★ 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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★ Thought for the Day – Consistency Compounds Check-In ★

On January 18, 2020 I posted my Word for 2020 in the post ★ Thought for the Day – Consistency Compounds ★.  As a reminder, my prayer for this year was that I would be CONSISTENT in all areas of my life – Spiritually (that my walk with Christ would be strong), Physically (that my health would be the best that it ever has been), and Emotionally (that my relationships with my wife, daughters, friends and co-workers would be better than ever and life-affirming.). Well today is the 4 month anniversary of that post and I thought it would be good to pause for a post from our “GOD IS…” series and give an update on where I am at.

Today is Day 66 of quarantine and my 10th week of working at home as the result of COVID-19.  I must say that the days and weeks are all running together but I have been blessed to be able work out of my dining room and receive a pay check every 2 weeks, something many people are not as fortunate to be able to.  Though it’s been hard watching the news casts of all those suffering, I have been looking for the silver lining and have see that there are definitely benefits that have resulted.  I can honestly say the quarantine has helped me to stay consistent with my goals for 2020, so like in the first post, I will break this up in 3 parts:

SPIRITUAL CHECK-IN:

Through Facebook Messenger and other video chat Apps, I have been able to stay connected with all the guys that I met with previously each morning at my house and now I am hosting Bible Studies virtually and reaching more men then I was before if you can believe that?!  Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do this and technology we have been making the best out of a bad situation.  Also you may have noticed an increase in posts as I have been exploring the attributes of God in our “GOD IS…” series.  In the past month, we have looked at (22) different aspects of our Heavenly Father which is far greater frequency then ever before!

PHYSICAL CHECK-IN:

Now if you have followed this blog for awhile, you know full well that exercise has always been a struggle for me.  Whether it was a lack of motivation or just trying to fit it in my day, I always had an excuse for why I did not workout.  Over the past 5 months I am happy to say that the excuses have been kicked to the curb, and especially over the past 65 days I have been more consistent then ever!  I hope you will not think me to be bragging, but I wanted to share this with you from my Fitbit app exercise tracker that shows I have consistently exercised for an entire month straight!!  First time ever in my life doing this!!

EMOTIONAL CHECK-IN:

As a part of the workouts, I have been going on walks with my wife and oldest daughter which has helped also strengthen the emotional connections simultaneously.  My youngest daughter and I have been working on and off together building a bed to look like a Chevy pickup truck (which is her favorite vehicle!)  Many people have been asking me if I am looking forward to going back to the office but honestly, I have been enjoying getting (2) additional hours back in my day since I don’t have to drive to and from work (and also eliminating the stress of the commute).  I do miss my friends at work, but MS TEAMS has helped to keep that community connection.  And one final benefit has been having breakfast and lunch with the family every day which in the past was only possible on the weekend.  Oh, and probably the highlight of the past 65 days was this past Saturday when my oldest daughter cleared out her bedroom so we could have a “Family Dance Night Surprise!”  Yesterday I felt so sore from all the dancing…hahaha!

I share all of this to say, regardless of circumstances we can always improve things if we will consistently look to make the environment better.  I shared this in the post ★ Thought for the Day – What’s On The Inside? ★, but it bears repeating as I am a firm believe of what Marvin J. Ashton once said:

“Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.”

A bad attitude can spread like a wild-fire within the home or at work and when you compound that with 65 days of captivity, I man self-quarantine you have all the conditions for a “five alarm fire!”  So regardless of how we feel, we must push through and not allow the media to tear down our spirits or boredom to stop us from getting into the Word everyday or laziness to stop us from going on a walk or riding a bike.  I heard this great sermon called…“New Found Life” by Mondoe Davis who preached on the importance of physical training and how it ties into the spiritual.  He read 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NLT) which says…

“Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”

And drew this powerful parallel:

“You are a spirit, you have a soul, and you live in a physical body.  What you feed each one of these aspects of who you are, determines how you will grow.” 

That is what I desire to be “holy in every way” and that my “whole SPIRIT and SOUL and BODY [will] be kept blameless!”  But that is up to you and me, “what we feed each one of these aspects” of who we are, “WILL DETERMINE HOW WE WILL GROW!”  Unlike what the 1977 rock song “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” by Meat Loaf said…2 OUT OF 3 IS BAD!  We need to be 3 for 3 in our CONSISTENCY!  MIND (SOUL), BODY and SPIRIT running on all cylinders.

Over the past five months, I have been compiling a list of men and women from the Bible who I believe are great examples of what that looks like to be CONSISTENT!  It is far from complete but as I read and study, I will be adding to it.

I am thinking about doing a series on what we can learn which would be the opposite of the Temptation Series which is all about learning what not to.  But this opposing list will help us to see that you it is possible.  When you are consistently chasing after God, and working for the building of His kingdom, the gracious hand of the Lord will be upon you!  That happens when like these men and women, you are determined to make a difference to see lives changed, healed, restored and transformed here on earth!  But the choice is up to you.

 

  DIG DEEPER

★ Thought for the Day – Be Strong and Courageous ★

★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

★ Thought for the Day – What’s On The Inside? ★

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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.”

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ 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? 

 

 

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★ 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.

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

★ 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… ★.

 

★★ Dig Deeper ★★

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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★ Thought for the Day – True Shalom ★

This week is quite significant for many reasons.  Yesterday was Palm Sunday that is the official kick-off to “Holy Week.”  Which you may recall was when Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Growing up I always liked this weekend because Palm branches would be handed out at church which we then made a cross with it to keep around the house.  At the time I did not understand the significance of the tradition nor how important Holy Week is.  Friday is of course the day when we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for our sins when He was nailed to the cross.  And smack dab in the middle of the week between Jesus entering Jerusalem and subsequent death on a Roman cross, is the Jewish celebration of Passover is on Wednesday which is the remembrance of when the Israelite people were spared when the angel of death “passed over” their homes in Egypt because they put the blood of a scarified lamb over the doorway.  Besides the religious significance, this week according to the Surgeon General “is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment.”  As I turned on the TV this morning, news report after news report warns that the USA is facing the worst week of the Covid-19 outbreak.  As we have been “social distancing,” (which I have to say I cannot stand hearing that phrase, I prefer “physical distancing” but I digress), the most repeated thing that I have asked, or have been asked, is “how are doing in quarantine?”  So, I will tell you, I am doing good.  Like so many, it has been (3) weeks now that we have self-quarantined.  In these difficult and confusing times, it’s been comforting to be with my wife and (2) daughters, facing this together.  Each of us have been “finding our new normal.”  I have commandeered the dining room as my work space, while our daughters have each found their own place to attend classes online.  One blessing of being quarantined with my family is enjoying having lunch together and then 3 pm coffee time with my wife.  I think the most interesting change is that I am now the one hitting Costco, Kroger or Walmart just trying to find the essentials.  As I got ready yesterday and folded up my bandanna with some of my wife’s hair ties to create a makeshift mask, I felt a little like this guy…

Hahaha!  And I am happy to report that yesterday I hit “pay dirt!”

