Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31 Thought for the day...meeting Jesus

Have you ever thought, "how cool it would have been to be alive and know Jesus?" Well, you don't need to travel back in time because you can experience Him today. Confused? Listen to Jesus' own words. John 14:16

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever"

Jesus was preparing to leave his disciples so in preparation for His departure, He shared with them some of the most important things that would help them continue to impact the world. In John 14 he says something that is easy to miss, "the Father will give you another Helper". There are two words used in the New Testament that can be interpreted "another". One means, "another kind or a different kind" the other means "another of the exact same kind, a duplicate, the same nature, the exact same".
The word Jesus chose to use was the second. Jesus was saying, the Father will send you Someone who is just like Me in every way. He will be identical to Me in the way He speaks, the way He thinks, the way He operates, the way He see things, and the way He does things. He will be exactly like Me in every way.

Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father and Jesus response was (John 14:9) "He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father". Jesus was saying if you know me you know the Father, we are of the same kind, identical in every way. Exactly what He was saying about the Holy Spirit.

We don't need to wonder what it would have been like to be with Jesus 2000 years ago because we have the Holy Spirit who is exactly identical in the way He reacts, speaks, responds, feels, and has the exact same nature as Jesus. Like Jesus wanted people to see the Father, the Holy Spirit seeks to point us to the Father and the Son. We will be guided by the same love, hope, strength, and power that Jesus lived out on Earth through the Holy Spirit. Take time to get to know Him. He is exactly like Jesus, not spooky but very powerful, the truth, and very loving!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30 Thought for the day....wait for it, wait for it

Chess, backgammon, and Tetris to name a few, are games about waiting. If you are in too much of a hurry you are guaranteed to lose every time. As Americans, raised with a fast food mentality, we do not like to wait. God is not of our culture or of our day and age. He is timeless and uses tried and true methods to guarantee our blessing and success. It certainly is not comfortable and does not always seem fair but it is the way God works best for our good. Paul stresses that in 1Thessalonians 2:4

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."

We like everything done right now, however we can only see what we can see and God can see the heart and the future. The word translated "approved" by God is a rather intense word. It doesn't mean someone is simply given a stamp of approval but instead it means that the person is tested and tried, they are put through the fire and all of the impurities are burned out. It means someone has been examined, inspected, and scrutinized to determine the quality and sincerity.

To the amateur or the naked eye, a piece of metal may seem strong and without flaws but once it is super heated to glowing, then a blacksmith can see all of the impurities burning off. It is then and only then that the metal is truly useful for its intended purpose. The more the blacksmith has to fire the metal the greater its purpose will be.

Some of you have been in the "heat" for a long time. Paul spent three years in the desert burning off his impurities being made into the "metal" God needed him to be (that is his reference here). He was one of the most knowledgable theologians of his day but in order for him to be used of God and to stand the pressure, trials, temptations, and struggles he would face and to be able to handle the blessings and power he would be given, he had to know more than theology. He had to fully understand; God is good, circumstances don't matter, God is faithful, what happens does not determine God's will, and that God will fulfill Paul's destiny and purpose and that not even death could stop that (Paul was stoned to death once and beaten nearly to death several times). Pretty intense stuff...ready to be used like Paul? All you have to do is wait for it...just wait for it! God needs men and women that are willing to be "approved" and not be afraid or give up. Instead, to remain focused on the call and the destiny God has planned!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29 Thought for the day...the rescuer with you

How many times have you found yourself trapped? How many times has your back been up against the wall? How many times have you felt abandoned, alone, like you were the only one facing your trial? Paul gave us this hope to remind us that we are never alone.

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26

I have read this scripture many times. It wasn't until I began to break it down that I grasped the full and very powerful meaning behind Paul's words.

The Greek word used here for "intercession" was not used in the common language of the day, it was very specific to the Christian culture. It does not mean intercession as in the definition used as simply prayer but it is more of an active word. It is the picture of seeing someone trapped, hopeless, overwhelmed and the Holy Spirit comes in as a rescuer. He comes to you, He empathizes with your condition. He grasps the full reality of what is going on. He feels your full emotion. He completely understands the frustration and the battle you are facing. Having understood, He knows exactly what to do to break you free from the quandry and bring total freedom and release. He has a supernatural plan to deliver you and will execute that plan in the best way to bless you, if you will allow Him!

Don't ever hesitate to ask the Lord for help. He will immediately come to your rescue. He will understand exactly what you are walking through, encourage you in it, and at the right time deliver you out of it. You are never alone, never abandoned. This is the Holy Spirit's intercession for each of us every day.

