Monthly Archives: December 2016

Renewal And Restoration 


As each year ends, we are usually glad it’s over hoping the new year brings change, or we had a great year and hope the next one brings more of the same. Whatever next year holds, it’s not going to be a surprise to God. We don’t have to be afraid or overwhelmed by what’s coming. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). He has also given us enough grace that is sufficient for whatever we will face.

I believe 2017 will be a year of renewal. God wants to take those things in our lives that we’ve given up on, broken, or forgotten and bring them back to life. He wants to renew a right spirit within us that is ready to receive all He has for us. No matter what world events take place, our God is still in control. We can trust Him with our hopes, our dreams, our future, and with our brokenness. Give God the freedom to do on your life what He wants to do next year and you won’t be disappointed.  

Here are some Bible verses on renewal and restoration.

1. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Psalms 51:10 NLT

2. Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!
Lamentations 5:21 NLT

3. I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls.
Jeremiah 31:25 MSG

4. The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health.
Psalms 41:3 NASB

5. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
Ephesians 4:23 NLT

6. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.
Isaiah 40:31 GNT

7. Restore us again, O God; and cause Your face to shine [in pleasure and approval on us], and we shall be saved!
Psalm 80:3 AMPC

8. But if you pray to God and seek the favor of the Almighty, and if you are pure and live with integrity, he will surely rise up and restore your happy home. And though you started with little, you will end with much.
Job 8:5-7 NLT

9. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Acts 3:19 NASB

10. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. [Rev. 7:17.] He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake.
Psalm 23:2-3 AMPC

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The GPS Of The Flesh


In one of the episodes of “The Office”, Michael Scott and Dwight were out on sales calls together. Michael was using a GPS navigation system to get where they were going. The device said, “Turn right.” As Michael began to turn right, Dwight asked what he was doing. He said, “I’m turning right.” Dwight frantically said, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond right there.” Michael said, “But it told me to turn right so I have to.” He then drove the car into the water.

I’m pretty sure almost all of us have used some sort of GPS navigation system by now, whether it’s in our phone or not. When you don’t obey it, the voice comes on, “Rerouting. Make the next legal U-Turn.” If you keep going, it keeps trying to get you to go back. I usually turn it off at that point because it starts to annoy me. I know a better way, but it doesn’t want to see it or give me directions to take it. That GPS system is a lot like our flesh. It wants to direct us and tell us where to go.

If we follow our flesh, we’ll end up in a lake like Michael Scott. Sadly, many of us think we have to do what it says. It leads us down the road of temptation away from God. We know there’s a pond there and we’re going to wreck, but we follow it because we feel we have to. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is frantically saying, “You can’t turn right! There’s a pond there.” Too many times we end up in the water of sin and have to pay the price, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just like you don’t have to obey your GPS navigation, you don’t have to obey your flesh.

Romans 8:12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do” (NLT). You are free to make your own decisions. The flesh will constantly try to re-rout you and get you to U-Turn, but you have the power to ignore it because you have God’s Holy Spirit in you. When we are Spirit minded, we no longer have to follow the GPS of the flesh, and that leads to an abundant life.

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Testing Your Faith


I used to love the movie “Young Guns”. In high school, my friends and I would quote the TV version often. There’s a scene where Billy the Kid (Emilio Esteves) is leading his band of men back to .Lincoln, Nebraska to finish off their enemy, but the odds are against them 100 to 5. Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland) figures it out and turns the team away from Billy with the idea of going to Mexico. Billy said, “You’re all scared, and you’re going to fail the test. You have to test yourself everyday, gentlemen. Once you stop testing yourself, you get slow.”

That scene has stuck with me through the years. What was said in those lines is relevant to us spiritually. You have to test your faith every day. Once you stop testing it, you start coasting. Coasting leads to doing nothing. Doing nothing leads to stagnation. Paul was afraid that we would become stagnant in our faith because it’s human nature to sit back, relax, and take it easy. He warned us against it and told us to test our faith.

Paul wrote II Corinthians 13:5, “Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it” (AMPC). How do you do that? Well look at the people of faith in the Bible who tested their faith. David walked onto a battlefield with a giant carrying nothing more than a sling. Peter got out of a boat in a storm to walk on water. Abraham tied his only son to an altar and raised a knife. Each of them were willing to put their faith to the test in impossible situations.

Whatever your battlefield looks like today, don’t be afraid to step out onto it. No matter how loud your storm is, be willing to get out of the boat. Whatever sacrifice God is asking you to make, be willing to climb the mountain without seeing the ram in the thicket. You can’t show the proper fruits of your faith until you do something with your faith. It’s ok to be scared. I’m sure each of those men had some fear, but they pushed passed it and passed the test. What will your story tell about your faith?

