Friday, March 30, 2018

March 30 Thought for the day...wait for it, wait for it

Chess, backgammon, and Tetris to name a few, are games about waiting. If you are in too much of a hurry you are guaranteed to lose every time. As Americans, raised with a fast food mentality, we do not like to wait. God is not of our culture or of our day and age. He is timeless and uses tried and true methods to guarantee our blessing and success. It certainly is not comfortable and does not always seem fair, but it is the way God works best for our good. Paul stresses that in 1Thessalonians 2:4

"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."

We like everything done right now, however, we can only see what we can see, and God can see the heart and the future. The word translated "approved" by God is a rather intense word. It doesn't mean someone is simply given a stamp of approval but instead it means that the person is tested and tried, they are put through the fire, and all of the impurities are burned out. It means someone has been examined, inspected, and scrutinized to determine the quality and sincerity.

To the amateur or the naked eye, a piece of metal may seem strong and without flaws but once it is super-heated to glowing, then a blacksmith can see all of the impurities burning off. It is then and only then that the metal is truly useful for its intended purpose. The more the blacksmith has to fire the metal the greater its purpose will be.

Some of you have been in the "heat" for a long time. Paul spent three years in the desert burning off his impurities being made into the "metal" God needed him to be (that is his reference here). He was one of the most knowledgable theologians of his day but for him to be used of God and to stand the pressure, trials, temptations, and struggles he would face and to be able to handle the blessings and power he would be given, he had to know more than theology. Paul had to fully understand; God is good, circumstances don't matter, and God is faithful. He had to also understand what happens does not determine God's will, and that God will fulfill Paul's destiny and purpose and that not even death could stop that (Paul was stoned to death once and beaten nearly to death several times). Pretty intense stuff...ready to be used like Paul? All you have to do is wait for it...just wait for it! God needs men and women that are willing to be "approved" and not be afraid or give up. Instead, to remain focused on the call and the destiny God has planned!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

March 29 Thought for the day...the rescuer with you

How many times have you found yourself trapped? How many times has your back been up against the wall? How many times have you felt abandoned, alone, like you were the only one facing your trial? Paul gave us this hope to remind us that we are never alone.

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26

I have read this scripture many times. It wasn't until I began to break it down that I grasped the full and very powerful meaning behind Paul's words.

The Greek word used here for "intercession" was not used in the common language of the day, it was very specific to the Christian culture. It does not mean intercession as in the definition used as simply prayer, but it is more of an active word. It is the picture of seeing someone trapped, hopeless, overwhelmed and the Holy Spirit comes in as a rescuer. He comes to you, He empathizes with your condition. He grasps the full reality of what is going on. He feels your full emotion. He completely understands the frustration and the battle you are facing. Having understood, He knows exactly what to do to break you free from the quandary and bring total freedom and release. He has a supernatural plan to deliver you and will execute that plan in the best way to bless you if you allow Him!

Don't ever hesitate to ask the Lord for help. He will immediately come to your rescue. He will understand exactly what you are walking through, encourage you in it, and at the right time deliver you out of it. You are never alone, never abandoned. This is the Holy Spirit's intercession for each of us every day.

I know some reading this are really going through it. If you aren't in a difficult situation if you are pursuing God, walking by faith it won't be long until you face your own situation. Choose every moment to trust the Holy Spirit's power of intercession to set you free and He will!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

March 28 Thought for the day...amateur or pro

Those of you that know me know I am not into professional sports with perhaps one exception, the Olympics. Olympic athletes practice for years, for hours, daily to make their bodies do the impossible, and both men and women, large and small are able to do the impossible with enough focus and training. Paul gives young Timothy the same challenge

"And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." 2 Timothy 2:5

I know many of you are thinking Tim doesn't even like sports yet here we go with another sports idea from scripture. All I can say is if the scripture goes there I must go there too!

