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!