Friday, October 29, 2010

Insight and understanding needed!

John 7:21 – 52

The title of this devotional should be a sign that we post everyday. As I am reading the Bible I ask for insight and understanding each step of the way. It is easy for my mind to wander and at times confusion to creep in. When we are reading and confusion tries to overcome us we must take the time to either compare scripture to scripture or ask people that have insight and understanding.

There are things that people believe that are simply misunderstanding, myth, or simply ignorance. One example I have run into is that many believe that when people die they turn into angels. Angels were beings created by God to be His messengers, we humans go to be with the Lord the scripture tells us that we will judge angels, we do not turn into angels. There are many little things like that.

Jesus is telling the people He will need to suffer and die on the cross, He is being a little cryptic, however He had told them this before. He has also inferred to them that He is the Messiah. The people were looking for an earthly King that would raise the nation of Israel to its former state of glory. God sent a Savior to restore people bound by sin to a relationship with Him, establishing a Kingdom of people from everywhere.

The people were also confused in two different directions about what we know about Jesus and the Messiah in specifics. Some in the crowd were saying, “This can’t be the Messiah, we know where he has come from!” others were saying just the opposite, “Can the Messiah come from Galilee, the scripture says He must come Bethlehem?” If they had taken the time to ask questions rather than making assumptions they would have found the answers. God does not want us to be ignorant, He is not hiding His love, grace, or mercy from us. He is the “truth”! The enemy would like us to walk in deception and lies, leading us to frustration and a sense of hopelessness and depression. The “truth” sets us free.

The Sanhedrin guards heard the truth, they said, “no man ever spoke like this man.” They saw something and heard something in Jesus that they had never experienced before. They lived with the Pharisees and Sadducees and yet were amazed by Jesus.

God is looking for men and women of understanding to live that life before men. People are hungry for truth, they have had enough of the trappings of religion and are looking for something that is real and someone that is real. It is also very easy to cross the line trying to shake off all the things of religion and lose aspects of faith. God’s insight and understanding keeps us walking in the truth and enables us to bring the freedom so many are seeking.

You are a light in the darkness, salt in a flavorless place. You can ask the Lord for wisdom, insight, and understanding and you will be able to help bring the truth to others, a truth that sets them free.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Key to leadership: Listen to the voice of God

John 7:1 – 20

If we believe that God really loves us and has a plan and purpose for us, then we must look for His involvement in our everyday lives. If we are going to be a success in life then learning to listen to God’s guidance and direction are critical.

Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to go into Judea to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles in hopes that He would perform a few miracles and prove to them and the people that He was at east a miracle worker. Even though Jesus is God, in His grace He has given people free will with which they could have limited the effect of His ministry had the timing not been right. Jesus only listen to the voice of His Father to know where to go and when.

It is easy for us to jump on the bandwagon of doing this or that “for the Lord” and not really listening to what the Lord wants us to do. We are most effective when we take the time to listen to the Lord.

Ok sounds very spiritual, “listen to the Lord” but what does that mean in our practical everyday lives. First, it is not that spooky! God really does love us and in a love relationship communication is key. I believe God always wants to “talk” with us; we need to learn to listen. So how do we listen? First, God has written to us the most marvelous book, the Bible. Everyone owns one but very few people actually read it. People think they know what is in there, but once you begin to read it you begin to understand God’s heart and He begins to “speak” to you.

Second, prayer and meditation, King David wrote that he would meditate on the Lord day and night. Prayer and meditation go hand in hand. Prayer is talking to God and meditation is waiting on Him to respond. When we pray and meditate we are choosing to set aside time that are only for Him. (Most guys need to learn this in relationship to their wives) We are expecting to hear from Him, as we practice waiting we begin to hear Him speaking mostly in the stillness of our minds, something we have trouble doing with all of the noise around us.

Third, God places people who love Him, in our lives to give us the guidance we need. If you are having trouble “listening” to God, talk with people you know hear from the Lord, allow them to show you how to “hear” from God. It is always good to have someone walk you through separating what you think versus what God is saying.

Keep in mind, God very much loves you and wants to communicate with you! No love relationship can really function without communication. Good communication will save you heart-ache, keep you focused and enable you to be more effective in all that you do. You will be more fulfilled and touch more people if you learn to hear from the Lord.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fair weather friends

John 6:49 - 70

There are all kinds of people we have in our lives. People that want to hang around you because it makes them feel better, people that are in your life just because you work together, and those that stand with you whatever the storm. As long as you know where people stand, it is easy to handle. Problem happen when you think you have a friend who will ride out the storm with you and when the first little wind blows they run for cover, that is when it hurts.

Walking with Jesus is a joy. Knowing that your life and future are secure because of your friendship will make anyone’s day. Developing a friendship with the God who created everything is an amazing thing, it is one of the privileges of being a son or daughter of God.

Jesus had been performing many miracles, healings and speaking great wisdom. He had challenged those in authority who had been lording their righteousness over the people. He had miraculously fed over fifteen thousand people with only a few loaves and fish. He was all they were looking for loving, miraculous, radical and someone who would fill their bellies. What more could a people ask for? Jesus didn’t come simply for those things; those are all surface relationship things. He came so that they might have relationship with the Father.

