★ Thought for the Day – The Unfathomable Payoff of Faith ★ 

 

Have yo84 - In God We Trustu ever thought about when the phrase, “In God We Trust” and when that first appeared on American currency?  I did a quick search on Google and found that…

“The 84th Congress passed a joint resolution “declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States.” The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.”  

I am not old enough to remember a time when I did not see that motto inscribed on the change in my pocket but the sad reality is that in less than 60 years, our country has shifted from “In God We Trust,” to a position that God needs to be removed from our schools, our government and any other aspect of public life because of the “offensiveness” of trusting in a loving creator who wants a relationship with us.

If you live in Texas, you have probably seen Billboards like this one, with the simple invitation to go to exploreGod.com.  84 - Daily Dependence - Explore GodFor the past month (at the time of this post), hundreds of small groups and churches around the Dallas Fort Worth Area have been exploring the big questions we all have about God, faith, and purpose. Questions like, “Does life have a purpose?” “Is there a God?” and “Why does God allow pain and suffering?”  My church has been participating in this as well, which has been incredible!  This past week my pastor answered the question, “Is the Bible Reliable?”  He closed the message with this synopsis of the Bible…

“The Bible is the story of God revealing His glory to humanity and redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  Marty Collier  

“Redeeming humanity when it rejected Him.”  WowI  Every one of us at some point has rejected God, which is why I love this exploreGod.com movement that helps to illuminate the “Big Picture” concepts that often are stumbling blocks to people delving into God’s Word, the Bible.  In 2014, the Barna Research Group along with the American Bible Society released their findings for the State of the Bible which stated:

“This year’s research reveals that skepticism toward the Bible continues to rise.  For the first time since tracking began, Bible skepticism is tied with Bible engagement.  The number of those who are skeptical or agnostic toward the Bible — who believe that the Bible is “just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice” — has nearly doubled from 10% to 19% in just three years.” 

This 84 - Daily Dependence - Sign to Meditate on God'sskepticism is without a doubt a contributing factor to the expulsion of God from the public sector, resulting in a vacuum that people are filling with anything and everything.  And as people reject God and the Bible, Satan capitalizes on this trend by screaming lies about God faithfulness and love for us because he knows if we tap into that unlimited power source, our lives would be set free..  To continue with the sign theme, here is an incredible message that Satan does not want you to get in your spirit!

“If the lies of Satan consume you, meditate on the Word of God and it’s truth will set you free!”

To build on this truth, Steven Furtick made this great parallel in his book, Crash the Chatterbox …

“We can never hope to cras84 - Daily Dependence - Steven Furtick - Intentionally Feed Your Faithh the chatterbox [Satan’s lies] until the signal (God’s Word) becomes louder in our lives than the incessant noise around us that clamors for our attention and depletes our courage.  Rather than waiting for more faith to magically manifest, we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess by fanning into flame the gift that is in us.  We must eat what God has already cooked up.” 

Don’t miss this point, “we must intentionally feed the faith we already possess!”  We need to be reading and meditating on the Bible daily so that our faith can increase and the chatterbox can be silenced!

2 Timothy ‭4:7-8‬ ‭(NLT‬) says…84 - 2 Timothy 4 - 7-8 Runners Bib

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”

It is all about perseverance, replacing the lies with truth! Here is the inspiration for this Thought for the Day…What is the Unfathomable Payoff of Faith?  Well just look at these incredible promises if we will just trust God from Psalms‬ ‭91:1-9, 14-16 ‭(NLT)…

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

He is my God, and I trust him.

For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,”

The LORD says,

I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

Go back and re-read every one of those underlined promises, aren’t these just amazing verses?  I pray that you would make  the decision today to deepen your understanding of God regardless of your past or your current level of faith (or lack of…) God is just waiting for you to take one step towards Him!

Do you want to explore the big questions we all have about God?  Go to exploreGod.com or go to ►►You Opinion Matters… and send me a message and I will help you.

Also if you are interested check out 

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

which digs into the significance of reading the bible.

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★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Settle For First Place ★

As the winter doldrums are upon us, and frigid weather wreaks havoc across our nation, I think to myself, how can anyone work outside in such cold weather.  When the thermometer reads below freezing and it has been nothing but gloomy for weeks, it’s hard for me to get motivated to leave the house to go to my heated office.  As the stream of consciousness flows, I start to think about how incredible the athletes are who compete in the Winter Olympics.  I must confess, I don’t watch the Winter games as much as the Summer ones.  My personal favorite, (along with the rest of the world,) is American swimmer, Michael Phelps who holds the all-time record for Gold medals, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time!  My reason though is because I was a swimmer back in the day, and marvel at his superhuman skills!  But I digress…back to the Winter games…In looking for a “winner’s box” photo, I stumbled across this photo from February 12, 2014 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which really caught my eye.