The word Paul uses for "competes" doesn't mean simple amateur competition but like the
Olympics he is referring to someone who has given their lives to training, to be disciplined mentally, to emotionally be prepared, to take on any challenge at any time. Paul is saying that as Christians we must be disciplined in our study of the word, prayer, growing in the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Think about it. How many battles mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually do you face every day? How many attacks do you have to ward off? How many comments and thoughts do you have to overcome? Without real training and discipline, it would be easy to be worn down and out and rather than being an overcomer, to become overcome. It is sad to say, but I see it all the time. It starts innocent enough, I'm too tired to read, pray, get to church or the kids have to do this or be here, or go there I just don't have time. Then marriage fall apart, kids run away from God, they have sports, dance, cheerleading or whatever but are not prepared to be a success in life. Adults give their lives to the job, their club, or their kids and then have nothing because God has had no place in their life. They have lived, and amateur walk with God and are easily and quickly defeated.

Life can be tough, but the people we celebrate are the ones who make it through the bad places, the tough times, the challenges to their integrity. We celebrate the ones whose kids are walking with God as they grow older. The word "competes" that Paul uses is suggestive of living life always being prepared for the battle, always either training to win or winning the crown. The crown is the presence of God, the successful life, the faithful family. Our walk with Christ is not for the weak because, in our weakness, He gives strength, if we are willing! Move from the amateur to the professional ranks begin to compete with the drive to win.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

March 27 Thought for the day...winning is the only option

We get very excited when our team begins to win. When they win, even when we aren't playing, there is a feeling of elation because it is our team and it was hard fought. Paul challenges us in much the same way.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul writing to the Corinthians church, a people who understood competition very well because of their familiarity with Isthmian games, a type of Olympics. When Paul wrote the word "race" the meaning behind it was pretty intricate. The athletes at these games were not competing only for riches, but they competed mainly for honor. Winners at these games had dedicated themselves to the discipline, training, excellence, and mindset to win. They were considered heroes and icons in their culture. They were given respect, notoriety, and fame for a lifetime. Paul's emphasis was partially this that we should compete, run our race, that we too would commit the excellence, discipline, and training to win our race and we would be given, by God, the honor, respect and notoriety of a winner for heaven.

The other part of this idea is that our excellence and training would cause us not only to win but to challenge others, by our victories, to want to do the same thing to win. Both the honoring by God and the challenge to others with them beginning to compete are both our prizes. Paul repeats this thought in Romans in 2:10. Paul expects every Christian to run this race, as he says, "all run," and every Christian should then expect to impact everyone around them so they too might run.

Paul's other challenge to "obtain" the prize, means to give everything you have to win the race. The expectation from Paul is that you will strain, do battle with your own heart and mind, to overcome every obstacle with the expectation of not just placing, but winning. This is not just "jogging for Jesus" but an expectation of giving all that you have to win the prize. It is expected for you to impact everyone you know to strive to win as well.

The cost if we don't run this way is; families falling apart, children walking away from Jesus, people by the thousands going to hell every hour. The blessing if we win is; thousands more in heaven, God blessing us more than we could ever imagine, our families strengthened and blessed. Let's choose today to run to win! When these are the stakes, winning is the only option!

Monday, March 26, 2018

March 26 Thought for the day....who is Jesus part 1

Jesus coming to earth to be one like us is a story that always astounds me. Paul, in just a few verses, lays out the power of this story. I will need to take two days to break it down so watch for the rest of the story next week.

"being in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:6,7

There are many ways people describe Jesus. Some call him a good teacher, a moralist, a prophet but Paul, in this verse, makes it clear who He is! When Paul uses the word "being" the Greek meaning of our translation is eternal existence, the first, the original. Paul is making it very plain that Jesus has always existed. Jesus birth in Bethlehem was not His beginning, He has and always will, exist.

Paul goes on to describe Jesus pre-birth existence. Jesus was in the "form" of God. This means He looked just like God, in fact, the Greek understanding isn't that He just looked like God but that He was God in every way, all His glory, splendor, and power, so much so that no flesh would be able to stand it. He was in such glory that no human mind would ever be able to comprehend it. Yet, He desired to pay the price to get us back from the devil's grasp so He had to step out of that glory and clothe himself in human flesh so that we could grasp who He is!

