Tuesday, October 16, 2018

October 16 Thought for the day....handling the worst criticism

As a Pastor and having worked in Christian Television for over 30 years I am used to criticism. People, even Christians, can say the vilest and most vicious things when part of their lives are not yet sanctified. However, that is nothing compared to where I come under the harshest criticism. No one can criticize me as severely as I can do to myself! Paul recognized that in many believers and the Holy Spirit spoke this through him.

"the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." Philemon 1:6 

I used to be extremely critical of myself, never being satisfied with anything I had accomplished or the quality of my gifts and talents. As I matured and my attentiveness to the Holy Spirit increased I began to understand I was grieving the Holy Spirit by my actions. He began to reveal to me that my criticism of myself was actually criticizing the Holy Spirit's gift and work in me.

Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is saying, we become more effective when we acknowledge every good thing. What does that have to do with what I just said about being critical? Our faith becomes "active", "alive", "energized" by us. God has already given us faith, but until we decide we are going to begin to acknowledge that every good thing we have came from God, our faith doesn't have life breathed into it. I may have the best computer in the world, I own it (of course it is an Apple product) but until I turn it on it is useless to me. My computer has all kinds of potential but until it is turned on none of that potential can be realized.

You and I have been given every good thing, salvation, relationship with Jesus, and for many of us, the in-filling of the Holy Spirit. Yet rather than being thankful for what we have been given, we complain, put our gifts on the shelf as being somewhat common or ordinary and don't acknowledge them for what they are, fabulous gifts to impact our world.

You might be saying, "I don't feel like any of that is true in my life." Feelings have nothing to do with it. It takes faith activated to begin to believe that you have been given wonderful gifts, talents, abilities, the perfect personality to accomplish God's plan for your life and everything else you need to fulfill your destiny. Stop thinking what you have been given is common or ordinary. Stop being critical of who you are and what you have learned and understand that will fulfill your destiny. Activate your faith! Bring life to it by looking at who you are as a gift from God. Stop being so critical of yourself, begin to be thankful for all the "good things!" Walk in freedom today!

Want to do double duty? Help others to realize how valuable they are. Encourage them in their blessings of the gifts, talent, personality, and all those "good things" we have been given. They have been given so we can help to change our world.

Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15 Thought for the day...intimacy, the key to overcoming worry

Today is one of those days because of the date people are especially worrisome. They are afraid something bad is going to happen only because of the date. Is humorous as it may be to me, it is subtly fearful to others. It is not real nor is it logical on any level to be afraid of Friday the 13th. However, that is the way many Christians feel about other things as well. Christians have battled worry from the beginning. Paul gives us this comfort.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" Philippians 4:6

Paul is instructing a church that is under persecution to not fret, worry, be troubled or to be anxious about anything. If you really think about it much that we worry about never comes about.

Mothers fear dreaded sicknesses, diseases, and disasters for their children most of the time they do not happen. Business people, even with prosperous businesses fear failure, most of the time it does not occur. Many kids have a fear of failing exams and blowing projects at school, yet it rarely happens. Can any of these things happen? Of course, they can. Paul instruction is, don't be afraid only believe.

Often in small group prayer or large prayer meetings, I listen and hear many fret-filled prayers and few faith-filled prayers. Paul is challenging us through prayer to stand on God's Word and believe it. We are to have full confidence in the promises and character of God. God is not moved by our worry, anxiety or fear. We indeed are to bring those things to Him, but we must stand by faith with expectation and thanksgiving knowing He is going to carry our load, lift our burden, and meet our needs.

God has already promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has already promised to supply all that we have need of. He has already promised to lead and guide us and deliver us from our enemies. However, He has shown us we will go through the fire, flood, battles, struggles. He is always there leading us through them.

Paul is challenging us with intimacy. The better we know the Lord, His ways, and character the more at peace we can be. Paul is writing this in a way to suggest that we are bringing our concerns, fears, battles to someone we really know and love, and we are acutely aware that He loves us too! We should know Him so well that He is not only our Lord and God but our friend. Giving thanks ridding our selves of fear and concerns all the things that come naturally with intimate friends.

