Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29 Thought for the has no agenda but is always sweet!

I have seen what people have called love really be some twisted version of control and manipulation. It is not healthy, but for some, it is the best that they have known. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us that kind of love is not love at all. God's love never...

"seeks its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;" 1 Corinthians 13:5

The word translated "seeks its own" refers to a person who is so bent on getting what they want. They will look for any loophole, twist any facts, put words into someone else mouth, try to force others to keep promises they have never made, corrupt numbers or administration to make this look positive in their direction regardless of the truth. In other words, Paul is saying God's love is never ever manipulative.

Scheming, manipulating, using have truths to get what you want is never real love. Anything done dishonestly, untruthfully, with a secret agenda is not the way God loves us. His love is pure and honest. This kind of love always speaks the truth in gentle ways. It does not need to scheme or manipulate it always shares what is the real agenda with nothing hidden and with grace.

Love is not provoked! How often does that happen between people? Often in marriage counseling, I have to remind people to stay focused on resolving the problem rather than tearing each other down. The idea here is someone who comes alongside another and begins to poke them, as in stabbing them with a sharp stick. It is a continuously picking at and on someone, always pushing just to goad them into a fight. The word also means "sour, bitter, acidy." God's love for us and our love for others should be sweet and refreshing.

Can you see why God's type of love is absolutely necessary for our ability to flow in the power of the Spirit and the gifts that God pours into us? If we become manipulative or bitter, then we are not an accurate reflection of who God is and how He loves us.

I know I am challenging many with what real love is all about. I want to remind you that none of us can love this way apart from our knowing that God really does love each of us this way. We can only love by the way we understand love!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28 Thought for the day...unity and being considerate, defining love

Hopefully, if you have been following along, you see that love is a gift that is best when given away. It is always seeking, hoping and believing for the best in others. We all want love, but when it comes to that perfect kind of love we crave we can be our own worst enemy settling for a counterfeit rather than the real thing

Love is....not rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:5

Love doesn't demand its own way. That doesn't mean you always acquiesce, but you want the other person's best. The best definition of this is "not puffed up, filled with pride." Our love for others should never be so full of itself that our love never thinks too much of itself or believe that we are better than others. When people are full of pride it causes division very easily and quickly in any relationship and the Father's heart is unity, not uniformity but that we, all being different, fit together perfectly like a puzzle to make something beautiful. In other words, love does not behave pridefully, snooty, arrogantly, superior, snobbish or clanish. What is funny is people who often accuse others of this are frequently this way themselves. The Father's heart is that we value everyone for their uniqueness created especially in a way that blesses us and honors God.

Love is not irritable. How often do people get under your skin? The translation for this phrase is; being tactless, thoughtless, inconsiderate, discourteous. Someone who is unkind, insensitive, and uncaring...this is a little more than our version of irritable, isn't it? It short we would say this person is acting "ugly." God's love is considerate of others, thoughtful and caring. We can all have a bad day and act this way. However, on the whole, we need to become more considerate and sensitive to others.

God's goal for the way He loves us is to bring out the best in us, helping us to become who we were meant to be. As we love this way, we grow in strength and maturity. Everything God gives us and has called us to is founded on love because He is love. As we understand His love better, we can flow in more power and a greater anointing because we understand His love.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27 Thought for the day...are you rude?

When I started writing regarding real love, I mentioned that as Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 13, he was dealing with "hyper-spiritual" people who had gifts but very little love. These people were like noisy chatter and were so irritating that they could make you angry because of their lack of love. I think that is what Paul is digging into here when he says this...

Love is...."not rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged." 1 Corinthians 13:5

When Paul is talking about the word "rude," he is referring to a person who is always talking about themselves, endlessly promoting or exaggerating their own virtues. The person who is like this tends to exaggerate so much that it often crosses over to lying. This characteristic enjoys talking about themselves and is often referred to as a "windbag." Most people when you know a person who is this way you often want to go the other way when you see them coming. An individual in this mindset is so self-consumed that they don't even seem to notice the hard work of others around them.

Often people boast or exaggerate endlessly because they have some hidden agenda, they want others to see them as more than what they are, or they want some kind of special status in the eyes of others. They may also simply be insecure and are trying to mask their insecurity by boasting.

God's kind of love, the love we should have toward each other, is strong. It is so strong that it doesn't need to boast. In fact, it wants to see the accomplishments of others promoted. It seeks to build others up to make them feel valued and secure. God's love is always others focused.

It is always OK to be proud of what the Lord has accomplished through you and to share it with others. The motivation should be, giving God honor and glory. Titles don't make the person, character does. If your actions reflect a grace of God, a talent, skill or anointing in your life then you don't need self-promotion for people to know who you are, they will see it in you and through your life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September 26 Thought for the day....loving and serving for others success

We will continue talking about God's love for us and the love we should have for each other. Just as a reminder it is a love that never quits. It keeps pushing through to see the result even if it doesn't see or sense any return. We love just because He first loved us

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 1 Corinthians 13:4

Yesterday we talked about the type of love that restrains anger, being patient. Today I want us to look at being kind and not jealous.

