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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Just Ask

How can you passionately pursue wisdom?

We start by boldly asking God for it. I love what it says in James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  We start our pursuit of wisdom by asking for it, and believing God has promised it.

We can also pursue wisdom by reading the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that: All Scripture isGod-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,Wisdom books in the Bible would include the study of the Psalms, Job, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Reading through these books is a good place to start.

Another way we pursue wisdom is by developing the art of observation. Watch how people and nature respond to different stimulus and situations. What kinds of actions occur under different circumstances?

A final way we can pursue wisdom is by reading. There is great knowledge and wisdom to be found in many different books, papers, and online articles. Always apply God’s filter through the help of the Holy Spirit to discern if it fits with God’s standards.

There are other ways of passionately pursing wisdom. Ask God to reveal what lessons he wants you to learn today, and allowing Him to lead you to the source.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Follow the Leader

To gain wisdom one must follow an accurate moral code.

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. - Proverbs 4:18-19

The "path of the righteous" is that well lit road that God illuminates with His Word and guides us with His Spirit. As we journey down the road the sun (and Son) will get brighter and brighter as we become more obedient to His will and ways.

In contrast "the path of the wicked" is in deep darkness that never brightens. In this darkness sin, evil, pain, and deception will thrive. 

The not so funny thing about the dark is that the more we expose ourselves to it – the more we adjust to it until it’s too late. With the sun, it may take some getting used too at first, but then we can bask in its warmth and light. Light and Dark are symbolic with good/evil and heaven/hell. Choose the Son – He’ll bring life giving light and wisdom in your life.

We can find an accurate moral code by using God’s Word.

A good place to start is the Ten Commandments.

  1. No other Gods
  2. No idols
  3. Not use God’s Name in vane
  4. Remember the Sabbath
  5. Honor parents
  6. Do not murder
  7. Do not commit adultery
  8. Do Not Steal
  9. Do not  Lie
  10. Do not covet

Once we’ve done business with God on these we’ll be able to accept more guidance through His Word and Spirit.Amen?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Life Plan

Proverbs 19:21: "Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.To live wisely, we need to build a life plan that is consistent with God’s plan.

"What is God’s plan in my world and how can my life plan fit with God’s plan?"

Look at Matthew 6:19-34 from The Message to see what Jesus had to say on the subject.
19Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. 20Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
22“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light23If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
24“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.
25“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There isfar more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving32People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.  33Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

We need to build a life plan that’s consistent with God’s plan, giving Him all our attention and start today. A step towards wisdom is reliance on God. Amen?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Looking for Help

For years when anyone asked me, "What's up?", I would respond, "God's up!". You know what after all these years I still believe that. If God isn't up then where would we be? The Bible tells us to keep looking up. That is where our help comes from - every time!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore. - Psalm 121
By the way, I also still believe, "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." I am so glad that I serve a good God. That helps me look up. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

His Purpose

Many people don’t seem to have a clear sense of purpose. They’re like boats without rudders. They drift from place to place, relationship to relationship. They not only do not chart a course, they don’t even stay anchored anywhere.

We have become the “whatever” generation - characterized by our lack of conviction, commitment, and purpose. It is not that we are so flexible – it’s that we are so ungrounded. We constantly shift because nothing much matters. The world offers many inadequate ways to cope with what troubles us, but they are merely diversions and distractions. The Bible is the only true source that can give us direction and purpose.

In the Bible, Esther lived up to her purpose in a very tough time (Esther 4:13-14). Are we living our lives for such a time as this?

Don’t let excuses get in the way of what God might want to accomplish through you. God had a purpose in mind when He chose Moses. Moses overcame his shaky start to become a mighty man of faith. (Exodus 4:1-13)

Remember all of us are on a Mission from God! Stay focused and He will show you your purpose.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Let the Lord Lead You

In the 6th chapter of Judges we see God’s people worried about tomorrow and not about today. They did evil in the sight of the Lord, but questioned why He had let so many bad things happen to them.

In this passage we see Gideon wanting to bake bread but threshing in a winepress. He was in the wrong place, acting like He was doing something other than what God had for him to do. In other words, God was calling Gideon to service but he was acting like a wino! God recognized his potential as a warrior if he had faith and was obedient to what was told to him. Gideon blamed God for all ofIsrael’s woes. The Lord tells him that they made a choice to not obey and be faithful. He reassures, this would be warrior, that He is with Israel and they will be victorious. Gideon’s focus became clear, his faith restored, and he worshiped the Lord.

