Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16 Thought for the day...can you be imitated?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15 Thought for the day...not cinderella's slippers

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

(This is what happened to Nikola Tesla by Thomas Edison.  Unfortunately, it would seem neither man had faith in Christ. A little history in this thought)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13 Thought for the day...overcoming failures

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12 Thought for the day....revenge never, love always

Have you ever been hurt by someone and felt like "getting even?" Perhaps you felt that severe but rather than approaching someone who hurt you and working it out you simply decided to ignore them or just walk away. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ either of these situations Paul would label as "evil."

"Never pay back evil with more evil." Romans 12:17

I know it is hard when you feel, hurt, rejected, or offended by someone but Jesus gave us the example of how we should respond to this, we should love! We prove we are His disciples by our love. Paul is further emphasizing that with this phrase.

The phrase "pay back" literally means to vehemently get even with someone, to retaliate, or to take revenge. It is a very human reaction, but we are supposed to be dead to our flesh and alive to His Spirit making that response a failure in the eyes of Christ. In fact, the Greek word translated "never" here means that it is absolutely forbidden, not even to be considered in any way, ever. Does that sound serious to you?

Evil is wrong, and we know it. When someone is evil to us that word describes an action that is harmful, hurtful, or injurious or something is done with an evil intent. These are the actions of a person who intentionally acts to cause some kind of damage or ruin in someone else’s life. God sees it all. You are His child. If you have done something sinful that has brought on this evil, God will correct you, discipline you but it is not about you and the other person you must choose to forgive. However, if the evil has been done and you are innocent, still choose to forgive but allow the Lord to defend and protect you. If there harm has been intentional it doesn't mean you have to return to the situation, but you still must choose to forgive, or you will not be set free.

Sometimes things are done that we interpreted as evil but are merely a misunderstanding. Regardless of the intent, Jesus gave us an example to follow to always walk in love and forgiveness, helping others to come to that freedom as well.

We are loved with a great love as much as we can let's live and share that love with others so that might come to know the freedom and love we know!

Friday, March 9, 2018

March 9 Thought for the day...tough times are coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 8 Thought for the day...handling stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

March 5 Thought for the day....choose the right friends

I have had the privilege of being around many of the great names in contemporary Christian life. Most of them are humble, loving, Christ-like people. However, I have had experiences with those who live in the limelight and have the "rock-star" attitude and treat others as if they are less than them. I have also been around some who are poor and have an entitlement mentality, and they too treat people with disdain. Paul addresses this issue in Romans 12:16

"Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble."

When Paul is talking about "high things," it means to have an attitude of superiority. It is the attitude that people have when they look down on others, think themselves to be better than others or choose to bring others down to control them or to make themselves feel better. I have seen people that have great wealth and power be very humble and encouraging. I have seen people who are poor and powerless teardown others and the reverse of both. "High things" are not about money or power this is about attitude.

The word interpreted "humble" here refers to those who are not prideful, look for the best in others. Those who long to build others up and encourage them. Paul is saying these are the people we should choose as our friends, the ones we should allow in, closest to us.

In another verse, Paul encourages us to "build each other up," 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Each of us is chosen by God, loved and valued by Him. Every Christian is sons and daughters of Christ. Even if someone is not a Christian yet, they are still someone who Jesus loved enough to lay down his life.

Pride pushes us away from God and from being like Jesus to others. Choose to treat others as you would want to be treated. I think that too is in the Bible:)

Friday, March 2, 2018

March 2 Thought for the day...don't be afraid, understand and overcome

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

2 Corinthians 2:11

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 28 Thought for the day....stay aware

Not to be a pessimists, because most of us are not, but to simply be wise as Christians, you and I must understand there is deception everywhere. The Oscars are an excellent example a group of people who are lost, parading themselves to be wise, yet many of them with no real hope. They believe in the vain, very temporary, glory of stardom only as the star tarnishes they find they have no real value. It is the same thing with so much that the world considers valuable. Can you imagine what was going through Jesus mind as He stood before the rulers of His day? He was on trial but watched them in their deception? Jesus warns us that deception is only going to become worse.

Matthew 24:4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you."

Jesus was preparing us for what will go on as we draw closer to His return. When Jesus is saying "take heed" it would be like anyone yelling "stop" in order to protect us from on-coming traffic. Jesus is getting our attention to make sure we understood that in every aspect of life, as the age comes to a close, deception will be rampant...entertainment, politics, education, and even religion. We must be aware.

The word used for "deceives" has the meaning to be lead astray, as if they once were walking the wise path but something happened and they no longer are on that path.  2 Thessalonians 2 gives us an idea of what some of that deception might be including believing lies instead of the truth. Does that sound familiar?

How do we protect ourselves from deception? The passage in Thessalonians tells us, "love of the truth"! God's Word is truth, Jesus is the truth, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. As we "read our Bibles", spend time in prayer, and learn to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us we will never be deceived. The only way for the world to see the truth is for us to walk in the truth. As we walk and live in this truth, people will be set free!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February 27 Thought for the day...not there yet, but well on your way

Those of you who know me, know I am certainly a type "A" driven personality. I am always looking to be better, to have a more significant impact, to see more lives touched, and to help others fulfill their destiny. I am always looking, forward. For me, that is a blessing, but for others, the idea of not being where we should be, is a life full of regret. If you battle with not being where you should be then Paul has this for you.