When the Holy Spirit is speaking to us about God's nature and our challenge to love as "kind," He is saying that love is adaptable and compliant to the needs of others. When this type of love is working in your life, you don't demand that people be just like you. Instead, "kind" is the willingness to serve and adapt to meet the needs of others. When you are considering this you need to ask in all of my relationships, do I demand that people become just like me or to I work hard to work with people where they are to help them become the best they can be.

You are not a doormat instead you recognize your strengths and humble yourself to find the strengths and gifts in others to help them fulfill their destiny. Kindness is serving from strength looking to help others become their best.

Love is not "jealous." Jealous here could be translated envious, meaning a person who is radically consumed with their own desires and own plans. It is the direct opposite of this type of love which is not selfish, self-absorbed, or self-centered. This kind of love doesn't think of itself first but is always looking outward. Look at your own relationships at home, at church, at work and ask, "Am I committed to the success and blessing of others or is it only my own desires that I want to succeed?"Are you caught in only your own self-interest? We are a Body, a family, and when we look to help make the best for others, we are also blessing ourselves.

How does your life reflect these traits? If you are, then praise God for what He is accomplishing in you already. If not, don't waste time beating yourself up, ask the Lord to help you make the changes necessary to be who God has called you to be all along!

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25 Thought for the day....are you patient?

So much time, thought, writing, so many movies, books, and songs talk about love you think every one of us would have a complete handle on what it means. The wounds of our past, broken relationships, mistreatment, abuse, and neglect have so skewed our understand that I felt it important to talk about how the Holy Spirit defines love which is the basis of the way the church and especially the gifts of the Spirit should flow through a church.

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud" 1 Corinthians 13:4

What is love? The word Paul uses here is the highest form of love. In fact in the entire New Testament, this word is used only to define God's love and the type of love that should flow from every believer's heart. The basis of this type of love is one that gives and gives and gives even if it is not responded to, reciprocated, thanked or acknowledged it keeps loving regardless of the recipient's response or lack of response. This is the highest level of love. It is the purest, noblest, form of love there is!

God has designed these verses to reveal a reflection to each of us. This is the type of love we are called to have always. If you are not living this yet, don't worry, the Holy Spirit has you reading this so you can see how to do it and pray to make it happen in your life.

Love is patient! The word translated patient means "restrain anger." It is the idea that you are willing to wait for someone to come around, to hear what you have to say or to understand what you are trying to teach. The word lived out in a person's life means they do not give in, they don't back out, they keep on going until they eventually understand what the Holy Spirit is doing. A person with this kind of love is like a never-ending flow of cooling water to keep refreshing even if the person will not be refreshed. This river does not come from a person but through a person from God.

When this type of love is poured out, it may take time, but it changes people. It is human nature to give up, to toss up your hands and say, "I'm done, " but God doesn't give up. How many times did Israel turn their backs on God yet he still loved. How many times have you turned your back on God yet He still loves. God is patient, and as a person filled with His Spirit, we need to reflect that patience too.

Maybe you feel as if God has given up on you, He hasn't. God never will. Perhaps you are in an impossible situation trying to love someone that is just unlovable. You can't do it on your own, but He can pour His great love into you, so you are no longer on your own, but He is filling you to overflowing, so you have enough for you and the people in your life.

God loves you...let Him!

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22 Thought for the day...maturity and love

In all my years of ministry and the 100+ countries, I have traveled through I have learned one very important thing about God. God is love. While that might not be a world-shaking discovery, the practical application of God's love in the world is missing. Paul talks about that 1 Corinthians 13:1

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

There was a problem with the church in Corinth. Many people flowing in the gifts of the Spirit were being very "super-spiritual." The problem came when they put the "flowing" in the gifts ahead of the love of God!

"Noisy Gong" this doesn't give us the full explanation in English. It means something that continuously reverberates. Paul is talking about people who are like a nonstop clanging noise, a person who talked incessantly. He is referring to people who seem to flow in the gifts of the Spirit. However, their actions do not reflect God's love. They are all about them, not about the people around them or reaching the world for Christ.

"Clanging cymbal" refers to the clashing of cymbals the way the nation of Israel did as they prepared for war. Paul was referring to people who are so irritating that they make you want to get into a fight with them. We need to understand that Paul was referring to spirit-filled people. They loved the Lord were filled with His Spirit but were not fully mature.

God pours out His Spirit on all kinds of people who love Jesus. Maturity doesn't seem to be one of the qualities that are necessary for in-filling of the Holy Spirit just like it is not necessary for salvation. When people are caught up in the gifts and forget that love is the measure of the gifts they become either a non-stop talker or someone that is so irritating that you want to punch them.

