Vote

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

I have voted. Have you?

Sometimes we can get caught up in the politics of the moment – the he did this and she said this – I don’t like this Party because…that Party stands for… that we spend a great deal of time arguing, debating, turning red in the face, posting, deleting, unfriending…you get the picture. 

The reality is I am given the amazing privilege to vote – to cast one vote – for the person I believe I am most closely aligned in character, values, and views. You get one vote as well for all the same reasons. We are equal – one vote to one vote. All the stomping and chanting and whatever else doesn’t change the fact my opinion = your opinion, whether they are the same or different. 

The important steps to voting begin with prayer. Pray for those in authority; for those who are running; and for those who are voting. We are called to pray for “peaceful and quiet” lives. That is what God wants for us. 

There are times I have no clue what to pray about for those in authority; but, I pray for them anyway. Under the Hand of God, we are good. Don’t ever forget that. No matter who wins tomorrow – we are better than good – because we have the blessings of God on, in, through, and working for us. 

Please exercise the privilege you have received to vote. Then, let God do the rest. Whatever the outcome, you have done your part. 


Discouragement is for everybody

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”.


Whatever He Says

John 2:1-7, “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.”

I love the miracles of Jesus. Of all of them, this is probably my favorite because it says so much for us today. When Mary goes to Jesus with the dilemma, she instructs the servants to do whatever He tells them to do. Think about that for a moment. These are not Mary’s servants. They do not know who Jesus is or what He is capable of doing; and yet, their hearts are willing to do whatever He tells them to do.

There are some stone water jars nearby used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. These are not small jars when you consider they are capable of holding 20 to 30 gallons of water. That’s heavy. When He tells them to fill the stone jars with water, the servants filled them to the brim.

Some of you are looking for God to move in your life miraculously. Maybe you need healing or an answer to a financial problem or help with your children. Maybe your home is near foreclosure or in foreclosure. Maybe your business is going under or you need money for an education or you lost your job. Whatever the issue, whatever the need, are you filling your stone jars to the brim? When I think about these servants, I realize, Jesus didn’t tell them how much water to put in the stone jars. Some of you would probably only put 1/4 of the way full; some of you, only 1/2. But they went the extra mile and filled it to the brim.

I know I’m speaking to someone out there, God has asked you to do something very specific but you aren’t doing it. If the servants had not filled the stone jars with water, there wouldn’t be wine. Jesus needed them to do something so He would do something.

There have been times in my life when God has instructed me to do something and I really didn’t understand at all why He would asked me to do that; but I did it anyway. I filled my stone jars to the brim and received His blessing.

I want to encourage you today to listen to what God is instructing you to do. You can hear Him through prayer, the Bible, the peace within you, through others, or some other way. God is limitless. Do what He is telling you to do!

I recently visited a friend in the hospital. He told me God had been telling him to lose 50 pounds for over a year and he didn’t do it. Now he faced by-pass surgery and his physician told him if he didn’t lose 50 pounds he was going to die. Through tears he explained he knew God wanted him to do a particular thing for the Kingdom. We prayed together and as I left the hospital he asked me, “Do you think God will give me the chance this time to do what He asked me to do?”

Don’t miss your miracle because you are too stubborn or too frustrated or too unwilling or too whatever to fill your stone jars to the brim. Your miracle awaits. Don’t lose your chance.


Is God different today?

2 Kings 6:6-7, “‘The man of God asked, ‘Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there and made the iron float. ‘Lift it out,’ he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it.”

A servant of Elisha the prophet borrowed an ax so that he could cut down trees near the Jordan River to build a place for the company of prophets to live. Elisha is there helping. Suddenly, the ax head separates from the handle and falls into the river. You know as well as I know that the ax head sank pretty quickly to the bottom of the river. We can assume it was in a very deep part of the river or he wouldn’t have been so despondent.

In the days of Elisha, there wasn’t a Lowes or Home Depot in every city. So, the man knew to replace the ax head would not be an easy task. He was deeply troubled because the ax was a valuable tool, and it was not his but belonged to someone else.

Elisha cuts a branch from a nearby tree and throws it where the man indicated the ax head sunk. God defies gravity, and the ax head becomes visible so that the man can reach it.

Is God different today in our modern world? Can He still defy gravity and make ax heads float? What does Elisha have that we don’t have?

Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “He is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Luke 18:27 reads, “Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with man is possible with God.’”

Elisha was an ordinary man with extraordinary faith. He took God at His word. Because of it, he did miraculous things to glorify our Father’s name.

Believe today that God can do the impossible in your life. Believe today your God can defy gravity to help you.


He Will Deliver You!

Deuteronomy 7:21 -23, “Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. 22 The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. 23 But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed.”

At the time of the writing of this scripture, the Israelites are threatened by many nations: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – seven nations who are much larger and stronger than they are.  Some of you may say, “That sounds like my life right now. I feel like I’m being hit from all sides.” And some of you are under great fire right now.

Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God For me, this is the most powerful part of this scripture and our lives. Acknowledge and accept that the power with you is our great and awesome God. You are not alone in your problems. You will not be fighting this battle alone. God has a solution. He has a plan. He is rolling up His sleeves. You have no reason to fear. God is near.