If we want Jesus or really any relationship for simply what they can do for us we will miss out on the wonder of discover and growth that the Lord has planned for us. God brings people into our lives for us to bless, for them to challenge us, and for our growth and encouragement.

Jesus challenged the people to go deeper. The “eating of His flesh and drinking His blood” was His challenge to people to say be willing to die like I died, be willing to walk the walk they I will walk and you will have life in a way you could never imagine. You are in the way, when you die to your self and selfish desires, I will cause you to live in the fullness of God’s Spirit.

The Result:

Many walked with Him no longer! Even His closest friends were challenged. Jesus had to ask them, “What about you?” Great answer by Peter, “Where else can we go? Who else has the words of eternal life?” I have been in that place where I do not understand what God is doing or why and the devil wants me to give up on my faith. That’s when I have had to stand and say, “Where else can I go?”

We all go through hard places. At one point in your life you will be asked to handle or do hard things. There are many lives that are depending on our growing to be the men and women God calls us to be. God will walk us through the hard things, if we are willing. They will cause our growth. The disciples could have walked away but they would have missed all of the great, miraculous things God had planned.

God has great plans for you! Part of that plan will cause you to walk through tough things and have you work through some difficult decisions. Will you trust Him any way? Will you continue to walk with Him or will you be a Fair weather friend who runs at the first sign of trouble.

“In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but I have overcome the world.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some times we simply make it too hard

John 6:27 – 48

Do you ever find yourself over-thinking some thing. Often when we over think we get into trouble, we read more into it than is necessary. Someone says something to you and rather than excepting it at face value we read something into it, “What did he or she mean by that?” It rarely turns out better or for the good and more often than not ends up either getting us in trouble or giving us a bad attitude.

The crowds around Jesus were over-thinking, they were making it harder to follow Jesus than it was. They were looking for a work or a sign that they would or could do that would give them entrance into the Kingdom. It is human nature to want to “earn” our way into the Kingdom of God. Jesus was explaining to the people it is as easy as eating food or receiving a loaf of bread. The simplicity is found in verse 35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” Simply recognizing who Jesus is, the “coming” to Him part and then believing in who He is, will get you into the Kingdom.

Too simplistic? Religion teaches us that we must work to “become” whatever the “becoming” part is of any major religion. Jesus asks us to simply believe. God already made the way! He eliminated the wall that separates us from Him by Jesus death on the cross and we want to keep putting it back up by putting in a list of rules and regulations of who can get there. Our relationship should be about falling in love with the Lord. When you fall in love and continue to give your love some very important things begin to happen, you learn to trust, you long to be with them, and you desire not out of demand but out of love, to do things that will please the one to whom you love. Some get that confused with “works” but if you love someone you long to be with them and do things that will bring you both joy. It all starts with coming to Him and simply, like a child, believing.

Are you making some things too hard today? God is really in love with you and wants only the best for you? Make the decision to simply believe, don’t worry! Just believe! Make it simple today and see what He will do for and through you. Let Him love you today!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can we see the way Jesus sees?

John 6:1 – 26

There is more than enough in this passage to write several devotional thoughts but for today, I simply want us to look at one aspect of the miracle supper.

Most people are either glass half empty or glass half full kind of people. The idea is that some people always see the negative or problem side of things and others the positive. Neither is necessarily good or bad. People who see the glass half empty can be the ones who help solve the world’s problems. People who see it had full can always bring encouragement. It is what you do with the way you see things that matters. If you are whiney, and hopeless, half empty is a problem but if you use your insight to solve the problem you see then you change the world. if you are oblivious to reality half full is a problem, but if you help others to see the potential then you have changed the world.

The disciples saw a very real and potentially dangerous problem. People had been following Jesus and now where outside of the city with no sustenance. Jesus knew their fears and asked the question, “How are we going to feed all of these people?” Philip’s answer roughly translates into 8 months normal wages would not feed everyone. Jesus was looking to see if the disciples yet understood who He was. He was the one through whom all things were created. Jesus saw the problem and the solution; He also was looking for the disciples to see it as well. Andrew saw through the eyes of a little child. A child offered his loaves and fish. Andrew had seen what Jesus could do with plain water at the wedding of Cana. The child only knew the love he felt from Jesus and offered the only offering he had available. Jesus saw the heart of the child, the hunger of the people, and the power of the Father.

No matter what the problem, the Lord has an answer. We waste a lot of time worrying. Jesus lead the people out into the outskirts of the city, He knew they would be hungry; He knew how much money they had in their money sack. He also knew God the Father does not fail. Remember Jesus, said, “I only do that which I see the Father doing.”

What struggles or problems are you facing today? Jesus has already provided the means for your deliverance and freedom? Try not to be quick to worry but instead be quick to ask and look for the solution. There is always something or someone that the Lord will use in your life to solve your difficulty. God is a loving Father, there are times He wants us to grow through things but He always has the solution to every trial a difficulty. Look at the glass as neither empty of full but as potential for the Lord to do great things in our lives. I am sure that at some point even today you will face challenges, when you do see things as Jesus does, let Him show you the solution. Nothing is too difficult for God!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The tools Jesus used

John 4: 42 – 54

Each day we have task to accomplish. The task goes much more smoothly when we have the right tool. I have stripped many heads on bolts because of not have the right size wrench, have been frustrated with projects I needed to work on because of not having the right software for my computer. You most likely have done the same. It is very hard to accomplish the job we need when we do not possess or know how to use the right tools.

Jesus used tools as well. Does that surprise you? He was a carpenter for most of His life so He saw what happen when you had the right tool and the wrong one. Some of the tools Jesus used were; love, grace, scripture, and of course, miracles. Miracles as a tool? Absolutely, that is their purpose.

The nobleman came to Jesus looking for a miracle. His son was dying; he wanted his son to live. Jesus had compassion on both the Father and son however, understanding eternity He also would have know if the son would have spent eternity in heaven or hell. Having this knowledge He made a decision. Jesus love for all of us runs deeper than what we could ever imagine. He knows the incredible horrors of hell. No Halloween horror flick could ever truly compare to the sense of abandonment by God people will feel in hell. No Hollywood picture could capture the grandeur, splendor or wonderment of heaven. The decision was simple, based on John 3:16, 17 we know that God loves everyone and wants everyone to come into relationship with Him. God will draw people to His love always but we must choose to accept this love. Jesus used one of His tools, a miracle to touch the man, his son, and I am sure everyone who knew them.

What was the result of Jesus using the miracle of the boys healing? Verse 53 tells us the answer, “…he himself believed and his whole household.” It would be a disservice to the Lord to look at miracles as an end to themselves; miracles are always a tool to draw people closer to Him. Jesus could have made it into a spectacular event; He could have gone to the man’s home and healed the boy, but this time it was about entire family coming to faith. It sounds like had the boy died he would have spent eternity in hell. Jesus cares more than that.

Something we need to remember, everyone will have an opportunity to come to the Lord before they die. Some will experience miracles, others the still small voice, others will hear through other means. God loves all of us so much that He does all kinds of things to draw us to himself. You have people in your life that don’t know the Lord, you love them, want to see them come to the same knowledge you have and it is heart-breaking at times. Understand that the Lord knows and loves them even more than you do. Try to not worry or be anxious about you friends and family but keep placing them in the Lord’s hands. Whatever you hold on to will only be as good as what you can do. Whatever you give to the Lord will only be as good as what He can do! He can do a far better job in the lives of our families than we can. Give you family and friends into God’s hands; let Him use whatever tools are necessary to reach them. Life is not a short sprint, it is eternity and where we will spend eternity is dependent on our choices here on earth.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One Life equals Hundreds

John 4:19 – 41

One life equals hundreds

One of the statements I hear often is, “What have I really done to make a difference?” I believe one of the biggest tricks of the enemy of our souls is to convince us that our lives are worthless, that we are not having any impact. The key is always simply to do what God has called you to do. If you do that then you can rest assured that you are having exactly the impact God is expecting you to have.

Jesus stopped to talk with one woman. It is obvious that Jesus had no problem speaking to large crowds. The key is that Jesus always did what He saw the Father doing. It is not about doing big things only; it is about doing what God has called you to do. Obedience is better than any sacrifice you can do. God is not looking for big gestures, but simple obedience.

Jesus could have gone into town and performed many miracles to show everyone he was the Messiah. Instead, He was obedient to the Father, sat down by a well and spoke to one woman. Sounds simple but it was the most important things He could do at that moment. The woman had the greatest impact anyone could expect, the entire town turned to Jesus. One life, a few minutes of obedience turned into hundreds coming to Christ.

What is the one thing the Lord wants you to do today. It may not be something that anyone will see in this life but is exactly what the Lord has for you to do that will impact more lives than you can imagine. Could you be kind to an older person today, would you help with children’s church, or the church kitchen today, maybe it is simply praying with one person. Whatever it is no matter how big or small if you are being obedient to the Lord you will change the world.

Be a blessing today, listen to that gentle voice from the Lord and do what He asks you to do. Whatever it is may change hundreds of lives or it could simply change one that will change hundreds.
Today is you day! Just do it for the Lord

Common Ground

John 4:1 – 18

I want to apologize for this being late today, my internet was down.

If you have a relationship with the Lord, you are excited about life, about where you are going and what the future holds. If you came to relationship later in life you understand the impact that it means to everything. In other words, relationship with the Lord has made your life better and you want to share that with others. The question is, “How do we do that effectively?”

Jesus gave us an example in this passage. He had nothing in common with this woman. She was a woman he was a man, she was a Samaritan He was a Jew. she had been married and He was single the difference keeps going from there. Despite there obvious differences Jesus found common ground.

If we want people to know the joy, love and peace that we have come to know we must find a way to communicate that people will be able to understand, common ground. Those of you that know me have heard me say in all my travels I have found three things are universally true and that are common ground for most of us; everyone wants to be loved, do better for their kids than they did themselves, and even the most ardent atheists I have met have hoped there is something more out there than just us! Common ground.