The challenge for us is that if a person is this irritating to us, why are they that irritating? We need to check the love we are walking in, as well to make sure we are as mature as what we need to be. Paul writes about this in the middle of his explanation of the gifts of the Spirit. Our effectiveness in flowing in the gifts is only as powerful as the love we walk in. Over the next few days, we will be exploring this chapter a little more.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September 21 Thought for the day...a message for real idiots

Have you ever been called an idiot, imbecile, or stupid? Have you ever been looked at as being overly naive or ignorant? Chances are if you have given any time sharing your faith with those who consider themselves superior in our culture you have either been called these things or have been considered to be naive by others.  If you have, you are among a powerful group of people.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 1 Corinthians 1:26, 27

Have you ever felt ill-equipped to share the Gospel with others? Have you ever felt less valuable than others? Have you ever felt God has a great plan for everyone but me? If any of that is true, then this is the scripture for you.

The word "foolish" means to be dull, dense, or slow. This word was used to make fun of people and to degrade them. How often because of our beliefs we are considered imbeciles, morans, or idiots. The world cannot grasp its own limitations, and the pride of people in the world is too large to recognize that they are in need of a savior. When we believe, foolishly in the world's eyes, that there is a God in heaven, that He created all things, and that He is in control, we seem idiotic to a world that can't believe in anything they can not see, feel, or quantify. We "put to shame" which means to confound, frustrate, embarrass, confuse, or leave them scratching their heads, every wise person. We walk in love and freedom because of Jesus and these too are hard to see, feel and quantify!

The "wise" Paul is talking about means the naturally brilliant, the illuminated, the sharp. Most of the early church were the lower classes, less cultured, and uneducated. It wasn't that they weren't brilliant people they simply had never been taught. They had more than enough sense to recognize their need for a savior and brilliant enough to realize everything had to come from somewhere. In fact, their believing actually made the "foolish" of this world intellectually superior because they knew and believed the truth, allowing the weak to put to shame the wise.

That being the case who are the real idiots? Is it those who are considered weak by the world's standards but recognized their need of a savior or those who are considered wise, but reject God?

Jesus said we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. If you know the truth, you can set others free as well!

By the way, if you struggle with being able to defend what you believe I did a sermon series entitled "Please don't ask me" a series dealing with the questions Christians fear most. If you are interested in hearing them they can be found here: You can scroll through to find the topics that most interest you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20 Thought for the day...lessons from a snake

Most people I know don't like snakes. I am not overly fond of them myself, but I know if a snake is around that means there is a food source such as mice or rats. I would rather have the snake than the mice or rats. Jesus said an odd thing about snakes that we need to understand.

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16

How in the world is a snake wise? The word translated wise here means careful, discerning, prudent, intelligent. The word translated serpent means any type of snake. That seems to be pretty clear. How is a snake wise and how does it apply to our walk as Christians? God is always moving us into new areas of maturity, challenging us to grow and trust Him in new things. As Jesus is talking about each of us launching into what is new to us, how does a snake handle new territory?

Please remember it was Jesus who brought up the example of a snake, not me. When a snake moves into new territory it does so unannouncedly it does not make a big splash. They were created camouflaged and in many ways they use that to remain hidden. When God is bringing us into something new, it is wise to watch and observe rather than announcing the grand and glorious thing God is doing through us. A man's or woman's gifts make room for them. We don't need to be concerned about our promotion; God will open the door at the right time.

When a snake moves into a new territory, it looks for a place of shelter, places to hide, and ample food supply. When God is calling us into a new thing we always need to know where is our shelter? Where can we have our retreat with the Lord? When I am being stretched I need to understand who I can count on to stand with me, who are the people I can trust that will keep me in prayer, being a shelter over me. I also need to know what are the scriptures I can stand on in my new adventure, my food source, that I need to keep me strong.

There is a whole world that needs each of us to be who God has called us to be. We can not remain where we are, doing the same things over and over and expect new and fresh results. We need to grow and change. We need to move into new territories, and we must do it with wisdom. I'm not thrilled with being compared to a snake but God created them too, and we can learn from anything if we trust the one who created everything.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19 Thought for the day...stop every attack

Do you ever get so tired of the devil harassing you.  Do you wish it would just end? The devil attacks everyone, especially those growing and moving in God. Paul tells us about a way to shut him down every time he attacks. Want to know how?

"above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." Ephesians 6:16

Can you imagine it, every attack of the enemy being defeated by faith! I know you can believe it but what is the practical application? I'm glad you asked! Let's look at what Paul is saying. The phrase "will be able" is much more powerful than it sounds. It should be translated "dynamic, explosive power" so the phrase should read "the shield of faith by which you have dynamic, explosive power quenches all the fiery darts.

