★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SPIRIT ★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…FAITHFUL ★, we discussed that God’s faithfulness can be counted on, and that He will never leave us or forsake us.  All our days are God’s, He is like a fire defending us…Faithfully!  Today we are going to see that GOD IS…SPIRIT…

A lot can be said of this fact that God is THREE persons in ONE.  God the FATHER, God the SON, and God the Holy Spirit.  In fact we started off a 3-part series called ★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 1 ★, in which I shared this quote that seems appropriate to start off with…

“The Christian who neglects the Holy Spirit is like a lamp that’s not plugged in.”

So today’s attribute that GOD IS…SPIRIT is near and dear to my heart and my prayer is that by the end, you will see how important He is to be a part of your life as well!  Today in America, the church is celebrating Pentecost, which for Christians is best known in Acts 2:1-41 when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 believers in Jerusalem.  This was in fulfillment of what Jesus promised to the disciples in Luke 24:49 (NLT), which happens to be the last recorded Words of Jesus:

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised.  But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

But for Jewish people, Pentecost which is the 50 day after Easter, is known for another reason…

“Did you know that Pentecost is a Jewish feast that celebrates Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai?”  Robert Morris

It is also known as the Feast of Weeks or Festival of Harvest (See Leviticus 23:15-21).  The Ten Commandments which is outlined in Exodus 20:1-17, was given to the people of Israel to be guide them as they were going to go to the Promise Land.  The Law as it was known, outlined how His people could approach God and what He desired but the Old Testament is filled with stories of how they failed epically to please Him so that is why Jesus was sent to do what we could not.  In John 14:17 (NLT), Jesus said:

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.  The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him.  But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” 

God through His Holy Spirit lives with us!  I love this truth by Robert Morris

“Because of the Holy Spirit, instead of being held to the impossible standards of the Old Testament law, we can now walk according to the law of love Jesus speaks about in Matthew 22:35–40.  This is good news because we cannot live righteously without the power of the Holy Spirit.”  From the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew’ by Robert Morris.

Many Christians are living a powerless life as a result of not getting to know the “Unsung Hero of the Trinity.”  The Holy Spirit is A Comforter, A Helper, A Friend, An Advocate, A Teacher and A Guide.

John 4:24 instructs us…

“For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

And then in Romans 8:14-16 says:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves.  Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”

As a result of the God’s Spirit, we have access God the Father and are His children!  Almost 2,000 on this day we received the greatest gift anyone could hope for, the Spirit of God who is the vehicle to help us to live the overcoming life.  I will close with one more quote from Robert Morris about the significance of this day!

“The day of Pentecost was the first time since the Fall of man that the Holy Spirit empowered men to live righteously.  We know Jesus’ death and resurrection have put us in right standing with God, but the Holy Spirit actually empowers us to live according to that righteous position.”

I would highly recommend you check out this YouVersion reading plan called ‘The God I Never Knew’ by Robert Morris.  It truly is life changing!  And more importantly, get to know the Spirit of God!

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Posts that are All About the Holy Spirit ★

★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★

“Spirit Comes, Church Goes” by Joakim Lundqvist as Word of Life Church in Sweden.

 

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…FAITHFUL ★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…FORGIVING ★, we discussed that There is a direct connection between confession and forgiveness.  When we will go to God in humility and turn from our wicked ways, He WILL cleanse us.  And the vehicle for us today is through His Son Jesus Christ.  Today we are going to see that…

This attribute of our Heavenly Father is covered quite extensively in the Bible, here are just some passages which I will cover some of but I would recommend you read them nonetheless…

Deuteronomy 31:6, 32:4, Psalm 86:15, 117:2, James 4:8, Hebrews 10:23-24, 13:5-6 Matthew 28:20, Philippians 1:6, John 6:37, 40, 15:7, Romans 8:28-29, Isaiah 49:15-16 

First off, I would like to start with Deuteronomy 7:9 (NLT) which Moses wrote:

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God.  He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.”

Do you know any one who as soon as they say “I’ll call you tomorrow” or “you can count on me to show up to some event,” you know for a fact you’ll never hear from them or see them as they promised?  I have a few people like this in my life who I know do not intentionally mean to let me down but yet they do. I almost plan on not hearing from them or seeing them and then if they follow through, I am pleasantly surprised. Not this may seem like a trite comparison, but I love what Moses testifies about God that He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.”  God more faithful then our mother or father or best friend on this earth, He keeps His word for a 1,000 generations!!  Isn’t that awesome?

Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) also speaks of the faithfulness of the Father:

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”

There are some action words in the passage that I think we really need to take notice off…We must hold tightly without wavering!”  This of course is easier said than done but true nonetheless.  God did not make us robots, we have a choice to trust the faithfulness of God or to reject Him.  So, if we want the promises, we need keep hold of our own faith. There is a song that came to mind instantly as I started working on this post called “Faithful God” by Zach Neese which has brought me such comfort through many dark days.

If I call, will You come
When I cry, do You hear
I believe every tear
Is caught up by a faithful God
So I will cry until You come
Cast my cares into Your arms
I can’t see past this storm
But I’m counting on a faithful God 

Faithful God
You hold my life secure
All my days are Yours
I believe
My God is like a fire defending me
Faithfully

Isn’t that beautiful?  Every time I sing these lyrics, I feel my faith increase.  I will close with Romans 5:8 which says that:

God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” 

This singular act shows His faithfulness to keep the covenant that He made with us that nothing will ever separate us from Him and that He will never leave us or forsake us as Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5 reminds us.  All our days are God’s, He is like a fire defending us…Faithfully!  We can count on Him.

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Thought for the Day – The Lord is Near ★

★ Thought for the Day – How important is Jesus? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★ 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS… FORGIVING ★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…LOVING ★, we discussed that NOTHING can separate us from the loving arms of God who spare nothing to show us that love.  He has sacrificed His Son for us and given the Holy Spirit to live with us!  Today we are going to see that…

I must start off by asking for your forgiveness since it has been 6 days since the last post…hahaha!  Today’s attribute dovetails beautifully with our last post because God’s love is eternally intertwined with His forgiveness.  As is customary, let’s start in the Old Testament with Psalm 86:5 (NLT) that spotlights this reality:

“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”

God is not out to get us, rather He is “ready to forgive” and is “full of unfailing love” if we will just repent and turn away from our sin.  Look at the end of the verse again, who is God’s forgiveness for?  “For ALL who ask for His help.”  Another passage from Isaiah 55:6-7 (NLT) says:

“Seek the Lord while you can find Him.  Call on Him now while He is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Let them turn to the Lord that He may have mercy on them. YES, TURN TO OUR GOD, FOR HE WILL FORGIVE GENEROUSLY.”

Isn’t that encouraging?  These passages are in the Old Testament shows that God’s desire to forgive you and I has existed for thousands and thousands of years!  He is just waiting for us to turn away from the temptations of the world SO He can GENEROUSLY FORGIVE US.  But we must CHOOSE NOT to take the bait that the devil sets before us!  And if we do, we must humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness!!  Let’s flip over into the New Testament and look at what the Apostle John instructs in 1 John 1:9 (NLT)…

“BUT IF we CONFESS our sins to Him, He is FAITHFUL and JUST to FORGIVE us our sins and to CLEANSE us from ALL wickedness.”

There is a direct connection between confession and forgiveness.  When we will go to God in humility and turn from our wicked ways, He WILL cleanse us.  And the vehicle for us today is through His Son Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) tells us about the Great Exchange that is available:

“For our sake He [ GOD ] made Him [ JESUS ] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

When we accept Jesus as our Savior and believe that He died in our place, OUR UNRIGHTEOUSNESS is placed on Jesus and HIS RIGHTEOUS is transferred to us!  WOW!  However, the enemy of souls will do anything and everything to thwart that transaction from happening because Satan hates God and hates us because we are the apple of God’s eye (see Genesis 3:15, Psalm 17:8, Proverbs 7:2, Zechariah 2:8).  Ephesians 4:32 (NLT) shows us that we ought to extend forgiveness to others:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Thank you, Jesus, for being the conduit for us to become right with you!!  I have had this beautiful song on repeat of late that so captures the incredible the significance of God’s forgiveness called “Holy Water” by We the Kingdom:

Your forgiveness
Is like sweet, sweet honey
On my lips
Like the sound of a symphony
To my ears
Like holy water on my skin

I will close with the MOST UNBELIEVABLE STATEMENT in the entire Bible from Luke 23:34 (NLT)…

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.”

Every time I read this verse, I am always astonished with the Jesus’ selflessness that while “soldiers gambled for His clothes,” and He hung on the cross dying, Jesus prayed for God to forgive His executioners!!  Just amazing!  So much can be said on all that God has forgiven in my life, I could spend the rest of my life trying to express my gratitude and it will never be enough!  It truly is “sweet, sweet honey on my lips!”  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you God for your forgiveness!  You are a good, good Father!

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Thought for the Day – 5 Truths That Will Change Your Life! ★

★ Thought for the Day – How Many Licks to Forgiveness ★

★ Re|Engage – Forgiveness ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…LOVING ★

Let me start off by wishing all the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!!  And for those of you like me who don’t have a mother any longer here on Earth, I pray God’s comfort on you on this difficult reminder of that fact.  For the women trying to be a mother, I pray that the Lord would open your womb right now In Jesus name we pray!!  Amen!

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS… SIGNIFICANT ★, we discussed that when we magnify or place a greater significance on anything or anyone other than God, we set ourselves up for failure and invite the enemy in to wreak havoc in our life.  Only God is significant and so we must fix our thoughts on Him!  If your thoughts are NOT true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or admirable than we MUST kick those thoughts to the curb and only “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Today we are going to see that… 

It seems only appropriate that we cover this attribute on a day in which we celebrate the first woman in each of our lives that gave us unconditional and the closest example we have to what God’s unconditional love looks like.  After all, Genesis 1:27 tells us that

“So God created human beings in His own image.  In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”

So the love that Mother’s have for their child(ren) is a displaying the attribute that we will unpack today.  Like in the post about God being an INTELLIGENT DESIGNER, there are a ton of passages on this attribute!  The Bible is a God’s love letter to His people.  All throughout the Old and New Testaments we can see the heart of God for His people.  Here is just a fraction of passages that I was looking at initially…

Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23, 86:15, 117:2 Jeremiah 29:11, Lamentations 3:22, John 3:16-17, Romans 2:11, 5:8, Romans 8:39, Ephesians 1:3-5, 1 Peter 5:7, 2:9, 1 John 3:16, 1 John 4:16-17

Psalm 86:15 (NLT) seems like a great place to start to unpack this today’s focus:

“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Contrary to what Satan would have you believe, the God of the Old Testament IS NOT distant, judgmental or waiting for us to make a mistake so He can punish us.  Instead Lamentations 3:22 (NLT) says:

“The faithful LOVE of the Lord never ends!  HIS MERCIES NEVER CEASE.”

And no discussion of God’s love would be complete with mentioning the MOST POPULAR New Testament passage in John 3:16-17 (NLT)…

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Satan though tries to tell us the opposite that God is out to get you and that if you become a Christian that you will have no more joy or fun BUT I can attest that prior to being saved, I was hopeless and very lost indulging in every dark and sinful pleasure that was put before me.  I am now 22 years along the path of following Jesus since I trusted Him as Lord and Savior, and it is still the BEST DECISION I ever made!  I am living proof of the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10:

What I find amazing is that Jesus came to provide this and also show how much God loved us!  Romans 5:8 (NLT)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

He willingly died for me and for you so that we could fully experience His love and receive eternal life!  What a Loving Father we have!!  1 John 4:16b-17 (NLT) gives further testimony:

 “GOD IS LOVE, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.  So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.”

As I close, I will say it again, from the opening verse of the Old Testament to the final one of the New Testament, EVERY PAGE displays this attribute of Him…“GOD IS LOVE!”  And that love is so

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing can separate us from the loving arms of God who spare nothing to show us that love.  He has sacrificed His Son for us and given the Holy Spirit to live with us!  So today will you turn to Him and believe that GOD IS…LOVING?!

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

“How Do I Know God Loves Me?“ by Robert Morris.  He shares how we can confidently know God loves us, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

★ Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – What Does The Love of God Mean? ★

★ Thought for the Day – 5 Truths That Will Change Your Life! ★

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SIGNIFICANT★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…AN INTELLIGENT DESIGNER ★ we discussed that The Big Bang is true!  God spoke and “BANG” everything was created!  And that every person has a “God-shaped hole” in their heart and at some point, they look for the answer to the question “How Can I Know that there is a God?”  That answer is found in creation which illustrates that there is an intelligent designer.  Today we are going to see that…

I bet that 8 weeks ago if you were asked: “what is significant,” you probably never would have said finding toilet paper or antibacterial wipes on the supermarket shelves.  Or that a date night dining in a restaurant and hitting a movie would incredible to be able . Oh, how life has changed for thousands and thousands of people around the world as a result of COVID-19.  As our resiliency is being stretched to its limits the new significant event is re-opening of the country here in the United States. Texas for instance has started phase 1 of trying to “return to normalcy,” but my chief concern and prayer has been that as we transition from the shelter-in-place quarantine state we have been in, that this nurse’s sign is not prophetic since many areas including where I live have not reached the peak.  Today marks DAY 55 since my family and I have self-quarantined, so like everyone else I too would love to go out on a date with my wife and get back to living but we are being cautious as this is a critical decision which should give us pause especially since the news is reporting that many states that have started re-opening are seeing a spike in cases.  Even though the state is starting to “re-open,” our family is keeping the shelter-in-place status quo.  I consider this virus and the decision of when, and how to reopen the country to be quite important, but I would like us to refocus and consider what truly is significant.  Many things are believed to be significant, BUT only God truly is.  EVERYTHING else pales in comparison to our Father! If God did nothing more for us other than sacrificing His Son to rescue is from the punishment our sins deserve, He would still be worthy of our devotion and worship!  The key is to have the right perspective.  I love what Psalms 86:10-13 (NLT)

“For you are great and perform wonderful deeds.  You alone are God.  Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!  Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.  With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.  I will give glory to your name forever, for your love for me is very great.  You have rescued me from the depths of death.”

And Psalms 150:1-2 (NLT) says:

“Praise the Lord!  Praise God in His sanctuary; praise him in His mighty heaven!  Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!”

God is sufficiently great, worthy of honor and praise and far surpassing any other thing or person who is considered noteworthy.  Once we understand the significance of God, we can then shift our viewpoint.  I will close this post with one of the best verses on perspective is Philippians 4:8 (NLT):

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

David Guzik had this commentary on Philippians 4:8:

“Much of the Christian life comes down to the mind. Romans 12:2 speaks of the essential place of being transformed by the renewing of your mind and 2 Corinthians 10:5 speaks of the importance of casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. What we choose to meditate on matters.  What Paul describes here is a practical way to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

When we magnify or place a greater significance on anything or anyone other than God, we set ourselves up for failure and invite the enemy in to wreak havoc in our life as the mind is the battlefield.  If your thoughts are NOT true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or admirable than we MUST kick those thoughts to the curb and only “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 

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★ Thought for the Day – True Shalom ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…AN INTELLIGENT DESIGNER ★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SUFFICIENT ★ we discussed that there is value in weakness, because when we are weak, God is strong.  Today we are going to see that…

Sooooooo much can be said about this attribute!  In my initial “Bible thumping” I found these passages that you can read on your own:

Genesis 1:1-31, Psalm 19:1, 24:1-2, 90:2, 102:24-27, 104:24, 139:14, Nehemiah 9:6, 1 Chronicles 29:11, Isaiah 40:28, Isaiah 44:24, John 1:3, Acts of the Apostles 17:24-27, Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 11:3, Revelation 4:11, 21:5

I may cover some of these but this post would be way too long to cover in detail.  This post could a controversial one depending on where you fall on the theory of evolution versus intelligent design.  It may be come to you as a surprise but I believe that The Big Bang is true!  God spoke and “BANG” everything was created!

It’s true, just look at Genesis chapter 1 verses 3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24”God said…and then there was…”  The whole creation account can be found in Genesis chapter one and then 4 verses into chapter 2.  If you haven’t read it or haven’t read it lately, I would encourage you to brush up on this well known but critical story.  Now if you looked at those 6 verses you may wait what about Adam and Eve?  Well interestingly enough though in verse 27 we are told that:

“God created human beings in His own image.”

It is not until Genesis 2:7 (NLT) that we learn “how” humans were created, not from God speaking BUT… 

“…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground.  He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

In the message “Tear the Roof Off”, John Gray made the point that in all of creation, God spoke and then it was, but in the case of man, God “formed” him and then “breathed” life into Adam!  We are not some cosmic accident, but a deliberate, intentional creation from an intelligent designer!  But how do I know this?  Well I am glad you asked.  Psalms 19:1 (NLT) says:

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.”

I find it to hard to look up in the sky and see the brilliant colors of a sunset or the gentle swaying of a field flowers or the rhythmic cadence of the ocean tide as laps against the shoreline and not give pause and acknowledge the handiwork of God!  And in Isaiah 40:28 (NLT) says:

“Have you never heard?  Have you never understood?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.  He never grows weak or weary.  No one can measure the depths of his understanding.”

Growing up I remember thinking about what would happen if I never woke up, would I just cease to exist or is there an afterlife?  Is there really a God who created all that I see?  Even if you don’t believe in God, I guarantee that at some point in your life you have asked that question for yourself.  One of my favorite scriptures that states this clearly is Romans 1:20:

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature.  So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

Every person has a “God-shaped hole” in their heart and look for the answer to the question “How Can I Know that there is a God?”  You know it is kind of interesting that evolution is not a fact but a theory, one which has been around for over 160 years and yet it has still not proven but creation illustrates that there is an intelligent designer and according to the Apostle Paul in Romans, we have “no excuse for not knowing God.”

Speaking of the Apostle Paul, I was just reading Acts17:22-23 (NLT) when he was reasoning with the men of Athens in the Areopagus:

“So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines.  And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’  This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.”

Can you imagine worshiping in a shrine “To an Unknown God?”  I love what he said next in 17:24-27 (NLT)…

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it.  Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve His needs — for He has no needs.  He himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.  From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth.  He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries.  His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.”

God’s greatest desire is to draw people to Him and as a result of His creation, we see a sign of His existence with every sunrise and sunset!

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

Check out the message called: “How Do I Know There Is a God?” by Robert Morris in which he explains why it’s important to have a correct worldview and how we can confidently know there’s a God.

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SUFFICIENT★

In the last post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…  A SURGEON ★ we discussed that God wants to do heart surgery on His people so that we become more and more like Jesus through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Today we are going to see that…

So once the heart surgery is done, now we must walk out the Christian life which is not devoid of hardship, whether it as we all have been going through with the plague that has shut down the world!   In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Value in Weakness? ★, I shared that my life verse if from 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT) which says:

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need [other translations say “sufficient”].  My power works best in weakness.”  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

This passage is powerful but unless you understand the back story, it is difficult to understand how powerful it is.  In the preceding verses, Paul talked about being blessed by being “caught up to the third heaven” where God is and “heard so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell,” (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-3).  Then the Apostle Paul gives the explanation of the significance of my life verse…

“That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it.  I will boast only about my weaknesses.  If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth.  But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God.  So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.”  2 Corinthians 12:5-8 (NLT)

As a result of being granted this vision, Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” to prevent pride from welling up inside.  It is unclear exactly what that may be, but Galatians 4:12-16 gives some insight to what that “thorn” might have been as he mentioned during his initial visit to the Galatia Paul had a “bodily ailment” in which he told them at the end of verse 15 that:

“I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible.”   