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience" Ephesians 2:1,2

I don't know if any of us are where we want to be but that is what God's grace is for, to enable us to be patient with the Lord as He works all things for our good, causing our growth and maturity in His timing. Until then, Paul has written this passage.

Paul is reminding us of where we used to be so we recognize how far we have come. Our "walking" as defined here, we were entrenched in a lifestyle apart from the presence of God, in bondage to a worldly mindset, destined for hell. The implication is we were so enslaved by Satan that we were dominated, forced to serve him and his broken plan.

The word "spirit" is akin to the idea of the spirit of the age...the 1920's were called the "roaring twenties." The 60's were the Aquarian age or age of rebellion and experimentation, the 00's were the age of the bland. People were influenced by these "spirits." The non-Jesus world is being controlled by the spirits of this world.

"Following the course of this world" is about the overwhelming influences of culture, education and entertain. Helping us to understand that these things can control us if we are not Christ-minded in all we do.

Paul simply wants to remind us... at one time you were entrenched in a lifestyle, mindset that kept you in bondage, bound by a spirit that was not God, being overwhelmed by the things of this world, that is who you were!. Today, you are moving in freedom, you are growing and reflecting Jesus, you are learning to walk in and understand His great love for you. You might not be where you want to be but rejoice you are not where you were! Rejoice today God is at work in you!  

Monday, February 26, 2018

February 26 Thought for the day...dying to yourself in a different way

Paul said that he became all things to all people that he might win some. He wasn't being a hypocrite he was being sensitive to his surroundings, understanding the people and the situation and knowing how to best present Jesus in that atmosphere. He challenges us to do this in very practical times as well.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15

Have you ever shared some great news with someone and their response is either cold or stone-faced? Sure you have, all of us have had it happen at one time or another. Paul is saying, put your own emotions, feeling aside, put down your flesh for a moment. When someone is rejoicing, Paul is, by the Holy Spirit, commanding us to rejoice with them. We are one body and when one is celebrating it is cause for all of us to celebrate. We are to pause our own troubles, struggles, thoughts, and difficulties and take time to rejoice with them. This serves two purposes, first we take time to celebrate with our brother or sister in the Lord over their good news valuing what is going on in their lives as something as important. Second, it very well may be the thing that helps to change our mood into remembering to celebrate the goodness of God, always!

Paul then also tells us to weep with those who weep. This is for the same reasons as the rejoicing. This too is a command from God, not simply a suggestion. Our hearts are to be broken with the things that break God's heart. If one of His children has a broken heart, it breaks His heart. They may need a shoulder to cry on, just to know someone cares. The Holy Spirit comes to us in times of heartbreak and stays with us comforting and loving until it is time to get back up. At that time, He encourages and helps us to get up. We need to reflect this in our love for people, weeping with those who weep.

Our flesh demands us to do what it wants, however, if we are a reflection of the Holy Spirit we have to die to our flesh and be Jesus to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is not easy. Don't you enjoy when people rejoice with you and if you have gone through great sorrow it is healing and comforting to have someone who will be with you, feeling your heart in the situation? Just be Jesus

Friday, February 23, 2018

February 23 Thought for the day...stinky fruit

In Malaysia and Zanzibar, there is a fruit called Durian. This fruit smells so bad just growing on the trees, nations have outlawed any part of it coming into their country. I have a friend that loves it, but to me, it smells like a dead rotting animal and tastes like tuna fish that has gone bad. It is called "stinky fruit." Paul talks about something in our walk that can be just as putrid.

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

Paul's use of the word corrupt here means rotting, putrid, spoiled, decayed. It would be the idea of rotting animal flesh. Combined with the word "logos" which is Greek for "word, communication," paints the picture of someone using corrupt communication that is putrid or disgusting to the recipient.

Paul is talking about gossip, racial and off-color jokes, slander, lying, foul and offensive language and other such forms of "communication." He is saying any such language being listened to and especially coming out of your mouth should be absolutely disgusting, rotten, stinky, to you!

Instead, everything that we say should be "edifying." This word means to build up and improve the state of the person involved. Basically rather than leaving a disgusting taste in your mouth, everything you say should leave a sweet taste in your mouth.

In this age of endless lies, slander, and vitriol it is hard to be different, to act Christ-like, but there is so much more at stake. The world is watching us, to see if there is truly any difference in a Christ-follower than a sinner, our hopeful, positive outlook, and language, should bring life to all around us as opposed to the death smell of the stinky fruit. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

February 22 Thought for the day....a two-edged sword life

The writer of Hebrews often saw Roman soldiers with two-edged broadswords. They were powerful offensive weapons that would make quick work of any enemy. God has a "two-edged sword" created for a powerful purpose in our lives, to destroy the thoughts, attitudes, and approach of the enemy.

