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Showing posts from November, 2018

The same or different?

Do you ever feel like the only thing that remains constant in your life is change? You are probably not alone in this impression because change is all around us. We are expected to change sometimes at the drop of a hat, while other change is gradual and kind of creeps up on us without us really noticing the change has been occurring. Change comes in all shapes and sizes - ranging from crazy, radical change to the subtle changes of age. Change is merely the process of making something that was one way to no longer have the same form. I have to ask a question here - if that 'something' was left alone, would it truly not change? Even things 'left alone' in life will change over time. There will always be influencing factors that lead to change of some sort - maybe not immediately perceptible to the naked eye, but there has been change nonetheless. What would the content of our life be like if Jesus was not an active part of the change we experience in our life? What would…

Is that a little 'grace-bud' I see?

God's sacrifice of his one and only begotten Son did not give us immediate perfection in the sense that we suddenly begin to act and think differently as we say "yes" to him - but it is a beginning point whereby our actions are molded into those that reflect the "grace work" he began by his atoning sacrifice. Growth is incremental - the changing of how we think about our sin is a step-by-step process.  We embrace grace, step into his love, and allow him to show us that forgiveness.  He does the rest.  Isn't it time that we begin to view our sins the way God does?  Once on the alter, they are done away with!  

If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God. (Romans 2:12-13 MSG)

Sometimes we just don't do …

Here, God? There, God? Where, God?

I will the first to admit that I don't always heed the revelation I have at my disposal. I know the benefits of following some course of action, but choose something completely different. I don't always see the results I wanted, though. That change in plans didn't get the same results because it wasn't the best course of action for me to take in the first place. We all want to know what comes next in life, don't we? We'd rather have 'more information' at the start of a matter because if we were totally aware of the outcome ahead of time, we'd just launch right in. Sometimes we only get hints of what is to come - not an entire disclosure! When we only get hints, we are required to operate in some element of faith by taking that course. This is where we struggle - faith isn't our strongest course of action, but it is the necessary one!

If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he revea…

Now, that's the 'real deal'

Today you will hear someone exclaim - that's the real deal - referring to something that is genuine, not fake, the real thing. Back in the day, Coca-Cola used "real-thing" to describe their soda. They were trying to establish that their 'cola' was the genuine cola - none comparing to the taste you'd find in opening a bottle of Coca-Cola. Let me just say, there is ONE "real deal" in this lifetime - it is Jesus. He is the "real thing" - the genuine article. He is not just another "thing" to be worshiped, but the only way into true and everlasting life - the 'real-deal' that connects us to God the Father. Try as some might, there is no 'counterfeit religion' that will do the same thing!

The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn't want h…

He can't back that up!

I used to watch those old swash-buckler movies where they would sword fight. The musketeers would banish all the bad scoundrels from the land and people would celebrate from being under some oppressor. There are lots of oppressive forces just seeking to keep us under their rule or domain. We are warned to be on guard against those forces. To be on guard signifies the alertness of spirit and mind that immediately recognizes anything that is not truth and rejects it as such. We are surrounded on all sides by that which is untrue - there may be elements of truth, but at the core, that which presents itself as light may not always be light! Satan is a real enemy - but he is limited in his power over the child of God. He may be the tempter, the deceiver, and the accuser of man, but his power is limited by the fact that each child of God is protected by God himself.

We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil …

What? Go Where? Now?

Ever feel like a stranger some place you are not all that familiar with? I know when I travel to another state, the highways and even how the streets are laid out are different from the ones around home, so I feel a little like a duck out of water. When I must drive those roadways, I rely a lot on my co-pilot and navigator - my BFF. She tells me to turn, merge, and where to get off (in a nice way!). We have missed exits, gone out of our way, and even been lost a few times, but we eventually get situated again. She is generous with me - giving me a little grief for missing the turn-off, but then nudging me with a little giggle that tells me it will be okay - she will help me find my way back onto the right course. I am so grateful I have someone in my life to help nudge me back on course when I get a little wayward, but I am most grateful for God's continual direction and oversight in my life. Not for one minute does he take his eyes off my course - and not one minute does he fail …

Oh, that's why!

