Thursday, June 20, 2019

June 20 Thought for the day...time to say, "No"

Have you ever found yourself believing things that God has already told us are not true? These are things that rob us of our future and blessings. Paul challenges us to, just say, "No."

"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Roman 6:11

Left unchecked our flesh will mess with us in very intense ways. It will try to make us lazy, saying to us, " you have done enough" or "no one really cares what you do or appreciates you" it will lie to you every time to rob you of your dreams, joy, and destiny. If that isn't enough, it will tell you, you are not smart enough, talented enough, or worth enough to do certain things God has already gifted you for. The flesh wants to be slothful so it can continue to do nothing. If you should come into agreement and live in regret because you failed to make wise decisions earlier in life or that others were born better off than you, what good would complaining do to change your circumstances? These are the times we need to say to our flesh, "No," God has promised great things!

The word "reckon" is not a term we use anymore but in this case needs our attention because the Holy Spirit is telling us to "think about, consider, count something as done" and we are to do these things continually, always not just one time.

The word "dead" means dead, a corpse, no life at all or possibility of life. The Holy Spirit is challenging us to be non-responsive to sin those thoughts that would limit God's plan and purpose in our lives.

He does not leave us hanging there He goes on to say "alive to God." Sin and the flesh's limitations in our lives would like us to settle or hold us back from all of the plans that are exceeding and abundantly beyond all we could hope or ask, that God has for us.

In other words, if we continually say "No" to the limitations the flesh wants to place on us and kill it off, then we will find all of the unique blessings and destiny God has planned from the very beginning! Saying, "No" to the flesh is saying "Yes," to God's amazing future for us!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June 19 Thought for the day...overcoming the overwhelming

As human beings, we have had at least a time or two in our lives when we have felt mentally overwhelmed. Sometimes it is depression or anxiety. Sometimes it is dread or fear. Sometimes too many deadlines or any number of things. Paul had the same struggles

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Paul was in trouble. It may have been some kind of physical ordeal, but it definitely was some great mental anguish. The word he uses for "trouble" means to have an extremely heavy, crushing load on you. It would be like a heavy boulder being slowly dropped on you.

When he is talking about being "burdened beyond measure," it means that excessive beyond anything that a person would normally face. Then you add to that "above" strength. Paul is piling phrase on top of phrase to express the point that this is difficult beyond measure and that normal human strength was not enough for the anguish he was going through in Asia.

Have you ever felt that overwhelmed? Have you ever felt so worried, anxious, depressed? Paul is talking about that exactly. The enemy was attacking him mentally, emotionally in such a way that he almost felt completely overwhelmed.

The phrase "despaired even for life" coupled with the phrase "sentence of death" means they felt utterly hopeless and by everything that they saw in the physical realm they were dead, they felt as if they were not going to survive. Have you been in that place? You may be in that place right now.

Paul is not saying this for us to feel sorry for him or to pity him, but so that we might understand how overwhelming the mental and emotional strains were on him and his team. The assault was intense, but Paul didn't give up or give in. He keeps pressing forward despite the intensity. He did not give up and told us that God stood with him even in this impossible situation and delivered them.

The key to overcoming overwhelming mental and physical strain and attacks is to keep pushing into the Lord. Do not back off, keep your eyes on Him your heart and attitude submitted to Him and then expect His deliverance. He will not fail you! He is not capable of failing you!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

June 18 Thought for the day...Don't feed the animals Part 2

Last time we talked about wild dogs. They are the ones who try to worm their way into people's lives and influence and in the church leadership, but all they want is their selfishness fulfilled. Who are the pigs? Let's look at the verse again.

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Matthew 7:6

Before we get the pigs, what are the pearls? The word means just what it says, but how do we acquire pearls. Someone has to dive deep into the water, the shell must be pried open. It costs the oyster its life. Before that happens, it takes lots of precious time for that pearl to be developed. Like yesterday's "holy" things, Jesus reference is regarding things of value you have acquired over time. They have become gems to you because of the price you paid to obtain them.