Hebrews 4:12

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,"

The phrase "two-edged sword" appears in multiple places in the New Testament.  Literally translated, the phrase means two-mouthed. We see that illustrated in Revelation 1:16 "out of His (Jesus') mouth went a sharp two-edged sword," Why would Jesus have a sword coming out of his mouth rather than being in his hand.

Stay with me for a minute. Allow me to explain to you the power of this verse.

In Ephesians 6:17 we are told the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. The "word" is the Greek word "rhema", which describes something that is spoken clearly, vividly, and in unmistakable terms and undeniable language. In the New Testament, it also carries the idea of a quickened word. Has this ever happened to you? You have been in the middle of some difficulty, battle, or need and as you are praying the Lord reminds you of a verse of scripture, that is a rhema word, straight from the mouth of God. It cuts through the question, the concern and cuts right to the heart to lead you to your answer.

As you think about this word, it begins to bring life, hope, and the return of your joy. As you speak that word, it pushes back the thoughts, clouds, and confusion that held you captive. God's word from his mouth brought life which is one side of the blade. As we believe it and apply it by speaking it out ourselves, we prove we believe it, that it the other side of this blade. Together, God speaking His word to us and our standing on His word and speaking it out, we are able to destroy any enemy that may try to overcome us. This is the power of living a double-edged life. James put it this way

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22

The word is a two-edged sword from God's mouth and ours as we learn to trust Him and His word, we change the world

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

February 21 Thought for the day...strategy to win every time

I have written before about the battles we all are in. I have taught on spiritual weapons numerous times, but it takes more than spiritual weapons to win the battles we face. Paul outlines our strategy in 2 Corinthians 10:4

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,"

God's strategy for winning our battles is found in this one verse. We need to look at three words the first being "weapons." God has provided for all of us spiritual weapons that are both defensive and offensive. They are found in Ephesians 6:13-18. Paul takes the time to describe each of them one by one and details their purpose.

The next word is "warfare" which is the Greek word which means, strategy. The meaning behind this suggests that our battles are not accidental but strategic by God and also by the enemy. The enemy has strategic plans to attack us, but our warfare is divinely strategic from God. Think of Joshua and Jericho, (Joshua 6:1-27) or Jehoshaphat battling Ammon and Moab through obedience and praise crushed the enemy without even fighting a battle (2 Chronicles 20: 20-25). These were clear strategies from God that overwhelmed the enemy, ideas that were God-given. He will do the same thing for you, giving you unique strategies to overcome your enemies if you will trust Him.

Can you imagine an army of men and women who understand the weapons God has given and learn and follow God strategy? That army will change the world!

The last word "carnal" refers to anything from or of the flesh, anything that is natural or of an un-supernatural origin. Paul wants to make it clear that we can only win the real battles through spiritual weapons with spiritual strategies. We need to begin looking at some of our battles, addictions, struggles, and fights through a supernatural lens. Then begin to overwhelm the enemy through the weapons we have been given and the wisdom God gives in strategic ways, and we will win every time!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

February 20 Thought for the day...what do we want vs. what do we settle for?

Every TV/radio commercial has but one goal in mind, to get you to want their stuff. They do it in different ways; if you don't buy this, your will be in danger, if you don't buy that you are missing out on the perfect thing, if you don't buy this you are somehow less than all the others who have bought it. The list goes on and on. Jesus said where your treasure is there your heart will be. Paul challenges us this way.

Colossians 3:1,2.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."

Some treasures leave our hearts broken, others scarred, some we can never recover from apart from a miracle. If God is our treasure and His desires for us, then we have found the best, perfect treasure for us. The word "seek" here means to put your whole heart into looking, to earnestly search. Paul is saying give everything to seeking Christ and the higher things.

Paul is alluding to the idea that we should completely refocus by "setting your affections on things above." This should more accurately be translated, set you thought life, your intellect on things above, deliberately choose beyond you emotions to trust in what God has for you!  Our emotions often get in the way. Our dreams and hopes get dashed we feel depressed and broken, but Paul is saying here....choose, make the choice intellectually, to look to God and his plan.

What are the things above? Christ is above, so are the Father, and Holy Spirit. Our rewards are above, so are all of those who have gone before us. Eternal life is above and all the amazing future that is for us. Blessings upon blessings and all of the promises of God our above and they are all ours if we will but choose to take our eyes off of the temporary trial, problems, limitations, temptations, and human plans and look higher.

God has so much more for us, and we settle for so much less. If our affections are set on the stuff of earth, then the stuff of earth will be our reward. If our affections are set on the stuff above and of God then the stuff of God, heaven will be our reward...the blessings, anointing, power, authority, gifts and so much more. The choice is ours!

