Friday, July 29, 2011

Everyone needs these people

“No man is an island” or so the saying goes by John Donne. As Christians we have a need to be around one another, we are told to, “do not neglect our fellowship with one another”. The early church grew, according to Acts 2:42, by prayer, studying the scripture, and fellowship.

It is so easy to simply feel comfortable with who we are in our walk with Christ, to compare our walk only with ourselves. On the flip side, it is also easy to decide that we are nothing because we compare ourselves to others too much.

Our growth depends upon our relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord depends upon how we see Him and how we see ourselves in light of who He is. The Bible is a great tool of reflection. Prayer and meditation (the Christian understanding) are wonderful tools God uses to draw us closer to Him. God uses people in our lives to help us to grow and become who He has called us to be.

Everyone needs a mentor in their lives. The role of the mentor is to be someone who loves you enough that they can challenge you, correct you, disciple you, and yet they don’t care if you like them or not. Paul had a number of disciples, people he was mentoring, Timothy and Titus were chief among them. All of the letters he had written were mentoring letters. As you study them, Paul is mentoring you today. The mentor’s job is to cause us to become who God has called us to be, regardless of whether you like them or not, they love you enough to tell you the truth.

We all need encouragers in our lives. So much of life is discouraging. We are constantly at war with the enemy of our souls, the world system, and people that are growing in Christ. All of these things and so many more can become exhausting. Add to that, if we have a mentor in our lives who is constantly challenging us to grow and you have no relief. That is when we need an encourager. The encourager’s role is simply to love you, speak words of comfort, and remind you of God’s plan for you. Joseph was such an encourager in the church that his name was changed to Barnabas meaning, “son of encouragement”. When all others rejected Paul early after his conversion, Barnabas came along side and encouraged him. The encourager in our lives helps us to take the challenges from our mentor and helps strengthen us to make it through each day.

Part of our growth is based on our ability to share what we have learned with others. We know that what we have been taught by our ability to teach it to others. The ‘Dead Sea” in Israel and Jordan is dead because water flows into it but does not flow out. It takes in, takes in, and takes in yet does not give out. Our lives can be very much like that; if all we do is take in and do not give out we can stifle our growth. Jesus has called each one of us to go into the world and make disciples. We need to cause growth in the lives of others. We need to take what we have learned and share it so others don’t have to walk through the same struggles we have gone through. We must have at least one disciple in our lives. They help us to grow by forcing us to know what we believe and why.

If you are wondering why there are no direct quotes from scripture in this blog, this concept comes from the book of 1st Timothy. It is a short book, take a few moments to read it and you will be encouraged in you walk.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guilt is a poison to the soul.

Everyone battles guilt at some level, “Am I being a good parent? Am I being a good spouse?” Just measure your reaction as you see a police car in your rear view mirror. There are all kinds of things that we feel remorse or guilty over. Some things we can change. If we have wounded someone we can ask for his or her forgiveness. If we have done some damage we can make reparations. If we have failed in some way to be the parent or spouse we need to be we can get advice and help from others to learn how to become the better parent or spouse.

Guilt is one of the tools the enemy uses in out lives to draw us away from God. It poisons are very soul and can grow to the point of killing our relationship with God. God does not use guilt as a tool. When we sin, the Holy Spirit brings conviction not condemnation. Condemnation (guilt) drives us away from God. Conviction is used by God to draw us to his mercy, grace, and love. It is through God’s kindness that He leads us to repentance. A relationship with the Lord is one based on knowing how much He loves us, believes in us and desires the very best for us. That does not mean that there are not consequences to our decisions. If you lie to someone they may have to learn to trust you again even if you have asked for forgiveness. Consequences are not a form of punishment from God. They are the very things the Lord was attempting to protect us from by teaching us to walk and act His way. God loves us even though and through the consequences of sin. Even when the nations of Israel and Judah would turn their backs on the Lord, He would allow them to suffer the consequences of their decisions, but His love for them never failed.

Jeremiah 24:5 - 7

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land; I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

God is always looking for the best in us. He is always calling us back to himself. When we respond to his conviction he very quickly restores us.

Guilt drives us deeper into depression, anger, frustration, and can lead to self-loathing and separation from feeling the love of God. His love does not leave us but are sensing of it can.

