Friday, May 31, 2019

Whom or what do you really love?

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26)

 Jesus asked the question then and He asks it of us today: Whom or what do we really love? Answer is . . . .

Are we afraid of what others may think? Are we afraid of losing a friend, family member, or even a spouse? I beg to differ. In fact, as we study the downfall of man throughout HIStory, we see that the more decadent society becomes, more fractured interpersonal relationships are the result.

Where at one time churches were the hub of society and neighborhoods thrived with kids in the streets and playgrounds, we now have sparse church attendance and ghost-town neighborhoods. Families are fractured with skyrocketing divorce rates and unbiblical home structures. Family time is non-existent and neighbors don't even wave at one another much anymore!
Whom or what do we really love? Answer is . . . . Ourselves! We put our own selfish desires above friends, family and even God! It is time for some real J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, the You/me)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Yet are we fooling God? Are we in love with our Lord and Savior?

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelatoin 2:4-7) 
We always hurt the Ones we love! Parents . . . Siblings . . .  Spouse . . . Children . . . Close friends . . . they always seem to get the worst of us as we treat strangers with such respect, patience and grace. Why is that?

It seems as though we save all the anger, frustration, fear and impatience with those whom we love and cherish the most. We assume they will always be there for us. We are comfortable showing our real personalities to them! There are no masks or facades. We forget to say "please", "thank you" or "forgive me". We save all the manners and niceties for the strangers in our lives!
And we say we love God and we are His children . . . ..go figure!!!! Yet are we fooling God?
We show up most SONdays sure. We put a few dollars in the basket. We pray when we wake up and of course over meals. We even thank God for the day and ask for protection over night.  Yet are we neglecting God? Like that first love, are we seeking Him, to hear His voice and be in His presence? Do we yearn to sit with Him and listen to Him? Do we look forward to tell Him how much we love Him and give Him that special gift . . . .ourselves?
Are we in love with our Lord and Savior?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Un-Godly Surroundings

Un-Godly Surroundings

But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the Lord in Jerusalem. Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LordNow before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. (2 Kings 23:23-25)
Josiah became King of Judah at  six years old! His father and grandfather were evil kings, allowing idol worship and the ruin of the Temple. Yet Josiah matured and continually sought God! He did not allow the un-Godliness surrounding him to change his life.  When he was shown to make his own decisions, he destroyed idols and the people worshipping them. He decreed the teaching of God's laws. He was known as one of God's not faithful servants.

What about you and me? Are we allowing this un-Godly world to change us or simply make us numb to the society? Have we become invisible in our world or worse yet, walking dead? Are we lacking private time with God? Are we learning and teaching all we are able? Are we affecting our families and friends for Christ or just being comfortable fitting in? Are we afraid of making waves?

May we be more like Josiah and live boldly for Christ, not allowing "me or my house" to not serve God boldly! (Joshua 24:15)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

press on

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are aheadI press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
 At a time if year where most folks are looking back . . .  at educational accomplishments, professional achievements, and even a year of struggles and successes, most are looking forward to some sort of summer break. I know I am!

It's good to look back. However, there is a reason why the rear view mirror is so much smaller than the front windshield: looking forward, the future is so much larger and exciting than the past! God Has so much much in store for the one who loves Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Celebrate the past, but press on towarrd the future. God has been there and back and we can trust Him!

Friday, May 24, 2019

So loud that we cannot hear!

Music . . . . Video . . . . Youtube. . . . Instagram . . . . Snap . . . . Anime . . . Facebook . . . . Twitter . . . . So many words, so much video, noise everywhere today!
So loud that we cannot hear!
We cannot hear the words. We do not feel the pain. We are too busy to experience the grid or even celebrate the joy. We are so numb that we don't see the blood oozing from their heart or the life draining from their soul! There is too much NOISE to listen!!!
And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,  saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.  (Luke 18:36-43)
Jesus took time to listen, not to the just the noise or the loudest noise, but to the least loudest of all! He heard the quietest voice among the crowd. He not only heard, but listened! He cared. He then reacted personally to the need.

Are we too caught up in the popular noise of this world? Are we quiet enough to hear the still small cry of a child, the loneliness of a elderly grandparent, the starving soul of a neighbor, coworker or classmate?
Are we living, loving, and listening as Jesus did?