Monday, February 19, 2018

February 19 Thought for the day....loving with room and board

We have many friends from around the world. Most of them have stayed with us at one time or another. some did not start as friends, but after opening our home to them, they became friends. Some stayed for a night others for weeks. Each one added to our lives, and with each one, we loved as Jesus loved. Paul challenge us to always have this heart

"....always be eager to practice hospitality." Romans 12:13

Paul is continuing to instruct us in what it means to act like a Christian. During the first century, many who came to Christ had to flee persecution, others lost them homes due to persecution. The Lord was using this persecution to spread the Gospel all over the known world. It was not His doing, but He used it for His purposes.

Because of this persecution, the early church had to develop an "open home" policy. They were always open to feed and shelter any at any time. This mindset was so important that Paul said it was a requirement for any who desired to be leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:2)

The word "hospitality." means to love a stranger or foreigner like a brother. Paul is instructing Christians to be willing to love and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, especially the ones who are outside of our circle of friends. We are to always be generous with our time, energy, and finances to be careful to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are genuinely in need. Please don't be deceived, there are "users" in the church, people who seem to always be in need because they have not learned how to handle their finances. They expect everyone else to care for their folly. Paul spoke of them in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 telling us if someone is not willing to contribute to the good of the body, especially their own family, they should not be given help from the church.

However, as Christians, Paul says we need to be "eager" with our hospitality. This means we must be aggressive about and always ready to love and care for our brothers and sisters who are not in our circle of friends and those from totally different cultures but are part of the Body of Christ.

I am so grateful for people like my friend Ed Wethli who made sure many of our brothers and sisters from Syria, who had lost their homes due to war and terrorism in that nation, are now starting a new life in Canada. It was a privilege for Paige and me to take in so many from around the world who were visiting, to encourage, care for a supply for the needs of many. It is a joy to be hospitable. Pray and open your heart to what the Lord might want to do through you.

Friday, February 16, 2018

February 16 Thought for the day...God's got plans

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew the Lord was speaking with you, but for whatever reason, you didn't follow through? Have you ever known God's leading but didn't follow? We all have done it at one point or another. Paul challenges us with this thought

"Do not quench the Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Paul is wrapping up his letter to the Thessalonians with a list of final encouragement, each one as important as the next. This one is a particular challenge. The word "quench" means to extinguish, smother, suppress, douse, put out, snuff out, or to quell. It most often means to extinguish a fire by dousing it with water. If we continue to pour water on a fire, it will eventually die. Paul is warning us not to allow the same thing to happen to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The reason we are challenged to not allow the quenching of the Spirit is, every time the Spirit speaks in our lives it is to impact the world around us and to bless us at the same time. God has a powerful and wonderful plan for each of us, but as we grow in Christ, we must learn to follow His lead. The Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is; our guide into all the things of truth, He is the one who quickly convicts us to not hurt ourselves or others, He releases power and anoints, He gives comfort, health, and strength, and He births fruit in our lives.

These are all part of God's plan to bless us and bless our world through us. If we quench the Holy Spirit over and over again, eventually, we will not be able to hear Him or feel His nudging in our spirits, and we will miss so much God has for us. Job 42:2 tells us God's purposes will not be stopped. This means God will fulfill His plan, but if we refuse, He will work through someone else.

If you are not sure if you are hearing,  your own wants and desires or the Holy Spirit's ask those who are more mature in the things of God, your Pastors, church leadership, and others you can trust. Don't miss the blessings God has for you!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

February 15 Thought for the day...we are at war!

I know with so much war around the world the title for this thought may be obvious. Even if the world were at peace, as people of faith, we would still be at war.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh." 2 Corinthians 10:3

Paul is warning us here to be ever vigilant because we are in a battle. The word "walk" here implies simply something that is part of a daily routine, something comfortable and regular. In other words, our "walk" is our daily living is all about the flesh. Everything we do begins in the flesh. Even our prayers and other spiritual disciplines all must begin in the flesh. We must bring our flesh into the discipline of wanting to do the things of God.

However, we have to recognize in this war, even though we live in the flesh, we can not defeat the enemy in our own flesh. We must do battle with spiritual weapons. Shouting at the devil, physical and or fleshly actions do not affect spiritual forces. In Acts 19:14,15 the sons of a man named Sceva tried to cast out a demon, the demon said, "Jesus we know, Paul we know but who are you?" The demon proceeded to beat them up. Paul was not a big man nor powerful in appearance in any way, but he had a powerful understanding of winning the spiritual war. There is a very real war for the hearts and lives of people. We must recognize the war.

A quick view of some of our spiritual weapons, prayer, spiritual gifts, moving in the fruit of the Spirit, and of course, reading and living a life according to the Word of God. God's Word is true, and the battle we live daily depends upon our warring God's way!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

February 14 Thought for the day...a Valentine thought!

Happy Valentine's Day! It is a day when we are supposed to be celebrating love but in truth, as a person of faith, every day should be a day that we live, love! Some days we have a hard time feeling or knowing that love from the Lord and that is why today's verse is so vital..

"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ." 2 Thessalonians 3:5

Have you ever been driving in an area with which you are unfamiliar? Traveling from one place to another can be confusing and taking the most direct route, even with Google is not always clear. However, in our walk with Christ Paul promises a "direct" route into the love of God. This word is saying that God so wants us to know God's love that He will make a route for us, the shortest, most direct route to grasping the understanding of His love.