The media has created such a frenzy with non-stop coverage of empty shelves, the number of infected and sadly the death toll.  There is without a doubt a reason to be concerned and take precautions, but we need to not allow our lives to be driven by fear!  I was reading this YouVersion Easter reading plan called ‘Risen’ by Ray Johnston, and he had this great insight:

“Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop.”

Fear will cause us to act irrationally like hording toilet paper and can open the door to the enemy’s attack.  After I came home yesterday from Winco with my precious paper products, mind you I have not had paper towels in 3 weeks…talk about first world problems…I then gathered with my family to stream the church service.  And the ironic part, the sermon was called “Overcoming Fear” by Jimmy Evans.  This timely message was all about God wanting us to have peace, not fear!  He shared that:

“Fear is a prophet spirit from hell, sent to give us a negative report about the future that will upset us and cause us to make a fear-based decision that God will not honor.” 

That is so, so powerful!  How many fear-based decisions are being made right now?  The enemy loves to use fear as a weapon against us but 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) tells us:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Jimmy Evans also said that:

“God never uses fear!  He uses peace!” 

That got me thinking about the Jewish celebration of Passover this week and the word that they use for peace… “Shalom,” which as you may have guessed, is the inspiration of this post.  I asked a friend of mine who has a lot of knowledge about Judaism what is a trusted definition of the word Shalom and he said:

The basic definition is peace for sure.  But that peace, is a peace that goes beyond just peace with others, but peace with self, circumstances, emotions, etc.  More like the peace of a new born babe in his/her mother’s arms.  Like that.  Where things may be happening but finding that security in God.” 

What a powerful image right?  We can find peace in God like a baby has in its mother’s arms.

This past February, my wife and I went to the XO Marriage Conference and heard Dave and Ashley Willis talk about “Finding Peace in Marriage Conflicts.”  They shared this great definition for Shalom:

“Breaking the authority established by chaos.” 

That is what I believe many of us need to do!  We need to break the authority that we have allowed chaos to have over our lives.  Satan is the author of confusion and it is only when we take captive our thoughts that we can have True Shalom.  1 Corinthians 14:33a (NLT) reminds us…

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (“of Shalom” – see the Tree of Life Translation).

I just reading John chapter 14 in which Jesus comforted His Disciples about the end times.  He book-ended the chapter with an offer of peace.  John 14:1 (NLT) start off:

““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”” 

I love the comfort found in John 14:1.  This image reminded me of my many times in detention back in High School where the Dean had me write over and over “I will not _____ .” (Fill in the blank with whatever my offense was that day).  Hahaha!  I hated this punishment, but you know there is something about repetition that helps us learn the lesson.  The same is true for our Life…Jesus gave us the key to ANY situation…“Trust in God, and trust also in [Him].”  There is no better cure for anxiety than praying to the ONE who can comfort, heal and provide for us!

He meant this so much that at the end of the chapter, Jesus made this statement:

“I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27

So the question is, do you want to trust in the nightly news or the ONE who created you?  The ONE who is your true provider!  Jesus will provide much more than what your physical needs are, He with give you “peace of mind and heart!”  All you need to do is ask Him for it today.

Pray…Stay Safe in Quarantine…and of course wash your hands!

 

★★ Want to dig deeper? ★★ 

Here are a couple of articles about the Meaning of Shalom:

Check out this sermon called I’m Still Scared by Steven Furtick.

Here are additional posts on fear, doubt, and anxiety that I wrote over the past (6) years if you are interested in reading more on this topic…

  1. ★ Thought for the Day – Mastering Fear ★

  2. ★ Thought for the Day – Crippled By Doubt ★

  3. ★ Thought for the Day – got fear? ★

  4. ★ Thought for the Day – Who’s Chasing You? ★

  5. ★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

  6. ★ Thought for the Day – Fair-Weather Faith ★

 

 

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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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★ Thought for the Day – What’s Your Blanket? ★

Yesterday we had a strong thunderstorm roll through our area that brought lighting and hail which got me thinking about this this Thought for the Day.  What comes to mind when you read the title of this post?  If you were like me, and grew up with the classic TV show “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” an image of Linus with his security blanket may come to mind.  Or maybe you may be thinking about the Downy Infusions Calm TV Commercial that shows a cute little boy who is awakened by a thunder and lightning storm outside.  As he runs down the hall scared to Mommy and climbs onto her bed, he smells a fragrance coming from one of the blankets that immediately calms him by the lavender scent. Instead of staying in bed with his Mommy, he grabs the blanket and goes back to his bed smelling it all the way.  While I could write about either one of these, the inspiration came from my “four-legged son” Jake, who like the frightened young boy, is also terrified by thunderstorms and goes running to his “Mommy.”  We always know when a storm is coming because Jake starts shaking like a leaf and incessantly panting.  And last night was no different, he was a mess and would not calm down.  I remember one day, my wife sent me these photos because Jake was freaking out so bad that he pushed his way into the shower and then tried climbing onto the bed.

Now as you may be chuckling, it’s actually really sad to see him suffering so bad from the anxiety of the impending storm.  No amount of petting or hugging or soothing words could settle Jake down.  Only one thing helps him…

His ThunderShirt.  Forgive me if this seems like a promotion, but it really works (and I receive no kickbacks for saying so, hahaha!)  The website says that it…

“Applies gentle, constant pressure, similar to swaddling an infant.”

In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★, I shared Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB) which says:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the post, we talked about how if we go to God with our anxieties, He WILL be help us through anything!!  A common misconception of Christianity is that once you give your life over to God, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, everything in your life should be sunshine and roses!  BUT THAT SIMPLY IS NOT TRUE!  We live in a fallen, broken world in which God-fearing, Jesus believing, Holy Spirit filled Christians lose their jobs, contract cancer, or experience the death of a loved one.  However, the Bible offers encouragement throughout the pages which can help us to deal with our worry and fear, which is of course is completely normal to experience as we go through the storms of life.  In the post ★ Thought for the Day – Be Strong and Courageous ★, I shared about our daughter heading to Atlanta for a three-day training camp before heading to Eswatini (formally known as Swaziland) and South Africa for a two-month Missions Trip, and the anxiety we were feeling having our first-born child on the other side of the world over 9,000 miles away from us!  God spoke to me through Joshua 1:6-9 to “Be strong and courageous” and trust that she would be alright.  Well the 2 months came and went, and she arrived safely home from Africa with incredible stories of how God worked in and through her.

Today I would like to unpack the context of the anchor passage of Philippians 4:6-7 because as you have heard me say in the past, context is everything.  Like anything, it always come down to a choice.

  • Will you CHOOSE to WORRY or TRUST God?
  • Will you CHOOSE to TRY TO CONTROL EVERYTHING or LET GO and LET GOD HANDLE IT?
  • Will you CHOOSE to LISTEN TO THE LIES OF DEVIL that God is not good, or WILL YOU REMEMBER how He took care of you in the past and BELIEVE that God is faithful?

