His Favorite Name

Luke 23:46, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.

I am many things to many people: a husband, a father, a son, an uncle, a nephew, a friend, a coach, a minister, a brother, a mentor. The list can go on and on. Of all my titles, I have to say my favorite is father or to put it in the words of my children “Daddy.”

Years ago when my daughter was around four years old, she was playing in the yard while I was working. I heard her calling me, “Daddy! Daddy!” Her finger had been cut on the corner of the swing. Tears streaming down her face, pointer finger extended, her anxiety growing, “Daddy!” She frantically ran toward me.

I dropped what I was doing and went toward her. She had called me. I had heard her. And I came running because she is the apple of my eye, and I love her more than my own life. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. Nothing I wouldn’t give up for her. My love for her is indescribable. She is my sweet Reneé.

God has many names:  Jehovah (I AM WHO I AM), Jehovah-M’Kaddesh (the God Who sanctifies), Jehovah-jireh (the God Who provides),  Jehovah-shalom (the God of peace), Jehovah-rophe (Healer), Jehovah-nissi (the Banner), El-Shaddai (God Almighty)Elohim (the God of power). The list can go on and on. Of all the titles we call out to Him and use, I believe His favorite is “father.”

In Jesus’ final words He cries out to the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Healer, the Provider, the Almighty God simply by saying, “Daddy! I am coming to You.”

Call out to Him today. He wants to be your Father.

Sometimes, when I am alone with God, I simply tell Him, “Daddy, I am so in’love with You. Only You. I am in’love with You.”

Talk to Him as your Daddy. It is the word He loves to hear most.

 


Your Harvest is on the Way

Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

The other day I ran into a friend who seemed discouraged. When I asked how he was, he replied, “Mike, I feel like I’m always behind. I cannot catch-up. And I’m just plain tired.”

At some point in our lives, all of us can relate to how my friend was feeling. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been through a season of struggle – the uphill battle – the hard times which seem never ending. Even though we are trying to do what is right, it seems nothing but wrong is happening in our lives.

Many years ago, I was pastoring a small church in a rural community. There was a single mom who worked in a clothing factory. She and her two boys attended our church on a regular basis. Sheila volunteered in children’s ministry and on Saturday mornings arrived at 7:00 AM to clean the nursery and all the toys so it was ready for Sunday morning service. Financially, Sheila struggled to pay the mortgage and provide food and clothing for her children. Regardless of the strain on her life, she and her boys did not miss an opportunity to serve in our church.

Many years later, I ran into Sheila at the airport in Atlanta. Her flight had been delayed. She told me she was going to a Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.

“Leadership Conference? How wonderful!” I exclaimed, but my face inquisitively gave my curiosity away.

Sheila smiled. “Shortly after you left our church, the foreman at the factory unexpectedly passed away. I was offered the job. The extra money gave me the opportunity to attend college.  After several years of working as foreman and going to college, the manager left and my name was given to the owner for the opportunity. I’ve climbed the corporate ladder and now I oversee all factory branches.”

Not only was I excited for her, I was amazed. Life had definitely taken a turn for her. I wanted to hear more.

The simple explanation – she didn’t quit – even when she wanted to quit. She kept working hard. She kept serving God. She kept reading her Bible, praying, seeking His guidance – and He opened the doors for her. It wasn’t overnight. The process took several years; but, she went from a $6.00 per hour employee to a 6 figure yearly salaried employee. Coincidence? No… “in due season, she reaped the benefit because she did not lose heart.”

I want to encourage you today. Do not grow weary doing good – God has a plan for you – He has an answer for your struggle. Keep working. Keep seeking Him. Keep doing good.

Your harvest is on the way.

 


Indecision

The season of indecision – Have you ever been there?

Most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have been in the “season of indecision.” It can invoke angry emotions at times and frustration. We tend to fall on our knees and scream to the Heavens, “What do YOU want me to do, God? What?”

Sometimes I think God should have an automated response system where He can push a button and from the skies reply, “JUST CHOOSE!”

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.”