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Whom, not where, do we get our strength?

Whom, not where, do we get our strength?
Read the following verses and tell me how we can possibly live to please God.....

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.(John 6:63)

And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:15-8)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:13-14)

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

By His Spirit alone and through constant prayer (communication with God) we can indeed live a life pleasing to God!  It Is a process . . . .

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Look at Me.....Wow!

Would you look at Me? Look at yourself as God does. Wow!!!
 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 2:4-10)
 God made you and me in a special way. Who are we to change it or even doubt it? Why are we believing anyone else, including the old snake Satan, when they say we do not measure up? Measure up to what . . . the world's standards? Of course we don't! We are made for much greater things than this world! We are made for God and His glory . . . into eternity!  
Believe it!!!!
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.(Psalm 139:13-14)
Handmade by the Master! Now that is special. Never forget this and walk daily believing it! Look at you . . . Look at me . . . Wow!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

I Can't Share Christ!

I Can't Share Christ!

Do you go to church on SONday and gossip on Monday? Do you pledge purity at your men's small group or youth group on Friday night and come Saturday your computer browser says otherwise? Are you thought of as honest and open yet you frequently lie on time cards or cheat on exams? Do we say we are Christ-followers yet our life tells a different story?  Want do those who know us say about us? Lets talk . . . .

Moments of giving in to temptation are normal . . . Welcome to the club! However, a hypocritical lifetstyle is a PROBLEM!!!  Yes, Jesus offers grace freely as we confess sin.(1 John 1:9) Yet He has no patience for hypocrites! 
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.(Matthew 23:27-28)
Yes . . . "Woe" indeed! The only really genuine way to share Christ is to strive to live like Him! We must take a hard look at how we are living. Ask God for forgiveness. Make a real effort to live what we read and teach. Hold one another accountable. Let's live and love like Christ did!

Monday, May 20, 2019

It's a different world....

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[e] 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)
For the Christ follower,  it's a different world. We live in a world that is dog-eat-dog. Get over any way you can. Whatever works for you. Don't worry about who gets hurt along the way. As long as I succeed . . . . Not so for the CHRISTian!!!!

We are called to be different; transformed by the renewing of our minds.(Romans 12:2). We should have a mind like Christ. (Philippians 2:5-8) We should seek to serve and not be served.(Matthew 20:28) How else will a lost world see Christ?

Instead of getting even or getting over, try ways to get kinder! Try getting better. Try doing as Jesus would and if nothing else, our attitudes will change!

Friday, May 17, 2019

What is right and what is wrong?

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; 
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, 
Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warnedAnd in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)
There is much debate today over what is right and what is wrong.  Yet much of the debate could be settled by simply reading God's Word! Yes, I realize everyone in our society does not not regard the Word of God as eternal Truth. Yet for the Christ follower . . . the disciple of Christ, His Word is Truth and will always be Law! Just read the psalmist's words above.

While many like to twist His Word in regard to marriage, relationships, when life begins and ends, ownership of property, and the like, it is clear on the major issues. Our decision is to read it, believe it, and live it. (John 20:31) Compromising the Word of God by siding with popular social and political issues is simply SIN.  Refusing to believe it is a clear sign of one not having a genuine relationship with Christ!

After all, who wants to be with someone they don't even agree with anyway? What about you? Do you agree with God or have you been swayed to believe the twisted lies? When God's Word is put to question, there is only one answer . . . . God has the final say!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

an investment forward into eternity

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,  storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.(1 Timothy 6:17-19)
We all have heard the instruction that we are blessed to be a blessing. What does that mean in reality? God gives each of us an abundance of spiritual and physical blessings . . . .talents, possessions, money, etc. Yet how do we use these things to help others and to glorify God?
"For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:29-30)
As in the parable above, God desires for us to share what He has given us to assist others and to invest in His Kingdom.  If we are not careful, He just might remove our blessing and allow others who are indeed investing to have our blessing! You see, one can invest in retirement funds, stocks, or gold, but it all stays here. When you invest time and treasure into hearts and lives of others, for His purposes . . . for souls, than that is an investment forward into eternity!

