Monday, November 28, 2011

Give me my mountain!!!

Today is my birthday. I really like birthdays, not so much as a party or celebration but as a time of remembering what I have done with my past year, looking around at all of the blessings I have been given, and setting goals and hopes for the new year ahead.

I am a very blessed man. I have a wonderful wife and great marriage. I have two great kids, who love the Lord, each other and my wife and me. I have two jobs where I work with people that desperately love Jesus and want to see the world changed. I have the privilege of serving an amazing congregation of people who want to grow in Christ. I have the honor of using television to impact millions. I have great friends all around the world. This year I have had the privilege of seeing my Dad enter heaven and my Mom come to live with us. I am more blessed than any man should be, but I am not done.

My hearts cry is the same as Caleb in Joshua 14: 7 - 12, “Give me this mountain!”.

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. 8Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

Caleb had gone through the desert with the rebellious children of Israel. He watched them die off. He also saw a new generation rise up. God had made him some promises and all along, what kept him going, even to the age of 85, was God had made a promise to him. At 85 years old he was still scrappy enough to want to take on the giants. Before David, Caleb was the one that knew that if God has made a promise, even the giants that stand before us would come down.

Too quickly we give up. Too quickly we make excuses as to why we can’t accomplish something for God. Too quickly we give up on God’s promises. I can’t imagine it was easy for Caleb to put up with all the death around him. He watched friends and family die. He watched everything around him change. The thing about Caleb, was he did not take his eyes off of the prize.

What promises has God made to you? What are the giants in your way? Have you given in to all of the death, suffering, whining, and negativity around you or have you decided you are going to hold onto the promises of God.

Today is my birthday and I am saying, “Give me my mountain! I am choosing to hold onto the promises of God!”

Would you give me a wonderful gift today? Here is the gift I want from you. Would you remember the promises of God for your life and choose again to believe them and hold to them! God has given you your promises so you can impact your part of the world. The Body of Christ needs you to fulfill your call so together we can see the world changed!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We all have so much to be thankful for!

I am focusing this week on thankfulness. The great American revivalist Charles Finney once said, “A state of mind that sees God in everything is evidence of a growth in grace and a thankful heart.”

Yesterday I focused in on being grateful for the various things of nature and the people the Lord has brought into our lives. Today I am reminded of the many gifts the Lord has given me, and the great gifts that I see in my family and friends around me.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Every gift you have been given has come from God. No good things that you have or see in your life has come from anywhere or anyone but God.

Take a few moments to, as the old hymn says, count your many blessings. The blessings in your life and around your should remind you how truly blessed you are. They should also remind you of how loved you are by God.

To count your blessing first look at the abilities you have, the things that come easiest to you, and the successes they bring. Then look in you refrigerator, look at the home you live in, notice all of the material possessions you have been given. Just the fact that you are reading this blog on a computer shows how blessed you are, when in many parts of the world even a computer is a luxury that many could not even begin to comprehend.

Count the senses that work, your ability to see, hear, touch, taste, smell. I lost my sense of smell for about a month at one point. What a blessing it became to even begin smelling something bad.

Look around you at all of the stuff you have. The average person in a third world or developing nation lives on less than three dollars a day. In Sudan the people I met there were thrilled to eat one meal every other day. The children in Zimbabwe were happy to play with an empty plastic bottle as a soccer ball. Open your medicine cabinet. Most of my friends in the third world have no access to medical care, not even an aspirin. Turn on your water faucet; clean water is a gift many do not have. This is not to make you feel guilty. God has blessed you appreciate that blessing.

Develop an attitude of gratitude and see what the Lord will do with you. If we take time to give thanks our view of our world changes. We all have so many good gifts in our lives. This Thanksgiving truly give thanks for how blessed you are!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How great is our God!

I woke this morning with the words,

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the world Thy Hand hath made,”
Those are the words to the first stanza of the hymn, “How great Thou art”

I am amazed by sunsets and sunrises; the stars in the sky, and really all of nature. Also when I think about how the human body works, how a child is born.

In my way of thinking everywhere around us are signs of how amazing and wonderful God is. It is so easy to get caught up in the stuff of life and miss all of the wonder of God around us. David said this about the Lord…

“Therefore You are great, O Lord GOD. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7:22

The more I grow to learn the Lord the more I learn how little, I truly know about Him. I am not afraid of true scientific study because it will continue to prove God to be true. True science is initiated in the throne room of God. The clearer the understanding that man has about the world the more God is revealed.