I know some reading this are really going through it. If you aren't in a difficult situation, if you are pursuing God, walking by faith it won't be long until you face you own situation. Choose every moment to trust the Holy Spirit's power of intercession to set you free and He will!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 28 Thought for the or an amateur?

Those of you that know me know I am not into professional sports with perhaps two exceptions, soccer, and American Ninja Warrior. Soccer because Christopher played for so many years and I just got used to being around it, but recently American Ninja Warrior (ANW) because it takes every ounce of strength and every bit of mental and emotional discipline to accomplish the task. Like Olympic athletes, they will practice for an entire year, for hours, every day to make their bodies do the impossible and both men and women, large and small are able to do the impossible with enough focus and training. Paul gives young Timothy the same challenge

"And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." 2 Timothy 2:5

I know many of you are thinking Tim doesn't even like sports yet here we go with another sports idea from scripture. All I can say is if the scripture goes there I must go there too!

The word Paul uses for "competes" doesn't mean simple amateur competition but like ANW he is referring to someone who has given their lives to train, to be disciplined mentally, to emotionally be prepared, to take on any challenge at any time. Paul is saying that as Christians we must be disciplined in our study of the word, prayer, growing in the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Think about it. How many battles mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually do you face every day? How many attacks do you have to ward off? How many comments and thoughts do you have to overcome? Without real training and discipline, it would be easy to be worn down and out and rather than being an overcomer, to become overcome. It is sad to say but I see it all the time. It starts innocent enough, I'm too tired to read, pray, get to church or the kids have to do this or be here, or go there I just don't have time. Then marriage fall apart, kids run away from God, they have sports, dance, cheerleading or whatever but are not prepared to be a success in life. Adults give their lives to the job, their club, or their kids and then have nothing because God has had no place in their life. They have lived and amateur walk with God and are easily and quickly defeated.

Life can be tough but the people we celebrate are the ones who make it through the bad places, the tough times, the challenges to their integrity. We celebrate the ones whose kids are walking with God as they grow older. The word "competes" that Paul uses, is suggestive of living life always being prepared for the battle, always either training to win or winning the crown. The crown is the presence of God, the successful life, the faithful family. Our walk with Christ is not for the weak because, in our weakness, He gives strength, if we are willing! Move from the amateur to the professional ranks begin to compete with the drive to win.

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27 Thought for the day...winning is the only option

We get very excited when our team begins to win. When they win, even when we aren't playing, there is a feeling of elation because it is our team and it was hard fought. Paul challenges us in much the same way.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul writing to the Corinthians church, a people who understood competition very well because of their familiarity with Isthmian games, a type of Olympics. When Paul wrote the word "race" the meaning behind it was pretty intricate. The athletes at these games were not competing simply for riches but they competed mainly for honor. Winners at these games had dedicated themselves to the discipline, training, excellence, and mindset to win. They were considered heroes and icons in their culture. They were given respect, notoriety, and fame for a lifetime. Paul's emphasis was partially this, that we should compete, run our race, that we too would commit the excellence, discipline, and training to win our race and we would be given, by God, the honor, respect and notoriety of a winner for heaven.

The other part of this idea is that our excellence and training would cause us not only to win but to challenge others, by our victories, to want to do the same thing to win. Both the honoring by God and the challenge to others with them beginning to compete are both our prizes. Paul repeats this thought in Romans in 2:10. Paul expects every Christian to run this race, as he says, "all run", and every Christian should then expect to impact everyone around them so they too might run.

Paul's other challenge to "obtain" the prize, means to give everything you have to win the race. The expectation from Paul is that you will strain, do battle with your own heart and mind, to overcome every obstacle with the expectation of not just placing, but winning. This is not just "jogging for Jesus" but an expectation of giving all that you have to win the prize. It is expected for you to impact everyone you know to strive to win as well.

The cost if we don't run this way is; families falling apart, children walking away from Jesus, people by the thousands going to hell every hour. The blessing if we win is; thousands more in heaven, God blessing us more than we could ever imagine, our families strengthened and blessed. Let's choose today to run to win! We these being the stakes winning is the only option!

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24 Thought for the day...truth holds is all together

We all know we should walk in truth. It is the only right way to live and respond to people and situations if we are going to be real men and women of God! Did you know it is the truth that holds everything together?

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, Ephesians 6:14

I have shared about the belt of truth recently but there is something I need to add today to further understand the importance of this scripture. Jesus is the truth, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.
As Paul was looking at the soldier in front of him he noticed that everything was held together by the belt. Because of this, he called it the belt of truth.