Three times Paul asked for the “thorn in the flesh” to be removed and yet it was not. God’s answer was…“My grace is all you need.”  As believers in Christ I am sure I know what you answer will be to this question, but really think about your answer to this question…

The kneejerk reaction is “yes of course,” but it’s not easy to be afflicted with a physical ailment, financial hardship or ______ (fill in the blank) praying over and over waiting for a change but what happens condition Even though David Guzik had this commentary on 2 Corinthians 12:9…

“God would show His strength through Paul’s apparent weakness.  To do this, Paul had to believe that God’s grace is sufficient.  We really don’t believe God’s grace is sufficient until we believe we are insufficient.  For many of us, especially in American culture, this is a huge obstacle.  We are the people who idolize the “self-made man” and want to rely on ourselves.  But we can’t receive God’s strength until we know our weakness.  We can’t receive the sufficiency of God’s grace until we know our own insufficiency.”

I love that last statement that “We can’t receive the sufficiency of God’s grace until we know our own insufficiency.”  Do you receive that?  I know that difficult but that is why Paul gave this instruction in Philippians 4:6 (NASB)…

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

God wants to hear from you.  He loves us and though we may not like any other answer but “yes,” BUT we must trust that HE KNOWS what is best for us.  In the case of Paul, who arguably is one of the greatest voices for the Christian faith (other than Jesus of course), was told no in order to prevent him from becoming proud.

So in closing the loop, I wanted to swing back to my theme verse, and close with this final thought that if we want to experience this attribute of “Sufficiency,” we must accept God’s Grace and understanding that when we are weak, if we go to the power source, we will receive all that we need because He is strong!

Will you trust in His sufficiency? 

 

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

 

★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★

 

★ Thought for the Day – Overwhelmed or Overcoming? ★

 

★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

 

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A SURGEON ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…UNDERSTANDING ★, we discussed that God gave us Jesus and the Bible to show us how to interact with others and if we will renew our minds daily, we can grow in our understanding of the world and those who are in our sphere of influence. Today we are going to see that…

I wonder if you are thinking, “A surgeon…where is he going with post?” But I assure you God is indeed willing and able! God promised this through the prophets Hosea, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel that He would give us a new heart!

Hosea 10:12 (NLT) is a passage in which God was pronouncing His judgement because of Israel’s sin, and gave this instruction:

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that He may come and shower righteousness upon you.’”

God wants to perform heart surgery with each of us in order to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes it means that the “spiritual jackhammer” needs to be used to break up any hardened hearts we may have. ‭This is such a powerful Old Testament illustration of what Paul describes in his Epistles that we need a circumcision of our hearts, (see Romans 2:25-29) but I am getting ahead of myself!

Let’s continue is our journey of the Old Testament and land at Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NLT), where God promises to turn sadness to great joy:

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

In this passage God is reassuring the people of Judah who are in exile as a result of their sin, that He will restore them and surgically write His instructions on their hearts. I highlighted that text to spotlight this phrase that Robert Morris made the point in the sermon called “God’s Greatest Desire,” is one of the most repeated phrases in the Bible.  He discussed that all God desires is to have a close relationship with His people. It is interesting to note that in the Book of Jeremiah, the phrase “They will be my people, and I will be their God” is mentioned (7) times, more than anywhere else any other book!!

Our final example supporting this inconspicuous attribute of God. The prophet Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah prophesying to the same people about the love God has for the people of Judah even through they were being disciplined for their sin.  In Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NLT) it speaks to the promised heart surgery that God will do for His people:

“And I will give you a NEW HEART, and I will put a NEW SPIRIT in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

Isn’t that powerful?! What a BEAUTIFUL PROPHECY! Unlike Jeremiah, Ezekiel was with the people of Judah in exile so I am sure this Word that God spoke was comforting to him as well. I have another fun fact for you…Circling back on the phrase “They will be my people, and I will be their God;” the Book of Ezekiel has (6) mentions; so between Jeremiah and Ezekiel God says the same thing (13) times! I wonder if it is stated so many times because God wanted His people to know how much He loved them, and regardless of the circumstances of captivity that they were in, God wants to bring them back into relationship with Him! The same is true for us today!

Now you may be thinking this is great and all but I am not an Israelite and all these passages related to them and that time period. But Romans‬ ‭2:28-29‬ ‭(NLT) ties it all together:‬‬

“For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”
‭‭
Thanks to Jesus the prophecies from Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have been fulfilled! We are made right by accepting Jesus into our hearts and trusting in Him as our Lord and Savior. I will close with this last passage that will put a nice bow on this attribute. Hebrews 10:15-16 (NLT) says:

“And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For He says, “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.””

If that sound familiar, it should, the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews is quoting Jeremiah 31:33! I love God’s Word and the absolute synergies that exist between the Old and New Testaments! GOD IS SURGEON, BUT it only will happen if we will open our hearts, allow whatever hardness to be broken up, allow God to write His law on our hearts so that we can enjoy the new heart He wants to give us! If you have not trusted Jesus as your savior I would encourage you not to wait another day!

If you are ready to make that decision, here is a prayer you can say to accept Jesus as your savior:

God take this broken, sinful person and change my life. I confess I have made mistakes and acknowledge that I am in need of a Savior. I want a relationship with you. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever. Today I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation. In Jesus Name I pray! Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer you are a new creation, (see 2 Corinthians 5:17!) God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life!

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★ Thought for the Day – What is Your Download Speed? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Audience of One ★

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…UNDERSTANDING ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…AN ARCHITECT ★ we discussed that everything that is naturally found was designed by God and that no matter what the adversity or situation is, NOTHING is impossible for the God that designed the ENTIRE UNIVERSE!  Today we are going to see that…

I shared this in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Understanding is a Three-Edged Sword ★, 6 years ago, BUT it is still relevant today and thought it would be great to start off with:

“Understanding is a three-edged sword.  Your side, my side, and the truth.”  J. Michael Straczynski

The key to understanding people in every situation is seeing all edges of the sword…meaning there is your side, their side and the truth.

The more you can learn about a situation, the closer you will get to the sweet spot of understanding what is truly going on.  If you are open to gaining knowledge from all perspective the the more likely you will achieve true understanding. It’s a process that takes time, a listening ear and a willingness to see things from another person’s point of view…Failure to do so will certainly result in a lack of understanding and could result in conflict.  Now that 6 years have passed, I would like to believe that I have developed a greater level of understanding about life and my interpersonal relationships whether it be co-workers, friends, my wife or two daughters but alas I am still a work in progress. Better but far from perfect…as last night showed me.  I lost my temper with my daughter over her questioning the need to still having restrictions after they lift the shelter-in-place restrictions. We are now on day 46 of the self-quarantining, and willingness to listener her side was in short supply which resulted in hurting her and subsequently me apologizing once I had cooled down.  Now while this type of behavior is the exception now instead of the norm, I was saddened that I had not applied the very attribute that I was going to be unpacking the next day. Ugh!  Perhaps that was a reminder that I need to ensure that daily depend on God and do what Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT) instructs:

“Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.  Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

It is going to require submission to the Holy Spirit, and effort on our part to pursue the things that pleases God so that we can become truly righteous and holy which I believe will lead to a greater awareness and understanding of others.

As we discussed in previous posts God is all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present so there is nothing that is unknown to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that NOTHING is unknown to the Trinity.  We serve a God who knows everything that we struggle with and all our hopes and desires we have.  Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT) is a bedrock verse to stand on.

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

Jesus did what we could not, not only did He face every trial we go through, He sacrificed Himself so that we can confidently go to God and have access to The Father’s grace and mercy!!  I will close with this final thought from James 1:5 (ESV) says:

“If any of you lacks wisdom [or understanding], let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

God is so good!  He gave us Jesus and gave us the Bible to show us how to interact with others.

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★ Re|Engage – Understand ★

★ Re|Engage – Conflict ★

“Backseat DJs” by Steven Furtick 

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…AN ARCHITECT ★

In yesterday’s post ★Back to the Basics – GOD IS… COMPASSIONATE ★, we discussed that throughout the gospels it says that Jesus “had compassion on them,” or “was moved with compassion for them” regardless of whether he was tired or not, Jesus made time for those in need.  He showed how much compassion He by feeding the 5,000 while just having heard that His cousin John the Baptist was beheaded.  Today we are going to see that…

This one hits close to home as this is what my profession is.  This may surprise you or perhaps you never thought of God as an architect, but I assure you after this post you will see that the Bible does substantiate this claim.  For the past 6 weeks I have been doing the Monday thru Friday Bible Studies virtually to overcome the physical distancing that we must all adhere to.  On Friday’s we are studying 1 Chronicles which is not the typical “go-to” book to do a Bible Study but all scripture “is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16).  I remember when I read 1 Chronicles 28:19-20 (NLT) recently, I was quite surprised to read that:

““Every part of this plan,” David told Solomon, “was given to me in writing from the hand of the Lord.”  Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.””

I had not remembered that God not only designed but wrote done all the plans for the original Temple for Solomon to build from!  God was the architect of the Temple that His people worshiped Him, not a human being!  That’s pretty incredible!

Another book of the Old Testament that is shied away from, is the Book of Job which follows a man who had to endure the worst tests any person had to go through (other than Jesus).  If you have not read the book recently, I would encourage you to dig into it. The composition of the book has a series of speeches / complaints from Job and then rebuttals from (4) different men about WHY this happened to Job.  The book then culminates with God giving Job an audience in which He challenges him with these questions…

““Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell me, if you know so much.  Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?””  (Job 38:4-5 NLT).

As an architect myself, I know how much design and effort is put into a set of construction documents for a single building let alone all of creation!!  God is the “MASTER” Architect who created all that we see in the Universe!  Wow!  And through His creation we can know that God is real.

And if that were not enough, in Hebrews 11:10 (NIV) is also shows that God is the Architect of Heaven as well…

“For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

This of course is Heaven that Abraham was looking forward to.  You can see that God is an Architect – He can design Temples, lay out the foundations of the world and design a Heavenly City that one day we will all enjoy as a result of trusting Jesus as our Savior.  So why did I choose this attribute of God?  Well it is not just because I am an Architect, though I enjoy a well-designed project and love when you walk through the final product and realize that people will inhabit the spaces that just a year ago did not exist, except on paper (or in this digital age, the Revit BIM Model…Hahaha!)  But the true reason is that everything that is naturally found was designed by God.  Since I have been quarantined in my home for the past 6 weeks, the only activity outside the house besides grocery shopping is going on walks.  Each night I walk for 3 miles and enjoy God’s handiwork.  It is reassuring to know that no matter what the adversity or situation is, NOTHING is impossible for the God that designed the ENTIRE UNIVERSE!

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★ Thought of the Day – What are You the Architect of? ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…COMPASSIONATE ★

In yesterday’s post ★Back to the Basics – GOD IS…HOLY ★, we discussed that as a result of God’ Holiness, as His followers we must “BE HOLY” because He is holy and cannot not even associate with a hint of sin.  That is why Jesus sacrifice is so important!!  Today we are going to see that…

I like to start off these posts with Old Testament examples of the attribute we are spotlighting.  There is a passage that comes to mind:

Psalms 145:8-9 (NLT)

“The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  The Lord is good to everyone.  He showers compassion on all His creation.”

I so love that the God who is over all the world has such attributes and thoughts towards us.  How beautiful is that…God “showers compassion on all His creation.”

All through this “GOD IS…” series we have been looking at the attributes of God.  The one constant has been how incredible it is that God sent His ONE and ONLY son Jesus to earth to die on a Roman cross to pay the ransom as a result of my sin so that ALL could be saved.  This is what the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) testify to.  God knew we could never do it on our own so He sent a replacement me to pay our debt — talk about compassion!

Here’s a fun fact for you: The Gospel of John covers the last year of Jesus’ life, while  Matthew, Mark and Luke cover first (2) years of Jesus’ ministry.  Did you know that there are very few things that are covered in all (4) Gospels?  In fact, there are only (4) stories in common:

  1. The Death of Jesus.  (Matthew 27:45-56, Mark 15:33-41, Luke 23:44-56, and John 19:28-42)
  2. The Resurrection of Jesus.  (Matthew 28:1-20, Mark 16:1-20, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-10)
  3. The Feeding of the 5,000.  (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-20, and John 6:1-15)
  4. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16 and John 1:33)

Throughout the gospels it says that Jesus “had compassion on them,” or “was moved with compassion for them” regardless of whether he was tired or not, Jesus made time for those in need.  One particular instance was in Mark 6:34 (NLT) which says:

“Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So He began teaching them many things.”

This is how the day started that lead to Jesus “Feeding of the 5,000.”  One more fun fact, that was the number of men feed, in reality it was probably more like 15,000 to 20,000 when woman and children are considered.  This is such a widely known miracle but for me it always comes back to context.  In the the book of Matthew, the story is located in chapter 14.  Verses 10-14 (NLT) really shows the compassion of Jesus and gives the backdrop of the events of one of the greatest miracles:

“So John [also know as John the Baptist — The cousin of Jesus], was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.  Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it.  Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.  As soon as Jesus heard the news, He left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.  But the crowds heard where He was headed and followed on foot from many towns.  Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Jesus was trying to get to a solitary place to mourn the death of John the Baptist but instead He spent the day healing the sick and preaching to the masses.  Isn’t that amazing?  Had Jesus not had so much compassion to lay aside His grief over the loss of His cousin, the miracle of the “Feeding of 5,000” men never would have happened!!  Thank you, Jesus, for your compassion to sacrifice everything for us!

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★ Thought for the Day – What’s Rubbing Off On You? ★

“This is Significant” by Steven Furtick…about understanding why we go through the storms.

 

 

 

 

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★Back to the Basics – GOD IS…HOLY ★ 

Yesterday I had this whole post written and then it completely disappeared, so I had to rewrite it from scratch causing me to miss the deadline to post this.  Maybe that was a good thing?  On the rewrite, much more was added.  So…In the post two days ago ★ GOD IS…A FRIEND ★, even if you do not think of God as a friend, He still desires to be your friendship with you!!  As a result with our relationship with Jesus, we are automatically friends of God!!  Today we are going to see that…

I have always thought about the holiness of God like a pristine white shirt and how every time I wear one and eat spaghetti with red sauce, I always get one tiny red spot on it!  This is without a doubt trivial, BUT that shirt is ruined because of that tiny red stain.  That is how I see sin and God’s Holiness, not even a tiny bit of sin cannot be tolerated!

All through the Bible the holiness of God is clearly shown.  I think that the Torah, (the first five books of the Bible), especially highlights this attribute.  The second book of the Torah recounts the deliverance of the people of Israel from 400 years of slavery.  In Exodus 15, Moses and the people sang a song of deliverance about their new-found freedom.  In the middle they ask this rhetorical question, Exodus 15:11 (NLT) says:

“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord — glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?”

It is so important to pause and take inventory when God moves in our lives and acknowledge how glorious, how awesome and great He is!

Deuteronomy 23:1-14 is a fascinating passage of scripture in which God instructed His people on how to worship and conduct themselves within the community.  Those who defile themselves must be separated from the camp because of what Deuteronomy 23:14 (NLT) says:

“The camp must be holy, for the Lord your God moves around in your camp to protect you and to defeat your enemies.  He must not see any shameful thing among you, or he will turn away from you.”

Isn’t that beautiful?  So long as the Israelites keep themselves and the camp holy was God was close, protecting them from their enemies. But if He even saw one thing than God would turn away from them.  That is a key differentiator between God and us, there is zero compromise with God when it comes to holiness.  In Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7 God says (4) times that His people must…You know when God repeats something (4) times, you best listen up!!  These words were recorded thousands of years ago and they are just as true for us today.  How do i know this?  Well I am glad you asked.  The Apostle Peter made a call to “Holy Living” in 1 Peter chapter 1.  He starts off in verses 13-14:

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control.  Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.  So you must live as God’s obedient children.  Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires.  You didn’t know any better then.”  1 Peter 1:13-14 (NLT)

Part of winning a battle is a good plan of attack.  Peter gives some good advice.  I love the direction to “PUT ALL YOUR HOPE IN THE GRACIOUS SALVATION,” the key is to do our part.  We need to be on the offensive: ready the word, maintaining boundaries from relationships or patterns of behaviors that could cause us to drift from the path or backslide into the past.

In 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT) he continues raising the urgency:

“But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.””

Did you catch the Leviticus quotation?  “You must be holy because I am holy.”  I love the synergies of the Old and New Testaments.  Some people believe that since it was before Jesus, that the Old Testament is irrelevant but so much of the New Testament is built on the foundation of the Old Testament.  So Peter tells us BE PREPARED, BE HOLY and then in 1 Peter 1:17-20 (NLT) we are to BE THANKFUL:

“And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites.  He will judge or reward you according to what you do.  So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”  For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value.  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.  God chose Him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.”

How amazing is that last sentence?  God chose Jesus to be our “ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days He has been revealed for your sake.”  Regardless of what horrific report the nightly news offers on a continually loop, God is in control, He Holy, and He loves more than we can ever imagine!  You just need to make the choice that you will pursue holiness.

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Back to the Basics – Does God Play Favorites? ★

★ Back to the Basics – Just Believe! ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A FRIEND ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A HEALER ★, we talked about that God desires to heal us completely – mind, body and spirit.  regardless of what I may think, see or feel, the reality is…the OMNIPRESENCE of God IS THE TRUTH and REALITY that I MUST STAND ON.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Today we are going to see that GOD IS…A HEALER…

Depending on your upbringing, church affiliation or lack of exposure to God, this attribute will either resonate deeply or not register at all. For those who fall in the last camp, my prayer is that by the end of this post, even if you do not think of God as a friend, you will at least see that He desires a friendship with you!!

Psalm 139:17-18 (NLT) says:

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!  I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

Isn’t that beautiful?  Do you hear the intimacy and love in the tone?  From Genesis to Revelation, the love of God is poured out on the pages of the Bible which clearly illustrates His desire to be our friend.  Romans 5:6-11 (NLT) gives a very clear example of this:

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  BUT GOD showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

As a result of my relationship with Jesus, I am a friend of God’s!!  Thank you Jesus!  The same is true for you!  When we started this post, I posed the question if you considered God a friend or not.  After reading this post I pray that you feel the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for you.  If you would like to learn on how to develop a relationship just check this post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★.

 

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I did not include this in the body of the post, but I figured you were wondering what song would I choose for this attribute of God… So here it is:  Delirious? – What a Friend I’ve Found (Friend Forever).

★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A HEALER ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A WAY-MAKER ★, we talked about that regardless of what I may think, see or feel, the reality is…the OMNIPRESENCE of God IS THE TRUTH and REALITY that I MUST STAND ON.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Today we are going to see that…

It’s amazing what a profound affect music can have on you whether to bring joy or encourage or comfort.  Without realizing it, music can the tell the story of our lives or at least have the ability to transport us back with the first chord or lyric.  Those who know me, know what a significant part it has of my life.  When I started to write this post, I immediately thought of the song “Healer” that Kari Jobe released back in 2009.  I instantly fell in love with these lyrics that gently reminds us that Jesus is our great physician!