What is the shield of faith? It is believing God at His word. When we know God's word, believe God's word, and live God's word, then we are living by faith, and that faith becomes a shield about us.

To further stress this point Paul states, with this faith we can quench (extinguish) the fiery darts of the enemy. The word translated "quench" means to douse or soak with water. In Roman times the Gauls and others would hollow out arrows and fill them with combustible fluid. The tips of the arrows would be set ablaze, and as soon as the arrow hit its target it would explode, and the fluid would cover the target catching everything on fire. This was Paul's picture of a fiery dart.

How can anyone expect to extinguish this type of arrow? The Bible tells us that our faith is increased by hearing the Word (Romans 10:17). Paul wrote earlier in Ephesians 5:26 that Word of God cleanses like water. He had in mind how the Romans prepared for battle. They knew they would face fiery darts, so they soaked their shields in water, so when the darts/arrows hit the shields, they were put out immediately.

When we know God's word, live it, and believe it we have a dynamic, explosive power that even though the enemy may shoot at us, every dart will be put out! They will not harm us!

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18 Thought for the day....ready to succeed!

When I was a young boy, my parents allowed me to buy my first motorcycle. We had lots of wooded areas near our home, and so we created miles of trails. That first little bike, a Honda 50 was great for a six-year-old but wasn't meant to do the jumps and climb the hills I wanted. As I grew older, the bikes got bigger, faster, and more powerful. As I grew older, I knew I was beyond trails and wanted to drive cross country, so I got a Kawasaki 900 Z1-A the quickest stock bike at that time. It was used, so I took the time to repaint, add all the accessories I would need for a cross-country tour and took off knowing both the motorcycle and me were equipped for a successful ride from PA to Alaska to Texas then back home. We need to be ready for our successful journey too. Paul tells us how.

"...that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:17

Paul is instructing young Timothy about the power of knowing and studying the word of God. The phrase, "complete, thoroughly equipped" means to be all decked out to have everything, and then some, that you need, assuming that you were once ill-equipped for the journey but now are completely prepared, fully supplied, thoroughly ready, and having all that you need to succeed.

The average Christian reads their Bible once a week. It is the words of life and is powerful for tearing down every strong hold and helps us to discern what is the truth from a lie. One of the reasons that many Christians are unsuccessful in their walk with the Lord is they are ill-equipped. They do not know the Word or have it hidden in their heart. It would be like me trying to ride that little Honda 50 cross country. It is not made for such a long journey nor the highways of life. Having salvation guarantees us heaven but doesn't guarantee us a successful or fruitful life.

When we know God's word, study God's word the Holy Spirit illumines our minds and hearts. We understand the Father's heart and His plans for us, our families, our church, and this world. We understand when we are under attack, how to overcome. We can apply God's word in our daily lives to guarantee success, joy, peace, and fruitfulness in all we do. As I was with my cross-country travel, we are completely prepared for the journey and whatever may come our way. The Psalmist wrote God's word is "a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." It illuminates the darkness, so we have overcome and had success in all we do!

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15 Thought for the day....bitter or better?

No one awakens in the morning and says to themselves, "you know what, I think I want to be bitter today!" Bitterness is epidemic in our culture. I used to wonder why and then I saw all the post of facebook with one response of bitterness after another. Listened to the news with one bitter story after another and watched television and even comedies are full of sarcasm and bitterness. Bitterness kills joy, love, and peace from our lives. The writer of Hebrews warns us about it

"Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many." Hebrews 12:15

How do you know if you are bitter?

- Are you holding a grudge against someone and it is just gnawing at you all of the time
- Whenever you see someone you feel something sharp inside
- When you hear about someone being blessed it bothers you rather than encourages you
- Do you wrestle with negative thoughts all the time?

These are some of the signs bitterness may be creeping into your life.

The writer using the phrase "grows up" with the Greek meaning suggesting a seedling just being to sprout up. It is interesting because bitterness doesn't start as a full blown tree but a seedling that just burst through the soil. It begins as a level of distrust and/or cynicism toward a person who has offended us and if not dealt with early on will become a full blown tree producing scornful, resentful, hurtful, bitter fruit. The ironic thing is it rarely hurts the person who is the object of our scorn but severely damages us and our relationship with those around us and the Lord.

The phrase translated "troubles you" means to have pestering thoughts, things going on in your head about others that constantly are bothering you. It is something that keeps getting you upset, robbing you of peace, love and joy.

