Friday, June 30, 2017

THE Truth

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"(John 18:38) Many today are searching for truth in many things. Many are living a lie. Others are believing lies. Many realize the truth yet refuse to live by it. Some live by half-truths and little "harmless" lies. There are even those making up lies and false accusations that in the process destroy character and careers, just as long as they are successful. I asked myself this morning: "Am I living solely by God's Word or am I allowing other things to creep in to my life? Am I keeping my guard up when it comes to the world? Am I buying into gossip, rumors, and the like or am I trusting the truth to prevail and allowing God to have His perfect way? Will I not be anxious about anything and in prayer and supplication asked of God and let it rest with Him? (Philippians 4:6)
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Let's be free of all the mess! Let's place our trust in THE TRUTH today!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"What?", not "Why?"

Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, “Please bring the ephod here to me.” And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?” And He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” (1 Samuel 30:6-8)
We all get stressed at times. Bad things happen in this world to both good and evil people. Many times it seems as if the bad guys are winning . . . and that may just be true. However, that does not give the CHRISTian free license to grumble, complain, accuse, or to sin! Check back again to the verses above and see what David did in response to the threats against him. He asked for the ephod and inquired of the Lord. He did not immediately attack. He did not lose his temper and act irrationally. He did not seek to gather evidence against his enemy for a public or legal war of words. He did not pick a social media fight. He did not try to run over his attackers with his SUV (chariot)or bombard them with nasty emails. Rather, he sought the Lord. "Shall I pursue this troop?" How would our lives differ if we first sought the Lord and His Word before reacting to adversity? What would the results be if we could just try to see what God was doing and what He wanted us to do? Often we ask "Why?" when the question is "What?" "What are You up to Lord?" "What shall I do now, Lord?" "What is Your will, Lord?" Many times this has to begin before the battle occurs. Seeking God after the war might be a bit late. If we "hide His Word" in our hearts daily, we will be better prepared to handle trying situations without sin. It is a challenge but one the Holy Spirit can accomplish in and through His people. Are you ready to face battles today?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It is not yet FINISHED!

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord. An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked. (Proverbs 29:25-27)
Allowing others' opinions and thoughts of us control us is dangerous. It is a snare of Satan. It is a prison of self-made fear. Trusting in God and His will is a safe zone! Despite the setbacks and heartaches, we MUST place our trust in God and not man and his ways of revenge. After all, we are told in Romans to allow God to have his way the unrighteousness and evil doers of our day. (Romans 12:17-19) While we must take care of everyday business despite circumstances, we are NOT to plan revenge. Allow God His timing and His judgment. Hebrews 11 is a litany of those who walked by faith in challenging situations much greater than our own. I have been through some very challenging situations in life since being saved. Good friends turning their backs on me and falsely accusing me of treacherous deeds. . . Being let go from a job I dearly loved and in which I was dedicated to serve. . . . Isolated by family and friends through racism and unjust actions. Yet God remains faithful.
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.(Colossians 3:22-25)
Finally, be aware that we all are first committed to God. Our allegiance is to Him and Him alone. Trying times brings a trying of our faith. Things may not seem bright at the moment. It may even seem as if God is absent or asleep. HE IS NOT!!! Don't quit in God. Jesus did not get off the cross when the pain was too hard to bear. He prayed for His accusers, His murderers. He PRAYED!!! Wow . . . While He did ask God for mercy, He endured until the end. . . when God said it would end. It is not yet FINISHED! Don't quit!!!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Walking Dead or Walking Toward Glory?

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
No of us really "got saved"! None of us were really searching for Jesus, a Savior, and found Him! Before Christ, we were walking dead! We were aimlessly meandering through life like we knew what we were doing and where we were going. Like little children on a playground, we were running here and there, to this friend and that friend, jummping on one sliding board to another and swinging from swing to swing to see how high and fast we could go before crashing. And crash we did . . . often!!! No, Jesus found us. He called each one of us to Himself. Once dead, He made us ALIVE in Himself! We know reside with Him spiritually and one day physically . . . but only because of His grace and not any of our wretchedness. As one of my early mentors would remind me: We are not saved by our good works, but Christ saved us to do good works. It is now all for His glory and not the applause of men toward us. You see, we are either walking dead or walking toward glory. What path are you on today?

Monday, June 26, 2017

God Hears . . .and Answers!

