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Friday, March 31, 2017

Hold Tight


Habakkuk's name means Embrace. Now this isn't just a hug it can also mean "to hold on tight" like in wrestling! Have you ever wanted to be consoled with a hug but got squeezed instead? That's what happens in the book of the Bible, Habakkuk. He asks God to do something about how bad his world was around him (Judah). I think he was hoping for a God movement or Revival. Instead God's answer was very different which led to more questions. The prophet searches for answers to his questions and is reassured by God. (1:1-17; 2:1-13, 15-20)



What will God do about Judah’s sins? (1:1-4) In the midst of the sins of violence, destruction, arguing, fighting, and injustice God is silent until now. Judgment will follow at the hands of their enemy, the Babylonians.



Does Judah have to be punished? (1:5-11) Yes, the Babylonian soldiers are described as swift leopards, fierce wolves, and devouring eagles who laugh at their enemies.



Will Babylon be punished? (1:12-17; 2:1-13, 15-20) Yes, and until then the righteous should live by faith. The reasons for their destruction are numerous but at the end it is their evilness and greed.



God deserves respect – “The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him”. (20) Habakkuk realizes that regardless of the circumstances all believers are to not lose faith and honor God. Regardless of how He answers our prayers.



Ask God for His "embrace" today. Be ready and obedient to His response. (Even if it hurts.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Always Awesome


I am still thinking and singing about what an awesome God we have! In the book of Deuteronomy we see the word come up several times. This account was written as God's people were entering in to a new phase in history. Their wandering days were over, but there was to be a new change in leadership. There was worry and fear but God is awesome and we hear that throughout this account. Ready for the promise land under Joshua's leadership. Maybe there are big changes ahead for you as well. Turn to our great and awesome God just like Israel did many years ago.

 Deuteronomy 4:34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?


Deuteronomy 7:21 Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.


Deuteronomy 10:17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.


Deuteronomy 10:21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.


Deuteronomy 28:58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 34:12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
God is and always will be awesome! Amen?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

He Is Awesome


I had the honor of meeting Pastor Charles Jenkins at a Movement Day conference in NYC a few years ago. He was one of the speakers, and blessed us closing the event with a song he wrote and recorded called – AWESOME
My God is Awesome/He can move mountains/Keep me in the valley/Hide me from the rain
My God is Awesome/Heals me when I'm broken/Strength where I've been weakened/
Forever He will reign...
My God Is Awesome/Awesome, Awesome, Awesome
My God is Awesome/Savior of the whole world/Giver of Salvation/By His stripes I am healed
My God is Awesome/Today I am forgiven/His grace is why I'm living/Praise His Holy name
My God Is Awesome/Awesome, Awesome, Awesome
He's Mighty, He's Holy, He's the Great Deliverer, Provider, and 
Protector, . He's Awesome! 

Exodus 15:11- Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
Psalm 47:2 For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.

Our God is awesome! Amen?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Joyful Alwys


As many of you know my life verse is from 1Thessalonians 5, "Be joyful always pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance. For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." It's meant a lot to me over the years, and has helped me keep my focus on God. Over the last three years it has taken on an even greater significance.

Life has come at my family fast and hard during the last few years. Loss and heartache in many forms have not been strangers. It's been tough. But God is tougher! During these valley experiences we need to be reminded to "be joyful, pray, and be thankful". Remembering how God has been with you in the past reminds you He is with you now. By giving Him glory with a thankful heart positions us in the right direction - on God.

So I will praise Jesus during life's stormy season. I know He can stop the storm if He chooses. He also may allow it to continue but walk through it with me. Either way I know, it's going to be okay. It takes faith but it is His will for me (in Christ Jesus). Amen and amen. God is good...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Directed


The name Haggai means My Feast. God is having a party and He wants things done His way. The prophet preaches three messages (and gives directions) to the returning Jewish remnant. There is a lot we can learn as well.

