Friday, January 25, 2013

Supernatural Strength

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1, KJV

Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the strength to finish the task? Ever felt weak - so weak that a hundred cups of coffee wouldn’t help? It seems like we all face times or even seasons when we feel like that. When we do, we need to remember the powerful words from today’s text:

“The Lord is the strength of my life.”

Those are some pretty powerful words-- words that you can bank on. Jesus has never run out of strength. In His weakest moment while being tempted in the wilderness He had the strength to stare down the devil and laugh off every temptation. That’s all well and good, but how does that help us? Well, here’s the good news, are you ready? His strength is available to us. I like what Psalm 18:32 says, “It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.”

When the Apostle Paul was going through some stuff that weakened him greatly, he turned to God and this was God’s response, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Let’s not forget that God designed us to be dependent upon Him, and that’s a good thing. Relying on the strength of God is not a sign of weakness, it is an expression of faith. God is all we need, He is more than enough, and His strength is indeed sufficient for all of us.

So lean on Him today. Call upon the name of Jesus, and see how much you can accomplish when you trust God to bring you all the strength you need.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Call of Duty

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, KJV

Believe it or not, this one verse changed the course of my life. Have you ever gotten to the point where you just said, “God, I really need some clear direction for where I’m heading and what I’m doing with my life. I really, really, really need you to speak to me.” I did, and then I read this verse.

Isn’t it amazing how God can wrap up your whole life mission and purpose and hand it to you with a bow on top with one simple phrase? That’s what He did for me with today’s text, “…fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Wow, is that it God? My whole duty can be wrapped up into two simple assignments: fear God and keep His commandments? Don’t you think that’s a staggering revelation? I’m expecting a long dissertation, and God gives me two things. They are the same two things that He gives to all of us. Fear Him and keep His commandments. So let’s talk about that.

(1) Fear God

Now that doesn’t mean fear like you have to live your whole life afraid of God, waiting from Him to drop the hammer on you. The word really just means to respect, or to have a reverence for. In other words, it’s a choice that we make to honor God, to honor His word, and to respect the things of God. It means moving past the point of being a once-a-week casual observer of Him to becoming a fully devoted follower of Him through His son Jesus everyday of your life. And trust me after thirty years of seeking after Him with my whole heart; it’s been worth every minute of it.

(2) Keep His commandments

You’d think this would be pretty easy, but a lot of people don’t know His commandments. It all starts with the Bible, the Word of God. It’s the road map for life, and the guidebook for becoming who God intended you to be. It’s all found right there in the Book. So, if you’re willing to allow God to use it for shaping and molding you, it won’t take long to see an amazing transformation of your character. But, it requires some effort on your part.  You’ve got to read it, study it, and when you come to something that slaps you across the face, you have to suck it up and do what it says.

So today, let’s remember that our call of duty requires two simple things. Fear God and keep His commandments—it’s our duty.

Friday, January 11, 2013

If You Don’t Quit - You Win!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9, NKJV

Well, here we are, it’s only the second Friday of 2013. Last year is now in the history books-- it’s over, finished, another year gone, and a new one is here. The slate is clean and it’s time for a fresh start.

Did you know that the course of this new year is more dependent upon what you do today than what you did all of last year, combined? Today is important because the decisions that you and I make today will set the stage for what 2013 will look like.

That’s why I love today’s text from Joshua. It’s a charge from God himself to be strong and of good courage as we look ahead. But in the same breath He also reminds us to not be afraid, nor dismayed at our future, because He promises that He’s never going to leave us alone.

What would be possible in 2013 if God was helping you, every day, to fulfill His vision and His purpose in your life? Just imagine what you could accomplish if everything you put your hand to prospered this year. What’s stopping you from thinking BIG, from thinking POSSIBLE, from thinking YES rather than NO, from thinking JUMP rather than STAY? Who said you can’t change? Who said you can’t accomplish great things?

Don’t even think about playing it safe this year. In Joshua’s case, it would have been much easier to stay in the desert, to maintain the status quo, but there was so much more that God had for him and the children of Israel. God had a land filled with milk and honey waiting for them if they didn’t quit, if they pushed ahead, if they really trusted God and didn’t quit before they even got started.

