Thursday, January 31, 2019

That's good news indeed!!!

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Peter may not have quite understood Jesus' teaching here, but he sure did later when Jesus reinstated him after His resurrection! (John 21:15-19)

How often do we expect people to forgive us when we ask? All the time, right? So then, how often do we just as easily forgive others who wrong us? Well now...... Yet we pray for God to forgive us only as we forgive others! (Matthew 6:12)

God keeps no record of wrongs! (1 Corinthians 13:5) That's good news indeed!!!  So we, in the image of God and calling ourselves His children, should strive to forgive in like manner. Yes, we will remember, but we cannot allow that to rule our hearts! To move on in life, we must learn to forgive easily . . . . even ourselves!

Let's say it together, "I forgive you!" There, that's better!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Even feelings of guilt are forgiven!

But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:72-75)
Even the feelings of guilt are forgiven with Jesus!

I am just as guilty as Peter. No, I may not verbally deny Him, but my daily actions prove I am not as committed as I should be. I disappoint Him. I disappoint everyone for that matter! I disappoint myself the most. I know the right thing to do and more than occasionally blow it!!!!

I often wonder what Paul was saying in his do/do not rant. (Romans 7:15-20) I wonder if his struggles were anything like mine? Was it relationships? Was it sexual? Was it spiritual? Was it his past? Was he lonely, bitter, ashamed? Even with Peter....he was so ashamed! But he did not give up as Judas did. He may have avoided things after Christ was crucified, but he did not give up. More importantly, Jesus did not give up on him!
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” (John 21:17-19)
Will we accept Jesus' forgiveness or not . . . Even feelings of guilt? Will we "Follow Him?"

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

courage is just as real as fear

Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:23-27)
Fear is normal. I am fearful of a few things. What about you? The first sight of a slithering snake in the back yard.......high wind gusts as you are about to cross a long bridge over some rather deep waters.......emergency warnings of a tornado heading your way.......or even a doctor's report of possible cancer? Fear is real! However, courage is just as real as we place our trust in God!

As we navigate the rough seas of life, we must remember to invite Jesus into the boat with us. Don't leave Him at the dock! It is said that Jesusncan calm the storm or the one in the storm. Either way, He still calms the waters!!!!

Let's remember to place our trust in Him alone!

Monday, January 28, 2019

you must decide

Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  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 10:6-10)

There is only ONE WAY to eternal life. . . . Jesus Christ is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life! (John 14:6) Others have claimed to be messiahs, gods, saviors, but they are ALL dead! Jesus resurrected from the dead and rose to heaven in bodily form...ALIVE!(Acts 1:9-12) Believers now have eternal life with Him.

This abundant life begins when one confesses sin and repents of it. Christ promises a real relationship with Him through God the Holy Spirit. He leads and guides us through life and into eternal life.

Do you know Him? Today is the day to decide. You will understand more as life goes by, but you must decide!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Can God TRUST me?

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?“ No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:10-13)
God allows us to possess and experience things in this, cars, talents, successes, friendships, etc. How do we handle these things? Are we selfish? Are we rude? Are we proud? Are we willing to do without when others receive things? Are we doing then right things or the world things?

All these reactions to everyday life let God know if we can handle to more important things in life. . . . Kingdom matters! This world is simply a training ground for eternity. How are we handling it?

Let's ask ourselves, "Can God TRUST me?"

Thursday, January 24, 2019

establish the work of our hands....

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.(Psalm 90:12-17)
Yes, the words of Moses. This is believed to have been written as the people were wandering in the wilderness. Moses desired to bring honor to the Lord, even despite the sin of the people which caused them to wander!

Moses pleads once again for his people to receive the mercies of God and for Him to establish their works in their remaining days. He knew their very existence was in God's hands. It would help if we could realize that more often!

As we seek God we must remain humble. As we ask favor, we must remember it is God Who does the work THROUGH us, not ourselves. As we number our days and plan them out, keep in mind we are here to please, honor and bring glory to God! Any thing we might receive is a bonus from God!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

an old experienced ox

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)
Burdens can indeed weigh one down. There is the day to day burdens of work, school, family struggles, and the like. Everyday struggles that cause anxiety, fears, caution, and emotional stress. We have all heard the commercial; "Not another day. . . Can't take this . . . Not another day!"

