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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?

Monday, March 13, 2017

God's Place


Have you ever been to the "Promise Land"? I do not mean a trip to Israel, but it’s that time, place, feeling, station in life, achievement, or perfect situation that you always wanted. When you "arrived" there what did you do? Moses led God's people to His land and this is what was instructed.

“For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.” - Deuteronomy 30:16

Sound familiar?

Love God with all you have. - Be obedient. - Serve and Honor Him - Never allow God out of your sight. He wants us to know and grow in Him. The Lord will bless you with His grace, mercy, love, and provision. 

Seek God's place for your life. You'll never regret it - it's better than anything we can come up with on our own. Amen?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Smiling


Have you ever felt lost, sad, depressed, or hopeless? The psalmist did when he wrote:

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God, soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.    He’s my God.
  - Psalm 42:11 (Message)

When you're feeling down look up! That's where real hope and help comes from. When God puts a smile on your face you put a smile on His.
Amen?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Not Want


One of the greatest and most used passages in the Bible is Psalm 23. My Dad memorized and repeated it when he was in the Korean war. I have heard it at almost every funeral I have attended. It has been read in countless hospital rooms. Even as the shrouds of death encircle us we take hope that God is with us.
Today may we take comfort in theses great words about God's plan for our lives, and His active involvement in it.

Psalm 23 (KJV) - A psalm of David


  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Amen?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Listening Skills


The plan of salvation is clearly stated in Ephesians chapter two. It tells of man's depravity and hopelessness. But God loved us so much that He made a way to be reconciled and have hope. By His grace we are saved never by our own works. If that isn't enough great news we have verse ten.

We should want to serve and honor Christ in all we do. That's what we were created for, and the good news is that we don't have to make it up. The work that we are supposed to do has already been decided and made ready.

 1.As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2

When we are obedient to this call we will experience the power of God in ways we could never imagine. Are you listening to His direction?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Your Song


Have you ever got a song stuck in your mind? It's usually a repetitive VBS kinda song, or one from when you were younger.  I did recently and it was really hard to stop thinking about and singing it. The good thing is that it usually wears off and you forget it again!

Then we come to today's verse about God being our song. When we accept Christ as Savior we want to tell everyone! Sing about His love and mercy. Think about His great plan for our lives.

"The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation". – Psalm 118:14

We sing that song, but hen at some point the enthusiasm runs out. Yes we still know in our hearts and minds, but we're not as "vocal" about our relationship. In fact we often sing the "blues" when we  focus on other things in life.

Hmm... I think we need to start singing God praises again.

What song will you sing today?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mission Possible


All things are possible with God. We say this all the time in church and religious settings. Do we apply it to our everyday lives? The question would be then, "Do you really, really, believe God is bigger and better than: your pain, financial shortcomings, broken relationships, immorality, hurts, confusion, anger, health issues, laziness, stubbornness, addiction, and sin?" An angel tells us the answer in Luke 1:37, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

The problem he was referring to was a virgin who was pregnant with God's son. There are a couple of issues here, right? 

There is another account in the Gospels about a good, rich man, who said he wanted to follow Christ. Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and follow Him.

 The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

 Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”  That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.  Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.” - Mark 10:22-27 (Message)

The impossible? Let go and let God. Amen?