine for Christ or bring Him shame. We are IN this world but not OF this world. Respect the position we are placed in as believers in the only Holy and True God. We live in a foreign culture and represent a Holy God. He and the world expect better from us!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Properly Suited and Prepared

While many today wear "compression gear" for muscle warmth and protection (so they say), I myself refer to those of us in the past who needed no "tights" to play sports. We had no overpriced underwear to make us better or more fit for battle, just the basic jock strap and tube socks! But I digress . . . .
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness. . . (Ephesians 6:14)
Today it is about what is at our core . . . What is protecting the TRUTH that has been placed inside our souls? God's entire Word is TRUTH and nothing can change that. (Psalm 119:160) The world's philosophy cannot change it. Cultural change can not rearrange it. Ethnic traditions cannot rewrite it. God and His Word have been such before anything else was! The Roman soldier "girded" himself with the sturdy leather belt (of truth) and covered his chest with a metal plate (of righteousness). These tools of war enabled the soldier to quickly and successfully maneuver in battle. Paul refers us to these pieces of armor so we too may be prepared and successful in the spiritual battles we WILL face daily. While some pledge to "defend this house", we pledge to defend the faith. God desires for some good soldiers ready to fight. Are we girded properly?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Unopened Gifts

Have you ever received a special gift from a special someone yet refused to open the gift? Now does that make sense? Who is happy over that? The one giving the gift is hurt and confused and the one receiving the gift never knows the excitement and enjoyment the gift can bring!
And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.(2 Kings 6:17)
Many times the gifts of God are right before us yet we will not open our eyes to see . . . to experience . . . to enjoy what He has supplied. God supplies so much to us yet we many times would rather go at life on our own using old broken tools when He has so many more effective weapons for us to use. Take the time to really experience God today. Look beyond the natural. Look inside the box if you would. Open the gift. Enjoy the experience!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fact-Filled Faith

Faith in God is faith in TRUTH! We can face each day in a world full of lies because we know the truth . . . We know TRUTH. We know TRUTH even more deeply by spending time in His Word and then trusting what He has to say. Faith in anything less than God's TRUTHS is reckless and foolish. Feelings cannot get in the way. Our decisions must be based upon more than feeling, but rather facts based upon TRUTH.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.(John 10:27)
We walk by faith built upon facts!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Power to Fight ... Power to Win!

There is a REAL battle going on that we cannot see every day. The good thing is that for the believer, we have more power at our disposal than does the enemy. Prayer is an OFFENSIVE weapon as we pray scriptures and call upon Him is Who able to give us victory.
15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)
We really do not know the power we gain through prayer until we test it out. It's like seeing a brand new corvette on the dealer's lot yet never really knowing the power the engine possesses without test driving the vehicle. All things are under God's feet. All things are under His dominion. Give Him control! He has the victory!

Friday, May 12, 2017

We all must grow up at some point!

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:11-13)
We all MUST grow up at some point! It cannot start at adulthood and it cannot stop there either. "Maturing" is an ongoing process that we all MUST matriculate through each day, each week, each month, each year and each phase of life. Things that were important to me when I was a teen, like winning games, awards, and popularity . . . no longer matter. Now it is more of what kind of carbon and spiritual imprint I will leave behind: Am "I" getting it and are "they" getting it? Spiritual maturity takes a lot of sacrifice, determination, and time. It does not come simply by living through many years of life on earth. While experience counts, application of God's Word and the discipline of it takes an enormous effort on the part of the believer. Though we will never achieve perfection, it is a worthy and rewarding goal to pursue. C'mon folks, let's GROW UP . . . together!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

His Timing . . . .

Many times we have the right idea in mind with our kids, especially our boys, but we beat them down so much with criticism and correction that they come out of it feeling rejected, dejected, and defeated. Their self-worth is at zero and their confidence level is in the negative. God has a better way of challenging our youth and setting the bar for them to achieve. While He expects obedience and does administer consequences, His discipline is always to build up and to pull up, not tear down and destroy.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.(Hebrews 5:13-14)
As we see here in Hebrews, there is a progression from milk to solid food. While we do expect babies to eventually eat "table food", every child progresses differently. It is the same as a young child matures at varying rates and responds to varying forms of discipline. Some respond well to correction and consequence. Others need more positive rewards. Some just need a strong push forward while yet others need a nurturing hug and a steady companion. I know I struggle with this verse . . .
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.(Ephesians 6:4)
How much is enough? How little is too little? How do I know I am being effective? When will I see results? Am I expecting too much or demanding too little? At some point, I must simply ask of God (James 1:5)and do my best, trusting Him. Over time, training pays off, whether it's in the gym or in the Bible!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An Example . . .

We all need a reason to live . . . and to die. It is motivation. It gets us from one day to the next. We all also need an example to live by . . . One who has set the example and shown us how to do it.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
Jesus has indeed shown us how to endure hardship. He came to earth not only to die as a perfect sacrifice, but to LIVE a life of sacrifice as to show us how to do so. We have other examples as well as we read through Hebrews 11. We can add Paul himself, Peter, John, and others. We may even be setting the pace for someone else and not even realize they are watching. We all lead and we all follow. Just be sure to be following the right One and leading others to Him!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Goals or Guarantees?