The belt had a scabbard for the sword, it had a hook for the shield, the breast plate was tied to it and of course his pants were held up by it. Nearly every part of the armor of God was is connected to truth. Without truth, literally, the armor would fall apart.

Our righteousness, faith, and standing on the word all depend upon our living and walking in the truth. We may think we are righteous, walking in faith or standing on the word but if truth is not at the center we are not what we perceive to be.

The opposite is true. If we are walking in truth, I know it is hard to always walk in the truth, it is not always politically correct nor is it always pleasing to walk in the truth but if we fight to do so, righteousness, faith, and living the Word are all made easier. Our culture with "fake" news, facebook opinions treated like truth, and news agencies and talk show hosts focused more on money than truth, as men and women of God it is more important than ever that we live and walk in truth.

Truth will keep it all together, it is not easy but please fight to walk in truth it will hold everything else together for you!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23 Thought for the day...insisting in prayer

If you have ever had your back up against the wall. If you have ever been in extreme danger or in need you know what it is like to either feel helpless, get desperate, or even becoming demanding of God. How far can we go in prayer? What does God expect and tolerate from His people?

John 15:7 "But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!"

This verse eliminates the idea that we are worthless and need to beg God for answers. The word John uses for "ask" means to demand or insist strongly. It does not imply arrogance but the idea of a person coming to their boss and asking what has already been promised or released through previous authority. It is a word full of expectation and anticipation that the request is going to be fulfilled because of relationship.

Remember the context of this verse is that you are abiding in Christ. The expectation is that your heart is aligned with His heart so to be able to demand something of God is not arrogance but a demonstration of faith in your relationship with Him. You can courageously come before him with the expectation of His heartbeat being fulfilled because your heart is aligned with His! He wants you to seize His will for your life to demand the fulfillment of His plan and your destiny.

The word used here for "ask" is also the word meant to insist upon recieving; food, clothing, shelter, protection, guidance, finances, and all the very tangible needs. Jesus is telling us it is OK to come to the Lord with the expectation of His supply. The expectation from God is, we are keeping His word, living a Christ-follower type of life, that people can see Jesus in our actions and hear Him in our words, then we can expect God to move on our requests!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22 Thought for the day....remember

It is nice to remember to pray for someone. We all need it, but do you know that is a way to pray that enables heaven to remember you?

"I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day" 2 Timothy 1:3

Paul was waiting to be executed, he had been imprisoned for quite some time. He knew at any moment the soldiers could come and take him to his beheading. However, young Timothy was hurting as I had mentioned in previous thoughts for the day, he had been abandoned and was concerned about being left without any help. Paul set his focus not on his execution but instead on bringing young Timothy to God's attention.

Most people reading this "thought" know that I am praying for them. If I know you, I am praying for you and even if I don't know you I am always praying that this "thought" will have an impact to make you more like Jesus and cause you to fulfill your destiny. For those I know, I have taken Paul example here for my prayers.

Paul says he "remembers without ceasing" his words mean he is bringing Timothy before the Lord always. Before Paul would ask for the Lord's guidance, protection, or supplying Timothy's need he would remind heaven of all that Timothy had done. Paul would paint a picture before heaven of all the things Timothy had accomplished. He reminded the Lord of who Timothy was and the faithfulness with which he served heaven. The word used for this phrase means that Paul memorialized Timothy in heaven (like the Centurion in Acts 10:4). Before he asked for a need for Timothy he reminded heaven of the man of God that he is. God forgets nothing, He remembers everything so even though Paul was going to his death he laid out a memorial before the Lord of who Timothy was that God would see forever.

Paul was saying even though my time on earth may be short, I want heaven to always know and remember who you are Timothy so when you pray the Father will have a memorial that I have built to remind Him just who you are. Don't you wish you had someone who prayed like that for you? If I know you, then you do! God will remember you!

I would encourage you to love the people you know enough to remind the Lord of what they have done. Build a memorial before God, for the people in your life. Watch what happens as God remembers your prayers

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21 Thought for the day...decently and in order

I have been in every kind of church you can imagine from the very conservative to the very wild. I have been part of things that are so profound and holy that I literally could not stand in the presence of God to things so profane I wanted to take the microphone and ask people if any of them had a relationship with Jesus. What is the best way to do church? Paul gives us clear direction.

"Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:40

That statement means different things to different people. It could mean the dancing, swaying and shouting of a Gospel choir and it could also mean the quiet stillness of an orthodox service or the wildness of Pentecostals in South America. Each one of these services and more could be either decent and in order or totally out of order. This could also be a reflection of your life.

