Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When Life Stinks, Run to Jesus (Psalm 118)

It’s easy to be happy and rejoice when things are going great.  But it is difficult when times are tough.  True Biblical rejoicing is not dependent on circumstances.  How do you rejoice when life stinks? 

Life gets hard for all of us from time to time.  Perhaps you fought with your spouse.  Perhaps your children are giving you problems.  Perhaps it is bad news from the doctor.  So the question is applicable to all of us.  How do we rejoice when life stinks? 

Psalm 118 1-4 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”

The character of God never changes.  His goodness and His love are always there.  He will never run out of lovingkindness.  His goodness has no limits. 

He won’t get bored with me.  He won’t get distracted and forget about me.  Even though He gets sad when I sin, He will never withhold His love from me.  It endures forever.

So when life stinks – remember His goodness and His love never change.  When life stinks, I am tempted to think that either God is not good or that God doesn’t really love me.  Because if God was good, why would this bad stuff be allowed to happen?  And if God loved me; why would this bad stuff happen to me? 

Often our mindsets are that if God loves me, I should get everything I want.  We’d never really verbalize it that way but we would think that if God loves me, then I’ll have everything that is important to me.  I’ll have my health.  My kids are going to flourish.  I’m going to be able to pay all the bills.  Money won’t be a problem.  I’m going to live in comfort.  As long as all of these things are in place, I’ll know that God loves me.  Here’s the problem – God never promises any of these things.  Whether we have all these things or not, God is still good and He is still loving. 

In His goodness and in His lovingkindness, He does promise us certain things.

My always good and always loving God, promises to set me free.

Psalm 118:5

“When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.”

The idea of a spacious place is the idea of freedom.  It is the opposite of being confined.  When I was hard pressed (confined), I cried out and He brought me into a spacious place.  Cry out when you feel closed in, crushed, beat down on all sides, and Jesus will bring you to a place where you can stretch out and breathe. 

My always good and always loving God promises to walk with me.

Psalm 118:6-7

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?  The Lord is with me; he is my helper.  I look in triumph on my enemies.”

The Lord is with me.  I enjoy the very presence of God.  That means I am never truly alone.  Therefore I will not be afraid.  This verse doesn’t promise that people won’t hurt me.  They may do terrible things to me.  What He is promising is that He will be there with me through it.  He will always be with me.  He will go through life and through pain with me.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  This is a promise I can hold on to when life stinks.

Psalm 118:8-9

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”

It is better to trust in God than in people. While this may seem like common sense, how often do we actually trust in people rather than God.  We have a tendency to trust in people.  We think if we just elect the right people to government or church offices, that they will be able to go in and fix everything.  They can’t walk with you through troubles.  Why trust in them?  They can’t do for you what Jesus can.

Look at the way the Psalmist describes his struggles starting in verse 10.

Psalm 118:10-14

“All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense, he has become my salvation.”

The nations surround me.  The imagery is that the enemy has surrounded me and I am trapped.  When God got involved, He takes care of everything.  What is overwhelming for me, is nothing to God.

I was pushed back and about to fall – but the Lord is my strength.  Not Lord give me strength – He is my strength.  He lives in me.  He is strong.  I have all the strength I need.  He is my defense.  He is my salvation.   I have everything I need.

Psalm 118:15-16

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!””

Instead of despair – there is joy and praise.

The Lord’s right hand – a symbol of His power – has done mighty things.

Who has done all this?  the Lord.  Why does He do it?  because of His lovingkindness.  He can’t help Himself.  This is who He is.  He loves me so much that he raises his right hand to my defense. 

So I am not going to choose human solutions when times are tough.  I’m not going to trust in my spouse, my doctor, my president, my banker, etc.  Humans will let me down.  Instead, I am going to trust in the Lord.  I am going to trust that He is good, that He loves me, that I have His presence, and His power within me to walk through this stinky place I find myself in.

My always good and always loving God, also breaks me. 

Psalm 118:17-18

“I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.”

I will not die – God’s in the business of bringing life not death.  I will proclaim what the Lord has done – I will not hesitate in speaking about His power and His rescue. 

The Lord has chastened me but he has not given me over to death – The Lord has allowed trouble in my life.  Why would He do this?  Because what He cares about more than anything else is my relationship with Him. He recognizes that as long as I trust in myself and my strength, I will not walk in intimacy with Him.  So He allows me to get to the end of my rope, to experience brokenness, and in that place I will look to Him and find life.

In the midst of struggle, intimacy with Christ is developed.  When I’ve been through brokenness, Christ will meet me there and I will start to live.  I won’t want to go back.  I have a change of perspective. 

