Thursday, January 18, 2018

January 18 Thought for the dead ends in God

Have you ever found yourself to be at a dead end? A time when you felt you had nothing left to offer? A time when you don't know what to say or your don't know where to turn? You are not alone. Most of us have been there at one time or another, the Apostle Paul included.

"In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:9

Paul had found himself in a position where he was so burned out, so without hope that he was expected to not make it. He had gone through so much heartache and struggle that he felt he couldn't take another minute of it. When you fail at the task. When you see your kids get into some terrible trouble. When there is a death or divorce and it just tears you apart inside. There are so many other difficult, heart-wrenching, situations, so much so that it feels like you might just die or might as well die. There is hope!

Paul recognized that at the end of his rope, there was God. When he came to the end of anything he could do, he found God was always there. Too often our heart-wrenching, life tragedy is amplified because we have not invited God into the situation. Paul is saying because God loves so much, he will allow us to go our own way or go down the dark road but at the end of ourselves, he will be there.

The God who has the power to do the impossible is on our side. If we have nowhere to turn, He will show us where to go. If we have hit a dead end, He will make a way of escape. If we feel we have nothing left to offer, He will supply all that we need!

Paul is challenging us to really get to know and understand God's great love for us. We may at times feel abandoned but it is a lie, He is always there, providing what we need to succeed!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17 Thought for the day...things happen sometimes

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you knew you were doing the right thing but everything just fell apart? Perhaps, you felt God was calling you to something but no matter what you did, nothing worked. Paul had a similar problem...

1 Thessalonians 2:18 "Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us."

Paul knew what he had planned to do was right and godly yet for this moment, he was "hindered". The word Paul uses for hindered has two meanings. The first means like a road that his been made impassable, it is potholed and rutted. I've been on roads like that in China your choice is, get stuck or turn around and go back. Paul's first meaning is simply this, sometimes we can get hindered to where we reach an impasse and have to turn around and look for another route.

His second meaning is like that of two racers, each running with all of their might but one wanting to win. Regardless of the ethics, one elbows the other causing him to stumble and lose. I am sure that you have seen this happen, not just in running events but in many sporting events where cheating takes place.

In both of these situations, frustration can arise, anger, fear, and/or hopelessness can take over. Paul shares this with us so that we don't allow those things to overwhelm us. God is in control and while the enemy may seem like he gets a victory, it will never happen. God always makes a way. Job tells us in 42:2 that God's purpose will not be stopped.

Things happen but our hope and trust are not in things, but in God. He always makes the impossible possible.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

January 16 Thought for the day...taking care of yourself

Every person has great strength and with every great strength comes a great weakness. When you have the heart to serve the Lord, often the enemy will not be able to get you to fall into sin, but he can get you to burn out, doing, rather than taking care of yourself.

"Take heed to yourself...." 1 Timothy 4:16

Paul wrote this to young Pastor Timothy, the pastor of the largest church in the world at that time. Timothy was faithful, loving, and caring for all the people and situations that he could at that time, to the exclusion of taking care of himself.

When we are gifted in some area, it is easy to go headlong into that area without looking out for our own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The word that we translate "take heed" actually means to "grab onto with all your might." Paul is saying, it is so easy to get caught up in doing for God, using your gifts and talents, that you forget to rest in God and keep your focus on Him.

When you are gifted by God, use those gifts to their fullest but remember who gave you your gifts and why He gave them to you. Remember God is not a demanding taskmaster but a friend, Father, the one who loves you the most. He blesses, strengthens and encourages. He also gives His beloved rest!

Always hold onto Him. Keep your service to Him, by using your gifts, a joy! Burn out, frustration, and aggravation are not part of the fruit of the Spirit!

Whatever your gift or gifts are, remember when you use them you are serving the Lord and honoring Him. He will not drive you so don't allow the devil or your own needs drive you to burn out either.