If you passed right over the link, I highly recommend that you listen to “Healer,” perhaps even as you read this post.  Let the truths in this beautiful song wash over you and encourage you.  As so many are facing the fear of COVID-19 whether young or old, this particular attribute of God, more than ever needs to heralded.  Psalm 103:2-3 (NLT) says:

“Let ALL that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.  He forgives ALL my sins and heals ALL my diseases.”

And then in Psalm 147:3 (NLT) it says:

“He [God] heals the brokenhearted
and bandages their wounds.”

God is our Heavenly Daddy that we can call out “Abba Father,” (See Romans 8:15-16) and go to Him with all our infirmities.  He desires to heal us completely – mind, body and spirit.  I shared with you about the significance Romans 8:15-16 and the song “Abba” by Jonathan David Helser in the post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A DADDY ★ when God ministered to my Mom right before she passed away from her second stroke in 2016.  And as I mentioned in the opening of this post, to this day I cannot listen to that song without being transporter back to that sunny Saturday in the nursing home courtyard in Cranford, NJ.  The same is true for “Healer,” which was the song I played on my iPod over and over in the ICU when my Mom had her first stoke back in 2010 (just months after Kari Jobe released the song interestingly enough).  There is something about worshiping the God that activates our faith and stirs up hope in hopeless situations.

In 2010 when the doctors told my siblings and I that even if our Mom survived, she would most likely be paralyzed and unable to speak due to the severity of the brain bleed.  Well God supernaturally moved and my Mom defied the prognosis; not only did she not pass away, but she was able to walk (albeit with a walker) and was able to speak (although it was diminished).  We were blessed to have our Mom for another 5-1/2 years because GOD IS A HEALER!  In the post ★ Day 03 – Reason for the Season – Let Hope Arise ★, I wrote about this experience and shared this quote:

“In Scripture, however, hope is void of uncertainty.  In fact, certainty is at its core, because it rests in the stability of God, His character and His will, which are unwavering.  Biblical hope, then, can be defined as, “the confident expectation and desire for something good in the future…Hope is essential to our faith.” From the YouVersion Reading Plan ‘121 Advent.’ (http://bible.com/r/KR)

Hope is essential to our faith.”  All through the Bible there are examples of God miraculously healing people.  Some of the greatest stories about Jesus in the Gospels are about the miracles He performed.  Just one representative verse that comes to mind is Matthew 4:24 (NLT):

“News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to Him all who were sick.  And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed — He healed them all.”

HE HEALED THEM ALL!”  God is able to heal anything!  And He desires to partner with us.  James 5:14-16 (NLT) instructs us:

“Are any of you sick?  You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.  Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.  And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.  Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

God is greater any virus.

God is greater than disease.

God is greater than depression.

AGAIN GOD IS A HEALER!  That healing however comes in many forms, it could be supernaturally or through medical professionals or it could be by bringing the person home to heaven.  In 2010, the healing came supernaturally for my Mom but in 2016 God chose to heal / deliver her through “bringing her home.”  That of course is not easy for those who remain behind, but we must keep in mind that we all have a 100% mortality rate.  For believers, death should not be feared as the Apostle Paul said: “to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”  (See 2 Corinthians 5:8)  Though I miss my Mom, I draw enormous comfort that she is in the loving arm of her Heavenly Father who has COMPLETELY healed her of ALL the pain and suffering she was in.

I will close with this beautiful proclamation of faith that the Prophet Jeremiah offers us in the book that bears his name.  Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT) says:

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved.  My praises are for you alone!”

Amen?  May this prayer come true in your life….

Abba father, Daddy we come to you boldly in faith that if we (or anyone we know) are afflicted with any disease or virus or any other infirmity would be completely healed.  Lord we ask for COMPLETE healing that astounds the Doctors and will allow for YOU to be glorified and YOUR miracle working power will shine through.  Please heal us however you see fit.  In Jesus’ name we pray!  Amen.

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Thought for the Day – What does God’s Love Mean? ★

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A WAY-MAKER ★

In yesterday’s post  ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNIPRESENT, we talked about the third “OMNI” that God is known.  Unlike Omnipotent (all-powerful) and Omniscient (all-knowing), we discussed how Omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time) is a little more challenging to grasp for our finite minds BUT regardless of our comprehension we should be comforted nonetheless because the God of the Universe is EVERYWHERE!  Today we are going to see that..

Like the rest of the world, as a result of the Coronavirus our family has been attending church “virtually” for the past 5 weeks now.  This past Sunday we worshiped to “Way Maker,” (https://youtu.be/iJCV_2H9xD0) and though we have been singing that song for months now, the truths that are proclaimed speak directly into the current pandemic.  In case you have been living under a rock here is the chorus to give you a sample:

Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are

That is WHO the God of heaven and earth is!  HE IS a Way maker — Miracle worker — Promise keeper — and a Light in the darkness!  We have all had to find “our new normal” whether that be attending classes online, or homeschooling our children or working from home or perhaps finding ourselves unemployed as a result of the “world-wide” shut down!  Today I wanted to share these promises declared in this anthem song (which are also all through scripture) as I think we need to be reminded in this time of fear and uncertainty that God CAN and WILL make a WAY no matter how bleak the current circumstance.  It’s funny I first heard the song performed by Leland, but when I went to iTunes yesterday it seems that every major Christian artist has a version (over 30 covers!)  There is a part in the worship experience where you can just feel the Holy Spirit take over and pour out His love.  The lyrics are:

I have had this song on repeat in my playlist!  It is like God is trying to refresh and remind me that regardless of what I may think, see or feel, the reality is…the OMNIPRESENCE of God IS THE TRUTH and REALITY that I MUST STAND ON.  Nothing is impossible for God.  He can make water come from a rock, (not once but twice — See Exodus 17:5-7 and Numbers 20:6-11), He can bring dry bones come back to life, (See Ezekiel 17:1-14), and resurrect what was dead and bring hope to a hopeless situation, (See Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1–44, John 20:1-23).

Before His death, Jesus said in John 14:6b (NLT):

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”

As a result of Jesus death and resurrection has opened unlimited access to the Way-Maker of heaven.  When we put our trust in Jesus, EVERYTHING CHANGES!

Change.  Right now we ALL want change?  We want things as they we B.C. — BEFORE COVID-19.  What are you looking forward to getting back to?  School?  Date nights?  Maybe getting back to work?  I was watching the news the other day about protests that are breaking out all over the country about the shelter-in-place orders and was shocked at this sign:

Isn’t that crazy?  I just gave my youngest daughter the clippers with a No. 4 clip and I’m good for another month!  Hahaha!

I was just watching the sermon “Looking Forward to Normal” this morning and Steven Furtick made the point to not be excited to “get back to normal” but rather we should “look forward to normal.”  Let this time change us, because:

“Faith looks forward.”

You know what my constant prayer through this pandemic, God may you get the glory for the end of this pandemic and may there be revival throughout the whole world.  That God would fulfill the promise of Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)…

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

God WANTS to DO ABOVE and BEYOND ANYTHING we can imagine in whatever our “new normal” is.  I believe if we would stop scrolling on the Twitter feed of the latest death rate and instead start feeding on the WORD of God, our ANXIETY level would DECREASE and our faith and our PEACE would INCREASE!

I will close Isaiah 43:19 (NIV) speaks of the Lord’s promise of victory in which the prophet proclaimed:

“See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I truly believe that God wants to something new with each of us during this time of unprecedented stillness and inactivity.  The question is, when things “get back to normal,” will you be the same or will you have been changed as a result of TRUSTING God in these dark times?

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

 

Here is another anthem song called “RATTLE!” to add to your playlist by Elevation Worship based on Ezekiel 37:1-14.

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNIPRRESENT ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNISCIENT ★, we talked about how God is all-knowing and that we can trust in Him regardless of circumstances.  And the day before that we covered that GOD IS…OMNIPOTENT (all-powerful).  Today we are going to see that…

Out of the (3) “Omni’s,” I think the OMNIPRESENCE of God is the hardest one one to grab hold of.  Dictionary.com defines OMNIPRESENT as being:

God IS EVERYWHERE!  God is not CONSTRAINED to time.  He exists in the past, present and future simultaneously!  Which means that NOTHING escapes His sight!  Proverbs 15:3 (NLT) says:

“The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping His eye on both the evil and the good.”

And Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) says:

“For the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”‘

And then Jeremiah 23:24 (NLT) says:

Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?  Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord.”

I love that reassurance that God is always with us regardless of whether we feel like He is.  God has been with us even before we were born, see Psalm 139:7-16 so in these fearful times, knowing the God is omnipresent is so comforting to me.  I love how Robert Morris put it in speaking about God the Holy Spirit:

“The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, which means He can be everywhere at all times, helping everyone.  Isn’t it comforting to know the Holy Spirit gives us access to God who has the answers to everything?”  From the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew.’  

Since God is everywhere, knows everything and has all the power we should trust Him with all that we have!   

 


★★ Dig Deeper ★★

I highly encourage you to read the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew’ by Robert Morris for yourself.

To read more posts about the Holy Spirit click here.

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNISCIENT ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNIPOTENT ★, we talked about how the Holy Trinity are (3) distinct individuals — God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, each with their own specific functions BUT yet are still the same God.  Each being omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (ever-present always).  Today we are going to see that…

In these crazy times of sheltering-in-place orders, endless newscasts of COVID-19 infection/death rates all around the world and the uncertainty of the future, isn’t it great to know that God IS all-knowing!  Even though the world has been completely blindsided by this pandemic, NOTHING is a surprise to Him!  Psalms‬ ‭147:5‬ ‭(NASB) says:  

“Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”

As we scramble to make sense of this, God knowledge is infinite and though He is not the author of this chaos, He is the ONE who can use all of this for good.  I am very critical of the media and their approach to reporting that “If it bleeds, it leads” in the priory of the news segments but I love the final one which typically is uplifting and life affirming.  Through this pandemic people have rallied to help one another and we have seen the extraordinary efforts that the medical profession and first responders are doing day after day for total strangers!  Incredible!  Romans 8:28 in action!

It is no doubt that these are strange days, as one bleeds into the next and there is a total lack of understanding of this virus and ambiguity of what is the correct course of action to “re-open the country her in America” but as the nations of the world are in utter confusion, I draw comfort in the words of Isaiah‬ ‭40:13-15‬ ‭(NLT) in which ‬‬the prophet of the Lord gave this defense of how there is no equal to the knowledge of God, look at these questions:

“Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?  Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?  Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?  Does he need instruction about what is good?  Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?  No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket.  They are nothing more than dust on the scales.  He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.”

If we could truly grab the omniscience of God, and truly trust that He is ALL-KNOWING then I believe that we would have peace that surpasses understanding, and casting aside our anxiety and fear of the future as we have (see Philippians 4:6-8).  In the message “The Three Truths of Palm Sunday,” Robert Morris said:

“Fear not…Don’t let the enemy run away with your mind.”

Have you ever gotten into a downward spiral of negative thoughts, that seem to have a stronghold on your mind that things well never get better?  Well that is because we are in a war with an unseen enemy (see Ephesians 6:10-12).  Satan wants to “run away with our minds” and convince us that ______ (fill in the blank) will never change or get better but he does not know the future and is insignificant compared to God the Father, the creator of the universe!  I love what Randy Alcorn said in his book “90 Days of God’s Goodness”:

“Satan remains under God’s authority at all times.  The devil is nowhere close to being omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, or in any other way on God’s level…Satan is a lion, yes, but a lion on God’s leash.”  

That is awesome!!  Though times look dark, there us always hope, trust in the ONE who knows it all.  Jesus said in Matthew‬ ‭10:29-31‬ ‭(NLT)…‬

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin?  But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Why do I worry?  God knows what I need.  He knows EVERYTHING about you and I as Psalms‬ ‭139:1-4‬ ‭(NLT) says: ‬‬

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.”

God knows all and is in control!  Just trust in Him!

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…OMNIPOTENT ★

In yesterday’s post  ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…GRACIOUS ★, we talked about how God’s grace is available to anyone who trusts in Jesus as their savior and that it God shows no partiality in lavishing us with His grace.  Today we are going to see that GOD IS…OMNIPOTENT…

I love what Randy Alcorn said in his book “90 Days of God’s Goodness”:

“In my experience, most Christians lack grounding in God’s attributes, including His sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, justice, and patience.  We dare not wait for the time of crisis to learn perspective!”

I could not agree more, the whole reason why we read the Bible is to learn about the greatness of God so that when the storms of life hit, we will be prepared and know that we can trust Him!  Before we move on talking about the Omnipotence of God I wanted to share this illustration about the Holy Trinity that I saw in a class at my church. 

Isn’t that so powerful?  I have always struggled to explain how the Trinity, but just as H2O is the same chemical that can exist in (3) different states, and have (3) different purposes, so it is with The Trinity that they are (3) separate individuals with (3) distinct functions.  So as we discuss attributes of God with scriptures and quotes that may be more centered about Jesus or the Holy Spirit just know that the Trinity is God in (3) persons.  In the post called ★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 2 ★, I shared how The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune or Trinity; comprising of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are all omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (ever-present always). 

In the next 3 days we will unpack these (3) attributes.  Today is all about how God IS all-powerful!  NOTHING is too difficult for Him!  Psalms‬ ‭147:5‬ ‭(NLT)‬‬ proclaims:

“How great is our Lord!  His power is absolute!  His understanding is beyond comprehension!”

There are so many verses in the Bible that describes this at length, like Isaiah 44:24, Romans 1:20, Hebrews 1:3.  But as I was reading in the Book of John I saw this attribute of God on display.  It was when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication and…

“The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and He is more powerful than anyone else.  No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”  John‬ ‭10:24-29‬ ‭(NLT) ‬‬

I love the certainty of Jesus words: “[God] is more powerful than anyone else.  No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”  No matter what virus, or economic hardship or adversity we may face can ever take us away from the hand of God!  I will close with ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭(NASB) ‬‬with the testimony of Jesus to the omnipotence of The Father:

“And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.””

★★ Dig Deeper ★★ 

★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 2 ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Whose Body Are You A Part Of? ★

 

 

 

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS… GRACIOUS ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A DADDY ★, we talked about how through what Jesus did on the cross for you, we now have access to God like never before, we can call Him “DADDY!”  Today we are going to see that…

Though this oftentimes is used synonymously with merciful, being Gracious or extending GRACE, is very different. 

Mercy IS NOT RECEIVING what you DESERVE.   

Grace IS RECEIVING what you DON’T DESERVE.   

I know I am not worthy of the gift of salvation and yet God sent His Son to die for my sins even though I was living in complete rebellion from Him!  One of my favorite verses on the grace of God has to be from Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭(NLT)‬‬

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

No matter how hard I may try “to be good,” or “do good deeds,” I can never earn salvation – IT IS A FREE GIFT!  Romans‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭(NLT) echos this point:

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.  And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in his sight.  He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

NO ONE is perfect and ALL of us have fallen woefully short of the mark is what God desires. So instead of trying to earn our salvation, we should just accept the free gift and work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12).  We are all on equal footing and as Acts 15:11 (NLT) says:

“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” 

Regardless of what we do, nothing is beyond God’s ability to forgive, no matter “how unforgivable” we may feel that it is…It is by the UNDESERVED GRACE of God that we are saved!  There is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore or any less!  

I will close this “Grace Challenge” to all of us that Jimmy Evans made in the sermon called: ”The Glory of Grace”:

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★ 

★ Back to the Basics – Does God Play Favorites? ★ 

”The Glory of Grace” sermon by Jimmy Evans 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A DADDY ★ 

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…PROVIDER ★, we talked about how God is is a provider and that it okay to put Him to the test.  If we will be faithful to bring the tithe  He throw open the “floodgates of heaven” and pour out so much blessings we wouldn’t know what to do with it!  Today it seems appropriate to tie together that God is a provider and that…

There is nothing greater in the world then to hear my daughters still call me “Daddy,” even now in their teenage years.  It is such an endearing name of affection that invokes a sense of connection and deep love.  Jimmy Evans said

“Our God is the greatest Daddy in the World!”  

He showed that love for His children by sending Jesus to bridge the gap that sin created so that we could be reconnected to Him.  Through Jesus we have that connection and can call upon God not just as the Father in Heaven but as our Daddy!  And our heavenly Daddy gave us an amazing gift by giving us the Holy Spirit.  I love this quote from Robert Morris:

“The Holy Spirit wants to pull the curtain back so that you can begin to see God more clearly.”  From the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew.’ (https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/15944)

I think that many people are missing a clear understanding of who God is!  My wife and I did a bible reading plan called “Lent: Remembering the Life of Jesus.”  Each day they challenged the reader to write down an attribute of God.  I highly recommend the reading plan to discover who God is!  And if you have not figured it out already, we are in a series that is the fruit of my efforts called “GOD IS” Once I wrote down the obvious 20 attributes, I found that I had to dig down a little harder and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal so of the more subtle attributes that may not be so readily apparent without His revelation and without reading the Bible… For instance, Romans ‭8:15-16 ‭(NLT)‬‬ shows us that we can call God “Daddy”….

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”

“Abba,” which in Aramaic is a word derived from baby-language and is translated to mean “Daddy.”  So the Apostle Paul is making the connection that through our relationship with Jesus we can call God our Daddy!  This is really a beautiful reality that unfortunately many people do not see God as,  whether that is because their earthly father was far from a good daddy or maybe because they have been hurt by a pastor or a church. The key is that you should never allow a bad experience here on earth to change our view of God!

This is also very special to me because of a song called “Abba” by Jonathan David Helser which was repeatedly in my playlist at the time my Mom passed away.  My Mom had her first stroke back in 2010 (which completely changed her life).  Since 1,500 miles separated us, we would have weekly phone calls in which I would often share things with with her from what I was reading in the Bible or what I learned from the sermon on the previous Sunday.  After the stroke, the Holy Spirit gave me many opportunities to sow into her spirit the love that God had for her.  In fact, the weekend before she passed away from a second stroke, I “just so happened” to be in NJ visiting her and had a very special moment with her in the courtyard of her nursing home.  I say “just so happened” because God was so kind to arrange it that I be there in NJ just days before it was “her time” to go home to be with Him.  As we sat in that courtyard and the sun warmed our faces, there was a gentle breeze and this lyric from “Abba” played over my Ipod…

          “Abba, I belong to you.” 

Or another way to say it, “Daddy, I belong to you.”  My Mom was close to the end, but our heavenly Daddy allowed me through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to use this song and “to pull the curtain back so that she could see God more clearly” to remind her that He loved her and was with her through this weakened state.  I will never forget that moment and I will always be thankful for the gift that my Daddy gave me to be there because just 2 days later my Mom was reunited with her Heavenly Daddy!

Just know regardless of what anyone here on earth has done to you, all you have the  do is look to God who is “greatest Daddy in the World!”  

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Thought for the Day – Fully Known ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – What Difference Does a Daddy Make? ★

Here is the post that I did in memory of my Mom that talks more about that day in the courtyard called:

★ Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom ★

 

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…A PROVIDER ★ 

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…MERCIFUL ★, we talked about how even though God is just, He is also merciful!  Today we are going to see that GOD IS…PROVIDER…

Today is a special day for our family!  Prior to the Coronavirus, most people dreaded April 15 as it was the filing deadline for IRS.  For us, this day is the anniversary of an amazing answer to prayer.  On April 15, 2006 my wife and I went to a Couple’s Breakfast in which the topic was “Reaching for Financial Freedom.”  At the time, we has credit card debt, student loans, a minivan car payment and a ridiculously large mortgage payment we could barely afford.  After hearing the husband and wife speakers speak on the provision of God, we prayed that in one year’s time we would be debt free.  Exactly one year later, we were on a flight to Texas having that prayer answered!  As a result of leaving NJ to TX we were completely debt free (excluding the mortgage).

Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

This verse has always brought me great comfort that that the creator of the universe is mindful of me a mere mortal (see Psalm 8:4-8).  In the time of unprecedented chaos and uncertainty, it is so comforting for me to know that my Heavenly Father will provide if I will trust Him.  In my Wednesday morning Bible Study (that we are now conducting virtually), we are reading the Old Testament book of Malachi.  In Malachi 3:10 (NLT) it says:

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!  Try it!  Put me to the test!”

My whole life God has provided for me even when I far, far from Him!  After I came to trust in Jesus in 1998, tithing came natural to me and I have seen move in so many ways!  This morning I received a notification that the Coronavirus stimulus check had been deposited into our bank account which “coincidentally” is the 13 year anniversary of us moving here from NJ!!  God’s timing is perfect in so many ways, and I just love how on a day when so many have to pay the IRS, God orchestrated that we would be blessed with the check on our anniversary of His greatest provision.  God is a provider and a promise keeper!  Just trust in Him!

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Thought for the Day – God Owns It All! ★ 

★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS… MERCIFUL ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…GENEROUS ★, we talked about how God generously sacrificed His Son Jesus for us and gave us the Holy Spirit to boot!  Today we are going to unpack how…

I shared in the past ★Back to the Basics – Validity of God’s Word ★ that many people find the Old Testament confusing, and question how can the God who seems to be doling out vengeance left and right, be the same God who is all about love in the New Testament.  Truth be told, it is hard to see how God could be considered merciful but He is, the problem is a lack of understanding and knowledge of the Bible.  People cannot wrap their minds around the reality that God is both just and merciful!  In the sermon called…”I’ll Arrange It,” Robert Morris said:

“God Is … Just and Merciful.  These seem like they are contrary but they are not. 

Justice: Giving someone what he deserves.

Mercy: Not giving someone what he deserves.”

When I think about justice and mercy, the role that a  Judge plays in trying to keep the letter of the law and simultaneously offering leniency as warranted.  To start the defense of God as vengeful, I thought I’d start off with an Old Testament passage from King David, a man after His own heart.  In Psalm 103:10-11 (NLT) he said:

“He [God] does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”

And then in Psalm 86:15 (NLT), David said:

“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”

There are many other passages in the Old Testament that show the merciful heart of God but I thought I would switch gears and share just one from the New Testament.

As I believe Ephesians 2:3-5 (NLT) says it all…

“All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  But Godis so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”

“But God.”  The most powerful two words in the Bible when combined  together. We were deserving God’s justice and wrath,  But God intervened on our behalf and sent Jesus to allow His mercy to flow out to us when we believe in His Son!  Though I deserve death and to be sent to hell, God did not give me what I deserved!  Instead through the death of his son, I am made right in his eyes and I am grafted into the family of God!  Thank you God for your mercy!

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★

 

Check out the sermon called…I’ll Arrange It,” Robert Morris in which he explains how God is fully merciful and fully just at the same time

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS… GENEROUS ★

In yesterday’s post ★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SACRIFICIAL ★,  we talked about how God sacrificed His Son Jesus for us which lead me to springboard to the next attribute that…

Do you see God as GENEROUS?  I think many people may struggle with this because the enemy has used Tithing and church capitol campaigns as a wedge to push people away from the God.  This post is not about us Giving to the church although that is important but rather how God wants to give to us.  Let’s start off with James 1:17 (NLT)

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”

I have shared in the past about how far from God I was through my teenage and early 20s and now walking with God for 22 years I can see how He was with me even though I wanted nothing to do with Him.  After my parents divorced at the age of 5, my mom worked hard to raise the 3 of us on a chambermaids salary on her own.  Things were always very tight but in looking back I see how God provided for us with some opportunity to make extra money or an unexpected gift or rebate check.  Somehow we always made it though there was always more “month than there was money.”  I did not know it then, but my generous heavenly was taking care of me long before I ever bowed my knee to accept Jesus as my Lord and savior.   This has been so even into adulthood as well.  I remember when I first heard Deuteronomy 8:18a (NASB) a light bulb went off and confirmed once again how phenomenally blessed I have been…

“But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.”

It’s funny the things that “just pop in your mind.”  As I was thinking about this post and how God has been generous in the past, I started thinking about Luke 11:1-4 when Jesus gave a model prayer to His Disciples that is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer” which says:

I purposely found the King James Version as this is the translation that I learned this powerful prayer in!  The part I was specifically thinking about is…“Give us this day our daily bread.”  God is so generous that after Jesus modeled that we should glorify the Father and prioritize His will, the very next thing He addresses is our needs — “Our Daily Bread.”  And then in just a couple verses later, Jesus says in Luke 11:9-13 (NLT)…

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion?  Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

We must persevere in prayer and if we do how much more will [our] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”  As we discussed yesterday, Good Friday is the Day that everything changed for us that God lavishly gave up His Son as payment for our debt, and once we accept Jesus as our savior, we also receive the Holy Spirit which further illustrates God’s generosity.  In the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew.’  (https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/15944)  Robert Morris gave this great explanation of all that Holy Spirit does for us:

”The Holy Spirit is a person; He is a Spirit; and He has a soul.  He intercedes for us and through us.  He hears, speaks, teaches, and guides us into truth.  He glorifies Christ, reveals Christ to us, and brings all of Christ’s words to our remembrance.  He shows us the things to come, knows the deep things of God, searches all things, and reveals all things.  Where He is, there is liberty.  He inspired the writers of the Bible.  He reveals the Son to us.  We are convicted by Him, born again by Him, led by Him, filled by Him, and sealed by Him.”

Amen?  God is so generous that not only did He sacrifice Jesus, but also has given us the Holy Spirit to live within us every day!  All I can say is Thank you God!!!  I will close with this one additional scripture on the Generosity of God which is found in Ephesians 3:20 (NLT):

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Every good an perfect gift comes from God!  All that I have is because of Him!  My hope in eternal life!  My wife, daughters, my home, my job…EVERYTHING!!

God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!” 

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 2 ★

$ Building Your Money Muscle $ – For posts on Handling Our Finances God’s way!

 

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★ Back to the Basics – GOD IS…SACRIFICIAL ★

Christians around the world are celebrating for today is a great day!  “HE IS RISEN!!”

I have always found the context of when this phrase was first heard very interesting.  Luke 24 opens with the morning after Passover and the woman rushing off to the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest with spices they prepared to give Him a proper burial.  But to their surprise the stone was rolled away and the Tomb was empty.  Luke‬ ‭24:4-7‬ ‭(NLT) picks up that… ‬‬

“As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.””
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Today we celebrate that GOD IS…SACRIFICIAL! Romans 5:8 (NLT) says:

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

I love what Phillip De Courcy said about the death of Jesus…

“Jesus died because God purposed it!”

Good Friday is so good because God gave up His ONE and ONLY Son to pay the debt that I would never have been able to.  And to think it was God’s plan!  John 3:16-17 (NLT)

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”

Thank for His willingness to do that for us.  But His sacrifice does not stop with Jesus, but in ‭John‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭(NLT) Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be sent for our benefit:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”

The Holy Spirit lives with us know, guiding and directing those who have professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior!  I love this quote from Robert Morris!!

“The Holy Spirit wants to pull the curtain back so that you can begin to see God more clearly.”  From the YouVersion reading plan ‘The God I Never Knew’ by Robert Morris.  (https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/15944)

I think that is what so many people are missing out on today is a clear understanding of who God is!  I did a bible reading plan with my wife called “Lent: Remembering the Life of Jesus.”  (https://www.bible.com/en/reading-plans/18136).  Each day they challenged the reader to write down an attribute of God.  And it has been great, as we are quarantined due to the Coronavirus virus, it has given me time to get “Back to the Basics“ of who God IS.  I will say once I wrote down the obvious 20 attributes, I found that I had to dig in a little harder and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal so of the more subtle attributes that may not be so readily apparent without His revelation and without reading the Bible.  So for the foreseeable future, I am going to share what my pursuit of allowing the Holy Spirit “pull the curtain back so that I can see God more clearly.”  I want to encourage you to share in the comments what you get each day and to share some attributes that you have found in your personal study.

I will close with this final scripture showing the sacrificial nature of God from Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)…

”But He [Jesus] was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed.”

Thank you God for sending Jesus so that I may have right standing with you.  Thank you Jesus for dying the most unimaginably painful death that any ever has before and since that dark day!!  May we all follow in your SACRIFICIAL example!

Happy Easter!!

★★  Want more?  ★★

If you are disconnected from your church as a result of Covid-19, I would encourage you to watch this Easter message from this weekend called… “The Seven Truths of Easter” – Robert Morris.  He reveals how each of the seven phrases Jesus spoke on the cross represents a life-changing truth.

★ Thought for the Day – He is Risen Indeed! ★

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★ Back to the Basics – Validity of God’s Word ★

Have you ever questioned the validity or truth of God’s Word?  Now don’t be hasty and give the “Christianese” answer, be honest.  We all have at one time or another questioned the goodness of God, and whether the Bible is true or not.  Many people find the Old Testament confusing, and question how can the God who seems to be doling out vengeance left and right, be the same God who is all about love in the New Testament.  Truth be told, though it may appear that the two don’t align, I assure you that God is the same in first book of the Bible (Genesis) as He is in the last one (Revelation).  The problem is a lack of understanding and knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments.  You may be wondering what does this matter?  I saw this graphic that was illuminating…

Only 9% surveyed actually read all of the Bible, and the bulk of those (30%) who do read it only read several passages or stories.  As I have read the Bible over and over, I see the love of God all over the pages of the Old Testament, but I also see how stubbornly God’s people rejected Him and refused to keep the covenant that God made with them thousands of years ago.  As a result of that willful disobedience, the people suffered the consequences.  You see unless you have studied the whole Bible, the casual reader or Sunday morning attendee will misunderstand and judge God for punishing the Israelites for their sin. That is why you will see on this website, the importance of reading and studying the entire Bible, not just the coffee cup or bumper sticker verses that make you feel good.  But unfortunately, many people just hear the passages of God’s wrath and write off the possibility that God could be good.  But first and foremost, it is important that we establish that the Bible is the Word of God.  The Apostle Paul, arguably one of the most influential writers of the New Testament penned these words in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) which I would like to start off with:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.  It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” and was intended to be a road map or instruction manual for how to live.  In the post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★, I shared this passage and this life lesson from Charles Stanley on how the entire Bible is true, he said:

“The truth of God’s Word applies to all men and women in every culture, in every age, in every walk of life…Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; the Bible enlightens each individual to recognize personal sin, the need for salvation, and the best possible life course.”

For me, the Bible is the anchor of my life.  I believe that every person has the potential to live a victorious life where you can annihilate anxiety and fear, overcome the past and move ahead in a completely new trajectory of freedom if that Bible on the nightstand or bookshelf would just be opened!  Proverbs 1:7 (NLT) says:

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

I read a commentary on this passage that explained…

This fear of the LORD is not a cowering, begging fear.  It is the proper reverence that the creature owes to the Creator and that the redeemed owes to the Redeemer.  It is the proper respect and honoring of God.”

So honoring God is the foundation, or the starting point of true knowledge, how do we follow this command without honor reading His Word in totality?  Last week, I was reading Jeremiah 14:19-22 (NLT), in which the prophet Jeremiah is beseeching the Creator of Heaven and Earth to relent from giving the people exactly what they deserved.  It is such a powerful prayer that I believe we would do well to keep in mind for ourselves today.  Jeremiah does something pretty amazing, he appeals to the very character of God…Not that God needs to be reminded of His faithfulness, but Jeremiah asks some silly questions that he knows the answers to starting in verse 19:

“Lord, have you completely rejected Judah?  Do you really hate Jerusalem?  Why have you wounded us past all hope of healing?”

Let’s stop for a second so I can give you some background on the previous chapters.  God has been telling Jeremiah how far the people have gone away from Him, and what He was planning to do in response.  Perhaps these questions were in earnest, but I believe that Jeremiah knew something that we need to understand today, that God is good and He loves His people.  Jeremiah then flips the prayer to one of repentance, but not just for Judah and Jerusalem but he includes himself as well, although I doubt that the Lord’s prophet would have been considered wicked.  He prayed:

“We hoped for peace, but no peace came.  We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror.  Lord, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too.  We all have sinned against you.”

If you read Jeremiah 15:6-8 and Jeremiah 16:10-13, you will find a very clear justification of the wickedness that God spoke to Jeremiah.  The truth is, we ALL have sinned against God!  It does not matter your sex, race, political affiliation, economic or socio-cultural background, EVERYONE has fallen short of God’s glorious standard!  (See Romans 3:23).  But my favorite part of this prayer is the argument Jeremiah gives of “why” God should heal the land!  He prayed:

“For the sake of your reputation, Lord, do not abandon us.  Do not disgrace your own glorious throne.  Please remember us, and do not break your covenant with us.”

Why should God intercede for His people?  Because not healing them would ruin His reputation of being a God who is faithful.  He made a covenant with the People of Judah and so Jeremiah is praying to God to not break it because of the evil His people had done.  The final part of Jeremiah’s prayer that is a great model for us, is to just exalt God for how majestic and powerful He is!

“Can any of the worthless foreign gods send us rain?  Does it fall from the sky by itself?  No, you are the one, O Lord our God!  Only you can do such things.  So we will wait for you to help us.”

That final sentence is just perfect!  Jeremiah is just trusting that God will indeed do what he just asked for!  What boldness and faith!  As you read the Bible in totality, you see the faithfulness of God on every page.

Robert Morris preached an incredible series called “God is…” in which he went through some of the major attributes of God.  The one that hit me particularly hard was called “Beyond You”, in which he talked about how God is faithful and worthy of our trust.  He said:

“Faithful means “full of faith.”  The root of faith is “trust,” and the root of trust is “true.”  The reason we can trust God is because He is full of truth.  The more we know God, the more we can trust Him.  Even when we don’t think He’s being faithful, He is, because He doesn’t lie.”

“The more we know God, the more we can trust Him!”  And the only way to get to know Him is through the reaching His Word.  Jesus made this profound statement in Luke 21:33 (NLT)…

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.”

The Bible has been an anchor not only for individuals, but for our country as a whole.  I just read The American Bible Society’s STATE OF THE BIBLE 2019,” which was conducted by Barna Group.  They found:

“Four out of five adults (80%) agree that the values and morals of America are declining…As a follow-up question, adults who said they believe morality is on the decline were asked to determine what they thought was most responsible for declining values from a list of three options…26% attribute the decline to a lack of Bible reading.”

You can see that the percentage among those who believe morality is declining has spiked in regards to Bible reading as opposed to other secular aspects which has dropped since last year’s survey.  I know I don’t have to tell you that morality is on the decline, but to see the correlation with bible reading was an eye opener.  So how do we stem the tide?  The answer can be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) says:

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

How different would the world be if everyone humbled themselves, prayed, sought God and stopped sinning?  The key is to…

  • Humble Yourself
  • Pray for guidance
  • Seek God’s face
  • Turn from your wicked ways

I truly feel that we can shed the baggage of the past if we would open God’s Word.  But it comes back to the initial question…Do you believe in the validity of the Word of God?  I pray that you would trust in the faithfulness of God as Jeremiah did and believe completely in the WHOLE Bible. Don’t let the lies of the enemy influence the present which WILL rob the future.

To dig in more on this topic check out: 

★ Thought for the Day – Turn the Other Cheek ★ 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

You can watch all the sermons from the “God is…” series by Robert Morris here:

In the series you “will learn the attributes of God, which will give you fresh perspective into His character and heart. You’ll be encouraged as you learn more about your heavenly Father who never changes and loves you more than you’ll ever know.”

And finally, here is a great song called “Hear Us From Heaven” by New Life Worship which ties beautifully into this.

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★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 1 ★

I saw this infographic from the book called “12 ways Your Phone Is Changing You” by Tony Reinke that I thought was quite revealing.  Our phone is an ever-present part of our life and can adversely affect our relationship with God if we are not careful.  And it got me thinking how are we stewarding the time with our device?  We hold more computing power in the palm of our hand then it took to land a man on the moon back on July 20, 1969 and yet I dare say if we are being honest, most of the time we don’t really use it for anything of lasting value.  From Twitter/Facebook to Netflix to YouTube, we spend hours upon hours absorbing useless information or gossip or mindless videos.  Now I am not saying if you have those apps on your phone, that you don’t have a good relationship with God, (for I have all 4!)…But what I am saying is that if they are used to the extreme, we could end up pushing aside what is truly important like our relationship with God, our spouses, our child(ren) and/or our friends.  We live in a time when we are “more connected” through our devices and yet study after study shows that we are “more disconnected” from others then at any point in history.  And for those who call themselves Christians, that phone in your hand offers access to thousands of resources at your fingertips.  From blogs to podcasts to live streaming of church services across the world, the potential to grow deeper with God is greater today in 2019 than in any previous generation and yet Bible literacy is at an all time low.

Today I want to explore what is available that can change that downward spiral and can enrich our lives far greater than the latest iPhone if we will just get in sync with the true power source…The Holy Spirit, the Unsung Hero of the Holy Trinity!  1 Corinthians 2:11-16 (NLT) is such a powerful passage to illustrate how significant the Holy Spirit is to understand the the Bible.  In verses 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul instructs that:

“No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.”

You want to know the mind of God?  What God’s Will is for your life?  How to be successful in your walk with Him?  Well…first and foremost you need to read the Bible and plug into the Holy Spirit who will open our minds to reveal truth in the Bible.  I saw this image and thought it was the perfect way to kick-start our 3-part series on the Unsung Hero of the Trinity…

“The Christian who neglects the Holy Spirit is like a lamp that’s not plugged in.”

Simple enough right but there is so much misunderstanding about the Holy Spirit and “fake news” that is demonically inspired to keep you and I from truly flourishing in our walk with God.  So what are you plugged into?  Do you think that you are operating at full capacity in your walk with God?  Paul continues to explain the need to rely on the Holy Spirit in verses 13-14 of 1 Corinthians…

“When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom.  Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.  But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit.  It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

The Holy Spirit spoke through Paul and his co-laborers as they went along in their missionary journeys preaching and planting churches.  Today we have The Bible as a record of those truths to draw us to Jesus Christ to be saved and then to be trained and matured through the inspiration of God’s Spirit.  However if we never open the Bible we could find ourselves drained and out of power.  That is why it is critical that we stay in the scriptures.  When we do we will have peace that transcends understanding and joy in midst of trouble.  That is of course if you are pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ.  (If you don’t know what that means check out this post called…★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★)

Paul concludes his instruction in 1 Corinthians 15-16:

 ‘Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.  For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?”  But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”

We need to invite the Holy Spirit to help us understand what we are reading in The Bible because the enemy will come to try to steal it away (See Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15 about the Parable of the Sower.)  After all who better to ask then the author?  John Piper put it this way:

“The Holy Spirit is the divine author of all Scripture.  The Bible is God’s word, not merely man’s word.”