Don’t blame hard times on the fallen world.  Don’t think that God dropped the ball.  Sometimes, God purposely allows hard times to come into my life because He knows it will draw me closer to Him and that is what He really cares about.

When hard times come, He wants me to dive in deep with Jesus. 

My always good and always loving God, gives Christ to me.

Psalm 118:19-29

““Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.”  This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.”  (19-20)

I can’t open them myself.  God has to open them for me. 
Only the righteous are permitted to enter and worship Him.

This is the gate – not a gate but the gate.  There is only one gate into righteousness. 
(I am the way, the truth, and the life – John 14:6)

“I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.” (21)

So what is this gate?   Where is this gate?  The gate is a stone.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;” (22)

An interesting gate – a big stone.  (See Mark 12 – Jesus quotes this verse)  In Acts 4, Peter was called to account by the religious leaders as to why he healed a man and they asked under whose authority did you heal this person, and he replies:

“It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.””    (Acts 4:10-12)

There is only one gate and He is Jesus Christ and here He is in Psalm 118.

“the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us.”  (23-27a)

Jesus the “light of the world.”   (John 18:12)

With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.  (27b)

Definition of boughs – a branch of a tree.  Perhaps referring to Palm Sunday when they waived the Palm branches.

You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  (28-29)

The Psalmist ends where he started to make sure we got his main point.

It is possible to sing this song with my lips and not mean it with my heart.  The people who sang these words on Palm Sunday, two days later were shouting crucify Him.  So they believed the Psalm but rejected the man the Psalm spoke of.  The Psalm doesn’t save me, it points me to Christ.  Run to Jesus, He’s always the answer.

How do you rejoice when life stinks?  You know that God is good.  You know that God loves you.  You find your refuge in Christ.  You ask Him to meet you in that stinky place; that you might sense His presence and His power to walk through it in His grace. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What is Maundy Thursday?

Today is Maundy Thursday.  It is also sometimes known as Holy Thursday.  It commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. 

Before the Passover meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  By performing this lowly act of service, Jesus “showed them the full extent of his love.”  (John 13:1) Through his example, Jesus demonstrated how Christians are to love each other through humble service. 

During the Passover meal, Jesus took the bread and wine and asked his Father to bless it.  He broke the bread into pieces and gave it to his disciples and said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Then he took the cup of wine, shared it with his disciples and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  (Luke 22:19-20)  These events are typically referred to as the Last Supper and form the basis for what we call communion. 

What happens next?  Jesus and the eleven (Judas has already departed) go to the Garden of Gethsemane.  (John 18)  Jesus knows that what is about to happen will change all of history and yet he also knows how painful and difficult it will be. 

Jesus leaves Peter, James, and John and tells them to pray.  Jesus goes on a little farther and prays alone.  He prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)  What happens next – an angel comes to strengthen him.  (Luke 22:19-20)  In other words, the angel was God’s answer to Jesus’ first prayer.  The angel symbolizes that there is no other way but I will help you through it. 

Jesus prays again and this time he says, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 

In this second prayer, Jesus indicates that he understands that this is the only way.  He submits completely to the Father’s will.  I think by the time Jesus was done praying, he not only knew that there was no other way but he also knew that this way would succeed.  He would see a reward for his suffering.  Hebrews 12:2 says “for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross.”  Jesus was able to see beyond the present agony.  The angel had come to strengthen him and to clarify and confirm the coming joy.

Philippians 2:9 says, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross.”

What if Jesus had not been obedient to death?  If Jesus hadn’t been perfectly obedient, then when he died, he would have stayed dead.  There would have been no resurrection, no salvation, and no hope for the future.  Even one sin on Jesus’ part would have ruined the entire plan.  He needed to be the sinless lamb of God – that was the only way he could take away the sin of the world and satisfy God’s wrath for us.  Knowing this, is why he prayed as fervently and earnestly as he did.  He prayed with such intensity that he sweat great drops of blood.  Every hope of the gospel rested on his being able to be obedient unto death. 

So today is Maundy Thursday.  Go through your day and meditate on the importance that this day played not only in Biblical history but in your salvation and hope for the future.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping your passion for God alive: A look at Psalm 145

I wrote last week about Passionately Pursuing Jesus.  So exactly what do you do to help keep that passion alive day by day.

Praise God every day.

Psalm 145:1-2  “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.”

David praised God every day and he made a vow to do that forever.  How about you?  Do you take the time to praise God every day?  What is something you praised Him for today?

Recognize the greatness of God.

Psalm 145:3  “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

David acknowledged that God’s greatness was beyond comprehension.  He didn’t minimize who God was and what He could do.  What about you?  Do you recognize His greatness?  How have you seen His greatness exhibited?