Our understanding of this verse needs to go a bit deeper. The word for "heart" here does not mean the blood pumping muscle. The Holy Spirit is leading through the verse to make it clear to us that God will not leave you to try and figure out His will or purpose for you, but He will guide your intellect, personality, will, and whole being into a quick and easy understanding of God's love.

So many have been hurt that the idea of a God who loves them and wants them to understand how much He loves them, is hard to grasp. A quick way to summarize what is being said here is,  the God who loves you so very much longs for you to understand His love, so He will lead, guide, and bring you into His love in a way you can easily understand it.

Now that's a Valentine's day celebratory thought is I have ever heard one! Let Him love you.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February 13 Thought for the day...struggling to do God's will

There are some books I've read and teachings I've heard that make it sound as if doing God's will is easy. Sometimes it actually is easy, but then there are the times that it takes everything in you to follow the path the Lord is leading you down. It happened to Jesus so you can expect it will happen to you.  Matthew 26:37-39

He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

You know the story but allow me to take you a little deeper. The word "anguished" here means physical and emotional suffering, being in deep despair, in painful sorrow. It describes someone who has been deeply wounded by another.

The next word "distressed" means extreme depression, dejection. It means to be overwhelmed by an extremely hellish ordeal. Jesus always knew the cross was in His future but knowing that it still weighed heavily on his heart, mind, and body. Knowing God's will doesn't mean that it will necessarily be easy to accomplish, there are many times where we have to keep our eyes on the goal rather than what we are going through at the moment.

Jesus said his soul was "crushed" the translation meaning he feeling nearly emotionally suffocated. He felt so much in despair, overwhelmed and emotionally suffocated that he "bowed with His face to the ground" the actual translation is, He could go no further under the weight that he fell with force to the ground.

Jesus fully knew what he was about to undergo. He felt the full weight of the torment and anguish yet knowing it was the Father's will, still said "Yes." Sometimes doing God's will is not easy. Obeying Him in the short term is inconvenient, a hardship, or even painful. Jesus knew the freedom of mankind was a stake and the resurrection was coming. He completely trusted in a Father that knew what He was doing and would fulfill the destiny for us all. He kept His eyes on the prize. He went through it all to fulfill God's plan and to win our freedom.

What are you going through that is a struggle. Don't shrug it off as not being God's will because it is tough. If you love Him, trust Him, and are being obedient to Him, hang in there the resurrection of your dream is coming. The struggle is part of a bigger plan and a bigger blessing if you will just be faithful!

Monday, February 12, 2018

February 12 Thought for the day....meeting needs

One of my greatest joys is the privilege we have as a church of investing in the lives of those who are touching the lives of others. We are able to give 10's of thousands of dollars to help our families that are spreading the Gospel around the world. At the same time, on occasion some of our families here at home are overwhelmed by a need, everyone can have financial difficulty sometimes, together as a church are able to bring joy to them as well. Paul talks about this being part of our call as a church family...Romans 12:13

"...distributing to the needs of the saints."

Together we are fulfilling this direction from the Holy Spirit. I know it can get confusing with all of the great humanitarian organizations out there, but the instruction from the Lord through Paul is that our responsibility first is to the needs of the saints.

The word distributing is taken from the Greek to means to share to give some kind of financial contribution. The tense tells us that Paul is calling us to do it with intentionality, continually. It should be a consistent regular habit of ours to do this.

When Paul uses the word "needs," it means the basic, daily supply for the family. Paul is challenging us to make sure that those who are doing the work of ministry or being an example of Christ-likeness to everyone are daily having their basic needs met.

I have worked with many good humanitarian organizations, but as family, it is our job to make sure our family is cared for first. John first epistle, chapter three makes that clear when he writes, "If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions."

I want to thank you if you are a regular tither to your church. Hopefully, your church is doing what we do, and we support fellow believers around the world so they can continue to minister and we help those in our church family who will be accountable with the funds to overcome their financial struggles. If so, then every week, you are following the Holy Spirit's directive from Paul, and you should begin to look for the blessing in your life!

We never give a handout only a hand up!

Friday, February 9, 2018

February 9 Thought for the are chosen and important

I think for most of us rejection has been an influencer in our lives. We have been treated poorly, ignored, made to feel like we have no value or importance. God knows but he sees us and recognizes our value. He chose us!

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Corinthians 1:28

Paul is writing to a church who had been utterly ostracized by their culture because of their choosing to follow Christ. The word in this translation for "foolish" means to be rejected entirely, seen as having no value, considered detestable by others. He is saying this, the people the world mocks ignores makes fun of, the people the world looks down on, are not really seen for their real value.

The "powerless" acknowledged only as something to be used and thrown away, the ones who are considered, second-rate or second class. The world is blinded by the enemy. He does not want those who don't know Jesus to see all of the gifts, talents, strength, power, love, grace and so much more that make up who we are. He confuses them to believe they are powerful and the "it" people.