In the post which also has a sermon from him, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-holy-spirit-author-of-scripture John Piper shared 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB)…

“But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

John Piper made the two points about this passage about the “Bible speaking from God” and humans being “moved by the Holy Spirit”…

“First, they spoke from God.  What they have to say is not merely from their own limited perspective.  They are not the origin of the truth they speak; they are the channel.  The truth is God’s truth.  Their meaning is God’s meaning.

Second, not only is what they spoke from God, but how they spoke it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. “Men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God.”  God did not simply reveal truth to the writers of Scripture and then depart in hopes that they might communicate it accurately.  Peter says that in the very communicating of it they were carried by the Holy Spirit.  The making of the Bible was not left to merely human skills of communication; the Holy Spirit himself carried the process to completion.”

I have seen that happen in my life that as I have plugged into the Holy Spirit I have been moved into greater acts of service!  God has birthed a passion in me to share the truth of the Bible, which I wholeheartedly believe that we must not only read it, BUT meditate on it every day!  I believe that comes from the Holy Spirit if we will be press in.  But like Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 14, the Bible “sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it,” there will be naysayers.  In an article called the “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read,” the editors of GQ magazine made the staggering statement that the Holy Bible is an irrelevant book that does not even need to be opened!  Not surprisingly, I vehemently disagree with the editors of GQ magazine.  If you have spent any time on this site, you know my viewpoint all too well that the answer to all life’s problems can be found in the book GQ feels “you don’t have to read!”  Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) says it all:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Do you believe that the Bible is living and active?  That by reading it we can be changed!  I will close with this quote from Paul Tripp

“The Bible has the unparalleled ability to soak us at our roots and transform us into an entirely different person.“

 

Click Here for the continuation of our series into the Holy Spirit and to see how indeed you can be transformed!

 

★ ★ ★ DIG DEEPER ★ ★ ★ 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Whose Body Are You A Part Of? ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – Does God Play Favorites? ★

In preparation for this post I stumbled onto this TIME Magazine Cover with this Tagline: “Why Mom Liked You Most” which I think many people could resonate with.  I know I always thought my brother and sister got the biggest slice of cake!  Hahaha!  In the post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Family Juggernaut ★ we talked about how our family of origin can have a serious effect on who we become.  I’d highly recommend you read it first because today’s Thought will build upon that foundation.  In the post I shared how my Family Juggernaut played a significant role in my development and that it was wrecked by neglect, alcoholism, drug use, adultery, verbal and physical abuse, all by the time I reached 5 years old!  Fast forward 41 years to April 2016, the day after my mom’s funeral when my brother and I had a conversation that would change the trajectory of our lives. But before I delve into that, I wanted to talk some more about Jesus’ Family Situation that we discussed in The Family Juggernaut post.  Last time we examined how Jesus’ brothers did not believe He was the Messiah and what that must have been like for Jesus to not have their support.  Today I want to look at the issues between Jesus and his brothers from their perspective.  I was watching this video clip from Michael Jr. called What if you were a younger sibling of Jesus?” and almost died laughing.

It’s a hysterical parody on what it might have been like for James to live with the Savior of the World and grow up as Jesus’ little brother.  Michael Jr. jested that:

“James had problems.  He would go to his parents and you know what they’d say…‘What would Jesus do?’  Then they gave him a bracelet.” 

Hahaha!  Now I did not grow up with the Messiah, but I am all too familiar with growing up in my big brother’s shadow.  He was always the life of the party, the one that was the center of attention.  Now I may be dating myself here, but have you ever seen the TV show “Everybody Loves Raymond?”  Although Raymond was the younger sibling, the comparison is identical to how I felt growing up, that my brother was center of our family just like Raymond was the center of the show.  But in that conversation with my brother I discovered how wrong my perspective was. Though I believed that he was Raymond and everybody’s favorite, he believed that the opposite was true!  His view of our family dynamic was that I was the favored son of our mother. Guess sibling rivalry is alive and well.  But that fateful day just a little over 2 years ago changed our relationship forever!  I am reminded of a quote from Steven Furtick’s book “Crash the Chatterbox”:

“The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.”

See my brother and I listened to the chatterbox (aka Satan), and completely bought into the lies that we are not worthy of our mother’s love as much as the other one was. I had preconceived notions of him and his motives, as he did of me as well.  That day though we were able to clear the air and God began a healing work through that one conversation!

It really is true what Theodore Roosevelt said:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Absolutely nothing good comes from comparing ourselves to others.  It got me thinking about how we view our relationship with our Heavenly Father…Does God play favorites?  What do you think?  Do you think that He values some people over others?  Romans 2:9-11 (NLT) gives some insight…

There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile

10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 

11 For God does not show favoritism.”

Does this seem to be an oxymoron?  How does verse 11 go with verses 9 and 10 when Paul says “for the Jew first and also for the Gentile?”  At first I thought it was showing favoritism that the Jews were over the Gentles but I learned a valuable lesson after I sent this question to my Pastor and some buddies.  You cannot “a la carte” the Bible.  It is very dangerous to grab 2 or 3 verses and develop a belief system from a small passage.  Context is everything!  My pastor responded back with this great insight…

“After doing a little looking at the text.  Romans 2:1-16 is speaking of Gods judgment.  The statement “first for the Jew…then to the Gentile…” is not meant to imply a special consideration or favoritism.  But rather in light of God’s standard of impartiality, it emphasizes that the ENTIRE human race is dealt with by God.  In the way of His judgement both Jew and Greek (all humans) will be dealt with and there will be no favoritism shown.  The Jew would have thought that God may not have judgment on them…the same as everyone else because of they were much more “religious”.  But God is not partial in His judgment…all will be judged equally according to His Word.”

A light bulb went off for me when I read that because I know that God loves all people and that He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent,” (see 2 Peter 3:8-10,) and be with Him in heaven for all eternity.  So if we go back to verse 11, it cannot be any clearer… “For God does not show favoritism.”  Besides not picking and choosing a couple of scriptures to form an opinion from, I also was reminded that before I start down a “rabbit trail” of thought, I must look at the Bible in totality – BOTH Old and New Testament to see what the entire book has to say.  I recently heard Robert Morris say:

“Though the Bible was written by (39) men, it has One Author.”

That author of course being God Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth!  So let’s do some bible drilling…

Deuteronomy 10:17 (NLT) says:

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords.  He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.”

God is supreme above all and has no favorites, nor can He be swayed by anything we may say or do or how much we give to the church.  We cannot buy God’s love or our way into Heaven.  Another Old Testament passage comes from Job 34:19 (NKJV) which is especially poignant as the man Job who was referred to by God as blameless—a man of complete integrity who feared God and stayed away from evil” (see Job 1:1); BUT yet he went through unbelievable trials.  In verse 19 in speaking about God’s character, Job said:

“Yet He is not partial to princes,
Nor does He regard the rich more than the poor;
For they are all the work of His hands.”

We are God masterpiece (see Ephesians 2:10) and regardless of our material possessions nothing can separate us from the love of God or make Him love us more!  (See Nehemiah 9:17-20; Romans 8:35, 38-39; Ephesians 3:17-19).  I love how Acts 10:34-36 (NLT) proclaims this truth!

“Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.  In every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right.  This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”

This was a turning point for Peter as Acts 10:9-33 records, he was given (3) visions from God about eating animals that up until that time, the Jewish people held as unclean and taboo to eat.  This was God’s way of telling Peter that the Gentiles (or non-Jews) were worthy to receive the Gospel and that he was to go and minister to a Gentile man named Cornelius.  And in fact the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit for the first time (see Acts 10:37-48).  The Jews were the first to have faith in the One True God, the Gentiles are like the second born into the family to receive salvation.  The Apostle Paul reminds us in Titus 2:11 (NLT),

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.”

Unlike how my brother and I viewed each other, God is very clear all through the Bible that we are all worthy to receive the undeserved grace of God.  I told you at the beginning of this post that the trajectory of my relationship with my brother was changed by that one conversation.  God not only healed the hard feelings we held towards each other due to perceived favoritism, but we have grown closer together even though 1,069 miles separate us.  I shared in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★ that I host bible studies in my house in Texas, Monday through Friday at 5:00 AM.  Since June of this year after my brother and his family visited and attended those studies, he has continued to participate in the bible studies through the use of technology, joining remotely multiple times a week from North Carolina!  And through that time, God is working a miracle in our relationship to eradicate the damage that the devil did over the past 20 years!  I will close with a passage that my brother and I recently read together from Romans 10:9-13 (NLT):

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.’  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect.  They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him.  For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

I want to encourage you to do an honest self-evaluation about your relationships.  Are you like me, that you have a strained relationship with a brother, or another family member or friend?  Then reconcile it today!  You will not regret it!  I cannot tell you how blessed I feel that after being distant from my brother for so long, today we are closer than ever!  And secondly, if you are far from God, or never accepted Jesus, go back to Romans 10:9-13 confess that Jesus is Lord of your life and accept the free gift of grace that is available to everyone!

If you want to dig in deeper, check out:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

★ Thought for the Day – You Are Chosen! ★

 

 

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★ Back to the Basics – Just Believe! ★

I have been having conversations with a friend of mine who has been haunted by the sins of the past and the mistakes that seem to be preventing him from moving forward in his walk with God.  He in Jesus and is actively pursuing a relationship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible but yet there’s something holding him back.  Maybe you can relate to this today?  Do you find yourself wanting to grow in the truth of God’s Word and to feel clean from your former way of living BUT yet you just can’t seem to overcome the guilt and shame of what you did?  Well I have some good news…

First of all, you are not alone, everyone at one point or another have felt this way, that is the Devil’s way of derailing you from your faith growing.  It’s much easier to destroy something its infancy stage BEFORE it has a chance to mature and get strong.

Secondly and most importantly, God has already taken care of the guilt and shame over 2,000 years ago when He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (see John 3:16).  Here is the antidote to the poison that the Devil has been injecting into our minds which is found in Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)!

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” 

 

That’s you.  That’s me.  Everyone who has ever lived, is living or will live has sinned and fallen woefully short of what God requires of us.  But the miraculous thing is, He did not leave us in this fallen state.  He sent Jesus in the flesh to face all the temptations and struggles that we do, to live a perfect sinless life and than die in our place!  Wow!  In verse 24-25 it says:

“Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

Forgive me for interrupting verse 25, but go back and read that last sentence…seriously go back and read it. God sacrificed Jesus for our sin and we are made right with God by “all the work we do?”. Nope.  “By cleaning up our life and becoming perfect through white knuckle will power to not repeat the same mistakes?”  Nope.  We are made right with when we “believe!”  That’s it.  Just believe and you are made right with God!  Okay let’s get back to verse 25…

“This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He makes sinners right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.

Jesus was the PERFECT sacrifice who died ONCE as the PAYMENT for ALL of mankind to cover EVERY sin that has been committed, is being committed or will ever be committed.  Talk about Amazing Grace!! Before I close this Thought for the Day, I want to offer to you a choice.  If you have not received the gift of grace from God through belief in Jesus as your Lord and Savior or if you are not sure if you did today if you would go to heaven, then here is a simple prayer that I posted years ago in the ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ that you can pray to make that decision today…Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and change my life.  I confess I have made mistakes and acknowledge that I am in need of a Savior.  I want a relationship with you.  Please forgive me.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Today I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you truly prayed that prayer, then welcome to the family of God!  Here is the truth for everyone who had believed in Jesus from Romans 1:16-17 says:

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.””

Regardless of the poisonous guilt and shame that you have been attacked with, once you have believed in Jesus you are made righteous (which just means in right standing with God,) and have the same power in you (the Holy Spirit) which raised Christ from the dead!  No go out in faith and just believe!

Want to dig deeper?

To help you in your next steps check out this 4-part series of posts that I wrote to help you connect God through these (3) Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ 

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

 

And here is a powerful sermon series called “Grace Like a Flood” from Michael Todd, Transformation Church.

Understanding the mystery of God’s Grace!

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★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★   

Here is the very first Daily Dependence post which has been updated with an audio podcast called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

Click here

Daily Dependence

Click hereif you would prefer to listen to the Podcast of this blog post.

Does the title of today’s Thought surprise you?  One day in the office, a co-worker said to me, “I hate religion.”  He was surprised by my response when I said “so do I.”  Knowing that I am a Christian, he naturally assumed I was “Religious.”  I told him that “Religion” is just “Man’s” way of understanding or attempting to connect with God.  Unfortunately though people are hurt and oppressed by “Man-made” rules and then they blame God for what people say or do to them.  Mark Twain once said:

That is so true!  He gets blamed all the time for what people do in “His name,” but what God really desires is to have a personal relationship with us, through His Son Jesus, where we include Him in all aspects of our life.  I truly believe that you can “Hate Religion” and…

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★ “Back to the Basics” – God’s Mysterious Plan Revealed ★

Well 23 days have passed since we rung in 2017.  We have a new President of the United States and there has been a little over 3 weeks to work on our New Year’s Resolutions that we promised that we would do…so how are you doing with those resolutions?  Have you kicked the mistakes and habits of 2016 yet?  In the post114-daily-dependence-kicking-the-habits-of-2016-away ★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★, I shared that I don’t believe in resolutions because they are pretty much worthless and that I was challenged to think of them more as “Commitments” instead because you either change or you don’t.  We all have choices before us on whether we want to continue in the same old habits or not.  Today if you are reading this and you don’t know the plan of God for your life, I want you to encourage you to open your mind and heart to what He wants to do in your life as you read this post.

God said through the prophet Jeremiah: 114-daily-dependence-jeremiah-29-11

Jeremiah 29:11 is a famous Bible verse that you see all the time adorned on T-shirts and displayed on plaques and coffee mugs…(I even have one myself.)  It is a verse that I have been encouraged by and have shared with others to help comfort them in their time of need.  But have you even wondered what God’s plan is for you specifically?  The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 3:6 (NLT)…

“And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children.  Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”

If the term Gentile is an unfamiliar to you, it simply means a person who is not Jewish.  When the Jews rejected Jesus, the door was opened for everyone who is not a direct descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jews.  John 1:10-12 (NLT) says:

“He [Jesus] came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” 

You can also read more about it in Jesus’ “Parable of the Evil Farmers.”  Until this point there was a huge chasm between the Gentiles and Jews.  Jesus paved the way to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to Himself.  Psalms 133:1 says:

“How Good and Pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.”
“How Good and Pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Regardless if you are a Jew or a Gentile, if you believe in Jesus, you are God’s people and He desires there to be unity in His Church.  Paul went on to say in Ephesians 3:10-11:

“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

People who are skeptical of church, or perhaps were hurt in the past by hypocrisy, or “holier than thou” attitudes question “why do I need to go to church?”  They justify it by saying “I can have a relationship with God on my own.”  Now while that is true that we can have a one on one with our Heavenly Father, the verse we just read is clear that the plan of God was “to use the church to display His wisdom.”  It is through gathering with other believers that our faith is strengthened and will grow exponentially faster than if we try to go it alone.  Charles Stanley said,

“No Christian has ever been called to ‘go it alone’ in his or her walk of faith.” 

And Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) furthers that point with this:

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

As the “church,” God wants us to leverage our relationship with those that are in our sphere of influence.  To encourage and build others up in the faith, which cannot be done in isolation.

Last weekend I was at my church’s retreat for the Junior High and High School students.  The keynote speaker was David Marvin from the “Porch” at Watermark Church who spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.  He made this statement that has resounded ever since in my spirit,

“Every person you have ever looked at will live somewhere for eternity…either with God or without God.”

If you are a Christian, that is a haunting reality that should motivate us to want to reach those who are lost and far away from God.  For those of you reading this today who do not call yourself a Christian or maybe a better way to say it, a “Christ Follower,” I want you to know that God loves you so much.

114-daily-dependence-ephesians-3-you-area-loved-by-jesusAnd when you place your faith in Jesus, you will experience freedom like you never dreamed possible.  The Apostle Paul continues in Ephesians 3:12 with this truth:

“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here.  I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When you believe in Jesus, you have access to God like never before because until you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior the SIN in your life will keep you away from Him.  You may say “I am a good person,” but that just is not enough.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of what God desires for our life (see Romans 3:23.)  And with that access comes the unfolding of His plan in your life!

I love what Sandi Krakowski once said:

“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”
“God has an amazing plan for your life but it won’t automatically happen without your cooperation.  Partner with Him and create a great life!”

God is just waiting for you to take a step in His direction.  The invitation is open to you but you need to make the choice to follow Jesus.  If you want to start your relationship with Him today just go to this post, ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ and can read more about what this means and as well as a simple prayer that you can say to God that can start you down the path.  Just like a loving father, God is willing, ready and able to help us out whatever mess we have made of our lives.  (If you want to read more on the Father Heart of God just check out the “Parable of the Prodigal (or lost) Son” from Luke 15:11-32.)

Maybe you have made the commitment to Christ and have started on the journey to develop your relationship; I wanted to remind you of the truth of what Tim Keller said that:

“God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are.”

The amazing thing about God is that He will take us back regardless of the filth that we find ourselves in but the expectation is that once we have made the choice, we must continue to grow in our faith so that we can enjoy that new life!  Colossians 1:23 (NLT) says:

“But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.  The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.”

The Good News is this…God sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice and payment for our sins.  Through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection, a bridge has been created to restore the relationship with God WHEN we believe in Jesus.  (See also 1 Peter 3:18 and Romans 6:6-7)  And so like Paul, we need to be standing firmly in our faith and actively pressing on to learn and grow.  If we are not advancing in our walk with God, we are regressing or drifting away…One of my favorite John Wooden quotes which I will close this Thought for Today is….

114-daily-dependence-john-wooden-choices“There is a choice that you have to make, in everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make, makes you.” 

So the choice is yours today…Do you start a relationship with Jesus and be a part of God’s Mysterious Plan that will forever change your legacy and family tree?  Or if you are a believer already will you start today to pursue your relationship more fervently?  I want to challenge you to throw out the useless “resolutions” and “choose to commit” to a new trajectory so that you’re not repeating the same old habits from 2016 and regretting 12 months from now that your life is different from it was today!  Because “in the end, the choice you make, makes you!”

If you are interested in learning more on the Grace of God, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Is There Such a Thing As a Free Lunch? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★

 

Or if you want to deepen your relationship check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

★ Thought for the Day – Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #3 – Adoration That Matters ★

Today is the final segment in our series of the 3 Worthy Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.  We first introduced these pursuits in the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ in which we saw through the life of Jonah that God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  The first Pursuit of our series was called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ in which we saw how critical prayer is through the Prayer of Jabez from 1 Chronicles 4:10.  In the second post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we covered the importance of reading God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  In today’s post we will unpack the final Pursuit…Worship.

100 - Daily Dependence - Worship EmojiWhat is worship?  It is a noun?  Is it a verb?  Yes…It’s actually both. 

Let’s start off with what Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary had this simple definition of worship as:

  • the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god
  • the act of worshipping God or a god
  • excessive admiration for someone

Before we get too deep, too fast, I wanted to look at that last meaning…excessive admiration for someone.”  Another word for admiration is adoration which means 100 - Daily Dependence - Five Below Storedeep love.  My youngest daughter without a doubt has a deep love for Five Below. Any time she gets some money she wants to go shopping.  I have to say I am a fan of the store myself because you can some pretty cool stuff for $5 or less.  One visit, as we went through the aisles, I saw this mug which blew me away!