Friday, October 12, 2018

October 12 Thought for the day...consistency the key to rewards

Every Christian that is growing and maturing will go through times of doubt. A faith walk purposely stretches us and many times we doubt the call, the plan, or whether we are hearing God's voice. Believe it or not, that is still walking by faith. Let's take a look.

"But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

When people share this verse, they tend to believe that doubt is the antithesis of faith. As I mentioned earlier we all struggle with doubts from time to time, but if we keep moving forward we do not lose faith, in fact, I have seen doubt push people right into faith. The real problem comes with consistency.

The word translated "without" means to be outside of something. Faith is a place a state of being and to be without faith is to be outside of that state of being. Being in a state of faith is based on whether or not you are acting in obedience to your assignment. In our assignment, we can struggle with doubts at different levels, but we remain in our assignment being obedient to the Lord's call. It is when we begin to do things contrary to God's call, contrary to obedience to the Lord, or contrary to being examples of Jesus that we have left "faith."

How do I know I am "in" faith? Ask yourself these questions: Am I doing what God told me to do? Am I fulfilling the assignment He gave for my life? Am I living in obedience to His Word and to the revelation He has given me? Am I sticking with the plan Jesus asked me to execute? If you are, then you are living in faith and pleasing the Lord!

We are only able to keep "in" faith by keeping our eyes on Jesus. The enemy wants us to become inconsistent. He wants us getting angry, being fearful, frustrated, prideful, or worrisome and stepping out of faith to the flesh.

"Rewarder" is that the Lord will cause those who remain consistent to see the full manifestation of what they believe for, in every way, in every instance. In other words, if you stay in faith, you will without a doubt receive all you expect.

"Diligently" is what trips us up! It means that we are focused, concentrating on the end. It is our unwavering commitment to God and His assignment, you will not allow anything to push you "out" of faith, but you will remain connected to God's call. Your commitment is unbendable, unmovable you stand firm on God's Word, call, and living His standard.

This is how real faith works. It is not as easy to lose it as by doubt as maybe you previously considered, but our inconsistency will cause us to fail every time on our journey of fulfilling God's plan for our lives...Just be consistent!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

October 11 Thought for the day....don't miss your promised land

In my church, we often say the phrase, "God is good!" We then add "all the time," with a repeat that says "all the time," "God is good!" It is a beautiful sentiment, but I believe we forget how often God is good to us. This hurts us because if we don't honor the way God is good to us, the blessings of God are limited to an ungrateful people, and we naturally miss out on the way He blesses us every day! He may supply, but we may miss our promised land!

"Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years." Hebrews 3:9

The nation of Israel had been blessed beyond belief. Even in the wilderness, in their discipline for disobedience, God still blessed, and it came so common-place to them that they missed it entirely.

The writer is saying they tested God. The meaning here is as if they wanted to see if God would live up to His reputation. The nation, through their sin, put God in a position to demonstrate to them that He really is a faithful God who will never fail His children, This gave God the opportunity to show them that He is indeed everything He said He was.

We can do this as well. You are facing a health, financial, relationship or any other type of crisis you can come to God knowing that He is always faithful and will meet you at your point of need, just because of who He is! When you have to see the deliverance and blessing of the Lord, you will look for it, and God will always be

When it says "tried Me." The writer is telling us that there were many times that Israel would have not survived, they would not have made it. Three million people would have died in the wilderness. Instead, every time God proved He had them in the palm of His hand. This is what the writer meant when He said, "tried Me."

As we keep a grateful heart for all the Lord is doing in our lives it becomes easy to trust that He will "prove" to be our God in every situation. When we don't recognize and honor Him, it is easy to become fearful in our times of crisis rather than trust God will come through.

Can you imagine seeing 40 years of daily miracles? Can you imagine feeding 3 million people with enough quail for meals every day? Can you believe how much manna it took to daily, feed three million people? How many gallons of water needed to come out of the mountain to give water in a desert place to all the livestock and three million people. Those of you that live in South Western Pennsylvania that is roughly our entire population. Yet the nation of Israel grumbled and complained. There was a bad attitude in them as they forgot to be grateful. So they died in the wilderness.