You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once – This is the tough part of the scripture. Even though God could flick His fingers and everything would go away, He doesn’t. Because He knows what is up ahead. Something far worse. Something that will harm His plan. Something that needs readjusting. Whatever the reason, He isn’t going to wipe out all your trials at once; because He sees a better way.

or the wild animals will multiply around you – God knows that if He just flicks His finger and destroys seven nations, a greater problem awaits the Israelites. The wild animals will multiply and the Israelites will be overcome by them. Sometimes we just want an answer. We want God to take it all away. What we don’t realize is a bigger trial is lurking on the outside we don’t know about yet; but God does. I’m sure the Israelites just want their enemies to ‘GO AWAY’! They aren’t thinking about the wild animals around them because at the time, the wild animals are of little concern. There is enough population to keep them away. God doesn’t do anything haphazardly. He sees the whole picture not just the part we are in.

But the Lord your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed – Understand that God sees you. He knows you exist. He knows your pain, your problems, your dilemmas. He has not forgotten you. He may need to take care of things a little by little; but, He will deliver you.

I want to encourage you, God has heard your cries at night. He sees the problems you face and He knows the outcome. He is preparing the way for you, little by little.


Greater than any Power in the World

The unexpected. There is no way to get around it. You’re running late for work – the car doesn’t start. You have family photos in the morning – your four-year-old cuts all her hair off. The phone call comes in the middle of the night – a loved one is sick. Your boss calls you in his office – you lose your job. You visit the doctor thinking your health is good – you learn about cancer. The unexpected, lurking, slithering across the floor, pouncing when you are not looking times.

Life is a journey of twist and turns and blind drives. Yesterday an unexpected happened in my life and I find myself on a plane leaving the country. How do you handle when life throws a curve ball?

John 16:12, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you…”

The unexpected leaves us guessing where to take the next step; but He will guide you.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.” – Ephesians 6:12.

There are times when our ‘unexpected’ is a spiritual attack against us. We need to understand the rules of engagement. See, God does not want us to be troubled. We hold an incredible weapon – prayer and God’s word. It is not about what is happening to you that concerns God; it’s what’s happening in you and how you respond.

Three things to remember when the unexpected hits your life:

1. Thank God that He is with you. Praise Him that the solution is on its way or that He will give you grace to endure. Know God is not surprised by the unexpected; He’s many steps ahead; He will see you through it.

2. Use your authority. The blood of Jesus Christ gives you the privilege to petition God to deliver you. Exercise your faith. Push those doubts aside. Walk boldly, knowing you carry the sword of the Spirit – His Word.

3. Use your weapons. Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon forged against you will prevail.” You have insight and discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit – use it.

1 John 4:4 tells us that with Jesus, living in us, we are greater than any power at work in this world.  Don’t let your unexpecteds throw you off-balance. Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t give up and don’t give in.


Absolute Love

Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” 

When I first read this scripture, probably 40 years ago in Sunday School, my first thought was, “Luke must’ve gotten it wrong! Jesus didn’t say that!” How can the Son of God, who commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), who tells us the greatest of all commandments is to love one another (Matthew 22:37-39), who tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), say such a thing? You mean I have to hate my dad and mom? My sister? Hate myself?

As I’ve grown older and a little wiser, I have learned what Jesus was describing, what He expected from disciples; and it is no easy walk. Love to Christ is absolute. The definition of absolute according to Merriam-Webster reads, “A value or principle regarded as universally valid or viewed without relation to other things.” If you think of it in terms of absolutes and opposites, love for Him is absolute, and therefore every other love in comparison is hatred. Our love for HIm is to be absolute.  When it is, no other love even comes close in comparison – not love for a person, a car, a pet, a career, a hobby, a home; nothing should compare. The love we have for our wife or husband, our children, our parents, and our siblings is secondary when ranked next to what He expects from us if we are His disciples.

Like most things, it is easier for us to think of victory, Christ resurrected. I remember reading to my children the scriptures regarding the Cross and the crucifixion. One of them yelled out, “Daddy, just get to the resurrection!” Aren’t we all a little like that? The crucifixion is messy. It is horrific and grueling. It turns our stomach. The pain He endured is incomprehensible. We just want to get to the part that saves us. The part that tells us we are going to Heaven. The part where Christ wins! Just skip the other, particularly when it tells me I have to be totally sold out, absolutely in love with Christ.

Christ longs for us to understand the requirements of being a disciple.  That is why He clearly articulates the need for absolute love for Christ.  “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Hold on, I have to carry a cross?  Yeap.  And part of that cross is placing Christ on the throne of our hearts, making Him such a priority that everything else pales into insignificance.

It is a higher calling to be a disciple of Christ, a calling that requires suffering at times; a calling that requires disobedience to acts of government that go against the teachings of God. A sold out heart worships God, “Lion’s den or no lion’s den,” to summarize Daniel’s words. Saying “no” to political correctness; to peer pressure; to cultural acts contrary to God’s law. How would you respond if you were outside the safety of the United States. We read and study the word, worship and praise God, and walk safely in the assurance of religious freedom; but would we seek Him fervently in China? In Iran? In areas of the world where worshipping God is a death sentence? Are we praying for God to bring peace and prosperity to our nation, to our world, while refusing to allow God to bring it through us? Are we the disciples Christ has called us to be?

If you take the word Christian and remove the letters CHRIST, you are left with IAN – an acronym for I AM NOTHING. Without Christ, we are nothing, simply beings, living and breathing the goodness of God with no regard for Him.

Christian discipleship is about walking with Jesus; carrying the cross you are asked to bear; loving one another; and being committed wholeheartedly to Him.