100 - Daily Dependence - I love Me Mug

What a sign of the times!  We live in such a self-indulgent culture that screams look at me, listen to what I have to say, it’s all about me.  You don’t have to go too far down on your Twitter or Instagram feed before you see an example of person making that proclamation of “I love me” through their excessive selfies!  I saw these alarming statistics on infogr.am site:

100 - Daily Dependence - Selfie Statistics

“1 million ‘Selfies’ taken globally each day!!!”  Not that is a “whole lotta lovin” of oneself!!  The Apostle Paul talked in 2 Timothy about the coming “Godlessness in the Last Days.”  In verses 1-2 he said:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,”

And the list goes on, you can read the rest in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  Doesn’t that sound very familiar to today’s culture?  Now am I saying that taking a selfie = Godlessness?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  I have taken my fair share with the people in my life to capture a moment.  But what I am saying is that we need to be very careful that being a “lover of self” is a slippery slope!  We need to renew our mind each day and not follow whatever is trending on Twitter!  See Romans 12:2.

In our last post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★ we talked about how reading God’s Word, and “doing” what it says will move us from being babies in the faith to mature in our walk with God.  The same is true for our worship.  We need to not be so self-centered that everything has to be all about us and follow what 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NLT) says:

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”

When we were babies it was true that the world did revolve around us but that was due to our helpless state but just like as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians, we need to put away childish behaviors and start adoring the One who truly matters!  1 Chronicles 29:11 (NLT) gives us another way to live…

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty.  Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom.  We adore you as the one who is over all things.”

Going back to Merriam-Webster’s definition…Worship is “the act of worshiping God or a god.”  The strikethrough is based on what the Jesus said in Luke 4:8:

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 from the Old Testament.  So how do you Worship God?  In how you treat others (see Luke 6:31-35, Mark 12:29-33), how we take care of people in need (see Matthew 25:31-46, James 1:27), and even how generous we are (see Matthew 6:19-21, 1 Timothy 5:8).  Another way to Worship God is through music.  David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, played the harp and loved to worship God through music.  He wrote in Psalms 150:1-6 (NASB)

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

I love that declaration…”Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”  What a call to action!  This should be freeing to all of us because David said “Let everything,” not the talented or gifted, so if you are shy or feel like you do not have a good enough voice, memorize Psalms 150:6 and Worship the Lord whether in your home, car or church!  We live in such an incredible time period where there are some many different genres and styles of worship, from classic hymns to modern praise and worship.  How doesn’t matter as long as you do!

100 - Daily Dependence - Worshippers

I love what worship leader John David Hessler said…

“Songs become like a diving board to get us back in to the deep water of the Lord’s heart.  I love how a song can somehow contain an eternal moment inside of it.”

I cannot agree more with that!  I love music of all kinds but especially worship music.  I always have music playing whether it be in the house, car or wherever I go with my iPhone.  But I think that my favorite times of listening to worship music is when I am in church because as I am experiencing “an eternal moment” along with others which users in Holy Spirit’s presence because God inhabits the praises of his people, see Psalms 22:3-4.  Referred to as “Worship Service” or “Corporate Worship,” the gathering together of other believers in Christ to sing praises to God leads us into the final definition that I would like to delve into…Worship is…“the act of showing respect and love for  a  God especially by praying with other people who believe in the same God.” The strikethrough and capitalization of “God” is based on 1 Corinthians 8:6 (ESV) says:

“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”

God is worthy of our worship and is just waiting for us to turn from our wicked ways, see 2 Chronicles 7:14…The question is will you worship Him?  Will you give up on focusing just on what you want and what make you happy?  Will you look for opportunities to help others, to look out for the overwhelmed, under resourced and people far away?

Though we examined each PURSUIT separately, they are intrinsically linked…at some point you need to realize your brokenness and need of a change in your life, resulting in a PRAYER to God to accept Jesus as your Savior.  In response to that prayer, you start developing a relationship with God through reading His WORD.  And the outcome of gaining knowledge of God and His Son, your love and adoration deepens which leads to WORSHIP.  This is a picture of what happens during a church service, whether you attend on Saturday or Sunday.  Regardless of what denomination or congregation you belong to, if it is a Bible preaching church, each PURSUIT is represented during the corporate time of honoring God.

I will close with this last thought that I think encapsulates the truest sense of Worship…

“Worship is so much more than the songs we sing on Sunday morning.  It is the life that we live the rest of the week.”  Unknown

And how could I talk about worship and not give you a song too?  Here is an incredible song called “Simplicity” by Rend Collective.  Let this just fill your spirit!

Here are a couple of lyrics…

I come with my broken soul
To you the perfect one
To worship you in spirit and truth
Only you 

Give me a childlike heart
Lead me to where you are
Cause I’m coming back to my first love
Only you

You’re the reason I sing
The reason I sing

I pray that today you would focus on Adoration That Matters and live your life worshiping the One true God and give your heart to His Son Jesus Christ!

If you would like to read more on this, check out the post ★ Thought for the Day – Sweetly Broken ★

 

 

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Follow-Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

96 - Daily Dependence - Follow Up to Can 1 Conversation Change a Life 3About a year ago we posted ★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★, in which we looked at how one conversation between Jesus and the Pharisee Nicodemus changed his life and how if we will be open to listening to the call of God, we could be used to change the life of others.  I shared in ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★ about how I had a fantastic conversation with a man in the next seat on the flight home from Indiana which has continued with us texting back and forth about God and matters of faith.  I have also been trading emails with a member of my project team about life.  We went from discussing the Presidential Election to Trump’s Wall to handle immigration to what he thought about God which opened the door to the subject of today’s post.  I would like to use his 6 questions to delve into the hot-button topic of “How God could send someone to Hell that never heard the gospel?”  At the end of this post I will give you two messages from Pastors that I greatly respect and have sat under the teaching of for years (one in person and one through Podcast.)  But I digress…I will paste my answer to each question in order of how he asked them…

1.  Why is there not a Gospel of Jesus?  So much was written by flawed men. 

Though man is certainly flawed, the Bible was written by the direction of God.  Part of my faith is that the Bible is the inherent Word of God.  The first thing to understand is that though Jesus’ name is not on the top of any book, every word in the bible is inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” and was intended to be a road map or instruction manual for how to live.

2.  How can Christianity which is all about Christ claim that all people who don’t accept Jesus go to hell and suffer for all eternity?

Regardless of the racial, social or economic background, every single person has been told of the existence of God…By God Himself.  God has placed a God-shaped hole in everyone one of us.  Every person has questioned where they came from, how they came about and ultimately what will happen after we breathe our last breath.  The question is, do you look up or do you rebel against the truth?  Also any sentient being cannot look at the magnificence of a sunrise, or the gentle breeze across halcyon wheat fields or the giggle of a child’s laughter and not wonder if there is not something greater than themselves.  Again the question is, do you open your mind up to the possibility or repress the stirring?  Pastor Robert Morris made statement:

“The Bible says that since the beginning of time, God has revealed Himself to every person both internally and externally.  Every person is born with a conscience, given to them by God, that gives them guidance about right and wrong.  Scripture says that creation itself is proof of His existence, and promises that every person who makes an effort to seek God will find Him.  Therefore, no one has an excuse.  We can see God if we’ll only look.”

Ultimately you have to understand that

“There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

Because God is just and holy many people see these 2 attributes as negatives, but there has to be consequences for Sin.  But what many people struggle is that:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

3.  Could you believe that a person like the Dali Lama who is kind and completely about peace in the world would go to Hell?

This question is a difficult one to answer.  I cannot truly answer that question because God is the who judges and will decide who is destined to go to Hell or not.  Jesus did say in John 14:6 (NLT),

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father [God] except through me.

The question though is from the presupposition that there are actually kind and good people.  Romans 3:10-12 (NLT) says,

“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless.  No one does good, not a single one.”” 

And Romans 3:23 (NLT) says:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Sin is very real and though people may strive to be kind and peaceful; there is no one who is perfect.  See Romans 3:24-26 and Romans 5:12-17.  To make matters worse, 2 Corinthians 4:4 which talks about how “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.”  It is interesting to note that people were never intended to go to Hell.  God created Man to have a relationship with Him and set Him in the Garden of Eden which was paradise on earth.  Robert Morris made this point:

“Hell was created for Satan and his angels, (see Matthew 25:41) when they inexcusably and rebelliously rejected God without cause.  God sent His Son so that no one else would ever have to go there.  God gave every person a free will.  We can choose to love Him or to reject Him.  The people in heaven are those who have chosen Him.  Many others reject Him, in spite of His unlimited goodness.  Our eternal destiny is not His choice, but ours.  Hell wasn’t created for people, but according to Isaiah 5:14, it was enlarged because people inexcusably reject God.  So, the question is, ‘How could anyone reject a loving God?’”

Isn’t that a fascinating thought?  Instead of viewing it from the perspective that God is sending people to Hell, the truth is that People are choosing to go to Hell because of their blatant rejection of the free gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross!  You can read more on this in the post ★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★.

4.  How do I have faith when Christianity and all other religions say we go to hell if we don’t believe?  Christianity is all about Jesus and Christianity says we go to hell when for many life is stacked against them even to the point they may not have even heard of him?

In addition to what I stated above, in a message that I just heard, Steven Furtick made this profound faith…

“The Opposite of Faith is not doubt.  The Opposite of Faith is certainty.

Faith is meant to be more than a formality.

Faith was meant to be more than a feeling.

Faith was meant to be more than a formula.

In fact if you can reduce it to a formula and make sense out of it, it ain’t faith.”

It’s normal to have doubts and to question but in the end, there will be some things we just will never know this side of heaven.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT) says,

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”

God is the only one who knows whose heart belongs to Him and whose has rebelled.

5.  Is the simple answer that parts of the bible while true there maybe parts that are not because they were not written by Christ?

As I mentioned above, The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that the entire Bible is true.  Charles Stanley made this statement.

“The truth of God’s Word applies to all men and women in every culture, in every age, in every walk of life…Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit; the Bible enlightens each individual to recognize personal sin, the need for salvation, and the best possible life course.”

For me the Bible is my anchor of my life.  I believe if people truly want to grow in their faith and live a victorious in life than dusting off the Bible on the nightstand and opening it up is a necessity!  In an older post called ★ Thought for the Day – All About the Big Ten ★, I wrote about the importance of knowing the whole Bible because of its relevance to our life.  Check it out; it looks through the lens of the Ten Commandments.

6.  What do you think is the greatest sin with respect to sins against others? 

There are definitely sins that I believe are worse than others, rape, murder, child abuse to name a few but the Bible has something very different to say.  In asking this question I asked if he were referring to the Ten Commandments or perhaps “The seven deadly sins” – Pride, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Sloth and Greed but regardless of what he was asking, there is a really easy answer that comes from Jesus’ little brother James where he said;

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.

So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”  James 2:10-13 (NLT)

We as humans are broken, sinful people in need of Savior to rescue us from ourselves, see Psalms 14:1-3, Romans 3:23-26 and Romans 5:8-9.

I will tell you what I told him, that I am truly honored that you have opened your heart for us to dialogue about God and to share with you what I have learned through the study of His Word.  I will close with this final truth of Who is God and what do we mean to Him…James 1:16-18 (NLT)

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

We are His prized possession and all God wants from us is a relationship with Him!  Here is a blog I wrote that expands much deeper called…★ “Back to the Basics” – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★, would love to hear your thoughts!

Here are so follow-up resources…

★  “Tough question…How can a loving God send people to Hell” – Robert Morris

http://gatewaypeople.com/ministries/life/events/the-end-what-happens-next/session/2011/08/13/a-tough-question#.TkvLcu7ZdUB.gmail

★  “Functional Faith” – Steven Furtick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=935vFzx722c&sns=em

Check back soon as we will be posting ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★  that will continue our series of the 3 Pursuits that will lead to a successful life!

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★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★

Last year I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – What is the X-Factor of Leadership? ★, which examined how the X-Factor of Leadership is humble service to others through the example that Jesus gave to His 12 disciples.  On the eve of Jesus’ brutal death on the cross, He celebrated one last Passover meal together with His disciples, the people closest to Him.  Referred oftentimes as “The Last Super,” Jesus gave us a powerful demonstration and pattern to follow of what servant leadership is all about when He, the Son of God took on the role of a slave/servant and took hold of a jar of water and basin and washed His disciples’ feet.  One by one, foot by foot, Jesus humbled Himself and cleaned the day’s grime from their sandal-wearing feet…POWERFUL!  If you missed it, I encourage you to check it out because it will give you some needed background to this post.

Yesterday was “Good Friday,” which for Jesus was anything but that.  For us though, it changed everything!  By dying on the cross, Jesus stole the power of death and provided a pathway for you and me to overcome the Devil and have eternal life!!  But before we celebrate Easter and Jesus’ Resurrection, I thought we could look at the events leading up to Sunday.  Last week, my Pastor gave a great overview of Holy Week which I was very familiar with having grown up Catholic.  His sermon encouraged me to spend some time just reading and meditating on the events of this week through the Gospel of Luke.  If you are interested in reading what happened, they are recorded in Luke 19:28 – 24:12.  For those not familiar, Holy Week is the time period from Palm Sunday when Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem to Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter).  As I studied the story of Easter in Luke, I discovered some interesting things.  On Palm Sunday Jesus was heralded as a King riding in on the back of a Donkey and though we all know what happens just 5 days later on Friday, I was amazed about how Jesus made the most of every opportunity.  In Luke 21:37-38 it says that:

“Every day Jesus went to the Temple to teach, and each evening He returned to spend the night on the Mount of Olives.  The crowds gathered at the Temple early each morning to hear Him.” 

Even though He knew what awaited Him, Jesus spent each day teaching the very people who later would call for His crucifixion!  Michelle Myers made this astute observation:

“The crowd shouted “Hosanna” on Sunday…and shouted “Crucify Him!” on Friday.

Good Friday was a horrible day but I think that Saturday was probably the saddest day because all the hopes and expectations that Jesus’ followers had were crushed, and crucified on that cross along with Him.  Today’s “Thought,” is all about the transition period between the death of expectations and the resurrection of the dead.  And how, if you find yourself in that circumstance today, whether you are a believer in Jesus or not, there is hope in these two powerful words…BUT GOD!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God

Before that though, I would like to give a little context.  Luke 22:1-6 offers the background…As the Festival of Unleavened Bread (also called the Passover) was approaching, the leading priests were looking for a way to kill Jesus.  In verses 3-5 it says:

“Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them.  They were delighted, and they promised to give him money.”

One man from among the inner circle accepted a bribe to betray His master.  As Judas waited for his opportunity, Jesus continued to show love to him even to the point of washing his feet!!  And the amazing thing, Jesus knew as he was washing Judas’ feet, see Luke 22:21-22 and John 13:18-30 which recalls when Jesus made the announcement that one of them would betray Him!  In the late 15th-century, Leonardo da Vinci captured that moment in his famous painting called “The Last Supper” 95 - Daily Dependence - Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supperas each disciple, including Judas asked Jesus if it was them.  Shortly after, Judas left to put his plan in action.  Unaffected by his departure, Jesus warned Peter and the other disciples that Satan was going to “sift each of them like wheat” and that the spiritual warfare was going to be intense.  He also prepared them for what their life was going to be like after He was gone, see Luke 22:31-38What love!  Just hours before He would be viciously tortured and nailed to a Roman Cross, 95 - Daily Dependence - Crown and NailsJesus cared so much for these men that He would wash their feet, celebrate with them and offer counsel for the future!  After the Passover meal, Jesus did what He had been doing all week, and went with His disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray for strength for what Friday was going to bring.  In Luke 22:47-48 it recalls how Jesus was betrayed and arrested.  As He pleaded for His disciples to pray that they will not fall into temptation, the passage says:

But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss.  But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 

When I read these words, God spoke so clearly into my spirit that “WE ARE ALL JUDAS!” 

WE ALL HAVE betrayed Jesus in our disobedience and choices that we have made.

WE ALL HAVE sinned and fallen short of what God desires for our life and…

WE ALL HAVE NO POWER to overcome sin without Jesus.

BUT GOD can change us if we will open our hearts!  Look at this amazing truth from Ephesians 2:1-9!

95 - Daily Dependence - But God - Ephesians 2 - 1-9

BUT GOD!  Two little words but when they are combined the impossible is possible!  When we say yes to Jesus, “we are made alive with Christ,” it’s like hitting the “reset button.”  95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System - ResetThe “reset button” is probably one of the greatest inventions on video game systems.  Do you remember what game system this is from?  Long before Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, or Sony PlayStation there was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  For those who remember this, you are old like me.  Hahaha!  This classic 80’s game system 95 - Daily Dependence - Nintendo Game System 2was a major pastime of my childhood.  Hours upon hours were spent playing games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Donkey Kong Jr. and The Legend of Zelda to name a few.  The reset button was a constant go to when I was “knocked out” by Tyson or killed by a barrel or failed to rescue Princess Zelda, I would immediately jump up and hit the button which was like a do-over or clean slate.  95 - Daily Dependence - Martin Parker Street Art - Reset Your LifeI saw this sign creation from street artist Martin Parker that so perfectly illustrates what the purpose of the Cross and the reality of Easter!  We all get the opportunity to “reset our life” when we recognize that we are in need of a savior and surrender our will to God.  When we come to the end of ourselves and see that we cannot be “good enough” or “do enough” to earn our way to heaven.  When we see the cross for what it truly is, the ransom payment for our past, present and future mistakes!  God wants a relationship with you and me and so He provided a way though the death and resurrection of His Son.  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★, we looked at the life of Jonah and saw an example of how God will move heaven and earth in order to pursue you and me!  God did the same thing when He sent Jesus to Earth.  1 John 4:9 (NLT) says:

“God showed how much he loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.”  

As I have been studying the book of Jonah recently, it is amazing the jewels that are contained in this well-known story.  Jonah and the Fish is not just a children’s story made up to teach a life lesson about the price of disobedience but was a true story.  Jesus validated Jonah’s miraculous experience in Matthew 12:40 (NLT), Jesus said:

“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”

Yesterday was the remembrance of how Jesus was crucified over 2,000+ years ago and the payment for the sins of the world.  He died on Friday BUT GOD raised Him from the dead 3 days later!  Today as we wait for Resurrection Sunday, I want to put these two powerful words on the sticky side of your brain…“BUT GOD!”  You may feel like things will never change…that your circumstance is hopeless…that things are hopeless.  But that is simply not true!  I am living proof that nothing is impossible for God.  All you need to do is open your heart!  Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT) is an amazing verse to show that when you accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, you can be alive and free!!

“Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood.

For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.

Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”

Jesus came to set you and I free, will you accept Him?  Revelation 1:18 (NKJV) says,

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.  And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

Jesus left the majesty of heaven and became flesh and blood to deliver a message of hope to a world desperately in need of a Savior.  He is ready to extend grace and mercy to you today.  So what should our response be?  Will you surrender your life to Him?  If you are ready to make a decision that will change your life, here is a simple prayer you can pray:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you prayed that in earnest, welcome to the Kingdom of God!  I encourage you to find a bible teaching church and pursue your new relationship with Jesus!  If you want to read more about developing your faith, check out our segment on the blog called “Back to the Basics”

Now for the believer who may be struggling today or perhaps your walk with God has been in a lull…I want to challenge you to make a change today!  Worship Pastor Wade Joye made this statement that resonated in me!

“Easter is not an event we celebrate; it’s a reality we live in.”   

