Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18 Thought for the day...don't feed the animals Part 2

Last time we talked about wild dogs. They are the ones who try to worm their way into people's lives and influence and in the church leadership, but all they want is their selfishness fulfilled. Who are the pigs? Let's look at the verse again.

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." Matthew 7:6

Before we get the pigs what are the pearls? The word means just what it says but how do we acquire pearls. Someone has to dive deep into the water, the shell must be pried open. It costs the oyster its life. Before that happens, it takes lots of precious time for that pearl to be developed. Like yesterday's "holy" things, Jesus reference is regarding things of value you have acquired over time. They have become gems to you because of the price you paid to obtain them.

In both of these cases the phrase "do not" and the reflective "nor" are in a tense that means Jesus is giving a command. He is saying, "by no means, never, ever give what is holy or cast your pearls." We need to understand Jesus wants us always to be aware of our audience. We are to give these precious gems only to those who will value them and use them to bless others, mature, and to become more like Jesus!

So who are the pigs? On a farm, pigs have no value except as meat. They lay around all day wallowing until it is time to eat. When the food is out, they will gobble up anything in their way. They eat and eat. They are consumers, they take and take and take never adding value until they are dead. They fight for the food, slobber, all over themselves, never give back and never show gratitude for the food they have been given. These are the types of people Jesus was warning about.

When you come across consumers who claim to be people of faith, you will know them because they always want more but never are willing to serve others or share with others what they have been given. They simply want to stuff themselves fully. They are the Pharisees of our day. The don't love and care enough about others to share what they have been given. The healthiest thing they can do for a church is to leave.

Jesus loves both the dogs and the pigs but wants them to change. If you know someone that is like this, pray for them! If you are one of these animals, change, feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit and become who God has called you to be!

Friday, June 15, 2018

June 15 Thought for the day....don't feed the animals

We all know the old adage "don't bite the hand that feeds you," referring to not bringing harm to those that are blessing you. Jesus says something a bit more radical than that!

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Matthew 7:6

This sounds pretty harsh for Jesus to call people dogs and pigs but let's see what He meant. First, we need to understand what is "holy." What the inference is, it means those things God has either given to you or done in you that have made you what you are. The life lessons the Lord has brought you through, the wisdom you have gained through triumph and tragedy, and the many insights you have gained through overcoming and conquering. It is also the specific gifts of the Spirit the Lord has given and the power and authority He has entrusted to you!

We are to treat all of these things as holy because they have been hard fought or they are direct blessings from God. We should never look down on the things the Lord has invested in us or given to us!

Who are the dogs? The dogs referred to here are a mangy, wild animal. They roam outside the walls of the city through the garbage looking for food. The will try through trickery to get in the walls into people's gardens or homes to get better food. These represent the people who float from church to church never submitting to authority, never wanting to mature but always making excuses for their behavior. They try to worm their way into favor with leadership only because of their pride not the love of the people. They have no desire but to feed themselves.

We need to be wise when we are investing our time, talent and treasure into people. Watch them to see if they are someone who truly is hungry for the things of God or who really just wants to feast on whatever they can steal from others or are satisfied with garbage.

You have been given and have earned many special gifts from the Lord don't waste them on people who will not value them or you! Invest them in people that want to grow and are hungry to change and hungry to become who God wants them to be

Thursday, June 14, 2018

June 14 Thought for the the cracks

Those who know me, know I am not a sports fan, but I am an observer of people. In sports, it is easy to see when someone has neglected the fundamentals. Their play is off, their attitude is bad, and the only way to correct this is to humble themselves and revisit the fundamentals. That is the idea behind 1 Corinthians 10:12

"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall."

It is normally the little things that we don't take care of that lead to the greatest failures in our lives. The city of Sardis (one of the cities mentioned in Revelation) sat on a high mountain with sheer rock cliffs. Their walls were high and strong. Because of this, they felt they were an impenetrable city. They became arrogant and comfortable, so much so that they neglected the walls of their city. Without their notice cracks began to form in this walls and over time, these cracks became large enough for a man to fit through. Soon while the city sleeps in their arrogance and comfort, a rival army climbed the cliffs and surrounded the city inside. When the people awoke one morning, to their horror, they had become overcome. This is what happens to us if we become arrogant, comfortable and don't pay attention to the fundamentals of our walk with Christ.