If you constantly finding yourself speaking derogatory comments about others, if you have lost your joy, if you can't really celebrate the joys of others, you need to make a change. Allow the Holy Spirit to take care of that offense. Choose to forgive and walk in freedom rather than personal bondage. Be aware if a root of bitterness is trying to take hold. God wants you better not bitter. Offenses will come but we don't need to allow them to control us. God has an amazing plan for each of us and it scares the devil so he will set us up to be offended as often as he can but we can choose to be better or bitter! Chossing better brings joy and peace every time!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September 14 Thought for the day....its a matter of the mind

I have seen people do spectacular things who should never have been able to and I have seen people who should have the ability to be amazing, and they are stuck in a rut and can't get out. What makes one person a success, walking in freedom and another a tragedy walking in bondage? Peter gives us the answer in 1 Peter 5:8

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Have you ever heard a lion roar in person? We have all seen it on television or maybe heard a "harrumph" from one in a zoo. In the wild, a lion's roar can almost be deafening. It can overwhelm your senses. Peter is telling us that is what the devil does. He can overwhelm your senses so you can't think clearly and be the man or woman God has called us to be.

Peter starts out telling us to be "watchful." The Greek meaning here is to be on your guard to be always vigilant aware of any trouble. The tense in which this is written means to be this way constantly. If you are this way, the enemy will not be able to gain any entrance into your mind, your heart or your life.

Peter calls the devil "your adversary" this is the same as a prosecuting attorney. He will take our failures, our sins, our fears, and insecurities. All of these things are true and accurate, and he will use them to attempt to destroy us. The sad part is we are the ones who give him all the ammunition to use against us. We over spend and don't handle our money properly and become fearful because of it. We don't take care of our physical bodies and become sick and overwhelmed physically. We try to short cut things on the job and get into trouble, and we like to blame it all on the devil. What is happening is we make these bad choices, but it gives the devil the opportunity to accuse us of our failures and to beat us up.

The devil says stuff to you like....You're in this mess because of your dumb mistakes! You're reaping what you sowed, and there's no way for you to get out of this mess! You're paying for your past! Your kids are a mess because you failed as a parent! You're going to go bankrupt because you spent too much money on worthless things! While some aspects of these accusations may be true, he knows how to hit you, something completely false would never affect you badly, God is a redeemer of messes.

The devil is roaring loud, and we need to make up our mind to believe God at His word and shut the devil up. Psalm 103: 4 tells us that God redeems us from destruction. Colossians 1:13 tells us that we are taken from darkness into light. While the devil's accusations may be true when we make up our mind to repent, then he has no right, nor power to accuse us any longer. We win!

Stay alert, stay watchful! Recognize, "yes there is truth to the devil's accusations," but you are forgiven of them all. Don't give him the power to say you are a failure or loser. God forgives and forgets and believes in your future. That is what the devil will do and what God has said. You need to make up your mind as to what you are going to choose to believe. Please decide for freedom!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September 13 Thought for the day...we must do real

Working in Christian Television for over 30 years I was blessed with building relationships with so many honest, caring, truly devout, and devoted Christian leaders from around the world. Christian Television took some hits because of a lack of integrity in some. However, my experience was that the majority were real. There were the fake and the phony who acted Jesus like when the camera was on, but it didn't take long to see their true colors. It hurt me to see many flocking to these personalities who were living a lie. Paul dealt with this in the Colossian church.

"Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds." Colossians 3:9

You may not realize it, but this is something most Christians struggle with in their personal lives. When we think of a "lie," we think of someone speaking an untruth but the word Paul uses here speaks so much more. The word translated "lie" means any type of falsehood. It portrays someone who misrepresents who they are by what they do, by what they say, by the fact or truth they purports to be true, or by twisting the facts.

You may not set out to deliberately lie, but so often people get caught in a trap of exaggerating a story to make it sound better, to embellish something to make you look better, or to embellish something to make someone look worse. To this point, I have found it depends on what pain people live in, as to how they react to embellish for good or evil. Titus 1:15 says "To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled." I have had innuendo spoken about me on numerous occasions by Christians and found every time it is their pain and fear that causes them to lie. A pure heart will strive to speak the truth at any cost. A corrupt heart lives damaged until they are forced to deal with the truth.

Why is this so important? There is a general lack of integrity in politics, business, Hollywood, and the news. The saddest part is the church has been known in some ways to have a general lack of integrity as well. If we find ourselves in need of living a false life or creating a false narrative about others, we are not trusting the Lord. What's sad is the things we may exaggerate or lie about may be things the Lord wants to bless us with but our lack of trust guarantees we will never see them.

Think about your goals, your job, your family, and your life. Do you want the Lord's blessing on all of these areas? Do you want His wisdom, insight, guidance, and blessing on all of these things? We must choose to stop misrepresenting ourselves, twisting the facts or the truth about others. Our dealings in business, in our relationships, and life must be true.

Years ago when I opened my pizza business I was told by my supplier don't keep everything on the books or you will never make any money. I did keep everything on the books and our business became the number and most profitable pizza business in our area for all the time I was there. Choosing to not present a false image or live a falsehood like lying to the IRS are all things that stop Gods blessings. God wants us real, trustworthy, and with integrity. Want God blessing? Let's do real!

