Monthly Archives: June 2014

Look UP!

Discouragement is inevitable. It isn’t about IF you will experience discouragement, it is about WHEN you will experience discouragement. Discouragement comes when what we EXPECT is different from what we EXPERIENCE.

Discouragement comes in all shapes and sizes. It does not distinguish between people who are intelligent and those that are not so intelligent; or people who are wealthy and those whose pockets are empty. It doesn’t bypass the most athletic or musically talented or most beautiful.

Discouragement is for everybody.

All of us have EXPECTED something that didn’t turn out the way we thought it should.

What do you do when discouragement creeps up on you? What do you do when you just don’t feel you are going to get “through” the day? What do you do when staying in bed seems to be the better answer?

Look UP!

God is not surprised by the struggles in our lives – He knew about them before they ever surfaced and He has already worked out an answer for you. Ask Him!

Jeremiah 32:27, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”

We all have been discouraged by people – maybe your spouse has let you down; or your son or daughter; maybe your parents or a friend or a co-worker. When we place our trust in people, we will get discouraged because they will let us down. It is human nature.

Events in our lives can discourage us too. A job offer you thought you had; the closing of your business; a rejection letter from the college of your choice; a foreclosure notice; or health issues. When we place our trust in occurrences, we will get discouraged because things do not always work-out as we planned.

Sometimes discouragements are so big, people don’t even know how we are standing; sometimes discouragements are so small, no one even notices; but, you do.

Tim Irwin in his book IMPACT writes about the false beliefs we put in our minds – those voices that we hear in our heads. He tells us “Having an early-warning system can keep false beliefs from lodging in our core.”

Discouragement is the voice inside our heads that tells us WE ARE HOPELESS.

God is the voice inside our hearts that tells us HE IS HOPE and because of HIM we are not “less” but “MORE”.

If you are feeling discouraged today, know that God is the answer.

Psalm 54:4, “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me“.

 


The expert in the room

We all would like to think we are the expert in the room. Human nature tells us we want to be right and ultimately, we have to be right in order to be “the top dog!” There is something about the voice in our heads that will not let anyone else speak; or, while someone is speaking, it is telling us just how much they are wrong and we are right! Hard to admit, but some of us think we are not only the sharpest tool in the work shed; but, we are the most righteous, as well.

The reality of this type of belief – the “I’m the smartest person in the room” or “I’m the most righteous person in the room” means several things:

  • I am the most valuable person here
  • I know what is best and I’m sticking to it
  • I am superior to all others

I’ve learned over the years, this kind of thinking is not only destructive to the one thinking it but to all those around him or her. We have to dispel this type of belief and put in its place truth. Humility comes from God as displayed in His Son, Jesus Christ. The attitude we must have is simple:

  • Every person is valuable and a contributor
  • Different perspectives are important; my opinion is not the only one
  • I must maintain the heart of a servant

God is calling us to be leaders in His Kingdom, not arrogant, abusive takers. He is calling us to serve others; to hear others; and to represent Him in the ways He taught us. Consider today how you lead others. Ask God to help you be an effective leader for His Kingdom.


Hardship exemption, please

I remember very well the day I crashed my bike. Back then, we didn’t have laws governing helmets. I don’t think anyone wore a helmet while riding a bike. The hill looked too inviting; the thrill of the wind against my face and the potential speed forced a decision that wasn’t the best for me. And as I am sure you guessed, I wrecked – hit a group of trees, tumbled down the asphalt, left half my skin in a trail of blood and pain. Feeling a tad woozy, I glanced up to see my dad running down the hill, rolling up his sleeves. He’d heard the commotion as he was leaving for church. In one swoop, he took me in his arms and ran up the hill toward home as I rested my head against his chest.

Exodus 3:7-8, “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people…and I have come down to deliver them.”

