Monthly Archives: May 2013

There’s no denying Whose you are

Acts 17:28, “…in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Some time ago my son David called me. He had run into an old friend of mine and the first words out of my friend’s mouth to David were, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t Mike Franklin’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

David laughed on the phone later with me, “He actually bought me lunch anyway!”

I’m proud my son is similar to me, and I’m also proud he is the type of man I want people to relate to me. As we hung up the phone, I thought of God. God must be everything in our lives. As we go throughout the day, we need to ask Him what He thinks we should do. The decisions we face, the conflicts, our direction, the people we meet – any and everything – we need to bring before God. In actuality we should hear, “Boy, there is no denying you! If you aren’t God’s boy, I’ll buy you dinner!”

Several weeks ago I was traveling home from Serbia and I encountered a young man serving as a missionary. He hadn’t been home in two years and was feeling apprehensive about reconnecting with his family. As I listened to his story and heard not only the struggles but the miracles of his work, he told me his parents were not Christian; in fact, his entire family thought him to be a religious nut. He smiled sheepishly at me, “That is the last thing I am.”

“What?” I quizzed.

“I’m not religious. Religion predetermines what God wants me and you to do. No, God has written on my heart what He wants me to do.”

He attributed his salvation to his neighbor who was a mechanic. As a young teenager, his car broke down. He didn’t have any money so he asked his neighbor for help. The deal was, the neighbor friend would fix his car at no cost, if he would help him and listen about Jesus. “It was the best deal I ever made.”

What about you? How do people identify you? How do you want them to identify you?

In Him we live and move and have our being.”

To truly be “His” we need to pay attention in all that we do. Listen to our inner conscience and what He tells us to do.

Throughout the day today, stop and connect with God. Ask Him if there is anything He specifically wants you to do. Strive, as I am striving, to hear the words, “There’s no denying Whose you are!”

Connecting with Him

Ecclesiastes 5:1, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

The Hebrew word for guard is Sha-mar meaning to take great care of something. It means to pay close attention and to protect from intrusion. The word Sha-mar places the responsibility on self. It is our duty to guard and protect and defend.

In this scripture from Ecclesiastes, we are requested to watch ourselves carefully as we go to house of God to worship Him. Our worship must be about HIM and our minds must be fixed upon the things of God.

To honor God in worship, here are some steps you can follow to help you guard yourself:

1. Prepare for worship. Have a good mental attitude. Go before the Lord with a humble and expectant heart. Look forward to going to church or reading your Bible in the morning or meeting with God in prayer. It isn’t a chore but a privilege.

2. Prepare yourself to adore Him. Open your heart and spirit to emotionally connect with Him. It isn’t a ritual; it is an action of openness prompted by one’s self in loving expression to our Father.

3. Be prepared to concentrate. Turn off your cell-phone. Stop making mental lists of what you have to do. Stop planning and find a place in your head to focus on God, and only God.

The scripture tells us to “go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools.”

4. Approach your time of worship prepared to hear from God either through music or sermon or the Word of God. Don’t be foolish and run your mouth endlessly. One of the reasons people have a difficult time hearing from God is not because God isn’t talking, they aren’t listening!

5. Listen to God and then respond. It is so difficult to speak to someone who you know isn’t listening to you but calculating a verbal response in his or her head. When God speaks to you, listen to what He is saying.

Worship is a time to glorify God; to connect with Him; to hear His Word; and to rejoice in Him and praise His Name. Think about how you worship God. Make changes if necessary. Enjoy being in His presence for He adores hearing from you.

Are you prey?

Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around  like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. “

I used to believe it is our weaknesses that cause the most damage in our lives. The idea that evil prowls around and strikes when we are at our worst or unprotected or weaken. I have come to think differently over the years. It is not necessarily our weaknesses  but our strengths that cause the most damage. It is the areas we don’t feel we have to watch over because they are “strong.” I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard in my office, “I thought my marriage was good;” or “I guess I thought I would always be healthy. It wasn’t something I worried over;” or “He was such a good boy growing up, I would’ve never believed he could do something like this.”

Strengths. A lion waits in the tall grasslands of Africa, studying his prey as they roam unexpectedly, living life, drinking water, eating grass.

How many of you today are unaware of areas of your life because you confidently have pushed them aside as “sure things.” It isn’t your weaknesses that the enemy of your soul is after, it is your strengths. It is the areas in your life that you are not protecting. The areas you’ve left unattended.

Today evaluate who you are in Christ. Ask God to show you where you are vulnerable and start today to assure a hedge of protection.

Who or Do?

Philippians:2-4, “Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.”

Paul is writing a letter explaining the importance of where we put our confidence. Jewish people often referred to Gentiles as “dogs.” During this time period, dogs were not depicted as wonderful, man’s best friend, cuddling by the fireplace beings. No, dogs were vicious hunters and foragers. But Paul is not referencing the Gentiles as dogs but the Jewish people who believe the way to God is through circumcision. He is denouncing the idea that works, certain laws of doing, acts that distinguish Jews from Gentiles are the avenues to justification by God. The circumcision we need to be most concerned about is of the heart. He even goes further to state that if anyone should be confident in the Jewish laws of justification by God, it is him. Before Paul became a Christian, he persecuted Christians. Paul is telling us that it is not about what we do, because he has followed Jewish law perfectly, it is about who we are in Christ.