The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it MORE abundantly. (John 10:10)
More abundantly than what . . . than who? Satan comes to destroy the plans God has for us. He comes disguised as good to take "better" and "best" that God has planned for us. He desires to kill the plans God has already established for His children with murderous deception. While the world offers great things . . . money, security, education, and careers, etc. no career, no education, no security, no amount of money can compare to the eternal rewards God offers to one who waits upon the Lord and strives to fulfill His plans for life. One must be in tune to God and His Word in order to carry out those plans however. We cannot be wrapped up in this world and its promises of life, liberty, and the pusuit of "worldly" happiness. While these promises sound nice and promising, HOLINESS is what He asks of us and what we should desire, not happiness. (1 Peter 1:16) Goals or Guarantees . . . What are we chasing?

Monday, May 8, 2017

It IS About ME!

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (1 Corinthians 10:3-6)
This might sound a bit odd from what we have all learned from past teachings, but wait on it . . . It IS about ME! Here in 2 Corinthians, Paul addresses personal warfare. We have to tear down personal strongholds, things keeping us in bondage to sin. We must throw away the foolish philosophies of the world when they obviously go against everything the Bible teaches. Our very thoughts MUST be kept into obedience to the things of Jesus Christ. All these are personal battles! Am I in tune with with the Holy Spirit? Temptations . . . Lusts . . . Philosophies . . . Ideologies . . . Agendas . . .Thoughts . . . Plans If we do not get our own MIND right with God then where will our heart be? How will we ever be able to help someone else get in alignment with the Word of God if we are not disciplined? We CANNOT help someone else get well if we are sick! Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.(Matthew 22:37-39) We must care enough about ourselves to be one with God in order to bring someone else along. We do not have to be perfect, but we must be in the process of "being perfected". After all, the blind cannot lead the blind!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Oh . . . . It's On!

Jesus was not a pacifist. CHRIST-followers cannot be either! Even though He is called the Prince of Peace, that PEACE was won in warfare! Our foes, Jesus' foes, were and are as old as time. They will not back down. They oppose everything Jesus stands for and everything that is good in this world and in heaven. We must not fear the enemy, yet understand it and respect it. As Jesus began and mounted a successful revolution, we, His soldiers, have been commissioned to continue the battle for our very own hearts and the hearts of others!
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
Are we ready to RUMBLE?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

No Love? No God!

Men and women, boys and girls, each of us need to give and receive LOVE as a way of validation, being accepted, feeling a sense of worth, a sense of community and belonging, even the need for significance. As we have heard it said, "Love makes the world go 'round"! Indeed it does. LOVE, or God if you would, Who IS "LOVE", definitely makes the world go 'round!!!!! Love can send us all around the world and back. It has sent men to jail and to mountain tops. Love can lead to feats of heroism or great wounds of jealousy and hurt. Selfish love can destroy a soul yet the unconditional love of God is available to save all souls. True love is patient, kind, forgiving, and never fails. Do you know that kind of love? Do you share that kind of love? Is that kind of love evident in our lives?
Beloved, let us love one another, for LOVE is of God; and everyone who LOVES is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
There is NO LOVE unless one KNOWS GOD!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

One for the guys . . . and for the ladies' understanding.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
Many times we struggle today because we have never healed from past hurts. Men especially suppress past hurts and emotional injuries simply because we are told to "suck it up" and move on with life. Many times we never get to the core of the hurt and "limp through life". Yet here in Psalm 139 we hear David ask of God to allow Him to search his heart ❤️ and help him to understand the anxiety he is going through and to "lead" him to better understand things and to heal. Many times only God can understand a man's pain and frustrations . . . his hurts and emotional injuries. We cannot always share them easily, especially with other men and certainly not with our wife. Yet God knows and "wants" to heal us! A father's love and understanding is so critical to a young man's emotional and spiritual growth. THE Father is willing, waiting, and more than able to help us guys!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Are You and I in Danger? The Company We Keep . . .

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Does this scenario sound familiar; a selfish society, loving and craving money, proud, arrogant, cursing, disobedient children and teens, ungrateful, ungodly, unforgiving, no self-control, loving the pleasures of this world and despising things of God . . . even claiming to know God yet showing no signs of godliness at all? Beware! Run quickly! Danger! Change direction while there is still time! If Paul was warning Timothy in his day, how much more should we take heed today? Just some things to think about . . .

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cardiac Arrest

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.(Proverbs 4:23)
Our heart may well be the center of our circulatory system, from where our life's blood flows, yet it is more. Our spiritual "heart" is the place from which all of our life experiences flow and from which our actions are planned and formed. The heart is in constant danger of compromise and injury. The Bible tells us that the heart is the battle ground between darkness and light. We must be careful to "guard" our hearts . . . "keep" them with all didligence and care. Our hearts need God's attention throughout the day. The things we observe and see practiced in today's society are more often than not, not for us! We need daily and frequent visits with God to be sure we are putting the proper things into our "heart". The "real" man and woman of God will observe the false attitudes and goals of this world and decide that with God's help, we can truly discover our "heart for God" and stop living for this world! I'll pray for you as you pray for me as we examine our hearts!

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...