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)
If I can relate to anyone in the Bible, it is definitely David. No one knew the Lord like him yet no one, in my opinion, felt as badly about his sin (well, maybe Peter). What I can really relate to however is how David can seek God many times in the middle of his sin! He does not do arrogantly however, but humbly pleading for mercy and even for his life (Psalm 51). He admits his sin. David is specicic with God. As respected and powerful a man David was, he realized he was nothing before an all-powerful and all-knowing God! He knows it is really between him and God alone.
Yet God hears . . . and answers!
God is not a magic genie or spiritual Santa. He is Holy . . . Righteous . . . Pure . . . Powerful . . . Loving . . . Longsuffering. . . Jealous . . . Forgiving . . . all these things and more. And I am NOT! May we all have a broken and contrite spirit with God and seek His mercy this day and every day we are granted.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Do we cause others to think?

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
Well there goes the "Don't JUDGE me!" line! As in many other areas of the Bible, both new and Old Testament (google the verses), we as a Body of believers are in fact to hold one another accountable to the ways of Scripture. We are to keep watch on one another, meet together regularly, and encourage one another to stand firm in our CHRISTian lifestyle. (Hebrews 10:24-25) We are not a called out people to "fit in" after all. (1 Peter 2:9) We are to be different from the rest in order draw others to Christ and to keep fellow believers in communion. As we walk contrary to the world, those in the world see a difference and will question our faith. Think about this: Does our faith in Christ cause others to doubt their beliefs? It should . . . .

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Facing Challenges With God

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
This verse has come to mind quite often in the past week. As we were in the process of doing some needed and planned repairs and updates around the home, of course the unexpected happened! We have opened our home up to a single parent family. As we adjusted to that, the car needed over $1000 in emission repairs. To top it off, our main house water pipe began "banging" in the middle of the night for no reason . . . We have learned to expect the unexpected on a routine lately! Yet through it all, God has provided a way throug these challenges. I thank God for Godly and talented friends who have skills and knowledge. I thank God for a wife who faces challenges with me. I thank God for providing the time, resources, and energy (and courage) to attempt the repairs. On the ladder, with a saw, with a drill, with a paint brush, at the repair shop, on my knees . . .He is STILL God. I can never forget that!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Planted!

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.(John 15:5)
No matter how many times I read this verse or teach it (it's a big verse in the seventh grade curriculum in my classes,with some project work and hands-on application), I never stop feeling so in need of Christ. This time of year as the vegetable garden is progressing and yes, our grape vine is budding, I fully understand the need for connection. Connection is needed for nourishment, for strength, for producing fruit, and for basic survival. Just snap off a branch or a leaf or two and watch it shrivel and die very quickly. Don't water for a few days . . . don't weed the area . . . don't prune properly. Like the fruits, vegetables and flowers in our yards, even the grasses, we too need to stay connected to the vine in order to flourish as a believer. We need a little weeding out now and then. We need the watering of the Word and the discipline of His Spirit. We need the closeness, or fellowship of like "plants" to grow together as a bed of fruit bearing plants! Stay connected . . . get reconnected. Though at times we may desire to be isolated and left alone, we can never live apart from God, His Word, or His people!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Living for Eternity

The moment a sinner asks Jesus to forgive his sins and cleanse him from all the unrighteousness acts in his life, (1 John 1:9)that person does indeed become a "new creature". A true confesssion of sin and desire to change results in a new and eternal relationship with the Lord of lords and King of kings. Trusting in the blood atonement of Christ upon the cross brings forgiveness for sin and justifies a righteousness before a Holy God. However, life in this world may not instantly get better . . . in fact in may become even more challenging as the new believer now faces an angry world and its prince, namely Satan and his demons. We cannot work at being saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we do now work to honor God. Our good works are performed to bring joy to God for His saving grace bestowed upon us. We do not do good work to be saved but because we are saved we do good work . . . make sense? Our entire reason for living has changed! We live for the eternal life ahead, not this life in the present. There is evidence of our faith!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Who is this JESUS anyway?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
We all know John 3:16. Even non-believers can recognize it and maybe even quote it. I still have an image of a guy in a rainbow wig behind home plate of televised baseball games with John 3:16 on a poster! So if this verse is so well known, why are so many ignorant as to Who Jesus is and what He came to do? This born of a virgin, never sinned in His life, provider of eveny need, healer of any and all illness, forgiven of all and every sin, sacrificing Savior, crucified upon a cross, risen from the dead JESUS . . . .
JUST WHO IS HE?
He IS God and He LOVES you and me! He simply ASKS us to join Him, but on HIS terms. He is not a fad, a social club, a hobby, or a diversion from reality. He is not a weekend event or a vacation away from it all. Do you REALLY know Him? What a safe place to be . . . in Jesus!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

JUSTICE? JUST-US CHRISTians!