Listen, you can do it. Your life can be different, you can reach those goals of yours. Stop putting it off another day, another month, another year. It’s time to think bigger than you’ve ever thought before, it’s time to dream beyond where you’ve ever dreamed before. You’ve got all it takes when you’ve got God on your side. He is more than able to help, more than able to supply what you need, if you’ll believe it and receive it.

So, be strong and of good courage, don’t quit on yourself or on God. Push forward beyond the restraints of fear. You can make it, if you don’t quit-- you win!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Prince of Peace

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6, NKJV

Have you ever spent time with someone who always seems to be at peace?  I’m not talking about the lazy bum who sits around doing nothing, but the guy or gal who, in the midst of a lot of action, always carries with them a sense a peace. Have you noticed that when you are around them that you tend to chill out a bit yourself? Isn’t that an awesome feeling? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time with people who are full of peace rather than with people who are all stressed out.

That my friend is what having a relationship with Jesus brings to our lives. He is peace, and when we hang out with him His peace gets all over us. In fact, according to today’s text, He is the Prince of Peace. Man I love that about Jesus, He is the Master of Peace, the Peace Ambassador, the essence of peace in the midst of chaos.

When He arrived on the earth and His mom and dad had to turn a stable into a birthing suite the angels cried out in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  In a few days we’re going to celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior, and the one who brought peace to this earth, and peace to our lives.

I love what Jesus told his disciples just before he was to be arrested and ultimately sent to the cross:

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27, NKJV

He knew that they were going to freak out when He was arrested, beaten and then crucified. He knew that their worlds were going to be turned upside down, and He wanted them to know that in the midst of all that, they could have peace.

If that peace was available to the disciples, then that same peace is available to us. So whether you’re running through the mall looking for last minute gifts-- be at peace. If you’re driving in wild traffic, that feels like you’ve stumbled onto a Nascar track-- be at peace. If you’re at that family gathering that feels more like a cage fight than a Hallmark moment-- be at peace. Because the good news is, the Prince of Peace lives in you. He brings you a peace that the world can’t offer you.  He brings a peace that, according to Philippians 4:7, “...surpasses all understanding.”

So today let’s walk in the peace that only comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Enjoy Life, It’s Shorter Than You Think

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17 KJV

Are you enjoying your life? No really, are you? Or are you just “faking it till you make it”, with the “making it” part always just out of reach? That’s no way to live your life.

Today’s text is a great reminder that God has given us this precious gift called life and He is expecting us to enjoy it. I don’t know what’s happening around you, but it seems like I’ve run into a slew of people lately who are really fighting depression.

I want to give some advice to any of you who are struggling with depression or are just feeling down. Well, it’s time to break that cloak of depression, get happy, and start enjoying your life.

Now, understand that it may be easier said than done. But here’s the deal. It’s just a choice-- and the choice is all about where you put your hope. In this verse God is simply telling all of us to keep our hope in Him and not in things. Things come and go but God is really the only constant that we have in life. So, be happy in Him today.

Be happy that He loves you even though others don’t. Be happy that He will never leave you nor forsake you, even though others have. Be happy that He promises to supply all of your needs according to His riches rather than yours. Be happy that His grace is sufficient for you, when you feel like yours is all dried up. Be happy that He is more than enough, when you don’t feel you have enough. Be happy that you can have the mind of Christ, when yours feels fried. Be happy that His peace can be yours, when your world is in complete chaos. Be happy that He always has a plan for you, when your plans have fallen apart. Be happy that His strength is there, when yours is gone.

How is that possible? Well, it’s quite simple, just place your hope on the ONE who brought hope to this world 2,000 years ago. Jesus Christ. Today, make a decision to place all of your hope and all of your trust in Him, He is the hope of the world. Make the words of this old hymn your confession for the day. Read them slowly and let them minister to your soul:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When Darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood, supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!

I don’t know about you, but I just got happy! So let’s do it, let’s put our hope in Jesus, enjoy the day, and be happy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Heart Attack

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NKJV

What happens to you when you hear that a close friend has had a heart attack? More than likely, you are concerned and hope that your friend has been spared of any major heart damage. Because, we all know the physical struggles that a person must go through when their heart’s been damaged.

