Monthly Archives: September 2017

With You Always…

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” Isaiah 43:2.

When I was a little boy, my best friend and I loved to explore the woods behind our homes. We could go for hours climbing trees, crawling under logs, throwing rocks, and catching lizards and frogs. One Saturday morning we came up on a pack of dogs, probably about 6 to 7 –  big, small, medium sized, scrawny looking creatures. We both knew it would not be a good idea to run, and we were smart enough to know the best case scenario would be if they did not see us. My heart was pounding. My friend looked at me, back at the pack of dogs, and then up in a tree. We decided to climb the big oak until the dogs left. About 30 minutes later, the dogs were far enough away that we felt we could come down and head home.

As we walked, my friend boasted to me he really wasn’t scared at all. I echoed his words. Then we both laughed and swore we’d never tell our parents because they wouldn’t let us go into the woods again. But deep in my heart, I knew my prayer that day. I knew as I climb the tree and sat on the limbs, WHO was with me. And even though I was scared out of my mind, I knew in my heart, God would take care of us.

The significance of the verse from Isaiah is that we are never alone. It is not just that He is with us as we pass through the water; or He is with us as we pass through the rivers; or He is with us as we walk through the fire; He is with us ALWAYS.

Today, as you reflect on the Word of God, thank Him for being with you no matter what your circumstances.



2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Matthew 10:31, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

What makes you afraid? What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night? Over the years, I’ve heard many answers to those questions and I’ve answered them myself in various ways. Fear is a very real emotion and one that God is very much aware exists in our hearts.

Maybe you fear getting old; having an empty nest; getting sick; losing your job; not being accepted by others. Maybe you fear public speaking; flying on airplanes; being in crowds; losing your home; losing your money. Whatever it is, God has the answer.

Psalm 56:4, “In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 91:4-8, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

Isaiah 44:8, “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Pick any one of these verses and commit them to memory. When you are afraid, speak it aloud and claim it in your heart. Pray today about your fears and ask God to help you fight the fears within you. Seek the Word. God has a great deal to say about our fears.

Psalm 34:4, “I sought (prayed to) the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”

Isaiah 35:4, “say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.'”

I love these scriptures because I know I serve a God who cares about me and wants to protect me. What I have to do, is trust He will do what He says He will do.

New and Different

Romans 1:1, Paul writes, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God…”

Are you set apart for the gospel of God? Those words filled my mind this morning as I was reading from God’s word. The very nature of them can give us a connotation of being weird, different, strange, a nerd of sorts. Those words bring an unpopular dimension to Christianity, having to go the opposite direction of a group; having to say no to our peers; having to go against the grain of the population; having to be politically ‘incorrect.’

We’d like to imagine Christ as a popular guy; captain of the football team; good-looking; president of his class; the one everyone likes – BUT HE WASN’T! His ideas were not normal. His actions were strange and argumentative. He went against the grain and the religious establishment of His time! He included Gentiles. He spoke to Samaritans. He was an outcast of the biggest kind. I wonder if I would’ve let my kids hang out with Him!

It brings this questions to mind, “What am I willing to be for Him? How far am I willing to go to share His word?”

Paul writes, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.”

To whom are we obligated?  What about your alcoholic neighbor who continues to drink despite his wife’s efforts to get him to AA? Do you dismiss him? Do you write him off because he just doesn’t want help?

What about the kid at school who cuts himself? Is he just too weird to deal with?

What about the co-worker addicted to pornography? Is it just men-being- men or is it? Or women-being-women? Is it true ‘everybody is watching porn now’?

What about the friend who just doesn’t have time to go to church? Or the one who says ‘everyone in church is a hypocrite’?

To set yourself apart, is to make yourself a new and different being. It is defined in Romans 12 as not flowing in the current stream of cultural norms, but being resistant, swimming upstream.  God has a higher calling for us. We are asked to be different! We are asked to stir the pot! We are called to get the right word out to the people of the world, even if it means, we lose our friends in the process. We are asked to be set apart for the gospel.

Today, determine to set yourself apart, to stand up to the pressures from those you know are doing wrong against God, to say no to sin. Today, accept your responsibility in God’s Kingdom. Realize you have an obligation to His people to spread His word.

Who Holds the Victory?

There are days, and we all have them, when we do not understand life. Questions flood our minds. We carry the burdens of every day; and some of us carry even heavier burdens. Maybe it is divorce or a death of a loved one. Maybe it is a financial struggle or a health issue.

We look around at other people and often it seems their lives are good. Why me? Why am I suffering while he prospers? What did I do wrong?

Job found himself in a similar situation. Life for Job had been good. He was prosperous, well-educated, a righteous man. In fact, according to Job1:1-3, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.”

Sometimes we become complacent in our lives; in our relationship with God; in our every day activities. Sometimes we are doing everything we know to do to have the right relationship with God. Sometimes we are not living the way we should. And trials and struggles come our way. Matthew 5:45, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

It is something Jesus prepared us to have. He did not sugar-coat life. Jesus warned us of difficulties and tumultuous days.