The word "think" here refers to a way someone has an opinion about themselves. It has nothing to do with whether that opinion is true or not just simply what general idea is the person considers about themselves. We have to be careful not to compare ourselves to others but to always compare ourselves to Jesus. Doing that will keep our opinion in line with Christ.

His phrase, "be careful" means to continually be aware, to be watchful, ever vigilant. He is saying regardless of someone's self-imposed opinion that they are solid be ever aware of the condition of your heart, attitude, and actions. We can "fall" if we don't watch. The Greek here means to fail and come to ruin, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. It describes the downfall of someone who formerly had a haughty opinion of themselves.

We must never become so smug, haughty, or complacent that we allow tiny cracks in our faith, attitudes, and actions to eventually turn into larger cracks that will destroy our reputation and God's destiny for us. As the old children's song goes, "read your Bible, pray every day if you want to grow." I will add to that because our culture has fallen so much because of complacency, we have allowed each generation to fall further away because of our choices, we must be in church. Our children need it to have a firm foundation. Sports, dance, and all the other things we feel they "need" to do, will come and go in their lives, but a godly attitude and faith are for eternity. A lack of faith ruins a life for eternity.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13 Thought for the day...go for the win

America was founded on great men and women who did not give it. They fought for what was right, and some even lost their lives so that others would have the chance for a better life. This is the kind of spirit in Paul's words

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person obtains the prize? So run to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24

Paul is challenging us to be aware, alert and ready to run the race. The word he uses for "race" means an endurance race that will take everything you have to win. His focus in using that word is that we should as Christians never hold back but daily give our all, our full attention and concentration, to win. Because the race is long, we must also pace ourselves so we might win.

The Greek word for "obtain" means to see something of great value, something you have desired for a long time and to pounce on it, grab it, and hold onto it with all of your might and great joy. It is the joy you see on an Olympic runners face when they have given their all, every ounce of who they are and their reward is that they have won the race.

With this in mind, one translation put this verse this way. "Don't you know that those who compete in a footrace run with all their might and strength against the other runners, but only one wins the competition and takes the prize? In light of this, run with all the might you can muster! Go the distance, and pace yourself to make sure you have enough energy to get to the finish line, where you will finally latch hold of and possess that which you have been so passionately pursuing!"

Paul realized that the race ahead of him was worth it if he needed to get a side job he would do that. If he needed to act like a Jew to reach the Jews or a gentile to reach the Gentiles it didn't matter. If he were thrown into prison, beaten, shipwrecked none of it matter he was in the race to win and not going to allow any "minor" inconveniences stop him.  What minor inconveniences are holding up your race? Keep in mind that you are in this race to win. Don't allow anything to slow you down or stop you. Keep your eyes on the prize and go for the win!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12 Thought for the attention to the fruit

Have you ever had a piece of fruit that looked gorgeous on the outside but once you bit into it, you have either found it rotten or not ripe? I'm sure it has happened to all of us, and I have had it happen in ministry as well. Here is what Jesus said about it...

Matthew 7:20 "Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their fruit.

Good fruit comes from good trees, and bad fruit comes from bad trees. As a manager at Cornerstone TeleVision, I had hired over 100 people in my career. As a young, inexperienced manager I had a few major mistakes in hiring. Rather than checking about a person's attitude and actions I made hiring decisions based on what I saw on a resume or in person rather than taking note of their attitude and action. I found even though they looked good their fruit proved they were bad. The word fruit here means - a person's deeds, actions, moral character, and behavior, and the output of the person's work.

This is a challenge for any manager, friend, and especially in ministry. Jesus saw a tree that looked perfect leaves lush and green, fully developed but there was no fruit. It looked like it was perfect but it was fruitless. Things like gossip, backbiting, dissensions, rebellion against authority, pride, fear, insecurity all things that can be hidden but once picked can spoil their potential will fail. The fruit of a person's life never lies.

Sometimes people just aren't ready to be chosen. They are not yet ripe. John Mark was that way. Paul and Barnabas had taken him with them on a journey when he decided to leave them. They thought, and he thought, he was ready but under pressure found he wasn't and left them. It so upset Paul that it caused a division between him and Barnabas. However, with maturity and wisdom John Mark grew up, and later Paul requested him, he was useful for service.