Tells others what God has done.

Psalm 145:4-6 “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.”

David was committed to telling others about what God had done.  He encourages us to do the same.  When is the last time you shared with someone what God has done in your life?  Take a step of faith and try it.  Share an answer to prayer, guidance you have received, a problem that was solved, etc..

Meditate on God’s majesty and works.

Psalm 145:5 “I will meditate on your wonderful works.”

Have you done this recently?  Have you stopped and looked around you and observed God’s majesty in creation?  Find something today that you can meditate on that demonstrates His majesty.

Celebrate God’s character.

Psalm 145:7-9 “They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.  The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

Psalm 145:17 “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.”

David celebrated God’s character.  Think about who God is.  Pick an attribute of God that you can celebrate today.

  • God is omnipotent. (all-powerful)
  • God is omnipresent. (ever-present)
  • God is omniscient. (all-knowing)
  • God is sovereign.  (in control)
  • God is holy.
  • God is absolute truth.
  • God is righteous.
  • God is just.
  • God is merciful.
  • God is love.
  • God is faithful.
  • God is immutable. (never changes)

Give thanks.

Psalm 145:10 “All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.”

David understood the importance of giving thanks consistently.  Paul writes for us in
1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

What is one thing that you can thank God for today?

Trust God to meet your needs. 

Psalm 145:14-16  “The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

David understood that only God can meet our needs.  Too many times we look to other people to meet our needs and we forget that it is God who sustains us.  It is God who raises us up when we are down.  God gives us what we need when we need it.  When we depend on others to meet our needs, we open ourselves up to disappointment, discouragement, and frustration.

How has God met your needs recently?  Think about it and then praise Him for it.

Call on God.

Psalm 145:18 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

David never stopped crying out to God.  He sought God for help, comfort, strength, justice, etc.  When we stop calling on Him, we begin to feel like He is distant and uninvolved in our lives.  He only gets involved as we ask Him to.  He is always as close to us as a prayer. 

Why don’t you call on God? Is there anything getting in the way your relationship with God?  Ask God to show you what that might be.  Then cry out to God and ask for his help, love, mercy, strength.

Fear God.

Psalm 145:19 “He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”

David understood the importance of fearing God.  I think this is lost in our culture today.  Too many of us bring God down on our own level and treat him too casually.  David understood that he needed to have a healthy reverence for God.  This is the creator of the universe that you are in a relationship with.  He is not to be treated lightly.  The more we fear God, the more our desires will line up with His will.

Do you fear God?  Do you understand who He is?  Go back and review the list of attributes and meditate on who God is.  What is one way you can demonstrate to God your fear of Him?

Love God.

Psalm 145:20 “The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”

What is the greatest commandment? 

Matthew 22:36-38 ““Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Do you truly love God?  Do you love Him more today than you did a year ago?  Do you seek Him above anything else?  Do you wake up in the morning and recognize His presence with you?  Do you ask Him to go with you through every moment of your day? 

Thoughts on the movie–Heaven is for real

I want to start this post by saying that I have not seen this movie.  I have read some articles about the content of the movie and seen some commercials and so my post is based on that information.

This is the story of Colton Burpo, whose parents believe he visited heaven when he was four years old.  His appendix burst and it was believed that he died during surgery and was then brought back to life.  His descriptions of heaven are what you would expect from a child’s imagination.  There is nothing particularly spectacular about his trip to heaven. 

I think stories like this give people a wrong perspective of heaven.  People are interested in afterlife experiences because no one really wants to think that this life is all there really is.  However,  a wrong perspective does a lot of damage.  It leaves people confused, full of false hope, and teaches bad doctrine. 

Books and movies like this leave out the idea of the glory of God.  They talk about feeling at peace, feeling happy, having fun, and being enlightened.  They really glorify themselves and their experience but they leave out God’s glory and that is what is truly important about heaven.  It is true that there will not be any sin or sorrow in heaven.  It is true that it will be a place full of peace and grace.  It is also true that heaven is beyond what the mortal mind can actually conceive and understand.  What will capture our attention will be the majesty of the King of kings.  When we stand before Him, we will realize how unworthy we are. 

John 3:13 says “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.”   And John 1:18 says “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

I believe the Bible to be completely accurate and true and so I have no choice when it comes to whether I believe accounts like these of people visiting heaven.  They simply cannot possibly be true.