When I read this verse, I see God, running toward me, pushing up His sleeves, scooping me in His arms, and caring for me. Do you know that even before we were born, God knew the trials and struggles we would face? He already has the answers. He has already worked out the details. And He is not sitting idly by, watching.

Acts 14:22, “…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.”

No one is exempt from hardship. Difficult times come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Hardships are similar to a person jumping off a very tall building – Christian or non-Christian; good person or bad person; educated or non-educated; rich or poor; the results are all the same. He or she will splat on the concrete below.

God doesn’t pick and choose. He tells us we will all struggle so that He can refine us and mold us and make us into the people He needs us to be. But it comes with assurances. He will never forsake us. He will run to us with His sleeves rolled up, ready to fight for us, ready to care for us, ready to bring us the answer.

Cherish your relationship with our Heavenly Father who deeply and intimately loves you.


Start today fresh and new

There are times when obedience to God is overlooked. Many people have become nonchalant about the importance of following the Word of God. It’s a “if it applies to me” kind of generation; and “if it doesn’t apply to me,” or “isn’t in line with my thinking” kind of mentality. Why is it so important we obey God’s commands? Why is it so important we do what God asks us to do?

Consider Noah, his obedience to God’s direction saved the extinction of mankind. Abraham’s willingness to be faithful built nations from which we are descendants. Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Esther, Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Elizabeth, Mary and the list goes on. Jesus’ obedience to God’s plan gave us salvation. It is amazing to consider how it just takes one person’s willingness to listen, to change a world.

What about partial obedience? There are some of you who obey a portion of God’s Word but disregard the part you think is impractical or not of this culture. King Saul couldn’t agree with you more. In 1 Samuel 15, God instructed him to completely destroy the Amalikites, their livestock, and all their possessions. Saul thought it a good idea to spare the best of the sheep and cattle, and he wanted to parade the king of the Amalikites through the town. He reasoned it was good PR for him. Partial obedience is the same as disobedience; only in a different flavor. When the prophet Samuel questioned him as to his reasons, Saul assured him, he had saved the sheep and cattle to sacrifice them to God. Even if our motives are good, disobedience to God is disobedience to God.

John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

John 15:10, “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”

When obedience becomes a habit in our lives, God can trust us. God honors obedience and rewards those who obey His commands.

Revelation 2:26, “To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations…”

The question then remains, can He count on you?

Today as you go to God in prayer, ask Him for direction. Consider the actions in your life that are disobedient. Ask God’s forgiveness and help in not repeating the sin. Start today, fresh and new, walking obediently in the Word of God.


I Shall Not Want…

The other day I overheard a conversation between two women. One said to the other, “I am so grateful for my GPS. I don’t have to worry about not knowing where I’m going anymore.”

When Jesus was explaining to the disciples why He would need to leave them, He said in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” What Jesus was telling them is the Holy Spirit will come and live within us as a guide – a Godly Positioning Spirit – so that we too always know where we are going. (And you thought it was only in your car or on your cell!)

Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…”

If you’ve ever been around sheep, you know, they are not the smartest of animals. Sadly, left alone, they would not survive. Even when threatened, they lie down, unable to defend themselves. Since the Lord is my Shepherd, then I am admittedly a sheep. I don’t like to consider myself an idiot but the example is there. Without God, we are defenseless, stupid, wandering animals, just like sheep. We are like the woman I overheard talking about her GPS – completely lost without it.

Hearing God’s voice is something we must learn to do, unless of course, like Moses, we are confronted with a burning bush. But just as you read the directions and learned to work your GPS, so do you need to know how to follow the Godly Positioning Spirit within you.

1. His Word – You need to know God’s character. You have to understand how He does things: how He reacts; how He instructs; and what He expects. So, start with His Word – The Bible.

2. Situations/Circumstances – God may use situations and circumstances in our life to alert us to His voice. There are no coincidences. Believe in Divine appointments and watch carefully for opportunities.