When I see someone really turned onto God and see the change in their life, I am amazed at the love and power of God. Every day I am in a position to see people awaked to who God is and how much He loves them. Every day I get to see “the wheels turning” in someone’s mind as they discover how much God really loves them. It is a wonderful sight to see a life that connects with our heavenly Father.

If you ever wonder about how amazing God is, simply look at the people he has brought into your life. If your life is anything like mine you have an interesting conglomeration of people. People from all kinds of backgrounds, colors, shapes and sizes, all people that are a work in progress but each one in themselves is an amazing miracle. The wonder and awesomeness of God is revealed in the differences in people as well. Think about the creativity that it took to make each one so unique. The way the Lord has woven them into the tapestry that has become your life. Each strand is important to the whole.
Forgive my rambling today but it is easy to overlook the wonder and majesty of God revealed through even the most common things in our lives.

I hope that as we approach Thanksgiving that you are grateful for not only the big things that the Lord has done for you but also the daily miracles he brings into your life.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are you a person of integrity?

Integrity is one of those old fashioned concepts.

Here is a passage of scripture that is often overlooked.

“Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor;
despise the despicable. “Keep your word even when it costs you,
make an honest living, never take a bribe.
Psalm 15: 3 -4

Jesus put it this way, Matthew 5:37

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Keeping our word is something that has become less important to us in our culture. To God it is still important.

Keeping our word stops us from being a people pleaser and helps us stay as a God-pleaser only. Often we will say things simply to not offend or to please the people we are talking to. We will commit to doing things we have no intention of doing. We have well-meaning intentions of praying for someone when they are asking for prayer but then we don’t do it. If we hold ourselves accountable to what we say we will do, two things will happen. First we will be wiser in committing to anything and focus in on doing what we are called to do. Second, we will take seriously all the request we get from others. It will not just be another request for help, another prayer request, or another scheduled appointment it will be a God requests, a God-seeking moment or a God-appointment.

In my world travels, Americans are famous for saying they will do things and then never following through. We are moved by the moment, genuinely wanting to help or follow through on some need but then the daily-ness of life takes over when we come home and we forget about our promises.

Can you imagine the impact Christians would have if we were known for keeping our word. If people knew what we said would happen, simply because we said it!
We are the light of the world, shining through the darkness, setting the example for all to see. We are the salt, bringing flavor and preserving life.

Be a person of integrity! Change your world!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How big is your God?

When I make a statement like that, often what comes to mind are thoughts like; do we believe God can bring world peace? Do we believe He can heal cancer? Do we believe God can move the mountains in our lives? Our relationship with Him determines what we believe about Him.

Allow me to give you an example. My Iphone got soaked, which generally means it is now only good as a paperweight. If you know me my phone is a lifeline of communication with thousands of people here and around the world. It is also my schedule and all of my contacts. Still it is just a phone, it is not starving children, people being abused, or people who have not made a commitment to Christ. It is just a phone! The question needed to be asked, “How big is my God?”

Peter wrote,

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

All of our cares and concerns means, all of them. The largeness of the impact nor the smallness of the need are not relevant to God. All of our care is what God will concern himself with, if we will give it to Him. Once again, I ask the question, “How big is your God?” Is he big enough to handle all of the concerns of the world and care about the most seemingly insignificant thing you face? Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 - 31, about how God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

God is big enough to take care of the whole world and your most minute care. We serve a God who loves us. Psalm 139 says that he knows us intimately; He knows everything about us down to the smallest detail. He created all that we are, He is well acquainted with our needs. Our requirement is to bring them to Him. He is not a God who demands robot-like obedience. He wants us, of our own free will, to surrender our desires, needs, fears, concerns, and dreams in turn, He will take care of those needs.

Is your God big enough to handle the large needs of the world and the minutest concern you might have? If He is not, then allow me to challenge you in your understanding of who God is! He is big enough to handle all of this and more. Trust Him and see what He will do for you!

By the way, my Iphone is working perfectly fine. What concern do you have to bring to the Lord today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The hurry-ier I go the behind-er I get!

I don’t know if you have ever heard the phrase before but that happens to me sometimes. I am doing my best to pastor the body at the Christian Center, do my job at Cornerstone TeleVision, work on the addition at my house for my Mom to move in, and prepare my Mom to empty her house and move. Somewhere in there I need to find time to talk with my wife and kids, eat, and sleep. Don’t get me wrong, while this is a very chaotic time, it is fun too. God seems to send the right people to help at the right time. We get encouragement when we need it and everything comes together.

