Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fellowship With God

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A phrase that stands out to me, when reading about great men of faith in the Bible, is they “walked in habitual fellowship with God.” Each time I read that phrase, it calls out to me and dares me to do the same. To walk in habitual fellowship with God is to be in constant communication with Him and to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. The men in the Bible who did this, found great favor with God.

Noah was one such man. The time period he lived in was like no other. There was no one else on earth who feared God or lived righteously. He had no church find shelter in. He had no Christian friends who could encourage him and pray for him. He was the lone believer in a sinful world. Imagine your life without the help from your church or Christian friends. Imagine having no one you could go to for prayer when you needed it. How long would you last?

This was Noah’s situation and instead of throwing in the towel, he doubled down on his relationship with God. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God”(NLT). If he was the only blameless person and he could walk in habitual fellowship with God, then you and I can too. We can find the strength within ourselves to be in constant communion with God. We can find time to pray and read His Word.

Merriam Webster defines “habitual” as, “Doing something regularly or repeatedly.” These men of faith regularly and repeatedly met with God and He rewarded them with favor and by making covenants with them. The God who made covenants with them still wants to make covenants with us. He’s simply waiting for those of us who will dare to enter into a habitual fellowship with Him. II Chronicles 16:9 says, “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” If you will fully commit to Him in habitual fellowship, He will give you the strength you need to live for Him.

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Actionable Faith

 

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In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.

Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.

James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.

Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.

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Caring For The Poor


One of the things God wants each of us to do is to help those who are less fortunate. You don’t have to go to a third world country to help poor people either. Every country and community has people who need help, but what can we do about it if the problem is so great? I like what Andy Stanley says: Do for one, what you wish you could do for every one. Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from what you can do. You don’t have to single handedly make a dent in poverty, but you can make a difference in one person’s life. 

Too often we look at the whole instead of the individual. We get overwhelmed and think there’s nothing we can do, but that’s not true. You can make a difference in one person’s life. You can help them find a better paying job, you can pay for their groceries, you can watch their kids while they job hunt, you can offer some extra cash,, etc. God’s heart is to care for the poor, and if it’s important to Him, it should be important to us.

Here are some verses that show God’s concern for the poor.

1. When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:9-10 NLT

2. Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless.
Psalm 82:3 GNT

3. For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hands to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land.
Deuteronomy 15:11 AMPC

4. Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
Mark 10:21 MSG

5. Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
Matthew 25:37-40 NLT

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A Life Giving Well


Several years ago, when I was going through a rough time and was barely hanging on, my Sunday School teacher and his wife spoke life into me. Week after week, I’d show up for class and he would say, “I’ve been praying for you this week. I feel like God wants you to read this verse.” Or he would say, “As I was seeking the Lord for you this week, God spoke this to me for you.” When the voice in my head wanted to end things, I would remember those verses or what God spoke through him and keep going.

His words and prayers were life to me. I looked forward to going to Sunday School each week because I knew that he would have something for me. I needed the life giving words that he would show up with. I’m reminded of Proverbs 18:21 that says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (MSG). I’m thankful that he chose words that give life. He could have easily condemned me, but he didn’t. 

Another proverb I love is Proverbs 10:11. It says, “The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.” These verses always make me question what words I choose to use. Am I speaking life from a deep well or death from a dark cave? It’s one or the other and we get to choose. Today, find someone and speak words of life to them. You never know if they’re just barely hanging on and need the encouragement like I did. 

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Your Story


In Mark 4, Jesus and the disciples got in a boat and headed for shore on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. On the way, Jesus took a nap to recover from ministering all day. While they were somewhere in the middle, a storm arose and threatened to sink the ship. The disciples woke Jesus up because they were afraid they’d capsize. Jesus then rebuked the winds and waves and the storm calmed down. That’s pretty cool, but it’s the rest of the story I want to look at today.

They later arrived in the town they were headed to. A madman came running to Jesus, bowed down, but then the legion of demons in him took over. Jesus cast them out into a heard of pigs, who then ran off a cliff and drowned. The man, in his right mind, then asked to follow Jesus, but was turned down. In Mark 5:19, Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you” (MSG).

I love the fact that Jesus crossed over the Sea just God this one man. He knew where He was going and what He needed to do. The storm arose to try to stop Him, but His love compelled Him to calm the storm and keep going. Then, once the man was free, Jesus sent him out to tell his story. There’s no telling how many became believers because of this man’s obedience to tell others how he’d been set free.

If you’re a believer, you’ve been set free and have a story to tell. Only you can tell that story with the greatest impact. You have friends and family that need to hear it so they can find their salvation. Our mission is not to quietly follow Jesus. It’s to go to those we know and have a relationship with (your own people), and to tell our story. You may encounter storms that try to stop you, but keep going. Eternity hangs in the balance for them, and your story could be what they need to hear to find salvation. 

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How God Really Is


One of the things I like to watch for in sports is when a member of one team helps a member of the other team up. It not only shows sportsmanship, it also shows character. Helping others up is important in sports and in life because sooner or later, we all fall down and need a little help up. As Christians, when we fall down, we can expect God to help us up when we fall. He’s not the guy in the sky who’s waiting for you to fall so He can keep you down. He’s holding out His hand to you to help you up.

Psalm 37:23-24 paints this picture and even adds more to what God does for us. It says, “The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up” (GNT). Not only does God help us back up, He also protects us and guides us. Contrary to what so many of us believe, He’s not out to get us. Like a father, He’s wanting to direct us in the right paths, to protect us from dangers and to help us back up.

If you’ve grown up with the idea that God is just waiting for you to mess up so He can send you to Hell, I want you to memorize these verses. They tell the story of a God that loves you and cares for you like a father. He’s out to help you not hurt you. If you need guidance, ask Him for it today. If you need protection, call on His name right now. If you’ve fallen, hold out your hand. He’ll reach down, grab it, and lift you up. That’s how God really is. You can trust Him with your life.

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Release Worry And Anger


Two the most taxing emotions are worry and anger. Worry robs us of our strength and anger blinds us. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things that may or may not happen. My mind is excellent at going through all the worst case scenarios. If there’s a possible bad outcome to any situation, my mind will think of it and make me worry. That stress then wears me down to the point that my mind and body get exhausted. It hinders me from accomplishing the things I need to get done today.

On the other hand, I’ve been so angry before that I couldn’t sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I could only picture a bad scenario. That got me upset, got my heart racing and my blood boiling. It made me fantasize about doing evil things to pay them back that were worse than what they did to me. I didn’t want to get even, I wanted to get so far ahead that they never wanted to mess with me again.

These two emotions were given to us by God for a reason, but we can’t let them run wild and free or they will destroy us. Psalm 37:8 says, “Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble” (GNT). Notice how the writer didn’t say, “Don’t feel them.” No. He said, “Don’t give into them.” Don’t let them rule your mind. Left unbridled, they will destroy your well being and later your life. You can’t dwell on them. In both cases, you have to release them.

I know that’s easier said than done, but it is possible. In both situations, the way to release them is to trust God. Do you trust God to do what’s right for you? Then let go of worry and trust His plan. Do you believe that vengeance belongs to the Lord? Then let go of your anger and trust Him to do what’s right in the situation. If you’re struggling with either of these, pray and give the situation to God. When you release it, you will watch the worry and anger go with it. 

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