3. Peace – There are times when we are contemplating something and we just don’t feel right about it or vice versa. Trust that voice within you directing you off the path.

4. Be a good listener – I used to hear Connie telling our kids, “Be good listeners, today!” It’s true. In order to hear God, you have to listen to what He is saying. Stop talking long enough to allow Him to speak.

God knows how to guide us but we have to choose to follow Him. Tune in to your G.P.S. today and allow Him to direct your footsteps.


No Other Before Me

Exodus 20:2-3, “‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.'”

This command is the first of the Ten Commandments. In reality, it is the basis of all actions; because, at any point when we sin, we are putting another god before Him. The command is absolute. There is no grey area or room for negotiation. When God said it, He meant.

When I was a little boy, the command seemed simple because in my mind I only associated “other gods” with bronze figures made by men. My belief was, if I did not bow down and worship a statue, I was covered… which left room to focus on the other 9 commandments. Later in life, somewhere in my teenage years, I realized “other gods” come in all shapes and forms. They are hard to determined until it is too late and they can consume your heart before you are even aware of it

“You shall have no other gods before me…”

As I am writing this blog, a familiar song is playing in the background with the lyrics, “You are the King of my heart.” As though it is answering my own question, having no other gods BEFORE HIM is simply making God the “King our hearts.” God is worthy of honor, praise, loyalty, devotion, and adoration. He is the Creator of the universe and all that is in it. NOTHING is more important than Him. NOTHING should mean more to our hearts than Him; yet, many struggle in this area.

Maybe sports have taken a higher place in your life than Him; maybe food; maybe a person or money or a movie star; maybe alcohol or drugs; maybe pornography; maybe shopping or gambling; maybe your career; whatever it is, if it comes before God, you are breaking the First Commandment.

The order in which He made the Commandments is significant. The first four deal with our relationship with Him; because, if we do not know how to love our Maker, how can we love our neighbor? When we know who is front and center in our lives, the remaining falls into place.

Today evaluate where God is on your priority list. If something has slipped in front of Him, it is time to rework your list. God put it this way, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9.


Seven Woes

At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus proclaimed 7 blessings on the righteous in Matthew 5:3-10. Many of you are familiar with this scripture. It has been called “The Sermon on the Mount” or “The Beatitude,” and it is probably the most loved section of the Bible. In His sermon, He spelled it out for those who would listen. He told what the character of the Kingdom was all about. He explains the guidelines for an ethical and righteous life.

Interestingly, we hear a great deal about the blessings but not so much about the woes. At the end of Matthew and toward the end of Jesus’ ministry on earth, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and teachers of religious law and describes their actions stating “Woe to you…” By their hypocrisy, these self-righteous individuals are keeping people out of the Kingdom of God; are condemned; and are describe by Christ as the children of Hell. What did He accuse them of doing?

Surprisingly, many of us may at times do the same things.

  • “They do not practice what they preach”
  • “Everything they do is done for men to see”
  • “They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues
  • “They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.”
  • “They clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence”
  • “They are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”
  • “They travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

Do any of these statements hit close to home for any of you?

Jesus is the antithesis of entitlement. He came to earth as a humbled servant – a giver, a doer, a sacrificial lamb, a savior. When He declared the “Seven Woes,” He was angry. He had dealt with these types of people long enough and He needed for them to know just what was in store for them.

One of the most important aspects about being a disciple of Jesus Christ is knowing how we should act but even more how we shouldn’t act.

  • It is important we never do anything to keep people from God
  • We must never act selfishly and take advantage of other people
  • Our influence on others should not mislead them
  • We should not focus on worldly things and greedily seek more.
  • Our actions should be pure and not focused on personal gratification
  • Do not oppose those who are trying to live righteously
  • The words that come from our mouths must align with our actions

Today, look at what you do. Would Jesus have spoken to you as He spoke to the Pharisees? If so, ask Him to help you live the way He wants you to live and act the way He wants you to act.