(I gave you this picture to help you get over the winter doldrums...summer is coming:)

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 15 Thought for the day...loving eliminates hypocrisy

One of the reasons I often hear for people not wanting to come to church is hypocrisy. This really baffles me because there is more hypocrisy in the world than in the church. Entertainers who decry environmental issues yet drive in limos and fly in personal jets. Politicians who vow they care about the poor yet have made their career by passing legislation that keeps the poor in bondage to government. 

I will give them this, the church should always be as trustworthy, truthful, and lacking hypocrisy as is possible. How do we stay free from hypocrisy? Paul has the answer.

Romans 12:9a "Let love be without hypocrisy."

To understand hypocrisy, we must understand love first. Have you ever had a friend who you loved that has gossiped about you or attacked your character to others behind your back? Anyone can fail in a relationship but if on confrontation they lie to you about their failure their relationship with you is hypocritical. 

The word for the love God has for us and we should have for him and our Christian family is "agape." It is the highest, most noble, and most genuine type of love. Our culture has distorted love to almost make it dirty. This love occurs when an individual sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of a person, causing the viewer to behold this person in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in someone for another that they are compelled to love. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 3:16 and John talked about in 1 John 3:18.

This kind of love; honors, respects, and values a person for who they are and would sooner be wounded themselves than wound another. It is hard in our culture to love and receive love this way, but if we want to live free of hypocrisy, we must learn this kind of love for each other and choose to live real love for each other.

Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12 Thought for the day....a vessel for His power

Today some of us are going through some stuff, tomorrow others will be going through some stuff. There will always be times where we need strength. If today is a day you need some strength then hear what The Holy Spirit has to say through Paul in Ephesians 6:10

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."

Some of you have heard this recently. Here is the breakdown of what Paul is saying with his choice of words. The word Paul uses that we translate "strong" means explosive strength, power, or ability. It goes beyond just explosive power, but it suggested that power is deposited into a vessel or container. The nature of the word Paul uses means there must be some type of receiver for this power.

Paul is saying we are to be that receiver. We are specially designed to be the receptacles of divine power. So when Paul is saying, "be strong in the Lord," he is saying God wants to give you all the power you need, we are designed by Him to be receivers of this power, and He desires to give you this power.

The stuff in this world, the attacks of the enemy, and so many other things that are completely against the cause of Christ will not be able to overcome us. Paul is encouraging us whenever we need it or want it, we can be receptacles of His power to overcome anything that comes our way!

Hopefully, this will turn around your day and any difficulty you may be facing. His power is waiting for you, and you were created to be filled with His power!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January 11 Thought for the day.....He is always there!

When people ask me to pray for them it generally is one of several categories; healing, relationships, finances, the salvation of loved ones, but by far the biggest need is God's will concerning, their life, some situation, future, or something like that. The Lord gives us insight into finding His will in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian church 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.

Paul is quoting Isaiah in verse 9 when Isaiah was frustrated and downhearted about not being able to hear and understand God's will. Before Christ resurrection and ascension, only a very few people, kings and prophets, were granted understanding of the deep things of God through the Holy Spirit. The common man had little hope of hearing and fully understanding God's will for them unless they sought out a prophet. Hearing from God for the average  "Joe" was nearly impossible.

Paul uses this quote to make something very clear for Christ-followers filled with the Spirit. He is saying, "Yes in days gone by it would be nearly impossible to understand the great and awesome plan God has for each individual, but now something is different." The word Paul uses for revealed here means, "to take away or tear down a veil". Paul is saying, now that you have the Holy Spirit living in you, the veil that hid the will of God for your life, for your family, community, nation, can be made clear. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you so it is His pleasure to lead and guide you.

The problem today is most Christians are choosing to live like they are still behind the veil. The Lord is saying, I have given you the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and reveal all the great things I have for you. Choose to begin to believe it, apply it and live it. We have been called from darkness into His marvelous light!