By the way, the photo is on our wall in our church!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 12 Thought for the do we get there from here

We have come to trust technology so much but what do we do when it fails us. There have been many times where I am trusting one of the GPS services to get me from point "a" to point "b" and rather than sending me to the correct place quickly it either takes a long way around or takes me to the wrong place entirely. We can fix it if it's technology but what if our "life" guidance system is wrong? Jesus promised us there is a way that we can know how to get where we need to go always.

"however, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth;" John 16:13

Pittsburgh is laid out very strangely. It was designed around a colonial pattern of travel and the rivers. So you can literally make four right turns and not end up back at the same spot. If you are new to the area, it is very easy to get lost even with GPS. I have spent enough time in town that I would never go the way some GPS suggestions come because it is not the quickest way. Our lives can be like that too!

When we are going through our day-to-day events, meetings, work schedules and fun, it is easy to rest on our knowledge and know how. The Holy Spirit knows what happened yesterday and knows what will happen tomorrow. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. If we take the time, He will guide us in our decision-making processes. It is natural and normal for us to ask for the Lord's leading in difficult situations but His guidance is not limited to only the major decisions but can be available for every decision of our everyday life.

Further in John 16:13 Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will "tell (show) us the things to come." The word translated "tell or show" means to have a navigator who will lead us through unknown territory safely, efficiently, and quickly! This is what the Holy Spirit can and will do for us!

The question you might be asking is, "How can He do this?" Our consistency makes this happen. Consistently being in prayer where you are building a real level of intimacy with the Lord. Consistently in the Word where you are learning the way God does things and why He does things. Consistently in fellowship where we can experience, through the truth others live, who God is, how He works in the lives of others, and the genuine love from real Christians that is "Jesus with skin on"

Being a true Christian is always about relationship, relationship with the Lord and relationship with His people and those that are not yet His people. Building that deeper relationship with Him helps us avoid; pitfalls, wastes of time and energy, and helps us to be more successful at everything we do!

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11 Thought for the day...moving on

I remember where I was when the twin towers came down. Most people do. We need to remember the evil that was done that day but as a nation, as churches, and individuals we need to become better. Allow me to present a challenge for us on this day

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

I love the idea of being transformed "from glory to glory." I have quoted this verse numerous times as an encouragement. Today I want us to look at it as a challenge. Let me point out something that should be obvious but isn't. In order to be changed from glory to glory the state we are in right now must be glorious. Is your present condition a glory or a mess?

I have to evaluate myself as I have mentioned before. Am I doing what God has called me to do? Am I faithful with the people, gifts, and things in my life I have been given? Am I open to receiving the correction the Lord is bringing into my life? Am I pursuing the dream He has placed on my heart?Life can get very messy if I am stuck in any of these areas. Our nation is stuck in some of these areas, many churches are stuck, and many individuals too. It is impossible to move from a mess to glory. God wants us to get to a glorious place first then He will move us.

How do we get there? Paul gives us that answer in this verse, "with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord." What does he mean? We need to be willing to lift the veil of our shortcomings, our sins, our hidden fears, and anxieties. We must be willing to honestly look at the condition of our hearts and attitudes. These are often the things that limit our reflection of Jesus to the world.

If we are willing, pain is inevitable because no change is easy. The pain of change is short lived. The pain of being stuck in our mess can last a lifetime I have seen it in some people and see it in some even today. I see it in our nation as we continue to reject Jesus. I see it in some of our church groups where religion has become more important than relationship. I see it in individuals who are stuck in some of the things I mentioned above.

Unveil your look at your life, your heart, and your attitude. God wants you to move from glory to glory. We must start in a place of glory so we can move into an even more glorious place.

Friday, September 8, 2017

September 8 Thought for the day....God is proud of you!

Have you ever been so proud of someone you just wanted to shout it so everyone would know? There have been many times when I have seen those in the church who "get it" and they become living examples of Jesus is tough situations. Also to brag for a moment, I see this in my daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all of the time. Paul was bragging about the Thessalonians

"so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure" 2 Thessalonians 1:4

"we boast of you," Paul writes. This is the only time in the Bible the Greek word used as is translated here. It means to boast, to brag, or to give praise about someone. Paul was proud of his Thessalonian "children" as a Father is proud of his own children.

What made him so proud of them? Their patience and faith. The word Paul uses for "patience" means so one who will not bend, break, surrender or give up territory no matter how heavy the load. It is an attitude determined not to settle until they receive what was promised. It is basic endurance.

The Thessalonians were in the heart of pagan country. They were suffering from massive persecution. Their faith was constantly assaulted and at times so were their lives. Paul was proud that they did not give up or waver. It was also proud of their faith.

