The Early Bird

Have you ever heard the adage, “The early bird finds the worm?”

Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

We should change the adage to say, “The early bird finds God.”

Mark suggests a model that we must apply to our lives. The Son of God knows we must give God our first and best.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  – Lamentation 3:22-23.

Jesus prays in the morning, very early in the morning, because His spirit is still fresh and unencumbered by the activities and problems of the day. After a night of rest, He is rejuvenated and wants to give God His best self. While the others are back at the house snoring away, Jesus is meeting with God. Mark also tells us that Jesus found a solitary place, a place away from the morning news, cell phone, radio, and computer. He found a place where He could devote His fresh energy to God.

While scripture tells us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus,”  (Thessalonians 5:16-18), Mark describes the importance of time alone, away from life’s distractions, fresh and new, before the day burdens us with problems.

Make a commitment to start your day with God. Give Him your first attention. It can be hard for parents of little ones, I know and remember well; but, make a schedule with your spouse. If you are a single mom or dad, try to find uninterrupted time before the kids wake-up. With a little creativity, you can prioritize God in the proper place and watch how much your life changes because of it.  Somehow, isolate yourself; get alone with God; allow Him to access you life.


Who God is

I saw a familiar bumper sticker from years back the other day. It read simply, “GOD IS LOVE.” Amazingly, it prompted me to research and delve once more into who God is according to Jesus, His Son.

The Character and Integrity of God according to Jesus.

1. God  is dependable. Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

2. God is a giver. Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”

3. God is merciful. Luke 6:35-36, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

4. God is faithful. Luke 12:29-32, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His Kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

5. God is good. Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone.”

6. God is to be respected. Luke 12:4-5, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear; Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.”

7. God is just. Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

8. God is trustworthy. John 14:1-2, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”

9. God is forgiving. Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

10. God is LOVE. John 3:16-17, “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.”

Today, reflect on who God is to you and how He participates in your daily life. Pray and ask God to help you to know Him as Jesus has described Him.


The Unexpected

The unexpected. There is no way to get around it. You’re running late for work – the car doesn’t start. You have family photos in the morning – your four-year-old cuts all her hair off. The phone call comes in the middle of the night – a loved one is sick. Your boss calls you in his office – you lose your job. You visit the doctor thinking your health is good – you learn about cancer. The unexpected, lurking, slithering across the floor, pouncing when you are not looking times.

Life is a journey of twist and turns and blind drives. Yesterday an unexpected happened in my life and I find myself on a plane leaving the country. How do you handle when life throws a curve ball?

John 16:12, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you…”

The unexpected leaves us guessing where to take the next step; but He will guide you. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12.

There are times when our ‘unexpected’ is a spiritual attack against us. We need to understand the rules of engagement. See, God does not want us to be troubled. We hold an incredible weapon – prayer and God’s word. It is not about what is happening to you that concerns God; it’s what’s happening in you and how you respond.

Three things to remember when the unexpected hits your life:

1. Thank God that He is with you. Praise Him that the solution is on its way or that He will give you grace to endure. Know God is not surprised by the unexpected; He’s many steps ahead; He will see you through it.

2. Use your authority. The blood of Jesus Christ gives you the privilege to petition God to deliver you. Exercise your faith. Push those doubts aside. Walk boldly, knowing you carry the sword of the Spirit – His Word.

3. Use your weapons. Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon forged against you will prevail.” You have insight and discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit – use it.

1 John 4:4 tells us that with Jesus, living in us, we are greater than any power at work in this world.  Don’t let your unexpecteds throw you off-balance. Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t give up and don’t give in.


Every Empty Word

Matthew 12:35-37, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

In this scripture, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees; even though they can quote scriptures, their hearts are not good. God is more interested in our core being, our inner self, and our hearts than in our memorizing scriptures. In these verses, Jesus is pointing out the importance of our words. Words matter to God. Words are significant to Him because words reveal our heart. There are other scriptures which point out the importance of what we speak.

Ephesians 5:3-4, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”

James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”

Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

NEVER underestimate the power of words. Words can cause you to ruin your marriage; separate you from your children; lose your job; break up your friendship; and cost you your reputation. Winston Churchill said of words, “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.”

Your words can also be a source of good. They can encourage someone who needs to hear a kind word. Words can offer hope, strength, compassion, and love. Words can change a person’s life and impact God’s Kingdom.

How do you use your words? Consider carefully what you say for Christ tells us we will be judged by the words.


God will always rescue you – no matter what!

May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.” -Daniel 6:16

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full count, score is tied, and of course, it’s for the league championship. The anxiety in the small stadium of our hometown builds as the high school pitcher, adjusts his cap, glances over his shoulder to first base, winds to throw…

Life is like that. Sometimes we are faced with difficult odds. I’ve been that pitcher and so have you. The solution could go either way – we can win or we can lose. One throw. One chance.

Daniel’s life was at stake because he chose to worship God and not the king. Even though he knew by worshipping God he would be thrown into the lion’s den, he openly stood in his window, in full view of everyone, and praised his God. His sentence by the king, as he well knew, was the lion’s den.