Four Biblical authors had visions of heaven - Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and John.  Three of these men wrote about what they saw and the details they gave were sparse.  Why – because it was indescribable in human terms.  They all spoke of God’s glory and of their own shame in the presence of such glory.  (Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and 10, and Revelation 4-6) 

It is appropriate for Christians to fix their hearts on heaven.  Colossians 3:1-2 tells us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.  Philippians 3:20 tells us that our citizenship is in heaven.  And so such a perspective is a part of our faith.  However, we are not to obsess over what heaven is like.  People who fill their minds with stories about near death experiences have not truly set their minds on things above.  The Bible is the truth that God has given us to pattern our lives after.  He has revealed to us all that we need to know in His book.  That is what should grip our hearts and minds.  It is dangerous to listen to anyone who claims to know more about God and heaven that what God has revealed to us in His word.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Passionately Pursuing Jesus

I have a desire, an inner yearning, to know Christ.  This desire is an intense strong passionate desire to know Him and love Him with everything that I am and everything that I have.  This desire has recently been intensified. 

I think I can finally relate with David when he wrote in Psalm 42  “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.

It is easy to relax in our Christian life – to get lazy, complacent, even weary.  Sometimes God allows things in your life to shake you up and get you back on track. 

Hebrews 11:6 says “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”   We have the responsibility to do the seeking.

God has pursued me since the beginning of time.  It is my turn to pursue Him and not halfway but completely and passionately.

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Ephesians 1:4-6  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

He is worth pursuing.  He is the ultimate treasure.  He is the “pearl of great price”.  (Matthew 13:45-46)  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  I am pursuing Jesus because He is perfect and I am far from that standard.  I’m like the young apprentice who is sitting at the feet of the master.  Yearning to learn all I can from the One who knows it all.  Not to pursue Christ in this way is to say I don’t trust His power, His strength, His wisdom, His strength. 

He created me to pursue Him.  It is in pursuing Jesus that I get to know Him.  Knowing Christ is a value that surpasses everything else.  I was created to love the Lord with my whole heart, mind, soul, and body.  I was made to enjoy intimate fellowship with Him forever.

Psalm 27:4  “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

Pursuing anything/anyone else is worthless.

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Philippians 3:7-9  “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

I thought I was doing fine.  I was having my devotional and prayer time.  I was teaching Sunday school and singing in the choir. I was intellectually learning some things about God and I was writing this blog.  What God revealed to me was that I had a pride in my spiritual activities and I wasn’t truly hungering and thirsting for Him.  I wasn’t passionate about knowing and loving Him better every day.  Isaiah 64:6 talks about all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags.  There is nothing we can do in our own strength that is pleasing to Him. 

I encourage you, do a spiritual inventory of your life.  Are you truly seeking and loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul?  Do you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think about is talking to God?  Does your mind stay on Him all day long?  It is in that staying that you find peace and rest. Do you continually rejoice in the Lord?  Do you give thanks in all things?  Are you content in all circumstances?  Do you really live like you trust God with everything? 

(Side note – it doesn’t say to rejoice in everything.  It says to rejoice in the Lord.  Circumstances can stink and you can still be content and rejoice in the Lord – rejoice in His love, faithfulness, power, etc.)

Forget what is in your past and determine today to seek God.  As imperfect as we are, it is God who is at work in us to will and to work according to His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

As we are approaching the Easter season let me remind you that Jesus loved us so much that He willingly allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for our sin and then He rose again.  Why would He do that … because He loves us that much.  How else should we respond to that kind of love other than pursuing Him with everything we have?



A.W. Tozer said it this way in his book “The Pursuit of God”.

“How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of 'accepting' Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.”

"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too easily satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart"

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Praying that God will break my heart

I believe that I have several spiritual gifts.  I know I have the gifts of administration, teaching, and faith.  I know that I do not have the gift of evangelism.  I always get nervous.  My palms getting sweaty and I stumble over my words.  I know this because I’ve tried sharing my faith with others. 

It may surprise you to know that when I got out of college I spent two years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.  I got nervous every time I went out to share my faith one-on-one with another person.  I would rather teach to a crowd of people then talk to one other person about Christ.  So, does the fact that it isn’t my spiritual gift excuse me from it being my obligation to share? 

No.  In fact, statistics show that only about 5% of all Christians feel like they have the gift of evangelism.  What if the other 95% of us never told anyone else about Jesus? 

I would say that non-Christians are just as uptight about evangelism as Christians.  Why?  Because we don’t do it very well.  We are unnecessarily offensive, lame, and generally inept at communicating our faith to others.  So does that mean we shouldn’t share – no.  It means we should learn how to communicate our faith better and then practice. 

Not to share the gospel is sin – a sin of omission.  We need to see people the way God sees them.  People who don’t know Jesus are going to hell and will be eternally separated from God.  That should break our hearts. 