Jesus found common ground with an everyday event, drawing water from a well. In talking about the seemingly mundane Jesus was able to hit on a need the woman had, to be loved. Like most people, she was slightly put off by his pushing her to a deeper level of communication. She tried to deflect the communication but trying to drag Jesus into a theological argument. He would go there or allow anything to distract Him from showing her love. One thing we need to be careful of is losing the heart of the matter through such kinds of discussions. In situations like this people are generally looking for us to give them insight about this topic, they are trying to find out what we believe and are willing to use that to shut down the discussion before it goes to far. Jesus stayed on point. When she saw that He genuinely cared for her, she began to open up. If you are sharing your faith just to add a “salvation notch” onto your belt you are missing the point. Correct theology comes from a deep love and understanding of God. No one’s theology is perfect but our love for people can be!

Most people are looking for relationship with the Lord. A recent survey showed that 60% of all people would come to church if asked. It is simply a matter of common ground. If you have been having difficulty sharing your faith with people, try finding the common ground.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do we believe?

John 3:1 – 36

I could have equally titled this, “Do you know what you believe?” Everyone who has ever been to a sporting event has seen and knows about “John 3:16”. There is generally someone holding a sign with that scripture, to be honest we can’t really live John 3:16 if we don’t practice and live John 3:17 as well.

Nicodemus had studied scripture most of his life. In John 2 there is mention of those who believed because of the signs, Nicodemus was probably one of those. He wanted to know what these signs meant. He wasn’t sure what to believe. When we have been people of faith for a while, we tend to develop belief systems. The challenge is not stay there. The closer I come to the Lord, the more I learn about Him changes me and at times what I believe. I learned about how deep His grace is for us. I had been at one time performance based in my beliefs, then the Lord taught me, and I got it, that His love for me is not based on what I do but on who I am. Nicodemus was open to being challenged by God; he wanted to be all that God had called him to be. I have to challenge myself everyday to be open to the Lord revealing new things that I need to understand about who He is, His love for me and for others.

John 3:17 states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” It is easy for us to talk about God’s love for the world, but for us to overcome an air of judgment is not as easy. All of us have certain sins that we deem worse than others. We all have people that “rub us the wrong way” and we look down on them or with an attitude of disgust. We may not say it openly but our flesh is naturally prideful and self-promoting. Sometimes it is neither of those toward others, but we spend our time condemning ourselves.

John asks the question in his first letter, “How can we love God whom we haven’t seen when we don’t love our brother whom we have seen?” Our job is neither to condemn nor live under condemnation. It is our job to bring the love of God to people in a way that they can understand it. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction to people and draw them to the Father. Ours is to be “Jesus” to the world. The only people Jesus ever openly condemned where the religious, the sinners He forgave and showed the way to freedom. Do we sometimes have that backward? We have mercy on the hypocrites and condemn those who most need to know they can be forgiven and free.

Can I challenge you today to ask the Lord two things; First, is there anyone in my life that I am condemning? Second, am I heaping condemnation on myself? Condemnation pushes people away from God; conviction draws them to Him and His grace. Rely on His grace today, for yourself and for others. Ask the Lord to show you how to be Jesus to others, to believe and live the way that He did. We don’t excuse sin, but as real believers in Jesus we must do what He did. He did not come to condemn but to bring life and freedom. If we simply believe and live Jesus’ way, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to bring the conviction and love that will lead them to the Father. What do you believe? Do we need to condemn or do we need to bring Jesus? I would rather have and bring Jesus!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Concern over wine.

John 2:1 – 24

One thing I am not is a detail person. I am a big picture kind of guy. I like to give and receive vision and let people run with it, taking the initiative for their area of responsibility. I have my eye on the prize always. The strength of that is I can get things moving in the right direction, the weakness is that I can miss the little nuances along the way that are important.

Jesus knew His goal; show the world the Father’s heart, raise a group of disciples to carry His message, give His life for mankind, and then prove that everything He said was true by raising from the dead. Pretty lofty goal! He could have kept His eyes on that goal and ignored His mother’s request for help.

In this culture, it would have been a major embarrassment for the groom to run out of wine. In the light of eternity, the deaf, blind, lepers, the poor, and so many other needs in the world what does filling a few water pots full of wine really mean? Why did Jesus care about the embarrassment of one man, perhaps a relative? What did this mean to God’s long-range plan? Everything!

To think, why would God care, is to somehow assume that His power is limited. To believe that if He were to take care of this task over here that somehow it would infringe upon or limit His ability to do other things. God is far greater than we could ever imagine. His power and ability are unfathomable and unlimited. He cares about the tiny details in our lives and our destiny. He is capable of guiding it all.

Have you limited God recently? Believing that somehow what you need is not really important to God? Perhaps you haven’t but I am sure someone around you has. We have a skewed view of God that limits his power, love and understanding. He has no limits! If we can grasp that concept and really believe it, we can watch our world change around us. We can believe for the impossible and understand a love that we could never have imagined. Today may be the day that you begin to believe that if God could have concern for a little wine He can have concern for everything in my life. Believe Him today!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

God guides us to figure things out!

Luke 24:13 – 53

I remember studying for test in college. I had two general methods, one was to cram and just learn the vital information to get through the test and the other was to figure out the “hows” and “whys” so that I could give application to what I was learning. The cramming method got me through the test and generally a decent grade on the exam however the figuring out the “hows” and “whys” caused me the grasp the concepts and hold onto them. There are concepts, (some useless now), I understand today because of learning them over thirty years ago. They stuck in my head because I had to figure them out.

Jesus wanted the two men on the road to Emmaus to really get it! I believe He purposely hid himself from his uncle Cleopas and the other disciple because He established a teaching moment. He wanted them to figure out the “hows” and “whys” so they would have it. They were so depressed and disappointed. They had viewed Jesus as the messiah but then doubt came into their hearts when they saw him crucified (they were describing Jesus as a prophet rather than the Messiah). Rather than simply revealing Himself he went through a study of the messiah for them so they would have it securely, line upon line, in their hearts who Jesus is! When He broke bread with them they connected the dots and all of a sudden it was real and unshakable. They had the courage, even though it was night, to travel the road to tell the disciples Jesus was alive and to explain it to them line upon line. The Lord is always about the business of speaking to us in the best way we can understand it.

The Lord is always there! He will never leave us or turn His back on us. Some times He does guide us through an understanding of things so we will really grasp them. It is an “Ah Ha” moment, when the light bulb goes on and we see the light. When He has guided us through it then we really get it and it sticks.

What are you being “guided” through right now? Proverbs says “Trust in the Lord will all of your heart, don’t lean on your own understanding, acknowledge Him I all of your ways and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5,6

Their own understanding caused them to see Jesus as a Prophet, their ultimate acknowledgment caused them to see Him as Lord and Messiah! In you difficulty, how are you seeing Jesus today? Let Him be Lord over every situation. Trust Him that He will guide you through whatever you must do. He will make your path straight!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Disappointment is a thief!

Luke 24:1-12

Disappointment is a thief!

I don't know how you would handle it but I tend to believe that I would be just like the disciples, disappointed about the events of the last few days. Everything had been going so well. They came into Jerusalem as almost rockstars, just a week earlier. Now they are hiding. They had given up everything to follow Jesus and now they have nothing. Their faith as still small.

Disappointment comes because someone or something has failed us. Jesus had predicted his death on numerous occasions. The disciples should have remembered. Jesus promised whoever has given up much to follow Him will be given more, they should have trusted. Jesus raised others from the dead, performed miracles that no one had ever done before yet they did not believe He could perform the impossible now.

Think about your life. Is there someone or something that has disappointed you? Any disappointment can find it's root back to a lack of trust in the Lord! Think about it, whatever you are going through God has the power to supply, strengthen, bless, deliver, or just plain get you through it! We waste so much time being disappointed.

Jesus had risen from the dead yet the disciples totally missed it and wallowed in disappointment for a while longer because the did not trust the Lord. He had risen from the dead, conquered their every fear, proved that He and the Father are one, and that every word He said was true! They missed it!

God has a great plan for your life. You may have read something in the Bible that is a promise for you or someone may have told you something they heard from the Lord for you, all good things, then something happens. Struggles, battles, hurt, rejection happens and it robs of God's promises for us.

Don't allow your promise to be stolen from you! Don't waste any time allowing your joy, love or peace taken away. Jeremiah 29:11 says this "the plans that I have for you, are for a hope and a future, plans for you good and not for your destruction!" If nothing else believe that promise and disappointment will never steal another minute of your life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God always has the right people in your life!

Luke 23:44 - 56

God really does care about everything in your life. Whether you know it or not, He has a plan in place to prosper and bless you. Part of that plan is that he has placed people in your life to encourage, strengthen, challenge and love you to the place where you heart longs to be. It is not always easy and sometimes God will even use your enemies to help move you along. If you are serving the Lord, He will do everything to help you become who you are called to be.

In this passage there are two people that are “there” at just the right time. The disciples had followed Jesus for three and one half years; they had given up everything to follow Him. The worst thing they could imagine was now happening, He was being crucified, killed, and so were their dreams with Him. God provided encouragement for them for a very unusual source. A centurion who had taken part in the crucifixion of Jesus said two very important things that should have encouraged the disciples. In this passage Luke records heard him say Jesus was a righteous man. For a Roman officer to say that was a miracle, it would be akin to one of Osama Bin Laden’s chief officers confessing Billy Graham is right. When he called Him righteous it carried the weight of Jesus being “right”. Secondly, Matthew heard him call Jesus, “the son of God” that was a statement that could place him on a cross. Blasphemy against the emperor! God was using a Roman centurion to speak words of encouragement to those who were suffering around him. What often happens is that we can get so caught up in our “stuff” and the enemy gets our eyes on our problems that the encouragement the Lord sends can go right over our heads. The Holy Spirit is “the encourager” when you are suffering, when you are going through your “valley” experience, the Lord is with you. Look for the encouragement.