Are you grateful to the Lord for all His blessings? Do you properly honor all the things He has given you and the people He has placed in your life? If not, God may supply, protect and be with you but you will never enter into your promised land. If that is you, don't wallow in self-pity, or get angry because I pushed on a nerve, stepped on your toes, get about the business of an attitude of gratitude and also begin to honor the men and women of God He has placed in your life to bring you to freedom!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October 10 Thought for the day...trust is essential

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. On the one hand, I love the freedom of expression it warrants everyone. I see many encouraging thoughts. I see the request for prayer. The honest and truthful hearts expressing the various sentiments. I also see the arrogant, thoughtless, narcissistic, prejudiced expressions. Those points encourage me to pray for people but what ultimately drives me crazy is when I see Christians using language or having attitudes that are anti-Christ. Paul talks about that in 1 Timothy 3:8

"Likewise, deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money."

I know, you are saying this is the requirement for deacons and I am not a leader in the church. The challenge; while you may not be a leader in the church, you carry the name of Christ which automatically makes you a leader in the world.

Have you ever known anyone that will completely agree with you about some topic then they are talking with someone else about the same topic, even though they have a differing opinion, this person now agrees with them? Have you ever known someone to claim faith in Christ, speak holy and righteous in the church and with Christians and when they are with, not-yet Christians, they are talking and acting just like them? This is an example of a double-tongued person.

It is nearly impossible to build trust with someone who is like that. Trust is essential to intimacy in any relationship. Recent research has shown that part of the reason many children leave the faith is precisely that. They see their parents talking and acting one way in church and around church people and then next they hear them back-biting, lying, swearing, getting drunk or high or generally living a life that is anti-Christ

Paul uses the word that literally means "two-worded" meaning, a person who says or does one thing to express or show one attitude toward one person and then turns and says or does exactly the opposite to someone else. Jesus challenges us to be salt and light. We must realize to our friends, family, and the world we are always on! If we are not consistent in our walk, then we are "double-tongued!"

If you express your opinion then later change your mind, that's OK! Just go back to the person and be honest. The truth can be hard but the more you use it, the easier it is! I would much rather have people being honest with me, even if it is not comfortable than have you inconsistent with your opinions.

We can always share the truth with each other with grace, patience, and love. Real relationships with a strong bond of intimacy only happen when we speak the truth to each other.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

October 9 Thought for the day....this is real love

Since September 24 we have been defining love based on 1 Corinthians 13, here is the summary of what kind of love God has for us. This is also the type of love we need to ask the Lord to show us with which to love all people. The top line is the verse and the line in quotes the Greek meaning

Love suffers long

"Love patiently and passionately bears with others for as long as patience is needed;

Love is kind

"Love doesn't demand others to be like itself; rather, it is so focused on the needs of others that it bends over backward to become what others need it to be."

Love does not envy

"Love is not ambitious, self-centered, or so consumed with itself that it never thinks of the needs or desires that others possess."

Love is not puffed up. 

"Love doesn't go around talking about itself all the time, constantly exaggerating and embellishing the facts to make it look more important in the sight of others."

Love does not behave rudely. 

"Love does not behave in a prideful, arrogant, haughty, superior, snooty, snobbish, or clannish manner; Love is not rude and discourteous. It is not careless or thoughtless, nor does it carry on in a fashion that would be considered insensitive to others."

Love does not seek its own

"Love does not manipulate situations or scheme and devise methods that will twist situations to its advantage."

 Love is not provoked.

"Love does not deliberately engage in actions or speak words that are so sharp; they cause an ugly or violent response."

Love thinks no evil

"Love does not deliberately keep records of wrongs or past mistakes."

Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth.

"Love does not feel overjoyed when it sees an injustice done to someone else but is elated, thrilled, ecstatic, and overjoyed with the truth."

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

"Love protects, shields, guards, covers, conceals, and safeguards people from exposure Love strains forward with all its might to believe the very best in every situation; Love always expects and anticipates the best in others and the best for others; Love never quits, never surrenders, and never gives up."

Love never fails 

"Love never disappoints, never fails, and never lets anyone down."

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Let this be a mirror in your life and a reminder. A mirror to always check how we love others and a reminder as to how God loves us!

Monday, October 8, 2018

October 8 Thought for the day...never fails

We are almost done with our time talking about God's love for us and the love we should have toward each other. This is a mirror that we should be looking at to see how much of God's love is pouring through us. Paul wraps it up with this statement, simple and concise.