We need to share the good news about Christ in the best way we can but we also need to understand that success isn’t measured in how many people “pray the prayer” with us.  It’s not about a scorecard.  It’s not about you (or me), it’s about Jesus.  Our responsibility is to share and leave the results from that sharing up to God. 

Success is being obedient to Jesus’ words to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”  The moment we share with someone else about the love of God, we are obedient (and successful).

There’s a quote I heard that goes like this - “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.”  And so it is tempting to take the easy road and believe that words are not necessary… that our lives will speak for themselves.

While it is true that we should live out our faith, our actions aren’t enough by themselves.  We need to be living out our faith because it gives credibility to our words but we need the words to explain our actions. 

1 Peter 3:15 challenges us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 

Our lives show others the hope that we have but our words explain it and offer it to them.  It takes both.

If you find sharing your faith difficult, pray that God would break your heart for the lost.  As your heart becomes broken, you will start to see people the way God sees them.  Lost and in need of a Savior. 

Remember that I write about what God is teaching me.  Writing helps clear my head and often helps me more clearly understand what God is teaching me and where He is leading me.  So, know that this is my weak area and I am praying that God will break my heart.  Will you join me?


“Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””  Matthew 9:37-38

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes”  Romans 1:16

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”     Acts 1:8

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, April 7, 2014


I think I’ve learned a lot in the last month or so about giving thanks in all circumstances.  It is tough times in our lives that produce growth. 

When you find yourself in difficult circumstances, it is important not to focus on the situation.  If you do, you will find your mind becomes darkened.  You start to take for granted God’s love, goodness, grace, salvation, etc…  You look at everything that is wrong in your life and start to refuse to enjoy life until those things are “fixed”.

When you are in this darkened place, it is easy for the enemy to attack you.  It is also easier for you to believe the lies.  So what is the solution – rejoicing and thanksgiving. 

Circumstances are irrelevant in your spiritual life.  You live for Him and so be content in whatever circumstances you find yourself.  You know that God designed you before the foundation of the world.  Time doesn’t exist for God.  He already knew everything that you were going to go through when you were born.  His everlasting love is at work in every event in your life.  So wherever you find yourself, be who you are, live in that moment, and do it all for the glory of God.  Life is lived for Him, to Him, through Him, with Him, and about Him.  Everything is about Jesus.  So what is left …  rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.  Why – because He is big enough, strong enough, perfect enough, wise enough, lovely enough, sustaining enough in every circumstance.

Approach Him with thanksgiving.  Some days will flow smooth and others will be a mess.  When you are struggling, seek His face.  Talk with Jesus about what you are experiencing.  Be honest - He already knows what your are thinking and feeling.

God’s agenda is to make you more like Jesus and He will do what He needs to do to bring about this transformation.  He loves you – trust Him.  He is good.  He is sovereign.  He is committed to whatever is best for you.

Rest in His goodness.  Trust His character.  His grace is sufficient for you.  He is in complete control. 

Rejoice – The God that created the universe loves you, cares for you, and walks with you through every circumstance in your life.


Philippians 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:10

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pure in heart

Matthew 5:8   “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

When Jesus spoke about being “pure in heart”, he was talking about what goes on inside a person.  This not only means doing the right thing but doing the right things for the right reasons.  It involves your motives. 

God wants us to be real.  He wants us to love others because He loved us. He wants us to serve others, because He served us.  He wants us to take care of each other, because He takes care of us.  We should never do any of these things out of a selfish motive.  It’s never to be for what we can get out of it.

It is important to understand that Jesus didn’t say blessed are the people who have pure hearts. If he had, none of us would be included.  Jeremiah said “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”  (Jeremiah. 17:9)

I think we should take what Jesus is saying here and put it with what David said in Psalm 51:10.  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.”  We all have impurity in our hearts that only God can cleanse. 

So in order to be pure in heart, we need to seek to live a holy life.  We need to pursue God.  We need to put aside all the things the world offers and fall more in love with our Savior.  Loving Jesus with our whole heart will lead to internal motivations that desire to please Him in every way.

Two more verses come to mind.

“as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”   Proverbs 23:7 

“take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 

Perhaps we need to take an inventory of our lives and see if there are things we are doing or people we are spending time with that cause our mind not to be obedient to Christ or that lead us down a path the encourages sin.  If so, be careful.  Your actions will follow your heart.

When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are cleansed in our heart.  Our sins are forgiven and we have peace with God.  But that is just the beginning.  We need to move on from there and keep our hearts cleansed and pure.  Ask God to search your heart and to reveal anything that interferes with your heart being pure.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”   Psalm 139 :23 – 24