1. Directed towards the people’s hands (1:1-15) It says, Reform. It is time to rebuild the temple but only under God’s instruction. A. God – “Build the temple!” The people say, “It’s not time”. They were materialistic, so even though they plant much they will harvest little. God says, ”If you build I will bless!”B. God’s spokesmen – God speaks through three of His servants: Zerubbabel (Judah’s governor), Jeshua (or “Joshua”, the high priest), and Haggai (Judah’s prophet). – What in your life do you need to rebuild or renew?
2. Directed towards people’s hearts (2:1-9) it says, Patience. There is weeping and rejoicing at the modest second temple’s dedication. Haggai attempts to encourage all as he speaks to the future magnificent millennial temple A. The buildings – God’s presence is more important than the structures. B. The builder – God himself will build the future temple after Christ’s return.  Is your heart full of patience or something else?

3. Directed towards people’s heads (2:10-23) It says, Ponder. think about are: A. Past problems – He asks two questions about holiness and being defiled. A person cannot pass on holiness, but can cause another to be contaminated with sin. B. Future Promises – If the people repent and lay the temple’s foundation, God will now abundantly bless them. What are some God things that you need to think about today?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vertical Faith


The challenge to faith is the same in every generation: seek first the things of God and trust Him to provide the daily necessities of life. The glorification of any work we pursue comes by the presence of God in it. God calls us to commit what we are, what we have, and all that we do to him. Make the work of God a priority, both in your time and with your money. Understand that it is the presence of Jesus that produces glory.



And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18. 

God blesses His people when they repent and get their hearts, minds, and bodies right with Him. Our focus should be vertical.



Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.- Psalm 24:3-4 



God always gives perfect direction.  



How can you honor God with your life today?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

All of You


All of us have different skills, talents, and gifts, but no one can have them all. In fact there are probably few characteristics all of us can share. There is one especially when it comes to being faithful and obedient to God's call on your life. We can all be passionate about Jesus! I love this quote:

Passion’s a lot like aspirin: it’s effective in many ways, but no one’s quite sure how it works. Passion is love that’s found a means of communicating. That’s why passion is important—because after the words we speak are tangled or forgotten, people will often remember the heart that communicated them.

So when you go about your business this day remember to be passionate about the things of God. It shows you love Him.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' - Jesus' answer to what is the greatest commandment in Mark 12:30 

Friday, March 24, 2017

What You Have


The word “Offering” is by Strong’s definition: The act of: bringing to; setting before; sacrificing; presenting; a gift. It is used 728 time in the Bible, most (over half) in Leviticus and Numbers. In the Old Testament it deals with the sacrificial system set in place by God and performed by the priest in the Temple. It is used only 23 times in the New Testament. Let's look today at these teachings.

Giving
Mark 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Giving from your heart)
Ephesians 5:2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Jesus)
Philippians 2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Giving all you have)

Involvement
Acts 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. (Involvement with the “least of these”)
Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Involvement in ministry)

Relationship
Mark 12:33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Relationship with God)
Matthew 5:23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Relationship with others)

Your Life
1 Peter 2:5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house [Or into a temple of the Spirit] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (Your life)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. – Rom. 12:1

Take your ordinary everyday life and place it before God as an offering.

Worship is saying: “I trust you” even when our eyes don’t see it - “Thy will be done” even when our hearts don’t feel like it-“I’ll follow you” even when our minds don’t understand it

No greater act of worship than giving God all of you. (Open your hands even if you have to pry them open)

Is this your prayer?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Messiah


As I commented on yesterday, Zechariah's name means God has Remembered. This Minor Prophet was a contemporary of Haggai and returned to Jerusalem with the first group of exiles. His writings have a lot of symbolism which the priest asks God to explain through a series of questions. In the first six chapters Zechariah asks no less than 10 questions regarding the visions that God was showing him. With each and every one of them he was given an answer to clarify the vision.





With the exception of Isaiah, no other prophet spoke more about the Messiah than Zechariah. Through his prophecies he manages to put a real awareness and eagerness into the hearts of the people with his messages of Messianic hope. He portrays Christ in His two advents; one as the suffering servant and the other as coming King. Consider both crucial aspects of Christ as we approach this Easter.



 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” - Luke 19:38
Amen?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Surrounded


The name Zechariah means God has Remembered. Now it's not that the Lord forgot something and then remembered (like we do). It has to do with remembering His people. What does God remember about you? He is the God of the past, present,and future so He really does know all about us. There are some things that we would like to forget and change in our lives. The good news here is that God forgives and clenses away our sin. It is up to us to repent and start Doing Life God’s Way! 