The demands of the immediate often will take over the necessary, which is where we can get into trouble. What do I mean by that? Let me explain it this way, Martin Luther, the protestant reformer said, “I have so much to do I need to spend twice as much time in prayer.”

There are all kinds of things that need to be done. Always there are demands, things that scream out, “pay attention to me!” We can not allow those things to determine our day, our attitude, nor our reactions. We must maintain our priorities if we are going to lead a successful life not allowing the demands of the immediate to take over what is necessary.

Jesus put it this way as recorded by Matthew in chapter 6 verse 33, 34;

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Every day there are going to be things that seem like they are a higher priority but we must remember, we get all that we have need of from time with Him. Always keeping Him first, despite the busy-ness, will order our day and keep us in the fruit of the Spirit. Sometimes I need to seek Him many times a day to keep my head above water. I believe that is what Martin Luther meant.

There will always be people and things demanding your time. If we do not keep our priorities straight then we will be offering them only our best rather than God’s best. Don’t allow the demands of the immediate to override the need of the necessary. Seek Him first, always and He will guide you as to how to handle all of the rest.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you have plans? Does God have plans for you?

Many of the questions I am asked are related to the idea of our future. What decisions should I make how do I know how to make them?

Two scripture come to mind immediately when people ask these questions.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 16:9

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

First we need to understand that God is in control. He has created you to fulfill to a purpose. He has gifted you with everything you need to begin your journey to complete fulfillment in Him. Jesus tells us that the Father draws us to himself. As we come to the place of trusting in God all of the gifts we have find their place.

Let me stop here for a second. Following the Lord does not mean that you must be a Pastor, Evangelist or some sort of missionary over seas. Following the Lord means that all the gifts the Lord has invested in you are being used for His honor. If you have carpentry skills, as you build know that you are honoring God. If you have administrative skills, as you organize you are honoring God. People are to see our good works, both in ethics and quality and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Because God has placed these gifts in you, you will naturally have a desire to use them. You will plan things to use your gifts, personality, and all of the blessing you have received from God without really planning necessarily to honor God. Why? That is the way God created you.

Can we mess up God’s great plan for us? I believe the answer is yes. Our rebellion, our rejection of Christ can defuse our fulfillment of what we were created to do. The great and amazing thing about the Lord is Hid grace toward us. I believe even if we do reject Him and go into rebellion, we can always repent and return to fulfill God’s plan for our lives.

I believe we have two responsibilities in fulfilling God’s plan.

First is to stay close to Him. Keep an active prayer life, stay active in a local Body of Believers, and study the Word. These are not to be things done out of ritual or a feeling of obligation instead they should be done out of love. Our relationship with the Lord should be one of love, not fear of repercussions. As we study, prayer, and stay in fellowship we learn that better.

Our second responsibility is to plan. Don’t sit by idly waiting for something to happen. Yes, we are commanded to wait on the Lord but that is part of what point number one is all about. Out of this relationship with Him we begin to plan what we should do to accomplish all the desires the Lord has placed in our hearts.

David wrote:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Acknowledge Him in all of your ways and He will make your path straight.”
Psalm 37:4,5

God places those desires in our hearts. Our planning is not a threat to His plan it is His plan, which is why He orders our steps.

The answer to the question I started with, “Yes”. As we follow the Lord, he stirs the desires of our heart, so we plan to fulfill those desires, which he placed there in the first place and gifted us with all that we need to begin fulfilling His purpose. His purpose in turn fulfills our lives.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gambling and the Bible

I have been asked a number of times recently about gambling. There are no direct prohibits to gambling mentioned in the Bible but as I mentioned before it is rooted in the sense of witchcraft. Here is a slightly more direct and thorough explanation.

Studies show that lotteries are the favorite legal gambling game for teenagers. Statistically, one of seven who play will become addicted. But teenagers aren't the only ones affected. One out of 10 adults who gamble will become addicted too. In fact, gambling is the fastest growing addiction in America. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, compulsive gambling is costly to the economy. Families are the ones who suffer the most. Many people feel gambling is only a game that is fun, but the Bible tells us this evil is a terrible sin that will lead to poverty.

"He that hurries to be rich has an evil eye, and does not consider that poverty shall come upon him" (Proverbs 28:22).

Gambling in our nation is spreading as the number of states operating lotteries has more than doubled since 1980, making them the ultimate "get-rich-quick" schemes. As gambling spreads to more and more states, Christians need to have the Bible's instruction about this money robber. The Bible declares that it is wrong to bet money on the possibility of becoming instantly rich.

"He who oppresses the poor to get gain for himself, and he who gives to the rich will surely never be satisfied " (Proverbs 22:16).

States who legalize lotteries and gambling are oppressing the poor for gain. According to a 1988 study of the Michigan lottery, that state sells the greatest number of tickets in low-income and ethnic neighborhoods in urban areas. Lottery tickets made available in grocery marts and drive-in markets make it easy for people to purchase these "chances to win the big hit." Some spend money on the lottery tickets instead of groceries for their families. Many compulsive gamblers wreck their lives and their families as they are encouraged to risk money that they usually cannot afford to lose. An estimated 15 million people are compulsive gamblers.

The lie that is used to promote this evil in our society is that legalized gambling doesn't promote crime and will lower taxes. Actually just the opposite is true -- gambling promotes other vices which attract the criminal element. This results in higher, not lower taxes as the cost for additional policing must be increased. Indian reservations and the big gambling centers of Las Vegas and Atlantic City are taking in billions of dollars. Casinos rob those who play the games with them as the odds are stacked 80% to 90% in favor of the casino. Even those that do win big on occasion statistics have proven that within two years most winners have totally spent the money they won.

Proverbs 21:20 says, "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man wastes it."

People who gamble give to the pool of money that composes great wealth. This causes them to give to the rich and as Proverbs 22:16 says "...he who gives to the rich will surely come to want." Our states are also reaping a type of "poverty" where gambling exists because it undermines the American work ethic. The result is lowered productivity, use of work time to gamble, absenteeism, high rates of business failure, and repeated non-payment of loans, mortgages and other financial obligations. Gambling is, to many, a scheme to escape labor.

Some Christians argue that gambling does no harm. However, the scripture is clear that this activity is sinful. Anytime someone is enticed to gain money at someone's else's certain loss, this is definitely not practicing the principals taught by Christ. Also, the practice of gambling takes away from the Bible's principals of economics -- working, saving and giving. Discipline and accountability for spending are ignored. Gambling preys on the weakness of others.

Let me mention here that entering free sweepstakes or drawings are not sinful as they are advertising ploys paid for by the sponsors. They use these to advertise their products while giving their customers a chance to win in a drawing. There is no gambling involved as the participants give no money for a chance to win the prize.

However, many Christians are guilty of supporting lotteries, bingo, horse racing, and even playing at the casinos. Video poker has become so popular it is now referred to as "the crack cocaine of gambling." Some do not realize the gravity of their sin. They justify gambling simply because they have needs that cannot be met through their present earned income. The Lord desires to meet those needs for them and will give them a plan for becoming debt free if they seek him and His economic principles in the Bible.
The Lord can bring deliverance to those caught in this web of compulsive gambling. Through admission of this sin and repentance God will break the bondage of it in those who desire to be set free. Gamblers need love and acceptance but they must repent in order to be free. The Lord loves those who are addicted to gambling and will help all that call upon Him for deliverance.

This is taken from an article by Betty Miller in Overcoming Digest

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You have a choice today

Everyday we live our lives in the heat of the battle. Everyday we are making decisions to follow Christ (be Christ-like) or not.

Paul puts it this way in Romans 6: 13, 14

Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

He is encouraging everyone to make a decision, everyday not to allow evil to overcome us. Reminding us that we are no longer bound to sin, as we were before we came to Christ but because of Christ he now live under the freedom that grace brings.

When a sinner sins, they are only doing what comes naturally. When a Christian sins, we have made a choice to neglect the freedom we have been given in Christ. The good thing in both cases is that God’s grace if applied, can be sufficient for both.

As you read on in this chapter, Paul presents the argument that we are all slaves to something either God, leading to righteousness, joy, peace, love, and freedom or our sin leading to bondage and death.

The point today is that we need to realize, unlike Flip Wilson’s character from the early 1970’s, “the devil didn’t make us do it” we choose every day how we will live. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to be overcomers not victims.

We all have areas of weakness. We all have areas of temptation and areas we struggle; however the empowering of the Holy Spirit enables us to be overcomers in all things. We have been set free from sin, as Paul mentions in verse 22 of the same chapter.