Right now you may think you are ready for that job, promotion, or ministry position but my challenge to you is looking at your fruit. Are you patient, kind, loving caring supportive, always looking and believing the best about people? If you are, then you are ready for that promotion or position. If not, allow the Lord to correct you, work on you, and bring you to maturity, so you are ready.

God has a plan to bless, promote, and open doors for you. He expects you to be open to His correction and do things His otherwise you will keep going around the same mountain until you do. He loves you enough to allow that to happen in your life!

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 11 Thought for the day...warfare

Everyone knows we are in a battle. It is hard to keep positive some days just because of so much negativity. However, to really understand the battle we must recognize it the way Paul challenges us.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

It is not the people that we see that are really the enemy but instead all the stuff behind the attitudes. The biggest battles we face are in the mind. The enemy knows that if he can control the mind, then everything else will follow. Our attitudes will stink, our outlook will degrade, our hope, love, and trust will be gone. We will be fodder for the enemy to simply destroy. The devil doesn't want people, he hates us, even before coming to Christ we are a reflection of the Father. He hates that!

Even the strongest most mature Christians will have battles. The word Paul uses for "fighting" is the word used in the Greek times that would represent the most vicious types of athletic battle. Paul used this word to portray that they enemy is vicious and he does not fight fair. He does not play by the rules, he has no rules but the good thing for us is that he may fight against us, but we have the power, through Christ to shut him down.

He looks for one small area in our lives to attack. He could be gossip, insecurity, fear, or anything that we may have just a slight problem with. Once he gets a foothold in that area by our submitting to him by gossiping, being fearful, allowing our insecurities to run rampant within a second, we are in major warfare. 

How do we win? Repent, fill our minds with God's Word. Allow the love, grace, peace, mercy, and forgiveness of God rule over our hearts. The battle is much more vicious than you may realize and the warfare much more intense, but God will never fail us if we allow Him freedom in our lives to win the warfare for us!

Friday, June 8, 2018

June 8 Thought for the day...being about the Father's business

I don't know if you are ready to handle this one, but it is another tough one. We simply can't leave that scripture verse yet.

"And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:30

We already talked about the unprofitable servant that the word translated means "good-for-nothing, useless." Why is Jesus so harsh when we know He is full of love and grace and mercy. We need to look through the Father's eyes. In His light, He sees eternity. He sees people He loves, people His Son died for, dying and going to hell because those who have been blessed, refuse to do anything. They refuse to see anything past their own selfish desires. Eternity is forever, and hell was not created for human beings but for the devil and his demons. 

Statistics tell us that if a child is not reached by the age of 8, their chances of coming to Christ become almost negligible. People will come to church if asked by a friend. Like yesterday's story, God knows what you can do and the impact you will have if you will use your talent for the Kingdom. God sees these lives in the balance. He can't believe that His children would listen to the enemy say, "you are too busy to help", "you aren't qualified to help", "they don't want your help, anyway", or "there are too many more important things you need to be doing."

In this story, the useless servant's talent is given to the one who doubled the most. Any good manager knows if you want to get something done you don't waste time on someone who is unproductive you take from them and give their responsibility to the one who can really get it done.

The useless servant is then cast into outer darkness where there are weeping and gnashing of teeth. The outer darkness was a common term for the unprotected area outside of the high walls of the city. In the outer darkness, lions would roam the walls at night because people threw their trash over the walls. Lions would come searching the trash for food. A person thrown outside would have been unprotected and would become prey for the lions. This was a common practice in Israel at the time of Jesus. Someone in this condition, should they survive the night, would have been weeping and so fearful their teeth would have been ground down from fear. Many did not survive the night. Those who did repented and were welcomed back.

Part of their gnashing and weeping too was less severe but still painful. They would watch as others who responded to God would have great success because of their heart after God. The things they made excuses for not doing, God was using others quite powerfully. Reinhard Bonnke the Evangelist who reached all of Africa for the Gospel, once told me, he was not God's first choice but others had said "no" to God. I can't imagine how they felt seeing Reinhard's success.

