Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Monday, May 29, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
A large portion of the call of God on my life is to enable people to become who God wants them to be. If they don't now Jesus, to make sure they are a child of God. If they do know Jesus, to help them fulfill their destiny and purpose. That is why I do this "thought for the day," my preaching, counseling and mentoring. Paul speaks about the need to desire to be all of this in 1 Timothy 3:1
"This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work."
Paul begins his outline of leadership in the church by using the phrase "desires the position." The word "desire" here means to long for, have a burning desire, great ambition, to achieve something or become something. Paul begins by saying that someone who is called to be a leader must possess a burning desire to be a leader.
One of the saddest and most frustrating things for me is to see is someone with great gifts, talent, ability, intellect, wisdom, love, or whatever exceptional trait they may have, sitting on it rather than using it. Having lots of gifts but being desireless is one of the saddest things I can imagine.
Not only does a desireless person rob themselves of the intimacy and promotion from the Lord, they could have by fulfilling their call, but they also can drag others down with them. Laziness is contagious but so is industry. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength yet the desireless person does none of this. They may, for a season, think about getting involved but thinking about getting involved and fulfilling God's passion for your life are two different things.
Without passion, burning desire in your heart, you will never rise above the mediocrity of life. If we only do what we see others doing, then we will never achieve greatness in our jobs, church, relationships, or lives. People will always want to pull down a rising star but God has called all of us to shine, and I believe to outshine the crowd of mediocrity. We need the ambition to do better, seek more, to not settle for anything less than God's best for our lives that affect everything from our jobs to our global impact.
It can feel exhausting to go for God's best. It can be frustrating to want to break out of the pack and be better than mediocre. However, desire is the key to fulfilling our destiny in every avenue of our lives. Jesus challenged us with "to whom much is given much required." Every person of faith has been given so much. The same Spirit that raised Christ lives in us. He can give us drive and passion, but we must want to want it first. If you are missing this "desire," don't wait any longer. Ask the Lord, and He will stir it within you. There are many holes in the church because people refuse to rise above mediocrity, but you can start today on the worship team, children's church, coaching, giving, helping, mentoring, using your construction, cooking, teaching and so many other skills that will also help others rise above it!
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
Friday, May 19, 2017
We all know as Christians we must grow in our faith. If we stagnate we are actually going backward. If we are willing and open God will provide opportunities for us to grow in our faith every day, some small and others giant leaps. Jesus did this for the disciples. See if you have challenges like this in your life today.
Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5,6
Jesus "saw" the crowd that is to say He assessed the size and makeup of the crowd accurately. Who knew exactly how large, how hungry, and the breakdown of the crowd. He turned specifically, we are told to Philip and asked a question. Jesus always knows the answer before he asks us anything so why did He ask Philip? Philip didn't know where he was in his faith.
Philip, like the other disciples, had seen Jesus heal the sick, cleanse lepers, and even raise the dead. He certainly had a level of faith. All of us have areas in our walk with Christ where we are strong. For us to become all the Lord wants for us we must grow strong even in our areas of insecurity, growing in our understanding of who Christ is in us. We must grow to understand the real power of the Holy Spirit in and through us. Like Philip Jesus will "test" us.
The word used for "test" means to prove, put through the fire, purify. It is best pictured as the way a blacksmith would test the metal of a sword for impurities. A sword may look strong but once it is placed in a fire the impurities are revealed. They can then be removed otherwise the impurities would have remained and sword while looking strong would easily have been broken.
God purposefully brings us into situations where we must be proven. He knows what we are made of, the impurities we have in us. He will walk us through faith growing situations to reveal to us our impurities so we might grow through them. He then turns a weakness into a strength.
Be thankful today for the growing and stretching situations you find yourself in. God will always be faithful to you and part of that is to help you "prove" the person you are and the person you will become!
Thursday, May 18, 2017
It is not always easy to present the Gospel. We are all supposed to do it but fear of failure, rejection stifle our attempts. Paul had a really bad experience but found a way to turn it all around.
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2
Paul had just come off of his famous Mars hill discourse (Acts 17:16-34). He had talked to the Athenians about the "unknown God". By every sense of the word, it was brilliant. It was the perfect blend of contextualization, theology, and proper exegesis (a lot of fancy words to say any theologian or trained missionary would have been proud). The problem was it didn't work! Acts 17:32 "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” Verse 34 tells us there was a small group from the massive crowd that did believe. So what happened?