The word translated "faith" denotes a force that is always moving forward, never backward. It is aggressive never passive.  They never drew back and always kept moving forward. Like a bullet shot from a gun they cut through everything and did not falter. They had real faith, changing the lives in the city despite all the hardships they faced.

The word translated "persecution" is a hunting term meaning to follow after or pursue. It is a hunter viciously pursuing prey to kill or destroy. The word translated "tribulation" means grueling, crushing situation that is absolutely unbearable and impossible survive except for the Holy Spirit's encouragement.

Paul was proud of them because they did not bend or break nor did they falter or fail despite the pressure of being hunted down and unbearable crushing they endured they chose to trust the Lord. God gave them success for their tenacity. Lives and the city were changed.

You are going through something at some level. Hang in there! I know it may not seem like it, but God has a bigger picture than what you see this moment. If you trust Him, you will always have great success. Temporary inconvenience is not a sign of failure but giving up always is! God is proud of you!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

September 7 Thought for the day...who is responsible?

You leave the office, Walmart, the church and you are fuming at what someone said or did. They royally jerked you around, and you're ticked. How should you handle this? Who is to blame for such a bitter taste in your mouth? The writer of Hebrews gives us a clear and concise answer!

"looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;" Hebrews 12:15

The writer challenges us with dealing with our own anger and pain. The word for the phrase translated "looking carefully" means to look over, take a supervisory position. It is the same word that is translated "bishop." The writer is telling us we need to take hold of our responses. We need to realize who is really in charge of the way we react to things.

The role of the bishop is to watch, guide, correct and generally give oversight to the church. The writer is saying we each have that same responsibility for ourselves. As the bishop of our own hearts, we are responsible for what gets into our hearts and our minds and how our emotions will respond to that stimulus.

I often use the example if a friend were to punch I always have several choices to make. Was this because of something I said or did? Was it because of something that is misunderstood? Was it because my friend is hurting and I happen to be a safe object with which to take their pain out? Was it meant to be a joke that went bad?

It is easy to blame our bad attitudes, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness and reactions on others. The truth is we are responsible for exactly how we feel. We have chosen to feel this way. We are the bishops of our own hearts, and if we decide to be offended, then we must accept responsibility for that feeling. Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love (and we are supposed to be God's ambassadors of love) bears all things, hopes all things, and believes all things. We are to be wise in our reactions hoping for the best, never getting bitter or resentful. If we do, we are responsible, we can't blame others because we made a choice.

God wants us to be the bishop of our own hearts. Part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit's indwelling is "self-control!" So start taking control today, choose to be responsible for your attitude. Decide to walk in forgiveness, love, freedom, joy, and peace. You are the only one in charge of that too. God made the way we must choose to walk in it

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 6 Thought for the day...commit to be committed

I have talked with many employers who are having a tough time finding employees that will stay. Staying power is something that is missing in much of our culture today. It is also a problem in the church, and Paul addresses that in 1 Corinthians 4:1

"Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

How many times have you felt unappreciated? You may have worked hard or have been working hard on some project or at some job, and it seems no one notices, no one says "thank you." You feel as if you should just quit. Others are having fun, and you are slaving away at this job. Everyone likes to be thanked. Everyone wants to be appreciated. Sadly it doesn't happen all the time.

The word Paul uses for "servants" we have dealt with in the past. If you remember the post about the slaves, who served in the ships. The word is described as the slaves on a ship bound by heavy chains who know the only way the ship moves is if they move it.

Paul uses this word for good reason. The commitment of the slaves bound by heavy chains should be the way we are committed to serving Christ, knowing that we are in this for the long haul, fully engaged for life. Often our flesh or the enemy will do their best to make us feel unappreciated, lose our dream of our future, or the value of what we are doing. Paul is stressing that we need to hang in there. It is easy to take our eyes off of the prize.

When we commit to fulfilling the fantastic, awesome plan God has for our lives, assaults will start coming from everywhere. The devil becomes afraid, our friends and family want us to stay in the norm rather than achieving great heights, and our own flesh prefers comfort over being exceptional. We must remember it is easy to start obeying God's call it is hard to finish well.

God calls us to commit to complete our race, to accomplish the task, to win every time. We must choose to be the "stewards," the ones who keep and cherish the plan of God to completion. You completing your task helps others achieve theirs and how God accomplishes His perfect will on the earth. Each of us has a valuable part to play. Stay on task! Commit to be committed!

If you are part of my life and I have neglected ever to say, "Thank you," please forgive me and know that I pray it will never happen again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September 5 Thought for the day...the way the devil works

Today is going to be a little different because I have a few verses I need to share with you. This is very simple but profound at the same time. Are you ready? This is how the devil works...

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

The word translated "wiles" means travel the road. In other words what Paul is saying is the devil is like a person who prepares for a trip. The course is strategically plotted to get to the right destination without taking any detours, going the quickest most direct route. The devil has a goal to accomplish in your life, and he has plotted the best course that will reek the most havoc. So where is he going?