The article that it was associated with was titled the “Best of Sochi: Day 5 at the Olympics,” (having not seen it, I will take their word,) but what got my attention was not the celebratory leap from Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany, but rather the expressions and body language of silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R).  It is clear that Akito and Magnus were not as thrilled with their accomplishments as Eric was!  As each of these athletes stepped onto the winner’s box and received their medal, you know, a sea of emotions and thoughts were flooding their minds from “I can’t believe I placed” to…”How did I only come in second (…or third place).”  It is so easy for us to go from celebration to condemnation and that’s the pitfall of comparison!  One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt is,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

STOP!  Go back and read and ponder on that incredible truth!  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  When we compare ourselves to others, we open ourselves to disappointment.  Have you ever felt like Akito Watabe that you are “Mr. 2nd Place?”  Are you tired of never making gold?  Though he is an incredible athlete, and has competed in two Winter Olympics, Akito has never brought home the gold!!  Are you always ending up second in line, playing second fiddle, or being runner-up?  Regardless of what you label it, second place can be very frustrating for sure, especially when you have put in the work!  For me, I have always finished 5th or 6th place…(out of 8), when I competed on the High School Varsity Swim Team; a very different league from “Mr. 1st Place” Michael Phelps..  Now before you start feeling bad for me, I am way over the agony of the defeat. Hahaha!  I learned long ago that nothing good ever comes comparing my accomplishments with others.

Do you know that there was one guy in the Bible who truly was “Mr. 2nd Place?”  This guy had a huge following, with many disciples and more and more converts coming to be baptized every day…but when the #1 guy showed up on the scene, people flocked to Him instead…that of course was John the Baptist, who very well could have been the originator of the “I Am Second” campaign…Just look at his response to the critics when the people left to go to follow Jesus…he said:
 65 - Daily Dependence - I Am Second - John 3-30
“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater,
and I must become less and less.”  John 3:30 (NLT)

See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star…Jesus was!  Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) says,

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I love how the Message Translation puts it, “make a careful exploration of who you are,” once you know who you are, then what other people do or say will not affect how you think about yourself.  But it is very easy to get sidetracked looking outward versus inward, as a result of Social Media.
65 - Daily Dependence - Social Media Summary
Though it has revolutionized our lives, allowing us to share our interests, lives, and make new connections, whether you Pin It, Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, Google+ it, or Link In with people.  But with every great thing, there is always a flip-side.  Steven Furtick has a new book called “Crash the Chatterbox” which is all about hearing the voice of God over all the other voices in our mind that try to tear you down causing us to be discontent and insecure with ourselves.  He said,

"One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's highlight reel." Steven Furtick

Wow!  If you struggle with insecurity, this truth should set you free right now!!  Receive that today!

The next part of Galatians 6:4 says that we should make a careful exploration of “the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”  See just like John the Baptist knew who he was in God, he also set himself to the task at hand to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the desert, see Mark 1:1-8 for the full story.

Oh that we could “sink ourselves into the work that God has set before us.”  Francis Chan made this sobering statement what are we really succeeding at…

65 - Daily Dependence - Francis Chan - Our Greatest Fear

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Where are you at?  As you compare your lives to others, trying to “Keep Up With the Jones,” I urge you to make that careful exploration!

As Galatians 5 continues, “Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.”  You think if you were the forerunner to the Savior of the World, you would have a big head but, John the Baptist’s response that “I must become less and less” should be our modus operandi.  Jon Acuff made this profound statement,

65 - Daily Dependence - John Acuff - Comparison

Again, nothing good comes from comparison!  Finally the last portion of Galatians, “ Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”  I will go back once more to “Mr. 2nd Place” for fulfillment of this directive, in Mark 1:4, 6 (ESV) the gospel writer says this,

“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”

Now that is creative indeed!  But you don’t need to go to the desert, clothed with camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey to be creative for Christ, but what I think Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that we need o be BOLD FOR CHRIST!  Amen?

I close this Thought with this final point about the Bible’s “Mr. 2nd Place,” recognizing that Jesus Christ is the hero, the main character of the story, numero uno, will change everything. Humility is the key to everything.  In fact, Jesus Christ’s first character trait that he showed us, was humility when he was born in a manger. All through the bible it talks about how God opposes the proud and exalts the humble, and that is what happened for John.  ( I posted this blog recently, ★ Re|Engage – Humility ★ talking all about Humility if you want to read more about this.)  John the Baptist’s attitude of humility lead to the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ to say that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived, (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28)…and that was because he knew his place and accepted it!

Can the same be said of you today?

So if you find yourself that you are always coming in second place or runner-up is your lot in life, consider yourself blessed to be in the same company of the greatest man who ever lived who also was second.  Don’t Settle For First Place!

“Comparison kills contentment in our lives.” Steven Furtick

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★ Thought for the Day – Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness ★

Happy New Year!  I know this is 7 days late but I have been chewing on this for several days now.  As I have reflected upon the past year and started thinking about the new year, many things have been whirling around my mind.

This past Sunday, I heard a great message called “Rethinking Resolutions” by Jeremiah Sarvis, who preached on Lamentations 3:19-24 (HCSB) which says,

Remember my affliction and my homelessness,
the wormwood and the poison.
I continually remember them
and have become depressed.
Yet I call this to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say: The Lord is my portion,

therefore I will put my hope in Him.”