Paul is saying don't confuse your value by the way the world sees, they are blind, but He sees us. He created us each individually by His amazing love. He sees us and has chosen us above all others because He is truth and He always sees the truth. The truth is you are a gift, you are a blessing, you are extremely valuable, you are the hero the world is waiting for to bring them to freedom. The world doesn't see the truth yet, but we must not allow ourselves to believe the lie!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 8 Thought for the day...victor not victim

Many people would like us to believe we are victims of so much...they act as if God is not God. Yes, things happen that can give us the impression that we are victims but if our point of view is we serve a risen, all powerful, knowing, ever-present God who loves us, that should change our attitude.

"Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it." Colossians 2:15

This is part of what Jesus has done for us on the cross and then coming out of the tomb. We have to understand the enemy seeks to destroy us, make us into victims, to kill our dreams and ambitions. He desires to ruin any part of us that God might use to destroy his kingdom. As men and women of God, we must stop toying with the devil and start living like we believe God at His Word.

The devil and his cohorts have already been defeated, but like thieves and drug dealers, unless the authority is enforced on them, they will continue to harass. Our job is to move in that authority. We are to walk out from under a victim mentality to that of a victor.

The idea behind the phrase "public spectacle" is that Jesus boldly, loudly and with great announcement, proclaimed His ultimate victory of the principalities and powers.

"Triumphing" is a powerful word in Greek. It is the idea of a victorious king marching into his hometown, with all his strength, and glory, proclaiming great victory. While bringing behind and showing off the beaten, defeated foe to his humiliation. The enemy was shown to be nothing, thoroughly subjugated to the victor. This enemy is Satan, the devil, and all of his demonic forces and we are granted this authority, because of our surrender to Christ and what Christ did on the cross.

The next time you feel like a victim, remind the enemy, who is making you feel like a victim, who is the victor and who is the victim, as you remind yourself also! Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 7 Thought for the of the keys to success

We all have to start somewhere! Every day we are given the opportunity to grow, change, and have an impact. How do we fulfill the dreams that are in our hearts? Is there some quick program, or system that will make this happen? Paul gives us some insight in 1 Corinthians 4:2

"Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be found faithful."

Paul is giving a word of wisdom to the Corinthian church. He is saying to be a qualified "manager" the word translated manager here means someone who is in control of the administration and finances of a house, project, or thing. The implication is Paul is saying find people who you have seen that you can trust because of their history. If you are looking for the Lord to promote you, fulfill your dream, or change your world, don't wait for something great to happen, discover what you already have in your hands and the opportunity that is presented to you, begin there.

The beginning of seeing your dream fulfilled is starting with what you have in your hands and the opportunities but Paul challenges us with being "faithful". The word implies that this person is utterly reliable, can be totally trusted without reservation regardless of the difficulty. They are a person who can be counted on.

Add to that the idea of being "found" faithful. This means the person was not just discovered by has been watched for a long time and they have been found consistently to be trustworthy.

How do you change the world? How do you fulfill your dreams? Paul is challenging us here to start with what we have, remain entirely reliable at the task regardless of how small, and be consistently trustworthy.

Start today, God wants you to grow and to be successful for the Kingdom. Take what is in your hands, be faithful and trustworthy and watch what God will do for and through you.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February 6 Thought for the day....knowing God's plan

We hear all of the time, "God has a wonderful plan for your life." While that is true, it is often tough to understand what that plan is, unless you know how to truly listen to God. Paul writes in
1 Corinthians 2:9,10

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

What an encouragement! God does have a plan for us that we can't even grasp! The problem is God has a plan for us that "we can't grasp."  God's plans for us are fantastic, they will blow us away as we begin to understand what they are. God knows the future. He knows how your gifts, talents, and personality will open doors for you, bless others, and change the world. Paul shares with us that His plan is entirely beyond what we can fully understand but God isn't a God who torments His children. He has made a way for us to understand His plan.

Paul goes on to say God has revealed them to us. The word "revealed," means to pull back the curtain. As God is the one doing the revealing "through His Spirit." It is God's desire that we understand God's grand plan. If we are willing to be quiet, to seek Him, He has every desire to pull back the curtain on His plan for us. He wants us to know His will. He wants us to have an incredible, impacting life. He wants to reveal the plan and the purpose that will fulfill our destiny and our dreams if we will sit and wait for the Spirit to reveal to us.

Be encouraged, the plan is amazing...just wait for it, and you will know it.

Monday, February 5, 2018

February 5 Thought for the excellent

When I was young I came across this verse, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might," Ecclesiastes 9:10. I was 11 years old, I had just begun my first job, mowing lawns. This verse challenged me to mow lawns with excellence. It paid off, literally as well as spiritually. God blessed because I always did the best job I could.  Since that day, I consider it a powerful way to honor the Lord to always work with excellence, I am in good company too, Paul said...

"Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit," Romans 12:11

God has given to each of us a measure of faith, many gifts, our personalities, and all kinds of material possessions. What better way to honor Him than to make the most honorable and excellent use of all of this.