What about you? I pray you are not useless, but if you are feeling convicted don't wallow in self-pity, God needs you to take action, the stakes are too high and the time too short. Be about the Father's business!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

June 7 Thought for the day...God expects more than just getting by

My grandfather at 30 had his leg crushed in the Donora mill rescuing 3 trapped men. This was before unions and social security benefits. He was unable to work as a millwright any longer, so for his heroism, he was let go and given $25/week for life. They lost their home and moved into an apartment. He became the manager of the building, and one of my fondest memories of him is sitting in the basement watching him shovel coal into the furnace of the building. He never allowed his disability to get him down or stop him from hard work to care for his family. I think Jesus loved that about my grandfather, I know I did!

And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:30

How does this fit with my grandfather? Jesus tells the story of a boss who leaves money with three servants. Two of the servants double his money. One simply returns what the master gave him.

The two that doubled the money he said this, "well done, good and faithful servant you have been faithful in little...." They doubled his money, yet they were faithful in little? The boss recognized that doubling his investment was the least that they could do. He was not criticizing them, encouraging them, he saw so much more potential in them. They needed to know they had so much more to offer. There are very few in the church that don't have more to offer. We have so much in the realm of gifts, talent, time, and treasure. As we look around us, what is the value of one soul? How much of your time, talent or treasure are you willing to give to keep a family together, save someone from hell, or a life of addiction. Investing in children's church, worship team, serving, outreach ministry touches people for eternity. Add to that, God will not be out-blessed. What are you missing from your life because your investment is wrong? God wants to bless his kids, but He can only do it as they are faithful and obedient.

That brings us to the other servant. He knew there would be a cost expected yet he didn't even put the gift he was given in the bank to gain some interest. One way of reading this is that he wasted it on himself. We could say maybe he didn't have enough time, maybe he felt his education was inadaquate, maybe he didn't know what to do. The boss entrusted him with the talent, so he knew that he knew what could be done with it! The word, "unprofitable" means lazy, apathetic, lukewarm. The word actually descibes someone whose exsistence in life is pointless. Jesus was saying this servant was apathetic to the desires of the boss and to his own value as a servant that he actually had no value to the kingdom, to God, or to the world God loved. 

Now that's pretty harsh. God gives gifts to bless both the reciever and all of those in their life. Wasting God's gifts through laziness or or apathy dosen't allow God to bless you or see you fulfill your destiny and in the case of the servant caused him to walk away from God and wind up in hell. Wow!!!! Now that is something to think about...Don't settle for just getting by, God wants you to be a blessing and He wants to bless you! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6 Thought for the day...compassion

How many times have you seen those commercials with the starving children or wounded animals and felt like picking up the phone and pledging to help? How much more should we feel that way when we see our brothers or sisters in trouble. Jude talks about that

22 "And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering."

Jude uses the word here for "mercy" that has the meaning of the "feeling of compassion" we get watching those commercials. This word means to have that deep, unsettling feeling, an emotion that you would get when you see something extremely sad or upsetting. It is that heart string pulls that you get as you see the video of the hungry children.

Jude is challenging us to have that level of brokenness and compassion for our brothers and sisters in Christ when they fail or fall. It is normal for some to think well they choose to get into these bad situations by their bad choices. Jude's challenge is to remember that each of us fails, each of us is growing, each of us needs a little help at times and a little forgiveness. 

We are to have a feeling of compassion for those that are hurting. Just so we understand empathy feels a person's pain and walks with them in it. Compassion feels their pain then helps them through it to healing and/or freedom. Compassion feels their pain then looks for ways to help them up not leaving them in their pain.

We all need help some time or another. Never look down on a brother or sister in pain or trapped because of their sin. Remember you too are a sinner saved by grace and are daily in need of His grace and mercy so allow your heart to be broken for the broken and strengthen their faith with compassion

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June 5 Thought for the are not a mistake

Some thing so many in our culture has struggled with is rejection. We live in a culture of such affluence yet we feel like no one cares or perhaps worse we are not meant to be here, we are a mistake! The Holy Spirit clears that up for us.

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." Ephesians 1:4

There are times where you can feel down, rejected, hurting, and think why was I born, what is my purpose? Paul reminds us that none of us are here by accident, but God has chosen us. Psalm 139 tells us that we were known by God before we were born and while we were being formed.