So, let’s look at the verses that bookend our anchor passage that can help us find where true comfort can be found.  Philippians 4:4-5 (NLT) says:

“Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again—rejoice!  Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do.  Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”

That is a tough one, right?  To “always be full of joy,” easier said than done, but the way we gain victory is “in the Lord,” not through “white-knuckle” effort on our part.  The only think we must do is choose to believe that the Lord is good, that He is for us and not against us, and that He is able to do more than we can ever expect!  As we do this, then the need of a “security blanket” to comfort us through the “storms” will not be necessary.  Comfort which typically is not a blanket or ThunderShirt but rather something that comes from a bottle, prescription or something altogether illegal.  Comfort items that before I came to Christ, I tried to fill the void in my heart but to no avail!  Depression, fear, anxiety WILL NEVER BE CURED with another drink, pill or _______ (fill in the blank.)  If only I knew the truth of Philippians 4 back then!

Let’s look at the other book end which is Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT) which is the application portion…

“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.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.”

What we focus on is what we will experience.  We need to “keep putting into practice” and as we do our faith will be built up and our worry will wither away!  It is all about discipline and training ourselves to look to God instead of whatever “blanket” we got to which only covers the problem, it will never fix the root issue!  I will close with this truth from Jimmy Evans,

“Fear is expecting the Devil to move.  Faith is expecting God to move.” 

And in John 16:33 (The Passion Translation) Jesus made this promise…

“And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!””

Through a relationship with Jesus, you can conquer the world!

If you want to develop that relationship, check out these posts:

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

★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian…Part 2 ★ 

“The Power of Peace” by Jimmy Evans. He shares a message about the gift and power of God’s peace and how to fight for it in our lives.

 

 

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

Do you know what this is?

If you are old enough to recognize this, here is a trip down memory lane so that you can listen what internet connectivity sounded like back in 1990-something!  Click this link to Hear

For those who have never experienced the dial-up connection speed of the classic 56k modem, it would sometimes take 5-10 minutes to connect to the World Wide Web and many times it would fail, making you start the process all over again.  Those were dark days for browsing the internet and sending/receiving emails!  Hahaha!  What a different world we live in today as we now walk around with supercomputers in the palm of our hand, and if it takes 5 seconds to load a web page, or if an email does not send immediately it feels like forever!  Today the “FCC has defined broadband, or fast internet, as internet with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps since 2015.”  Many people geek out on download speeds but did you know that there was an Old Testament character who had a download speed that crushed 25 Mbps.

Today’s Thought was inspired from a passage that is not widely preached or read…2 Kings 6:24-30 (NLT) which says:

“Some time later, however, King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria. As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver.

Forgive the introduction but can you say EWWWWWW… “a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces of silver!!!”  That must have been one long siege that not only was it worth so much, but that the people were actually so hungry that they ate dove’s feces!!!  Yuck!  Okay, back to the passage…

“One day as the king of Israel (Jehoram) was walking along the wall of the city, a woman called to him, “Please help me, my lord the king!”

He answered, “If the Lord doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.” But then the king asked, “What is the matter?”

She replied, “This woman said to me: ‘Come on, let’s eat your son today, then we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. Then the next day I said to her, ‘Kill your son so we can eat him,’ but she has hidden her son.”

When the king heard this, he tore his clothes in despair. And as the king walked along the wall, the people could see that he was wearing burlap under his robe next to his skin.” 

2 Kings 6:24-30 is one of the most disturbing passages ever!  I cannot believe that the two women even discussed the idea of killing their children, and then worse yet eating them!  But if that’s not sick enough, the fact that one of the women did kill her son with and eat him with the other woman is absolutely unbelievable!!!  I believe if I were in that situation, I would sacrifice myself first!  Disturbing!!!!  I looked up this passage in a commentary and they pointed out that God warned Israel that this curse would come upon the Israelites if they rejected the covenant they made with Him, I don’t have time to unpack this, but check out Deuteronomy 28:52-53 for the context.  But what I wanted to point was what King Jehoram said in 2 Kings 6:31:

“May God strike me and even kill me if I don’t separate Elisha’s head from his shoulders this very day,” the king vowed.”

God promised back in Deuteronomy that a curse was coming if the people disobeyed Him but instead of blaming God, King Jehoram decided to take it out on the Prophet Elisha that the siege happened and was ready to kill him!  It was 2 Kings 6:32-33 (NLT) that blew me away when I read it the other morning!

“Elisha was sitting in his house with the elders of Israel when the king (Jehoram) sent a messenger to summon him.  But before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders,

“A murderer (the King of Israel) has sent a man to cut off my head.  When he arrives, shut the door and keep him out.  We will soon hear his master’s steps following him.”

While Elisha was still saying this, the messenger arrived.  And the king said, “All this misery is from the Lord!  Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?””

Did you catch it??  Elisha got an instant download from God that danger was approaching!  How amazing is that?  The Prophet Elisha was so connected to God that he received an immediate alert that danger was coming for him.  In the post, ★ Thought for the Day – The Holy Spirit is Our Spider Sense ★, we looked at how the Holy Spirit is our “early warning system” about the activities of the enemy, similar to how Spiderman, The Holy Spirit is “Our Spider Sense.”  Just like Elisha, when we have a connection to the Holy Spirit, we will have his protection.  Long before Elisha, God revealed in Job 33:14-18 (NLT) that:

“For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.  He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds.  He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.  He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride.  He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.”

God is always speaking to us; the question is are we listening?  Just like God had promised Israel that He would bless them if they would obey, the same is true for us.  In Joel 2:12-13 (NLT), the prophet gave A Call to Repentance…

“That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.  Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.”  Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He is eager to relent and not punish.”

And just a few verses late in Joel 2:28 (NLT), the Lord made this promised:

“Then, after doing all those things,
    I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your old men will dream dreams,
    and your young men will see visions.”

The amazing thing is that throughout history, God has been speaking to us, calling us back to Himself, desiring a relationship with you and I!  You may be saying to yourself, these passages are all from the Old Testament well I am glad you asked.  In Acts 2:17 (NLT), as Peter was addressing the people on the Day of Pentecost, he quoted Joel 2:28!

“‘In the last days,’ God says,
     ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
     and your old men will dream dreams.”

I truly believe that we are living in the last days and that God is pouring out His Spirit for all who will seek Him… Today, you have the choice, will you open the book and find out for yourself!

I love the Bible and all that it offers…HOPE, LOVE and the PROMISE that God will never leave us or forsake us, as well as the truth of Romans 10:13 (NLT)…

“For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””

The choice is yours!

Want to dig deeper?  If you are interested to read more on this topic check out these posts called:

★ Thought for the Day – The End is Near…? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★

 

And if that is not enough here is a 3-part series about breaking through in your walk, through Prayer, the Word and Worship

★ “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 ★

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Fully Known ★

Today is my 45th birthday which has been quite relaxing!!  For the first time since I started working, I took this day off.  Not sure why, but I started thinking this year about things that I have not done before like taking off for my birthday, growing a full beard and really wanting to go to Colorado to escape the oppressive heat Texas has been under for the past few months.  Well the first 2 can be checked off so I guess 2 out 3 isn’t bad.