What Paul is describing to us is someone who had everything, who is everything, and willingly let it all go so He could meet with us face to face. He laid everything down to take on your sin and my sin. He always was and is God but for a brief moment in time laid it all down so we could understand His love, grace, and mercy from our limited perspective.

This just starts the story. Think about it for a week then we will finish the story next week. Please remember God always wants to make a connection with us because of His great love for us. He comes to us in a way we can understand because He first loved us!

Friday, March 23, 2018

March 23 Thought for the day...insisting in prayer

If you have ever had your back up against the wall. If you have ever been in extreme danger or in need, you know what it is like to either feel helpless, get desperate, or even becoming demanding of God. How far can we go in prayer? What does God expect and tolerate from His people?

John 15:7 "But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!"

This verse eliminates the idea that we are worthless and need to beg God for answers. The word John uses for "ask" means to demand or insist strongly. It does not imply arrogance but the idea of a person coming to their boss and asking what has already been promised or released through previous authority. It is a word full of expectation and anticipation that the request is going to be fulfilled because of relationship.

Remember the context of this verse is that you are abiding in Christ. The expectation is that your heart is aligned with His heart so to be able to demand something of God is not arrogance but a demonstration of faith in your relationship with Him. You can courageously come before him with the expectation of His heartbeat being fulfilled because your heart is aligned with His! He wants you to seize His will for your life to demand the fulfillment of His plan and your destiny.

The word used here for "ask" is also the word meant to insist upon receiving; food, clothing, shelter, protection, guidance, finances, and all the very tangible needs. Jesus is telling us it is OK to come to the Lord with the expectation of His supply. The expectation from God is, we are keeping His word, living a Christ-follower type of life, that people can see Jesus in our actions and hear Him in our words, then we can expect God to move on our requests!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

March 22 Thought for the day...remember

It is nice to remember to pray for someone. We all need it, but do you know that is a way to pray that enables heaven to remember you?

"I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day" 2 Timothy 1:3

Paul was waiting to be executed, he had been imprisoned for quite some time. He knew at any moment the soldiers could come and take him to his beheading. However, young Timothy was hurting as I had mentioned in previous thoughts for the day, he had been abandoned and was concerned about being left without any help. Paul set his focus not on his execution but instead on bringing young Timothy to God's attention.

Most people reading this "thought" know that I am praying for them. If I know you, I am praying for you, and even if I don't know you, I am always praying that this "thought" will have an impact to make you more like Jesus and cause you to fulfill your destiny. For those I know, I have taken Paul example here for my prayers.

Paul says he "remembers without ceasing" his words mean he is bringing Timothy before the Lord always. Before Paul would ask for the Lord's guidance, protection, or supplying Timothy's need he would remind heaven of all that Timothy had done. Paul would paint a picture before heaven of all the things Timothy had accomplished. He reminded the Lord of who Timothy was and the faithfulness with which he served heaven. The word used for this phrase means that Paul memorialized Timothy in heaven (like the Centurion in Acts 10:4). Before he asked for a need for Timothy, he reminded heaven of the man of God that he is. God forgets nothing, He remembers everything so even though Paul was going to his death he laid out a memorial before the Lord of who Timothy was that God would see forever.

Paul was saying even though my time on earth may be short, I want heaven to always know and remember who you are Timothy so when you pray the Father will have a memorial that I have built to remind Him just who you are. Don't you wish you had someone who prayed like that for you? If I know you, then you do! God will remember you!

I would encourage you to love the people you know enough to remind the Lord of what they have done. Build a memorial before God, for the people in your life. Watch what happens as God remembers your prayers

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

March 21 Thought for the day...everything decently and in order

I have been in every kind of church you can imagine from the very conservative to the very wild. I have been part of things that are so profound and holy that I literally could not stand in the presence of God to things so profane I wanted to take the microphone and ask people if any of them had a relationship with Jesus. What is the best way to do church? Paul gives us clear direction.