You can watch the message here…rushcreek.org/sermon/rethinking-resolutions. Jeremiah said something that really got my attention that I need to:
 

“Live in the moment.  Live in the present.  Know God now.  Stop living in a past you cannot change and a future that is not here now.  Embrace Him now.”

As a result, I was challenged to rethink the idea of New Year’s Resolutions since they are typically not followed through on and are pretty much worthless.  Instead a friend suggested making commitments to God.  I read this and think this is really the point…
64 - Daily Dependence - Commitment
“There are only two options regarding commitment.
You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as life in-between.”  

Pat Riley, Former NBA player

So I am going to make Two Commitments that I will do in 2015 to develop my walk with God that will express to Him that “I am All IN.”

Commitment #1.  Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness.

I was reading a devotion from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, and read this phrase, “My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness” which just struck a chord in my spirit!  He said,
 

“Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.

This is my heart’s desire that “nothing would stop me from doing exactly what God wants” so that I will grow closer to Him and operate in all the fruits of the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Jesus!  I have been evaluating how I have been spending my time from what I am watching, listening to, reading and even drinking.  I want to live 2015 in an intentional way to grow in Holiness.

Commitment #2.  Reading the Bible Every Day!
 

I have done pretty good about getting up early from Monday through Friday and spending time reading the bible, journaling and praying, but once the weekend comes I tend to slack off and not read anything.  Now I am not trying to be legalistic that you have to read the bible every day, BUT you know that part of growing or developing in any area is by practice.  So if I am going to “grow in holiness,” then I need to be feeding my mind, body and spirit with those things that will accomplish my commitment.  Proverbs‬ ‭15‬:‭14‬ (NLT) says,

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.”

Reminds me of the “Garbage in, garbage out” principle…If I am reading trash, watching trash, or drinking trash then what is going to be the result?  Even if it is only in small amounts, I know myself, I need to be very careful because just like it only takes a drop of strychnine in a glass of water to kill the body, so it only takes small doses of compromise to derail our walk with God.

64 - Daily Dependence - Crash the ChatterboxIn his book “Crash the Chatterbox,” Steven Furtick said,

“The more of God’s Word we know and the more reminding ourselves of His truths, the less dependent we become on others to snap us out of negative spirals.  We can begin to rely on God’s Spirit to renew our minds so we can get back to doing whatever God has called us to do.”
 

It is not that “I have to read the bible;” as much as it is that “I want to read the bible!”  I shared in a few months ago about the importance of Reading the Bible in the ★ Thought for the Day – All About The Big Ten ★ post that you can read if you are interested.  By reading God’s Word I know my perspective will become aligned properly and I will see things for what they really are.

64 - Daily Dependence -Steven Furtick - PERSPECTIVE

Isaiah 43:19 (NASB) says,

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.

Do you believe that God is going to do something new this year?  I do!

As we move forward into the New Year, let’s embrace God today, and trust Him completely and expectantly for what will be done in us and through us!  I urge you to make your commitments today and stick with them.  Be careful what you are feeding on because I know myself, my 2015 commitment for “Unstoppable Determination for God’s Holiness” will not be achieved if I am not careful what I am feeding my mind, body and spirit!!

 

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★ Thought for the Day – The Will of God is… ★

Many people ask this question…“What is God’s will?”  There are tons of books written on the subject, and an endless amount of sermons, but all you really need to do is look in God’s Word, the Bible for the answer.

In John 6:35-40 (NLT),

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them.  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.  

And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those He has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 

For it is my Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

God’s will is easy to know, He wants every single person to accept and believe in His son Jesus, and to spend all of eternity with Him in Heaven.  What an incredible picture of a loving father this is…God loved us so much that He sent His son to earth to create an easy way for us to be reconnected to Him.  He does not want to see even one person lost.  That is what we, as followers of Jesus, we should be actively looking for ways to reach lost people, who are far from God.

I heard and amazing sermon called “Whatever Whatever” from Stephen Furtick in which he stated it this way…

 “The will of God is really very simple…when I walk in His ways, I will always be in His will…When you’re in God’s ways, you’re in His will.”

That is the key!!  Walk in God’s ways and you will be in His will.  The problem is when we try to do things our way, that is when we stray off course and become lost.  The decision is cut and dry, black and white, there is 52 - Daily Dependence - God's Way Vs My WayGod’s Way and My Way.  When I chose the latter, I then have to deal with the consequences.

Jesus came down from Heaven and became a human being to show us God’s will and He walked in His ways, always doing God’s will, not His own, even to the point of death.  If Jesus could do that for us, could we not at least extend an invitation to someone to come to church with us, or pray for the people in our lives that we know are far from God, or share with someone our testimony of what God has done in our life?  You never know, you may be the only person in their life to share with them about the love of God and the saving power of Jesus Christ.

I will finish this thought from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT),

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

52 - Daily Dependence - 1 Thessalonians 5-16-18

Check out ★ Thought for the Day – Anxious to Do the Will of God? ★ that is a great followup to this post.