Maybe we haven't really stopped to consider it, but God's decisions or actions don't always have to be popular or accepted by the masses to be 'right'. They just have to be 'on target' - consistent with his character, true to his Word, and always based on a bigger picture than we can appreciate with our finite view of life. Some of the time, God is blamed for things he didn't do - the results of our own actions and the consequences that we reap, for example. We somehow want to blame God because we are reaping something not very desirable at the moment, but if we are to be truthful here - he didn't determine the consequences - we did! This is all the more reason we need to consistently (and frequently) ask God to show us how to live and then to understand how those 'right actions' all add up to helping us live to the fullest.

You are right and you do right, God; your decisions are right on target. You rightly instruct us in how to live ever fa…

Slinging a little mud

Have you ever had a little mud slung your way? I don't mean the literal stuff, like when we were kids after a rain storm and some good puddles formed the best playgrounds of a lifetime. I mean the kind that comes your way in the form of words intended to belittle or berate you. The mud-slinging might come from a source you know well, or from sources you know very little about. Sometimes it comes from those with an obviously viscous intent, while others may sling it just a little bit unconsciously, not really realizing the impact of their words. Regardless of the source, it can be difficult to endure.

If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Kee…

He's got your back!

God's love is meteoric - a brilliant thing, appearing suddenly, swift in its path - but continual and on course in all respects. There is a sense of the spectacular in beholding his love. Nothing else compares to the magnificence we behold in God's love and grace. It is there exactly when we need it - no delay in his reaching out to us.  It is direct - meeting us exactly where we are. His loyalty is astronomic - enormous, exceedingly great. Loyalty is faithfulness. His faithfulness to us is greater than we can ever imagine - even in our unfaithfulness, he remains steadfastly faithful. His purpose is titanic - his aim for our lives is enormous in strength, power, and possibility. He does more than create us - he sustains us, he guards us, his back is never turned to accomplishing his purpose in us.
His verdicts are oceanic - his judgments are large, going beyond the surface of what can be seen to the inner recesses of a man's heart - looking not on what we display for all to…

I can see clearly now!

Okay, don't get me wrong, but whenever I hear someone talk about their 'chakra', I get a little creeped out. I am not at all into, nor have I explored, the Eastern religions. The 'spinning wheel' of energy points just doesn't cut it for me. The fact is - my first and only spiritual energy source is God. I have other energy sources such as the food I eat and the sleep I manage to sneak in each night. There are lots and lots of religions out there that proclaim truth - promoting some type of 'wisdom' of the ages. The fact remains - there is but ONE truth, ONE true God, and ONE way into his presence. If I want more light or illumination in my life - I turn to the one who made it!

There's nothing better than being wise, knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners. (Ecclesiastes 8:1)

There are books upon books written about finding "meaning in life". Some are clearly jus…

More than worth it!

Do you ever have a problem with discontent - the desire for more, better, different? I think we all do at times because we are human. When the drive for 'more' or 'different' is the main focus of our lives, it may be a good thing when that desire is to see more of God's grace and love worked into our lives. When that drive is directed at what we can get for ourselves, how we can make ourselves stand out a little more, or what we can do to put others down so we stand out a little bit more, that drive may not be ideal.

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 1 John 2:15-16MSG

Wanting mo…

Anew or Again?

"Do-overs" in life are rare. We 'do' something, get the results we didn't intend, then desire a 'do-over'. If we are fortunate to have an eraser on our pencil, we can erase the failed calculation from the paper, but remember - there will always be a hint of what was once written there. We are incapable of really erasing every aspect of the 'wrong' answer. In life, we are incapable of really erasing the past mistakes - although we may get a 'do-over'. It is only in God's hands that the slate is truly wiped clean. He is the one making the 'do-over' really more of a 'begin anew' instead of a 'begin again' kind of scenario!

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you're holding nothing back from him. (Psalm 32:1-2)

What does a 'do-over' really hope to accomplish? Isn't it a change in the out…

A mind wasted?

Rene Descartes said, "It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well." How many times do we use our minds as they are intended to be used? I daresay that we probably 'daydream' a little too much at times, veg out on some meaningless TV program, or lull ourselves into blissful repose by counting sheep - all use our minds, but when pursued for way too long, we might not be using our minds as well as we should. The mind is meant to be active - at least a good part of our day - but in activity that is honoring to God. It is meant to consider, concentrate, calculate, and create. It is made to prompt action and stimulate appreciation. A mind focused on self all of the time is indeed wasted - it is indeed not what God intended.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living…

You want this!