"Let all things be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:40

That statement means different things to different people. It could mean the dancing, swaying and shouting of a Gospel choir and it could also mean the quiet stillness of an Orthodox service or the wildness of Pentecostals in South America. Each one of these services and more could be either decent and in order or totally out of order. This could also be a reflection of your life.

When Paul talks about "decently" there are only two other places in scripture where this same word is used. In all three cases, the inference is doing something with honest heart and intent, to do something properly. The emphasis is not so much on what is done but on the motivation behind it. When Paul is talking about doing something decently, his challenge is that it be done with honesty, sincerity, and the right motivation. We must judge the heart of why we are doing something, and as a Pastor, the challenge for me is to judge the motivation of the heart of someone doing something in ministry that they are claiming is God-driven. This is also the way we should be responding in our daily lives. Everything should be done with honest, sincere, motivation or attitudes should always be governed by honesty.

When Paul mentions "in order" the word translated this way means that something is done in a fitting way, it fits with the service, does not disrupt or distract but adds to in a respectful, courteous, differential, well-mannered way. This is the definition of in order. This is also the way we should treat one another.

Think of all of the ways you communicated or were communicated to in the last week. Has it been decently and in order? As far as a church service goes, this is not limiting if everyone is truly moving by the Spirit of God. Yes, there will be times when someone will get offended because to them it is a disruption, but if done honestly and respectfully it is not really a disruption but God!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 20 Thought for the day...hold onto your dream

When we are young, we have plenty of dreams. It would seem that dreaming is a thing for the young, but if we are willing, God will always give us fresh dreams. We are encouraged to hold onto them and not let go until we see them fulfilled.

Hebrews 10:23  "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

It is easy to give up on dreams, jobs end or change, life situations change, financial situations change, but despite all of this, God does not change. If God has given you dream, if we trust Him, He will fulfill that dream. Think about Abraham for a moment. He and Sara leave Iraq following a dream. Along the way, his Father dies, his nephew deserts him, he is plagued by trials by men, by weather, and by nature. All along the way having every reason to quit, to give up on the dream, but they did not, and we know the history, our lives have been changed!

The writer of Hebrews is saying to us "hold fast" to the confession of hope (the dream). The word translated, hold fast means; to hold on tightly, to embrace and not let go, to wrap your arms around something tightly. He is saying here when God gives you a dream expect it to be attacked, trials to arise but choose to hold on tightly, do not let go, make sure that no one can steal it from you.

When God gives you a dream, He has already equipped you with the abilities, personality, gifts, and skills to begin to fulfill it. He then expects us to add to that, faith and trust in the Lord, as well as a tenacity to hold on tightly to the dream and the Lord. The result will be amazing blessings for others and for us and an impact that will change our world.

Take the risk! Don't allow your dream to be stolen or crushed! Trust the Lord and change your world!

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19 Thought for the always have someone on your side

There are times in all of our lives where we can feel alone like we don't have a friend in the world. There can be times when can feel like no one understands. I want you to know today, that is not true. You always have someone on your side. The writer of Hebrews makes that clear. Hebrews 4:14-16

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest, who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The writer is telling us we have someone who knows all we are going through, all of the time. He is always standing in the gap for us. He is our High Priest, Jesus. He was tempted in every way that we have been tempted, so he understands, empathizes and gets us through everything we may face.

He loves us so much and knows us so well we are told to come "boldly." This word means to be outspoken, strongly direct when you are approaching God. Why boldly? You are His family, He loves you and wants to help you fulfill the dreams He has placed on your heart. He expects us to come to Him with full confidence that we are loved!

He is always on-time. The phrase in "time of need," means that God will always make things happen for us at just the right time, the appropriate time, exactly on-time!

As our High Priest he knows everything there is to know about us (read Psalm 139), he knows exactly who we are and what we need. He is always with us and for us. We are never alone nor abandoned. He is always on your side!

Friday, March 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13 Thought for the day...overcoming failures

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 9, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 8 Thought for the day...handling stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 5, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

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

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

2 Corinthians 2:11

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 1, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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