When Paul talks about "decently" there are only two other places in scripture where this same word is used. In all three cases, the inference is doing something with honest heart and intent, to do something properly. The emphasis is not so much on what is done but on the motivation behind it. When Paul is talking about doing something decently his challenge is that it be done with honesty, sincerity, and the right motivation. We must judge the heart of why we are doing something and as a Pastor, the challenge for me is to judge the motivation of the heart of someone doing something in ministry that they are claiming is God-driven. This is also the way we should be responding in our daily lives. Everything should be done with honest, sincere, motivation or attitudes should always be governed by honesty.

When Paul mentions "in order" the word translated this way means simply that something done in a fitting way, it fits with the service, does not disrupt or distract but adds to in a respectful, courteous, differential, well-mannered way. This is the definition of in order. This is also the way we should treat one another.

Think of all of the ways you communicated or were communicated to in the last week. Has it been decently and in order. As far as a church service goes, this is not limiting if everyone is truly moving by the Spirit of God. Yes, there will be times when someone will get offended because to them it is a disruption but if done honestly and respectfully it is not really a disruption but God!

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20 Thought for the day....hold onto your dream

When we are young we have plenty of dreams. It would seem that dreaming is a thing for the young but if we are willing, God will always give us fresh dreams. We are encouraged to hold onto them and not let go until we see them fulfilled.

Hebrews 10:23  "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

It is easy to give up on dreams, jobs end or change, life situations change, financial situations change, but despite all of this, God does not change. If God has given you dream, if we trust Him, He will fulfill that dream. Think about Abraham for a moment. He and Sara leave Iraq following a dream. Along the way, his Father dies, his nephew deserts him, he is plagued by trials by men, by weather, and by nature. All along the way having every reason to quit, to give up on the dream, but they did not and we know the history, our lives have been changed!

The writer of Hebrews is saying to us "hold fast" to the confession of hope (the dream). The word translated, hold fast means; to hold on tightly, to embrace and not let go, to wrap your arms around something tightly. He is saying here when God gives you a dream expect it to be attacked, trials to arise but choose to hold on tightly, do not let go, make sure that no one can steal it from you.

When God gives you a dream, He has already equipped you with the abilities, personality, gifts and skills to begin to fulfill it. He then expects us to add to that, faith and trust in the Lord, as well as a tenacity to hold on tightly to the dream and the Lord. The result will be amazing blessings for others and for us and an impact that will change our world.

Take the risk! Don't allow your dream to be stolen or crushed! Trust the Lord and change your world!

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17 Thought for the day...getting over wounds

All of us have been wounded by people. At some point in our lives, each of us has had someone take our trust and or love and reject it, trample on it or abuse it in some way. The human tendency is to stay there and lick our wounds and choose to not love or trust that deeply again. God doesn't let us do that!

"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." 2 Timothy 2:2

Now you may be saying "what does this have to do with that?" Timothy had invested his life, love, heart as any good pastor does, into his people. He had spent many hours in prayer, counsel, instruction of his people. As long as everything was going well, everyone was there but the minute things got tough many turned on him and left him. Have you had that happen in your life? It hurts often people don't realize how much love you have poured out. Especially as a pastor people don't realize how much love and heart you pour into people. It goes much deeper than this, you may have been hurt even deeper than this at some point. Paul's challenge is no matter the hurt, you can't stay there.

Timothy was deeply wounded, feeling the pain of rejection and Paul says "commit" these to faithful men. The word commit really means to draw close to someone in order to make a deposit into their life. Paul was saying, I know you have been hurt but you can't dwell there, trust that God will still be faithful. Look at the gifts that you still have around you. Yes, I understand you have been hurt but that doesn't stop God's plan for you unless you stop. So don't stop. Press into to those close to you and invest in their lives. God will fulfill His plan through them and you. He is bigger than your pain, rejection and the short-sightedness of those around you.

Give your heartache, rejection and hurt to Him. It may have happened yesterday or 30 years ago but people around you need you to invest in them. God has your destiny waiting!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16 Thought for the day....imitate well

Every Christian wants to be like Jesus. We read the Bible we know we are supposed to live and act like Him but knowing what that should look like is not easy. The writer of Hebrews tells us a way to start.