Athens was a city full of supernatural power, demonic, but still, supernatural. In one temple prophets prophecied to every person who entered. In another, healings took place on a regular basis. The city was full of temples and supernatural occurrences were a common thing in Athens. The supernatural to the Athenians validated the truth that was being spoken. Paul had reverted to relying on his own strength of theology and had forgotten the key to this city was the demonstration the Spirit and power. As he is writing the Corinthians he corrects this mistake in verse 4 he makes this statement, "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,"
To be effective in sharing the Gospel we have to not only understand what we believe and why we believe it. Paul was not discounting that but we must have the fruit of the Spirit (demonstration of the Spirit) and the power of the Spirit (gifts, actions) active in our ministry. In every meeting our church has, in every service I preach or teach, I expect God to move in power. We should always expect the Holy Spirit to show up. Our attitudes and character should always reflect the fruit of the Spirit and our actions the power. If you are filled with the Spirit you should expect the Spirit to flow in power through you and if you are filled with the Spirit God expects the fruit to flow through you too! This is truly the effective Gospel message.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
There are times in life where you just feel discouraged. Times that you honestly believe God is not going to come through for you. Here is what can do, it works for me every time!
But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: Hebrews 10:32
We all go through tough times. The only way to become a conqueror or overcomer is to conquer and overcome stuff. I don't know why many of us don't realize that, but in the heat of the battle it is easy to forget.
The writer uses the word "illuminated" to illustrate a very important point for us. It means to make visible as in a brilliant flash, as a solar flare or flash photography ( the word used is the Greek word root for photography). The writer is explaining that when in the midst of our struggles and difficulties take a breath and flash back to those times where God awakened you to His blessings!
Think back to the time when God revealed His protection over your life. An incident happened where you should have been hurt but you know God had his hand of protection on you. You were crying out to God about how bad your financial situation was and the Lord revealed to you about tithing, you started and everything changed. You are battling pain or sickness and the Lord reveals His healing power to you and God sets you free. In my case, one of my most illuminating moments was when I realized how much He absolutely loved me, it radically changed my view of God.
The writer is saying, remember those times when you are in the midst of your crisis. Stand on them! They will remind you the same God that did that for you then will cause you to overcome your battle now.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Have you ever thought God I've waited long enough for your promise. I'm done waiting! I've seen others blessed, others have their prayers answers and here I sit...I'm done! Most of us have reached that point. But the writer of Hebrews challenges us with something different.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
Now we have looked at this verse already, but today I need us to look at the phrase "without wavering" it means something that is fixed, inflexible, it does not bend, unchanging. What is being said here is, don't ever give up on your dream. God has it in His hands. We don't always understand why He waits, but if you stand firm, He always comes through.
If we add what I have translated on other days to this, we could interpret this verse this way...
"Let us come into agreement with God and begin to speak what He says, tightly wrapping our arms around the promise we are confessing — embracing it with all our might, holding tightly to it, rejecting all attempts of anyone who tries to steal it from us, not allowing ourselves to be fickle in our commitment, but determined to be inflexible and unmoving from that which we believe and confess...."
The devil only knows how to lie. If he is whispering in your ear, "give up, there is no hope," why are you wasting your time, this is never going to happen." you can be assured God is going to come through. Don't give up on your dream or God's promises; He is faithful to keep His promises!
Monday, May 15, 2017
How many times do you find yourself simply throwing up a quick prayer? Not taking the time to engage Him just talking. I know we all do it from time to time with people and God. One of my biggest struggles is this in the lobby after service. I want to greet every person and show him or her the love I have for them, but so many are there we have to rush through. Sometimes people feel neglected; I wonder if God feels that way when we are in a hurry in prayer?
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints"Ephesians 6:18
The word for prayer used in this verse is the most often used word for prayer in the New Testament. It is a combination of two words with three meanings.
First, it means intimacy, closeness, being face to face. When Paul speaks of prayer, the Holy Spirit is guiding him to teach what it is meant to be, a time of intimacy between us where we are face to face with God.
Secondly, it means a vow, a promise, a sacrifice, consecration. It is the idea that when we are offering our prayers, we are in complete surrender to God and are willing to submit to him completely. Because of the first part of the definition, we know that it is a calling to an unconditional love between the pray-er and God. As we pray, we feel His love and willingly surrender to that love to trust that His answer will be perfect.
Third, it means "thanksgiving," it is the idea that as we come to the Lord to talk, make our request, and build our relationship that we come expecting having a heart of thanksgiving knowing God is going to respond for our best.