Yesterday, a cold front came in so though I did not get to Colorado for my birthday, I am getting to enjoy some cooler temps which allowed me to go for an 11-mile bike ride, something that I have not enjoyed since the heat came in June!  It got me thinking about how blessed I feel not that I have been a follow of Jesus since 1998 and how much I know that God loves me.  He has blessed me so much even though for so many years I wanted nothing to do with Him!  God has blessed me with a beautiful wife and (2) amazing daughters who are this Daddy’s pride and joy!  I also had a great mother who sacrificed so much for our family, raising my brother, sister and I as a single mother working herself to the bone to provide for us.  She passed away in 2016, but through our whole life, she taught us the value of family and about being a person of integrity; two values that I strive to embody myself and pass-on to my daughters.  I would not be the man I am without her tireless efforts to model the right way to live.  (If you’re are interested you can read this post called ★ Thought for the Day – Tribute to My Mom ★).  Well today being my birthday and all, I have just been dwelling on the Goodness of God and how His mercy has never failed me!  All my life He has been right by my side!

Psalms 139:13-18 (ESV) is so beautiful reminder of God’s omnipresence!!

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I would count them, they are more than the sand.  I awake, and I am still with you.”

God knows me so intimately, He “knitted me together in my mother’s womb!” and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  He knows everything I need before I even know it and has planned out every day of my life before a single had passed!!  Wow!  As I type this, tears are welling up in me because of His great love for me!!  Thank you, Father, for your love!!  Back in May of this year my church had an amazing conference called the “Men’s Summit.”

The theme was…“Live to Know God and Make Him Known”

Which was based on 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 (ESV)…

“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”

Isn’t that incredible?  If you love God, you are completely known by Him.  He was there at our conception molding us within our mother’s womb and is with us every day!  I am so thankful for that reality!

There is a song called “Goodness of God” from Bethel Music that I have listened to it over and over which conveys what I have been feeling.

“And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God”

Now the second part of the Men’s Summit Theme is to “Make Him Known,” that is what this blog is all about!  I write about the “goodness of God,” because no one wants to hear me sing!  Hahaha!  Now I am sure that there may be readers of this post that may question whether God really is faithful or good, but I can tell you with all sincerely and assurance that regardless of whether you want God in your life, He wants you!  If you want to learn more you can check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

To learn the difference between a religion vs. a relationship with God through His Son Jesus.  Another good way to get to know God, is to get in His Word, The Bible.  Proverbs 23:12 (ESV) says:

“Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”

You cannot grow unless you are willing to apply yourself.  As a result, I KNOW WHO I AM, and you can too!

I promise if you do, your life will be forever changed, and you too can feel what it is liked to be FULLY KNOWN.

If you want to dig deeper on this topic, check out these related posts:

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

★ Back to the Basics – Just Believe! ★

If you want to watch the “Goodness of God” from Bethel Music click here:

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Be Strong and Courageous ★

We had an early morning today getting our daughter to the airport for the first flight out.  Our daughter is on her way to for a three day training camp before heading to Eswatini (formally known as Swaziland) and South Africa for a two month missions trip.  As a father of a recent high school graduate (literally less than a week ago – 5/24/2019), it is hard to let my 18-year-old go off to the other side of the world over 9,000 miles away!

So when I see the words “Be Strong and Courageous” I am stretched today!  Our family is going through a lot of “firsts” with our daughter this past month…first prom, first high school graduation, and now today the first flight alone in which she is travelling 719 miles away from home.  As I type this, my baby girl is at the 683-mile mark…thanks to to the Flight Tracker, hahaha!  For months now we have surrounded this trip in prayer and fasting, trusting that God will take care of the details but now that it is here I am struggling a bit, which is normal.

The Holy Spirit prompted me with a passage to comfort me and another man who needed some reminding too!  His name was Joshua.  I am going through the YouVersion Reading Plan called “The One Year® Chronological Bible” and the reading recently was from Joshua 1:6-9 (NLT) in which God was speaking to Joshua directly to encouraged him before going into the battle with the people of Jericho:

““Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you.  Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left.  Then you will be successful in everything you do.  STUDY THIS BOOK OF INSTRUCTION CONTINUALLY.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command — be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO.””

Wow did I need that today!!  Now these words were penned over 2,500 years ago but are still relevant for us today!  I think the Old Testament gets a bad rap sometimes as being antiquated and inconsequential, however when you read Joshua 1:6-9, it is a great example not only of God’s omnipresence BUT also that we WILL face adversity and have to struggle in life EVEN with God on our side!  In (4) verses God says to the newly appointed leader of the Israelite Nation, “Be strong and courageous” (3) times!  That tells me that Joshua (and myself) need to work out our faith and trust God regardless of circumstances!

And how do we do that?  Well that is right in the middle in verse 8, which says…

“Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

So, the question I have for you is, are you finding yourself drowning with the stresses of life with little hope?  And if so, where do you find comfort?  In your twitter feed or the water cooler advice section?  The passage is clear, if you want to prosper and succeed, we must be meditating on the word of God to hear God’s voice.  And if you do, verse 9 brings it home with the third reminder…

“This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I love the image of the little girl in the cape and mask, so fearless and ready to take on the world!  That is how I say my daughter today as she went through security, turned back with a smile from ear to ear and waved good-bye.  My daughter never ceases to amaze me, as she steps out in faith to go on this 2-month adventure to a place she’s never been, with people she’s never met before, she is trusting that God will direct her steps to minister to people who are desperately in need physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Oh, that I may I have the same boldness to share my faith boldly!  And you know it does not need to be in South Africa, it can be with the person in the next cubicle or the checkout person at the supermarket or someone at the lunch table at school.  The word from God in this passage is that should not let fear stop us from being a conduit for His love, mercy and forgiveness to flow to those around us.

Before I finished writing this, I received these (3) texts from my daughter that put me to ease and reminded me that God is with her wherever she goes!

I landed

Got my bag

Meeting up with two of the other girls who are already here too

Maybe today you are facing some life changes like me or a bad report from the doctor or the loss of a job, if that’s you, listen to the words of God…Be Strong.  Be Courageous.  Be Fearless.  Be Encouraged. 

Trust in Him today to carry you through.  I encourage you to press into God’s word like never before to help give you strength for whatever struggle you may be facing today!

If you want to dig deeper on this topic, check out these related posts:

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

★ Thought for the Day – STRENGTH FOR THE STRUGGLE ★

★ Thought for the Day – Let Your Light Shine ★

 

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

HE IS RISEN INDEED!  If you have grown up in church, you may recognize this familiar response to the statement that the pastor would greet everyone on Easter morning…

“He is Risen!”

Then the congregation would respond….

“He is Risen Indeed!”

Today is a reminder of Jesus overcoming death, of hope and new beginnings!  It is a great day!!  Without Easter, our faith is dead. The foundation of Christianity is that Jesus conquered death!!  Three days ago on Good Friday as we remembered the day that Jesus was nailed to the cross, I was also remembering my mother as it was the 3rd anniversary of my Mom’s passing and when I looked out in the backyard I saw the rose-bush we planted in her memory in full bloom!  I could not help but feel that this was God’s way of reminding me that my Mom is right there with Him and Jesus!  Now you may say, well it is Springtime so of course it is in full bloom, but my impression is that my love Heavenly Father wanted to give me a sign.  As life is springing up anew from its winter slumber all around, Christians paused on April 19 to remember the day that Jesus paid the ultimate price and surrendered His Will and allowed Himself to be crucified up on that cross, see John 10:18.