Take time to build a relationship with the Holy Spirit! He is there waiting to spend time with you!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 10 Thought for the day....difficult people

Do you have someone in your life that rubs you the wrong way? Someone with whom you just can't get along? I think we all do, the problem is, that at times, the problem is not really them it is us or our perception of them. God brings people into our lives for so many reasons, and in many cases, they are there for our benefit whether we appreciate it or not. God can work all things for our good. Paul writes this to a church trapped with pagan, anti-Christian forces all around them.

"If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18

We all have people in our lives that are difficult to get along with and if truth be told we all have people in our lives that find us difficult to get along with. God does not give us a pass to simply ignore those people. Paul is writing here that "if possible" means "while potentially difficult it is still doable."

Our peace is not generated by us but instead by God. His challenge is live peaceably because He has given you peace, part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Paul's challenge is, therefore, being that you possess God's peace in your life do your best to maintain that peace in all your relationships.

Paul's phrase "all men" is literally everyone regardless of economics, politics, race, heritage, religion, background, or culture, be at peace with everyone, no-one is excluded. Jesus expects us to give our best effort to be at peace with everyone.

What does that look like? If someone absolutely drives you crazy and the relationship can not be reconciled, stay away from the person to keep the peace. Sometimes the best things we can do is get out of God's way and allow Him to work. If we keep fighting, then neither of us are at peace. If it doesn't seem that you can be reconciled, don't give up so easily, especially if they are a brother or sister in the Lord. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in them and in us to come to a place of peace. If we have to continue to be around someone that we can not be at peace with, then limit your time with them, keep your peace when you are with them, always praying for God's peace to come for both of you.

You are the one who is required by the Lord, as a Christian to be at peace as much as it applies to you. Don't give up on people easily, keep loving and do your best to keep your eyes on Jesus not them and at best you may win a friend at worse you may come to a healthy detente with someone who is completely different than you. He is your peace. Don't allow it to get stolen from you. You have the power regardless of the situation to be at peace.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

January 9 Thought for the day....power of God

I love to read especially apologetics, science, and the exegesis of the Bible. I love gaining and growing in knowledge, I always have. However, my knowledge is not limited to that which I can feel, see, or touch, but I desire daily to grow in the knowledge of the power of God. I was raised in a denomination which did not believe in the miraculous, they were very clear that the miraculous power stopped with the age of the apostles. What was frustrating for me, they continued to ask for prayer for the sick and disabled but did not believe in the power of God to do something.  Since that time, I have seen with my own eyes, and at my own hands, God perform nearly every kind of miracle; blind eyes, deaf ears open, lame walk, dead come to life, demons cast out, the seeing made blind, and the enemy forced to see angelic forces protecting me, to name a few. Still, some believe none of this is possible nor necessary. I believe Paul puts that to rest in

1 Corinthians 2:4,5

"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."

Paul spent time preparing teachings and sermons, but he wasn't content to rely on persuasive words. Through the Holy Spirit's demonstration of power, lives were impacted in even more significant ways. The translation here is actually very accurate. There are many who have great knowledge and understanding of God's word, but if we are not open and ready to believe in the power of God to perform the miraculous then we are just like any other religion in the world, we have a great philosophy but no power.

Paul is saying our wisdom should not be resting only in the wisdom of men. Men are limited in both understanding and power, but in God, there are no limitations. What our world needs to see now is a regular demonstration of the power of God, and that power needs to be shown in a miraculous love and demonstration that God can still do the miraculous.

You may be saying, "that's impossible!" But the Bible says nothing is impossible. Let's trust God's word over our words and beliefs from now on! However, this should go without saying without the incredible power of love even the miraculous is limited in actual power and impact. I believe part of the true demonstration of the Spirit and power is love (1 Corinthians 13).

Monday, January 8, 2018

January 8 Thought for the day...putting the devil in his place

If you have read my posts for any length of time you know, I grow weary of people honoring and giving into the devil. I hope today through this word, to strengthen your resolve in dealing with him.

