Monthly Archives: November 2016

Being Thankful

I’m taking a break from writing this week, but want to give you a scripture each day to think about as we head into Thanksgiving and kick off the Christmas season

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Psalms 100:4-5 NLT

What can you do today to show God that you appreciate Him?

Take a few minutes to thank God for the things He’s done.

Brian Tracy’s “Law of Thanksgiving” says, “The more you give thanks, the more you have to be thankful for.”

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The Holy Spirit


If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit plays an important role in your life. He was a gift provided to us from Jesus to help us live the life we are called to live. Because the Holy Spirit is the least understood part of the God-head, many Christians tend to be afraid of it. My pastor says, “The Holy Spirit isn’t weird. People are weird.” Because of how the Holy Spirit has been represented by so many through the years, we tend to shy away from talking about it or incorporating His gifts into our lives.

Because of that, I believe so many of us are missing out on the fullness of the life that God has for us. Today, I want to bring scriptures in the Bible that describe the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives. The New Testament is full of verses to help us understand and incorporate this integral part of our Christian walk. My hope is that each of us will live our lives to the fullest through the Holy Spirit as we know Him and His role in our lives.

1. But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth.
Acts 1:8 AMPC

2. The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.
John 14:26 GNT

3. But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
Jude 1:20-21 MSG

4. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
Romans 8:26 NLT

5. We have not received this world’s spirit; instead, we have received the Spirit sent by God, so that we may know all that God has given us. So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, as we explain spiritual truths to those who have the Spirit. Whoever does not have the Spirit cannot receive the gifts that come from God’s Spirit. Such a person really does not understand them, and they seem to be nonsense, because their value can be judged only on a spiritual basis.
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 GNT

6. “For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]. So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit].
Romans 8:3-4 AMPC

7. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Galatians 5:16 NLT

8. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
1 John 2:27 NLT

9. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC

10. The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
Ephesians 1:14 GNT

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Intimate Conversations 


I like to tell people that I’m the busiest person I know. I carry two phones with three numbers attached to them. I work a full time job, write, do ministry, and drive for Uber at night. I look around though, and see other people who are just as busy. Somehow in our world, we equate busyness with value. The more we do, the greater we are. Even in the Church, we have adopted this mentality with ministers and lay leaders. We are always on the clock, we never take a sabbatical, and we never say “no” to anything or anyone.

That’s not the example Jesus gave us for ministry. Even though He was very busy and sought after, Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (NLT). The model He gave us was to step away from our duties often to spend time alone with the Father. He understood that it is not wise to continually give without going to the Father for a refill. As our lives become more busy, our intimate conversations alone with God in our prayer closet should increase.

Revival is coming and we need to be in the habit of stepping aside from all the distractions to spend time alone in prayer. Performing miracles, leading the lost to the cross, caring for the poor, and preaching are not supposed to take the place of our quiet time with God. He wants us to understand that busyness equals distractions and distractions keep us from going into our prayer closet. We can’t have the power of God flowing through us until we have been intimate with Him. God has always valued alone time with Him more than our busyness for Him.

Think of Martha and Mary. Martha was the one who welcomed Jesus into their home and as Luke 10:40 says, “was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” Mary was the one who was just sitting at the Lord’s feet listening. When Martha complained that she was doing all the work, the Lord replied, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” Each of us need to discover what that is as well. We need to take time often to just sit at the feet of Jesus, away from the distractions, and listen. That is what Jesus values and what we should value as well.

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Going Fishing


For three years the dis piles followed Jesus. They witnessed people receive their sight having been born blind. They watched leprous skin clear up right before them. They were standing there when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb four days after he died. They handed out the five loaves and two fish to the 5,000. They not only saw Jesus walk on water, they saw Him calm the wind and waves. They had countless fireside discussions that you and I will never know about. That’s why I’ve always been baffled by this one thing that happened after the resurrection.

John 21:3 says, “Simon Peter said to the others, ‘I am going fishing.’ ‘We will come with you,’ they told him” (GNT). After all they had seen and done, they went back to their old life. It’s hard for me to comprehend how they could experience everything they did, and then just simply go back to their old life. Had they forgotten that Jesus had told them that from now on they would be fishers of men? How could they go back to being regular fishermen? No matter how perplexing it is, I have to wonder if we are any different.

We may not have seen those miracles as they did, but if we accepted Jesus as our savior, we experienced the power of God in our own life. We felt that initially cleansing feeling and the peace that passes understanding. Yet somehow, many times we go right back to our old way of living. We know we are supposed to be a new creation, but that old life that’s supposed to be dead and buried, calls out to us and tempts us to go back. Even though we experienced the power of the resurrection, we sometimes live as though it had no affect on our life.