Slothful is the same word Jesus used talking about the "wicked" servant who buried his talent in Matthew 25. It means to be apathetic toward life, to have a lackadaisical attitude, to be lazy, idle, to be a do nothing.

The word zeal in the Greek means to do something with diligence, eagerness, be attentive, act responsibly. In other words, you have responsibilities to people, yourself, church, your business, don't be lazy about them. Do them with all of your might, the best you can that will honor God!

"Be fervent in spirit" means the Holy Spirit requires us to constantly, enthusiastically do what God has placed in your hands with honor, integrity, and to the best of your ability, always.

Don't get this confused.  You do not lose your salvation if you aren't diligent with your gifts and call but you do not please God either. God so loves the world that he sent His Son. Jesus did many good works, spoke many things all that honored the Father. People could see His good works and glorify His Father (Matthew 5:16). The Father's heart is that the whole world will have the opportunity to know His Son and this know Him. Our reputation, diligence, faithfulness all show the world whose we are as well as who we are. Be excellent in all you do. Let people see you living the purpose and gifts the Lord has given you to the fullest. In turn, they will glorify the Father because of your excellence. James 2:14

Friday, February 2, 2018

February 2 Thought for the day...remembering your value

Sometimes we need to pause to remember what is important. There are so many things that want to distract us, but Paul reminds us of our value and what Christ has done for us. With everything that is being said and done today, I thought it important to stop, breathe, and remember our value to God!

Who (Jesus) gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:14

You may have heard you were valuable to God, (John 3:16). This scripture confirms that, but Paul is reaffirming the cost Jesus paid for us.

The word "redeem" means to purchase, pay the full price, in fact, this word in this placement suggests that it was not just the price, but that Jesus paid and outrageous price, the absolute highest price to purchase us. Because of Adam and Eve's decision to trust in Satan rather than God, the authority God gave to Adam, Adam in turn, surrendered to Satan. We were slaves to Satan until the purchase price was paid for us.

This is what we need to understand about our value...Christ came into Satan's slave market looking for us. He wanted us and would not be satisfied until he paid the full price for us. He was willing to pay whatever it took to purchase us because of His love for us. He purchased us with His own blood, making us His personal property. Through paying the highest and most costly price to purchase us, He then granted us our freedom, so we are no longer slaves but children of God!

What a price was paid for us! What value Christ placed on us! Please remember how important you are! What was done for you and how much you are loved! Hopefully, this helps with your perspective on who you are and how much you are loved!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

February 1 Thought for the to handle verbal attacks

Bet you didn't think the Bible had anything to say about this topic? It happens to all of us sooner or later. People will misunderstand, have a bad day, or simply not like you sooner or later all of us will be the victim of some kind of verbal attack.

"when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things." 1 Corinthians 4:13

Social media seems to be replete with all sorts of personal assaults. We seem to have given up on civility in our nation, the time where we could disagree but still have respect for another and their opinion. So what do we do if we are the victim of one of these attacks?

Paul was the victim of constant attacks. He was constantly going against the grain of all of the cultures, Roman, Jewish, and Greek. People don't like change, it scares them so often when change, even for the better, is imposed, they attack.

Paul's use of the word "slander" here in the Greek means to slur, to smear, to vilify, to maliciously malign someone's character or name. Have you had that happen? Chances are if you are on social media the answer is, "yes." If you were raised in a non-Christian home, the answer is, "yes." Unfortunately, even if you were raised in a different denomination than you are in now the answer may be, "yes." How do we respond?

Paul challenges us to respond correctly with two words, "we entreat." The interpretation here is that we still need to reflect Jesus. We need to gather with those that have a "Christ-likeness" mindset to be encouraged, that the Lord can handle this, be our defense, and need time for the Lord to show us how to respond. Others will fire us up for vengeance or some kind of evil response.

If you want God to defend, if you want God to have His way in them and us, and if we want to grow in His power and might we must allow our brothers and sisters to encourage us to act like Jesus in all things. It is not easy, but God does such a better job and defending us then we could ever imagine. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt:)

January 31 Thought for the day...going through the test

All of us have been tested at some point in our lives. Whether it is a test of our knowledge, understanding, skill, or character, we have all faced some kind of test. What is the value of a test? It generally is to prove something to ourselves or others. Does God test us?

"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so, we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts." 1 Thessalonians 2:4

God tests our hearts? Paul is writing here and saying, God indeed tests our hearts! The word test here is like that of testing of metal as the Holy Spirit describes through the prophet Malachi 3:2,3. It is going through the process of the refiner's fire burning off all of the impurities in the metal. But there is a much deeper meaning here than even that!

Under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, Paul is saying this "testing" has an even deeper meaning. In pottery, any design placed on a pot is fragile and easily destroyed until it goes through a firing. Once the heat is applied, the design is permanent, and nothing can change it. Also if there are impurities found, the firing process will cure those impurities so they will not be a problem. Often to create the most beautiful designs a piece of pottery will need to be fired many times, the most valuable having been fired 15-20 times. Many of the most beautiful colors contain little bits of metals that can not even be seen until the firing takes place.