Do you feel condemned? I hope not, I hope that you feel empowered. I hope you realize you have a choice everyday to give into sin or not. You no longer have to be in bondage to anything. The Holy Spirit can and is more than willing to give you the power to overcome you weaknesses.

As you realize you are free, you realize you are empowered. As you realize you are empowered you will begin to see great victories in your life and the lives of those around. Freedom is also a decision you must make. The cross has set you free but if you still living in bondage in your mind, you nullify the effects of the cross.

Your choice!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Understanding true leadership and bad leadership.

We are coming into an election season, to be honest it seems like we are always in an election season any more. Choosing a good leader is difficult, what is even more difficult is living under a bad leader. Bad leadership can even corrupt good men and women. The book of James gives us some insight into good and bad leadership, signs that you are either going to be blessed or struggle under the leader at your job, church, government, ministry, or home. You may be a leader; if you are please take these few brief comments to heart. Be encouraged or make corrections which ever applies to you.

Rooted in the heart of a good leader is peace, purity, gentleness, mercy and freedom from hypocrisy.

Rooted in the heart of a bad leader is envy, self-seeking, confusion, and so on.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13 – 18

It would be easy to point to a leader and begin to judge them based on your perception. We need to be very careful when we judge those in leadership that we see through the Lord’s eyes and not our own. Leadership is costly. A good leader will make tough, and at times, unpopular decisions based on his/her desire to please God rather than men, that is one of the definitions of true humility. A true leader wants the best for the Lord and everything and everyone God has placed in their hands. A true leader will fight for you, even against your own self-destructive behavior and sin nature, even if you don’t realize they are fighting for you.

Our questions of whether a leader is good or not is often measured in time, not in immediacy. Evil intent is seen more as the direct result of long-term impact rather than short-term response. Is the benefit all about the leader? Is the glory going to the leader? Does the leader talk about themselves all of the time and constantly need the reassurance of the people around them. Are decisions made to directly benefit the leader or do they benefit their family, business, government, or ministry they are leading? Do they really believe in what they are saying or are they saying it to please the people? What did they believe before they were placed in a position of leadership, it is most likely, despite all the rhetoric or their actions, what they believe now. Consistency is key to being a good leader.

If you are a leader in your job, ministry, home, or government, know that God has a plan for you and your leadership. There are many different styles of leadership each style works in different environments. Please understand that your leadership is a gift from God and a responsibility to God. You are not in a position to please men but God. It does not need to be a burden but a blessing. Like any gift from God as you surrender and use it for His honor and glory you draw closer to Him. But like the failures in the Bible, if you use it for selfishness, it may seem like you are prospering for a season but in the end you will find only frustration and a long distance relationship with the Lord. Don’t be afraid or frustrated. If God has called you, as you submit to Him, He will give you the wisdom to be all that you have been called to be and all that you family, business, government, or ministry need you to be.

If you are under a good leader, pray for them that they will continue to be the man or woman of God, He has called them to be. If you are under a bad leader, pray that the Lord open their eyes to become who God has called them to be. Pray that you can learn what you need to about humility, godliness, and service. Anyone can rejoice under a good leader but it takes people after God’s own heart to be fruitful and at peace under bad leadership.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Little faith or mountain moving faith

Yesterday I talked about how little our faith needed to be to be mountain moving. I want to encourage you today a little further in that idea.

You are familiar with Jesus saying to his disciples, “If you have faith as a mustard seed you can say to the mountain be removed and thrown into the see” Matthew 17:20

Jesus made that statement after the disciples could not deliver the young man from the demon. In fact they had been trying while Jesus was with God the Father, Elijah, and Moses on the mount of transfiguration. Jesus said to them, “you of little faith”. If you look at each time He mentioned that to them you will see a pattern of what Jesus was saying.

How often do we know that God can do something and we set about doing it in our strength rather than God’s? The disciples knew the boy could be set free from the demon; their faith was in the fact that the boy could be set free; they knew it. However their faith was in relying on their own strength rather than the Lord. Notice they recognized that God could do it, so they had faith but it was not in the power of God, but in their own ability, their own work, rather than that of the Lord.

The same thing happened when the storm came and Jesus was sending the disciples with him to the other side of the lake (Matthew 8). The storm came, they knew they could get across the lake if they just worked hard enough at it so they did what came naturally for fisherman, they gripped, worried, complained, and rowed harder. Once again Jesus said they had little faith. Their faith was in knowing that God could do something but their focus was on the idea that they had to make it happen rather than relying on the Lord to lead them and show them what to do.