Are you in the wrong place, acting like you’re doing something other than what God has for you to do? We have the potential to be mighty in God’s army if we get our focus back on Him. God has a great Complaint Dept. It never closes. He is like a best friend who we can carry on and on too, but love us anyway. Instead of playing the blame game with God we should follow Jesus’ directions.  He tells us to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added unto you”. There are no maybes. It’s His plan and kingdom, and we are called to be obedient.

God calls His people brave and mighty. He has not abandoned us. Like Gideon we need to trust and obey. Remember on this day and every day to be strong in the Lord. Worship and praise Him with your life. Let the Lord guide and lead you to victory. Praise God for this moment!  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Follow the Plan

Matthew 22:34-40, John 13:34-35, and Matthew 28:18-20 are the life-blood in the life of a servant. They are called: The Great Commandment, The New Commandment, and The Great Commission. Our purpose as God’s body is to serve God in the way He has called us to serve Him. You have purpose in Christ; the church has a purpose in Christ.

We must strive to become more like Jesus in our attitudes and behaviors.

The mission has not changed. But the approach to accomplishing that objective has changed. You are not the same person you were 10, 20, or more years ago. Your town is not the same as it was 10, 20, or more years ago. Time marches on yet, God’s plans are timeless. His desire to fulfill His plan is the same now as it has been from the beginning. He has given you everything you need in His Word. 

The Bible has instructed us to Gather as God’s people, to Grow in faith, love and service, and to Go into the world as His disciples.

God’s church must together strive, to know His purpose, so that we may be obedient to Him in fulfilling His call to serve Him, One another, and Our neighbors. You can make a difference, we must make a difference. God is counting on us to make a difference. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Letting Jesus Lead

As we mature as believers our understanding of God’s Word should grow as well. A deeper understanding of the Word of God can only occur if we spend time hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it. The account of Jesus feeding over 5,000 people is one of these stories. We learn as children about Jesus’ love, using a little boy’s lunch, and the great miracle that followed. By digging deeper into this passage we can learn Biblical truths that give us direction, and help us grow in Christ.

We can learn lessons in giving, receiving, and blessings when we are doing God’s work. First we must be willing to give whole heartedly to the work of the Lord. The boy in this story gave all he had to Jesus. In his eyes and those around him it sure didn’t seem like much, but because of his faithfulness, and belief that Christ can truly do all things, something unexpected was about to occur. In our lives, we may feel that what we have to give isn’t much, but when we give it all to Him, heaven rejoices. What in your life have you not turned over to the Lord for His kingdom’s work? He is waiting for you.

The Lord will receive from us what is given to do His work. If you notice, Jesus didn’t go looking for food, but accepted what was offered to Him. God is funny like that. He told a group of church people one time that after a poor widow gave a couple of coins in the collection plate that she was the greatest giver. Why? Because she gave all she had.  Jesus wants us to give our gifts of service, money, talents, and resources to do His work. When we have that same giving heart as the widow, God will accept it, multiply it, and allow us have it back to use it in ways we can never imagine.

It says that Jesus took the fish and loaves and blessed them, and then He gave it back to them. The disciples distributed the food, everyone ate all they could, and there were 12 baskets of leftovers! When Jesus blesses what we have entrusted to Him, it will come back to us many times over. Just think about what God can do with your offering. Probably something we could never expect, but will be amazed at what He can do through willing followers. 
Are you ready to accept Jesus’ blessing?

Friday, January 23, 2015

In One Moment

Everything changed for a man named Zacchaeus.  Between the verses of Luke 19: 7 and 8. The bad guy has a change of heart. Sometime during dinner Zacchaeus becomes convinced that God has dined with him and he is the God of the universe. Read Luke 19:8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” One moment with Jesus changes everything.

Zacchaeus just stood up and declared, “I’m out! I’m done! I’m changing everything!” One day, one moment, one evening, one afternoon with Jesus. In thousands of years, the law couldn’t accomplish that.

He just got out. He gave up his whole livelihood, his reputation, his relationships…everything. Because he met a person…not a principle, not a concept, not a community, not a function, not a hobby, not a social setting.  He met a man and that man changed everything. Zacchaeus wasn’t thinking about the law. He was thinking about love, and love motivated him to do what the law never could. One moment with Jesus changes everything.

It’s all about Him, and when we see Him, and experience Him and enjoy Him, our life changes.