Real prayer is having an intimate, face to face with God. It is surrendering to Him, all that we are and in exchange, we gain all that He has for us. We do this all with such an expectation that our hearts are full of thanksgiving for what He is going to do in us, through us, and for us.
I hope this changes your outlook on prayer. I know if you understand this it certainly will change your effectiveness. God is always faithful to hear and answer our prayers. Will we be faithful to effectively pray?
Friday, May 12, 2017
It seems at every turn there is something to worry about. Increased cost, pressure to meet a deadline, family pressures, you name it, we could worry about it but the Bible tells us something different.
1 Peter 5:7 "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
Peter learned this lesson very well and challenges each of us with it. "Casting" as is interpreted here means to through off of yourself onto a beast of burden or someone who could carry the load much more easily. Peter under the direction of the Holy Spirit is making it clear that we are not designed to carry such heavy loads but the Lord is very willing and strong enough to carry them for us.
The medical profession has verified that most of the diseases and ailments we suffer from are directly related to stress. Our bodies and minds are not designed to carry such loads. The word "care" at its root means anxiety, affliction, difficulty, hardship. It simply means anything that would cause you anxiety regardless of the reason. That pretty much covers everything we face each day. The Holy Spirit is telling us, even if we are the root of the cause we are still to give it to Him and He will handle it!
The phrase "He cares for you" means He is always thinking of you, keeping tabs on what you are going through, very much aware of what is happening and before we realize it if we choose to place it in His hands, He has already taken care of it.
You are important to the Lord! You are valuable to Him and this frustrates the devil to no end. Let Him handle your stuff, even if it is your fault and He will deal with it far better than you could ever imagine!
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Let's face reality; we live in an age where news is 24/7. People have access to us 24/7. The demands of life are simply 24/7 between work, home, kids, and everything else we could all use a little peace.
"and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Just like that, it is a beautiful promise. When we look deeper, it becomes amazing. When Paul says the "peace of God," that contentment, security, focus, love that comes from God, "surpasses" all understanding. "Surpasses" means it transcends any problem, outshines any difficulty, goes higher than any trouble can reach, it makes every struggle and difficulty look small and doable compared to God's peace.
What does it outshine and transcend? Our "understanding" the ability to reason, to think, to comprehend the world around us. Together this phrase is telling us, no matter how impossible the situation may be and how large it is by our comprehension, God will cause us to outshine and transcend any difficulty with His security and contentment. The way you think is the way your life will be! He doesn't leave it there.
When we begin to grasp this understanding of God's peace, our flesh and the enemy will try to fight us on it. The word "guard" means that God's peace is like a sentry around your heart and mind. It monitors everything that tries to enter your heart and mind and protects you from those things that would do you harm.
Paul is telling us, "the security and contentment of God will outshine any difficulty that we might be able to reason is an overwhelming problem and that same peace from God will protect our heart and mind from anything that might come to rob us everything God has for us."
I hope this is the peace you have been looking for if it is, relax! God has got this for you, must choose to live in it!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
My blogs often are long. I break down the Greek meaning so that we can all better understand what was written. But there are times I simply need to be plain and to the point and today is one of those days.
These things I command you, that you love one another. John 15:17
We need to understand this simple truth; this is not an option this is a command. Jesus did not say, only love those that look like you, think like you, have the same background as you, agree with you. He said "I command" which means if you are going to call yourself a Christ-follower, you have no option but to do as He says and "love one another"! In other words, even if you disagree with the person if they are a democrat, republican, tall, short, rich, poor, white, black, brown, purple it doesn't matter, this is not an option for someone who calls themselves a Christ-follower...LOVE ONE ANOTHER!
So the Greek for "love" is, to dearly love, to prefer with immense favor, to give of yourself. How does that apply to the way you think about everyone in your church and every Christian you know? Jesus was saying, "I am charging (commanding) you to prefer with immense favor, giving of yourself to others in a way that shows My life to them."
I think that is probably enough for today...I love you, but you must learn to love one another...please!
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
There are some people I completely trust. Unless someone has taught me otherwise, I tend to trust people first and not be suspicious of them until they prove otherwise. Trusting God completely is something that most people work on for a lifetime. The author of Hebrews is encouraging us to do just that in Hebrews 10:23
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
We have all known people that talk a good talk. They speak all of the right words, it would appear that their "confession" is true but as you get to know them something is off. Their walk with the Lord is not as it should be their walk is not matching their talk. They have anger issues, lying issues, lust issues, bitterness or any faction of the flesh fully alive in them.
I am not talking about people who are trying to follow the Lord. We all have issues that we are working to overcome but ones who are playing the church game to impress others rather than to love both God and people. The difference is found in their "confession."