Romans 12 tells us that each of us are given a measure of faith. Faith is indeed like a muscle the more we use it the stronger it becomes. However our faith must not be in a works mentality but a grace one. We do not have any abilities within ourselves that God has not given to us. Our dependency must not be on what we know God can do but on God.

I know it may seem like I am a broken record on this but it is always about relationship. The stronger our relationships with the Lord, the more we recognize Him in every aspect of our lives; the more we recognize how much He loves us, His leading, and daily guiding of our lives. The less we rely on our strength and the more we turn to Him first.

Be blessed today rely on Him, even in your strengths. Watch what he will do as we use our faith to trust Him rather than in ourselves. All it takes to move mountains is a little faith in God’s ability rather than a lot of faith in our ability.

Friday, November 4, 2011

In everything give thanks

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16 – 18


This is the month of Thanksgiving. A time here in America where we reflect on how blessed we are. It is not always easy because selfishness creeps in on us very easily. It is easy to become prideful and selfish and to not realize how well we really have it. At a minimum, as a Christian, you have Christ and if you think about it that means you have everything.

I just went through a very painful dental surgery. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say my mouth was in severe pain and I felt as if I had broken my nose. Believe it or not I am grateful. When I was a young boy, I had my teeth knocked out, right after my permanent teeth had come in. The University of Pittsburgh Dental School experimented on me, successfully, but not without consequences. Since that time, I had dealt with issues resulting from the experimentation. The surgery I just had, despite the pain, is the beginning of finally making right, the best that could be done over 40 years ago.

I am telling you all this to say that despite the pain, I can give thanks to the Lord for the wisdom and insight He gave the dentist over 40 years ago and the increased wisdom and insight He has given my dentist now. The pain I am going through is on my way to my healing.

As much as my suffering is physical, yours may be as well, or it could be spiritual, mental, or emotional. Regardless of where your pain is rooted, I would encourage you to give thanks, not so much for the pain itself, but because you know the Lord, you know He will use it to bring about your healing.

You can choose to wallow in your pain, allow your pain to be what identifies you, or you can choose to believe that you are a son or daughter of Christ and that this temporary discomfort, if given over to God, will get you to your place of total healing.

God did not cause the problems I have, but I have given them over to Him and have expected Him to use them for my good. He has used them to help me become who He has called me to be. Rather than taking ownership of my suffering, I gave it over to Him and asked Him to use it for His honor and glory.

Jeremiah 29:11, you know it, talks about God’s plans for us. All of His plans are good. Bad things will happen because we live in a fallen world. We don’t have to identify with them or take ownership of them. They are not to define us. He is to define us! If we give thanks to Him for giving us the opportunity to trust Him with our struggle, pain, wound, or whatever, He will then turn it from a tragedy to a triumph. In everything give thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Be an example for others to follow

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1

It is tough in our culture to stand for Christ. There are temptations all around us. There is compromise and injustice everywhere we look. It is easy to become discouraged, but God knows. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. All the compromise and injustice have been around since the beginning.

We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be salt because it preserves the meat when the natural way of things is for the meat to decay and become corrupt, salt stops the decay and saves the meat. We are called to do that in our society. Salt also adds flavor to something bland and apart from Christ the world really has no true flavor. We are called to be light because left to humanity darkness will overwhelm the world. Corruption is in our fallen nature. We must be the light, the brightest thing in the room. The things everyone is drawn too.

So what does that have to do with 1 Corinthians 11:1? In Hebrews chapter 11 we are given a list of people of faith. These men and women are real people who struggled but over came by faith. The list was put together so we could be challenged in our faith to hold on and be like those who have gone before us.

We can read our Bibles and receive great insight and understanding from them, however for many people the best way they can grasp a firm understanding of the Scripture is by seeing it lived out in the lives of others. It is one thing to read that we should live by faith; it is another thing to show people how to live by faith. It is one thing to know that we must forgive others, it is quite another to show people how to do it.

We are all to be living examples of who Jesus is and how much God loves. I know that sounds difficult but the good news is that it is not really about us, all we have to do is love the Lord and allow Him to love us and we will naturally be the examples He wants us to be. It is never about perfection. Perfection is about our working to earn God’s favor. We already have His favor. It is about our love for Him and allowing Him to pour His love into every aspect of who we are and who he has called us to be.

Be the example, let Him love you and love through you!