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Responding To Distress


If you were to take a piece of pottery and a stick of butter into the oven, you’d get two different results. While the pottery would harden, the butter would melt. Even though it’s the same fire, things react differently to it. The same goes for us. Each one of us go through the fires of tribulations and troubles here on earth. Not one of us are exempt from it, but we each respond differently. Even though we have the same physical properties, those fires produce different results in us.

For me, those fires nearly wiped me off the earth. They destroyed everything in my life and left me with nothing. My response was to shut down and check out. I thought, “If I don’t have anything left to live for, why should I live?” Other people who have been through similar fires used it as fuel to get stronger, tougher, and better. They didn’t let it get the best of them. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong way when it comes to how you respond to distress in your life except when it comes to your spiritual life.

Fires, tribulation and distress should push us closer to God, not away. Those are really the only two options spiritually. You can run to God and become totally dependent on Him or you can turn your back on Him wondering why He let this happen to you. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “Distress that drives us to God does that (produces all gain, not loss). It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets” (MSG).

In my life, the distress pushed me toward God in the end. It wasn’t until I had nothing left that I told God, “I give up. I can’t do this without you.” That moment sparked a change. Life didn’t get better immediately and not everything was restored right then. It took years, but God has been faithful to me and I don’t regret the pain I went through because it caused me to run back to God. I started off like that butter in the fire, but ended up like the pottery. You can too. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not too late to let it push you to God instead of away.

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The Great Exchange


December 26th is the second busiest day for retail stores. It’s second only to Black Friday. This is the day after Christmas, and people flock to the stores to return or exchange the gifts they got the day before. Some people feel like returning and exchanging gifts is being ungrateful and rude. I’ve been in that camp, but if you think about it, wouldn’t you want them to have something they’d actually use? The old gift is going to sit there and be worthless unless they exchange it for something better and more suited for them.

We know that we celebrate the gift of the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Because He was born into our world, lived a sinless life, died on a cross for our sins, and rose to life again defeating death, hell, and the grave, you and I can exchange an eternity in Hell for one in Heaven.when we accept Him as our savior, we exchange our old life for a new one. That’s one of the great things about Christianity. You are not stuck with a life you don’t like or an eternity without God.

II Corinthians 5 is all about the exchanges we receive when we accept Christ. Verses 17 and 18 say, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ” (NLT). If you don’t like the life you’re living now, you have the ability to exchange it, and receive the life you were meant to live. You’re not stuck with it. Jesus came to give you a new life and a new way to live.

What’s more is, that same chapter tells us that one day, we will exchange these mortal bodies for spiritual bodies. We will not be stuck for eternity with the flaws and limitations our current body has. Paul said that to be present in this body is to be absent from the Lord, but one day we will take off this corruptible for the incorruptible. God’s desire is that you and I take advantage of the exchange policy He put in place with the birth of Jesus. It’s one exchange that we all need to make. 

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Christmas Scriptures


“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].”
Isaiah 7:14 AMPC

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6 NASB

“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 1:18 NLT

“While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Matthew 1:20-21 GNT

“Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.”
Luke 2:4-7 GNT

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’”
Luke 2:10-12 NLT

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
John 1:14 NLT

Merry Christmas. God is with us.

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Look Ahead


Since I live in a major US city, I get to experience traffic on my daily commute. Because of that, my eyes have been trained to look at the car right in front of me when I drive. If you’ve ever taken Driver’s Ed or Defensive Driving, you know that not a healthy driving habit. You should be looking about 10 to 30 seconds ahead while driving. People who drive with their eyes looking at their immediate situation tend to have more wrecks and tickets. Plus, I find it scares your wife a lot!

What’s true in driving, is true in life. There are people who get so caught up in their current situation that lose sight of the future. Their present situation is all they can see and they’re constantly living in fear of having an emotional wreck. Because they haven’t trained their eyes to look forward, it’s hard to imagine a positive future. Life becomes an emotional roller coaster with a pessimistic view of the world. That’s exhausting and not how God wants us to live our lives though.

God wants us to train our eyes to look beyond our present circumstances and troubles. He wants us to look further down the road so we can see that our current situation is only temporary. In the bigger picture, we can see His hand directing our life with purposeful movement. II Corinthians 4:18 says, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

When your current situation becomes overwhelming, look ahead to joy that’s coming because what you’re going through now is only temporary. This too shall pass. God uses these times to build character, perseverance, endurance, and hope in us. Each circumstance you go through has a purpose that God is using for your good and for the good of others. The next time you get caught up looking at the present, remind yourself to look ahead. You are more than your present situation. There’s a bigger picture God is working on.

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