"....Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7

James as a pastor has seen many lives end in mental and emotional shipwreck because of believing the lies of the evil one and giving in to his every word. He is giving clear direction, that I hope you will understand today as well.

The word translated resist means to fiercely oppose, to do everything you can to stand against something, to defy it in every way! Too often the enemy is able to sneak in and keep picking at us because we don't know and stand on God's Word. We entertain bad attitudes and thoughts that are lies from the enemy. We gladly welcome a lesser version of God's plan for our lives, short-changing His purpose to except some lie of the enemy but as we stand on God's word for our future, finances, health and so much more the enemy is defeated.

The word translated devil is more of an occupation than a person. It means to repetitively strike something until it finally pierces an object or in this case a person's mind. Doesn't that sound like an apt description of the way the enemy works? He keeps striking at our minds again and again until he breaks us down and gains access to our thoughts and minds. Once he pierces our minds with lies, he establishes as stronghold there that can destroy our relationship with the Lord and others.

However, despite all of this Satan is worried! You see he worries that we will take God and His Word seriously. The word used for flee means to run away in terror. If we stand on God's word when the enemy lies and attempts to influence us, we begin to move in our God-given authority, if the enemy hangs around he will be dominated and ruled over because of the power of God's word. The devil fears that people will begin to believe God at His word and every power and principality will come down and be overrun by the power of God.

Determine today to stop allowing him to win in his barrage of your mind with his lies. Stand against him, put him in his place and watch him run! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

January 5 Thought for the day...starting fresh financially

Many of us will make a plan to do better with our money this year. Maybe it is getting out of debt. Perhaps saving for retirement or our children's future. The problem is that most of us are battling debt or "got to have it now" syndrome.  God's plan is for each of us to be debt free and financial blessing in our lives. The amount of blessing is directly related to our faithfulness and trust in Him. Here are Jesus' words in Luke 16:11.

"Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" 

The Greek word used for "unrighteous" means, "common or of this world." "Mammon" is translated as our wealth, work, investments, money, land, the things of this world.  

Jesus is saying here that faithful (trustworthy, conscientious, and responsible), handling of the stuff of this world is a prerequisite to being entrusted with the critical stuff of God! God is a loving, caring Father, and He will supply what you need, but he has such a greater plan for our lives than just meeting our needs.

Our heavenly Father wants to entrust us with the things to change the world. He intends to open the doors for all of the greatness He has planned for us to occur. His plans for us, are for a great future however so many live below their potential and future because there is a determined lack of trust in the Lord. 

Don't allow money and stuff to be your God, choose God to be your God. Bring your spending under control, show your trust in God to bless your finances by tithing (giving 10 percent) first, and stop working for debt. Start making a life, not just a living. Choose this year to bring your financial health under His control and watch how your life improves, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. 

Financial health impacts every aspect of your life. God will show you how if you will trust Him so you can walk in health and freedom!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 4 Thought for the day...discipline is not easy but necessary

It takes time to develop new habits and eliminate old ones. You may have committed to working out, eating right, reading your Bible every day, spending more time in prayer, whatever the changes you want to make are, they will not be easy. The writer of Hebrews told us so Chapter 12 verse 11 says...

"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."

The Greek word the writer uses for discipline is the idea of transforming an undisciplined child into one that is disciplined in all areas. The word used for discipline while certainly has to do with spiritual discipline is not limited to just spiritual it can refer to financial, physical, mental and all forms of discipline. The writer is saying "at this moment in time" it is not enjoyable to be transformed from where I am to where I need to be, in fact, it is a tough task, it causes me agony (painful in the Greek).

The writer is saying, "anytime I need to begin to change to become more of who God wants me to be and bring my flesh under subjection to Christ, it will cause me agony". It is not easy to change, but if you are willing, the promise is, you become more Christ-like, more the destiny that has been planned for you, and you feel more like who you were meant to be. This will bring you into a real place of peace and contentment in all things.

Sometimes when God is calling us to change, it might not seem very spiritual but is necessary to our becoming all the Lord has ordained for us to be. Perhaps the resolution or revolution you have underway in your life is bigger than losing weight, learning something new, eating right, getting into the Word and prayer. It has a broader role to play in God's big picture for you. Deal with the pain of change, knowing your destiny is coming! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

January 3 Thought for the day...make the freedom choice

As the New Year begins many of us take it as a time to make the change we have long been thinking about. Some have been struggling with weight issues, others bad habits, some struggle with life simply being out of control but if we are honest for most of us it is a sin issue that we feel powerless overcome.

Sin can feel that way. It becomes a friend at times that we somehow feel comfortable around. Trying to overcome it has been impossible so we simply acquiesce. Paul had something to say about that in Romans 6:12

"Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires."

The phrase Paul uses in the Greek for "do not let sin control" is a hopeful and challenging phrase the idea here is that we are commanded to make the choice to not allow this control in our lives. 

Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit would not make such a statement if we did not have the ability to overcome. If we recognize that these areas in our lives are sin areas and not simply bad habits, bad thoughts, or family carry-overs then we know that through Christ we are no longer slaves to sin. God would not tell us to stop something if He were not willing to give us the power to do so.

Take Paul's challenge this year. Accept that these things you want to change are sin areas and welcome the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to overcome. Guess what will happen, you will overcome but His power and strength.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2 Thought for the day....pushing forward

Yesterday we started out the New Year with talking about letting go but there is a bit more to this verse that we need to grab onto, to understand what Paul means here...

Philippians 3:13

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead"

When Paul is talking about "reaching forward" it is not just a gentle stretch. The emphasis is like an Olympic runner straining with every bit of strength to cross the finish line with victory. It is the idea of 100% commitment to winning the prize. Paul's sense is that the determination is greater than anyone else, others may be in the same race but we are to push past, run harder, and stronger because we have such a determined desire for the goal.

The prize only goes to those who are most determined and have pushed the hardest. When you look at the resolutions you are making or the revolution you want to begin in your life, forgetting the past is key to not allowing it to control you but more importantly you have to want to fulfill the destiny, the dreams, and goals you and God have set for you.

The world system wants to place every kind of negative thought, every kind of limitation. The world wants to bring the "Eeyores" into you life to always focus on the trouble and impossibilities. God challenges us, through Paul, that we need to be more determined than the world. We have to want to accomplish our destiny, dreams, goals more than we are willing to listen to the nay-sayers.

Push forward this year! Win the race!

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 1 Thought for the day...let go, move forward

Happy New Year!

This is a new day and a new year. Don't you dare waste another moment of what the Lord has given you in regret! Paul tells us to not go there at all!  Philippians 3:13

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead."

This is a great verse to meditate on as we start the new year. What are you carrying in the form of regrets, sorrow, failure, or other such things into this new year?

The word Paul uses for "forgetting" means to turn completely away, to put something aside, to totally and completely disregard. His word for "behind" means things that are completely obsolete that they have no possible usefulness. It is the same word that Jesus used when rebuking the devil, "get behind me Satan" Matthew 16:23.

Some of the regrets you face may not be just mere memories but could be the enemy trying to hassle, harass, and torment you over past failures. When you have reconciled to God, asked for forgiveness, and/or have been fighting temptation, the enemy has no right to harass you. You need to make the decision to force the "forgetting" by standing on God's Word. It is time to remind the enemy that those things are in the past and you have been forgiven. They are under the blood of Christ and are no longer applicable to any area of your life.

The enemy wants to hold you to your past, but God wants you reaching forward. Choose to believe that His blood and power are more than enough for you. Those sins, regrets, sorrows have no place in your life. God has so much more ahead of you, you can't fully comprehend the greatness of His plan, but that is what you stifle when you choose to live with regrets, sins, and sorrow. So don't do it! Keep moving forward!