God calls us to be guilt free. Ask for forgiveness from the Lord and others. Make restitution if need be. Believe you have been forgiven and act like it! Learn to rest in His grace and you will live healthy and free.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sin, Love, and destroying the Devil’s work

I read this passage of scripture yesterday.

1 John 3:1 – 8

1Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Let me start with verse 8. God came in the flesh, in Christ to destroy the work of the enemy. He didn’t destroy the enemy but his work. What was the devil’s work? He deceived Adam and Eve to walk into lawlessness and away from relationship with the Lord. Satan is the author of broken relationships. Those who continue in broken relationship are called “children of the devil”. The enemy has an appointed time in which he will be destroyed. John saw it when he received his revelation on the Isle of Patmos. God always has a plan and He always fulfills his plan.

Because we have allowed God to heal our relationship, we have come into relationship with Him and are called, “Children of God”. We are joint heirs to the kingdom with Jesus. He loves us as a Father loves His children. We have an open heaven to our God for His wisdom, guidance, and help. Our relationship with Him should cause our love to grow where we no longer want to sin. Our longing should be for relationship.

Right relationship leads to right living or “righteousness”. Broken relationship leads to broken living or “unrighteousness” called lawlessness. Righteousness is not necessarily and outward expression as it is an inner work of the heart. Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34; 15:18) We must live the joy, love, and peace of the Lord in our hearts and as a result people will see it in us.

Being a Christian is not about outward acts of righteousness driven by a need to be righteous. Instead it is an inner work of God’s love that leads to outward acts of righteousness motivated by our security in God’s love and our love of people.

You are a child of God. Know and live His love for you. His love will cause you to live righteously based on love, which is a healthy relationship rather than a self- determined righteousness driven by broken relationship. The enemy’s work is crushed by a real love from God but thrives in an environment fueled by self- determined righteousness.

Every person is either living a life of righteousness based on God’s love or a life of self-righteousness called lawlessness based on our own value system. The challenge is most of us are battling to allow more of His love shine through. You are His child, you already look like Him, spiritually, just allow Him to do it through you. Righteousness is easy when we allow Him to be our righteousness. Then lawlessness is destroyed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Post Tomorrow

I am a bit behind this week. I will have a new post for you on Wednesday.

Thanks for your patience

Friday, July 22, 2011

Overcoming insurmountable odds!

All of us, at one time or another, have had the feeling of too much coming at us at one time. Perhaps you have felt overwhelmed by some sickness, trials you are facing, a bad relationship, or simply attacks from people or the enemy.

Bear with me for a moment while I take you to one such battle in the scripture.

2 Chronicles 14:9-15

Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah. 10So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. 11Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.” 12So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder. 14They destroyed all the cities around Gerar, for the dread of the LORD had fallen on them; and they despoiled all the cities, for there was much plunder in them. 15They also struck down those who owned livestock, and they carried away large numbers of sheep and camels. Then they returned to Jerusalem.

The nation of Judah was out numbered 2 to 1. The Ethiopian army was not only greater in number but stronger in weaponry as well. Notice how King Asa prayed.

1) He placed his life in the hands of the Lord – “there is no one besides you”, we are nothing and you are everything.
2) He reminded the Lord of his trust in Him – “we trust in you”, we are facing this battle to glorify you
3) They let God be God – “let no man prevail against you”, we don’t want our way you have your way in this situation.

What happened? God defeated their enemies before them and not only that, but the name of the Lord was lifted up across the region. They gained more spoils than they could have imagined.

So what does this mean to your life?

1) You will face insurmountable odds sooner or later but if you place your trust in the Lord, He will overcome those odds easily every time. The Lord alone is a majority every time.

2) You battles are never just about you. Others will always be impacted by the outcome. In this case, the entire region had the fear of the Lord come on them. Untold numbers were reminded of whom God is and that the God of Israel is the true God. It is a very dangerous thing for the enemy to come up against God’s people and you are one of God’s people.

3) Matthew 6:33 tells us that if we seek God first he will take care of all of our needs. If you put God first in your battle you will win far more than what you were expecting. Perhaps it will be the salvation of many, open heavens, or more miracles than you could ever imagine. When we allow the Lord to be in control amazing things happen.

Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can be against us”. We will face battles, most will be small but we do face big ones. When we do, remember allowing the Lord to be in charge and trusting Him for the correct outcome, causes us to win and win big every time. Whatever you are facing, place the battle in His hands and see what He will do!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

There could never be a more beautiful you!