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8

The word used for fail means to disappoint, come to ruin, fall into some misfortune or destruction. God's love will never ever do this. Humans do though!

At some point in your life, someone who says they love you is going to disappoint you. They may fail in a very big way or simply just let you down. Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is saying don't allow your love for them to fail. Choose to have the Holy Spirit strengthen you with His love.

We always need to be careful because the enemy is seeking ways to bring division between brothers and sisters in Christ, families, workplaces, churches, anywhere that he can place a wedge he will do it. When that occurs the first thing to fail is our love for them. The Holy Spirit understands the accusors ways better than anyone, and if we choose, He will come to us and strengthen our love for each other, because His love never fails.

God's love is unbendable, unchanging; it is constant. It is a love that you can depend on to be reliable and dependable always.

God wants us to learn to function at this higher level of love. Paul shares this with us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit because God has made a way for us to be this love to others. He has created His love as a mirror of our lives, don't allow your failures in love to beat you up instead, allow it to show you the potential God has for your life. He wants to show you His love for you so you can show it to others.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Heaven and Suicide

Heaven and suicide

I have had to answer this question more times than I like, "Can a person make it to heaven if they commit suicide?"

In many traditional churches including two of the denominations I was raised both Baptist and Pentecostal, I was taught, if you committed suicide, you immediately went to hell.

Most suicides and suicide attempts are the results of severe depression and despair. I have been taught a man or woman of God ought never to suffer from such things, but the truth of God's word is a little different than that! Moses,(Numbers 11:10-15), Elijah, (1 Kings 19:1-5), and Jonah, (Jonah 4:9), went through periods of extreme depression and, yes, suicidal thoughts.

Two suicides in the Bible are quite famous Judas' and that of Samson Judges 16:30 Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life."  Samson is listed in the hall of faith in Hebrews 11:32.

Please don't get me wrong suicide is wrong. Murdering of yourself or another person is wrong, and the murder of yourself through suicide is extraordinarily selfish*. It robs us of God's great plan for our lives. It leaves a wake of heartache for families to deal with all of the "what ifs." However, it is NOT the unpardonable sin.

Let me ask this question, "Did Jesus death on the cross take all of the sins of those who would believe on Him or just some of them?"

Here are a few verses to look at in answering this question

Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many."

Romans 5:8,9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we have accepted His sacrifice and have fellowship with him, Jesus’ blood on the cross obliterates all of our sins.

Here is a scripture that shares that exact idea Colossians 2:12-15

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled (obliterated) out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

This is what Jesus did on the cross for all of us, who accept Him and enter into a relationship with Him

But how can someone who has a relationship with Jesus commit suicide? Allow me to answer that with another question, how can someone who has a relationship with Jesus lie, steal, gossip, be fearful, feel insecure, these too are all sins. Sin is merely missing God's perfect plan, and Jesus died on the cross for all of them. Our sins hurt any relationship whether human or with God but they never are able to stop God's love for us (Romans 8:35,38,39)

Once again, suicide is selfish, it shows a general lack of understanding of God's great love for us and trust in His plan for our future. However, the blood of Jesus has covered all of our sins, if we have a relationship with Him.

One more pertinent question, how do we gain entrance into heaven? Is it by our works? Is it by our being good enough? Let's look at what the Bible says. God saved you by His grace when you believed. You can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

 Ephesians 2:8-9  

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast."

We obtain heaven only by our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior and the grace He pours out on us, not by our goodness or perfection. We go to hell only by our rejection of Jesus Christ as our Savior Hebrews 6:4-6

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."

Our entrance into heaven isn't made because we are "good enough" but instead because we have a relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Once again no Christian should become so discouraged that they would even consider ending their own life, but we have seen that some big names in the Bible considered it. It does happen.

If you or someone you know is so anxious, depressed, fearful, overwhelmed that you or they would consider suicide, please don't go there. God's plans for you, despite how overwhelmed you may feel, are for your good and not your destruction. God is a God of hope, love, joy, freedom and He will liberally give all of this to you if you will but come to Him, give Him your pain, hurt, woundedness, your brokenness and allow Him to heal you, set your free, and give you a renewed hope. There is always someone who cares about you and your future, please talk to a friend, pastor, counselor and allow them to point you to a place of hope!