In the past God’s people have been chastened for their corruption. 
In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying, "The LORD was very angry with your fathers. "Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return to Me," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I may return to you," says the LORD of hosts.(1:1-3) People are judged and punished because of their sin, and unfaithfulness. We are reminded through this process a couple of things. 
1. Come Back to God. Love God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul - Jesus. Be in the right relationship.
2. Remember God  is almighty, powerful, and the Lord of Hosts.  

Psalm 89:5-8 proclaims,  The heavens praise your wonders, Lord, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.  Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.


It makes sense to live for God. What do you need to work on today?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Under Control

God is in the business of being God! He is in charge and He loves us. Do we allow ourselves to be in His will and grace?

The Lord reigns: The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy. The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Moses and Aaron were among his priests,  Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them. Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy. and worship at his holy mountain, or the Lord our God is holy. - Psalm 99

The Lord restores: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord. –Ephesians 5:8-10

Amen and Amen - How does this look in your life?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Friend Jesus

A few years ago I spoke at a Baptist nursing home in New Jersey. It was a beautiful time of sharing with these dear saints of God. One lady told me that they like to spend time thinking of heaven and God providing for them on a daily basis. She said most of the people there don't think about death. They'd rather focus on the love of God. It made me smile and think about the old song that speaks to the heart of all believers, What A Friend We Have In Jesus 

Stanza 1:
What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Ev'rything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry, Ev'rything to God in prayer. 

Stanza 2:
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful, Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev'ry weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer. 

Stanza 3:
Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge; Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms He'll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there.
Lyrics ~ Joseph Scriven, 1819 -1886
Music ~ Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918 

Amen?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Truth Found

I came across an old sermon the other day. It's title, LIVING WATER for a Thirsty Soul. It's based out of the story of Jesus at the well with a Samaritan woman. You can read about in John 4:5-14. It asks the question: How can we find living water for our thirsty souls?
We can take on different world views:
1. It’s all about Me!
The woman at the well is honest and admits the truth about her life.
2. It’s really all about Jesus!
The woman at the well is open and accepts the truth about Jesus’ life.
3. It’s all about telling Others!
The woman at the well is enthusiastic and tells others about the truth she has found.

We need to pass it on - just like the woman did. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” - John 4:39-42
Amen?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Heart Check

The worst offense of how people treated God as reported by Malachi was that they were robbing God (3:6-12). How? By withholding their tithes, by giving the worst instead of the best, by giving the least and not the most. Their attitude was, "How little can I give and still keep God happy?"

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
Prepare your heart and engage in an honest conversation with God today about your giving. You'll be surprised how much more you have to give.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Your Life


If one of today’s “reality shows” followed you around and videoed you, secretly for a week. What kind of show would it be? A worldly one or a Jesus production? Our lives should be all about making the right God honoring choices even if we don’t think anyone is watching. The world should not make decisions for a believer. We should be obedient and faithful to what Jesus would have us do.  God's Word teaches us how to live and act.

The Apostle John writes, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father but from the world." - 1 John 2:15-16

Live for God and be a witness for Jesus in what you say, how you act, in your thoughts, and how you look.

Amen?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Force


What force causes you to make choices? Society, friends, family, tradition, impulses, media, or is it just random things that cause some of our choices in life. Christ followers know that there is a greater power than all that I just named.
Paul tells us, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
The great news is that Christ guides us from a heart of love! His desire is to be fully involved with every aspect of our lives. His love for us allows us to make up our own mind. 

Should we be more concerned with our freedom or our obligation to honor God?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Anxiousness

Are you feeling anxious these days? Webster's definition of anxiety is:

1. painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.
2. an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it.
We live in an anxious world  filled with stressed out people. That's not God's plan. Look what the Bible says about it in Philippians chapter 4:
4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.
God's way is always the best way. Accept His peace and give Him your worries.
That is a pretty nice trade don't you think?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Nothing Impossible


Sometimes it can feel like God isn't paying attention to us. We begin something "in His Name" and then it fails. Have you ever experience something like that? Well the disciples did - and when they asked Jesus why He said they lacked faith. Ouch! In fact Jesus went on to say they needed to pray more, and with a small amount of faith miracles can happen.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” - Matthew 17

Where do you need to apply this "here to there" lesson in your life today? May we strive to have the kind of faith that can “move mountains”.
Amen?