This verse begins to answer that question, 2 Corinthians 2:11 "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." The word translated "devices" this depicts two things we need to understand first it references the devils scheming deception in the mind. Second, it describes his subtle, crafty way of attacking his victim's minds. The primary destination of the devil is to get into a person’s mind and fill it with lying emotions, false perceptions, and confusion.

So what can we do to frustrate the enemies plans? 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ." I want to focus on the phrase "we capture." When the Romans captured an enemy, they would march them bound in front of them, and the soldier would keep his spear in the back of the enemy so the enemy knew if he went anywhere the soldier would thrust his spear through him. This makes it, so the enemy is truly afraid to make any move. This is what Paul is expressing through this verse, the tense makes it even more intense. The tense is telling us this is something that we must continually, always, do so as not to give place for the enemy.

The devil has a strategy to take over our minds. He works in very subtle ways and knows exactly how to attack, lying, giving you false perceptions and confusion. We must make a choice to be alert not allowing any lies or confusion to even have a little place in our minds. We must stick to it, standing our ground, driving every lie and insinuation from the enemy out of our minds.

Now that you know his plan, his ways choose to think the Lord's way every time. Peace love and joy should always rule your heart and mind!

Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4 Thought for the day...keep moving forward

If you run a search on line to compare one thing or another you will find an abundance of information. There are comparisons for every product imaginable automobiles, food processors, light bulbs to toilet paper. Anything you want to compare, you can easily find it. Should we compare ourselves to others? Here is what Paul had to say about that...

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13,14

Paul is in prison looking at his life. He could have said compared to other people I have accomplished amazing things. I have preached and established churches all over Asia Minor. I have preached to great leaders in the Imperial Palace. I have written most of the New Testament. He could have said, "I've done enough, everyone else try to catch up!" Instead, he makes the statement, "I have not achieved it" He knew while he had accomplished much, there was still so much left to do.

In 2 Corinthians 10:12 he says this "....they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." God has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. It is a different plan than anyone else. It becomes very foolish to compare ourselves to others because we are called to something different, and we will either limit or frustrate ourselves by comparison.

However, that being said we need to spend time looking at our lives, so we push ourselves forward. On a fairly regular basis, I will evaluate where I am compared to God's call? Am I as wise with my time, finances, and gifts as I should be? Am I fulfilling my purpose as I feel God has called me to it? The reflection is good. I can easily make the corrections when I am honest with myself.

Paul states that he forget what lies behind. He was not only forgetting his failures but also not glorying in his successes knowing that he had so much more to do. He had to keep moving forward. Businesses often fail because they become content at their level of success when to remain successful they must keep moving forward. In Christ, we must be the same. To become Christ-like is a lifelong journey. We keep moving forward, running the race to win.

Don't settle for anything less. Don't focus on the accomplishments of others. Keep your eyes on all the Lord has for you. It will be amazing, and God doesn't want you to settle for anything less than His best. Keep moving forward!

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 1 Thought for the day....NO FEAR!

There is much going on in our world that we have even reason to fear. War, disease, terrorism, abuse, uncertainty with prices, government, and business. Paul says before the end times things will be even worse but have no fear!!!

"not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come" 2 Thessalonians 2:2

Paul is warning the church very clearly here.  The phrase "not to be soon shaken" means something that will come about very quickly, suddenly. In other words, fearful things will happen in our lives powerfully and suddenly and the tense shows us that it will not be just a one-time occurrence but on going occurrences and we are not to "waver, be shaken, or moved" in any way. Paul was challenging us to not allow ourselves to be fearful or anxious because of anything.

The phrase "in mind" has to do with everything in the realm of intellect, will, emotions and the ability to think reason and decide. Whoever or whatever controls the mind controls the person. If we chose to allow fear or anxiety to dictate to us, then we will be overrun by it every time. Paul's warning is, "of course things are going to get bad but don't you remember God is in control, He will keep you in perfect peace if your MIND is on Him, not the circumstances, not what the doctor says, not what your bank account says..." As Christ followers, it is simply unacceptable to be overcome with fear and anxiety! Once we know that we can begin to ask the Lord to show us how to live that way.

The word "troubled" means an inward fright, a "jumpiness" or an ongoing state of nervousness. Once again Paul is saying things are going to get worse before the end. It will be continually shocking, scary, heart wrenching but don't be afraid. Keep your mind at peace, knowing God is with you, for you, and in control. Don't get nervous or jumpy. Don't be on edge! God has got this!

If God has got this scary series of events planned that are going to rock the world in the last days, we need to be practicing now to have NO FEAR! What are you facing right now? The same God that calls us to not be shaken to not allow our minds to be overwhelmed during the final pangs of this world is with you right now and challenging you to practice NO FEAR!