Romans 5:1-8 (NLT) says:

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. 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.”

I especially love verse 8!

What a beautiful picture!  I want to ask you, where do you stand today with Jesus on this Easter Sunday?  Is Easter about a bunny and some colored eggs or do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God who died on a Roman cross over 2,000 years ago to save your soul from your sins?

In John 11:25-26 (NLT) it says:

“Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.  Do you believe this, Martha?” 

In verse 27 Martha made this declaration…

“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.””

Do you still reject the truth?  God has done everything He could do to restore you to Him today, you just have to make that choice whether or not you’ll receive the free great gift of grace and accept Jesus as your Savior. I pray that you will!  If you would like to know how to take the next step check out this post that will lead you in a simple prayer…★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★ 

Happy Easter and remember HE IS RISEN INDEED!

The stone is rolled away from the grave on Easter morning.

 

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★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 3 ★

We have been in a series unpacking the significance of the Holy Spirit, The Unsung Hero of the Trinity.  If you have missed the previous posts you can start here ★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 1 ★ in which we looked at the significance of not only reading the Bible but also asking the Holy Spirit to help reveal what God’s Will and purpose is contained within the pages.  In Part 2, we saw all the benefits that the Holy Spirit can bring to our lives and that through a relationship with “HIM,” how we can become more like Jesus.  At the end of that post, under the DIG DEEPER section, I shared a powerful sermon series called the “God I Never Knew” by Robert Morris.

Here is the series description to help you make the decision to watch them:

“The most misunderstood person in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  Many people don’t know how to interact with the Holy Spirit or what His presence offers us. In this six-week series, The God I Never Knew, Pastor Robert Morris clearly explains that the Holy Spirit’s chief desire is for relationship—to offer us the encouragement and guidance of a trusted friend.  He moves beyond theological jargon, religious tradition, and cultural misconceptions to clarify what the Holy Spirit promises to do in your life.”

I tell you all of this because I have never heard a more biblically sound, straight forward teaching on the Holy Spirit.  If you are struggling to wrap your mind around who I have been referring to as “The Unsung Hero of the Trinity” then this 6-week series is a must see!  I personally have watched it 3 times!  In addition to all that, I wanted to be upfront that I will be sharing a lot from Robert Morris in this post because of its applicability.  So far, we have talked about “WHY” we should desire a relationship with the Holy Spirit, today we will unpack “HOW” this happens.  I pray that God will open the eyes of your heart (Ephesians 1:18-19) to hear the heart cry of God to accept not only Jesus BUT also the Holy Spirit!  I believe that part of the trouble people have with this concept of building a relationship with the Holy Spirit is because the interaction with Him is from the inside.  Whereas there are numerous accounts all through the Old Testament where God spoke audibly to human beings (see ★ Thought for the Day – Annihilating Anxiety ★ post where we looked at this); and obviously we have the (4) Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) of Jesus’ time here on earth as well as in Acts of the Apostles 1:4-9 (NLT) where the final instruction from Jesus is recorded…

“Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them,

“Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before.  John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him,

“Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied,

“The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  

After saying this, He was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see Him.”

The very last words that Luke records here in the book of Acts revolves around the relationship that so many people ignore or are afraid of!  That is unbelievable to me which is why I am so passionate about the truth of Bible being taught.  I’d like to focus now on the two red underlined portions of that passage as they are the linchpin to our faith.  In the message “Does He Baptize?” Robert Morris covered that there are (3) scriptural baptisms and unpacks where each one it one is located in scripture.

“There are three baptisms in the New Testament:

The Holy Spirit baptizes us in Jesus;
(
1 Corinthians 12:13)
the disciples baptize us in water;
(
Matthew 28:19) and
Jesus baptizes us in the Holy Spirit.
(
Matthew 3:11)”

I don’t think that there is a more divisive topic than the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Some people don’t believe that it is real, and others refuse to even consider it because of abuses they have experienced by Christians or Churches who have said or done things in the name of the Holy Spirit.  But when you read Matthew 3:11 (NLT), it is clear that it is real as John the Baptist made this declaration to everyone about Jesus:

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God.  But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals.  He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

This was not to the (12) disciples but to everyone who was around as John was calling people to repentance and baptizing them.  Robert Morris made this point that since the Gospel of John covers the last year of Jesus’ life, while  Matthew, Mark and Luke cover first (2) years of Jesus’ ministry, there are very few things that are 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)

Isn’t it interesting that The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is so significant that it is only 1 of 4 stories that mention that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Now if this is the case don’t you think that we should do everything possible to develop a relationship with Him.  Recently I read 1 John 4:4 in the New Living Translation (NLT) and my eyes were opened!  1 John 4:4 (NLT) says:

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

Notice the capital “S” which is for the Holy Spirit and then the second reference with the lowercase “s” which represents the satanic forces that are coming against us daily.  I had misunderstood this verse because in other versions it says “He” so I thought it was referencing Jesus but as I have always said context is everything – Take a look at John 1:1-4, it is clear that the passage is referencing the Holy Spirit!

I truly believe we are living in the end days (which you can read about the post ★ Thought for the Day – The End is Near…? ★) and if we are going to win the war we’re in then we must change our approach in our defenses!  And if you want to know how to defeat Satan and his minions, it is through the power of the Holy Spirit!!

I have always loved 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) which says…

“Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

But just recently I noticed verse 19 which I think cannot be discounted:

“Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.”

Could it be that if we “stiff-arm” the Holy Spirit we jeopardize the ability to follow God’s will for us to be joyful, praying and thankful in all circumstances?

I will close with this prophetic passage from Joel 2:28-29 (NLT) about The Lord’s Promise of His Spirit which was penned 800 years before Jesus was born:

“Then, after doing all those things,
    I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
    Your old men will dream dreams,
    and your young men will see visions.
In those days I will pour out my Spirit
    even on servants—men and women alike.”

Charles Stanley had this great life lesson on verse Joel 2:29…

“We live in the great day when God has poured out His Spirit on all believers in Christ, filling them and empowering them to serve Him in holiness and great joy.  (Romans 8:11).  God’s Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us in full measure at the point of salvation.  However, a Spirit-filled believer is one who has surrendered himself or herself completely to the control of the Holy Spirit.  We permit the Spirit to empower us in greater measure by submitting to God in obedience.  Are you allowing the Lord to fill you today?”

So, do you see Holy Spirit having a vital role in your life and if not, will you make a change today?  The power of the Holy Spirit is available for all believers in Jesus Christ.  You can tap into the limitless resources of God, all you need to do is ask.  I want to challenge you to ask God to activate the Holy Spirit in your life so that the “Fruit” will be evident and the gifts of the Spirit will be released in your life to put feet to your faith and to minister to those people that are in your life!

