Monthly Archives: April 2013

Guess who?

John 1:10 reads, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.” Another translation of the verse says, “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him.”

If Jesus Christ knocked on your front door this morning as you are getting ready for your day, would you recognize Him? Would a huge smile come across your face and your arms quickly wrap around His neck? What would your children do? Would they jump up and down with excitement that the Savior of the world was standing on your front porch?

How well do you really know our Savior?

When I was a kid, a popular game we played in my elementary school was called, “Guess who?” Someone would sneak up unsuspected behind another child and cover his or her eyes with hands saying, “Guess who?” Usually, the child would reach up and feel the hands that covered his or her eyes and make a guess based on the voice or the feel of the hands. I always tricked my friends by having someone else say, “Guess who?” I’d get a girl to say it so that the hands and the voice didn’t match and it was a fun way to confuse someone.

Infants know the sound of their Mama’s voice. I remember when Daniel was born. He was screaming at the top of his lungs until he heard Connie’s voice and settled down. If I’m in a dark room, and my daughter walks in and speaks, I don’t have to question who is there, I know who is there. Do you know the voice of Jesus?

John 1:11 reads, “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” He was born into the Jewish faith. He grew-up the son of a carpenter; yet, His people did not know Him. When He returned to His home town to preach to them, He was rejected. Scripture says, “they took offense of Him.” (Mark 6:1-4).

If you are uncertain what your reaction would be to Jesus on your front porch, it’s time to learn who He is. Start in the Book of John. After you have read it several times, move to Acts. Realize what Jesus says about certain aspects of life. Learn how we are to respond to people. Understand how to honor God in all things. Remember, if Jesus didn’t say it, it isn’t so. There are many people in this world putting words into Jesus’ mouth that are not correct. Be a true voice for Him. When you are finished with Acts, start in Matthew and read through the New Testament. Get to know Jesus at the most intimate level so that when He does knock on your door, you’ll know without a doubt, who He is.


Yes, No, or Wait…

Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

The other day I sat in the stands at a ballgame and found myself simply listening to the noises around me. Voices cheering; voices protesting; voices communicating; voices announcing; voices selling and buying; they ran together and blended to the point that I could not distinguish one voice from another. As I looked around, I realized the people filling the stadium seats were minuscule compared to the number of people in the world. I imagined the prayers of people floating up to our Heavenly Father; pleas for mercy; requests for forgiveness; cries for help; praise and thankfulness; and somehow, He hears them all.

I’m often asked if I believe God answers prayer. I know He does – not always in the way we wish He would answer and not always in the time frame we’ve chosen. Sometimes He says, “No” to our requests. We may understand later why He answered No or we may never understand. Sometimes He answers, “Yes!” It may take a while or it may be a quick answer. At other times, He has us “wait.” In waiting, He delivers an answer that usually makes more sense to us.

Garth Brooks wrote a song called “Unanswered Prayers.” He says, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer. Remember when you are talking with the man upstairs. Just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I’ve also experienced times when waiting was the answer. It seemed difficult to understand until when the answer was delivered, I realized if it had happened when I wanted it to happen, the outcome would not have been the same.

And then there are the wonderful times when we ask, and God answers just as we asked or maybe even better than we expected. Sometimes, He can answer our prayers beyond our wildest imaginations.

We serve a God who can hear all those voices as if He is listening one-on-one at the altar. We serve a God who can give one man a word to deliver to 1000 people and every one of those people hear a personal message, spoken directly to them. We serve a God who wants good for our lives.  I don’t know how He does it, but then again, if I knew, He wouldn’t be God, now would He?

Today, as you spend time in prayer with God, thank Him that He hears your requests. Rejoice in His power and might. Know that He hears your heart and knows what is best for you.


Time to enjoy

It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.

Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”

Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “

We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.


Running with horses

Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

Most of us want God to use us in some capacity. We want to feel valuable to society. The majority of the people I know are striving to do ‘something’ with their lives that makes an impact.

I remember in the fourth grade I didn’t do my homework. I was just coming out of a long fun summer and the routine of school and homework hadn’t quite settled in with me. My teacher walked around the room with a red pen. We were to put our math assignment on our desks and she would put a big red check on the papers that were complete. I had nothing to put on my desk. The night before, I made the decision that math homework was a waste of my time. I needed something harder.

When she came to my desk, and there was no paper, she stopped, “Michael Franklin, where is your homework assignment?”

In the most convincing argument I could muster, I answered, “It was all review. I want to work on something harder.”

She did not respond and continued on to the next row. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. After class, she instructed me to stay after school.

Sometimes God has simple task for us to do, on a regular basis, for Him. We may long for something more important; but, He wants us to do this or that faithfully and with a cheerful heart. Many of us refuse to do it. We think our time can be better utilized. We think we have a better plan.

Really?

After school, I found myself sitting in a desk waiting on my teacher. On the board was line after line of a math problem. I’d never seen such work. It was a problem in Linear Algebra, one I could easily do while studying mathematics in college, but in fourth grade, it looked like a foreign language. My teacher came into the room and asked, “Have you solved the problem?”

