Tag Archives: Christianity

Being Around God

Have you ever been around someone and thought you knew what they were like? You could have been around them for years, but then you got to know them and found out they were different than you thought. I had a guy at church approach me like that years ago. I had greeted him, been in conversations in a group of people he was a part of and even spoke to him a few times. Then one year I helped take the youth to camp and his teenage daughter was on the trip. He came up to me a week or two later and said, “My daughter says you’re the funniest person she’s met. I don’t get it. I’ve never seen you be funny.” I replied, “You haven’t gotten to know me. You’ve only been around me in certain circumstances.”

I’m afraid that’s how many of us are with God. We’ve been around Him at church. Maybe we’ve felt like He’s spoken to us before, or we’ve been in prayer meetings where everyone is talking to Him. When someone talks about who God is, it may not line up with who you thought He was. It’s hard to reconcile that, but it could be that you’ve just been around God, but have never truly gotten to know Him. You may even be able to tell me facts about Him because you were raised in Sunday School and have attended church your whole life, but if you don’t know Him, you’re missing the point of what He wants.

In Hosea 6:6, God says, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” (NLT). God is more interested in having a relationship with you rather than you doing all the religious rituals. The way to get to know Him is to be quiet in your prayer time and listen to Him rather than speaking. Another way is to read your Bible with the intent of God speaking something to you through it rather than trying to read a certain amount for the day. Just like any relationship, it takes time to build and it requires you to listen and ask questions. As you get to know God, you might find He’s not like what you’ve imagined He’s like. His desire is for you to know Him. Ask Him today to reveal Himself to you, to speak to you and to take you into a deeper relationship with Him.

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A Change Of Heart

My pastor said something that really resonated with me. He said, “In the history of the world, church has never been done better than it is today, yet never have we had such little impact on our culture.” It has me thinking, “Are we focused on the right things corporately and individually?” What are we concerned with? Is the music too loud? Is there too much fog in the sanctuary? Is it too cold? Are we concerned more with our entertainment than reaching the lost? Are we too focused on our comfort and not enough on the lost? Do we spend our time talking about God rather than to Him? I don’t know, but I know that if our ability to impact the culture around us is going to improve, it has to start with us as individuals.

After Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh, he went outside of the city, sat down and waited to see what would happen. Even though he had obeyed God, in his heart, he still wished that God would destroy the city. To expose his heart, God caused a plant to grow up and provide him with shade. The next day, the Lord sent a worm to eat the plant. Jonah was mad enough to want to die over it. God responded in Jonah 4:10-11, “This plant grew up in one night and disappeared the next; you didn’t do anything for it and you didn’t make it grow—yet you feel sorry for it! How much more, then, should I have pity on Nineveh, that great city. After all, it has more than 120,000 innocent children in it, as well as many animals!” (GNT)

God is concerned with people and their salvation. Scripture says that it’s His kindness that draws us to repentance (Romans 2:4). We need to pray what Bob Pierce prayed, “God, break our heart for the things that break yours.” Jonah was more concerned for his comfort than 120,000 people dying. That’s a recipe for not having an impact on culture. God was able to move then, and He’s able to move now despite our heart. It’s much better though when our heart is aligned with His. I wonder if the story of Jonah ends abruptly right there so we don’t miss that point. As Jonah pointed out in verse 2, God is loving and merciful, always patient and kind, ready to change His mind and not punish people. Shouldn’t we be the same way?

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Losing Sight Of Jesus

On any trip to Israel, visiting Galilee is a must. One of the places I enjoy most is the Mount of Beatitudes. As I was sitting up there, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, I watched boats crossing back and forth. I couldn’t help but think of when Jesus sent the disciples to the other side while he went up the mountain to pray. While they were making their way across, a fierce storm overwhelmed them. Their focus was on surviving the storm, and not on Jesus who sent them across the sea by themselves. From where Jesus was sitting, He never lost sight of them. So when He walked on water, He knew right where to go.

It’s not hard to lose sight of Jesus in our lives. Life gets hard and rarely goes as planned. We can get rocked by a diagnosis, our spouse walking out or something happening to one of our kids. In those moments, life often becomes a battle for survival. We can lose sight of Jesus and wonder where He is in the middle of our chaos. I can tell you that He’s never taken His eye off of you. If He doesn’t come walking on water to save you, keep rowing, but also make sure you take the time to find Him. We know that if you seek Him, you will find Him. I’ve found that the times I’m most overwhelmed by the things happening in my life are the times my relationship with Him is strengthened because I realize I can’t do it without Him.

Song of Songs is an allegory of Jesus and us. In Song of Songs 1:8, Jesus calls out to us, “Listen, my radiant one— if you ever lose sight of me, just follow in my footsteps where I lead my lovers. Come with your burdens and cares. Come to the place near the sanctuary of my shepherds” (TPT). The beautiful thing about Him is that He’s waiting for us, chaos and all, to find Him. He loves us no matter how crazy our life is or how far away from Him we’ve gone. It’s always a shorter journey back to Him than it was leaving Him, and He’s never taken His eye off of you. If you’re burdened down today, or blinded by your worries, take them to Him and rest in the fact that you are loved and His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

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Following God’s Lead

Driving through Houston can be complicated. I had a customer once call me to tell me where they were on their way to training. I told them it should only take about ten more minutes to get to the location. After 20 minutes past, I wondered where they were. After 30 minutes I began to worry. When they finally arrived, I asked what happened. They had tried to drive to me without their GPS, started talking and missed the sign that had the exit they were supposed to take. Instead of coming right to me, they ended up passing me, but then took the loop around instead of making a U-Turn. They got caught in traffic, but eventually made their way to me.