His love for you will overwhelm all of the hopelessness you can throw at Him, if you will only allow Him to do so, for you! He is the one who loves you the most, and it is for forever!

* a couple of people have gotten upset over my calling suicide selfish. I fully understand some suicide is induced through chemical imbalance and other things that seem beyond the control of the individual but does that make it any less selfish? If someone says an unkind word to you but they do not feel it is unkind does it make it any less unkind? I am addressing Christians in this article and as such, if you are a Christ follower that means your life is not your own and therefore to take your own life is selfish because of the effect it has on others and it is not your life to take.

Friday, October 5, 2018

October 5 Thought for the day...hope endures

Our culture tends to be very negative. The news takes the attitude if it bleeds it leads, that is the way we generally think. Our culture can be cynical, snarky, and pessimistic the Lord wants to bring hope, love, joy, and peace in the middle of it all. The best way to make this happen is by love.

Love..." bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7

When Paul is talking about love "hopes all things" the phrase he uses means, that love is always expecting the best. Rather than expecting failure or a bad result about someone love believes that eventually, the best outcome will happen. It is a 180-degree difference from pessimism. Our hope isn't necessarily in the people making the right decisions and wise choices but in our believing the Lord will be able to work in and through a person,  creating an anticipation that the best about to happen. Do you feel that way? Are you always hoping for the best in every situation? God believes for the best in you!

Endurance is exhausting just to think about. Paul is telling us that when we love the way God loves it is as if a person who is under a heavy load but they refuse to give up, surrender or give in because they know they are doing exactly what they need to be doing where they need to be doing it! It means deciding rather than giving up they will stay put refusing to surrender. This is why when we blow it God is always there to rescue, encourage, and take us to the next level. Discipline is not something we want to think about, but too many give up trying to train their children, younger Christians, grow on their job or in life because it is hard to do. Love looks for the end result; the outcome of greater peace, love, joy, and perfect fulfillment. It takes real love to make that happen.

God is already pouring this type love on and into your life...let him pour it through you. You may not always get it back from the people you would expect to receive from, but as you pour out, He makes sure you are loved this way in return.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

October 4 Thought for the day...love that covers and believes

I love the truth of what love is and how it works. I love understanding learning about the way God loves us and the way we should love one another. As Paul begins to wrap up his thoughts on love, he tells us how it functions in very real ways

Love..." bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:7

You may be surprised what each of these phrases mean. The word for "bears" actually has more to do with a covering and more with the implication of shielding, protecting, the way a roof covers a house. The heat, cold, rain and other harsh conditions can't penetrate this covering. Many times in our lives we battle through all kinds of storms. God's love is there to shield, to guard us, against the storms of life. If we don't have God's shield against these spiritual battles we face, then it becomes very difficult to survive these attacks.

Paul is letting us know that a friend who moves in this type of love is the best kind of friend. They will stand with you in times of trouble covering you, protecting you. Rather than exposing you in a time of trouble that will cover you, protect you to help you through your storm. A little more than what you may have thought "bears all things means?" We all need people in our lives that will do this for us!

"Believes all things,"The word means to put your faith and trust in someone or something. The tense of the verb is such that it means to not just do it once but to continuously put your faith and trust in someone having a "never give up" attitude. You believe for the best in every situation. God's type of love isn't stupid or blind; it sees the good, the bad, and the ugly. God's love doesn't ignore problems or challenges but chooses to push past them to see the potential in people.

God's love always believes things will turn around. It continually presses forward believing for the healing, deliverance, freedom, restoration, salvation, and anything else necessary to keep the person you are believing for, right in the middle of God's will!

We all need people like this in our lives, and I hope that you are a person like this to others. If you are struggling with this type of love, remember this is love from God. He will pour it in and through your life if you allow Him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October 3 Thought for the day...been jerked around? Respond with love!

All of us have been jerked around by someone at one time or another. It hurts to be treated that way and then to see them seemingly get away with it. It is a tough place to be in, but we have all been there, and Paul challenges us to overcome by love.

