Monthly Archives: June 2012

Daily challenges

Have you every stopped at the end of a day and wondered where it went? You look back on it and weren’t able to accomplish what you wanted to, but at the same time, can’t explain what you did that kept you from doing it. Those days happen to each of us (some of us more than others). It can be the result of a lack of planning or a lack of execution of our tasks.

Each day only has 1440 minutes in it. That’s the amount of opportunity we have to make a difference in someone else’s life every day. There are plenty of opportunities in each of our lives to be that difference to someone else, but often we are too busy to stop and help them. We may not want to get tied down or slowed down, so we tell ourselves someone else will stop and help them.

In Romans 12:9, Paul gives us 3 things we can do daily as Christians.

1. Love others

People all around you need love. They don’t just need to be told you love them, they need to be shown love. There is no greater expression of that love than giving them some of your 1440 minutes. When you part from the path you planned for that day to help someone in need or to show them you love them, it makes a huge difference to them.

I love how the New Living Translation puts it. It says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” People can tell the difference between fake and real love. Jesus showed real love. He often stopped what He was doing to spend time with people the church leaders would stay away from. Why? Because He knew they needed His love. Not a fake love, but real love. What He gave them was His time and His ear. In turn, their lives changed.

2. Hate what is wrong

Every day we are exposed to the evil of this world, but what do we do about it? On June 5, 2008, a man in New York was hit by a car while he was crossing the road. Cars slowed down to look at him as he lie there, but no one stopped and got out. People on the sidewalk watched, walked to the edge of the sidewalk, looked at him and then kept walking.

It’s easy to be angry at that, but would you or I have moved on just like the others? Every day, we see people laying in the road of life who have been hit by circumstances. Do we stop to offer help or pass by on the other side of the road. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the same thing happened. A priest and a temple assistant passed by without helping. Do not get so caught up in doing God’s work that you don’t help others because that is His work.

3. Hold on to good

Let go of the negative things in your life that weigh you down. Bad things have happened to each one of us. Those who choose to be victims, dwell on the negative experiences and allow them to dictate their future. They need someone to not look down on them because of what has happened (their fault or not). They need someone to help them back up and to encourage them. Give them something good to hold onto so they can let go of the bad.

Find the good things in life that are around you and keep your mind on them. Don’t focus on the negative. It’s easier to think negatively than positively. It is a practice that each of us can do better at. We can’t be too quick to see that bad in others. Find the good in them and build on that. If we are to win the lost, we can’t simply point out their mistakes. They will never hear the message if we do that.

Today, take time to look around you. In everything you have to do, there are others who need your help. They need you to show them the love of Christ. They need you to not only hate evil, but to do some thing about it. Then look for what is good and hold on to it. This will help you release the negativity in your life.

Here is a prayer you can pray today to help you. It is provided by Michael Moak (@Moakster on twitter) to help you accomplish these things today.

“Lord, as I begin this day let me have the wisdom to BE STILL in your presence for just five minutes so that the other 1435 minutes will have the aroma of your presence lingering over them. Allow me to have Your wisdom to make decisions that honor You and to maintain a standard of integrity, purity, and truth in all that I do. Help me to give away the love that you first gave me to someone that is desperate for it and doesn’t realize their love bank is empty. And finally, grant me favor before Your throne so that I may represent your name with excellence as well as favor before men so that I may have a platform to proclaim your glory! I ask these things in the name most powerful name of your son, Jesus Christ.” Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Living set apart

As a Christian, I have always wanted to please God with my life. I think that is the goal of most Christians. Just like any goal, it is difficult to accomplish. We cannot seclude ourselves from the world to accomplish this goal because Scripture tells us to be in the world not of it. By being in the world, we get exposed to things that are against what we believe. We get exposed to temptations. We are pressed on every side to change who we are into conforming to the things of this world.

We have to resist that. We are called to be salt and light. We are called to be set apart, but how do we do that? How can we effectively live a life for Christ while being pressured to live otherwise? That is the daily challenge that we face as believers. We have the Spirit of God living in us to empower us to live a life worthy of the call. Do we access that power daily though? For me, it’s a struggle some days.

In Romans 12, Paul gives us some insight into what we can do to live in the world, yet set apart at the same time.

1. Be a living sacrifice

This is one of the hardest things to do. I once heard that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps climbing off the altar. God has given us that free choice daily to lay down our lives, wants and desires for His. A living sacrifice means just that. Each day, I give up my agenda for His. I give up my wants for His. I give up what I desire most for what He wants.