Companies do indeed invest big money into making sure that they are recognizable in the community they serve by the "brand" they have invested time, talent, and energies into creating. They flash their names and photos on billboards, run numerous commercials, wrap vehicles in their 'branding', and send out mailers advertising their product. All these efforts are aimed at one thing - getting us to notice their product and show an interest in it that rises above the interest we have for any other 'similar' product. It is kind of like what God said through Moses so many years ago - "Set yourselves apart..." God was telling us to be known by our "branding" - that which makes us uniquely different from those around us and makes people want what it is that we possess.

"Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life, because I am God, your God. Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you. I am the God who makes you holy." (Levit…

Repeat this

Bill Graham reminds us: "Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent." We find ourselves repeating these things all through life. None of us ever gets to the point we stop making mistakes - for all of us are capable of missteps. Yet, all of us are equally capable of avoiding them again because we learn from those mistakes. There are many things that 'prod us' into living wisely, growing well, so that we understand the value in being patient, or trudging headlong into something we should not overlook. Nothing 'prods' us more than the Word of God - put that Word into the mouth of a close friend who is looking out for our good and you have a double-edged sword!

The words of the wise prod us to live well. They're like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one Shepherd. (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

The words of the wise - oh, how hard it is to find those words at times. We…

Love, Walk, Keep

Hardly a week goes by without mom's gentle plea to just 'be young again' - so she'd have energy for the task at hand, or feel like she can regain some skill long since laid aside due to memory or fatigue. With each new day comes the renewal of energy stores, but what reserve we have left at the end of the day is not always the same, is it? Some of us go through life so quickly we rarely even notice that we have had two choices placed in front of us - Life and Death, Good and Evil. How have we handled these today? For those of us placing our head on the pillow at the end of the day, we'd say we embraced Life, but how about Good or Evil? What did our choices reflect today? This is a tough question - one that demands unlimited honesty if we are to truly understand our choices.

Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you Life and Good - Death and Evil. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, re…

Let it soak in deep

Have you ever wondered what power there is in a word? I know there are times I don't have to say much to find I have lifted someone's spirits, while there are opposite times when a couple of words spoken at the wrong time or with the wrong intent create a whole lot of misery. Words are quite powerful, but none so powerful as those contained within the pages of our Bible, as these were put there to set us on fire. They have a creative power - bringing to life what had once been dead. They have a convicting power - revealing what we might not even have known was there so it can be completely dealt with and removed. Words, when used as they were intended, have power - especially in the hands of a graceful and loving God!

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceive…

Two by Two by Two

Direction, condition, and focus - what do these three have to do with each other? Direction is often thought of as the path one will travel - the way we are headed. When the condition of mind, body, and spirit are well, it is much easier to follow along that course. If the condition of the mind, body, or spirit is out of alignment (not clearly focused), there will be a little drift that occurs in the direction we maintain!

Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor; keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.
(Proverbs 19:8)

Within these two sentences, two words give us direction, two describe a condition that should be met, and two reveal the focus we must maintain. The two words that give us direction are "grow" and "keep". The two that describe the condition we are to maintain are "wise" and "clear". The two indicating the focus we are to keep are "heart" and "head".
Grow - the first thing that comes to mind when…

How bright is your bulb?

For a moment, I would like us to consider "intensity".  There are words we use each and every day without really having a thorough understanding of their meaning.  When we "dig into" the meaning of a word, we often get insight into how God describes things in scripture.  Intensity if often thought of as that event or circumstance that creates some type of emotional response within us that has us "sitting on the edge of our seats", tension mounting, blood pressure rising, heart rate increasing, the mind set to respond with fight or flight.  As a matter of fact, we pay good money to go see movies that will elicit this response from us all within a two-hour window!

I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your peo…

Grace-full

Let me pose a question to each of us this morning. If we truly have invited Christ to be at the center of our lives, forsaking all other gods and 'religious pursuits', how has he change us? What has he really done in our lives since that moment we said "yes" to him? If we have really put him at the center of our lives, there should be a vast number of things we could recount, ranging from righting our priorities to removing the stubborn stain of sin in our lives. Grace has a way of changing whatever it touches - no one is left the same as they were before grace invades those long hidden and covered over areas of our their lives!

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.  (1 Peter 2:9MSG)

I know we often think we did the choosing wh…