Love..." does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;" 1 Corinthians 13:6

I have been in situations where I have been very severely wronged. For a season it seems like the person gets away with it but a seed of corruption in a person does eventually catch up with them. It always happens. Bad seed always brings a harvest of bad crops. The human nature side of me always wants to at least, in a private way, to rejoice when they get their "come-up-ins!" Paul is challenging that human nature side of us to become more Christ-like.

Paul is saying real, genuine; love does not get happy, rejoice, or even snarkily say "Yes!" when someone has treated us poorly. We are to remember that God still loves them and wants the best for them including their repentance. When justice does come to them, the Father's heart, like it was for Israel, is always compassionate and believing for the best. It is easy for unforgiveness to set in if we don't work to keep our hearts pure. People will be jerks at times. I can be a jerk at times. Real love looks past the jerk in us to see our potential.

Paul ties all this in together when he says that real "love rejoices in truth." Truth sets people free. We become jerks because we don't fully love at the moment, we don't feel His love pouring into us, we are short-sighted about God's plan, or we become jealous of the blessings others have been given. When we walk in the truth, understanding God's plan for our lives, we can walk in freedom. We can rejoice when others are blessed because we recognize that blessing was perfect for them and God isn't limited in His ability to bless. Our blessings will be just perfect for us.

If you rejoice when others get their "come-up-ins" or if you struggle when others are blessed, perhaps the Lord is lifting a mirror to you to see the things He desires to work on in your life. God truly loves you and only wants the best for you. Don't shortchange yourself from God's blessings by not loving His way. Permit His love to pour in you and through you, today!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 2 Thought for the day...love lets go

One of the saddest parts of my job is standing at a funeral and seeing what could have been, So many relationships wasted because of offenses that as I am standing there mean nothing now. While they were alive, it seemed important to them to hold a grudge. The missed what could have been.

Love...." keeps no record of being wronged." 1 Corinthians 13:5b

I am only writing about this one phrase today because I see the damage done by this nearly every day. When Paul is writing here the word which is translated by this phrase is the idea of an account keeping records. In this case, the account has a list of every time they were offended, every wound they suffered, and every rejection they felt. Everything is accurately accounted for, and the offense and grudge are strongly in place.

God doesn't expect us to be a doormat for people to walk all over but He does expect us to walk in the freedom and forgiveness He has sacrificed to give us. Psalm 103 he tells us (verse 3) that we are forgiven of all of our sins. He shares with us that while he could punish us for those sins, he chooses not to (verse 10). When we ask for forgiveness, we completely remove our sin, so it is no more (verse 12). This is God's kind of love for us. This is what we should receive and live every day. He has every right to hold a grudge, to not forgive as we continue to sin against Him. Instead, e chooses to forgive and keep loving.

Most people who hold grudges and are easily offended don't understand God loves them this way. We need to walk in this love so they can see it. Many times people have taken offense to things I say or do because they don't understand. Some have gotten angry at me, some left the church, other stew n silence but to each one, I must choose to keep loving because of what Jesus has done for me and because my heart breaks for their pain.

It is dangerous to hold a grudge or an offense. You can think you are a good Christian in every other way, but if you don't learn to forgive, the Lord will not forgive you (Matthew 6:15;18:34,35).

When we learn to love by walking in forgiveness, we walk in freedom. I know there are many offenses out there. I could be offended every day by things people do or say. I want to have the Lord's heart, and I want to live in freedom and purity of heart. I choose to see people through His eyes and choose to lay down my "right" to be offended, to let go and to be free!

Monday, October 1, 2018

October 1 Thought for the day...love has no agenda and 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 half 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!

Friday, September 28, 2018

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.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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!

Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24 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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

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: http://christiancenter.us/category/sermons/ You can scroll through to find the topics that most interest you.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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 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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 18 Thought for the day...are you 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 stronghold 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!

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 17 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 on 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 of 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! Choosing better brings joy and peace every time!

Friday, September 14, 2018

September 14 Thought for the day...It's 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 overspend 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 shortcut 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!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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 within 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 purport 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, Facebook, Twitter, 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's blessing? Let's do real!

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 12 Thought for the day...how 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 in 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!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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. 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.

Monday, September 10, 2018

September 10 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 a 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!