The best way for us to avoid a heart attack, and subsequent heart damage, is by doing our best to keep our hearts healthy through a healthy lifestyle and healthy choices. Today’s text is not speaking of our natural hearts-- but of our spiritual hearts. It speaks of the importance of being intentional to “keep,” or really “guard,” our spiritual hearts the same way that we do our natural ones.

Why is that so important? Well, it tells us right here in the text-- “...for out of it (our hearts) springs the issues of life.” The New Living Translation says it this way, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

I want to share with your three ways to keep your spiritual heart healthy:

(1) Eat Right

Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (NKJV) In the same way that we can’t eat junk food all the time and expect to stay healthy, we need to always be feeding on the pure and healthy Word of God.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t read other things, but just think of those other things as snacks, or a dessert, but our main course should always be the Bible.

Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.”  Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV

A daily diet of God’s word brings us spiritual strength and helps us to maintain a spiritually healthy heart.

(2) Be Forgiving

Nothing brings on a heart attack and ultimately heart damage faster than unforgiveness. People can mess with us, so we really need to diligently guard our hearts from unforgiveness. While we can’t stop people from saying things or doing things that hurt us, we can protect our hearts from it.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:25,  “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (NKJV)

So make it a point to be forgiving-- forgive quickly, and forgive often. If someone hurts you or offends you, loose them and let them go. Your heart will be thankful that you did.

(3) Exercise Through Worship

We all know the importance of exercise. Some of us are great at it, others--- and you know who you are-- are not so great at it. But again, just like we need physical exercise, we need to spiritually exercise on a regular basis. One of the best ways to engage our hearts with the Lord is through times of daily worship.

So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows.” Psalm 61:8, NKJV

This is just another reminder that every day is a good day to worship God through song. It’s a great way to keep your heart healthy.

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” (NKJV)

So let’s make today a heart healthy day, by reading God’s Word, being quick to forgive, and experiencing a bit of worship throughout the day.

Say It: “God I thank You for a strong and healthy heart. Today I will do what it takes to keep my heart in good shape, I will read Your Word, I will be quick forgive when others wrong me, and I will worship You with my whole heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Friday, November 30, 2012

Living Water

“Then you will seek me, inquire for, and require me [as a vital necessity] and find me when you search for me with all of your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13, AMP

It doesn’t seem like there is any place for “park” or even “neutral” when it comes to seeking after God. The bottom line is that it’s going to require effort--a lot of it, and it’s going to require all of your heart.

I would like you to consider whether or not you think the following statement is true:

“We’re either running to God, or we’re running from God.”

I actually believe that statement to be true and here’s why: God is at the center of everything. He is the center of our worlds, whether we acknowledge it or not. In other words, just because an atheist doesn’t believe in God-- doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. God’s existence doesn’t depend on our beliefs. God simply “is”, end of story. Now whether or not we connect our lives with Him on a daily basis is totally up to us and it’s based on our willingness of seek Him with all of our hearts. This is important because if we’re not running after God, then we’re more than likely drifting away from Him.

It reminds me of the story of the woman at the well in John chapter 4. The woman came seeking water and she found something of much greater value: Jesus. Because she found Him, she found what He called living water and she was never, ever the same. Listen to what Jesus promised her in verses 13 and 14:

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Jesus pointed to that well and told her that she’d never be satisfied with just natural water. Our souls thirst for something much more valuable, and that is a relationship with Him. He described this relationship as living water, and He said it would be inside of us, springing up every day, to give us spiritual vitality. Natural water, water that comes from the outside, is necessary to us physically. Well, so too is that living water, that springs up from within, necessary for us spiritually. It’s that living water that begins to shape us into who we will become. But it doesn’t just happen, we have to seek it, run for it, like a vital necessity. Do you know that most of us could go without food for nearly 40 days? But after just three days without water, we’d be near death.

That’s why God put this story of the woman at the well in the Bible, for us to see just how important it was to seek God above all else. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

We all need the refreshing living water that only Jesus can bring. He’s the living water that all of us seek. When we seek Him with all of our hearts, He begins to shape us into the people we were created to be. So run after Jesus today with all you’ve got and just watch what He will do.

You see our faith in Jesus Christ isn’t defined by something we do-- but by the someone we become through Him. So let’s seek that living water today!