Just like Christmas, Easter should not be a “one and done” event.  It should be part of our DNA.  Don’t be a “Chreaster”… (a person who calls themselves a Christian but only attends church on Christmas and Easter.)  If you want to have a vibrant faith, then you need to put in the work.  We are doing a series right now about three worthy pursuits of God that will change the trajectory of our life with God.  Through Prayer, Reading God’s Word (the Bible) and Worship (both in song and church attendance) we can live a victorious life!  Paul instructs us in Romans 8:11 (NIV)

“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”

As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead is in you!  If you are in need of refreshment of your Spirit today, ask and you will receive that!  Jesus is the Resurrected King who is ready to resurrect you and me.  If you want to grow you need to make steps to do things differently.  Nothing changes if nothing changes!

In anticipation of Easter tomorrow, I will close with this…“He is Risen!”

I pray that this year, you will experience Christ in a new way!  Happy Easter!

 

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #1 – Opening the Pipeline ★

In our last post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★ we dug into the life of Jonah and saw through his life how God will go to great lengths to re-direct us from our disobedience.  We also introduced that we would be doing a 3 part series of how if we would respond to God’s “Never-Ending Pursuit” of us that would result in a victorious life for us.  As a refresher the trilogy of posts will delve into these 3 Pursuits…Prayer – Word – Worship.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer Word Worship BannerSimple enough right?  But I know myself; in the busyness of life establishing (and maintaining) a consistent “quiet time” can be a challenge.  Not familiar with that term?  You can check out this post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★ that goes in-depth about it but in a nut shell, it is simply being intentional about having a conversation with God through prayer, reading the Bible (Word) and for me I enjoy having worship music on.  This could be at night or in the early morning, or any time in between that does not really matter, what matters is spending time with God.  The pursuit of our Father in Heaven is all He desires!  God wants a relationship with us.

94 - Daily Dependence - Prayer EmojiSo in our inaugural post of this series let’s talk about “opening the pipeline” aka – Prayer.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) we get a very clear picture of what God is desiring:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 Chronicles 7-14 - If My People Would Pray“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

“If my people” would “humble themselves and pray and seek” Him and turn away from sinning, God will hear us and forgive us!  Wow!  This is not an obligatory prayer before your meal, or a lukewarm petition.  God’s desire is for us to truly want to pray, to be passionate in our time with Him.  And it is not intended to be a monologue…that you tell Him all that you need and then say Amen…It should be a dialogue where you listen for a response which could be an impression you feel or something that you comes to mind.  And this is something that is developed over time.

Before I accepted Jesus as my savior and pursued a relationship with God I know I prayed many milquetoast and meaningless prayers where I bargained with Him like God let me pass this test and I’ll go to church this week, or God get me through this hangover and I will never drink again.  The problem with these prayers is that they were not sincere and were just attempts to bribe God to get me out of trouble.  Too often we pray when things are terrible for God to help us out but once that is done God gets nothing…no thanks, no gratitude even if He did everything we prayed.

There is a song by the late great country singer Johnny Cash called a “Boy named Sue.”  He tells the story about how his father named him Sue and that he spent his life fighting everyone as a result of it.  The song most certainly is fictitious but in the Bible there is a man who was the equivalent to Sue.  His name was Jabez.  In 1 Chronicles 4:9 it says that:

“His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’”

The name his mother gave Jabez literally means…“he causes or will cause great pain.”  Now that may not seem like a big deal, but in Old Testament times, a person’s name was an indication of his future.  And a name like Jabez was like a curse that would predestine a person to a life of ridicule and grief just like the “boy named Sue.”  However, Jabez rose above the curse with a very simple prayer.

In 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to God saying:

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory,
That your hand would be with me,
And that you would keep me from evil,
That I may not cause pain!
So, God granted what he requested.”

Jabez was a man who knew the power of prayer and is a great example of how to open the pipeline to God.  First and foremost we can learn that just like Jabez, we need to believe with all our heart that God will honor our prayer.  Now Jabez’s prayer may seem to be common sense but how many of you have ever prayed so boldly?  Most people feel that they should be grateful for whatever they have and it’s better not to press your luck by asking for more since there is so much suffering in the world.  That is completely opposite from the truth.  If you look at the first part of his prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 1 - Oh, that you would bless me indeed

Jabez is asking God to provide him with resources.  Now don’t misunderstand me, that does not mean that you can ask God for a Rolls Royce or a mansion in Beverly Hills.  As we discussed in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Where Does Money Come From? ★, “God is not a vending machine!  Too many pastors and churches have sown into the “prosperity gospel” where you “give to get,” or in this case that you are praying for God to give you with lots of stuff!   That is not what blessing means.  The kind of blessing Jabez is talking about in a biblical sense is to ask God for “supernatural favor.”  It is asking God to bless us not with more of what we can do for ourselves, but for Him to do the miraculous through us to glorify the kingdom of God.  What a different perspective then the conventional though of our culture.  God has so many blessings for us and is just waiting for us to ask for them.  In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV1984) it says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jabez asked and he received.  The prayer of Jabez is a special prayer asking for God’s blessings.  But something you have to realize is that God’s blessings are not always the blessings that we think that they ought to be.  The blessings that He will bestow upon us are so much more abundant than we could even imagine.  When Jabez asked God to “bless him indeed” he didn’t say “God I could use a new car, or a million dollars”; rather he left it up to God to decide how, when and where to bless him.  He prayed that God would give him nothing more and nothing less than what God had planned for his life.  The blessing can come in many different forms and for reasons that you would never expect.  In the second part of Jabez’s Prayer he asked for God to:

94 - Daily Dependence - 2 - Enlarge my territory

Now when I first read that I immediately thought of real estate.  That Jabez wanted more land but what he was really asking for was more influence, more responsibility and more opportunity to make a difference for God in his life.  Asking your territory to be enlarged is a very dangerous request though.  You are saying to God give me a greater sphere of influence and more opportunities to impact people for Christ.  It is being totally open for God to use you as a tool for His purpose.  That means stepping out of your comfortable schedules and routines and being ready at any moment to fulfill God’s master plan.  It means seeing “interruptions” as “opportunities!”  This was true for me on Thursday on my flight home from a business trip in Indiana.  My plan was to plug-in my ear buds to relax with some music and write this post!  But as a man sat down next to me and proceeded to talk with me, God opened an incredible door to speak life into his situation.  Though I was exhausted from 2 days of meetings, and had other plans for the 2 hour flight, I was thrilled to be able to partner with God to share the truth from His Word to help encourage him.  It truly was the highlight of my day!

When you ask for your territory to be enlarged, it is an awesome responsibility but the rewards are immeasurable.  More than any other part of the prayer of Jabez, this concept of “enlarging my territory” has to be the most bizarre and unexpected request.  How many people do you know go up to their boss and say “would you give me more work and responsibility?”  Most people feel that whatever they are currently doing is enough and that they do not have the skills to handle anything more.

Through the Holy Spirit, He will speak the words of encouragement or healing or compassion that the person needs to hear.  That is what happened to me on Thursday!  The man in seat 16A asked me if I was a pastor but I am not, I’m an architect, and he kept saying “how is it that you know all of this?”  The answer unequivocally is God!  That is the point of this part of Jabez’s prayer, by asking for “the expansion” you are taking a huge leap of faith and trusting that when you are reaching out to people who God will give the words to speak when you are open to be used, He will break all the boundaries and restraints holding you back.  The third part of Jabez’s prayer:

94 - Daily Dependence - 3 - That your hand would be with meIs the equivalent of the Star Wars catch-phrase…“May the Force Be With You.”  Jabez realized that once God started to bless him with resources and expanded his territory that he was going to need help.  It is all too common for people to ask for more responsibility and once it has been given they feel overwhelmed and begin to doubt themselves.  It is at this point that we need the hand of God to carry us and work the impossible through us.  In his book “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life,” Bruce Wilkinson said that:

“The Hand of God is a biblical term for God’s power and presence in the lives of His people…As God’s chosen, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed…unless God Steps in.”

I shared some of this in the ★ Why I Do What I do ★ section of the blog, starting this blog was a huge step of faith because of the commitment level.  It takes much more effort than just throwing up a status update.  But God certainly expanded my territory through this blog and without a doubt has had his hand on my preventing epic failure.  He has equipped me with a boldness to share things from my heart and do things that I never imagined possible.  It has been an amazing experience!  The fourth part of the Prayer of Jabez states:

94 - Daily Dependence - 4 - And that you would keep me from evilThis is critical to pray.  As God blesses us, and our territory is expanded and the supernatural power is surging through us, we are most vulnerable to stumble and fail.  When you are enjoying spiritual victories and seeing God’s unbelievable plan unfolding it is easy to feel invincible and impervious to the attacks of the devil.  But, Jabez knew that once you start treading on the devil’s territory, a giant target would be placed on you.  You become public enemy #1 in his eyes.  I can attest to that fact.  With the devil’s attention focused on you like this, it’s best if you don’t try to play with temptation.  Don’t fall into the devil’s trap by testing your strength to resist from sinning because that is the quickest way to fail.  Bruce Wilkinson made this point in the book that:

“It is better to stay out of the arena than to challenge the lion.”

What is the best offense?  A good defense!  And that of course as you can already guess, is prayer!  In the book of Matthew, Jesus told the apostles how to pray, “The Model Prayer” found in Matthew 6:9-13 is often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer,” or as I knew it growing up, “The Our Father.”  The final verse shows how important to pray to God for deliverance:

“And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”  Matthew 6:13

In regard to temptation it is best not to press your luck.  If there is no temptation we will not sin; so stay clear of situations that will lead you to sin or cause harm to you or someone else.

There is such a tremendous power in prayer.  When Jesus was on the earth He was always praying to the Father.  In fact the only thing that the apostles ever asked Jesus to teach them was how to pray.  Jesus’ ministry was not just about healing and preaching but about praying.  He lived a life of Prayer.  It was through His prayers that God worked all the miracles and wonders.  In the life of Jabez, here was a man who started off badly but ended victorious from a simple prayer.  And let’s not miss the final part of that prayer…

94 - Daily Dependence - 5 - That I may not cause painI love the self-realization of Jabez, to know that he is fallible and in need of God to protect him from hurting other people.

And God’s response…“So, God granted what he requested.”  I heard a missionary say once:

“That when we work, we work.  But when we pray, God works.

God will work in your life through your prayers.  When you pray, you are opening up a pipeline to the creator of heaven and earth and the possibilities are endless!!  Your pray doesn’t have to be a formal, rehearsed prayer but rather God desires it to be one from the heart.  You don’t have to have your eyes closed or be in church.  Sometimes the most powerful prayers can be in the car as you’re driving to work or school.  Regardless of what you are doing, or who you are with, God will honor your prayers and welcome the fellowship time between you and Him.  Talk to God like a friend and open your heart to Him.  The miraculous can be done with a prayer!

If you are interested, you can check out the second installment called

★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are a You Feeding On? ★

that covers the Pursuit of Feeding on God’s Word!

or

If you the introductory post, you can go here:

★ “Back to the Basics” – Never-Ending Pursuit ★

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★ Day 15 – Reason for the Season – A Shepherd’s View of Christmas ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness 1

In yesterday’s post, ★ Day 14 – Reason for the Season – Joy to the World ★ we looked at Luke 2:8-14 (KJV) which was the proclamation of Jesus’ birth from the Angel of the Lord to The Shepherds who were nearby in the fields.  The Angels not only proclaimed the Good News but verses 13-14 tells us…“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  So not only was the night sky set ablaze from the glory of the Angels’ radiance but they also worshiped the Savior of the World in song from a “multitude of the heavenly host!”  And I think that they give us a great example that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!  15 - Daily Dependence - Bring Christmas Cheer By SingingWe discussed yesterday about placing ourselves within the story and imagining what that must have been like to see brilliance of the Glory of the Lord and be told the news that everyone in Israel was longing to hear for hundreds of years.  Today’s “Reason for the Season” will look at Christmas through the Shepherd’s eyes.  Angels from heaven visited Shepherds in the field to proclaim that the Savior of the world has been born in the City of David.  That is pretty incredible news but as we have been discussing over the past 2 weeks, all too often we can miss the significance, miss the whole “Reason” for the “Season” by being a Bible reader but not a Bible absorber, and never find Jesus in a meaningful way within these passages.

The light and beauty of the Angel’s praises filled the night as they announced the greatest event in history to lowly Shepherds.  What an honor the Shepherds were given, not only to be visited by Angels but also to be the first to hear of Jesus’ birth.  Have you ever wondered why the Shepherds were honored?  What made them so special?  If you look at the Shepherds, 15 - Daily Dependence - Shepherd in Fieldthey were just average men, living amongst animals.  By the measure of this world, you would think a King or rich man would be the first to hear the news, someone of “significance.”  We give such reverence to people who have acquired great wealth or power.  But God doesn’t work that way.  He seeks out the most unlikely of people to use them in His master plan.  My pastor, whom I was saved under his teaching back in NJ in 1998, said it perfectly in one of his messages…

“The people that men consider to be NOBODIES, God considered them to be SOMEBODYS.”  Kevin Brennan

In those days the Shepherds were part of the lowest class in society, likened to thieves and scoundrels, yet God sent His angels to proclaim the birth of His Son to the most undesirable of all people!  I like how Matt Chandler put it in his sermon called Advent (Part 2) – Tell of His Coming: The Shepherds and Angels,.”

“God brings glory to Himself, by being the power, the authority, and the presence by which all things happen.  So when God calls, rescues, redeems, calls to Himself…He calls among the weak, and broken so that He is most glorified…

God often times, if not always, calls people to Himself that are undesirable, they are unlikely, they are unhealthy, they are the last person you would ever think…In fact if you pay attention throughout the Bible, this is almost His M.O., in fact being super strong might disqualify you.”

Now if this visitation and heavenly announcement was not amazing enough we will pick up the story with what the Shepherds’ response was which to me is what I find almost just as amazing…Luke 2:15-20 says,

“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the Shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the Shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the Shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

So it was the Shepherds who were first to know and spread the word, not rich men or kings.  Incredible!  Look at the response from these lowly recipients of God’s message to the world…After the Angels went back to heaven; the Shepherds left the fields and their flocks and went out in faith to see what the Angels announced to them.  To me this is amazing because the Shepherds could have stayed with their flocks and just discussed what happened.  They could have waited until daylight to go.  But to them everything else was secondary to going to see the fulfillment of prophecy.  Instead they set out immediately, leaving behind what was the source of their livelihood, and even though it was dangerous to travel at night, the Shepherds did not let Christmas pass them by and so the last became first to proclaim the good news that Christ had come, See Matthew 19:29-30 (NIV1984).  God never does anything as we expect Him to…Amen?  That is what I love about Him…He is the God of the miraculous and unexpected.  The Hope and Salvation of the World was not trumpeted in Jerusalem to Kings of men, but to Shepherds in an obsolete part of the countryside to the lowly and insignificant (in the world’s eyes,) in order to show us that God works in small, unnoticed places like a manger in a Palestinian stable. 15 - Daily Dependence - Silent NightAnd that is what we need to understand this Christmas…That night in the stable our hope and our salvation was born and we CANNOT let this Christmas season pass us by without accepting the free gift that God gave us through the birth of His Son!  Philippians 2:6-8 says,

“Though He [Jesus] was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

John Piper made this powerful point in his “Good News of Great Joy | Daily Readings for Advent Devotional,”

“What defines Jesus’s humility is the fact that it is mainly a conscious act of putting Himself in a lowly, servant role for the good of others.”

Unfortunately that realization has been lost in the commercialism and materialism in the current state of this world.  This “Reason for the Season” started out about looking at the Christmas story through the eyes of the Shepherds, but there is more that the Holy Spirit wants to say.  We need to look deeper than the Shepherds and the Angels.  We need to look to the “babe in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.”  Since the start of this blog, we have been posting in a series called “Back to the Basics” in order to understand our faith and set our minds and hearts on Jesus, focusing on what is really important.  We have talked about the “Gifts of the Spirit” and using them to help minister to people.  And we talked about being radical for Jesus that “1 Conversation Change a Life.”  Today as you read this blog, I pray a conversation is happening within your Spirit between you and God.  I pray that you will really examine what this season means and strip away any preconceived notions you have about Jesus, push out the noise of the obligations of the “things to do” and take captive your thoughts to ignore the lies of Satan as he attempts to discourage you through circumstances.  It’s not about Christmas trees, or presents or anything else that some a marketing department tells you.  Christmas is about Jesus Christ, who humbled himself and was born into a dark, damp, dirty place.  He came not to be served but to serve to give us an example for us on how we should treat one another with humility and love…Not for 25 days in December, but for 365 days!  He is the bridge and our access to heaven.  1 Timothy 2:3-6 says that we should make prayers and requests for everyone that:

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.”

Don’t let the significance of Christmas pass you by.  The advent calendar, though I didn’t realize it when I was growing up is a tool for us to get out hearts and minds in the right place for the birthday of our savior.  But you don’t need a calendar to do this – just talk to Him.  I challenge all of you to spend each day this month and consider the love and grace of God in sending His son.  Pray, read the Bible and thank God for the Gift of His Son to a world lost in sin and hopelessness.  Start this month and continue each and every month…Get to know Jesus.  Will you be like the Shepherds and step out in faith, trusting in a higher power?  Ron Hutchcraft once said that there are (5) things that you can do with Jesus.  You can:

1.  Reject Him,
2.  Ignore Him,
3.  Postpone Him,
4.  Agree with Him or
5.  Commit your life to Him.

You can flat-out say ‘I want nothing to do with Him.’  Or you can take the apathetic approach and ‘decide to do nothing.’  You could postpone Him, that is say ‘yes I’m interested but I want to live life my own way, I will get to accepting Him as my savior eventually.’  You could agree with Him, believing in the parables and bible stories but decide that ‘you still want to do things your own way.’  And then there’s the last thing you could do and that is to accept the sacrifice he made on the cross and ‘commit your life to Him.’  Today I want to ask you, will you reject Jesus or Commit your life to Him.  Will you continue to run your life on your own terms or will you stop and accept what that baby in the manger did for you and me?

If you are ready to accept Jesus, here is a simple payer to pray, the words that you use are not important but it is your act of submission and humility to accept God’s Son that does…

Lord I am a sinner.  I have tried to run my life and failed, I cannot do it on my own.  I need a savior.  Please wash me, cleanse me, and create in me a new heart.  I am sorry for my sins and I believe that Jesus died as the payment for those sins.  Please take my life I freely give it to you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!

If you prayed that in faith and truly believe this, then I have Great News!  You are a new creation and will be spending eternity in Heaven!  I urge you to tell people about your decision and to find a Bible teaching church and get yourself a Bible.  I have been reading this year the New Living Translation (NLT) and highly recommend it as a good place to start!  Humility is the key!  Let us not forget the Glory of our Lord that was presented to lowly Shepherds this Christmas.  For those who seek Him will surely find Him.  Yet, not as a babe, but as a King, who one day will reign over all.

Here is a great follow up to today’s “Reason for the Season” from Ron Hutchcraft who explains more about how Jesus is the “THE BRIDGE TO GOD”…★ Just Click Here ★

 

As an additional supplement to today’s “Reason for the Season”…I highly recommend you listen to “The Twelve Voices of Christmas” audio dramatization from Back to the Bible of “Shepherds – The Voice of Declaration.”  This dramatization is designed to help the listener experience the story of Christ’s coming in a fresh way from the Shepherd’s perspective.

