Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It is hard to understand how much God loves us

If you are like most Christians you long to be the person God has called you to be. While on one hand you know it is the right thing to desire on the other hand it can seem like so much work.

Our relationship with the Lord is not supposed to be that hard. There is a popular song by the Christian artist, Jason Gray, called, “More like falling in love”. The premise of the song is basically our relationship with God is not supposed to be such hard work, ritual or religion but it should be, more like falling in love!

I was reading a scripture this morning that reminded me of that concept…

Ephesians 1:3 - 6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

For His joy (great pleasure) God chose us before we were born, knew us, loved us, adopted us, and desires to pour out every kind of blessing on us. It’s not simply because we want to but it gives Him great joy to pour it out in our lives! It gives God joy to bless us. In other words, it makes God smile and laugh when He blesses us. I don’t know about you but I am very open to making God smile and laugh as much as He wants!

We make our walk with Christ so hard sometimes but in reality, it blesses Him to bless us! So why don’t we expect and accept His blessing? There are mainly two reasons.

1) The enemy of our souls, Satan has lied to us and convinced us that we don’t desire anything from God so don’t expect it. The truth is, we don’t deserve anything from God but He wants to bless His kids. I love to bless my kids. I am proud of all of their accomplishments but even if they hadn’t done a thing I would still want to bless them because they are my kids and I want people to know they are blessed and that I love them. How much more should we expect blessing from our heavenly Father simply because He loves us?

2) We have been taught that we must earn his love and blessing. We can not earn God’s love or grace. We are incapable of being that good! God just pours out His love and grace because we are His kids. It is true however when we follow his principles we place ourselves in a position to be blessed in many wonderful and unique ways. His love for us and grace toward us can not be earned He simply loves us because he is love and we are His kids.

How about expecting it for the next few days! Pray this simple pray, "God help me to love you more! Show me how much you love me today!"

You will be amazed at how the Lord answers that prayer. He wants to bless you! Let Him!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

He still moves stones

Luke 24:2 says this, “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,”

This leads us to a question, why was the stone rolled away? Did Jesus need the stone rolled away? The answer to that question is, “No!” John 20:26 says that Jesus appeared to his disciples without opening a door, He had a physical body but was able to walk right through the wall of the room.

If he didn’t need to move the stone why was the stone moved? It was moved so others could see the miracle.

Many of us have stones in our lives; things that would be impossible for us but are possible for God. The women going to the tomb that day could not have moved the stone. To see the miracle they needed a miracle of their own, the stone moved.

The stone was moved because Jesus showed that human government does not limit God’s plan. The Roman seal and Roman Guard stood in the way of the stone being rolled away. God is not limited by man!

God is not limited by the laws of nature. No man rolled the stone away, the stone was sealed and dropped into a trough. It had rolled downhill to seal the tomb but was rolled uphill to open the tomb. Jesus showed us time and time again that no disease or handicap can limit God, He healed them all.

The rolled away stone should remind us all today that noting is impossible with God! God is not limited by our limitations. He is not limited by the authority of man. God is not limited by nature or the natural course of things. Whatever you are facing today, if you will trust Him, He can handle it! God still rolls away stones

Monday, April 25, 2011

We can count on the Lord.

In my prayer time early this morning I was simply enjoying my relationship with the Lord. There is a lot going on in my life, most of it very good but some of it a struggle. In the middle of it all I see the Lord!

Isaiah went through a crisis when his cousin, King Uzziah died. It was during that time that He saw the Lord (Isaiah 6). Some times I believe the thing that is the greatest hindrance to seeing the Lord or hearing from Him is the daily grind of life. When everything is normal, we can handle it and like many of our relationship we can tend to take our relationship with the Lord for granted.

In my positions as husband, father, pastor, leadership at Cornerstone TeleVison, and the various other roles I play I have come to understand that I need the Lord always, every moment of everyday. I need to be intentional about my relationship with Him. What does it mean to be intentional about the Lord? It is just doing the basics!

I must start and end my day with talking to the Lord. Actually I talk with Him all day long. I believe my relationship with Him is real and that He is always with me so we talk all day long.

I am in His Word. I read a regular devotion everyday and I read several other passages as well sometimes I will get so engrossed I will read entire books of the Bible at one time, always hearing something fresh from the Lord. I tend to keep my reading controlled so I don’t lose meaning by reading for volume.