I do not know anyone who isn’t trying to find meaning and purpose in his or her life. Knowing God’s will for our lives is a very common desire. When we have to make a decision, we want to know it is the right one, the one God wants us to make. “Should I marry him? Should I marry her? Is this the right school for me? Is this the right job? Should we buy this house? Is it the right time to retire? Should I travel on this day? Should I sell this property, file taxes jointly or separately, get divorced or stay married? Should I have another child? Should I adopt if I can’t have children?” Can you imagine the enormity of God’s patience and love for us when faced with all these questions from people expecting an answer?

Where does God want me to go? What does God want me to do? How does God want me to get there? When does God want me to start? The answer is in Colossians 3:17. If you want to know God’s will for your life, live this verse. WHATEVER you do – that’s pretty broad. Just Choose! 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.”

Whatever you choose to do, do it to the best of your ability for the glory of God. Failure does not signify being outside God’s Will if we have done it for God. Success does not indicate God’s Will if we are not doing it for His glory. When we walk with God there are some simple assurances, “God loves us. He will never leave us.”

The Will of God for your life and the purpose and plan of God in your life is WHATEVER you choose to do to glorify Him.


A Reminder

The other day I needed to occupy myself for 30 minutes before a meeting. The idea of 30 minutes of free time sent my mind into a whirlwind of possibilities. I could catch up on emails or texts. I had a few calls to make; but, I decided to go into a nearby bookstore and browse. It had been so long since such a luxury of time offered itself to me. I found my way into Barnes and Noble and began to thumb through several books I had been considering purchasing. An older lady passed behind me, stopped for a moment, and then remarked, “Jesus loves you, you know.”

It startled me. My mind stumbled through various responses. I was a minister. I’d grown up in the church. Did I appear to be a lost soul to her? Did it appear I needed to hear those words from her?

As I stood stunned by her statement, knowing it was true but uncertain why she said it, she smiled up at me, “Even pastors need to hear it every now and then.”

My face brightened as I responded, “Yes we do. Thank you.”

We all need a reminder as we busy ourselves and deal with all the junk  life can bring before us. Sometimes, we think only those who do not know God should be told of Jesus’ love. Where did we come up with that idea?

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to  the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.

This morning I want to remind you: Jesus loves you – every part of you. He loves your personality. He loves your mind. He loves how you laugh. He loves the color of your skin. The quirky things you do, the annoying habits, the imperfections, He loves them all. Jesus knows your name and the way you spend your day. He sees your mistakes and loves you anyway.

Jesus loves you. He loves your past, your present, and your future. His love for you is steadfast. It is unconditional. It doesn’t end. There is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less and nothing you can do to make Him love you more.

You are the apple of His eye. He adores you.

Jesus loves you. Spread the word.


Windows

Scientist at Orebro University in Sweden have compared the eyes of 428 subjects with their personality traits and have determined the possibility that the eyes are truly a “window to the soul.” Apparently, various patterns in the iris can give an indication of a person’s ability to be trusted or their need to be impulsive. They realized densely packed crypts show a more warmhearted, tender, trusting individual, and a person more likely to show compassion to others. Contraction furrows demonstrated a personality more neurotic, impulsive and likely to addiction.

There is a children’s song I learned as a pre-schooler, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see. Oh be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little eyes what you see.”

“The eyes are the windows to the soul” is actually an Old English proverb, although many attribute it to William Shakespeare. A very profound statement, there is great truth in those words, and we need to take stock in what it is saying.

To what we expose our eyes  has an impact on our relationship with God. Some people find movies that display killing and violence harmless. Pornography is easily accessible on any computer and people watch it as if it were nothing. Television shows that depict disrespect and dishonor to our spouse and parents are the norm and are actually considered “entertainment.” Photographs and books are another avenue if inappropriate and misleading.

What do your eyes see?

Maybe it is time to evaluate what you are allowing into your soul.