Yet like an old experienced ox in linked to the younger weaker ox, Jesus promises to partner with us to teach us through life and even bear the heavy burdens. Unlike the oxen however, He will not eventually leave us to work alone.(Hebrews 13:5) Rather He promises to never leave leave us. He goes though with us! (Psalm 23:4)

In fact, Jesus gives us a burden. . . . yet His burden is light, not heavy. It is to join Him at His work . . . Kingdom work! It is a labor that He equips us for and prepares us to do. It is a rewarding work, not work that goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It is not in vain! (1 Corinthians 15:58)

We can let go of guilt, shame, failures, shortcomings and false hopes and dreams. Taking the yoke of Christ brings encouragement, courage, confidence and strength. We may never please people, but know that in Christ we have a lifetime investment of hope! It is better than gold!!! (1 Peter 1:3-6)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

the process.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.(John 14:1,27)
There is so much going on this world that I would like to fix. So much hatred, deception, misrepresentation, injustice, outright lies and simply put. . . . . .   E V I L !

Yet through John, Jesus reminds me that everything is not on my control. At some point I have to let it go and trust God. I must, as many coaches say today, "Trust the process."

I can state my case. I can respond honestly in love. I can sacrificially serve. I can point out wrongs and celebrate victories. I can even be wrong and apologize! However, "I" cannot make others understand or see into my heart!

Many things are left to God the Holy Spirit. I must learn to trust His plan. . . His process!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

I may not be pleasing people

The fear of the Lord leads to life,
And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
He will not be visited with evil.              (Proverbs 19:23)
Having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, brings peace. When the world, yes even the believing world, comes against me for being too religious, too biblical, too strict, I can only rest in my relationship with Christ. I may not be pleasing people, but I am trying to please the Lord! It is He who I will be with for eternity and He who matters most.

In fact, my love and commitment for Christ is many times construed as "hate" for the people around me!(Luke 14:26)

I find myself explaining myself way too many times. I am stressed that others doubt my motives to the point where I simply want to be silent....just me and Jesus! I want to retreat into my own private space with no one else...yet I cannot because of the push from the Spirit to "go!"

What about you?

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Are we choosing society over scripture?

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.(John 17:20-23)
Perfect unity....that's what Jesus prayed for and I am sure is STILL praying for us who call ourselves Christ-followers.

Yet we are divided in so many ways! We hold tightly to culture, family history, and political ties; not to mention peer pressure at school, work, and community. We are so afraid to step out and declare our Christ-centered beliefs over socially and culturally accepted norms!

Are we choosing society over scripture?

Scripture tells us that there were two types of people....Jew or Greek. Today that would work out to Christian or Non- Christian...saved or unsaved. There is no hyphen except for Christian-...... Christ comes first! However, as I witness office chatter, social media debates, even small group church settings, I experience much of the opposite!

"Why is that?", I ask. Many times I know if I make a comment, it will be misunderstood or challenged. Yet if it is in scripture and we are "one", then why?

I realize there are personality differences and personal experiences in life, yet Christ calls us to set aside things that divide us and to become one!

We reflect to the world what the Kingdom of God should and will be! We are either inviting the lost in or chasing them away. I can't have that on my soul! We are His ambassadors; seeking and saving the lost, with everything we do every day. We cannot afford to allow anything to separate anyone from the love of God!

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 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. (Roman's 8:38-39)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Seek First...

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts,   you double-minded. (James 4:7-8) 
Satan is cunning. If you are like me, struggling through the day to day to carry out God's calling, at times it gets frustrating. Seeing others prosper, watching family go through struggles but unable to help, not able to provide as needed, can lead to anger, frustration, sadness, times of depression and feeling like a failure. But God...

Turn to God. Cry out to Him as David did numerous times. Resist the lies of Satan and draw closer to the Lord. Stop judging life by the world's standards. What lies ahead in glory far outweighs today's struggles.

Our labor is not in vain! Seek first His  Kingdom. Fight the good fight. We cannot serve two masters!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

I have a burden

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry? (Isaiah 40:3-6)
 I know I am no prophet. I realize I fall short daily of God's perfect plan for me. Even my wife reminds me often not to be so serious, so right vs wrong all the time.

But I have a burden. I want people to REALLY know Christ. I want them to have a GENUINE RELATIONSHIP with Him, not a morning prayer or Sunday only relationship.

I KNOW Him and though I sin daily, I hate it! Yet He still loves me and cares for me! I deeply desire to please my Lord and Savior! I want Him to be pleased. It is a struggle....yet it is worth it.

What about you? Do you know Him like that?

Lord, help me to reach those who need You the most.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It is God!

God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.

For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’;

Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.

He seals the hand of every man, 
That all men may know His work.

The beasts go into dens, 
And remain in their lairs.

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.

Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds; 

He scatters His bright clouds.

And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance,

That they may do whatever He commands them
On the face of the whole earth.

He causes it to come, 
Whether for correction,
Or for His land, Or for mercy. (Job 37:5-13)

On these cold and frigid days of winter, I am reminded of God's awesome power but also His grace? As with Job, He reminds me Who He is and what He could do! In less than twenty-four hours He can blanket the landscape with a foot of pristine snow and cause lakes and rivers to freeze in motion.  He could then choose to cause a South wind to blow and raise temperatures to melt it all away just as quickly! It's Life In these Mid- Atlantic states, but more importantly it is God!

As with the weather, God also is directly involved in our lives. . . . ups and downs, good times and bad. He personally cares for each of us and if we stay in tune with Him, we learn to recognize His voice and when to move or stay put. We are NEVER alone! Trust God for the future forecast!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

We have more than hope, we have evidence!

Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.
How long will you attack a man?
You shall be slain, all of you,
Like a leaning wall and a tottering fence.
They only consult to cast him down from his high position;
They delight in lies;
They bless with their mouth,
But they curse inwardly. Selah
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved. (PSALM 62:1-6)
So what moves us? Who inspires us? How are we motivated?

David placed his hope and trust in God alone. There was no incarnate Christ yet. There was no resurrection yet. His hope was in the promises of God!

What can we learn from this? If David could wait upon a promise yet to come, can we not live for the Promised One Who will come again? We have more than hope, we have evidence!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Before we pray.....

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”(Mark 11:25-26)

Before we pray there is one important thing we often forget.  As in the Model Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15) and the often learned A.C.T.S. guideline (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication), we must remember to offer and seek forgiveness before we even think of asking for anything! Aftr all, we are coming before a Holy, Perfect, and All-Powerful God! We come boldly before the throne (Hebrews 4:16).

This is not done flippantly or casually! As C.H. Spurgeon said (Nov. 19,1871), "As prayer will not be truly prayer without the Spirit of Go, so it will not be prevailing prayer without the Son of God. He, the Great High Priest must go within the veil for us.....for until then, we are shut out from the living God."

Understanding this, we realize prayer is done in the presence of the Trinity. Just As the high priest had to be sure to be "clean", so to we must be cleansed of sin through the Blood of Jesus Christ!

Please do not take prayer lightly. It is NOT a ritual, a right, or a routine. It is a privilege! Father, please forgive us!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

When our desires line up with God's design....

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.(Psalm 139:13-18)
We all have dreams and desires. The older we get the more reality sets In, yet we still dream of what might be or what could have been.  While we all dream and still imagine, there is One who always knew and always cared. In fact, He knew us before we were even "us"!

God has uniquely designed each of us for His purposes, not our own. The better we get to know the God Who deigned us the better we  know ourselves and what we should be doing. When our desires line up with God's design life begins to make sense and have purpose.

It's probably time for a little talk with our Father. Let's seek His wisdom and guidance. When is then last time we spent some real one on one with Him? "How God? When Daddy? Why that? Why now? I need Your help!"

Ask God for the wisdom to know His unique plans for you and then ask for the courage to carry out those plans. Life will begin to make more sense. . . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

We do not know what we should pray for...

So you think we live in confusing times? Don't even know how or what to pray at times? Take heart and take comfort in Paul's words to the believers in Rome during his trying days. . . 
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to beconformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:18-31)
Uneasy economic world? Crazy political scenes?  Confusion within the Body of Christ? Families in crisis? Take heart even in Jesus' own words of assurance:

 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”    (John 16:33)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Close, friendly, intimate relationships

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Close, friendly, intimate relationships are the ones we cherish and trust. It what God desires for each of His children! Do we not want that with the Lord? If so, it requires openness, honesty and transparency  . . . with ourselves and with the Lord!

God has no problem being honest and open with us. It is we who try to hide and sugar coat things. God desires our most joyous times and our deepest sorrows. Only He can fill the gaps and opened wounds. Only He can know our deepest desires and what brings us true joy. After all, He made us!

Who knows us better than our parents? Who are the most proud when we succeed after years of struggles and anxious moments? Who hurt the most when we fail and suffer setbacks? If our parents can feel these emotions with us, then what do we believe about God, our Father?
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15: 9-11)
Ultimate joy . . . It is what God desires for each of us. Yet we must seek Him as well to realize this joy! Try God today. Call out to Him!

Storms and Faith

Jesus got into a boat. His disciples followed him.  Suddenly a terrible storm came up on the lake. The waves crashed over the boat. But Jesu...