Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29 Thought for the day...stand for your leaders

Today's thought may seem self-serving but believe me, it is very much for your blessing as well. Every spiritual leader in your life, your pastors, mentors, teachers all are in need of your prayers to effectively bless, strengthen and encourage you. Paul challenges the church with this thought with 6 key needs in prayer.

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. Romans 15:30-32

Paul was one of the most powerful and effective teachers, apostles, and pastors who ever lived and he requested this support from the church in Rome. He begins by saying "strive" with him. This word is a compound word meaning to stand with while agonizing in warfare or fighting an intense battle. He is asking that you recognize the battle your leader is in daily and support them in it, through prayer. Just as in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus asked his disciples to stand with him, we need you to stand with your leaders.

Second, he asked for prayer to be "delivered from those who do not believe." Paul had battled many both outside and inside the church who were seeking to hurt him or the ministry through lies, gossip, stirring trouble, rebellion and other things. Leaders today battle this on a daily basis both inside and outside the church. If the devil can resist or frustrate a leader, he can defeat a move of God and hurt your growth and ministry.

Third, "service be acceptable" this word means ministry. The desire of every spiritual leader's heart is that everyone would be open to receive what the Holy Spirit has placed on his/her heart for the people. They have fought through by prayer, fasting, and intense study, to hear specifically what God would say but if the people are not open or are distracted they miss the "word of the Lord" for them!

Fourth, "come with joy" thousands of ministers leave the ministry yearly because of the frustration. They pour their lives into people only to have them disregard their counsel or leave the church or ministry. The heartbreak of watching people self-destruct by their own choosing or the short-sightedness that causes shipwreck in the long run. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is joy, and for leaders it is a must, daily, to live in joy. Paul's heart and every leader's heart are to minister out of joy!

Fifth, Paul's challenge for prayer is "the will of God." Every leader's heart's cry is to always present God's plan, purpose, and design, which is what this word "will" means. It is a dangerous thing to preach or teach our own desires rather than God's. Pray for your leaders that they always have God's wisdom and heart for every situation.

Last, Paul asked for prayer for "refreshing." This is a compound word that Paul is stressing just like everyone else, your spiritual leaders need times of refreshing, specifically a time of calm, soothing, ministry to the body, mind, and spirit by others. Everyday all day long most of your leaders are handling your problems, and other people's problems either personally or in prayer. Most people see the leader through their teaching/preaching ministry but for most of us that is a very small portion of what is done in ministry.

A true spiritual leader is generally on-call 24/7. They need your prayers, and if I can be selfish the pastors, elders, and leaders of our church and I, all need this type of prayer. Thank you in advance for praying this way for all the spiritual leaders in our world! It is for your benefit to have healthy refreshed spiritual leaders.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

June 28 Thought for the day...a blessing and a curse in one

We have all done it, said something that we mean and we would stand by, believing whole-heartedly that God is going to come through. It may take time, but our confession and belief in faith are rewarded by God moving the mountains. You can also do exactly the opposite. Your belief and confession can be negative, and you can bring frustration and failure in your own life.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Mark 11:23

The Bible speaks of how we say things based on what is in our hearts. Jesus is saying that when you say something based on the fullness of what you believe in your heart, you trust in God, God sees that connection of faith and trust and moves your mountain. There is a psychological connection between our expectancy, belief, and the way we talk. If even in the direst circumstances we believe God will move, God sees that faith, nothing pleases him more, and we see our miracle. The psychology behind it is we gear our hearts and our minds in the direction of seeing something happen because we just believe. Our attitudes change, our physical well-being changes, and we change our environment because we believe and expect.

Sadly, the same thing happens in the negative realm. The devil will do whatever he can to get you to fully believe you are a failure, there is no hope, you are not going to get the job, yes you are going to lose your job, and any number of fearful, negative things and if not brought under faith, negative faith is applied. We actually expect the bad thing to happen placing even negative hope in the idea that it will and guess what it will. Proverbs 23:7 says "so a man thinks in his heart, so he is!"

Faith, negative and positive is in our hands. God always wants to remove the mountains from our lives. The devil always wants to crush us with them. God is always building us up and lifting us up. The devil is always tearing us down. We possess the power to believe! This is not the power of positive thinking. Instead, it is simply God or the devil reacting to our "faith."

