Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19 Thought for the day...stop every attack

Do you ever get so tired of the devil harassing you.  Do you wish it would just end? The devil attacks everyone, especially those growing and moving in God. Paul tells us about a way to shut him down every time he attacks. Want to know how?

"above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephesians 6:16

Can you imagine it, every attack of the enemy being defeated by faith! I know you can believe it but what is the practical application? I'm glad you asked! Let's look at what Paul is saying. The phrase "will be able" is much more powerful than it sounds. It should be translated "dynamic, explosive power" so the phrase should read "the shield of faith by which you have dynamic, explosive power quenches all the fiery darts.

What is the shield of faith? It is believing God at His word. When we know God's word, believe God's word, and live God's word, then we are living by faith, and that faith becomes a shield about us.

To further stress this point Paul states, with this faith we can quench (extinguish) the fiery darts of the enemy. The word translated "quench" means to douse or soak with water. In Roman times the Gauls and others would hollow out arrows and fill them with combustible fluid. The tips of the arrows would be set ablaze, and as soon as the arrow hit its target it would explode, and the fluid would cover the target catching everything on fire. This was Paul's picture of a fiery dart.

How can anyone expect to extinguish this type of arrow? The Bible tells us that our faith is increased by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). Paul wrote earlier in Ephesians 5:26 that Word of God cleanses like water. He had in mind how the Romans prepared for battle. They knew they would face fiery darts, so they soaked their shields in water, so when the darts/arrows hit the shields, they were put out immediately.

When we know God's word, live it, and believe it we have a dynamic, explosive power that even though the enemy may shoot at us, every dart will be put out! They will not harm us!

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18 Thought for the day....ready to succeed!

When I was a young boy, my parents allowed me to buy my first motorcycle. We had lots of wooded areas near our home, and so we created miles of trails. That first little bike, a Honda 50 was great for a six-year-old but wasn't meant to do the jumps and climb the hills I wanted. As I grew older, the bikes got bigger, faster, and more powerful. As I grew older, I knew I was beyond trails and wanted to drive cross country, so I got a Kawasaki 900 Z1-A the quickest stock bike at that time. It was used, so I took the time to repaint, add all the accessories I would need for a cross-country tour and took off knowing both the motorcycle and me were equipped for a successful ride from PA to Alaska to Texas then back home. We need to be ready for our successful journey too. Paul tells us how.

"...that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:17

Paul is instructing young Timothy about the power of knowing and studying the word of God. The phrase, "complete, thoroughly equipped" means to be all decked out to have everything, and then some, that you need, assuming that you were once ill-equipped for the journey but now are completely prepared, fully supplied, thoroughly ready, and having all that you need to succeed.

The average Christian reads their Bible once a week. It is the words of life and is powerful for tearing down every strong hold and helps us to discern what is the truth from a lie. One of the reasons that many Christians are unsuccessful in their walk with the Lord is they are ill-equipped. They do not know the Word or have it hidden in their heart. It would be like me trying to ride that little Honda 50 cross country. It is not made for such a long journey nor the highways of life. Having salvation guarantees us heaven but doesn't guarantee us a successful or fruitful life.

When we know God's word, study God's word the Holy Spirit illumines our minds and hearts. We understand the Father's heart and His plans for us, our families, our church, and this world. We understand when we are under attack, how to overcome. We can apply God's word in our daily lives to guarantee success, joy, peace, and fruitfulness in all we do. As I was with my cross-country travel, we are completely prepared for the journey and whatever may come our way. The Psalmist wrote God's word is "a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." It illuminates the darkness, so we have overcome and had success in all we do!

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15 Thought for the day....bitter or better?

No one awakens in the morning and says to themselves, "you know what, I think I want to be bitter today!" Bitterness is epidemic in our culture. I used to wonder why and then I saw all the post of facebook with one response of bitterness after another. Listened to the news with one bitter story after another and watched television and even comedies are full of sarcasm and bitterness. Bitterness kills joy, love, and peace from our lives. The writer of Hebrews warns us about it

"Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many." Hebrews 12:15

How do you know if you are bitter?

- Are you holding a grudge against someone and it is just gnawing at you all of the time
- Whenever you see someone you feel something sharp inside
- When you hear about someone being blessed it bothers you rather than encourages you
- Do you wrestle with negative thoughts all the time?

These are some of the signs bitterness may be creeping into your life.

The writer using the phrase "grows up" with the Greek meaning suggesting a seedling just being to sprout up. It is interesting because bitterness doesn't start as a full blown tree but a seedling that just burst through the soil. It begins as a level of distrust and/or cynicism toward a person who has offended us and if not dealt with early on will become a full blown tree producing scornful, resentful, hurtful, bitter fruit. The ironic thing is it rarely hurts the person who is the object of our scorn but severely damages us and our relationship with those around us and the Lord.