We are valuable because Jesus died for us; He paid the price for us.

It seems on a daily basis almost, I encounter someone who feels they have no value. This internal dilemma causes them to do things that either harm them or someone they love. Self-inflicted wounds, doubts, anger, addictive behavior, unreasonable reactions, and willful injury to others all stem from an untrue belief that a person has no worth. God, our Father, is saying to us, “You are so valuable to Me, I have paid the highest price possible to save you, to redeem you, to revive you, to give you a good life.”

What are you putting your confidence in?

God wants us to put our trust in Him, and Him alone. Today, thank God for making you such a valuable person. Thank Him for loving you unconditionally. Praise Him that there is nothing you can say or do to make Him love you less or love you more. Start realizing it is “WHO” you are in Christ, not what you “DO” in Christ that counts.

God doesn’t forget

Psalm 105:1-5, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done. Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and His strength;  seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced…”

Today is Memorial Day. It is a time when we remember those who fought for the freedoms we are blessed to have. It is a time to remember those who died fighting those battles for us. Unfortunately, many will spend the day boating, picnicking, shopping, swimming, or working in the yard, and never stop to reflect on the meaning of the day. Remembering is an important part of living.

Throughout the Bible, God reminds us to remember the things He has done for us; to remember His promises; to remember His victories; to remember Him. Too often, we don’t. As I was leaving the church I am honored to serve yesterday, an older gentleman stopped to shake my hand. We spoke for a moment and then he commented, “It sure is good that God doesn’t forget.”

As I was driving home, I thought of his words. God doesn’t forget what He has promised to us. He doesn’t forget the plans He has for our lives. He doesn’t forget about us either. I rejoice today that God remembers!

I wish for all of you a wonderful day with family and friends. Stop and reflect on those who have fought for our country. Remember them, their families, and their sacrifice for our freedom. What a blessing it is to live in The United States! May God bless each and every one of you.

He sees the heart

1 Samuel 16:7, “…For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Every morning I ask God to intervene in my day. I ask Him to allow me to meet with the people He wants me to meet with and divinely rearrange my schedule so that if there is someone on it that He does not want me to meet with, I won’t meet with them. I learned a long time ago from the “school of hard knocks”, sometimes the people I think I should be involved with are not who God necessarily thinks I need to interact with.

As humans we have preconceived notions and ideas. Our past experiences send out signals to our brain based on situations in our lifetime. Have you ever thought someone was just right for a particular part in your life only later to learn they were the wrong choice? We all do it. We judge a person’s appearance or their pocketbook or their education or the people they know and we base our opinions of them on these criteria; but God knows the heart of a person. He knows the inner core of a person.

Today, ask God to direct your schedule. Bring the people into your day that He needs you to see. Divinely block those He doesn’t want you to see. When we give God the controls, our relationships become much clearer and more manageable.

_______________, (fill in your name) come out!

John 11: 20-22, “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’”

This scripture comes from the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, friends of Jesus. When Lazarus became ill, the sisters sent word to Jesus to come and see him. When Jesus got the message, he waited two days before heading toward Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus. Jesus was not in a hurry; He knew what was going to happen. Martha and Mary did not.

Sometimes, all we can see is death; however, God sees a resurrection. He sees a miracle. He sees beyond the grave.

Have you ever uttered those words to God, “If you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened? Where were you God?”

Martha and Mary knew Jesus could heal their brother, that’s why they sent word to Him. Jesus however had an even bigger plan, that’s why He didn’t rush to their aid.

One of the toughest parts of faith is waiting. Maybe you are in a waiting phase even now in your life. Your heart knows God has an answer. There is a way out of the mess, the pain, and the heartache. The scriptures tell us God is with us; He is our strength; our salvation. Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the Lord  and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” But Lazarus was in the grave – for four days! And you feel a little like Lazarus.

At times I want to just shout out to Mary as she is weeping by her brother’s tomb, “Oh! Mary! Just wait…wait until you see what Jesus is going to do. Don’t cry. Your miracle is coming!”

Would she have believe me? Would she have taken me at my word?

Death comes to everyone. It doesn’t have criteria regarding social status or education or skin color. Loss is a part of living. And at times, we want to blame God for not being around to prevent it from happening. The assurance, however, that each of us have is that death could not keep Jesus down. For those who believe in Him, John 11:25-26 says, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

No matter your situation today, God isn’t late. He doesn’t need to hurry. He knows exactly what He is going to do in your life. Some of you have crawled into a death tomb and given up; but, Jesus is calling you out! _______________, (fill in your name) come out!

John 11:43, “When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”

Whatever you are dealing with today, know that God is on the way. His timing is always perfect.