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)
What is GOOD? What is JUSTICE to a Christ-follower? It is the RIGHT of a believer to live a life of integrity in doing the RIGHT or GOOD thing when no one is watching. It is also doing the RIGHT or GOOD thing when everyone is watching yet they are doing WRONG! We as believers must choose RIGHT. It means stepping in to prevent someone from being bullied. It means not simply walking away from coarse joking or excessive "joking", but speaking up and saying it is WRONG. It means calling WRONG what it is despite the political parties behind the message. It is calling out SIN despite what the culture or specific ethnicity agrees is acceptable. JUSTICE may just mean walking alone . . . but walking with GOD!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BOLDNESS

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:27-31)
Peter and John had been arrested for teaching and preaching Jesus. They BOLDLY stated that they could do nothing but speak of the Jesus whom they knew and loved. They would then return to their friends and Jesus' followers and encourage them and pray with them for such BOLDNESS. What about you and me? Are we prepared to speak of Jesus to all we engage and in every place we enter? Are we so filled with His Spirit that peoples' hearts are SHAKEN? I believe what we as a Body need more than anything today is such BOLDNESS . . . that despite the surroundings, the audience, the venue or the circumstance, that we will be BOLD for Christ as His Spirit leads us!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jesus KNOWS and CARES for YOU!!!

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept;and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.(John 17:7-19)
I don't know about YOU, but I think it is so awesome that Jesusrayed for each of us before He went to the cross for each of us. No matter the circumstances we are going through, Jesus has already prayed that we will remain "one with Him" and be able to handle all life throws at us yet still stand. He knows there will be struggles just as there were struggles in His life and the lives of the disciples. Yet we can also live by the TRUTH, not by the world's standards. Young or old, rich or poor, male or female, we all will face challenges as we walk as believers in this unbelieving world. Know that just as Jesus prayed in the garden for us to remain in Him, He still prays today:
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.(Romans 8:34
Jesus still KNOWS and still CARES for me and YOU!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Visible FAITH?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)
Faith . . . something we cannot really define . . . We can't "see" it . . . We cannot prove it with a mere definition or picture. We cannot take someone to a specific area and show them faith. Yet as we read in the passages from the writer of Hebrews above, there is EVIDENCE all around of faith . . .faith in the Creator God of this universe and you and me! Hebrews 11:6 goes on to explain that without this faith, in God and all He claims to be, we can NEVER please Him or even know Him! God IS . . . and He seeks to reward those who diligently seek after Him. What about YOU? Do YOU know Him? Take heed to these words and place your FAITH in Him today!
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.(John 10:9-10)
Our faith shows in how we live!

Friday, June 9, 2017

No Jesus? No Peace . . .KNOW JESUS...KNOW PEACE!

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
Simply "knowing" God, that He exists, that He is in complete control, that He knows me, and cares . . . That alone can bring me joy. Just knowing that admist all the negativity, all the turmoil and confusion, all the sin that runs amuck . . . God IS!!!! Trust God that He indeed has a plan for each of His children. (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises abundant life with Him for eternity for all who call upon Him as Lord and Savior and live for Him .(John 10:10) What about you? Do YOU have this peace? (Philippians 4:7)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When friends are not friendly . . .

“Oh, that I might have my request that God would grant me the thing that I long for! (Job 6:8)
Let's face it, like in Job's case, sometimes our friends may not be very friendly. Sometimes there words hurt, whether their words are true or not, justly stated or not, however honestly spoken . . .they simply do not seem friendly at the time. Many times we may need to hear the truth, yet we are not ready to receive it or it may be spoken rather harshly, without grace. However, if we who are called CHRIST-followers really listen, not to the words of the person but the words of our God and Savior, then perhaps we would learn. We could hear the truth in a different voice with a rather different intent. When friends are not friendly, there is still Jesus . . .
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Who are we listening to today?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lose CONTROL!