Paul said that this living sacrifice should be devoted, consecrated and well pleasing to God. It is a form of spiritual worship that is deeper than singing songs on a Sunday in church. It is true worship when I live a life that is devoted and consecrated to what He wants me to be and do.

2. Don’t conform to this world

Daily we are pushed to conform to what others want. We are asked to go along with the flow, to be tolerant and open minded. We are told that what we believe is archaic and not in step with where the world is now. Christianity is considered outdated and should be changed to reflect our culture. That is not what God intended for us though.

If no one around you can tell that you are a Christian and that your life is different, you may have conformed to this world without even knowing. Scripture is very clear on how we are to live. We are to take up our cross daily for Christ, crucify our fleshly desires and follow after God.

3. Be transformed

We are to be changed by the entire renewal of our mind. It should have a new set of ideals and a new attitude according to Paul. He understood that to make a permanent outward change, it starts with the mind. We cannot live how God intends for us to live without having our minds changed.

We have our minds renewed daily by spending time alone with God and by reading His word. We must take that time daily to renew our mind and our spirit. We get covered with dirt and junk from being in the world day in and day out. We need that daily cleansing to keep our minds fresh for God.

Paul says if we do these three things, we will prove what is the good, perfect and acceptable will of God. We can live for Him in a world that does not know Him if we know how to. Which of these three steps can you start to work on today in order to live the life you were called to?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Prayer for our military

This is a guest post from Michael Moak who serves as an Associate Pastor at my church. He is providing us with an example of a powerful, contemplative prayer. You can follow him on Twitter @Moakster

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you this morning to invite your blessings, love, power, and presence to inhabit my home, my family, and my choices today.

However, before I continue I would like to take a moment to express the deep gratitude, humility and thankfulness that we feel for your many blessings upon this great nation.

Thank you for allowing we, the citizens of the United States of America, the privilege of living in the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you for empowering us with the knowledge and resources to build the most powerful democracy in the world and greatest military force on the face of the planet. As we celebrated Memorial Day just over a month ago we pause once again to thank you for the brave and courageous men and women that have gone before us and laid down their lives as the foundational stones that support the freedom that we now enjoy!

We thank you for the committed men and women that currently serve with faithful and tireless dedication to uphold the liberty, justice, and freedom for all that we call the “American dream”and ask you to be with them and their families today. And we thank you for the generation ahead of us that will heed the call and take up their duty to defend and serve the constitution of the United States of America!

It is those freedoms and privileges that allow us to worship in powerful religious expression. The Bible tells us in…
(Psalm 37:23 NKJV) “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”

Therefore, I know that you have ordered my steps and the steps of every other follower of Christ across planet Earth. I ask that you would grant your people favor in the areas of government offices, school campuses, and community events. Raise up a remnant that will continue to honor and proclaim your name and bring glory to your kingdom through powerful acts of service to those who need your love the most. Help us to not forget the widows, the poor, and the homeless as these are dear to your heart. Help us to raise this generation of children to love and obey your Word so they might fulfill your will for their lives!

So, once again I invite you to help me as a father to my children, a husband to my wife, and a pastor to this youth culture to represent your name with honor, integrity, and love. May this day be full of joy and laughter. We ask all these things in the mighty name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Finding Rest

Are you exhausted mentally, physically or spiritually? It’s easy to get that way. We have so much going on in our lives today that exhaustion becomes the norm for our lives. We have work, school, relationships, activities and families that require our attention 24/7. It seems we can never escape the stresses we allow ourselves to acquire.

When we finally break free from everything, our mind continues to try to solve problems, plan what’s coming next or think through our next steps. We never get a break and our bodies, minds, spirit and relationships suffer for it. That is a high price to pay for doing what we do.

God wants you to rest and recharge. He understands the pressures of this life. He set the example Himself for us by resting on the 7th day. There are some things found in scripture to help us find that rest that recharges us.

1. Hear His voice

If you are going to allow Him to lead you, you must first be able to hear His voice. Jesus often referred to himself as a shepherd and to us as sheep. He said that His sheep know His voice. That means that we need to be able to quiet all the voices and thoughts that are fighting for our attention and to listen for Him.

Psalm 95:7 says we are the flock under His care. If only we would listen to His voice. We have that ability to hear him, but we don’t make the availability. That is where we fail. Stop today to listen for his voice. He’s calling out to you to take you to a place of rest.

