★ 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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★ Thought for the Day – But God… ★

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

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

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

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

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

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

95 - Daily Dependence - But God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WE ALL HAVE NO POWER to overcome sin without Jesus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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