Monthly Archives: September 2015

Preparing for the fight

During the reign of King David, Israel was surrounded by enemies. Very much like modern-day Israel, the nations around her were thirsty for the blood of God’s people. David’s job was not easy. Being under the constant threat of war must have caused him anxiety and fear; yet, he writes in Psalm 143:5 – 7, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works, and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.”

It’s hard to imagine that the slayer of Goliath knows panic. Consider, if God had given you the power to take down a giant with a stone and a sling, wouldn’t you walk a little taller. Prance like a peacock? Stick out your chest and pound it? But even David struggled with doubt and when he did, he considered all that God had done for him in the past.

God equips us with the resources we need to defend ourselves every day, not so much against blood thirsty warriors as in David’s day, but against temptations; against financial burdens; against marital break-up; family disorder; and against sickness. See, we need the “armour of God” to defend us today just as much as David needed it to defend his people against the violence of other nations.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go,  for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8.

The weapons we fight with today have the power to demolish the strongholds of our lives. You do not have to battle it alone. You do not have to fall into the pit like others. God not only knows what you are battling but He already has a way out for you. “Show me the way I should go, Lord…I spread out my hands to you, O God.”

Someone asked me the other day, “Are you really as calm as you seem to be about life?” I’d love to answer unequivocably, “Yes!” but I am just like you. I struggle with issues just like you do. Every morning, I have to look at the beautiful sky before me as the sun rises and renew my strength in the Lord, just as King David did. Battles rage around us, no different from Israel. But how we prepare for those fights makes all the difference in the outcome. “I consider, Lord, what Your hands have done for me in my past, and I trust in You, O God, for what I need today.”

Whose slave are you?

It may sound like an odd question to you but the reality is, we can become slaves to our job, our home, our spouse, and even our children. We can become slaves to sin as well, allowing the desires of our flesh to rule over us. We may let other people or things run our lives; and before we realize what is happening, God is no longer in control of us, someone else is.

Paul writes in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” 

Because of Christ, the things that used to have a hold on us, no longer do. We do not have to be identified by our careers or our status in the community. Our identity comes when we realize that we are sinners forgiven by God. Christ set us free from the things of earth which enslave us and make us lose our focus.

When I was in my early teens, there was a group of guys that I really wanted to belong to. I tried everything to fit in with them. Before long, the way I talked, walked, and even ate reflected them. Probably some of you had a similar experience. We followed some knuckle-headed punk because we didn’t understand who we were. I am so glad that in Jesus, I don’t have to be anyone but myself. I don’t have to dress a certain way, or walk and talk a certain way. I don’t have to buy elaborate things or live in a certain type of house and drive a certain type of car.

In Jesus we are free to be the people God made us to be. Today, celebrate your freedom. Celebrate the person God made you to be.

Delight in Him

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.

The Champion

Isaiah 42:13, “The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies.”

It is very clear in the Bible that God is a warrior. Revelation 19:12-16 says, “His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood – His eyes are like blazing fire – Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword – Wow! He is one tough man of war. It isn’t really the picture of Jesus as depicted in the New Testament, is it? There is a real contradiction and at times it can confuse us, as Christians, as to how we are supposed to be.

Matthew 5:39, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” That doesn’t sound like eyes blazing…

Matthew 5:41, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” That’s not really someone whose robe is dipped in blood, huh?

Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Hmmm…it does not depict David in the Old Testament holding the head of Goliath, now does it?

There are times in our lives when God will call us into battle. Yes, He will. There are also times in our lives when God will judge and fight the battle for us. Yes, He will. The key is knowing when to fight and when to wait.

Ephesians 6:10-20, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

When we arm ourselves in the Word of God, we are ready for any battle that comes our way. We become His mighty warrior at the appropriate time and place. Sometimes the fight is about loving our enemy; and sometimes the fight is about running toward the battlefield and defending our own. Sometimes we have to battle for what is right and what is God’s; it all depends on His orders – our Commander.

Are you ready to hear God’s call to battle? Would you know it if He called? Pray today and ask God to help you be the warrior He needs for you to be – at the right time and right place.

The Key to Success

Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. It is so hard to keep a positive attitude in the midst of failure. None of us like to fail. We are judged based upon our performance. We are applauded when we win. We are paid when we are successful in our jobs.”

How do you view success and failure? Is it based on money? Gold medals? Status? Power?

Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

God knows the importance of goals. He knows that as human beings we need to have plans and desires to strive to be better people. Sometimes though, it is our failures that make us the people God wants us to be. How we handle failure is more important to God; in fact, how we handle failure may be our success.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, and an incredibly intelligent man stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We need to understand sometimes when our plans do not work out the way we wanted, it brings us closer to where God wants us.

Oral Roberts, an evangelist, used to open his sermons with, “Something good is going to happen to you today!”

All of us have expectations and when those are not met we feel weary and disappointed. But God tells us in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

If we do not give up… the key to success…the answer…

Nelson Mandela said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

Do not give up. See what the world deems as failure as your step up to what God has for you next. Rely on Him when you feel weary and know that He will deliver in His time.

The heart

I’ve said many times in sermons and writings, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more; and nothing you can do to make God love you less. He just loves you.” But you can make Him smile…

Our actions are important to God. Some view God as distant, an all-present Being who sits on a throne and glances down at His creations. Some of us want to believe God is mad at us for all we’ve done. But the reality is, God is with us.

1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Several years ago, I heard a mother as she leaned down to tie her son’s shoes, “Oh, I saw how you helped that little girl over there. I know that made God smile.” Her words made me smile!

When we love with our hearts; when we act not for our good but for God’s; when we offer our day to God, He smiles! He is thrilled with His children just as the mother in the park was when she saw her son’s kindness.

Today, make God smile. Do something not for your benefit but for His. Give Him your day.  Not only will He be blessed, but so will you.

I want to tell you something

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”

Have you ever had a relationship with someone and you brace yourself for his or her attitude toward you? You never know if he or she is mad at you or glad to be around you. It’s like checking a weather barometer. Before you get around him or her, you want to know where the gauge is on that thing.

A couple came to me for help years ago. I remember he told me before he came home from work, he called the children to assess the barometric pressure of the home. I ask him what he meant and he explained, “I needed to know how to prepare to meet my wife. Was the weather inside the home calm or was it storming like a hurricane? I had to be prepared.”

With God, we don’t have to worry. I am God’s and He is mine. It means, anytime I go to Him, He is the same. Our relationship is there. Some of us take that for granted. We think because we have a relationship with God, secured by Jesus Christ and His commitment to us on the Cross, we are good to go! Remember, it’s only the beginning. Once we’ve established we want a relationship with Him, is the moment we have to start working to grow the relationship with Him.

How often when you pray is the conversation one-sided? Do you ever stop to hear God or are you rambling on and on like that friend who pops up on your cell phone, and you grimace because you know, you won’t get a word in edgewise. Sometimes I wonder if God is whispering to us, “Take a breath! I want to tell you something.”

This morning as you go to God in prayer, stop for a moment and let Him speak to you. Clear your mind of what you want to say and let Him talk and breathe life into you.