2. Obey His voice

Once we hear His voice, we must then obey it. It’s a two part process. We often hear God speaking to us, but we choose not to obey it because we either don’t like where He is telling us to go or we don’t think we have time to do what He is asking. We allow our minds to overrule what we heard from Him and that keeps us from the rest He promises.

Hebrews 4 talks about how the disobedience of the Israelites kept them from that rest after they left Egypt. They did not obey and did not find rest. God renews that promise of rest to us, but only if we obey His voice. That promise is contingent on us following through on our part.

3. Let Him lead you to it

In one the most quoted chapters of the Bible we find a scripture we pass over. Psalm 23:2 says that He lets me rest in peaceful meadows and He leads me beside peaceful streams. God wants to lead you to those places. He wants to be the one who takes you there. You cannot find fulfilled rest on your own.

We try to find that place through meditation, exercise or getting away. We often fail though at trying to find that rest, but it eludes us. You can get there if you allow Him to have that control to take you to those peaceful streams and quiet meadows. His desire is for you to find that rest.

If you find yourself in need of rest today, I encourage you to stop and listen to his voice. Once you have heard His voice, obey it and allow Him to lead you to that place of rest in your life. Without that rest, you will burn out and sacrifice things in your life that you hold dear. What will you do today to find that place of rest you desperately need?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Stepping out of your boat

Have you been in that place where you felt like God wanted you to do something, but were unsure? Maybe you felt the timing was off or the conditions weren’t right. God often calls us to do things in His timing, not ours. If we wait for things to be just right, we will never get them done. He is looking for obedience.

In my life, when I’ve felt that tug, I have stepped out in faith at times and done what was asked. There were other times where I missed the mark and immediately felt the regret of not doing it. I let that opportunity pass me by without acting.

In Matthew 14, Peter had an opportunity to step out in faith. His opportunity shows us three things that we can do when we are asked to step out.

1. Make sure it’s God asking

In the middle of a storm, Jesus came walking to the disciples on the water to comfort them. When they saw him coming, it scared them. Peter said, “Lord, if it’s you, ask me to join you.” When the Lord told him to come, Peter did as he was told.

Life often presents opportunities for us to step out in faith. Many of us recognize them, but won’t act without checking with God first. I’m a firm believer that it is scriptural to ask God to show you if something is His will. Gideon set mats outside his tent to test if he was hearing God. If you are unsure if God is asking you to do something, ask Him to prove it.

2. He stepped out of the boat

If we wait for the right time to step out of the boat, we will never move. When Peter got out of the boat, the waves were crashing against the boat and it was raining hard. Conditions were not ideal for him to step out. God doesn’t wait for things to be perfect to ask us to step out. It’s when we are in a storm or someone else is that we are asked to step out of the familiar and into the unknown.

A minute before Peter stepped out, he wasn’t even sure that it was Jesus who was asking. As a seasoned fisherman, he knew that his survival rate was minimal if he wasn’t able to walk on water. He took the step anyway. If your faith doesn’t defeat your logic, you will never get out of the boat. There were 11 others in the boat who listened to fear and logic. They will never know what it’s like to walk on water.

3. Stepping out doesn’t mean things will go perfectly

After getting completely out of the boat, Peter began to sink. Even in our greatest acts of faith, we still run the risk of failure. It is not one step Jesus asked Peter to make. It was multiple. Getting out of the boat was step one. We have to understand that while taking that first step is important, it’s not the last step of faith you are to make.

When Peter began to sink, he knew what to do. He called out for Jesus to help him. Jesus reached down and lifted him up. If you are sinking on step two wondering what is going on, call out for help. Jesus is there waiting to help you accomplish what He asked you to do.

What is it that God is asking you to do? If you can accomplish it on your own will and strength, it is not an act of faith. What is keeping you in the boat? Don’t let fear and logic keep you in the boat. First, make sure it is what God has asked you to do, then step out in faith.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Moving forward

Are you in that place where you would rather stay and rest where you are because it’s the easiest thing to do? I know I’ve been there. I didn’t have the strength (mentally, physically or spiritually) to move from where I was. I just wanted to give up and let the world pass me by. I didn’t care what happened. I just didn’t want to move.

That is not God’s purpose for us. Proverbs 24:16 says even though the righteous man falls seven times, he gets back up. We are not to stay down when life knocks us down. We are to get back up through His strength. We are to move forward, not backwards or in the same place.

Hebrews 11 speaks of Moses and the choice he had to make by faith to leave Egypt. It mentions 3 things he did to help him move forward.