"that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Hebrews 6:12

There has got to be someone in your life that you look up to spiritually. While no one is perfect, there are those in all of our lives who have been walking the faith and are accomplishing a fulfilled destiny in Christ. This passage says, recognize those who you see who through faith and patience are inheriting the promise and imitate them. The word translated "imitate" stresses mimicry, more like an actor learning to portray someone for a movie. It is the intense study of a person's character, nature, and actions so you might imitate them precisely. It is what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1. There should be someone in your life that is imitating Christ well enough that they can be an example for your growth so you can also inherit the promises.

If an actor portrays the person long enough, everyone will be convinced that they are the person they portray. God brings people into all of our lives that are, through their faith and patience, becoming more like Jesus every day. An easier way for each of us to grow is to watch their lives and become more like them as they become more like Christ.

If you are feeling bad, afraid, anxious, choose instead to "act" like the person you know who is walking like Christ. It is not hypocritical to act this way we are told in Romans 13:14 to in every way put on Christ. When we don't feel like smiling we smile to help people see Jesus, we love when we feel unlovable because someone has a need. Then we go to those that we are imitating and ask for their help to become what we have portrayed to help others.

I know this may be a hard thing for some to grasp but this is simply a way that we die to ourselves and live as Christ for others. Imitating others to grow to become like Christ. Laying down our pain, insecurities, anxieties to minister to others then allowing those we trust to minister to us.

I hope you have someone in your life you can imitate. It will only help you to grow to reflect Jesus! One last question...if others were to imitate you would they be reflecting Jesus in all things?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March 15 Thought for the day....killer shoes

How many times have you been "run over" by the enemy? For most of us, we are able to go through our daily routine and living our lives, growing in faith, fairly unheeded. But then there are those days when literally all hell breaks loose, every tactic of the enemy has been deployed, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Believe it or not, for both types of days we need some thing Paul outlines in Ephesians we need killer shoes.

"and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;" Ephesians 6:15

I have recently preached about the armor of God but for today's "thought" I need to add a bit to it. Having your feet "shod" in the Greek means more than simply putting shoes on, it implies tieing the shoes on tightly. We must bind peace onto our lives very tightly so as never to lose it. It should be bound so tightly to us that it is part of us.

The shoes Paul is talking about where not just simply sandals they were "killer shoes" they were made of thick leather with spikes that came out the bottom. The spikes had a two-fold purpose. The first was to cause the soldier to hold his ground against the enemy when the enemy pushes back a soldier is to never lose ground but keep moving forward. The peace we walk in causes that to happen. Secondly, the shoes were an offensive weapon for with them, one quick kick in the right place the enemy was either disabled or killed. If disabled, the soldier merely had to trample his enemy under his feet and he would be destroyed. Ironic isn't it, that peace could be a weapon.

Paul is saying that when you have peace, chose to bind it to you, all the tactics of the enemy can be easily trampled under your feet and you can keep moving forward! Choose peace today and see what happens!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 14 Thought for the day...God always repays

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you sacrificed, loved, gave of yourself and either nothing was mentioned (not that you were really looking for it) or worse someone else got or took the credit? Unfortunately, in the world and in the church this happens more often than you would think.

"So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!" Hebrews 10:35

God will never be outdone. When we are trusting the Lord He knows, He sees, and He will not be outdone. The word translated "great reward" means to get reimbursed in abundance. The idea is if you pour out of your time, talent or treasure the Lord will make sure you are blessed more in return.

The question is what was their "confident" trust in the Lord. The word "confident" has to do with bold, frank, action. Their bold, frank, action,  was their faith in the Lord. With such boldness, you can feel free to proclaim the things you have done for the Lord. Things that may have been overlooked or gone unappreciated don't be disappointed.

What the writer of Hebrews is saying here could safely be said “I know what you’ve done to serve Me. I am aware of the time, talent and treasure you have spent to do what I had asked you to do. Go ahead and tally up what is owed you, and boldly declare that you will be reimbursed. I will see to it that you recoup everything you spent along the way. You’ll get everything that you’ve spent and more, that you’ve been declaring by faith!”

(This is what happened to Nikola Tesla by Thomas Edison. A little history in this thought)

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13 Thought for the day....overcoming failure

Have you ever had a time when things just went wrong? Maybe you had control over the situation, maybe not, but regardless you still felt responsible, felt like a failure. Timothy felt that way, so Paul encouraged him with this...

"Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 2:1

Timothy was the pastor of the most extensive church in the world at the time. The apostle John, Mary Jesus' mother, and many other key leaders attended his church. It had grown in significance but as Nero's persecution began many left the faith to save their lives and others began to rise against Timothy attempting to divide the church. It could not have seemed or felt worse for this pastor. If you think about how you feel as a parent when one of your children is hurt that is how pastors feel when some in their flock are wounded. Timothy was beaten up he felt like a failure, he needed a touch from God!

Paul says to young Timothy "be strong" the Greek understanding here is explosive power, like dynamite. Paul is saying to Timothy it is time to allow that explosive power loose in your life. You and I both know when you are down, struggling with depression, battling feeling like a failure it is nearly impossible to feel that way. Feeling like an overcomer doesn't come naturally especially when we have all the weight of feeling like a failure on us. It takes a supernatural move of God to get us to where we need to be!

The supernatural power is exactly what Paul stresses when he says "through the grace that God gives you." Grace isn't something we get because we deserve it because we are strong enough or good enough, grace is given to us freely because Jesus loves us and died for us. When we are down the devil kicks us when he can. He lies and says we need to be better, more faithful, more righteous. Paul is breaking those lies to young Timothy by saying, "Timothy get ready to be powerfully explosive, I understand what you are feeling but I need to remind you God loves you, Jesus died for you, and He will give you all you need right now to overcome. Just allow Him to love you and show you the way out!

If you are there right now or the next time you find yourself there, remember these words and allow the Lord to get you there!

Friday, March 10, 2017

March 10 Thought for the day...patience

We all go through stuff, pressures at work, financial pressure, relationship struggles. The early church saw their world turned upside down some were put in the arena to be fed to wild animals, others burned at the stake, others thrown into prison for months at a time. In the middle of this stress, James writes this..

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4

Pressure and stress are really in the eye of the beholder. My friends in Sudan live, joyously, on one meal every other day. Some of our teens are dying if they don't eat four meals per day. Regardless of your tolerance of stresses we all go through stuff. In the early church patience was considered the queen of all virtures, they believed if they had patience they could survive and suceed at anything.

Patience defined in this context has more of a military meaning. James is saying that when you go through things you need to "stand your ground, defend what you have gained". The concept is that when we face our greatest difficulties don't loose the ground you have gained, be unwavering in your faith, be consistent and unflinching in your trust in the Lord.

Like the first century Christians, we will all face trials and battles. Don't allow the intensity of the struggle rob you of how much you have matured. Remember who God is and how He has gotten you through so much, so far, and will get you through every trial and battle with victory if you will just have patience.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 9 Thought for the day...tough things to come

For all of my life, someone has been saying Jesus is coming back soon. They are correct, every day that we march forward in time, Jesus' return is sooner. He is coming back some day, and He defined that day as when everyone will have heard the Gospel message.  However, there are things we need to look for as "signs" so we might be aware to not become like them. Paul warns us in

2 Timothy 3:1  "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come"

Feel free to read these signs in verses 2-13. What I want us to focus on today is what Paul is actually saying here. The phrase "but know this" is written in a tense that suggests to us that we need to continually be aware of the things He is going to outline. It is not simply, pay attention once and move on, but instead to always make yourself aware of what is happening around you. We are to always be aware, alert, but never fearful, anxious, or angry. Paul is simply saying, it is human nature to go the way I am about to describe, so always be aware that it is not happening in you or those around you.

His use of the phrase "last days" literally means just that, the things I am telling you will be at their absolute worst right before the end of the age. You think these things are bad now wait and see just how bad they will become.

The phrase "perilous times" Paul is saying, these words are going to be hard to hear, they are harsh, unrelenting, these times will be like wild animals that have been provoked, exceedingly fierce. These will be times when reason goes away, and men are acting more on instinct and nature than God.

Why share such a grim picture? First, to remind you while things are bad, that aren't as bad as they will be. Second, as Paul was sharing with young Timothy, be on the alert that no one in the church begins to act like this. Listening to the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us will cause us to overcome and have the victory every time, but we must be aware of what is in the heart of mankind. It also comes down to, do we read and know God's Word. We are being trained now for things in the future, but we must accept the training and discipline if we are to overcome.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8 Thought for the day...overcoming stress

We have all been there. The stress to get a project completed, handling an event, making sure everything is ready for the baby, wedding, party, etc. Our world is full of stress, not all stress is terrible it pushes us on, overcomes laziness, helps us do better. Then there are the times when it is just overwhelming! Paul's answer

"and to give you who are troubled rest with us" 2 Thessalonians 1:7

The Thessalonians were constantly persecuted. They were not only being persecuted by the Romans but just as heavily by the Jews. Many had been tortured, some killed, businesses stolen from them, enslaved. This church was unable to get a break. Yet despite all of this, the church stood strong and would not give in to the threats and persecutions, they stood their ground to overcome.

It is truly honorable to do this, but continual stress will eventually wear you down. The Holy Spirit through Paul is saying "rest." We must understand the word "troubled" first to its fullest. It means everything I described above but add to that the feeling that you are being crushed under a heavy weight. This was a torture method that was used, they tied a person down then placed a heavy boulder on them to slowly crush a person. This is how extreme the stress felt to the church. Do you remember feeling that way at times?

Then the "rest" word comes in. Sometimes the pressure comes from the outside, but many times we put it on ourselves. This word means to relax, lay down, let off on the pressure, shake it off, and let it go (no Disney singing here please). The word choice and placement encourages us to take some time to smell the roses, do some fun recreation, find something you love to do and do it.

Remember being overwhelmed, or being overcome by stress is never God's plan. Paul's encouragement is, there are times you just have to stop and do something to relieve the pressure. It may give you a better perspective on handling the problem and also give you the strength you need to do so, as well. He fights our battles for us...let Him!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 7 Thought for the day...He pursues you

I remember watching westerns as a kid, my Dad was a big fan. In these movies, the good guys always won, and the bad guys always got their "come-up-ins." The good guys would relentlessly pursue the bad guys, never giving up until they got their man! We know we need to pursue God but did you know He pursues you?

"Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him." James 4:5

The word "passionate" here means a yearning for something, a longing, an ache, pining for something. James choice of this word is to express the extreme desire that God has for us. He doesn't just love us but longs for us and has such an intense desire for a relationship with us. When we believe that God no longer loves us or has no time for us, this verse proves those thoughts simply be lies from the enemy. Our God is passionate longing for a relationship with us.

The phrase here "faithful to him" actually means that God is infuriated when something draws us away and that He fights for us. Some translations even use the word "envy" suggestion that God envy's our relationship with Him so much that He will fight any foe, anything of this world that would long to steal us away from Him.

He is a friend that is closer than a brother. He is our loving heavenly Father. He is the one who knows our potential better than anyone, sees what we can do, understands the heart, personality and gifts He has invested in us that will fulfill our destiny and bring us great joy. So He pursues us that we might fulfill, He fights for us so nothing may steal us away or distract us, and all He asks is that we daily trust Him. In return, amazing things happen 2 Chronicles 16:9, Daniel 11:32b, and Isaiah 64:4,5 to name just a few verses. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6 Thought for the day....acting like God

We all have people in our lives who think they are God. Usually when we say something like that we mean someone who thinks of themselves better than others and lords their real or imagined authority over others. We are challenged in the Bible to act like God but in a very positive way.

Ephesians 5:1 "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children."

The word "imitate" means to actually mimic, duplicate, act like God. The idea behind the word usage is that we should study the Bible, pray, and fellowship with strong believers and by doing such, we will know God so well that we can, in every aspect of our lives duplicate His heart, word, action, character, and all that He is. As Christians, the excuse of, "well I'm not God" is not really an option. We are to be so close to Him in our daily walk that everything we do not only reflects Him but is what He would say, do, and how He would react.

We also need to look at the word "therefore." In the placement of the sentence, the Greek word translated here as "therefore" means, be constantly in the process of becoming. In other words, our walk with Christ and our challenge to duplicate the heart and action of our Father is an on-going growth process, it will not happen overnight! Because we are "children" of the Father, we should not just reflect our Father but grow to be a duplicate of Him so people can see Him. It takes time, energy, effort, patience, grace and love to fulfill this encouragement. However, if we have chosen to call ourselves Christ-followers, then we must act, react, and live like Him.

This is one of the most significant missing elements in the world today, people who are actively pursuing a life that so reflects, duplicates, mimics, God that the whole world can easily see Him. This doesn't mean it will make your life easier, the devil hates God, and so do those who are his sons. We have been called to reflect our Father and give them the opportunity to be set free!

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 3 Thought for the beyond your dreams

Many people have the desire even the dream to be rich. Stand in line to pay at most gas stations and you will be behind many whose dreams are wrapped up in purchasing a ticket. If you have faith in Christ you are already rich beyond your wildest dreams.

"you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you" 1 Corinthians 1:5,6

The Greek word used here for "enriched" means to be rich beyond measure, having an impossible amount of wealth. The idea is a person who is making money easily in abundance. Paul adds to that the phrase "by Him" when this phrase and its meaning from the Greek are added to "enriched", Paul is saying...we are made rich in Jesus.