The word "chosen" here means to be specifically selected. This would be used in a military sense for the selection of elite forces like the modern day Rangers or Seals. No Christian has been created by accident, we have all been specially selected even when we didn't know it.

Why being "chosen"? Paul writes that before the world began, we were chosen, which is to say not only did God know us and select us but we are all selected for a purpose. He didn't just create us but created us with a plan, from the very beginning, to fulfill our purpose, to change the world.

As men and women of God, we can't take the time to "boo hoo" or to feel that we were merely an accident. We must realize it doesn't matter how we came into the world, who are parents are, or even what the conditions of our birth were. Instead, we must realize before God created the earth, He saw us. Even before the earth was formed, God knew who you would be, how you would be born, and had a plan to use it all for His glory and to bless you.

You were born for a purpose. Don't allow the enemy to lie to you, to make you feel like you have no purpose, or that you were a mistake. God makes no mistakes, only people who are called to impact the world (a bumblebee is not supposed to be able to fly).

You are a gift to your friends, family, and all who know you. You have been chosen by God even if everyone rejects you. He has a wonderful plan to use you to fulfill His plan and to bless you!

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 4 Thought for the day...rooted for a destiny

Have you ever gone through a time when you have been waiting for your harvest, and it seems like it is taking forever? I think sometimes we think God is like a Chia Pet just add water and there is instantaneous growth. God has a different plan.

"rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 2:7

Before any tree can bear fruit, there must be a time for it to allow the roots to go down deep and then once established in the soil the tree begins to blossom and bear fruit. Jeremiah talks about it, and the Psalmist wrote about it in 1:3 that a person rooted in God's word is like a tree who deals with the elements but always bears fruit because they are dug in deep. It may be taking a while for your fruitful season, but the bigger the tree, the bigger the root system must be. You may be preparing for some greatness and your time is coming, but your roots must go deeper first.

The word "rooted" in the Greek means to be firmly held in place, steady, stable, and strong. The roots gain the nourishment for the tree and also are the security for the tree to withstand anything and everything that comes against it. Rather than complaining that it is taking a long time to see fruit in your life, take the time to get into the word, grow in the Holy Spirit allow your roots to go down deep. If you do, eventually you will come into your fruitful season, and nothing will be able to stop you or slow you down.

Begin to thank the Lord for taking a longer time in your life. Have you ever seen someone who achieved success too quickly in life only to implode or lose it because they really weren't deep-rooted? When you have allowed your roots to go down deeper, then you are "established" set in a strong, solid place, firmly secure in all that you will do. 

You have been taught, gained the experience, and the maturity, you are ready to take on the world and be everything you have been called and destined to be. Don't fret, don't worry, allow the rooting to take place will guarantee you freedom, joy, and success. Be thankful for all the Lord is doing in your life because you have chosen to wait and allow your roots to go deep!

Friday, June 1, 2018

June 1 Thought for the day...having prayers answered

So many tell me, I pray but never get answers. Has that ever happened to you? Perhaps I can give you some answers today.

James 4:3 "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."

The Holy Spirit is instructing us through James to not ask "amiss" meaning wrongly, badly, or inappropriately. We can ask in a way that goes against God's Word. We can ask with an un-Christlike attitude. We can ask with all the right motives and attitude but without faith. All of these things will stop us from receiving our answer. Your passion in prayer does not move God.  It is your right heart, aligning with God's Word, and motivated by a true trust that God hears and will answer prayer.

The Holy Spirit makes it more clear in 1 John 5:14 "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." The word "confidence" means boldness, with complete assurance, unashamedly.

How is it that we can pray this way? 1) we know we are asking according to God's Word, 2) our relationship with the Lord is strong enough that we know it is God's will. When we have that going for us we know 100% our prayers will be answered. If we know God's Word, we are reading it and living it every day we will quickly understand His will!

God listens to His Word and He listens to faith. You can not expect God to move mountains for a stranger but someone that knows Him and He knows will have every prayer answered. Spend time with Him, spend time in His Word. As you do these things your heart is moved by His heart and you will always have your prayers answered. Maybe not in the way you want, but it will be in the way that will bless you the most!