1. He left Egypt behind

When the circumstances of your life knock you down, you carry those scars with you for the rest of your journey. They are a reminder of where you have been. You need them so you can see how far you’ve come. Don’t be afraid of the scars from your past. By allowing others to see them, it lets them know they can survive what they are enduring.

While we carry the scars with us, we need to leave the pain behind. If you continue to carry the pain with you, the wound will never heal. I don’t know that the pain fully goes away, but we have to choose not to dwell on it so we can move forward. Moses had to leave the life he lived in Egypt behind to move forward, but he used what he learned from that life to lead others.

2. He held to his purpose

God has a purpose for your life no matter what you have endured. When I lost everything in my life, I felt like I had lost my purpose. I allowed my circumstances to cloud my view of who God made me to be. I couldn’t see how God could use someone who was as broken as I was. It added to the grief that I was going through.

Moses could have lost his purpose as he left the life he knew, but he didn’t. He held to his purpose and led the Israelites out of bondage. It’s only when we’ve endured pain and suffering that we can help free those who are still bound to their pain. God uses the broken to help heal the broken. God still has a purpose for your life even if you can’t see it now.

3. He crossed the Red Sea

At a time when his back was against the wall, the Egyptian armies came to attack. There was no where for him to turn and no where to go. He prayed and asked God for help. At that moment, God parted the sea and allowed him to cross on dry land. When his enemies pursued, it sea swallowed them up.

You may feel there is no way out of your situation. You are surrounded by circumstances and problems in your life with no where to turn. Don’t give up. Ask God to do the impossible for you. He will make a way where there seems to be no way out. When you step out in faith and move forward, the sea will swallow those things that pursue you.

If you are in that place where you’ve been knocked down and don’t know what to do, don’t give up. By faith move forward and leave that place behind, know that God still has a purpose for your life and then pray that God will do the impossible in your life. He will show you which direction is forward.

What can you do today to start the process of moving forward?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Rebuilding your life

Are you in a season of rebuilding? Are you having to piece your life back together? I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to have to look at the ruins of what was your life (physical or spiritual), to pick up the pieces and to rebuild. It is a difficult task to do no matter how old you are when it happens.

When our life is destroyed by an event or series of circumstances, the easiest thing to do is to live in the ruins. Rebuilding is difficult and requires energy that we don’t have. God’s desire for you is to rebuild your life, not to give up and live in the ruins of what was your life.

Nehemiah was a man of God in the Bible who saw that Jerusalem was in ruins. There were people who were living in the ruins. Their life was difficult and they were without protection. He knew that the city needed to be rebuilt so the people could survive. Our lives are no different.

He did three things to make that happen.

1. He confessed sin

The first thing Nehemiah did in rebuilding Jerusalem was to go to God. He prayed and confessed his sins as well as those of his people. Sin in our lives separates us from God and removes us from the blessing of protection. We become an open target for those that wish to destroy us.

Sin is not the cause of a destroyed life every time (See the life of Job), but when it is, our first rule is to confess our sins to God and to change our ways. Without this step, we will end up right back where we are. I can testify in my own life that this is true.

2. He knew God’s promises

The next thing that he did was to remind God of the promises He made to His people. To know these promises, you will have to study Gods word. It is full of promises that He will keep when we do what He asks. God is faithful to his promises and will do what He said He would do.

There are books that you can buy that tell you what God’s promises are. If you are not good at research or struggle to know where to look in the Bible to find God’s promises, go out and buy one of these books. To claim a promise from God, you need to know what he said.

3. He got help

The next thing he did was to get help. When he looked at the ruins of Jerusalem, he was overwhelmed and knew he needed help. He called together a group of elders and told them what was going on and asked for there help. As they began to help him, so did more people. In time, what was in ruins was rebuilt better than before.

You didn’t build your life on your own and you cannot rebuild it on your own. You will need to be honest with people you can trust. Get wisdom from them to help you rebuild. Allow them to pray over you and to provide friendship and encouragement during the rebuilding. It won’t happen over night. It can take years, but it starts with picking up the first piece.

If your life or spiritual life is in ruins, step back and take an honest look. Are there sins that need to be confessed to God? If so, confess them and seek His help to turn from them. Do you know what God has promised you? If not, go buy a book or search the Internet for God’s promises. You will find He made a lot. Finally, find people you can trust to help you rebuild. Let them provide a covering for you while you pick up the pieces and rebuild.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized