Friday, January 18, 2019

January 18 Thought for the dead ends in God!

Have you ever found yourself to be at a dead end? A time when you felt you had nothing left to offer? A time when you don't know what to say or you don't know where to turn? You are not alone. Most of us have been there at one time or another, the Apostle Paul included.

"In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:9

Paul had found himself in a position where he was so burned out, so without hope that he was expected to not make it. He had gone through so much heartache and struggle that he felt he couldn't take another minute of it. When you fail at the task. When you see your kids get into some terrible trouble. When there is a death or divorce, and it just tears you apart inside. There are so many other complicated, heart-wrenching, situations, so much so that it feels like you might just die or might as well die. There is hope!

Paul recognized that at the end of his rope, there was God. When he came to the end of anything he could do, he found God was always there. Too often our heart-wrenching, life tragedy is amplified because we have not invited God into the situation. Paul is saying because God loves so much, he will allow us to go our own way or go down the dark road but at the end of ourselves, he will be there.

The God who has the power to do the impossible is on our side. If we have nowhere to turn, He will show us where to go. If we have hit a dead end, He will make a way of escape. If we feel we have nothing left to offer, He will supply all that we need!

Paul is challenging us to really get to know and understand God's great love for us. We may at times feel abandoned but it is a lie, He is always there, providing what we need to succeed!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January 17 Thought for the day...things happen some times

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you knew you were doing the right thing, but everything just fell apart? Perhaps, you felt God was calling you to something, but no matter what you did, nothing worked. Paul had a similar problem...

1 Thessalonians 2:18 "Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us."

Paul knew what he had planned to do was right and godly yet for this moment, he was "hindered." The word Paul uses for hindered has two meanings. The first means like a road that his been made impassable, it is potholed and rutted. I've been on roads like that in China. Your choice is, get stuck or turn around and go back. Paul's first meaning is simply this, sometimes we can get hindered to where we reach an impasse and have to turn around and look for another route.

His second meaning is like that of two racers, each running with all of their might but one wants to win. Regardless of the ethics, one elbows the other causing him to stumble and lose. I am sure that you have seen this happen, not just in running events but in many sporting events where cheating takes place.

In both of these situations, frustration can arise, anger, fear, and/or hopelessness can take over. Paul shares this with us so that we don't allow those things to overwhelm us. God is in control, and while the enemy may seem like he gets a victory, it will never happen. God always makes a way. Job tells us in 42:2 that God's purpose will not be stopped.

Things happen, but our hope and trust are not in things but in God. He always makes the impossible possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16 Thought for the day....taking care of yourself

Every person has great strength and with every great strength comes a great weakness. When you have the heart to serve the Lord, often the enemy will not be able to get you to fall into sin, but he can get you to burn out, doing, rather than taking care of yourself.

"Take heed to yourself...." 1 Timothy 4:16

Paul wrote this to young Pastor Timothy, the pastor of the largest church in the world at that time. Timothy was faithful, loving, and caring for all the people and situations that he could at that time, to the exclusion of taking care of himself.

When we are gifted in some area, it is easy to go headlong into that area without looking out for our own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The word that we translate "take heed" actually means to "grab onto with all your might." Paul is saying, it is so easy to get caught up in doing for God, using your gifts and talents, that you forget to rest in God and keep your focus on Him.

When you are gifted by God, use those gifts to their fullest but remember who gave you your gifts and why He gave them to you. Remember God is not a demanding taskmaster but a friend, Father, the one who loves you the most. He blesses, strengthens and encourages. He also gives His beloved rest!

Always hold onto Him. Keep your service to Him, by using your gifts, a joy! Burn out, frustration, and aggravation are not part of the fruit of the Spirit!

Whatever your gift or gifts are, remember when you use them you are serving the Lord and honoring Him. He will not drive you so don't allow the devil or your own needs drive you to burn out either.

(I gave you this picture to help you get over the winter doldrums...summer is coming:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January 15 Thought for the day...loving eliminates hypocrisy

One of the reasons I often hear for people not wanting to come to church is hypocrisy. This really baffles me because there is more hypocrisy in the world than in the church. Entertainers who decry environmental issues yet drive in limos and fly in personal jets. Politicians who vow they care about the poor yet have made their career by passing legislation that keeps the poor in bondage to government. 

I will give them this, the church should always be as trustworthy, truthful, and lacking hypocrisy as is possible. How do we stay free from hypocrisy? Paul has the answer.

Romans 12:9a "Let love be without hypocrisy."

To understand hypocrisy, we must understand love first. Have you ever had a friend who you loved that has gossiped about you or attacked your character to others behind your back? Anyone can fail in a relationship but if on confrontation they lie to you about their failure their relationship with you is hypocritical. 

The word for the love God has for us and we should have for him and our Christian family is "agape." It is the highest, most noble, and most genuine type of love. Our culture has distorted love to almost make it dirty. This love occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of a person, causing the viewer to behold this person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in someone for another that they are compelled to love. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 3:16 and John talked about in 1 John 3:18.

This kind of love; honors, respects, and values a person for who they are and would sooner be wounded themselves than wound another. It is hard in our culture to love and receive love this way, but if we want to live free of hypocrisy, we must learn this kind of love for each other and choose to live real love for each other.

Monday, January 14, 2019

January 14 Thought for the day...a vessel for His power

Today some of us are going through some stuff, tomorrow others will be going through some stuff. There will always be times where we need strength. If today is a day you need some strength, then hear what The Holy Spirit has to say through Paul in Ephesians 6:10

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."

Some of you have heard this recently. Here is the breakdown of what Paul is saying with his choice of words. The word Paul uses that we translate "strong" means explosive strength, power, or ability. It goes beyond just explosive power, but it suggested that power is deposited into a vessel or container. The nature of the word Paul uses means there must be some type of receiver for this power.

Paul is saying we are to be that receiver. We are specially designed to be the receptacles of divine power. So when Paul is saying, "be strong in the Lord," he is saying God wants to give you all the power you need, we are designed by Him to be receivers of this power, and He desires to give you this power.

The stuff in this world, the attacks of the enemy, and so many other things that are completely against the cause of Christ will not be able to overcome us. Paul is encouraging us whenever we need it or want it, we can be receptacles of His power to overcome anything that comes our way!

Hopefully, this will turn around your day and any difficulty you may be facing. His power is waiting for you, and you were created to be filled with His power!

Friday, January 11, 2019

January 11 Thought for the day...He is always there

When people ask me to pray for them, it generally is one of several categories; healing, relationships, finances, the salvation of loved ones, but by far the biggest need is God's will concerning, their life, some situation, future, or something like that. The Lord gives us insight into finding His will in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church 2:9,10

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.

Paul is quoting Isaiah in verse 9 when Isaiah was frustrated and downhearted about not being able to hear and understand God's will. Before Christ resurrection and ascension, only a very few people, kings and prophets, were granted understanding of the deep things of God through the Holy Spirit. The common man had little hope of hearing and fully understanding God's will for them unless they sought out a prophet. Hearing from God for the average  "Joe" was nearly impossible.

Paul uses this quote to make something very clear for Christ-followers filled with the Spirit. He is saying, "Yes in days gone by it would be nearly impossible to understand the great and awesome plan God has for each individual, but now something is different." The word Paul uses for revealed here means, "to take away or tear down a veil." Paul is saying, now that you have the Holy Spirit living in you, the veil that hid the will of God for your life, for your family, community, nation, can be made clear. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, so it is His pleasure to lead and guide you.

The problem today is most Christians are choosing to live like they are still behind the veil. The Lord is saying, I have given you the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and reveal all the great things I have for you. Choose to begin to believe it, apply it and live it. We have been called from darkness into His marvelous light!

Take time to build a relationship with the Holy Spirit! He is there waiting to spend time with you!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 10 Thought for the day...difficult people

Do you have someone in your life that rubs you the wrong way? Someone with whom you just can't get along? I think we all do, the problem is, that at times, the problem is not really them it is us or our perception of them. God brings people into our lives for so many reasons, and in many cases, they are there for our benefit whether we appreciate it or not. God can work all things for our good. Paul writes this to a church trapped with pagan, anti-Christian forces all around them.

"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18

We all have people in our lives that are difficult to get along with and if truth be told we all have people in our lives that find us difficult to get along with. God does not give us a pass to simply ignore those people. Paul is writing here that "if possible" means "while potentially difficult it is still doable."

Our peace is not generated by us but instead by God. His challenge is live peaceably because He has given you peace, part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Paul's challenge is, therefore, being that you possess God's peace in your life do your best to maintain that peace in all your relationships.

Paul's phrase "all men" is literally everyone regardless of economics, politics, race, heritage, religion, background, or culture, be at peace with everyone, no-one is excluded. Jesus expects us to give our best effort to be at peace with everyone.

What does that look like? If someone absolutely drives you crazy and the relationship can not be reconciled, stay away from the person to keep the peace. Sometimes the best things we can do is get out of God's way and allow Him to work. If we keep fighting, then neither of us are at peace. If it doesn't seem that you can be reconciled, don't give up so easily, especially if they are a brother or sister in the Lord. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in them and in us to come to a place of peace. If we have to continue to be around someone that we can not be at peace with, then limit your time with them, keep your peace when you are with them, always praying for God's peace to come for both of you.

You are the one who is required by the Lord, as a Christian to be at peace as much as it applies to you. Don't give up on people easily, keep loving and do your best to keep your eyes on Jesus not them and at best you may win a friend at worse you may come to a healthy detente with someone who is completely different than you. He is your peace. Don't allow it to get stolen from you. You have the power regardless of the situation to be at peace.