God will always send practical help too when we need it, we need to be looking for it as well. Mary, Jesus’ mother was a widow, the disciples were all in fear of the same fate Jesus had just suffered. Where would they get the money to bury Jesus? Who would have the favor to make this all happen when it seemed all of those in power where against this band of disciples, God had the right person, Joseph, there to be a blessing and meet the very practical need of burying Jesus.

We spend so much time worrying about so many things. Jesus said to seek Him first and He would take can of the rest (Matthew 6:33). Whatever you may face today, the Lord already has the resources and people in place to meet that need. God is a loving caring Father who believes in you more than you believe in yourself and He wants to get you to where you want and are called to be. It’s all a matter of trust!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The right attitude

Luke 23:22 – 43

It is easy for some people to always have the glass half full mentality. I can do that most of the time but if I am tired or simply worn thin a bit it can be nearly impossible to maintain a good attitude. I can’t imagine what the two thieves were going through on their crosses. They were simple human beings who were getting Roma justice meted out to them. They had not been beaten as severely as Jesus, yet the nails though their hands and feet were just as real. I don’t blame them for being mean, resentful, and vengeful. They were tired, had extreme blood loss, and were in intense pain. Yet their attitude made the literal difference between heaven and hell.

All of us go through stuff. Sometimes it may feel like a crucifixion, a painful agonizing death. I have been with people who have watched their loved ones both young and old suffer and die. The anguish families feel especially with a drawn out illness, is tremendous. I have walked people through divorces and I have walked them through forgiveness of a failed spouse, the pain with both can be overwhelming. The pain is not the thing that I fear for people, it is the attitude that worries me.

Job lost everything, his fortune, his children, his home; all he had left to his name was a wife that wanted him to curse God and die. Job’s response was a very simple, “Though He slay me, yet I will serve him!” God saw his heart, helped him through his grief, and restored everything that was stolen from him.

For the thieves on their crosses, they were getting what they deserved as punishment under Roman law. One in his pain and suffering decided to continue to lash out at others. Because of his pain, rejection, and spiritual agony he refused to see that his deliverance and peace was right beside him. The other thief, in the exact same circumstances, took his eyes off of his problems and looked to the Lord for his answers. One ended the day in paradise, one in hell!

Everyday we face the same choices. We all struggle with things from minor difficulties to major catastrophes. With each struggle we have a choice to have the right attitude which allows the Lord to bless us and get us through our struggle or to gripe, curse, get angrier, become vengeful, or any one of hundreds such response that pull us further away from our joy, peace, and communion with the Lord. Attitudes can make the difference between going through heaven or hell in our situation.

The Lord taught me many years ago, circumstances do not determine God’s will, people do not determine God’s will, things do not determine God’s will only His Spirit determines His will for our lives. When we create and environment for His Spirit to move in our lives, by choosing to trust him despite our circumstances, His perfect will is accomplish and we have joy regardless of the situation.

What about your circumstances today, are you going to be fearful, angry, vengeful, or are you going to be trusting and look for the Lord in the middle of what you are going through.

Attitudes make the difference in our daily lives of whether we go through heaven or hell!

Friday, October 8, 2010

We can't shock the Lord.

Luke 22:27 – 48

So many times people come into my office afraid that is they tell me what they have done that somehow it will shock me. I have heard, just about, it all. What I find more interesting is how many believe, on some level, that God doesn’t know what they have been up to, that somehow if they ask for help or even mention it that God will be shocked. I can see it now, God is in heaven, I tell someone how I have failed and the Lord quickly says to the angels, “Angel, how didn’t we know about this, I’m shocked, I can’t believe Tim did that!” Just so you know that would never happen. One of the great things about God is that He knows everything and still loves us!

Jesus knew Peter’s weaknesses and his strengths. He was emphasizing to Peter that he needed to be aware that he was slipping into his old nature. Rather than calling him Peter, “rock”, Jesus called Peter by his name that represented his old nature, “Simon”. Jesus knew what Peter was going to do, He told him. Something we miss in English is that after Jesus warns Peter about Satan wanting to sift him, He says, “I have prayed for you”! The “you” there is the plural, as Jesus was not just speaking to Peter but to all of the disciples. Remember it was not only Peter that ran away but also most of the disciples scattered and hid during the crucifixion.

God know what we are going to do before we even do it. He doesn’t cause it to happen; He knows the past, present, and the future. For us to believe that we will somehow shock God if He finds out what we have done is just shame from the enemy of our souls. What is even more interesting is that He knows all of the sin we will ever commit and yet still loves us! He knows how many times we will disappoint Him, fail Him, or even turn our backs on Him and He still loves us, still died on the cross for our sins, and still calls us moment by moment to himself!

Isn’t it amazing how much we are loved? Isn’t it amazing the relationship that God has and wants to have with us? I wish we would never fail God, but it happens. The point is, when we fail God, don’t live there. We can’t shock God, we can’t mess Him up with our sin, we can’t shock Him. When we fail, confess it to Him, ask for forgiveness, and then accept His forgiveness and love! Sometimes it is harder to forgive ourselves than to receive His forgiveness.