I try to look for God in all things. I look for Him in people, in what they are saying doing and how I can help them. As situations occur throughout my day, I try to see what God is saying through them if anything (sometimes life just happens). I have learned that God will use anything and everything for my good if I will allow Him.

I am also my worst critic. While that may seem like a bad thing and it can be if I let it get to me, I allow His grace to be sufficient for me. I am always pressing on to be who the Lord wants me to be and am critical of myself when I believe I have not lived up to His or my expectations, however I then remind myself that He is looking at my heart and not necessarily my actions (look at the story of David, Joseph, Peter actually most of the Bible heroes). I am then able to apply His grace to my life and move in the freedom that grace and His forgiveness bring to me.

Relationship with Him is an amazing thing. There is such great freedom and you realize you really can count on Him. Don’t be afraid to grow, to make mistakes to even question the Lord. He can handle it! As you build relationship with him, you learn that you an really count on Him

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

What an amazing day! As a kid raised in the church, I never quite understood it. It seemed like such a sad day. The suffering Christ went through; the beating, rejection, ridicule, humiliation, crucifixion and death. It is hard to imagine why Jesus would suffer so much for mankind generally and me specifically.

But then I began to understand!

It is love that caused Him to do all this for you and me!

Hebrews 9 tells us that our sins could not be forgiven without blood being shed. Adam’s sin gave authority to Satan and his dominion for our lives. The Father set in place rules that he could not break so He won us back within the rules. He could have simply destroyed Satan, but God has a time set for that so he had to destroy his authority. Satan was given authority because of one man’s sin. Through one sinless man accepting the wrath of all of mankind’s sin and forgiving all along as that wrath was poured out, Jesus defeated the punishment and condemnation we deserve!

Today is our day of freedom! We can choose to be free from Satan’s tyranny over us. We can choose to have eternal life! We can choose to walk in freedom from sin. We are free if we choose!

Today we celebrate life and freedom! We deserve hell; today God gave us heaven. We deserve silence from God today He gave us relationship! We are the lost who have been found!

Remember the price that was paid! Don’t take it lightly, perhaps even watch the “Passion of the Christ”. Don’t tae the price that was paid for our freedom and relationship to easily. However, let today be a day of celebration. The prison doors have swung open wide and if we have chosen to believe in the day and what it means, we are free!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Integrity brings fulfillment and joy!

I have been having some struggles with getting my blog done everyday. To be perfectly honest, I get bored very easily. Don’t get me wrong, I read my Bible everyday and pray everyday, those are not boring things but the day-to-day repetitive writing can get to me so I am shifting styles for a while and then we will shift back. I will blog about some challenges that I see in my life and the lives of others everyday.

I want to talk about integrity today.

Proverbs 2:7

“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

Integrity defined by the scripture is: not wavering, or divided; singleness of focus of mind and heart.

There are so many distractions today. There is such a lust for money, things, sex and power that men and women of God are even being influenced by these things and drawn off course. Paul wrote that he, “pressed on to the mark to the high calling of God”

Solomon writes that our integrity is a shield part of that is simply because an undivided heart, a person of singular focus on fulfilling God’s intent for our lives will be protected.

Romans 12 tells us that we all are given gifts. Whether you have a relationship with Christ or not God has invested in you gifts. As we come into relationship with Christ, it is like reading the instruction manual to a piece of equipment, through relationship we all of a sudden understand how our gifts work and a joy that we can have in their proper use and function. Unfortunately many of us waste much precious time not paying attention to the instruction manual. The result of this neglect is we get frustrated, angry, distracted and never completely feel fulfilled.

Assess your gifts. Ask someone who knows you well to tell you what you are gifted at doing and even perhaps what you are not gifted at doing. Focus on doing that thing that you have as a gift. Stay away from the things you are not gifted at doing. It is funny how often I talk with people who are very gifted but do not value their gift because it comes to easy to them and they want to focus on doing “something else” normally something that is complimentary to their gifting so they appreciated but they are not gifted in that area.

Guard you focus, your gift, and your drive; maintain your integrity. These are the things that will bring prosperity and joy to you. Your gifts are also meant to help others over come and become who they are called to be. In faith, we are a family with each member being just as important as the next. By maintaining your integrity, by keeping your focus, you will fulfill your destiny and enable others to fulfill theirs and advance the Kingdom of God.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Just the facts!

Mark 1

Life has been life and I apologize for not having this blog up for a few days last week. I am always reading my daily devotions but due to some issues with my Father I did not have time to write in my blog, but I am back now.