Try it today. Hold that negative word. Bring that negative thought under obedience to Christ. Expect the miracles! Begin to thank God for all you have and are and look forward to what He is going to do because He loves you! Having a tough time having the proper faith, just ask God for it and He will help you make it happen. He wants to move the mountains in your life. He loves you! Trust Him! Bring your attitude under submission to Christ attitude and thoughts. Watch your world change!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27 Thought for the Eeyore mentality

If you are at all familiar with the Winne the Pooh stories, you know the character Eeyore. Nothing is ever good for Eeyore he plans for the worse thing to happen in the best situations. He is always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Unfortunately, many Christians have this mentality. Paul's life is an example of overcoming this syndrome.

But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. Acts 28:5

Paul had just been shipwrecked. In Paul's missionary journeys we are told he was shipwrecked three times. On this particular adventure, the ship was destroyed. Rather than being fearful, complaining about how cold the water was going to be, losing everything in the water, being inconvenienced, Paul chose to trust God. By doing so, Paul not only saved his own life but the lives of everyone including the guards who bound him in chains. When we reach a point in our lives when we really believe God loves us, is always faithful, and is always good, our outlook in life changes. Anything can happen, we can go through the flood or fire and know God is with us and for us. This was Paul's outlook.

Ok, so maybe you would have a had a good outlook about the shipwreck but look at what happened next. First, Paul is a major player in the kingdom and what do we find him doing? Searching for sticks, gathering sticks for a fire. In the process he picks up sticks with a viper, the Greek word means a very poisonous snake. As he is throwing the sticks in the fire, the snake warms up, comes out of the sticks and the word used for "bit him" (28:3) means to latch on deeply and inject the full dose of venom. What would have been your response? Panic, anger, fear? God is always good, faithful, and loves us. Paul had learned when you trust God first, rather than whining, complaining or looking for the worst in a situation, God always comes through. Paul's journey on earth was not done, and nothing this world or the devil could do would be able to stop God's plan.

Do you see yourself as a Paul, always expecting God to be faithful in every situation or as an Eeyore looking for something bad to happen even in the midst of the best situation? Paul shook off the snake and people were healed, he shook off the snake and revival happened on the island, he shook off the snake, trusting God and not only were all of his needs met but so were the needs of everyone with him.

What is your attitude, mentality robbing from you? What blessings does God have waiting for you if you will simply believe that God loves you, is always faithful and good? Be aware today of the times you go from faith to Eeyore. Eeyore is a cute teaching character but not someone we want to emulate. Watch what God begins to do for you as you shift your mentality (sometimes on a moment by moment basis!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 26 Thought for the and the stuff

Our culture is all about my rights, what I want, and who is going to take care of me? It is hard for us to fully understand the commitment God requires. God expects us to know Him as the one who loves us the most and our best friend but He is also Lord. Sometimes we take that friendship for granted or take advantage and find ourselves in trouble not really knowing why. James explains what happens (this is another tough one, but we must live in the truth)

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.  James 4:4

We need to understand what friendship with the world is, which we will get to in a moment. What do James and the Holy Spirit mean by being God's enemy? What is being referenced here is a person who once was on fire for God but has been caught up by the world. In that context, the Holy Spirit is telling us that this person is finding themselves now at war with God. It literally means that God will be a hostile force against you, as an enemy on the opposite side of war.

What is this friendship referring to? Well, let's look at another scripture to understand better. Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to mammon." Mammon is the stuff of this world, money, pleasure, sports, leisure, pride, all of the things this world has to offer. Jesus is saying we serve these things. We think they serve us, but we end up exchanging our lives for them. Given over to them without God being our main priority, they rob us of our destiny and purpose and the potential lives we can impact for the Kingdom. The ironic thing is, if we serve God first we can gain all of these things plus fulfill our destiny and purpose. Friendship with the world is serving the world not making time for God, church, His Word or the things He has planned for us.

Sadly many will find themselves at war with God because they serve Him with lip service only and not whole-hearted. They rob themselves of an amazing future because they have willingly chosen to serve their flesh or mammon rather than God. How do I know this is happening in churches across America prayer time is few, people come to church when it is not an inconvenience rather than out of love. Statistics still show that the average person opens their Bible once per week and prays less than 2 minutes per day. The service goes to Mammon!

If this is you fall in love with the Lord again. Ask Him to show you how much He loves you and ask Him to help you love Him more. If you see it in others, gently awaken them to where they are and help them to get there by prayers, encouraging them in the Word, and simply helping them walk the walk!