Are our investments guaranteed?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

GREED kills . . . .thoughts on motivation and priorities

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.(1Timothy 6:6-10)
Nothing at all wrong with having money, wealth, nice cars, nice homes, etc. What is dangerous is our motivation! GREED kills . . . .it leads to danger both physically and spiritually! One who is motivated by money always wants more!

Many today have placed their faith in jobs, retirement plans, college funds, and get rich quick schemes. How they make the money and who gets hurt in the process does not matter. Faith in God has dwindled and He becomes an after thought!
 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”(Mark 10:23-25)
Think about our motivation and priorities today . . . is it money and possessions or is it God and His agenda?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Trust God

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,  and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.(Psalm 14:26-27)
No doubt Satan is attacking those dedicated to serving the Lord and committed to a lifestyle of honoring Him. It seems as though every time we have a "high" in serving God, immediately the evil one roars his ugly head! (1 Peter 5:8) He is seeking to steal, kill and destroy every effort we put forth to build up our children, grandchildren, the teens we serve, our even our mission trip plans. He is attacking relationships within families and churches. To put it plainly, Satan is angry at our labor and is trying desperately to wipe out our efforts and energy, if not our very lives!

But God . . . .

He is my Rock and Fortress. (Psalm 18:2) He is my Shield and my Refuge.,(2 Samuel 22:2-3) He is my Strength! (Psalm 28:7) He is my rewarded. (Hebrews 11:6) He goes with me . . . I have no fear! (Psalm 23:4) He is my Hope! (Romans 5:5).

Trust God; whether for health, finances, relationships, or ministry work. He is still able to all and exceedingly above and beyond what we ever ask! Just watch . . .

Monday, May 13, 2019

we live in a rather dangerous world

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep. Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.(Ephesians 5:8-16)
Most would agree, we live in a rather dangerous world.  We alarm our cars. We have cameras watching our homes which we can view on our cell phones and computers.  We put passwords on our electronic devices. We even put chips in our pets so if they are stolen or lost, we can track them down!

Paul would agree with us today as he wrote in the first century: “The days are evil.” However, rather than advise us to go buy a new security system or upgrade our passwords, he instructs us to take advantage of the dangerous times to live as CHRISTians so evil can be exported!

We cannot be fooled by the world’s standards and somehow be surprised when we are acting just like the world; walking in fear and doing our best to blend in rather than standing out! Peter calls us to be “special people . . . called out of darkness.” (1 Peter 2:9) as we walk away from sinful desires and actions, we are drawing others with us to Christ, rather than sin drawing us away. The LIGHT of Christ exposes darkness and as we all in that LIGHT, evil works are clearly visible in stark contrast to  our actions. Without words, we are letting others see a different lifestyle and a better choice. We are therefore becoming living witnesses for Christ. (Romans 12:1-2)

Friday, May 10, 2019

How you rollin'? . . .allow CHRIST to live within us!

 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”(Galatians 2:20-21)
How can people see or experience Jesus Christ if they never go to Church? My young folk often ask how a person can be condemned as a sinner if they never know any better . . . . never hear of Christ. Many say churches/CHRISTians are so hypocritical . . . . and it's true! So where do you and I come into the picture?

We allow CHRIST to live within us so others can see, hear and experience Him, not us! If we indeed claim Christ as Savior and Lord, then we must give Him reign and rule over our lives. This results in a different kind of living!

As a mirror reflects the image before it, we as disciples of Christ should reflect Him to those before us! If people see a hypocrite, it is our fault. If folks do not hear and see Christ it is on you and me.

I learned a rap in New Orleans years ago from some young folks on fire for Christ:
I've been crucified with Christ  . . .                                                                            He lives in me it's not my life .  .  .                                                                              That's how we r o l l!
How you rollin'?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

What are we sacrificing for in life?

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)
What are we sacrificing for in life? Many are planning for high school, college, career, even retirement. Sacrifices are being made for education, sports, jobs and relationships. . . . .weekend travel, caring for elderly parents, tutors, practices, etc.
All well and good . . . or is it? Is all this sacrifice and planning for the future necessary or even good? What is being sacrificed? Have we gotten our priorities a bit misconstrued?
Who are we following and what are we running after? 
 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33
Today I will leave you with these words of Jesus. Think on them . . . .

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...