Life can be complicated too. God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. He’s given us to Holy Spirit to be our GPS to guide and direct us, but we don’t always listen to Him. He’s also put up sign posts in our lives to help us know where to go, but sometimes we’re too distracted to see them. As a result, most of us take the long hard road to get to where He’s trying to lead us. We think we know better than the Holy Spirit’s GPS, so we keep going when He’s trying to help us avoid traffic and distractions. He has cleared the way for us, but we must learn to follow His leading.

After King Solomon prayed for wisdom, he built the Temple that God had told his father he would build. While dedicating it in 1 Kings 8, he prayed, addressed the people there then blessed them. In verse 58, he blessed them said, “May he (God) keep us centered and devoted to him, following the life path he has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms he laid down for our ancestors” (MSG). I pray today that God will keep you centered in the chaos around you. That He would give you direction with the decisions you are having to make. That He would keep you alert so you can see the signposts He’s put in your path. Also that you would be able to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice above all the noise, and that you would have the wisdom and courage to follow where He leads.

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Seeking God’s Approval

Too many times I’ve been a victim of paralysis through analysis. I feel God prompt me to do something, then immediately the voices come in. What if this isn’t God? What are they go to think of you? One of our greatest needs as humans is the need for acceptance. We want to fit in and we want to belong. Doing what God asks sometimes will cause us to do something that will seemingly put that acceptance at risk. It’s in those moments we have to ask ourselves, “Whose approval are you after? Whose approval means more?” Asking myself those questions is the only way I can combat the paralysis that comes from the other questions about what people will think of me.

Noah was a person who had to deal with this. God told him to build a boat because it was going to flood. It’s believed that rain was a foreign concept at that time and a boat was too. God gave him the instructions on how to build it and let him get to it. He didn’t worry about what other people thought. Instead, the Bible says that he did all god commanded him to do. Because of an obedience that regarded God’s request as more important than any of his friend’s opinion, God saved his family and established a new covenant with him.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in GOD protects you from that” (MSG). Each of us must make the decision to trust God whenever He speaks to us. It’s rarely easy to do, and the fear of losing acceptance will always be there to create a tension in the situation. Finding a way to push through that tension is critical to obeying God. Even when it seems counterintuitive, awkward or crazy, you can’t let it disable you. Lives and eternity are often at stake. You can break through the paralysis through analysis trap by deciding to trust God and seeking His approval above all else.

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Blessing The Poor

Much of Jesus’ ministry was directed to the poor and the helpless. The Early Church followed His example. When the met with Paul, they recommended that he remember the poor. They even created a group of seven individuals to make sure to feed the widows so they could continue to preach the Gospel. They never wanted to sacrifice people for the ministry, nor did they want to sacrifice the ministry for the people. They understood that the Gospel is all about giving of yourself to other people, so they did all they could to find the balance in helping people spiritually and physically.

Today, we still have the poor with us, but helping them isn’t always at the front of our minds or ministry. Nearly 3/4 of the population of earth lives on less than $10 a day. Millions of people in these poor countries are offered jobs, but when they show up, they are captured and are forced into the sex trade. Christine Caine’s A21 organization is one of the leaders trying to stop this. There are other organizations as well like Daughters of Cambodia. I have friends who are out right now trying to raise awareness of the sex trade there and are working to create one in the Philippines. Some are working to eradicate the orphan crisis, and others the homeless crisis. What are we doing to for our part as individuals? We must return to our spiritual roots, take the blinders off our eyes and remember to help the poor once again.

Here are some Bible verses on helping the poor.

1. God always blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. They’re the first ones God helps when they find themselves in any trouble.

Psalms 41:1 TPT

2. Give your love of justice to the king, O God, and righteousness to the king’s son. Help him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy, and to crush their oppressors.

Psalms 72:1, 4 NLT

3. In everything I showed you [by example] that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive. ”

ACTS 20:35 AMP

4. Happy are those who are concerned for the poor; the Lord will help them when they are in trouble.

Psalm 41:1 GNT

5. God’s righteous people will pour themselves out for the poor, but the ungodly make no attempt to understand or help the needy.

Proverbs 29:7 TPT

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No Excuses

One of the things I’m really good at is making excuses. I can come up with them quickly and effortlessly. We all make excuses for why we did something we shouldn’t have. They are used to deflect responsibility for the wrong we’ve done. In the Garden of Eden, Adam made the excuse that it was Eve’s fault, and she made the excuse that the snake tricked her. God wasn’t happy with creating excuses back then, and He still isn’t today. Part of repentance is owning up to our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions. If we can’t do that, how can we truly be sorry for our actions?

We need to determine to live our lives with no excuses. It’s a habit that is hard to break because our brain doesn’t like to be in uncomfortable situations where we take full responsibility for our actions or inactions. We must choose not to make excuses to justify our actions. I like to say, “If you have to justify it, you shouldn’t be doing it.” Justifying is just an excuse with wrapping paper on it. When we cut out excuses in our lives, we will see tremendous growth in every area. Our inaction turns into action, and our actions turn into right actions. Think about the excuses you’ve been giving to God and yourself, then make a conscious effort to live a life with no excuses.

Here are some Bible verses on living with no excuses.

1. By making excuses you’ll learn what it means to go without. Poverty will pounce on you like a bandit and move in as your roommate for life.

Proverbs 6:11 TPT

2. And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.

1 John 2:28 MSG

3. Now we know that everything in the Law applies to those who live under the Law, in order to stop all human excuses and bring the whole world under God’s judgment. For no one is put right in God’s sight by doing what the Law requires; what the Law does is to make us know that we have sinned.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:19-20‬ ‭GNT

4. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

ROMANS 1:20 AMP

5. As for you, my friends, you were called to be free. But do not let this freedom become an excuse for letting your physical desires control you. Instead, let love make you serve one another.

Galatians 5:13 GNT

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