What does this mean to us? Like the pottery, God is working a design in us but until they design goes through the fire, the testing it will not be permanent. Our impurities are often cured as we go through the testing. Often, the real "colors" of who we are will not shine until we walk through our testing. As God continues to work on us, we may go through many tests, not because we are a problem but because God's plan is really much more beautiful and valuable than we thought.

The verb tense in which the word "test" is used means a continual action. Our testing is not a problem of our sin, but a moving of God in our lives to make us so much more beautiful and valuable in the Kingdom. Allow the testing to "lock into you," all of God's great plan and purpose for your life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

January 30 Thought for the it ever Ok to hate? Yes

Seems to me that we through that word around way to easily. We hate this celebrity, we hate that team. Hate was never a term that we allowed to be used very often in our household, but according to the Bible, there is a proper use of the term.

Jude 1:23

"but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh."

So when is it OK to hate and what does it mean? The word hate here means a radical, violent aversion; finding something abhorrent, repugnant, or absolutely disgusting. In other words, you have such strong feelings about something that it is nauseating.

Jude is telling us that there are some things that we should hate one of which is a "garment" defiled by the flesh. The word garment here refers to "underwear." It was common practice to change your outer garment for events, and to simply look more presentable but the underwear would be changed less frequently, and while you make look nice on the outside, you and God know the filth that is really under the garments.

The word "defile" has to do with "permeate." Here is what Jude is saying and implying. We may look good on the outside, but if we don't find sin absolutely disgusting and have a violent aversion to it, like stinking underwear it will eventually permeate everything, whether we want it to, or even notice it, everything around us will be impacted.

We are to love God with everything that is within us, but we must also choose to not allow sin to have any place in our lives even coming to the realization that we are to absolutely hate it. We are not to allow it to have any place in our lives or we may not notice it, but others around us will certainly know we stink. So don't stink...hate sin:)

Monday, January 29, 2018

January 29 Thought for the day...a plan to never be alone

Our lives are so very busy. We have all kinds of connections, people we work with, attend church with hundreds of Facebook friends but despite all of this many are very lonely. Many today do not even have any real relationships in their lives. This is precisely opposite God's plan for us.

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another." Romans 12:10

Paul through the Holy Spirit is telling us about the type of relationship we should have with each other. The phrase translated "be kindly affection" means to have the kind of friendship, real friends have a trusting, sincere, deep, loving, tender love that actually is like the kind we were supposed to have between family members. I say supposed to have because my generation has messed up so many of the millennials by not truly loving them. Much of the love given from my generation to the next was selfish meant only to make us look good or not helping the child to deal with tough times because we didn't want to face the pain our children would go through. This is a love that esteems each other as highly as if we are family.

The Holy Spirit adds to this "brotherly love." This phrase further stresses the point. We are to love each other as deeply as if we are true blood brothers and sisters connecting in a deep relationship.

The phrase "in honor" means that we should see each other as highly valuable and extremely precious. We should esteem each other so much as to desire one another's success greater than our own. We should always rejoice at each others success.

"Giving preference" is the Holy Spirit's way of explaining to us that we should value our friendship with each other that we always want the very best for each other. There is no room for jealousy, competition, or envy only rejoicing and promoting each others success.

I know you are saying, I wish I had that kind of friendship in the church. The way to get it is, be that way to others first. What seeds you sow you will gain in return. We don't have to agree with everything, no family does, but we need to love each other always and completely. Your church family should be the most loving, sincere, powerful relationships you have. It starts with you!

Friday, January 26, 2018

January 26 Thought for the day...a battle may be a good thing

Have you ever been in the Word, received an excellent encouragement for you for that day or heard a sermon or prophecy that you knew was just for you? Then almost immediately after, "Wham" you get hit by something unexpected that was meant to steal your joy and hope? It happens to all of us at one time or another. The writer of Hebrews has a word of encouragement for such an occasion.

"But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings" Hebrews 10:32

The most significant fear we create in the enemy is when we begin to move in faith and begin to believe God. Think about it if the Holy Spirit is apparently giving you a "word" that you need to respond to by faith, that means God has just released an order that is going to destroy more of the enemies stronghold.

The word, "great" here simply means significant. When God reveals something to us the enemy doesn't just fool around, he is going to engage you in a significant battle to try to discourage and rob the "word" of God from your heart.

The word "struggle" is the word used to describe a great athlete. In other words, the writer is saying when God gives you a "word" you are going to feel like you are in the battle of your life, competing with everything you have to win!

The word interpreted "suffering" literally means "mental pressure," "a battle for the mind." This is not about mental illness but instead a battle for your thoughts, the way you think about God, yourself, and your circumstances.

The writer is giving us a "heads up." Don't be afraid, frustrated, or upset about attacks that come once you have been given a fresh "word" from the Lord. Know that God has spoken and you are now someone the enemy really fears and will try to play games to stop you, a person God has entrusted with revelation, for destroying any of his territories.