My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)
MEEKNESS . . . Power under control. Jesus surely exemplified meekness. He had all the power of God, omnipotent strength and omniscient knowledge, yet He lived a quiet strong life marked with grace, compassion, mercy, and patience. We too have that power within us as believers. The Holy Spirit within every believer is that same Spirit that "led" Jesus. The Spirit allowed Him to forgive the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). That Spirit caused Jesus to allow the little children to come sit at His feet in Matthew 19:14. He was able to forgive those who put Him upon the cross (Luke 23:34). That Spirit raised Him from the dead when things seemed lost (Luke 24:1-8). Allow the Holy Spirit to take charge of our lives. Whether it is an illness, an unforeseen emergency or disaster, a situation out of our control, or simply being mistreated by a friend, family member or total stranger . . WAIT on that Spirit and EXPECT Him to act in His time. MEEKNESS Is STRENGTH . . . His strength. Allow Him to take control today.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Don't they know me better than that?

For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach,because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 4:10)
So many times this year I have been blind-sided by a comment, a question, or some other version of mistrust or misconception. It has come from all angles; work, family, friends, enemies and frenimies! One would think I would learn to expect the enemy to attack, but his angle is always rather unexpected! Don't they "know" me better than that? Do they not realize I would never say that or do that? How long have they known me to realize that rumor is just ridiculous? They do know that I do not condone that sort of activity, right? As they say on ESPN, "C'mon man!!!" However, I must say that while the ridiculous assumptions and rumor mills may be unexpected, they do draw me closer to my Savior in the end. Perhaps that is His reason for allowing it. I simply need a closer walk with Him and less reliance upon the people, things, and whatever else this world offers. Can you say this with me today?. . . .
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.(Psalm 18:2)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fan or Disciple. . . .Which are YOU?

Are fans of Jesus? Do we love Him when He wins but choose another "hero" when He seems to allow us to lose? Do we choose to follow when others do yet follow another leader if He is not the "people's choice"? Do we cheer Him on SONday but forget all about Him once Monday comes along? A "fan" is an enthusiastic devotee usually as a spectator; an ardent admirer or enthusiast as described by Webster. A disciple however is a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. A disciple adheres to the teachings of another. There is a difference!
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Be authentic. Don't be a copy of the world, changing from day to day, week to week, or year to year as the fads and cultures change. Fans come and go with the wind. An authentic disciple of Christ is dedicated to learn and become more and more like Him every day. That requires diligence. That requires study. That requires daily decision-making. That requires guts and courage! This world needs courageous, dedicated, authentic CHRISTians. They don't need to see more fans of another church hero or religious celebrity. They do not need to see or hear of fans or groupies of the next great motivational speaker. For sure, God certainly needs no fans! What are YOU?

Friday, June 2, 2017

This Faith . . .

For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45)
There IS a difference between those of the world and those of God. I know the lines are rather blurred in today's culture, but according to the Words of Jesus, there IS a difference. We are to be a called out people.(1 Peter 2:9) We are to be known by our actions(James 2:14-26), which reflect our faith in God. What we believe is what we live! I have heard it said that our faith as Christ-followers should cause others to question what or in whom they believe. Our faith should "walk" with us and show forth through us. Our faith and confidence come from knowing that though the challenges in this world may not go away, the Savior we trust in will always walk with us and help us through . . . and that eventually this world and its challenges will be gone. However, we will always be in the caring presence of Jesus Christ. Read here from John 10.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:25-30)
So we walk in confidence knowing God is with us. We trust His promises. We seek His presence. We anticipate eternity with Him. This faith works and this faith walks! No matter the challenges, this faith, your faith and my faith in this Savior, causes others to doubt their beliefs!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Eternal Thinking

Remember, O Lord, what has come upon us; Look, and behold our reproach . . . (Lamentations 5:1)
Many times life does not make sense. As we read from Jeremiah here in Lamentations 5, it seems as though the daily labor and sacrifice is simply not worth it. The past haunts them. Things do not seem do be getting any better. It is a though they are working from "paycheck to paycheck" and there simply is not enough money at the end of the bills! The sun goes down before the work has been completed and the sun comes up before enough rest has been gained.
Sound familiar?
I have to admit, it gets tough laboring in the vineyard and watching evil succeed and the ungodly prospering. It is frustrating seeking support for God's work when there are pressing personal needs. It would be easy to turn back . . . but I simply cannot . . .we cannot! God has been too good to give up now. You and I must learn and practice thinking eternally. Today is just a small blip on the radar screen of life. Only what we do for Christ will last. ( 1 Corinthians 15:58)

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...