When I struggle with faith, I often imagine Daniel walking to the pit, knowing the lions had not been fed for several days. Was he afraid or was he assured? I can imagine he remembered the times in his life God had shown up before. He knew the power of God’s miracles; and yet, his life was not without trials and struggles.

Daniel had been taken captive from his home as a young man and made into a eunoch by the Babylonians. His entire life had been twisted and uprooted, separated from his family and culture, and forced into slavery. I’m sure as he journeyed to Babylon, he diligently prayed for God to save him; to free him from bondage; to prevent bodily harm to him; but God didn’t – not in the way Daniel probably wished.

As he walked to the lion’s den, what was on his mind?

Sometimes in life we know the situation could go either way. Mistakenly, we use faith as a wish. Like a child, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight!”Faith is not about having life work out the way we want; faith is about believing God’s way is the best way and trusting in Him for the best solution.

May your God rescue you… Every step Daniel took toward that lion’s den, God was with him. Every time he lifted his foot, God placed it on the ground. As he fell freely into the den of lions, God surrounded him lovingly, assuring Daniel of His presence for Daniel was His son. As he faced the lions, God shut their mouths and Daniel was not harmed.

Faith is knowing no matter the outcome, God will always rescue you. It might not be in the manner you believed. Daniel probably hoped God wouldn’t allow the soldiers to drop him into the pit. Talk about the bottom of the ninth! But God did show up and He did rescue Daniel and He will rescue you, too.

Faith is really about the courage to step. It is about lifting your foot not knowing the direction of placement or where exactly you will be landing. Faith is about trusting in God that whatever happens, it will be for His purpose and your good.


They are me sheep, lad!

Psalm 100:3, “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

I recently watched a documentary about a farmer who raises sheep in Scotland. Right down to the amazing Australian shepherd dog who literally responded to his master’s whistle calls to herd the sheep, I was overwhelmed. As I absorbed the information, my mind raced. How did David or Moses or Joseph do it? Here this farmer has state of the art equipment to manage his herd, and the shepherd of the past had a staff?

The farmer instructed the dog to bring from a herd of about 165, one particular sheep. “That’s Ernie,” he spoke to the camera man with his Scottish accent. “Ernie’s a mite poorly these days, a slight tear to the back of the leg. Been watching it closely for infection, don’t you know.”

With a few whistles and clicks of his mouth, Ernie and his dog, ‘Shep,’ stood in front of him. “Aye, Ernie,” he said. “Good, Shep.” He ruffled the nape of Shep’s neck and knelt down to examine Ernie’s leg. After administering ointment, the shepherd stood, whistled again, and Shep returned Ernie to the group, all within a few minutes time.

“That one there, Ima. She was born a wee bit early but blossomed fine, don’t you know,” he continued. “And there, Robush. Mi grandson named him after one of the cartoon characters.” The farmer laughed.

We are His people…we are the sheepwe dwell in His pasture…”

God created each and every one of us with His own hands in our mother’s womb. He doesn’t make mistakes. No where in the Bible have I ever read the word, “Ooops!” We are His Ima; His Robush; His Ernie. He knows our names and every intricate detail about us.

The camera man asked him how he can possibly tell the sheep apart. I smiled. The look on the farmer’s face said it all, “Goodness lad. How can I not tell them apart? They are mi sheep!”


The “IN” Crowd

Generation after generation knows, there is always an “in” crowd. We also know what its like not to belong to that group. In fact, I bet if I polled 1000 people, only a handful would confidently and assuredly say they were the popular crowd. What about the disciples? Were they the “in” crowd. I would bet not.

When Jesus chose them, He had an agenda and certain people fit His criteria. Years ago a banker friend of mine told me he prefers to hire employees who have absolutely no experience but the potential for great customer service. When I inquired as to why, he told me he liked to train his employees to follow his protocol so he doesn’t have to undo prior practices of another bank. Makes sense.

I believe Jesus was looking for similar people. He wanted REAL people, willing to change and learn. He needed people who could accept those who were currently excluded and people who He could teach to love abundantly, as He did. It crosses my mind, would He have chosen me? Would He have chosen you?

There’s also a part of me that believes Jesus chose His disciples from a group of people one wouldn’t expect. Just as He was born in a manger – just as He grew up in simple surroundings – so did He want to select the less likely candidates. The 12 were from all walks of life: fishermen, political activist, educated and uneducated, tax collectors and wanderers of sorts. They were an unusual crew and hardly the “in” crowd. His first four choices, Andrew and Peter, John and James, were fishermen. Andrew and Peter brothers and John and James brothers. Its possible they were in business together. I consider their father who would have been left to handle the fishing business. In one day, he would’ve lost four employees, and in a small company, that probably was difficult.

Discipleship today is for all followers of Jesus; people willing to leave behind their former lives and accept a total surrender of will. It is going against the implications of belonging to the “in” crowd and belonging to movers and shakers of The Kingdom of God. The question is are you equal to the task? Are you equipped to be a disciple of Christ?


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