If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 16 – Reason for the Season – Gifts from the Heart ★

Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★

#Daily Dependence - Reason for the Season - 25 Days of Thankfulness

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Silencing the Noise ★

A little over a year ago I posted this ★ Thought for the Day – Why to Love Mornings ★ about how each day is a clean slate to start over and move on from past mistakes.  Today I want to explore why else mornings are important.  As you might expect, it has to do with God.  Our church has been going through a devotional call “Pathways” by Russ Barksdale, (click here to download the first 2 chapters,) in it he said,

“The God of the universe called me into a love relationship with Him and He is not satisfied with surface stuff.”

When you think of a relationship, what is the foundation?  You may say getting to know the person, or spending time with them, or having shared interests in common.  And I would agree with you that all are critically important, but I think that communication is the most important aspect of a healthy relationship…not just for information exchange but as a vehicle to grow closer to one another.  The same is true with a relationship with God.  Some of you reading this may know exactly where this is going, but the answer for others may seem unnatural or unknown…the answer is a quiet time with God in which you read the Bible, pray, journal and listen for God to speak to you.  God is “not satisfied with surface stuff.”  That statement led the men in our lifegroup to discuss this issue…the this question was asked and I want to pose it to you…

If time spent pursuing God = time spent loving God, how much do you love God?”

He responded that “apparently not very much”…Knowing him as I do, that response is him being way too hard on himself.  The question is one, I think we don’t just answer once, but should respond to daily because I think if we are honest; every one of us could answer the same as my good friend.  Another member of our group responded that you need to look at the definition of pursue, which is…

To follow; to go or proceed after or in a like direction. 

He continued on saying that the,

“Bible says if you Love Me you will keep my commandments.  

Everything we do and say, or don’t do, and don’t say, throughout the day shows God, and the World that we are pursuing God and that we Love God.  

Keeping commandments = Love for God….this is the pursuit!!!  

I love that so much, a quiet time with God is a pivotal component of pursuing God.  Back in 2010, I had a conversation with the Men’s pastor at Gateway Church, Todd McIntyre that changed my life.  Besides helping me to see the need to reconcile my relationship with my estranged father, who later accepted Jesus as his savior as a result of our conversations, (you can read more about this from the ★ Thought for the Day – Never Fatherless ★,) Pastor Todd also opened my eyes to the need for a quiet time and to develop a spiritual discipline of a daily time with God.  Within the 3 part series that he preached where he said:

86 - Daily Dependence - Todd McIntyre - Spiritual Maturity
“You cannot have maturity unless you have perseverance in your life and you’ve gone through some pain.  God cares more about our maturity then He does about your happiness.”  Todd McIntyre

86 - Daily Dependence - ClockFor me I have found that starting my day pursuing God is.  I am not naturally an early riser, but I found that unless I set that time with him the start of the day, something else always would get in the way.  There’s so much in life that will keep us too busy to read the Bible.  So much in life that will distract us from praying.  So much in life that will push aside the time to journal.  So much in life that will drown out the voice of God!

The purpose of the quiet time is to silence the noise and center your life God and getting to know who His Son Jesus Christ!

Rising early to spend time with God has always been influenced by what Mark 1:35 (NASB) describes of Jesus’ own disciplines.

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” 

Mark 1:35 has always been a rallying call to me to push through the fatigue of getting up early.  As I wrote about in the previous post (★ Thought for the Day – Confidence IN WHOSE You Are ★), King David was a man after “God’s own heart,” in Psalms 5:2-3 (NLT) he said,

“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you.  Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD.  Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.”

Jesus rose early and King David met with God in the morning, so I too choose that time of day as well and wait expectantly for Him to speak with me.  I don’t tell you this to impress you or show off but to motivate you to carve away a piece of the day for God, away from the hustle and bustle and noise.  It does not matter what time of day that you spend time with Him, just that you do.  Oftentimes people find it hard to put aside the time to do it and so when they don’t, Satan comes in to condemn us.  Part of the exchange with the men, was this quote from Rick Warren,

“Jesus doesn’t want to condemn you; He wants to change you.  He wants you to know him and he wants you to love him as much as he loves you.”

What a powerful statement and truth which reminds me of a Sonicflood song that was popular when I first was saved, called “I want to know You”…

“I am reaching for the highest goal86 - Daily Dependence - sonicflood - I Want to Know You
That I might receive the prize
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside
Out of my way
Cause, I want to know You more

I want to know You
I want to hear Your voice
I want to know You more
I want to touch You
I want to see Your face
I want to know You more”

The key for me, is to push through the fatigue when the alarm clock goes off, I need to get up and start the day off with God (and a BIG cup of Joe…aka as coffee for my southern brothers…Hahaha!)  I love this quote from Russ Barksdale,

“Jesus doesn’t want to condemn you; He wants to transform you.”

Our quiet time with God, getting to know Him, getting to know Jesus and what He taught in the Bible is intended to transform us.  We need to not allow Satan to get us down if one day or one week is not as good of a pursuit as the previous one, but just keep chasing after God.  (See Romans 8:1-2 as well.)  As I was reading Deuteronomy 17 that same morning as our group text occurred, I saw a parallel to what God commanded the king to do (see 17:18-20) and what our quiet time should be.  Reading the bible daily is not supposed to be drudgery, and certainly not intended to be out of compulsion, “oh I have to get up early and spend time with God,” rather it should be out of love with an attitude that “I want to get up early to make sure I spend time with God,” like the Sonicflood song so proudly declares.  So how about you?  Are you spending time chasing after God?  Are you building your life on Him?  If you are reading the bible, are you changing any behaviors?  Knowledge without application is pointless.  In the last exchange with my brothers in the lifegroup, this great point was made,

“I think what you get back in terms of revelation is the time you put in communion with Him whether early or late in the day.  Knowledge must transfer from the head to the heart, from belief to faith.”

“Knowledge must transfer from the head to the heart,” and a consistent quiet time every day, regardless of time of day, is the process by which that happens!  Martin Luther said,

86 - Daily Dependence - Martin Luther - What Prayer Is “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.”

That really captures the heart of God, as we seek God with all our heart, He will willingly open up the treasures of heaven and meet us there!  As I was discussing this Thought of the Day with my 14-year-old daughter, God spoke so clearly to me through our conversation.  She said,

“In order to silence the noise, you need to know ‘whose you are.’   And in order to know whose you are, you need to ‘silence the noise.'”

It is the great paradox, one which if we could grasp, our lives would be forever changed!!

If you want to read more about discipline, check out this ★ Thought for the Day – The Benefit of Discipline ★

Maybe you are reading this and not only have a quiet time, but you have never made the decision to follow Jesus, today you can change that today!  Check out our next post called ★ Thought for the Day – Accidental Existence? ★ and if you are ready to make a decision today…

Below is a prayer you can pray to start your relationship, the words you say really don’t matter, there is nothing special about them, but the emotion and belief in your heart does.  Make this your prayer today:

God take this broken, sinful person and forgive my sins.  I want a relationship with you I am in need of a Savior.  I believe that Jesus came to die for my sins and that He is the bridge that brings me to eternal life with you forever.  Please forgive all my sins.  I accept the free gift of eternal life and know that I can never do enough good deeds to earn that salvation.  In Jesus Name I pray!  Amen!

If you earnestly prayed that prayer, you are a new creation (see Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17!)  God will honor that prayer of surrender and will do incredible things in your life! 

Please contact me if you have any questions about your new life in Jesus Christ, I would love to discuss your decision more.  God Bless!

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Whose Body Are You A Part Of ? ★

Continuing in our “Back to the Basics” segment,  we are looking at the foundations of the Christian faith.  We live in a broken world that is plagued with sin.  Our adversary, the devil will use anything or anyone to inflict pain and lead you astray from the truth that he is dreadfully afraid of.  If you are a Christian, that is, you believe Jesus was sent by God to die on a Roman cross to be the payment for your sins, was raised three days later and now sits on a throne in Heaven…You are an heir to the riches of heaven and also get enjoy all that Jesus came to make a reality including the gifts of the Holy Spirit…but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.  For those reading this blog who do not know Jesus as your Lord and savior I encourage you to go back to our very first post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★.  Is not until we reach the end of our pride and self-dependence and acknowledge our sin and brokenness, we will never find true joy and freedom.  I once read somewhere:

“The Bible says that the church is one body.  The Spirit-filled life, according to the Scriptures, is one of interdependency just as the members of a physical body work together interdependently, so you and I, as individual members of the body of Christ are to work together to accomplish God’s will.”    

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 says:

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body… and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

“We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.”  The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune or Trinity.  The Trinity, composed of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (ever-present at all times).  Before I was saved, I knew about some of the bible stories, but I never really knew much about the Holy Spirit.  All I really knew was that He was third in the lineup of the trinity.
83 - Daily Dependence - The Trinity Lineup

  1. First up you have God, the creator of the Universe.
  2. Second you have Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God made flesh to be the atonement for our sins.
  3. And rounding out the order the Holy Spirit.

Yes as you all see God’s baseball team is indeed the Texas Rangers.  With the end of the 2015 MLB season just a little less than 2 weeks away (at the time of this posting,) the Texas Rangers against all odds are in first place in the American League West.  It is hard to believe where they are now considering where they started but as you look at the Trinity, it is clear what God and Jesus are all about, but the function of the Holy Spirit is a bit of an enigma to most people as it was for me.  Who is this Holy Spirit?  What is the Holy Spirit all about?  The very name could lead one to think of some mystical essence but Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a person.  He said In John 14:26:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

He is our intercessor, comforter, and counselor.  The Holy Spirit is God’s presence and activity among us.  He is not a force or mysterious power, but is a person who is the mover and shaker behind the scenes, taking the weak and building them up.  The Holy Spirit strengthens the body of Christ, which we all belong to.  He works in each of us anointing, empowering and directing us to carry out God’s work. Let’s compare for a moment the Body of Christ with the Texas Rangers; I think you will see what I mean.

Imagine if a line drive shot is hit to Elvis Andrus at shortstop.  As usual he makes a great scoop and fires it off to Mitch Mooreland at first base.  But as the ball reaches the target it continues past first base into the dugout because Mitch Mooreland didn’t want to fight the traffic that day on Route 360.  Now this is a ridiculous scenario, especially since Mooreland is up for an Esurance MLB Award for coming back after surgery, would be a huge loss to the team if he played hooky because he was feeling lazy.  But that isn’t any different to God when we decide not to use the gifts that we have been given because it will be too difficult or too much work.

What if Cole Hamels fired a 100-mile an hour fastball towards home plate but instead of hurling into Robinson Chirinos’ mitt, the ball flies into the stands because Chirinos didn’t feel like catching the ball.  Something like that probably would never happen but I am sure there are many things we have the talent to do but we make excuses why we can’t, simply because we don’t feel like it.

How about a shot to Shin-Soo Choo in right field?  As he attempts to nail the runner going to second base, Rougned Odor is missing from his position because he felt unworthy to be playing for the Rangers.  Now that may sound unrealistic but how many times have you felt unworthy of God’s gifts because of what you’ve done in the past?

These comparisons might be a bit far-fetched but it illustrates how critical each player is to make the Rangers the successful team they are.  You need Mooreland to make the out at first.  Without Chirinos, Hamels pitches would be wild every time.  And Choo is needed to tag the runner out.  Just like on the baseball field, each person in the Body of Christ is as crucial as any player.  When one person is missing or hurt the whole body feels it and is weakened.

How many people have sat before a test in school and said something like this?83 - Daily Dependence - Math Test

This Comic strip, though silly, illustrates the reliance that we should have in the Holy Spirit.  And that reliance is well founded for the He is an ever-present guide in this dark word.  His power is manifested through the Gifts of the Spirit.  God designed each believer in such a way that we all have a significant role in the body of Christ, and when we work together, we can accomplish great things according to His providence.

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 gives us they listing of what the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.  To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

Through the Gifts of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit enables us to do things far beyond our natural abilities regardless of what gift we possess.  The nine Gifts of the Spirit are directed towards the needs of the church rather than the needs of the individual that the Spirit uses to minister the gift.

Now please bear with me this is the technical part of the blog but also is the most important part.  As I am talking and describing each gift I want you to be prayerfully considering which gift God has equipped you with.  The New Testament has divided the Gifts into three groups.  

The message of Wisdom and Knowledge are useful in teaching and preaching.

  • Wisdom is a gift that gives supernatural insight into some particular need or problem and brings a practical application of God’s Word.
  • Knowledge gives insight into the truth of the gospel and its application to Christian living.

The second grouping of Faith, Gifts of Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, and Distinguishing between Spirits are useful in ministering to the church and to the world.

  • The Gift of Faith is not the faith that we are saved by. It is the one that miraculously meets unusual opportunities.
  • The Gifts of Healing are the ability to heal those plagued with sickness and disease.
  • Miraculous Powers are the ability to do supernatural deeds such as casting out demons.
  • The Gift of Prophecy has a threefold purpose, to speak to men and women to build them up spiritually, for encouragement, and comfort.
  • Distinguishing Between Spirits may be given in a variety of ways. It may be used to “judge” or “weigh” prophecies.  Or it could be to protect us from satanic deceptions.

The last group, Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues, and The Interpretation of Tongues are useful in worship.

  • Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues is when the Holy Spirit anoints someone to speak in a language they don’t know. Tongues are the Spirit – directed language from heaven.
  • The Interpretation of Tongues is when the Spirit directs another person to speak in the language of the congregation to translate what the Spirit was saying through the one speaking in tongues.

Regardless of what order the gift appears in the scriptures, all gifts are equal in importance, as are the individuals who minister with the gifts.  God has specifically picked each person and equipped them with the gift that would best fit his plan.  1 Corinthians 12:5-6 says:

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

I belong to Generation X which has been labeled as lazy, useless and shallow.  The ‘X’ as the rest of the world views it, symbolizes that we stand for nothing.  All through my teenage years I heard how uneducated and immature my generation was.  Similar to the way I had viewed the Holy Spirit in my ignorance, so does this world view Generation X.  I remember hearing once, that if you call someone something over and over whether it’s true or not eventually they start to believe it.  I believe that the stigma of the ‘X’ on our Generation has produced the very thing that this world has claimed that we are.  But if you step out of the box and look at things in a different way you will see that because we are different that makes us unique.  To build on the comic, in algebra, the “X” in the 83 - Daily Dependence - Quadratic Equationquadratic formula is the most important value to determine.  The same is true for Generation X.  Charles Stanley said, “Everybody is somebody in the body.”  We need to fill in what the “X” stands for in our life and what our God-given talents are.  Many people feel that they are insignificant members of the body of Christ.  We are all essential in the body of Christ regardless of your past, God can use you no matter what.  Each person here is special and has a unique gift that God has given them.  Think of it this way, if you lose one piece of a puzzle, you almost have a beautiful picture.  But, what is your eye focused on?  The missing piece because83 - Daily Dependence - Missing Puzzle the picture is incomplete.  So it is true of us.  Each person, and each gift is equally important in carrying out God’s master plan.  He is the artist and we are His tools.  Together we can do great things through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.  Our gifts are God’s way of administering His grace to others.  We become channels through which Christ’s ministry flows.  We do not get to choose our gifts, the Holy Spirit gives them as He wills but we are obligated to use them for the benefit of the body of Christ.  We need to be vigilant in seeking opportunities to use those gifts.  If we do not, other members of the body of Christ will have to work harder to carry our weight.  Or worse yet, people could be discouraged and drift away from the body.  And that loss could mean eternal darkness for that person.

The power of the Holy Spirit is available for all believers in Jesus Christ.  But you must first believe before you can tap into the limitless resources of God.  So whose body are you a part of?  In John 3:5-8 Jesus told Nicodemus:

"I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.'  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-8

When you are born again you are a new creation.  It doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are or what you have done in the past.  God’s grace is boundless and He is just waiting to bestow on you all the riches of heaven.  All you need to do is ask.  In a minute we are going to open the altars for prayer.  I want to encourage you to ask Jesus into your life.  It is a simple prayer but the results are endless.  If you want to give your heart to Jesus come up and someone will pray with you.  If you just need prayer for something you can come up as well.  For those who have already given your heart to Christ, I want to challenge you to ask God to release the gifts of the spirit in your life and to provide opportunities for you to minister those gifts.  Don’t click on the “X” on the web browser without first seeking the power that is available to everyone!

If you would like to learn more about making the decision to accept Christ, please read ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★  God Bless!!

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★ “Back to the Basics” – Can 1 Conversation Change a Life? ★

In our second installment of the “Back to the Basics” series we are going to answer the question…

If you missed our first post in this series, you can got back and read it here ★ “Back to the Basics” – Religion vs. Relationship – Part 2 ★.  This juxtaposition between “practicing a Religion” or “having a Relationship with God” is the starting point of everything!  I believe that for you to move forward in your faith you have to get this straight in your mind, it is the core of what God desires for all of us.

So let me ask you this question…Do you consider yourself a Glass “Half Empty” or “Half Full” Type of Person?  Or another way to look at it is…76 - Daily Dependence - How do you view life

It really makes a difference, because your response to this question can really influence your answer to the one posed in this Thought for the Day.  If you tend to view life through a “half empty,” or pessimistic lens, than you many think that people can never change so how could 1 conversation make that big of a difference.  But if on the other hand, you have a “half full” or optimistic viewpoint, than you may approach this with a more open mind…which I pray you will!

Contrary to how these Thoughts for the Day are usually developed, I will ask you a series of additional questions to get to our answer.  The conversation we will be looking at is recorded in Chapter 3 of the Book of John between Jesus and a religious leader of that time named Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.  At the risk of going down a rabbit trail…I want to give a little background.  As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was part of a group of Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules perfectly and were above reproach.  What made this conversation unusual was that the Pharisees were stanch opponents to the teachings of Jesus and were so self-righteous that they believed they were incapable of being wrong.  Interestingly if you look up the word Pharisee in the dictionary, you will see one definition as being “a hypocrite,” which Jesus continually called them.Okay, let’s get back on track…The text that we will start at is from John 3:2-7 (NLT),

After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus. 
 
“Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.  So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’”

STOP…now let’s start with the questions….
When you hear that phrase “born again,” what comes to mind?  It can be confusing if you have never heard accurate teaching on what it means.  Here is a link newspring.cc/watch/stepup/born-again to one of the best on messages I have ever heard on what it means to be “Born Again” from Clayton King (NewSpring Church) if you want to learn more on this.

Some people have the impression that being “born again” is some sort of brainwashing or that people who call themselves “born again Christians” are crazy because they have seen some eccentric preacher on TV in the middle of the night or knew some person who spoke about it in “Christianese” terms that unless you knew the context you will never understand the meaning and it just sounds like nonsense.  Well lets look back in our text because Nicodemus had questions too…

In John 3:8-12 (NLT) Jesus finishes His thought with…

76 - Daily Dependence - John 3-3 - Born Again“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?  I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.  But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

I love what Jesus said in verse 8…“The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”   You can’t see the wind and yet you know it exists because you feel its effect, it is the same way with the move of the Holy Spirit.  You see, when you ask Jesus to be your Lord and savior then the Holy Spirit comes into your life that will transform you into a new person and making you “born again.”  You may have heard it as “being saved” or “salvation” or “as You are a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.  Max Lucado nailed it when he said, “Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus.”  So…