“No, Ma’am! I don’t even know what those symbols are!”

She pulled out her Bible and read the above scripture to me. Jeremiah 12:5. And I understood.

God is always preparing us for something just up ahead; but we can’t get there if we aren’t willing to do the steps needed to be victorious. See, God is a winner and through Him, so are we.

If you want to run with horses, then start running with men. If you want to go into other territories, then start living right in your own.


Too busy living it

Psalm 35:9, “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD and delight in his salvation.”

Take a moment today to stop and enjoy life. We are all moving on the fast track. Schedules are filled to the maximum with appointments and activities. We are so busy doing our list that we do not even realize if we actually like what we are doing.

When is the last time you stopped to notice which bird in your yard was chirping so beautiful. Do you even listen to them for any length of time? What about the stars at night, or the flowers blooming, or a butterfly passing by? When is the last time you really looked at your children? Noticed their eyes?

Time stops for no one and it is moving quickly.

Yesterday, I was running late for an appointment but as I was leaving the building, I noticed two children in a nearby park, playing.  It was their laughter that caused me to stop. I leaned up against my car and simply listened. The voices reminded me of my children many, many years ago. Oh, how I miss that sound! I can remember coming home and hearing the kids in the yard and how they would drop everything and come running toward me.

Don’t miss your life because you’re too busy living it. God created so many splendid things for us. Take the time today to really notice what is around you. Refresh yourself. Taste your food. Listen to the sounds surrounding you. Touch those you love. Rejoice in the God who gave it all to you. Fill your spirit with Him.

Today, delight in the God of your salvation.


Running on Empty

Tonight as I left the church I am privileged to serve, I noticed my gas gauge – EMPTY. If you are like me, going to the pump hurts. $3.50 a gallon isn’t fun in anybody’s wallet. As I pulled in to pump number 6, I recognized a face I hadn’t seen in a while. A young man who I used to see quite regularly at church. He tucked his head and hid behind a camouflage ball cap. I called out to him and inquired how he had been.

He smiled and shook his head, “I’m ok.”

“I haven’t seen you at church in a long time. I hope you are attending another church? I’d sure hate it if you missing out on church, ” I responded.

“No, sir. Just taking a break.”

He hurriedly finished pumping his gas and fumbled for his keys. I could tell he didn’t know where they were and he was in a panic.

“Then you are empty, aren’t you?”

He paused for a moment, “No. I just filled up.”

I went around to help him look for the keys. We looked under his truck; rechecked his pockets; in the seat; before finally, I thought, maybe he left them on the counter inside when he went in to pay. His face brighten, “I did. I remember setting them down. ” He thanked me and as I turned to go back to my car he asked, “Pastor, what did you mean by empty?”

There are consequences for ignoring God. He wants to bless us. He has a plan for our lives to prosper us and not to harm us. (Jeremiah 29:11); but some are missing out because they have chosen to ignore God; to be too busy for God; to justify their absence from God; to take for granted His goodness. How tragic to allow one’s heart to become hardened or inattentive toward God.

What about you? Is your God tank running on empty? When is the last time you prayed to God? When is the last time you read His word or worshipped Him in church? Maybe its time for you to check your gauge. You wouldn’t want to run-out.


The Leech List

How do you deal with people you just do not like? Are there certain people you purposefully avoid, duck into a corner when you see them coming? They are leeches in human form – people who literally drain the life out of others. Those who only want to talk and never listen; those whose problems are the only ones that matter and expect everyone to be in crisis with them. People who never see what they are doing wrong but always see what others are doing wrong. People who never give and only take. People who only want what you have to offer to them. That one person who literally believes the sun rises and sets on his time-table. That person who believes she is the center of the universe and everyone else revolves around her.  I bet some names of some folks are popping in your head. They are certainly popping in mine.

So, how do you ‘love’ those leeches; the ones who suck the life out of you? Does God really expect us to love them too?

Paul wrote in Romans 7:21-25, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I read a quote the other day; it said, “Forgiveness is accepting you are just like other people.” Do you know that you too get on someone’s very last nerve? Hard to imagine, but its true. So do I. While we compile our list of leeches, someone else is compiling his or her list of leeches and your name and my name is probably on their list. See, it really isn’t about us. And it really isn’t about them. It’s about our Creator and He wants us to love and cherish one another.

Jesus Christ didn’t just die for you and your tennis buddies. He didn’t hang on that cross for just me and my best friend. He didn’t accept those stripes on his back for just the athletic types. Those nails in His hands didn’t go through just for the thin and beautiful people. That crown of thorns on His head, it didn’t press into His forehead for just the educated people or the people who attend the big church on the hill. He died on that cross for every last one of us – leeches and all.

Who are you avoiding? Maybe it’s time to stop avoiding and start loving. Who are you judging? Maybe it’s time to stop pointing fingers. Who do you dodge when you see him coming? Maybe it’s time to start walking towards him and stop running.

Today, talk to God about the people you put on your leech list and while you are at it, talk to Him about how to get your name off someone else’s leech list. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made; maybe we need to learn to see people as God created them to be.