Monday, June 25, 2018

June 25 Thought for the day...bringing and receiving correction

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with your children, an employee, or co-worker where you had to speak a word of correction, and it was totally rejected? Your kids just rolled their eyes, or the co-worker got angry. If you are loving and caring you will need to speak correction into someone's life sooner or later. Paul is teaching young Timothy how to do it...

"A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people." 2 Timothy 2:24

It is easy to get into a quarrel with someone when you are trying to bring correction, and they are not receiving it. If you love, you will keep at it to help the person grow. We all need correction to grow to become who God has called us to be an undisciplined child is an unloved child.

Paul stresses patience with correction. What we miss in the English translation is the word patience here means to "tolerantly bear with the reaction of those who do not want to receive" the expectation is that they will eventually receive from you if they do want to grow.

This is my story, sometimes. Many believe when people come to see me for advice that those seeking advice are seeking the wisdom the Lord has given me and the gifts of words of wisdom and knowledge that I flow in supernaturally, naturally but sadly some come hoping that I will justify their position only. When I speak correction or give instruction for discipline, I will sometimes get a blank stare, blatant rejection, or even sometimes, a violent reaction. However, I have learned if I am patient and they really do want to be who Jesus has called them to be, they will eventually come around. If they don't come around, they aren't at a place ready to change. I will still pray and wait, trusting the Holy Spirit to do His work to bring the person to their healing place.

Paul stresses to Timothy that people will not always be happy when they are being corrected, but we must be patient when bringing correction. He stresses this again in Galatians 6:1 "Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." This is another reason we need to be patient while bringing correction. All of us have areas of weakness, and if we would consider how we would feel if someone was speaking correction into our lives, it may help us to be patient.

If you are growing in Christ, we will need people to bring correction and discipline into our lives. We all have flesh to overcome. Be humble, receive the correction and when giving correction be just as loving and humble and watch the people in your life grow to fulfill their destiny.

Friday, June 22, 2018

June 22 Thought for the day...hang in there

Have you ever felt like giving up? You believed God promised you something but it has been so long and you haven't seen it happen. It could be a healing, an open door, or some other kind of a blessing in your life. The early church struggled with this too.

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. Hebrews 10:35

The early church suffered great persecution. They were rejected on all sides by the government, the synagogue, their culture. They had believed the promises of God. They had seen many miracles in their lives, but the daily grind of life had left them weary. They were beginning to give up hope because things were happening the way they had expected or in their time frame.

It is easy for the enemy to steal all the amazing things God has done for us. We can quickly and easily forget the miracles of supply, grace, love, strength, wisdom, friendship, healing and other blessings he has done for us over the years. Trust is a very big issue with the Lord and especially trusting Him when His timing or expectations are different than yours.

"Cast away," has the idea with it of "throwing in the towel." It is an exasperated giving up. It is an act of hopelessness! It is a combination of hurt, rejection, and frustration. You have come to what you believe is the end of your rope, and you are tired of having the strength to hold on, so you just give up. Ever been there? It happens sometimes. The church was there, at that point. If you are there now, God wants you to have confidence.

"Confidence" means to be bold, fearless, unrelenting the context is to have a brave, strong, unshakable expression of faith. They had been boldly proclaiming their faith everywhere. They were unshakable in their resolve to trust the Lord at His word for His promises, but they just grew weary and then shakey in their resolve.

The writer of Hebrews is encouraging them and us today to don't throw in the towel or give up on your bold, brave unshakable resolve. Remember God is still God. He still has a plan. He still has your life and future in His hands. Don't rely on your feelings or weariness. Hang on! Peter gives us encouragement in 2 Peter 3:9a  "The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake."

God loves you! Trust His love and faithfulness and He'll get you to victory!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 21 Thought for the day...believe God at His word

Have you ever said to someone, "Wow, you did a great job!" Only to have them deny it by saying, "Thanks, I appreciate the compliment but it's not really that good!" Rejecting your praise is rude and actually, makes it seem like you are lying to them. Sometimes we do that to God.

"And when He has come, He will convict the world of righteousness....because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;" John 16:8,10

There are times we respond to each other the way I mentioned, not really meaning to be rude but either not knowing how to recognize a "God blessing" or trying to stay humble. We must remember often God is expressing His appreciation of who we are, through someone else and we need to accept it graciously.

There are many things God has done for us that we need to acknowledge, accept and live by for example Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." According to this scripture we are the righteous! If you tell some people that they will argue with you. They don't feel righteous, or act righteously all of the time so they will argue that they are righteous. The problem, Jesus paid the price on the cross for our righteousness. Likewise we are children of God, blessed, redeemed, chosen, royal priest and so much more. God calls us these things so we need to appreciate the way He sees us and say thank you in our words and by our actions.