When the Space Shuttle Challenger broke into pieces 73 second into launch in January of 1986, there wasn’t a person who could stomach the moment. We’d all watched with excitement as Christa McAuliffe, a teacher and civilian, boarded the shuttle. The unbelievable explosion left us all staring in utter shock at our televisions, processing the realization that before our very eyes such a tragedy occurred. And then we saw it over and over again. As the days and weeks passed, we became less sensitive to the tragedy. Be careful how you desensitize your heart and soul.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the movies; I love books; and I enjoy the computer; but, I use them all wisely. Consider what you are allowing into your soul. Talk to God about it  and make the changes you need to make to insure your safety and your heart.


WWJD? Do you know?

Matthew 3:16-17, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

Do you ever wonder if God is pleased with you? What do you and I need to do to have God say those words about us?

There are times in my life when God should probably be really angry at me; others, I hope He is proud of me. Sometimes He is probably really frustrated by my inability to follow His directions; and at times, I know He feels happy for me, sad for me, and excited for me. But do you know what He is NOT for me? Worried.

Because His plans for me are good, He is not worried about the outcome. He knows how to get me where I need to go. He isn’t concerned with having to discipline me or cause me frustration. My comforts are not as important to Him as my character. Knowing this makes it much easier for me not to be anxious; but if I want to please God, what do I need to do?

The answer comes from Jesus Christ. Years ago a popular bracelet came out. People wore them. “WWJD.” The acronym meaning, “What would Jesus do?” However, the problem with the bracelets is that most people really do not know what Jesus would do because they fail to study “His ways.” If we really want to please God, then we must honor Him by understanding how Jesus lived His life and by following that example.

1. Communicate with God as He did

Mark 1:35, “And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.”

Luke 5:16, “But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” 

Luke 6:12, “And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”

2. Love unconditionally as He did

1 John 4:16, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Matthew 22:37-39″ And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

3. Forgive as He did

Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 7:2-5, “In the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Luke 17:3-4, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Think about how Christ lived His life. Pray and ask God to help you implement the same daily principles in your life. Study the Bible so that when you are faced with the decision, “What would Jesus do” you will know exactly what should be done.


We will be joyful!

We all have a need for justice. Some of the toughest times in my life are when I feel the wicked are prevailing and the righteous, God’s people, are getting the short end of the stick, so to speak. Habakkuk is feeling the same way. It’s around 605 B.C. and the Babylonians are wreaking havoc over God’s people. The prophet, Habakkuk, questions God, “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me, there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.” (Habakkuk 1:3-4)

Can you relate to what he is questioning? Do you feel a little like Habakkuk, wondering how a loving God can allow evil to prevail? Is God stuck in some kind of Godly paralysis?

There are times in life when we have to wade through our losses. It means we have to experience the grief of our hearts, release the tears of pain, work through the struggles of disappointment and shattered dreams and let the Holy Spirit teach us not only to endure but to live and heal and grow.

I love oak trees. Some of them have been around for hundreds of years and stand so proud. Their majestic beauty is overwhelming to me. To sit at the base of such a tree, under its protective shade, secure in the thickness of the trunk, reminds me of God’s word and guidance in my life. Oak trees have two kinds of root systems: surface roots (which are very fragile) and tap roots (which can dig as deep as the tree is tall). Tap roots cement the tree. They give the oak its foundation and are the reason the oak can sustain gale force winds and torrential storms. Do you know when tap roots grow the most? During times of drought because they need a source of water.

The world around you might be in chaos. You may believe your questions and problems are falling upon God’s deaf ear, but I want you to know, He’s there. It may feel like He’s on vacation or mad at you or listening to anyone but you, “But the Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)

Sometimes we have to reach a level of commitment in our walk with God which expresses to Him total devotion, even when our world is in disarray.  Habakkuk 3:17-19, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines; though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Do not fret; do not worry; God is not paralyzed; He is on the throne, knows your name, knows your need, and knows your answer. And He is on the way! He is the voice of hope in despair. He is freedom rising up in the midst of bondage. He is making a way for you to overcome and declare victory. He is God, and He is mighty.

Though you may have lost your job; though sickness may run through your family; though you may be facing foreclosure; though divorce may be knocking at your door; though your child may be in trouble; though death may have taken someone you love; though you may have been betrayed; yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will be joyful in God our Savior!