The word "confession" is what I want us to focus on today. This word is a bit tricky. The idea is you take God's word; you memorize it, practice it in your life, then choose to make it yours. It is making God's word alive in you in such a way as you have so completely come into agreement with His words. It is not just something you know, but it is part of who you are, your agreement is as if your heart and God's heart are completely in sync with one another.
The evidence of this synchronicity is that your confession is no longer empty chatter but is life-giving and powerful to change the world around you. You are no longer speaking mere words but words that are in complete agreement with a relationship with God. You know His heart, His words, and you are living them powerfully. This "confession" makes it easy for God to keep His promises to us!
Each week as I prepare to preach, part of my early morning prayer is "Lord, I know your words in my mouth are just as powerful as your words in your mouth, let my confession be true. Let me only speak your words that I show I am in complete agreement with you!"
Monday, May 8, 2017
We have all seen it the parent who acts worse than the child at the sporting event. The bully, though they are now an adult stills acts like a child. We have them in our lives, at work, in our neighborhood in our families and Paul helps young Timothy with them in the church.
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient," 2 Timothy 2:24
Paul is writing Timothy in response to a letter Timothy sent to Paul about unruly, immature people in the church and some even in leadership. As I am writing this, I am reminded that I need you to understand, if you see the immaturity in your own life be grateful because the Lord is showing you what you need to work on to be ready to fulfill your destiny otherwise you never will.
To be honest, there have been many times in my life where I have tried to help Christians reach their potential. However, when it came time to respond to correction rather than understanding I was trying to help them get to their destiny, they made excuses, accused others, placed blame. I watched time and time again as they continue to walk around the same mountain. Graciously, only a few never made it, most eventually became frustrated enough that they accepted the correction or discipline needed. This is where real leadership skills come in.
Must not "quarrel" this word means to argue, fight with verbally, strive or contend with. As a true servant, we are never to lower ourselves to the level of immaturity where we are verbally jousting with others. We are to speak the truth in love, explain it the best we can, respond to the questions but do not lower yourself to get in a battle of words, just stay on track, stay focused.
"Be gentle," Paul is indicating here that when dealing with someone who is immature realize what you are doing. The word gentle in this case references to treat them as if they are at the maturity level of a child, caringly guide and direct as you would a child. The problem with many immature parents is rather than being the adult, the parent, in disciplining their children, they lower themselves to act like children. In my eyes, this is a very big problem in parents today. We must not become children in disciplining and correcting the immature but act like mature adults never "flying off the handle" but maintain calm with patience.
Once again, if you see this immaturity in your life, don't worry, be thankful the Lord has exposed it. He is probably preparing to promote you but will not do it until you are ready. He will expose the immaturity so you will be ready to fulfill the destiny He has for you!
Friday, May 5, 2017
I enjoy technology. My world is wrapped up in my iPhone. If I lose it I would be in big trouble because every appointment, contact, and having all the information in the world at my fingertips is something I use every day. It has also added to the weariness of life 700+ e-mails/day, 150+ text messages/day, appointment reminders, and phone calls, all can be overwhelming. The Lord has taught me a key to overcoming the weariness.
"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:11
You have demands on your life. Goals to reach at work, pressure to make that deadline or simply to keep your job. After work, there are things to do at home. Bills need paying, grass needs mowing, meals need prepared. Sometimes the pressure even sneaks into our sleep, creating a cycle of sleeplessness adding to the stress.
Add to these things the family responsibilities. Caring for aging parents, being with grandchildren, school activities, sporting events, birthday celebrations. All of which require time and energy, you want to enjoy, but it is one more thing.
Then church responsibilities. You love your church and the people you want to do more and feel guilty for not doing more but simply don't have the physical or mental energy to make it happen.
The pressure continues with friendship responsibilities. Being a good friend requires you to be friendly, to reach out, encourage, spend time, and be with your friends
So now that you are thinking about this and getting more weary than refreshed, here is how this scripture applies. One of the enemies greatest tools is discouragement and when we are exhausted it is easy for that tool to be implemented.
The Holy Spirit will "give life" to our bodies. Our bodies have limitations but God does not. The word used here means to, rejuvenate, revitalize, renew, and make fresh. God knows all the demands, He knows the time constraints and He reminds us, and I see Him do it in my life nearly every day, that His Spirit living in us will completely rejuvenate us as we learn to rely on Him. Let Him overcome your weariness not by your strength or resolve but by His Spirit and He will do it!