God knows you, believes in you and loves you. Don’t forget it

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lord knows what's going on!

Luke 22:1 – 26

Do you ever question the statement, “the Lord knows what’s going on!” or “God has everything under control!” I really wonder about that sometimes, I don’t think it is as much control as He knows always what we will do. He does not cause wars, murders, or rapes; He is not in control of those things. They are human, free will disasters. However when we choose to really trust Him and follow Him, He makes the miracles happen and moves the mountains. He has a purpose for us, when we decide that we, love Him more than our own lives and we choose to follow Him, He will move heaven and earth to see the purpose for why He created us, come to completion.

How do I know this, I have seen it in my life and the lives of others and I read it in scripture. Why did a shepherd boy become King? God had purposed him to do it and the boy surrendered to that purpose. How did a Jewish boy become confidant to three different kings of his enemies? He surrendered to God’s purpose and three ungodly kings became rulers for God.

I know those are very big radical things but God is in the small things as well, the details. Jesus sent His disciples into Jerusalem to find a room for them to have their last Passover meal together. They didn’t have a clue how to find a place so He gave some very detailed instructions. Remember Jerusalem would be a bustling metropolis during the Passover. The population would have at least doubled. It would be like Time Square on New Year’s Eve, it was the place to be!
Every room would have been taken, it should have been another, “no room at the Inn” scenario for Jesus, but He knew what was going on. He knew they needed a room; He had it reserved!

With the population of Jerusalem over flowing how would they ever find one person carrying a water pitcher? God knows what’s going on! In those days men did not carry water, that was the work of the women in the household. For a man to be carrying water was a very clear sign. When we choose to follow the Lord, if we really take time to listen, His instructions are very clear. As we get to understand His heartbeat, His instructions become easy to follow. The disciples found the man with the water pitcher and the purpose of God was fulfilled.

We need to understand something else! Jesus could have easily gone into Jerusalem and found the room Himself, but He chose to use the disciples. The disciples were able to see their faith in action, watch it grow, and deepen their trust in the Lord. To me that is more of what was going on here than anything. Jesus could have celebrated Passover anywhere, but instead He chose to allow His disciples one more opportunity to grow, see that Jesus does love them, and press into their gifts a little more.

When you find yourself in questioning times, the Lord really does know what is going on! Look for an instruction from the Lord that will lead you to the right place. When we serve the Lord, He will always lead us to the place where we are completely fulfilled. Are you walking and looking for the man with the pitcher? Or Are you afraid that you will get lost in the big city? God know what you need, where you are, and where you need to go. Trust Him, listen for His instruction, and then by faith follow Him. You will fulfill you destiny!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No trick but you can have a treat!

Luke 21:22 – 38

The end of October is always a quandary for Christian parents. What do we do about Halloween? It is the second biggest spending holiday next to Christmas. The celebration is everywhere. If you want my opinion, e-mail me at or I’ll send you my opinion about Halloween and what I believe we should do about this holiday. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate what exactly? Death? Destruction? Evil? To be honest I’m not quite sure. I am especially not sure that the three-year-old dressed in the “Woody” costume from Toy Story has any clue either nor do most parents. There is a side of Halloween that is focused on fear and control or the lack of control.

In many ways, our world is out of control, increases in crime, legislation is made that calls black white and white black. Confusion seems at times to rule the day. The United States is the most medicated country in the world. More anti-depression prescriptions are fulfilled for Americans than any other people. Life seems to be out of control for many with fear increasing everyday. I hate to say it but according to the Bible this is nothing compared to what is coming.

Jesus was warning us that a day is coming when things will become so fearful, so scary, that people will literally have heart attacks from fear. The world will be so out of control, anxiety will increase in such overwhelming ways that one of the biggest killers will be fear. Now that is scary!

This wasn’t the first time that Jesus warned us that things would get bad. In a very casual way He said, “In the world you are going to have great difficulties, scary, hard times are coming, but understand I have overcome all of these things and the world.”

Without a real glimpse of eternity, many things will feel overwhelming. It can seem as if everything is out of control. Someone promises peace and security but can’t deliver and things get worse. No matter how people may dress up in political costumes, business costumes, even religious costumes, apart from a real relationship with Jesus there is no hope, love, joy, or peace that will last.

Our natural tendency as human beings is selfishness. We want, what we want, when we want it! Left to our own tendencies the world will end in destruction. We live lives that are hopeless and loveless. God knew that so he made a way for us to know real love and peace. This is no trick but the treat part of the story. God is love, He is peace, He is joy! We can have it all when we say, “Yes” to Him. No one’s heart needs to give out because of fear. We do not need to be afraid of the future. For those of us who have faith in God, horrible things will happen all around us but the Lord will get us through them all.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why worry?

Luke 21:1 -21

There is so much we can worry about. Watch the news for any length of time and you will certainly have more have enough to worry about. Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, was always working to bring people to a place of peace.