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

At the most unexpected times, trouble and tragedy can find us. Whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, tall or short, male or female, life can deliver some rough blows.

But there is an answer in 1 John 5:4, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Whatever you are facing, know God will overcome it. Trust in Him. He alone holds the victory.

Ironed Out

Proverbs 29:11, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

Anger. It is an emotion caused when something we value has been threatened. It is inescapable. It is an emotion we all feel at some point and time in our lives. Anger is inevitable.

I heard a story once of a father who was a good golfer and had taught his young son the game as well. One afternoon he told his son to show a group of people what to do when you land in a sand trap. “Son, show them what I taught you,” he coaxed.

Without hesitation, the young boy pick up the sand wedged and hurled it up into the air like a boomerang.

You will feel anger in your lifetime repeatedly; it is what you do with that anger that matters. How we handle anger is probably one of the most important aspects of our character.

I have a friend who says, “You never really know the true character of a person until you see them handle anger. How they handle anger says a lot about who they are.”

We cannot control what other people do to us. We cannot control what they say; or how they treat us; or even how they interact with us. What we can control is how we respond when it hurts us. God does not tell us not to be angry. He tells us how to manage it in a manner that honors Him.

Talk to God today about your anger. Anger is a learned response – and if something can be learned it can also be unlearned. If you have issues with anger, it’s time to get it ironed out.

Psalms 37:8 Refrain from  anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to  evil.

Proverbs 15:18 A  hot-tempered man stirs up strife,  but he who is slow to anger quiets  contention.

Proverbs 29:22 A man of  wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much  transgression.

The Storms of Life

Life is very much like Hurricane Irma, at times. Sometimes, we face Hurricane Irma, Jose and Katia, pounding down mercilessly. I was listening to the hurricane hunters. It constantly amazes me the jobs out there and how people find them. The newscaster asked the hurricane hunters to tell us about the eye of the storm. They described the eye of the storm as actually calm for a diameter of about 20 miles. That’s hard to imagine when winds of 180 mph are surrounding and trees are breaking like toothpicks.

Having grown up in Mississippi and Alabama, I’ve experience a few hurricanes – the sound of the trees as the winds whip through the branches; the snap and fall of the branches; debris as it batters around; the rattle of the windows against the forces of the rain.

Like many of you, we have been without power – a mere inconvenience compared to the devastation the storm left for some.

I couldn’t help but think of the disciples – the wind and the rain beating down all around them in the open boat – Jesus asleep on board.

Mark 4:37-38, “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Storms, whether in our lives or physically appearing on the meteorologist’s radar, question our faith. The storms which cause us to question God’s goodness, to wonder if He really cares, to exam our beliefs. I don’t think the story of “the storm and the boat and Jesus being asleep” is about the storm at all. The disciples were scared out of their minds – they didn’t know if they were going to live or die. But that isn’t the point either.

The point of “the storm, the boat, and Jesus being asleep,” is really all about Jesus being in the boat – with them. My favorite part of the story is the part where Jesus calms the storm. But, what if He didn’t? I think I would love it just as much if He rode the storm out with them to the other side.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

When the scripture tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on Him,” it isn’t about avoiding the issues or circumstance which has us in a situation. It is about submitting to the One Who is in the boat with us. The mighty Hand which heals, restores, provides, comforts, prepares, enables, and guides. It is believing whatever comes our way, God is with us.

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:39

There will be times when God will calm the storms of our lives by the wave of His hand and other times, He will ride the storm out with us to the other side.

Whatever you are facing today, know that He is there. Not a tear falls from your face that He is not aware.

The Weapon of Choice

Have you ever thought what the flip side of victory is? Some of you may say defeat but actually it is warfare. Without a fight, there is no victory. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

When we stand firm it means we are unmovable, steadfast, and faithful. Like David who charged after Goliath, in order to experience victory, we must not give up the battle. We cannot let the enemy wear us down.

I’m a sports fan, particularly football and baseball. Like football, in order to win the game there has to be an opponent. What would it be like if our favorite team walked out on the field, threw a few passes to one another, and the coach shouts, “Alright team! Good game! Shower up!” Would you even be a fan?

Life is like football. The battles bring the victories. The question arises though, who is the enemy and what is our weapon? Since the rebellion of Satan and his dismissal from Heaven by God along with 1/3 of the angels, we have been engaged in combat. Satan’s mission? “to steal, kill, and destroy all that belongs to God and is Godly.

The weapons at your disposal? Prayer, scriptures, fasting, faith, the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit, and anointing. You are also not alone. Jesus tells us that He is our advocate and He actually prays for all believers from the time He leaves the earth until He returns, so we will stand as one against Satan. John 17:20-23, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” He is praying for you and me.

When we fight for the Lord, our labor is not in vain. Victory will come to us, as long as we do not quit. Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”     

Remember you are fighting the good fight. Today, focus on the weapons you have to defeat the enemy of your soul. Arm yourself and charge. Victory is at hand.