  DIG DEEPER

Check out these related posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Candy Land Christianity ★

★ Thought for the Day – When in Rome ★

Robert Morris wrote a book called The God I Never Knew: How Real Friendship with the Holy Spirit Can Change Your Life

 

 

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

In yesterday’s post, I shared John Piper’s article and sermon “The Holy Spirit: Author of Scripture” in which he said that:

“The Holy Spirit is the divine author of all Scripture.  If this doctrine is true, then the implications are so profound and far-reaching that every part of our lives should be affected.”

I wholeheartedly believe that there should be evidence in your life that you are pursuing God.  Another way to refer to it is “fruit.”  If we are truly pursuing God and trying to be more like Jesus, then we should see The Fruit of the Spirit manifested in ever-increasing amounts.  Galatians 5:22-25 (NASB) says:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Each weekday I have the privilege to be a part of Bible Studies in which I try to challenge the men at the table to press in and seek to gain knowledge about the faith that they profess.  I have been having conversations with them in the past 6 months asking, “What do you think of the Holy Spirit?”  The answers have been quite amazing and revealing on how the devil has blinded believers in regards to the Holy Spirit’s role in our life.  God has been stirring in my heart that belief in the Trinity is paramount to the health of the church and the growth of each believer.  I recently finished a devotional from Max Lucado in which he made this point about the Holy Spirit:

“If you want to see believers hem, haw, and search for words, just ask, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Most believers understand the Father and the Son, but they are perplexed about the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  It’s as if they’ve settled for a two-thirds God.”  (From the YouVersion reading plan ‘Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives On The Promises Of God’.)

What do you think?  Do you believe 2 out 3 is enough?  “Are you settling for a two-thirds God,” that loving God and accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is enough??  It’s almost like people are living with an understanding of 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT) only:

“But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live.  And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.”

While belief in the Father and Son is critical, we must learn that about the 3rd person in the Trinity who is equally important.  In the post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Whose Body Are You A Part Of? ★, we unpacked that the church is ONE body and that we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).  The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune or Trinity; consisting of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are all omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (ever-present always).

It would be good to read that post in tandem with this one as we will not cover the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” at all as we covered that already in that post, other than to say how important it is that we operate in them!  (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 for the list of gifts available).  But I think that there are many who claim to know the Holy Spirit yet are living a life of powerlessness.  Francis Chan referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Forgotten God.”  He said:

So, the first question I have for you…Do you know that the Holy Spirit is a person?  He is not some vapor or an “it,” as were some of the responses to my question.  Some guys straight out said they did not know much about the Holy Spirit at all.  And some beliefs expressed were not biblically based but rather what a denomination taught them.  The Holy Spirit really is the Unsung Hero of the Trinity.  Now you may think that that is a leap but by the end of this series I pray that your mind will be opened to how amazing the He is.  There are so many instances that the Holy Spirit does not receive the praise for all that He does in our lives and worse than that, He is oftentimes called an “it” or stiff-armed or rejected as something “weird” and to be avoided.  The funny thing is, if people just opened the Bible, they would see how many references that clearly show that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person.  For me, I love John 14:15-17 (NLT) when Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the His Disciples:

“If you love me, obey my commandments.  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.” 

Look at how many times Jesus references the Holy Spirit as “He” or “Him.”  I was just reading the first book of the Bible and look at WHO is mentioned in verse 2!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”  Genesis 1:1-2 (NLT)

I have read those verses over and over and until now I have never noticed that the Holy Spirit is mentioned at the very beginning of The Account of Creation!  And then in Genesis 1:26a (NLT) it says:

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in OUR image, to be like us.””

I have always read verse 26 as God and Jesus, BUT how can you ignore that the Holy Spirit is mentioned long before Jesus is.  We are made in the image of the Holy Trinity, including the Holy Spirit.  When we push away the Holy Spirit or refuse to invite Him into our life, it is just like rejecting God the Father or God the Son because we were made in God the Holy Spirit’s image too!  Why is this important?  Because when we push away Holy Spirit, we are disconnecting ourselves from the power source.  In Acts 1:8 (NLT), just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He said to the disciples:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit is a gift to us from God the Father for us to help us to tell everyone about Jesus to spread the Good News.  Before Jesus left He also said in John 16:7-14 (NLT)…

“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come.  If I do go away, then I will send Him to you.  And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.  The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.  Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.

There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever He receives from me.”

Advocate means “a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf.”  The Holy Spirit intercedes and works on our behalf to help understand God’s Will for our life.  Robert Morris said it this way:

Jesus said in John 14:26 (ESV)…

“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 that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit offers so much to anyone who will just ask.  Unfortunately, so many Christians are ignorant of all that He can provide and have believed the lie that then enemy saturated the church into believing that you should stay as far away as possible because the Holy Spirit is “out there” for those crazy believers.

Jesus taught about prayer in Luke 11:1-12, after His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.  Part of that teaching is a prayer referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” which is a great model prayer for every believer to go to the Father.  Interestingly though as we have seen time and time again, the Holy Spirit is quickly mentioned right after Jesus concludes with the prayer in Luke 11:13 (ESV)…

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Right there it shows that we need to Go to God the Father and ask for the Holy Spirit in our life!  I will close with this last thought.  If you were to survey Christians with this question, “What is your purpose here on Earth?”  Some common responses may be:

  • To glorify God in all that I say and do.
  • To seek first His righteousness above all else!
  • To become more and more like Jesus.
  • To make a difference for the Kingdom of God.

I dare say that all of that can be can be accomplished by asking the Holy Spirit to be a vital part of your day to day life.  My word for 2019 that I felt impressed upon me was “Transformed.”  As we were going through 2 Corinthians in December with one of the Bible Studies, we came up Chapter 3 verses 17-18 (NLT)

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So, all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

That is so good!  What great insight to see the significance that the Holy Spirit plays in accomplishing God’s Will while honoring Him and witnessing to the world.  Do you want to know how we become more like Jesus?  Well the Apostle Paul just showed us, though the Holy Spirit!  My prayer for 2019 and I hope yours to is to be changed more and more into His glorious image!  I want the faith I have in God to spread far and wide!  Lord may I be a useful conduit of your love, grace and forgiveness to flow to everyone I encounter!  Holy Spirit please give me power to be more and more like Jesus!  Amen!

Click Here for Part 2 for the culmination of our series into the Holy Spirit and what we must do!

★ ★ ★ DIG DEEPER ★ ★ ★ 

Check out this related post:

★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★

 

To help you grow in your knowledge of the Holy Spirit check out this 6-part series called the “God I Never Knew” by Robert Morris along with the description.

Who Is He? | Sermon 1 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert begins The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Who Is He?” where he teaches us about the character of the Holy Spirit.

Is He a Person? | Sermon 2 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He a Person?” where he shows us through Scripture that the Holy Spirit has a mind, will, and emotions.

Is He Pentecostal? | Sermon 3 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He Pentecostal?” where he defines the word “Pentecostal” and explains what happened on Pentecost.

Is He Charismatic? | Sermon 4 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He Charismatic?” where he describes the different gifts of the Spirit.