Mark’s gospel is really the gospel of Peter. John Mark author of the Gospel received his account of the life of Christ from his good friend Simon Peter. This gospel is a concise, “just the facts” kind of philosophy. This account moves very quickly.

What’s important for us to know, according to Peter?

1) Jesus is God’s son – baptism of Jesus, “you are my Son, I am pleased with you!”
2) He was tempted – “he was tempted by Satan and angels ministered to Him”
3) His ministry was God directed – “the time is fulfilled, now let’s preach the Gospel”
4) He called men to prepare them to continue the work – “I will make you fishers of men”
5) He had power – the unclean spirit obey and left the man, Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, all who came to Him were set free or healed, and the leper was made clean.
6) He was sent to all mankind – when the people he had just ministered to wanted more from him, He moved on to minister to others

Mark gave us in this very first chapter the important facts that; Jesus is God’s Son, had power over all enemies, could heal all diseases, and wants to touch everyone. It is important that we understand quickly and to the point who Jesus is so as Mark, tells the rest of the story we know where he is coming from.

It seems simple enough but do you believe all of this? Do you believe that God is really in charge, that no disease or demon and overcome God? Do you believe that God wants to reach everyone? Do you believe that He can relate to all of our temptations and will stand with you to help you overcome your temptations?

God really loves you, believes in you, and is wanting you to understand He will bring you through everything and anything if you will allow Him! What an amazing God we serve!

Tomorrow Mark 2

Monday, April 11, 2011

Who defines you?

John 5

Do you want to be healed? What a crazy question to ask. In effect, that is the question Jesus was asking the man by the pool at Bethesda. 38 years he had been had some kind of infirmity that hindered him from walking. Jesus asked, “Do you want to be healed?” What was Jesus really saying to this guy?

What really makes up whom you are? Where we were born affects who we are. There are different viewpoints about life based on the culture and locality of our birth. A child born in the bush of Africa will have a different outlook on life than one born in New York City. A child born into a home of violence and turmoil will have a different view of life than one born into a home filled with love and acceptance. What our parents and friends say to us verbally and non-verbally determine who we become as well. All of these influences are called our “frame of reference”. Our frame of reference creates our ownership of certain things. If we are called “stupid” through out our lives them we will gradually own the title “stupid”. If we are know as the responsible one, or the clumsy one, or the clown, or the sickly one we gradually take ownership of that title. We identify with the view of others for our lives.

Here is the challenge! We are called to be whom God has called us. Jesus came to make sure that we understood, we are Children of God. Our value is not in the way that others have defined us but in who God says that we are. The God who created everything sacrificed the life of His Son for us. Jesus sacrifice makes us very valuable in God’s eyes and we needn’t settle for anything less.

What does all of this mean, in light of Jesus question, to the man who could not walk? The question was more like “Does this infirmity own you or are you willing to believe who I say that you are?” Jesus saw him as a child of God, a child of the King whom God loved. He saw himself as a cripple who could never make it to the pool to be healed. Jesus didn’t negotiate with him. He simply gave him a command. The command was see yourself the way I see you, as whole healthy and free.

God is still giving that command today. He wants us to see ourselves, not as defined by what others have said or what others see in us but instead by how He sees us. God sees you as beautiful, amazing, wonderful, and full of potential. God has created you with great gifts and he has a call on your life. You are His beloved child and that is the way we are defined!

Whatever is tying you down or holding you back from being who God has called you to be. Whatever is stopping your success, know that Jesus is saying to you, “Rise up and walk!”

Tomorrow John 6

Friday, April 8, 2011

Does God care about the little stuff?

John 2

Nothing and no one is insignificant to Jesus. Every person has value and is loved by God. You are important to the Lord. Jesus showed us that even that which may be unimportant to world events but is personal is still important to God.

Why water to wine? Think about it. How is that important? In this culture it would have been an embarrassment to the family for them to run out of wine. Jesus had not done this before; the idea of Mary asking him to turn water into wine was not Mary’s drive here. Mary was simply imploring her eldest son to do something to help the family. The family needed wine, so Jesus supplied.

When we ask the Lord for something He doesn’t give us just to squeak by but gives the best. The wine that was given to the guest was the best wine. Why do we expect God just to get us by? We serve the God who created the universe. He loved us enough to give his very best in His Son for our redemption. If our hearts are heavy, if we are breaking under the weight of the world, if we are I need doesn’t He love us enough to meet that need?

This book and this chapter are here to show us that at the very start of Jesus’ ministry He was working to show us how much God cares. Somewhere in the recesses of our minds and spirits, we began to believe a lie that Jesus doesn’t truly care. We believe that our things are too small or that God only cares about the big things. Jesus later will tell us that God knows the number of hairs on our heads and when a sparrow falls to the ground how much more does he care for you!

How much are you worth to God? Everything would be the correct answer. He sent His Son to willingly live in this world to show us His great love and compassion for all mankind. Jesus then laid down His life for you and I so that we could become the Children of God.

We must make the leap of faith! We must come to the place like this nameless couple that just got married, had a need, and Jesus met it, out of love and compassion. He will do the same for you!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who is Jesus?

John 1

After studying Paul’s letters I thought it was time to return to one of the Gospels so “John” is where we are going for the next couple of weeks. The book of John was written by the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, John one of the sons of Zebedee and Salome, one of the sons of thunder, most likely a cousin to Jesus. John is most focused on proving that Jesus is the Son of God. His favorite words are “life,” “love,” “witness,” “believe,” “truth,” “know,” “light,” “darkness,” “world,” and “flesh.” These are all words that help to support, Jesus as the Son of God.

The first four verses of John establish Jesus equally with God. He was with God and was God. Al things were created by Him and through Him. Jesus was not a god but indeed is God! He is life and there is no life apart from Him. It doesn’t get much more clear than that, who Jesus is. Some cults through the indirect article “a” in front of God as to say that Jesus is “a god”. There is no such article implied or there, in any way in the Greek. Jesus and God the Father are one along with the Holy Spirit and the opening of the book of John verifies that claim.

John goes on to further emphasize that the Word is Jesus as he states, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Many of his readers had not only met Jesus but had met John the Baptist as well. John’s verification of Jesus’ title and position was important for people to recognize as well. It is also only through Jesus that we could become the “children of God” those not necessarily were born Jews only nor converted to Judaism but Jesus made the way for each and every person to be able to be called a “Child of God”. John is making it clear that Jesus came for all people everywhere, as he will say later in this book, whosoever will believe on Him will have eternal life.

Jesus isn’t just a good man, good teacher, or good leader, He is God! He is the “lamb of God” whose sacrificial death, like the lamb served at Passover covers all of our sin. Because of the claims, He makes later on in this book, Jesus must as St Augustine wrote either be a liar, lunatic or Lord!

Tomorrow: John 2

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"In Conclusion"

1 Corinthians 16

When a speech is given, the “in conclusion” or “in closing” remarks are generally a summary of the speech. Chapter 16 is similar in that regard that it is a summary of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

Paul wraps up by giving and encouragement to the Gentiles (non-Jews) who make up the Corinthian church to prepare the gift for Jerusalem. It is not only about bringing relief to the church in Jerusalem but also about making sure that the church is unified, born again Jew and Gentile, Greek and Middle Easterner, and rich and poor that there would be no division among the early church. It is very important that we not allow divisions among Christians. Are there things we will disagree about absolutely, our politics can very, our traditions will be different, and our view of how best to love people may be completely opposite but we are still one body of believers focused on the purpose of sharing Jesus’ love, grace and mercy toward all mankind.

“Let all be done with love”, that is a mouthful. It is the hallmark and life sign of a true Christian. We can not hate, have bigotry, fear, anxiety and consider ourselves mature in the faith, love must be our banner. I know that that is easier said than done, believe me I am very aware of the struggle of always loving, never being fearful or anxious, always living firm in the faith. As we grow and mature if we love God, He will work with us to cause us to mature and live in peace, love, hope, and joy. It is a battle; one when we win, our lives dramatic change.

Never look at anything you do for the Lord as being unimportant. In verse 17 Paul gives praise and thanksgiving to three men who delivered the mail for him. It was their faithfulness to a seemingly simple but important task that gave them great honor. Their names will go down in history forever because they were faithful to simple task, Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. Anything the Lord or His people ask you to do, if done with a right heart honors the Lord. Never look down on any task you do in or for your church, your family, or the people of God in general, whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord and He gets glory and you receive blessings.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is the Resurrection really that important?

1 Corinthians 15

The Letter to the Corinthians church was most likely written around 56 A.D. Many of the disciples and apostles were still alive as Paul was writing this letter. Why is that important? In the beginning of this chapter Paul is reminding people of Jesus life, death, and resurrection. Jesus was seen by the 12 then also seen by over 500 people, most of whom were still alive to read his letter. If this was not true, this letter would have been called into question, label heretical, and never seen again. It wasn’t just his closest 12 that saw Him alive but at least 500 others that we know of, saw the risen Christ.

Why is the resurrection so important? Jesus ministry lead up to two things: 1) our redemption for our sin on the cross and 2) His overcoming power of death, hell, and the grave through His resurrection. If Jesus was not raised from the dead then He lied. If He lied about resurrection then we certainly could not have trusted Him with our salvation. Great news, He did not lie! He rose from the grave and lived on the earth for 40 additional days after He was crucified then He ascended to heaven just like what he will do on the day he returns.

The resurrection impact doesn’t stop there. Because He arose, we know we serve a “living” God. Jesus conquered corruption and death through His resurrection, He was the first to overcome and because he overcame so will we. There will come a day when we will follow Him in resurrection. Like Christ after His resurrection had been made complete, had an incorruptible body so shall we. A perfect body the way the Lord had planned it to be. Paul gives the example of our bodies like a seed, dies and from that dead seed sprouts a whole new plant. So will our new bodies be like that new plant.

Death can’t hold us down. For a true Christian, death is a good thing, a wonderful experience. We leave the pain, sorrow, and corruption of this world for the joy, love, wonder, amazement, and incorruptibility of heaven. Heaven is a very real place, reserved for those who have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. I know to some that may not sound fair but after all it is God’s house we are going to. He sent for us and paid the price to get us there. All we have to do is accept the price that was paid, Jesus, and we will be welcomed into His house. Reject the price, and we are rejecting God. If you reject someone will they let you into their house? We all live forever. From the moment we are conceived we will live forever whether it is heaven or hell depends upon what we do with the gift that has been offered.

Share that with someone today! If you love the people around you, ask the Lord to give you clear opportunity to share this amazing story. There is only one way to get into God’s home, through faith in what Christ did on the cross for each of us.

Tomorrow we end 1 Corinthians with reading chapter 16

Friday, April 1, 2011

You can have the power

1 Corinthians 12

There is a lot of controversy about the gifts of the Spirit. Some say they do not exist any longer, some say they not only exist, but thrive. Some attribute anything out of the ordinary to a gift of the Spirit. Some believe only the apostles were to be able to possess these gifts. What do you think? This chapter answers those questions.

Paul is writing to the general populous of the church in Corinth explaining to them about the use and purpose of the gifts. This chapter is not written to an apostle or two who might be living in Corinth but all the people in the church in Corinth. The Corinthians people were well acquainted with spiritual gifts. Problems began to arise because the either had forgotten or had not been taught that the gifts were not an end to themselves but for the purpose of bringing people under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit’s gifts are under conscience control, unlike pagan rituals were the person is caught in some wild compulsive acts. He is gentle like a dove and empowers us to accomplish the Father’s will. The gifts of the Spirit also glorify, bless, honor, and focus on, Jesus. What the gifts of the Spirit do always harmonizes with the truth about Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gifts are also encouragers of unity in the Body of Christ. There are many gifts but the same Spirit, many ministries but the same Lord, different activities but the same God. We need to grasp the idea that the gifts are for today in order to bless the body of Christ, honor the Lord, and help to show Jesus to a world that doesn’t yet believe.

Paul list many of the gifts in this passage. Rather than go into the gifts specifically I would like to just encourage you to take time to do a search of the scripture on any of the gifts of which you may have an interest. All the gifts have been used by the early church, by all people; I believe they are still in use today. Hebrews 13 says that Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Malachi 3:6 states that the Lord does not change. If Christ is the same and God does not change and the Trinity is one, then therefore the Holy Spirit is the same as well.

There is a need today to show people that God does know them and care for them. There is a need to show like Moses did that our God is greater than the God of this world. There is a need to show like the three Hebrew boys did in the fiery furnace that our God still does miracles. God is going to use you and I to make that happen as we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding. Part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to lead us into all truth and today He will do that just as he did the disciples two thousand years ago.

As you will read this weekend all of these gifts are measured by love. I believe the greater we walk in love the greater the gifts will flow through us. God is love! God has given us great gifts so as we flow in love, so we will flow in the gifts.

Read 1 Corinthians 13, 14 this weekend and we will be back Monday with chapter 15.