There is a God whose love is so vast, and so expansive, and so incredible, and so indescribable, it can reach love, care, deliver, save anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

What have you done with Jesus’ friendship? 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jesus Friends

Jesus  would be friends with a guy like Zaccchaeus. Who is Zacchaeus?  Zacchaeus is not a good guy.  Jew cheating Jews out of their money. He’s the worst of the worst. He’s not allowed in the Synagogue. Rejected by his own people. He’s not asking Jesus to save him, he’s just curious.  Read Luke 19:1-9

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
What Jesus said to Zacchaeus will ring true for you too.  “Come down.” “Just come down, and hurry.”  Come down from trusting yourself and your devotion, your acts, your good deeds. It’s ok to come down and admit that there is a half eaten sandwich in your silverware drawer and there is laundry under your kitchen sink.
Come just as you are. Jesus is your friend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jesus Ways

How does Jesus operate? Read Romans 5: 6-8 answers that question, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Here is where God changes everything that we know about love, and friendship. It says, But God demonstrates His own loveGod allowed His Son, Jesus – God in the flesh- to take on His body the sins of people who would never even accept His substitute sacrifice. Remember God knows.

So Jesus comes to the planet to answer man's greatest question…I wonder who Jesus would hang out with, be friends with. What would Jesus think of you or me?

Romans 5:6-8 Answers that question as well. Jesus loves us. Jesus is the Friend of Sinners.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jesus is my Friend.

The old song reminds us, What a friend we have in Jesus". We smile and say thank s, but do we really take His friendship seriously? Some of us are very, very busy ensuring that nobody sees parts of us that may disqualify us from relationships or acceptance. This is how we all function…whether we are willing to admit it or not.

Have you ever had someone come over to your place unexpectedly or last minute? What happens next? Probably a cyclone of activity - stashing things all over just to get them out of view.

Why do we do this? Why do we pretend? Do we function this way with God?  We actually think that if we shove our stuff in every closet, corner or cabinet our heart, our soul and our lives, that God might, perchance, come over to our place and stay.
You know that God knows, right?

Jesus acts on His own. He isn’t worried about how many likes he gets on his Facebook post or if he will be re-tweeted. He is totally on his own. He is sufficient with Himself. He has no needs.  Now, He wants you, but He doesn't need you. 

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. - John 3:16-17

And be your Friend. Amen?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Principle Applications

We see in Luke 19:1-10 the story of Jesus meeting Zacchaeus. It says that the “church people” murmured or muttered. What was the problem? Jesus was talking to, and then going to this sinner’s house!

I think this highlights three things about sharing the Gospel message:
1. God is a seeking God.
2. God calls us by name.
3. Jesus identifies with us as individuals.

We, the church, need to be more like Jesus. If someone was lost in the woods or drowning wouldn’t we try to save them? Do we approach sharing the gospel with the same determination and passion?

Are we applying the lessons that Jesus taught us: going out in the community, taking time and interest in others? Many churches believe if they keep things nice, do things the way we’ve always done it, and open the doors then people will come. Now this is not a judgment on what was, but realization that time has change. We have new opportunities to apply timeless Christ principles – if we are willing. Amen?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God Calling

God is calling His church to have a renewed vision. We must have a passionate and clear vision of what God has called us to do and of what we need to be. Too often we have taken our feet off the pedal and looked too long in the rear view mirror at past glories.

Someone has said: “When we have more memories than dreams, life is over." When we have greater memories than dreams we will never make a difference in changing our world for God. We must know where we are going and what we are going to do!  We must dream great dreams! The challenge before us is to aim high. Low aim is a crime - it’s a sin!

God told Isaiah in Isaiah 43:18-19:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”You and I can do the same! We can endure by fixing our eyes on our Lord.
God calls us to be courageous:

Even when the evil seem to prosper
Even when the wicked seem to be winning
Even when the pressure seems to be unbearable
Even when the critics won’t shut up
Even when big people act contemptibly small.
Even when we feel as though we’re all alone
Even when a lie is called truth, and the truth is called a lie.
As you stand on the edge of a new change, a new challenge, a new commitment -- look at Christ! Whatever it is you are facing - look at Christ! With our eyes on Christ we can go forward fearlessly, and know that the things which are shaken will only reveal the Eternal and Unmovable God! Bring on the changes -- world do your worst!

God uses ordinary people totally committed to Him to make a difference in a changing world. One person can make a difference!

What is He calling you to do today?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Change Happens

It is true that God never changes, but God is also a God of new ideas, of innovation. God is a God who uses change. We must pray for new visions. We cannot be content with what is. We must crave what can be. That which holds our attention will determine our actions!

If you want to be distressed - look within. If you want to be defeated - look back.
If you want to be distracted - look around. If you want to be dismayed - look ahead.
If you want to be delivered - look up! When we focus our attention upon the Lord:

Setbacks will become springboards! Obstacles will turn into opportunities! Barriers will turn into blessings! Cowards will become courageous!

We can learn from Moses. Hebrews 
11:27 tells us: " By faith he left Egypt not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen." Those last words are words which should instruct us. Moses’ eyes were on God and he was able to endure. The Living Bible says: he " kept right on going!" Moffatt’s translation says, " He never flinched."

Moses had staying power - even with all the changes that challenged him.That power is available to all of us.

Moses kept his eyes on God, not the obstacles. He endured in his eighties, in his nineties, and on into his hundreds. He endured despite the contempt of Pharaoh, the stubbornness of the Hebrews who grumbled, maligned him, complained, and rebelled. He endured amidst the criticism of those closest to him. He fixed his eyes on the Lord, and never looked back.

You and I can do the same! We can endure by fixing our eyes on our Lord, and allowing His changes to happen in our lives. Amen?

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Are You Looking At?

I use the word focus a lot in my teaching and counseling. The truth is that I use that word as much for my own benefit as those I am sharing it with.  In Hebrews 1:2 it says, We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. To keep our minds on the things of God and to be obedient we must focus! This is essential in order to live a Christ-like life. The Bible directs us in this, Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. - Colossians 3:2-3
Four things that help me focus:
1. Prayer – Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.Psalm 127:1

2. Use of Multiple Reinforcements – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10

3. Adjust Behavior – Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. - James 1:22

4. Change Thinking – Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.-Eph. 5:1-2

Use your prayers, thoughts, faith, and mind to help you stay focused. God deserves nothing less than our best. Amen?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In His Arms

God doesn’t care what you’ve done, who you are, or where you’re at. He will do the unthinkable and the ridiculous to get to you and reveal to you His extraordinary love. He will leave the greater sum value to find one, because each is a bearer of his image and of infinite value. … Even the 12 disciples were stuck on worth being something that was earned and achieved.

His Arms  Read Mark 10:13-16 The last verse, “Jesus took the children in his arms, placed his hand on them and blessed them.” He took all of the children in his arms.  It didn’t matter how many there were.

He wants to take everybody in His arms but some of us are too busy trying to wiggle out to give our speeches, pay Him back, earn His love.  Just like the Prodigal in his father’s arms, he was trying to get away and explain himself, but his father ignored him. His father continued to hold him and love him and celebrate.

God is saying, “Would you stop trying to fix yourself, and improve yourself, and better yourself, and let Me hold you? Just come let Me hold you, restore you, heal you, forgive you, love you, celebrate you.” - Grace

Grace starts in His arms, ends in His arms, and is all about being in His arms.

Jesus is grace. (It’s worth discovering)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jesus is Grace

Grace is Found in Jesus alone. 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. - Ephesians 2:8-9
1)    This Grace is a gift from God.
2)    Not of works, it cannot be earned or achieved.

Worth cannot be gained by the world we live in, but by the image we are created in.  This is where our worth comes from.

His Image is seen in us! Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” - Genesis 1:26

God cannot deny himself. It’s not anything you have done, it’s not who you are. It’s not because you have great hair, a great last name, or money in the bank. It has nothing to do with your abilities, talents or gifts. He is not moved by any of it.  What He is moved by is His image. He will not let His image be lost. 

Look in a mirror - what do you see? What does God see?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not Worthy

In Luke 15:1-3, The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were complaining about Jesus.  They were complaining that Jesus, who is perfect, sinless, and Holy is hanging out with people who were not worthy.  Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

They could not figure out why God would have any interest in “bad” people. Jesus responds with three stories:  

Luke 15:3-7 The Parable of the Sheep                      
Why would the shepherd leave his flock to look for one lost sheep?

Luke 15:8-10 The Parable of the Lost Coin
Why would you turn your house upside down for a coin?

Luke 15: 11-24 The Parable of the Lost Son
Why would you run to welcome your “lost” son?

God is saying “I hang out with them because I am who I am. I am grace.” Grace. Worth is not earned. Salvation is not earned. It is only received.