In this first story we see that Jesus hanging out by the money box in the synagogue. He is watching the people with their giving. Many walked by giving their due but then one woman caught his attention. A poor widow walked slowly to the money box and gave what was nothing in this culture, the equivalent of five cents today. Virtually nothing in today's economy. What can anyone do with five cents? It was not about the amount, but the heart. She gave everything that she had, she gave not caring for her own life but only for the love of God. Jesus made a point of her giving to remind everyone that when you trust God, God notices! Early in this book, Jesus made it very clear to the disciples that if you give all to God, He will bless and meet all of your needs. Want to stop worrying about your finances, job, and/or future, learn to give!

Nearly everyone is interested in the end times. With the discussion of apocalyptic events regarding 2012 especially, many of those who do not know Christ are discussing the end of days.

Jesus begins to lay out what the last days of this earth are going to be like. It is a series of horrible, traumatic events that will literally shake the world and all of those in it. War, pestilence, and famine all over the world are some of the highlights we can look forward too. Please notice what the Lord says about those that are His, who are going through this time of trauma. We will go through some real difficulties but ultimately we are the
ones who win every battle, we will change the world. God will give us the ability to have the right words, the strength, and the courage to go through any trial. Lives are depending on us to stand firm and allow the Holy Spirit to live through us.

Whatever you are going through, worrying will not change your world for good. Fear, worry, and anxiety will limit God's influence in your life. You will be enclosed in your own life, your own desires and then limited by them. When you choose to believe God at His word your limitations are only limited to God's limitations, which are unlimited. If we believe Him then why worry!

Monday, October 4, 2010

So much love!

Luke 20:25 – 46

There are lots of questions people have about heaven. Hollywood would have us to believe that we are all on clouds playing harps, wearing white robes with wings. Sounds very boring to me. That is not the way the Bible describes heaven, when we reach other passages I will talk about what heaven is really like.

Jesus gives us a glimpse here of heaven, I’m going to attempt to explain a concept that is not easy to understand. The Sadducees, who don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead, are asking Jesus about it. Jesus knows they are playing a con game. He does not allow them to continue to deny the resurrection but forces them to understand the resurrection and what heaven is really like.

If heaven is limited to a human understanding of existence than the Sadducees could have easily brushed it off as a simple story to placate the masses. Jesus took it a big leap forward.

What is marriage really about? Finding that person that compliments you, finding a love that is continuous that will never give up. It is about surrender of yourself to another so completely that you become one, the result being a life of great joy, love, hope, ecstasy, and fulfillment. At least that is what marriage should be! A great marriage is the closest thing we can have on earth to heaven. Paul used marriage as an example of the relationship God has with the church (Ephesians 5:22 – 32). Heaven is a place where the blessings and benefits we receive from marriage are all around us. Everyone else compliments every person, we are all one, and we are completely fulfilled in everyway. The love that we have for the Lord and each other would be too much for our minds comprehend if we were limited to human understanding. It is what we would consider ecstasy 100% of the time. Don’t misunderstand you will know and love your spouse, however the benefits of marriage will be felt by everyone. Marriage is a sign of God’s relationship to us, the closest, in my opinion, that we can find on earth.

Jesus was trying to help the Sadducees to understand something about heaven that would give them pause to think about the resurrection and heaven as a reality.

What do you think of when you think of heaven? Can you imagine billions of people who love, honor, and respect, one another? Heaven is a place of complete security, love, joy, hope, and never a fear, worry, or anxiety. A place where each of us are completely fulfilled, know we are absolutely and unconditionally loved and everyone knows and believes in us. A place where we finally are with the one who loves us the most and has always loved us the most. What a great place!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Real relationship changes us.

Luke 19:1 - 29

I know you have heard it said, “You are what you eat!” but did you know you are a reflection of the people you hang out with? Studies have shown over and over again, the happiest people hang out with happy people, like draws like! Our relationships reflect us and also we are changed by our relationships.

Zacchaeus did not have relationships in his life that impacted him for good. He was a thief, cheat, and most likely a liar. He was also a seeker. He was looking for something or someone more in his life. Jesus knew who he was He had no concern about being with so much of a sinner. The people in the community gave Jesus a hard time about going to be with Zacchaeus. We need to be wise with whom we hang out but it is more important that we bring light to dark places. We need to be strong, grounded men and women of God who bring the love and power of God to everyone.

Notice what happen to Zacchaeus. Jesus did not ask him to make restitution nor did He ask him to become generous. Zacchaeus vowed to help the poor and to make four times the restitution. He came into a real relationship with Jesus. He found love, forgiveness, hope, and faith that transformed him from his own man to Jesus man!

Has the Lord transformed your life lately? God’s moving in and through your life will always challenge you. Daily as we walk with the Lord, He will call us to become more like Him. If you have not been changed by the Lord lately please allow me to challenge you to spend more time with Him. We are daily to come into deeper relationship with Him. The deeper the relationship, the happier you will become, because the closer you come to Him the more you will fulfill your destiny.

Real relationship with the Lord changes us into who He has called us to be, who we were made to be. Keep it real!