In both of these cases, the phrase "do not" and the reflective "nor" are in a tense that means Jesus is giving a command. He is saying, "by no means, never, ever give what is holy or cast your pearls." We need to understand Jesus wants us always to be aware of our audience. We are to give these precious gems only to those who will value them and use them to bless others, mature, and to become more like Jesus!

So who are the pigs? On a farm, pigs have no value except as meat. They lay around all day wallowing until it is time to eat. When the food is out, they will gobble up anything in their way. They eat and eat. They are consumers, they take and take and take never adding value until they are dead. They fight for the food, slobber, all over themselves, never give back and never show gratitude for the food they have been given. These are the types of people Jesus was warning about.

When you come across consumers who claim to be people of faith, you will know them because they always want more but never are willing to serve others or share with others what they have been given. They simply want to stuff themselves fully. They are the Pharisees of our day. They don't love and care enough about others to share what they have been given. The healthiest thing they can do for a church is to leave.

Jesus loves both the dogs and the pigs but wants them to change. If you know someone that is like this, pray for them! If you are one of these animals, change, feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and become who God has called you to be!

Monday, June 17, 2019

June 17 Thought for the day...don't feed the animals

We all know the old adage "don't bite the hand that feeds you," referring to not bringing harm to those that are blessing you. Jesus says something a bit more radical than that!

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Matthew 7:6

This sounds pretty harsh for Jesus to call people dogs and pigs, but let's see what He meant. First, we need to understand what is "holy." What the inference is, it means those things God has either given to you or done in you that have made you what you are. The life lessons the Lord has brought you through, the wisdom you have gained through triumph and tragedy, and the many insights you have gained through overcoming and conquering. It is also the specific gifts of the Spirit the Lord has given and the power and authority He has entrusted to you!

We are to treat all of these things as holy because they have been hard fought or they are direct blessings from God. We should never look down on the things the Lord has invested in us or given to us!

Who are the dogs? The dogs referred to here are a mangy, wild animal. They roam outside the walls of the city through the garbage looking for food. The will try through trickery to get in the walls into people's gardens or homes to get better food. These represent the people who float from church to church, never submitting to authority, never wanting to mature but always making excuses for their behavior. They try to worm their way into favor with leadership only because of their pride, not the love of the people. They have no desire but to feed themselves.

We need to be wise when we are investing our time, talent, and treasure into people. Watch them to see if they are someone who truly is hungry for the things of God or who really just wants to feast on whatever they can steal from others or are satisfied with garbage.

You have been given and have earned many special gifts from the Lord don't waste them on people who will not value them or you! Invest them in people that want to grow and are hungry to change and hungry to become who God wants them to be

Friday, June 14, 2019

June 14 Thought for the for the cracks

Those who know me, know I am not a sports fan, but I am an observer of people. In sports, it is easy to see when someone has neglected the fundamentals. Their play is off, their attitude is bad, and the only way to correct this is to humble themselves and revisit the fundamentals. That is the idea behind

1 Corinthians 10:12

"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall."

It is normally the little things that we don't take care of that lead to the greatest failures in our lives. The city of Sardis (one of the cities mentioned in Revelation) sat on a high mountain with sheer rock cliffs. Their walls were high and strong. Because of this, they felt they were an impenetrable city. They became arrogant and comfortable, so much so that they neglected the walls of their city. Without their notice, cracks began to form in these walls and over time, these cracks became large enough for a man to fit through. Soon while the city sleeps in their arrogance and comfort, a rival army climbed the cliffs and surrounded the city inside. When the people awoke one morning, to their horror, they had become overcome. This is what happens to us if we become arrogant, comfortable, and don't pay attention to the fundamentals of our walk with Christ.

The word "think" here refers to a way someone has an opinion about themselves. It has nothing to do with whether that opinion is true or not just simply what general idea is the person considers about themselves. We have to be careful not to compare ourselves to others but to always compare ourselves to Jesus. Doing that will keep our opinion in line with Christ.

His phrase, "be careful" means to continually be aware, to be watchful, ever vigilant. He is saying that regardless of someone's self-imposed opinion that they are solid be ever aware of the condition of your heart, attitude, and actions. We can "fall" if we don't watch. The Greek here means to fail and come to ruin, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. It describes the downfall of someone who formerly had a haughty opinion of themselves.

We must never become so smug, haughty, or complacent that we allow tiny cracks in our faith, attitudes, and actions to eventually turn into larger cracks that will destroy our reputation and God's destiny for us. As the old children's song goes, "read your Bible, pray every day if you want to grow." I will add to that because our culture has fallen so much because of complacency, we have allowed each generation to fall further away because of our choices, we must be in church. Our children need it to have a firm foundation. Sports, dance, and all the other things we feel they "need" to do will come and go in their lives, but a godly attitude and faith are for eternity. A lack of faith ruins a life for eternity.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

June 13 Thought for the day....go for the win

America was founded on great men and women who did not give it. They fought for what was right, and some even lost their lives so that others would have the chance for a better life. This is the kind of spirit in Paul's words

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person obtains the prize? So run to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul is challenging us to be aware, alert, and ready to run the race. The word he uses for "race" means an endurance race that will take everything you have to win. His focus in using that word is that we should as Christians never hold back but daily give our all, our full attention and concentration, to win. Because the race is long, we must also pace ourselves so we might win.

The Greek word for "obtain" means to see something of great value, something you have desired for a long time and to pounce on it, grab it, and hold onto it with all of your might and great joy. It is the joy you see on an Olympic runners face when they have given their all, every ounce of who they are and their reward is that they have won the race.

With this in mind, one translation put this verse this way. "Don't you know that those who compete in a footrace run with all their might and strength against the other runners, but only one wins the competition and takes the prize? In light of this, run with all the might you can muster! Go the distance, and pace yourself to make sure you have enough energy to get to the finish line, where you will finally grab hold of and possess that which you have been so passionately pursuing!"

Paul realized that the race ahead of him was worth it if he needed to get a side job he would do that. If he needed to act like a Jew to reach the Jews or a gentile to reach the Gentiles, it didn't matter. If he were thrown into prison, beaten, shipwrecked none of it matter he was in the race to win and not going to allow any "minor" inconveniences stop him.  What minor inconveniences are holding up your race? Keep in mind that you are in this race to win. Don't allow anything to slow you down or stop you. Keep your eyes on the prize and go for the win!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 12 Thought for the attention to the fruit

Have you ever had a piece of fruit that looked gorgeous on the outside, but once you bit into it, you have either found it rotten or not ripe? I'm sure it has happened to all of us, and I have had it happen in ministry as well. Here is what Jesus said about it...

Matthew 7:20 "Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their fruit.

Good fruit comes from good trees, and bad fruit comes from bad trees. As a manager at Cornerstone TeleVision, I had hired over 100 people in my career. As a young, inexperienced manager, I had a few major mistakes in hiring. Rather than checking about a person's attitude and actions, I made hiring decisions based on what I saw on a resume or in person rather than taking note of their attitude and action. I found that even though they looked good, their fruit proved they were bad. The word fruit here means - a person's deeds, actions, moral character, and behavior, and the output of the person's work.

This is a challenge for any manager, friend, and especially in ministry. Jesus saw a tree that looked perfect leaves lush and green, fully developed, but there was no fruit. It looked like it was perfect, but it was fruitless. Things like gossip, backbiting, dissensions, rebellion against authority, pride, fear, insecurity all things that can be hidden but once picked, can spoil their potential will fail. The fruit of a person's life never lies.

Sometimes people just aren't ready to be chosen. They are not yet ripe. John Mark was that way. Paul and Barnabas had taken him with them on a journey when he decided to leave them. They thought, and he thought, he was ready but under pressure found he wasn't and left them. It so upset Paul that it caused a division between him and Barnabas. However, with maturity and wisdom, John Mark grew up, and later Paul requested him, he was useful for service.

Right now, you may think you are ready for that job, promotion, or ministry position, but my challenge to you is looking at your fruit. Are you patient, kind, loving, caring, supportive, always looking, and believing the best about people? If you are, then you are ready for that promotion or position. If not, allow the Lord to correct you, work on you, and bring you to maturity, so you are ready.

God has a plan to bless, promote, and open doors for you. He expects you to be open to His correction and do things His otherwise you will keep going around the same mountain until you do. He loves you enough to allow that to happen in your life!