The phrase translated "troubles you" means to have pestering thoughts, things going on in your head about others that constantly are bothering you. It is something that keeps getting you upset, robbing you of peace, love and joy.

If you constantly finding yourself speaking derogatory comments about others, if you have lost your joy, if you can't really celebrate the joys of others, you need to make a change. Allow the Holy Spirit to take care of that offense. Choose to forgive and walk in freedom rather than personal bondage. Be aware if a root of bitterness is trying to take hold. God wants you better not bitter. Offenses will come but we don't need to allow them to control us. God has an amazing plan for each of us and it scares the devil so he will set us up to be offended as often as he can but we can choose to be better or bitter! Chossing better brings joy and peace every time!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September 14 Thought for the day....its a matter of the mind

I have seen people do spectacular things who should never have been able to and I have seen people who should have the ability to be amazing, and they are stuck in a rut and can't get out. What makes one person a success, walking in freedom and another a tragedy walking in bondage? Peter gives us the answer in 1 Peter 5:8

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Have you ever heard a lion roar in person? We have all seen it on television or maybe heard a "harrumph" from one in a zoo. In the wild, a lion's roar can almost be deafening. It can overwhelm your senses. Peter is telling us that is what the devil does. He can overwhelm your senses so you can't think clearly and be the man or woman God has called us to be.

Peter starts out telling us to be "watchful." The Greek meaning here is to be on your guard to be always vigilant aware of any trouble. The tense in which this is written means to be this way constantly. If you are this way, the enemy will not be able to gain any entrance into your mind, your heart or your life.

Peter calls the devil "your adversary" this is the same as a prosecuting attorney. He will take our failures, our sins, our fears, and insecurities. All of these things are true and accurate, and he will use them to attempt to destroy us. The sad part is we are the ones who give him all the ammunition to use against us. We over spend and don't handle our money properly and become fearful because of it. We don't take care of our physical bodies and become sick and overwhelmed physically. We try to short cut things on the job and get into trouble, and we like to blame it all on the devil. What is happening is we make these bad choices, but it gives the devil the opportunity to accuse us of our failures and to beat us up.

The devil says stuff to you like....You're in this mess because of your dumb mistakes! You're reaping what you sowed, and there's no way for you to get out of this mess! You're paying for your past! Your kids are a mess because you failed as a parent! You're going to go bankrupt because you spent too much money on worthless things! While some aspects of these accusations may be true, he knows how to hit you, something completely false would never affect you badly, God is a redeemer of messes.

The devil is roaring loud, and we need to make up our mind to believe God at His word and shut the devil up. Psalm 103: 4 tells us that God redeems us from destruction. Colossians 1:13 tells us that we are taken from darkness into light. While the devil's accusations may be true when we make up our mind to repent, then he has no right, nor power to accuse us any longer. We win!

Stay alert, stay watchful! Recognize, "yes there is truth to the devil's accusations," but you are forgiven of them all. Don't give him the power to say you are a failure or loser. God forgives and forgets and believes in your future. That is what the devil will do and what God has said. You need to make up your mind as to what you are going to choose to believe. Please decide for freedom!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13 Thought for the day...we must do real

Working in Christian Television for over 30 years I was blessed with building relationships with so many honest, caring, truly devout, and devoted Christian leaders from around the world. Christian Television took some hits because of a lack of integrity in some. However, my experience was that the majority were real. There were the fake and the phony who acted Jesus like when the camera was on, but it didn't take long to see their true colors. It hurt me to see many flocking to these personalities who were living a lie. Paul dealt with this in the Colossian church.

"Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds." Colossians 3:9

You may not realize it, but this is something most Christians struggle with in their personal lives. When we think of a "lie," we think of someone speaking an untruth but the word Paul uses here speaks so much more. The word translated "lie" means any type of falsehood. It portrays someone who misrepresents who they are by what they do, by what they say, by the fact or truth they purports to be true, or by twisting the facts.

You may not set out to deliberately lie, but so often people get caught in a trap of exaggerating a story to make it sound better, to embellish something to make you look better, or to embellish something to make someone look worse. To this point, I have found it depends on what pain people live in, as to how they react to embellish for good or evil. Titus 1:15 says "To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled." I have had innuendo spoken about me on numerous occasions by Christians and found every time it is their pain and fear that causes them to lie. A pure heart will strive to speak the truth at any cost. A corrupt heart lives damaged until they are forced to deal with the truth.

Why is this so important? There is a general lack of integrity in politics, business, Hollywood, and the news. The saddest part is the church has been known in some ways to have a general lack of integrity as well. If we find ourselves in need of living a false life or creating a false narrative about others, we are not trusting the Lord. What's sad is the things we may exaggerate or lie about may be things the Lord wants to bless us with but our lack of trust guarantees we will never see them.

Think about your goals, your job, your family, and your life. Do you want the Lord's blessing on all of these areas? Do you want His wisdom, insight, guidance, and blessing on all of these things? We must choose to stop misrepresenting ourselves, twisting the facts or the truth about others. Our dealings in business, in our relationships, and life must be true.

Years ago when I opened my pizza business I was told by my supplier don't keep everything on the books or you will never make any money. I did keep everything on the books and our business became the number and most profitable pizza business in our area for all the time I was there. Choosing to not present a false image or live a falsehood like lying to the IRS are all things that stop Gods blessings. God wants us real, trustworthy, and with integrity. Want God blessing? Let's do real!

By the way, the photo is on our wall in our church!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12 Thought for the day...how do we get there from here

We have come to trust technology so much but what do we do when it fails us. There have been many times where I am trusting one of the GPS services to get me from point "a" to point "b" and rather than sending me to the correct place quickly it either takes a long way around or takes me to the wrong place entirely. We can fix it if it's technology but what if our "life" guidance system is wrong? Jesus promised us there is a way that we can know how to get where we need to go always.

"however, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;" John 16:13

Pittsburgh is laid out very strangely. It was designed around a colonial pattern of travel and the rivers. So you can literally make four right turns and not end up back at the same spot. If you are new to the area, it is very easy to get lost even with GPS. I have spent enough time in town that I would never go the way some GPS suggestions come because it is not the quickest way. Our lives can be like that too!

When we are going through our day-to-day events, meetings, work schedules and fun, it is easy to rest on our knowledge and know how. The Holy Spirit knows what happened yesterday and knows what will happen tomorrow. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. If we take the time, He will guide us in our decision-making processes. It is natural and normal for us to ask for the Lord's leading in difficult situations but His guidance is not limited to only the major decisions but can be available for every decision of our everyday life.

Further in John 16:13 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will "tell (show) us the things to come." The word translated "tell or show" means to have a navigator who will lead us through unknown territory safely, efficiently, and quickly! This is what the Holy Spirit can and will do for us!

The question you might be asking is, "How can He do this?" Our consistency makes this happen. Consistently being in prayer where you are building a real level of intimacy with the Lord. Consistently in the Word where you are learning the way God does things and why He does things. Consistently in fellowship where we can experience, through the truth others live, who God is, how He works in the lives of others, and the genuine love from real Christians that is "Jesus with skin on"

Being a true Christian is always about relationship, relationship with the Lord and relationship with His people and those that are not yet His people. Building that deeper relationship with Him helps us avoid; pitfalls, wastes of time and energy, and helps us to be more successful at everything we do!

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11 Thought for the day...moving on

I remember where I was when the twin towers came down. Most people do. We need to remember the evil that was done that day but as a nation, as churches, and individuals we need to become better. Allow me to present a challenge for us on this day

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

I love the idea of being transformed "from glory to glory." I have quoted this verse numerous times as an encouragement. Today I want us to look at it as a challenge. Let me point out something that should be obvious but isn't. In order to be changed from glory to glory the state we are in right now must be glorious. Is your present condition a glory or a mess?

I have to evaluate myself as I have mentioned before. Am I doing what God has called me to do? Am I faithful with the people, gifts, and things in my life I have been given? Am I open to receiving the correction the Lord is bringing into my life? Am I pursuing the dream He has placed on my heart?Life can get very messy if I am stuck in any of these areas. Our nation is stuck in some of these areas, many churches are stuck, and many individuals too. It is impossible to move from a mess to glory. God wants us to get to a glorious place first then He will move us.

How do we get there? Paul gives us that answer in this verse, "with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." What does he mean? We need to be willing to lift the veil of our shortcomings, our sins, our hidden fears, and anxieties. We must be willing to honestly look at the condition of our hearts and attitudes. These are often the things that limit our reflection of Jesus to the world.

If we are willing, pain is inevitable because no change is easy. The pain of change is short lived. The pain of being stuck in our mess can last a lifetime I have seen it in some people and see it in some even today. I see it in our nation as we continue to reject Jesus. I see it in some of our church groups where religion has become more important than relationship. I see it in individuals who are stuck in some of the things I mentioned above.

Unveil your look at your life, your heart, and your attitude. God wants you to move from glory to glory. We must start in a place of glory so we can move into an even more glorious place.