The word "convict" can be looked at two ways in this context. First it does mean to expose or say the final judgment over sin. The Holy Spirit does speak that conviction in the life of the "not-yet-Jesus-followers as well as our lives. Convict has an additional meaning in this context. It means to convince in a legal sense of something positive. In this case Jesus is saying the Holy Spirit will convince us that we are righteous!

As the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we acknowledge it, and begin to move beyond it He then convinces us that we are righteous. If you have made a committment to Christ and are trying to be who God has called you to be, stop believing the lies that you aren't good enough, you are a failure, you can never be used of God, God hasn't chosen you, you aren't important. God sees you valuable and righteous because of Jesus work on the cross for you. The Holy Spirit is working hard to daily convince you of that truth! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20 Thought for the day...time to say "No"

Have you ever found yourself believing things that God has already told us are not true? These are things that rob us of our future and blessings. Paul challenges us to, just say, "No."

"Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Roman 6:11

Left unchecked our flesh will mess with us in very intense ways. It will try to make us lazy, saying to us, " you have done enough" or "no one really cares what you do or appreciates you" it will lie to you every time to rob you of your dreams, joy, and destiny. If that isn't enough, it will tell you, you are not smart enough, talented enough, or worth enough to do certain things God has already gifted you for. The flesh wants to be slothful so it can continue to do nothing. If you should come into agreement and live in regret because you failed to make wise decisions earlier in life or that others were born better off than you, what good would complaining do to change your circumstances? These are the times we need to say to our flesh, "No," God has promised great things!

The word "reckon" is not a term we use anymore but in this case needs our attention because the Holy Spirit is telling us to "think about, consider, count something as done" and we are to do these things continually, always not just one time.

The word "dead" means dead, a corpse, no life at all or possibility of life. The Holy Spirit is challenging us to be non-responsive to sin those thoughts that would limit God's plan and purpose in our lives.

He does not leave us hanging there He goes on to say "alive to God." Sin and the flesh's limitations in our lives would like us to settle or hold us back from all of the plans that are exceeding and abundantly beyond all we could hope or ask, that God has for us.

In other words, if we continually say "No" to the limitations the flesh wants to place on us and kill it off, then we will find all of the unique blessings and destiny God has planned from the very beginning! Saying, "No" to the flesh is saying "Yes," to God's amazing future for us!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19 Thought for the day...overcoming the overwhelming

As human beings, we have had at least a time or two in our lives when we have felt mentally overwhelmed. Sometimes it is depression or anxiety. Sometimes it is dread or fear. Sometimes too many deadlines or any number of things. Paul had the same struggles

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Paul was in trouble. It may have been some kind of physical ordeal, but it definitely was some great mental anguish. The word he uses for "trouble" means to have an extremely heavy, crushing load on you. It would be like a heavy boulder being slowly dropped on you.

When he is talking about being "burdened beyond measure," it means that excessive beyond anything that a person would normally face. Then you add to that "above" strength. Paul is piling phrase on top of phrase to express the point that this is difficult beyond measure and that normal human strength was not enough for the anguish he was going through in Asia.

Have you ever felt that overwhelmed? Have you ever felt so worried, anxious, depressed? Paul is talking about that exactly. The enemy was attacking him mentally, emotionally in such a way that he almost felt completely overwhelmed.

The phrase "despaired even for life" coupled with the phrase "sentence of death" means they felt utterly hopeless and by everything that they saw in the physical realm they were dead, they felt as if they were not going to survive. Have you been in that place? You may be in that place right now.

Paul is not saying this for us to feel sorry for him or to pity him, but so that we might understand how overwhelming the mental and emotional strains were on him and his team. The assault was intense, but Paul didn't give up or give in. He keeps pressing forward despite the intensity. He did not give up and told us that God stood with him even in this impossible situation and delivered them.

The key to overcoming overwhelming mental and physical strain and attacks is to keep pushing into the Lord. Do not back off, keep your eyes on Him your heart and attitude submitted to Him and then expect His deliverance. He will not fail you! He is not capable of failing you!

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. They 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 these 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 that 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 grab 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 that 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 Greek times that would represent the most vicious types of athletic battle. Paul used this word to portray that the 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 inadequate, 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 describes someone whose existence 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 receiver and all of those in their life. Wasting God's gifts through laziness or apathy doesn'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!