This being rich in Jesus has two meanings. The first being when we came to Christ we became joint heirs with Jesus. All the wealth of the Kingdom is now ours as well. Wealth without limit! Secondly, Paul is letting us know, the enrichment process did not end the day we came to Christ, rather it is on going and continual. The Father is adding to our riches daily.

Paul is talking about spiritual riches...utterance, knowledge, and the testimony of Christ all of the things the gifts and fruit of the Spirit manifest in us. What is the price of real peace, true love, or active joy. What is the price to know what the Lord is doing and to see through His eyes always. These and so many other things are the true richest that this world can not own or control. The true richest that cause us to rise above all of the turmoil, fear, and limits this world has.

Our proble is we have this vast wealth, riches beyond our dreams available to us but rather than pursueing the Lord to obtain what He has promised, instead we choose to settle for so much less. You have been given and are continually being offered more wealth than you could ever imagine. Please begin today to pursue His offer so the world may see the blessings a Christ-follower is entitled to and allow them to become jealous enough to pursue Him!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

March 2 Thought for the day...beating the devil

It is a tough thing to realize that someone hates you. I have had it happen a couple times in my life and to be honest in both instances I didn't even realize it. My mind is always on the goal, seeing people become who God wants them to become and changing the world. I know many of you have the same goal. When we start moving in our calling, we do have someone who truly hates us, and we need to understand that as a fact. Paul gives us that heads up

2 Corinthians 2:11

"lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices."

If you are a Christ-follower, Satan hates you and everything you do. He will try to take advantage of you whenever he can. The word "advantage" means to outwit, outmaneuver, to take advantage of someone through sneaky or nefarious means. He will lie, cheat, steal, play with your mind and your heart as much as you will allow him because that is who he is and what he does. The full idea is that he is so brain damaged that he will stop at nothing to try to destroy who you are.

But, we are not "ignorant" of his devices. Whenever we do things that cause spiritual growth in ourselves or others. Whenever we do something that begins to shed light on the Kingdom of darkness. He will come against us with everything he has. Paul is simply saying here, don't foolishly believe that the enemy will leave you alone. He will attack, tempt, lie, cause others to stand against us, bring division in any way he can but we need to understand that he will do this and we also understand God's word enough and who God says that we are, to overcome him at every turn. He does not have the power to overcome a Christ-follower. That does not stop him from trying, so don't be ignorant of that fact. This word means, don't fail to understand the tactics and strengths of the enemy, know the facts.

The word, "devices" has to do with understanding the mind, grasping the way the enemy begins to attack, the thought life. He spends time scheming regarding ways to through off your thought life. One example would be, someone becomes ill, and the enemy convinces them that God has made them ill. I heard Derek Prince once say, the enemy's greatest weapon is the wedge that he can place between people and people and people and God. As we read the word, pray, and even as we have failures, as we learn the enemies schemes, we become stronger and can overcome.

God wants us, not to be afraid of our enemy, but to be aware. He wants us to understand how he works and know that our choices enable us to defeat him. He wants us to understand that we are hated by him but that God's love and His Spirit will never fail a man or woman who wants to follow Him!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 1 Thought for the day...picking a side

We face decisions every day that put us on one side of something or another. In many situations, we don't have a choice. Thankfully few of them create intense animosity. James tells us there is a decision that we can foolishly make that creates very intense animosity with God.

James 4:4 "Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?"

Wow! Now that's pretty intense. What is James talking about? When he talks about "friendship" the Greek implies that this person was once in fellowship with God but has chosen instead to be in love with the things of this world. They have given up their love of God and chosen instead to follow their old lifestyle. Maybe it was something as damaging as an addiction or seemingly as unimportant as bitterness, fear, or pride. Regardless of what it is, anything that pulls us from the love, grace, mercy, and the presence of God causes us not to simply be in sin but makes us an enemy of God.

What is James saying by calling people in such a predicament, "enemies of God"? We have chosen to leave a relationship with God to follow our desire, like Satan, choosing our wants above the desires, plans, and blessings of a loving Father. This choice is not something that happens overnight. It takes time for your desires to grow cold toward God and to draw back into the pit from where we have come. It happens little by little, with minor decisions, small compromises, tiny lapses in our daily disciplines for growth. How often I have seen people return to disastrous relationships because having been away from them for a while, they forget how bad it was.

How do we protect ourselves from this foolishness? Stay close to the Lord. Stay in the Word. Maintain an active prayer and church life. Serve the Lord through reaching out to people and using your gifts for Him. Every day you are choosing the "right" side, by choosing to follow Him. With that choice comes all of the blessing, joy, and power you can imagine and more.