Does He Baptize? | Sermon 5 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message called “Does He Baptize?” where he covers the three scriptural baptisms.

Does He Speak in Tongues? | Sermon 6 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert concludes The God I Never Knew series with a message called “Does He Speak in Tongues?” where he explains the scriptural basis for having a prayer language.

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★ Thought for the Day – Compartmentalizing Christ? ★

I love this comic!  The satirical truth of this resonates in my spirit as so many activities fill our calendar, it really is hard to fit everything in those 25 boxes.  And that is the muse for this Thought.  Three years ago God placed on my heart to study the Christmas Story in greater detail than I have ever done before.  It led me into a series of posts that lasted for 25 days, exploring the “Reasons” that we should be “Thankful” during the Christmas Advent Season; while at the same time, delving into the all-too-familiar stories that have become commonplace in order to gain a fresh perspective on the birth of Christ!  It was an amazing endeavor, one which meant a lot to me in my personal walk with Jesus who truly is the Reason for the Season!

As part of the series, I posted this blog called ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★ encompassed a post from my daughter’s Instagram page called Undeserved Grace that she posted 4 years ago.  She is now 18 years old and in her senior year of High School with many decisions before as well as a long list of things to do to prepare for the next season of life.  The past 6 months has been filled with filling out applications, visiting colleges and lots and lots of discussions of what to do next as well as finals and end the semester papers.

As we have been incredibly busy coming into this season it got me thinking about the other “to do lists” that we have feverishly been trying to cross off…

What a second…that is the idealized list that we all wish that we were concerned with right?  But the real list looks more like this…

…In an effort to get the house decorated, trimming the Christmas tree, shopping for gifts and making the endless lists of things that MUST GET DONE (take a breath…), I wonder has the reason for this season been lost or should I say Compartmentalized?  It may be cliché, but the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason for the Season!  Now there certainly is nothing wrong with family traditions and enjoying the holidays BUT when Jesus is reduced to just being mentioned on one day or maybe it is only the obligatory hour in church then something is seriously wrong.  Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV) tells us…

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Because of Jesus’ birth more than 2,000 years we have access to be adopted in family of God.  That is what the 25th of December and all the preparation should be about.  Let me ask you when was the last time you read the Christmas story?  Part of the preparations that God placed on my heart was to not let the Christmas season go by without reading about the birth of Christ in totality, here are the major stories:

As you read through the miraculous circumstances that brought about the birth of the Savior of the world, if Jesus is just a small or insignificant aspect of your life that you would…

…STOP COMPARTMENTALIZING CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE, and fully embrace the greatest gift we could ever receive!  He should not be relegated to a month or day or hour but should be a part of everyday.  Whether it is having morning coffee with my wife or driving my youngest daughter to school or having or sitting down for dinner with the family after a long day at work, Jesus wants to be part of every aspect of my life.  My prayer for you is that you would experience that this Christmas season and that the only thing that you are truly concerned with is how to celebrate that God gave us the gift of His Son Jesus!

“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.”  John 3:16

Merry Christmas and may the Joy of Christ fill your hearts and bless you!

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:  

For those who maybe have never read the Christmas Story in totality, here is a link that you can read it completely through – Luke 1:5-56, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:57 – 2:40, and Matthew 2:1-23

★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Harden Your Heart ★

★ Thought for the Day – The Nostalgia of Christmas ★

You can start ay the beginning of Christmas Series of posts called: ★ #Reason For The Season – 25 Days of Thankfulness series by clicking Here ★

 

 

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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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★ Thought for the Day – When in Rome ★

Today is August 18, 2018 and I have this weird thing about numbers which is why I waited until 8:18 pm to hit post because I love the symmetry of this timestamp…Anyhow that has no bearing on this post, just a random tangent…hahaha!  In a recent post called ★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★, we unpacked how as Christ Followers, we are doing one of two things when it comes to our faith…we are either a “plug” or a “conduit” for God’s grace, love and forgiveness to flow, or not flow out to those around us.  We looked at this through the lens of Acts 20:24 (NIV) which if you recall the Apostle Paul said:

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

I was reading the context of Act 20:24 and its interesting how this power verse is book-ended in Acts 20:22-23 (NIV)…

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

And in than verse 25…

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.”

Paul was obeying the Holy Spirit’s leading even though he knew it would lead to pain and suffering; and even prophesied that the people would not see him again!  Now that is a convicting example!  It’s a funny thing about adversity, it has one of two effects on people…it either causes people to run from God or towards Him.  Christians around the world are persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith, and yet in America the statistics show something very troubling.  Here is a great article from the Barna Research Group called State of the Bible 2017: Top Findings:

When you review these statistics, it begs the question, why is Bible engagement so low?  I pray that this post will change your viewpoint if you find yourself either hostile, skeptical or neutral towards the Bible.  The Apostle Paul wrote more books of the New Testament in the Bible and is one of the chief evangelist for Christianity.  I have always looked up to Paul and his audacious faith, how he was ready to lay down his life for the Kingdom of God!  Any yet I too have failed to be consistent in reading my Bible from time to time whether because I was too tired or rather wanted to Netflix a show instead.  How about you?  If you honestly evaluated your reading trends, where do you fall?

Another startling statistic that the Barna Group discovered was that:

“Nearly one-third of adults say they never read, listen to or pray with the Bible (32%).”

That is a sad, sad state of affairs.  And that saddest part is that they are easy pickens for the enemy to pick them off without the covering of God’s Word to reveal the His plan for our lives and to understand the war we are in.  I love this quote from the ‘The Devotional to End All Devotionals‘ by Angela Sanders:

“We read the Bible to expose ourselves to truth and get familiar with it.  We study the Bible to take truth in, absorb it, and draw strength from it.

The Bible says that God’s Word is food to Christians.  A person without nourishment grows weak, confused, vulnerable, and prone to wander; a Christian who doesn’t study God’s Word does the same.”

That is the whole point of why I have this blog!  To open a conversation and invite you to chew on God’s word and let it penetrate our heart and minds!  There are so many malnourished people in this world because they won’t just open the book!!  I love how The Message translates Matthew 5:6 which says:

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.  He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”

Reading the Bible is the best meal we will ever have and the best use of our time!!  If you call yourself a Christian I want to encourage you to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul who, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (See Acts 22:6-11) spent his life to spread the Gospel of Jesus.  Paul fully embraced what Jesus commanded His disciples that must happen if they wanted to follow Him.  Matthew 16:24-25 says:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

We must take up our cross, whatever that may be and be willing to bear the weight of whatever may result in our profession of faith in Jesus Christ!  It may not be that you are called to be martyred for your faith as the disciples were, but perhaps you will lose friends, or influence or even clients because your integrity will prevent you from being a part of something unethical or immoral.  But whatever that may be, will you will to adapt yourself like Paul?  In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT) Paul gave made a bold statement!

“Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.  When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. 

When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law.  Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 

When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ.  But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. 

Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.  I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

Wow!  That is incredible!  You have heard the expression “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” right?  According to Dictionary.com it’s a…

“phrase used when one is agreeing to do what is customary or typical in a particular place or setting.”