That life is as fruitless as that night of fishing for the disciples. The great news for us is that Jesus is on the shore calling out to us, “Have you caught anything?” Then He reminds us to cast our nets on the other side. He reminds us to return to Him and to live our life in the power of the resurrection. When we live that way, our nets will be full. Jesus’ words to them that morning were simple: Follow me. That call goes out to us too. You can’t follow Him and go back to your old life at the same time. Each of us have to make that choice. 

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The Bus Station


What I love about having been to Israel is that when I read the Bible, I can picture each place in my mind. There are two sites celebrated as the place where Jesus was crucified. One of them is in a magnificent church and the other out in the open. I got to visit both places on this last trip, and both were incredible in their own way. Personally, I enjoyed the one outside better for a number of reasons, but I was a little offended at first by what I saw.

We were sitting on the property of the Garden Tomb, and they read Matthew 27:33. It says, “And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘Place of the Skull’)” (NLT). They pointed to a hill just about 50 yards away, and asked if we could see it. They showed us pictures of about 50 years ago and another from over 100 years ago. You can see how it looked like the Place of the Skull. But when I looked at the base of what could be Golgotha, there was a busy bus station. I couldn’t believe such a holy place was being disrespected.

That’s when it hit me that a bus station at the foot of the cross was the most appropriate way to honor it. One of Jesus’ final instructions before His ascension was from Mark 16:15. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” The buses that I saw there were a representation of the Great Commission. Those busses carry people all over the place the same way we are to carry the Gospel. Our message is summed up by what happened at the Place of the Skull.

Where Jesus’ mission was fulfilled, ours began. Where He said, “It is finished,” He was handing the baton to us. That place of death became the birthplace of eternal life. We are the bus drivers of His message. We carry His spirit within us to be witnesses in all the world. Wherever we go, whomever we meet, we are to transport His message of hope and love. We can turn this world upside down at He disciples did, but we have to be willing to get on the bus and go.

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Under The Press


As many of you know, I went back to Israel this past summer. One of the most visited places in Jerusalem has to be the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s filled with Olive trees as pictured here. On this trip, I discovered that the name Gethsemane means the olive press. We got to see an olive press to understand how it crushes the olives to make oil. That first pressing of the Olive is holy and belongs to God. I think that’s important to know when considering what happened there the night before Jesus was crucified. 

Matthew 26 tells us that Jesus went there with the disciples and that grief and anguish came over Him. In verse 38, Jesus said, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me” (GNT). He was being pressed like an olive in that moment. His prayer in the next verse is what I want to focus on today. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” 

Each of us have times in our lives when we are being crushed by problems and things going on. Just like Jesus, our first instinct is to pray, “Father, if it’s possible, get me out of this!” We cry and we pray for God to help us. But what if God wants to use that time to create a holy offering in your life? What if He is allowing you to be crushed so what’s inside comes out? I’m sure the olives in the press don’t appreciate the stone mill rolling over them, but what comes out is more useful than just the olive by itself.

Jesus understood this. That’s why His next breath was, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Instead of praying for God to get us out of the press, ask God that His will be done instead of ours. James 1:12 says, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.” Remaining under the press, like Jesus did, is the way to receive the life God promises us. 

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Love One Another


One of Jesus’ most consistent messages was that we love each other. He once said it was the second greatest commandment. The word He used for love that He used so often was “agapao” or agape love. That type of love is unconditional. He wasn’t telling us to love the people who agree with us or the people we like. He was telling us to love everyone unconditionally. God is no respect or of persons, and Jesus was telling us to be the same way.

Loving God comes easy for many of us. Jesus told us that whoever was forgiven most, loves Him most. The hard part is to love those who don’t forgive you and those who hate you. Right now, people are so divided because we haven’t practiced love first. If we are truly going to love the way God wants us to, we are going to have to find a way to love people we fundamentally disagree with. Don’t wait for others to start doing it. Make a commitment to God to let it start with you.

Here are some verses on loving others.

1. But remember the root command: Love one another.
John 15:17 MSG

2. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 NLT

3. Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us).
1 Corinthians 16:14 AMPC

4. Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:37-39 NLT

5. Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.
1 Peter 4:8 GNT

6. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that!
Matthew 5:46 GNT

7. Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Romans 12:9 NLT

8. But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44 AMPC

9. My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.
1 John 3:18 GNT

10. Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
John 13:34-35 MSG

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