Jonny Diaz sings a song by that title. It was the first song I heard this morning. I generally start my morning out with by saying, “Thanks” to God for the day and what He is going to accomplish through it. I then listen to some Christian music. It helps me to keep my head and my heart in the right place, recognizing that everyday of my life is a gift.

The Lord has created each one of us, special (Psalm 139). We all have a plan and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). We all are gifted from the Lord is some way or another (Romans 12). Everything in the world; its system, its fallen condition, the people who are not yet in the family of Christ are all fighting us, attempting to drag us down or compromise or to limit the view God has of us.

Whether you know it or not, you are amazing! You are created in the image of God for His pleasure. Revelation 4:11 says, “God has created all things and for His pleasure they are created”. This does not mean you are like a favorite toy to God. You were created with a purpose it could be administrative, creative, mechanical, or any other of the various gifts. When we use these gifts, we bring pleasure to God. Think of it as someone giving you a very heartfelt gift for your birthday or Christmas. It brings joy to the person to simply give the gift, then the joy is doubled when you show your appreciation by using it. God is not so thin-skinned as to be offended by you not using the gift. He is saddened because the gift will fulfill who you are, you will live an unfulfilled life if you do not use it.

Your gift is unique! You are unique! Even if you are a twin, there is no one exactly like you. The world needs your gift. The world needs who you are created to be. Your gifts were given to you for your blessing and that of the church and the world. It is easy to compare ourselves to other and look down on how God has created us or who he has called us to be. That is part of the plan of this world system, to destroy us. As we begin to accept our gifts, the way God has made us, the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, kindness, and self-control are released through our lives in great measure.

God knows you personally. He knows everything about you and loves you completely. He has already drawn you to himself. In fact, I believe being a non-believer is an unnatural state. God’s heart is that all should come to know Him. God desires that you would fulfill your purpose and destiny. Read Psalm 139 if you are unsure of how much God knows you personally.

You are just perfect. You are gifted and called. No one else is just like you. Allow the Lord to continue to lead and guide you and you will see just how amazing you are and God is through you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life is not always a picnic!

I remember as a kid hearing, coming to Jesus and walking with Him was like heaven on earth. In many ways it is, but the problem lies in the fact that we still live in a corrupt and fallen world, with people that are corrupt and fallen. Even Christians are corrupt and fallen but hopefully they are overcoming that nature every day.

I go through things at times that rattle me a bit. When I am rattled, I know I have a choice to grow or to fail. The great thing about God’s grace is if I fail, He will still hold me up and allow me to go through it a second, third, fourth, or however many times I need to walk through it. This is one of the ways we learn what we need, to become whom we are to become.

Luke tells us this in the book of Acts

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21,22

Through many tribulations???? You won’t hear that preached too often to encourage the Body. It is actually an encouraging word. In Romans chapter 5 Paul writes, “Trials and tribulations bring perseverance, and perseverance, proven character and proven character, hope which does not disappoint”. You see, if everything is always going our way there is no need to walk by faith, there is no need for God, there is no need to develop that relationship with our heavenly Father that we will have for eternity. If we are not challenged to use faith then we will never see the miracles or the lives changed that we need to see. We can’t change anyone, save anyone, or heal anyone! It is only God working through us as we move in faith that lives are changed.

The tribulations we walk through enable us, if we choose, to win every time. It doesn’t mean that the outcome we want happens, but we have the peace to know that God has accomplished His purpose His way. Add to that, “without faith it is impossible to please God” so when we walk through these trials and these times of rattling we see them as opportunities to come into a place of peace despite the storms in our lives.

Faith comes as we walk through our daily devotions, testimonies, prayer, and trials. Don’t be afraid of the difficulties that arise. They make great testimonies that you can hang onto as the Lord directs your path. Remember David? He slew Goliath by remembering another trial he had gone through killing both a lion and a bear. Those trials helped to give him the faith to believe that the same Lord who preserved his life facing those trials would do the same thing now!

Our lives are not always a picnic, but they are always guided by His hand. Don’t fret over or curse the trials you are facing. Ask the Lord for wisdom on how to overcome by faith and maintain His peace as you walk through them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

So they want to raise the debt ceiling?

I know it is in the news nearly every day. I am not sure if I completely understand what it all means or not what I do understand is that living bound to debt is not a healthy way to live. The stress debt places on a person. The worry, fear, and anxiety it can cause. The insecurity it raises in our lives, what if we are in debt and lose our job or have a health crisis?

What is debt? Different people define it different ways. Some say anytime you owe money you are in debt, others would exclude a mortgage from debt because in most cases houses are an investment and increase in value. For the sake of argument today, let’s just simply agree that if you spend money that you don’t have, on things that only decrease in value you have debt.

In most cases, debt shows either a lack of patience or lust out of control. We either don’t wait to save enough money to purchase the item or we must have the item and lust for the item drives us to debt.

The Bible is pretty clear about debt.

“The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Proverbs 22:7

“Rich” is not necessarily a term of financial prosperity but can very well signify a person at peace with themselves and God. You don’t need lots of money to be wealthy; to have true wealth and riches you must have lots of peace and trust. Getting into unsecured debt shows a lack of trust in the Lord.

We are seeing that in part of the debate over the debt ceiling crisis in our nation. Do you know that we spend 118 billion dollars per month more than the government receives? You talk about lust and trust issues. Seems out of control doesn’t it. The average family in America has nearly $11,000 of credit card debt.
We will always live in a type of slavery if we do not come to the point of learning to trust the Lord with our finances. Debt is more of a spiritual issue than physical one. It is a mentality that has its roots it lust and fear, “Gotta’ have it” and “I need it” It can be broken in very simple ways.

1) Know that all your finances come from the Lord. Thank Him for them! An attitude of gratitude goes along way to break a cycle of fear.
2) Don’t complain about prices. God has supplied all that you have need of and will continue to supply. Determine to trust the Lord despite the increase at the pump or anywhere else.
3) Tithe – yes everything comes from God and your recognizing that enables you to be trusted with more. Your church may or may not need your funds but your need to tithe, showing the Lord that you are grateful for his supply and that you trust Him more than your ability to earn and income. God won’t let you down (see Malachi 3)

If you begin these few simple steps you will see an attitude change, a joy and peace released and more finances in your hands. Give yourself time to change. Change is never easy but often for the better. Our government will change if we can change. Complaining about the debt ceiling is not fair if we don’t have our debt under control.

God has a plan of freedom for every man, woman, and child. The freedom is spiritual of course but also physical, mental, and emotional. We can bring freedom to others as we are free.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Peace is possible and expected!

Thank you for all of your prayers while we were on vacation. It is amazing what a bit of refreshing can do.

Our world is a very busy place. It used to be that information took days, weeks or even months to be disseminated to the entire country let alone the world. Today in moments we know what has happened literally around the world. Wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods, and disasters of every type are constantly filling our TV’s, computers, and print media.

Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy in his second letter saying, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love, and soundness of mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Jesus said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

What does peace look like? According to the Bible the peace Jesus and Paul are talking about is simply being whole, being one with the Lord, being at rest. Sounds wonderful but a little tough on the follow through. There is a lot that hits us everyday. We can prepare for some of the stresses and trials of life but others that hit us catch us off guard and we find ourselves worrying or becoming anxious when we shouldn’t.

Peace is a decision. Peace is the Lord’s nature and character. Having surrendered to Christ implies that we can live in this peace all of the time. Like any other aspect of growing in Christ, it takes both a decision and practice on our part to live in that place of surrender to Christ that allows us to live in His peace.

We will still have trials and struggles come our way. Having peace from God means that in the middle of our storm, when everyone else is panicking we show that we are His disciples. We show that we trust Him. Anyone can have peace when things are going well. Real men and women of God are not perfect but are always learning to trust and rest in His peace.

You may not need it today or tomorrow but at some point in the near future you will be challenged to be at peace or to worry. Make the decision today to choose to believe that God has placed in you the ability to live in a place of peace. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it!”

Friday, July 1, 2011


Sorry for how sporadic the Blogs have been lately. I think that is simply a sign of the much needed vacation. I will be taking ab break from this blog until July 18. After which time I expect I will have lots of good stuff to share. Until then, please continue to read your Bible and pray. The three ways we grow according to Acts 2:42 is by studying the word, fellowshiping with other believers, and prayer.

Grow a little while I take a short break so I can bring your fresh, encouraging words, that will hopefully challenge and inspire.