Does that not sound like what Paul?  Regardless of who Paul ministered to, he would adjust his approach to be as effective as possible.  We would do well to follow his example and apply it to our lives today.  It’s not easy though is it?  To find common ground with everyone, doing everything you can to reach those around you.  Paul certainly did just that, there are numerous references in scripture from 1 Thessalonians 2:9 to Acts 20:33-35 and finally in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 but I wanted to highlight two verses in particular…In Acts 18:1-3 we learn that Paul was a tentmaker, and so he had means to earn money on his own and in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 (NLT) Paul told the church of Thessalonica:

“For you know that you ought to imitate us.  We were not idle when we were with you.  We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it.  We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you.  We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.” 

We see that Paul and his companions did indeed do everything to spread the Good News to the point that he did not even take any food or pay for their ministry work.  Paul sacrificed everything and did everything possible adapt to those around him to make a difference!

I love what Joyce Meyer once said,

“The trademark of a true Christian is the ability to adapt to others.  Will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today?”  

That is indeed is the true Trademark of a Christian!  I will close with a final thought from Paul in Colossians 4:5-6 (NLT)

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

My prayer for everyone reading this post is for you to understand what your gifts are, and then see how you can put those gifts to practice.  Let’s be mission minded like Paul, be willing to adapt ourselves to reach the lost people in our lives and look for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus!  So will you unselfishly adapt to someone else today?  Remember when in Rome do as the Romans do.

 

If you want to dig deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

★ Thought for the Day – Leaving It All On The Field ★

I also want to recommend this “Spiritual Gifts Test” to help you discover what your gifts are.

It’s a quick test…PROMISE!  Perhaps you are already tuned in to what you have been gifted with, or maybe not so much…this simple little questionnaire will give you some insight to help understand how you can better connect with those around you.

 

 

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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 – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★

I cannot believe it has already been a month since I started to write this blog after seeing the movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”  Life has been busy to say the least, but as I am thrilled to share this post which has become a sort of mantra or rallying cry for me!  If you have not seen “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” I highly recommend you watch it as soon as it hits Redbox or when you can stream it because it was absolutely amazing, one of the best movies I have ever seen!  Just so you understand me, I don’t say that lightly as I am very leery of Christian films, either because of the cheesy acting/writing or because it does not stay true to what the Bible says; but with this latest release from “Affirm Firms,” I left the theater phenomenally impressed!  Great acting, beautiful cinematography and most importantly of all…it is biblically accurate in the telling of the persecution of the early church.  Of course there are characters and plot lines not found in the Bible in order to carry the story or fill in the gaps but was done in such a way that honors scripture.  Anyhow, it is a must see!  As the movie concluded, James Faulkner (who played Paul), quoted 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT) which is where I wanted to start our Thought for the Day off with…

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In the backdrop of this brilliant film, these words penned almost 2,000 years ago came to life like they never have before!  As I was telling the guys about what God was speaking to me in how Paul suffered for the Gospel and the impact he has had on the world in my Tuesday morning Bible Study, one of the guys posed this question:

“What will people say at my funeral about me?  On my death bed, will I have regrets?”

He said that he wrote his obituary in response to this question, which at first may seem a little morbid, but then I started to think about it.  As we discussed this, of course everyone at the table agreed that they would want people to think well of them and have found memories, but I followed up with that consensus to ask: Are we living a life that will render those results?  So for me, first and foremost, I would want people to say that I was a Man of God who pursued to embody what Paul said in Titus 1:6-9 that leaders in the church should.  I would hope that I would be spoken of that no matter where I went, I was a representative of Jesus Christ (as Colossians 3:15-17 instructs) and ordered my life in service to the Kingdom of God in which the fruits of the Spirit were evident (See Galatians 5:22-23).  I would also want to be remembered as a man who strove to be a Godly husband and father to his two daughters and would say that I did my very best to follow Ephesians 5:28-33 and Ephesians 6:4, (which I know I still have work to do).  Okay enough about my obituary, time to ask some questions…Have you ever wondered…

“Why am I here on earth?  What is my purpose here?” 

Of course you have, we all have at some point.  It is a question that people have pondered throughout the ages.  But I hope to press in a little deeper than the initial question and expose how the enemy will deceive us and distract us from the initial response we may give.  But before I do, let’s ask you some more questions.

Do you think you are here to amass great wealth, live in a luxurious house and drive a fancy new car? 

Or is it to maximize your stock portfolio and be setup up for life? 

Do you long for the day that you can travel the globe or sit on a beach without a care in the world?

I dare say we have all have pursued for all of this and a lot more.  Are we trading the eternal for that which will rust and fade away which we cannot take with us when we die?  Now I am only 43 years old, but in that relatively short time, I have come to realize that life is for much more than financial security or the accumulation of material possessions or to reach a life of ease.  It’s about people and how can I make a difference in their lives.  Revolutionary thought?  No.  But my prayer is that God will cultivate in your heart a fresh awareness of other people’s needs, and that the Holy Spirit would inspire and move you to develop a new plan of action about how you can impact the people in your life whether at home, school, work, or where you play.  My daughter made this edit after a mission trip of this quote that she heard from a speaker there which I believe perfectly captures the point:

The answer to this will show whether you are “fighting the good fight” for the Kingdom of God as Paul declared, or if perhaps complacency has creeped in.  Long ago I heard the expression that you should “leave people better than you found them,” which I see as much more than a cute cliché, but as something that God has called us to be.  When I was meeting with a brother in Christ for a Bible Study on a different day, he shared his life verse with me that is from Acts 20:24 (NLT) which Paul make this incredible declaration:

 “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

This so resonated in my spirit because of this question which God has been stirring in me…

Are You a Plug or a Conduit?”

A plug is interesting in that, it is both a noun and a verb.  Merriam-Webster defines it as:

A conduit on the other hand is defined several ways:

So within that context, I want to be a conduit for God’s purpose to flow through me to all those who I come in contact with.  When I meet Jesus in heaven I want to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.”  (See Matthew 25:21).  I agree with the Apostle Paul that “my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me.”  The last thing I ever want to do is plug up God’s grace, love and truth to reach those who are in need.  In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul warns about the Day of Judgement when our works will be thrown in the fire and the value of what we do hear will be revealed.  In verse 13 we are told:

“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done.  The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”

I know that much of what I have done before knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior will be burned up but what a waste if a lot of my work since receiving the free gift of salvation and having the truth that can save others is burned because I have squandered my time here on earth.  Now am I saying if you have a nice home or car or a lot of money in your bank account that you are plugging up what God wants to do…ABSOLUTELY NOT!  My point, and what God has impressed on me is…

Are you using those resources He has blessed you with to bless others?  For instance, you could host or lead a bible study in that spacious home.  You could drive an elderly or disabled person in that nice car to church or the grocery store.  Or you could use the monetary blessing to help the less fortunate or go on a missions trip to help those in need. 

The key is to do something to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.”  (See Matthew 25:35-40, Mark 9:35, 1 Peter 4:10-11, and Philippians 2:1-11).   We need to love others with the same care He has lavished on us!  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT) makes this very clear: