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 throw 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 hectic. We have all kinds of connections, people we work with, attend church with, hundreds of Facebook friends but despite all of these 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.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

January 25 Thought for the day...being free

There are so many things that want to control us, from marketing companies demanding we purchase their stuff, to media that wants to control the way we think. It is easy to find ourselves being controlled by so many things. God has called us to freedom. How do we know the things of life are limiting our freedom?

"No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4

The word "entangles" is the picture of things woven that can't be easily separated,  the idea of a runner whose legs get caught in their clothing, or someone who is so entangled in something they can't get loose. Paul is saying as warriors in this world system, we need to make sure we are not trapped by anything that is going to hold us back, from fulfilling God's destiny for us.

There is nothing wrong with owning nice things. There is nothing wrong with being part of social media or enjoying media in general, but as a soldier in the Kingdom, we have to be aware whether any of these things are controlling us or we are controlling them.

How do we know if we are entangled or not? If God asked you to give them away or give them up, would you? If God asked you to walk away from social media or if you find media in general, affecting your mood and robbing your joy and quality of life then you are entangled. If God asks you to give away anything that you own and you are not willing, then you are entangled. It doesn't end there, but we need to be aware of anything that is controlling us that is not the Holy Spirit.

If you stay free from entanglement, then you are free to allow the Lord to entrust you with more than you could imagine in time, talent, and treasure! In other words, living in freedom!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

January 24 Thought for the day...bringing hope

So many questions today, so much anger in the world so many hurting and without hope. What is a Christ-follower supposed to do to change their world?  Peter gives us a bit of wisdom about this subject.

"Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it." 1 Peter 3:15

We are the true deliverers of hope to a hopeless world. The phrase translated here "always be ready" really means -  be prepared, be eager, anticipate people wanting to ask. In our world, it generally is not until a person is in enough pain that they change. It is not until they are fed up with life as they know it, that they are willing to seek a different way of living and looking at life. Apart from Christ, most people will come to a very broken, wounded, hopeless place. Peter by using the word "asks" really means "craving," for what you have in you. When we live a life full of the Holy Spirit people will crave what we have.

Peter's challenge to us is that we would understand our hope, our joy, our relationship with the Lord so well, that at any moment, we could explain it. The word used here as "explain" means to have a ready defense prepared, always to know what to say, to have prepared statements about why and what you believe. If your life is full of the life Jesus promised, it should be an easy task.

Peter is preparing us so that as the Lord is always working in the hearts of people, they should see by your life, a difference that they crave. As they see this difference, they will be drawn to ask you about it. As Christ-followers we should always be ready, prepared, schooled, in an understanding of how to share about our faith, to bring hope to others.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January 23 Thought for the day...becoming wealthy

Stop at any gas station or convenience store, there is always someone purchasing lottery tickets for that chance to become rich. Numerous friends have bought homes to "flip" them to make a quick buck. More of us work hard and try to invest wisely so that we can at least not have financial worries. Many have a dream of becoming wealthy, but if you are a follower of Christ, you are already rich.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."  Colossians 3:16

The word Paul uses for "richly" means incredible abundance, extreme wealth, enormous affluence, great prosperity, and immense riches. Paul is saying as a Christ follower, surrendering to Him on a daily basis will not only give you what you need but also bless you in the most immense, extreme, incredible, ways.

You will not walk foolishly, but instead with wisdom, understanding the times and seasons, walking in joy, grace, freedom and always looking forward to what God is going to do next.

You see, selling out to Christ can bless us financially. The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom and creativity that can help create real wealth. The fantastic wealth that we can have as Christ followers is an abundance of peace, joy, health, strength, freedom from guilt and shame, wisdom, grace, and an overwhelming sense of love.

We are called to freedom. Rather than choosing wealth, choose Christ and allow Him to bring you all kinds of wealth beyond measure. Stop living below Christ's call on your life. Choose Him, and you will be choosing freedom, wealth and success.

Monday, January 22, 2018

January 22 Thought for the day.....making the right choice

As I counsel people, I am surprised by what they are willing to tolerate. The choices we make create a life of joy or misery. John Maxwell, Christian author, and life coach puts it this way, "Whether you are a success or a failure in life has little to do with your circumstances and a lot to do with your choices." Most of the time, these choices are in our hands. Paul talks about that in

Romans 12:9

"Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."

We have to be careful what we allow into our hearts, minds, and ears. Images are formed very quickly. An opinion of a person can be changed overnight by listening to gossip. Our hearts can be damaged by allowing something false to be believed, but stay alive in our hearts. Listening or watching something on TV, radio, or in person that is not uplifting can damage our point of view, a person's reputation in our minds. It is human nature to be drawn to the tragic, the negative, and that juicy morsel of gossip. The Holy Spirit through Paul is telling us don't go there!

The word translated "abhor" means to have an intense dislike for something, so much so that you can't stand to be around it and you totally back away. What is it that we should have this intense dislike for? Evil! The word means anything that is full of destruction, harm, or disaster for our physical bodies, spirit, our minds.

Often we recognize when there is an issue with our bodies that require our attention, and we immediately attend to it. But when gossip, greed, fear, anger, prejudice, or lust creep in we tolerate it more freely than something that attacks the body. We feel free to enjoy the gossip, watch and listen to things that are not noble, good, or lovely and it sinks into our spirits, and we can't get it out of our minds. Physical sickness is normally easily handled, but the sickness of the soul and spirit does more damage for a longer period of time. What is the answer?

"Cling to what is good!" The word translated cling means to so strongly be connected that nothing can separate you, to be glued or cemented together in such a way that it is impossible to separate. So what is good? It is anything that is good, beneficial, and a blessing to you, something that builds you up and makes you more like your heavenly Father.

These are our choices! Think as you listen to someone, watch something on TV or your computer, or listen to something is it good or evil? Do I really want this affecting my body, soul, and spirit? Your choice! Whatever you choose it will affect you for a long time. Learn to make the right choice!

Friday, January 19, 2018

January 19 Thought for the day...what has value

Have you ever wondered, "am I doing anything of any value?" If you want to know let God test it! Paul said that God will do just that.

"Each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done."  1 Corinthians 3:13

We talked about how sometimes things just go wrong. We work and work, and "wham" something hits the fan, and everything is all out there. Paul is saying that is not always a bad thing. I tend to do some of my best work in crisis mode, and as Pastor Mike, Beth, or Lisa will tell you sometimes just to shake things up, I may help to create one just for the excitement of shaking off the dust and getting things fresh.

Paul is saying God does that in our lives sometimes. The word "manifest" means that God will reveal the quality and the importance of someone's work. God will do it at times by fire. The idea of this phrase is that God will walk us through some trial, some awkward situation just to prove to us and everyone around us the value of what we are doing.

So the next time everything is hitting the fan, don't panic, allow God to show you that what you are doing will stand test and trial. Let God show you that what you are doing has real value and you are doing it for the right reasons.

Don't curse the trial or feel you have failed because it happened. Your life belongs to God, let him shake off the stuff that doesn't belong and show you the stuff He has called you to that leads to touching more lives, more significance, and your blessing! You may find hidden gems like love, joy, loyalty, friendship, encouragement and so much more, as a result of the work when you thought the work itself was the thing of value.

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 you 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 complicated, 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 wants 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 your 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!