Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Living To Please God Is Getting Harder

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“Living To Please God Is Getting Harder”

1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV

So whether you eat for drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.


I almost titled this devo “Living To Please God”, but after thinking more about it, I decided to add “Is Getting Harder” because that’s really how it feels these days in the world we live in.  We all want to live to please God, but it seems, day after day, that’s becoming more and more difficult to carry out with all the temptations and pressure we face in our culture. 


I really, really do desire more than anything to please God….most of the time.  I know that sounds odd I added “most of the time”.  But to be completely honest, I often find myself fighting the desires of my flesh as Paul described that he often did.  I know I need to please God and I want to with all my heart, but when I am faced with daily temptations of worldly things, my desires go astray and I tend to desire what I’m tempted by.  I fight temptations every single day and I ask God for strength to get me through so that I can continue to faithfully follow Him.


I want to live a Godly life for my marriage, my relationship with my kids, and my relationship with others in my extended family, work and church.  This verse is powerful stating that whatever I am doing, I need to do it to the glory of God and strive to please Him no matter what I am doing.  I need to be sure I’m in places that won’t lead me astray and not looking at or listening to things that will pull me away from where He wants me. 


It is becoming harder and harder each day to fight temptations with all the corrupt things happening in our world each day.  It absolutely sickens me when I hear of the corrupt way of life of some people.  I’m not saying I’m perfect in any way at all, but just stating that it makes my stomach churn at all the ways people are living to please themselves.  I want to stray away from that.  I don’t want to fall into temptation that will lead me away from a solid relationship with my wife and with my kids. 


Friends, living to please God is getting much harder as we continue to follow Him.  He is calling us to be faithful and we must stay strong so we don’t stray.  I hope and pray that we all can stay strong in His Word and through prayer to build our faith.  His Word will continue to be a lamp for us to shine the way we need to go and help us stay off the path that leads to corrupt living. 


Living to please God is getting harder, but God gives us strength each day to carry on. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

People Need Jesus

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“People Need Jesus”

Romans 3:23 NLT

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.


For the past few weeks, my heart has felt heavy every time I hear of some kind of attack happening.  Whether it be someone crazy on the road, someone in a mass shooting or someone just doing something that makes me shake my head in disbelief.  So many emotions go through me when I hear of another tragedy happening, wherever and whatever it might be.  I think of all the people involved and who has been affected.  So many hurting, discouraged and confused people.


As I think about these tragedies happening, it reminds me of how much people desperately need Jesus in their lives.  It’s often easy for us to get upset and demand justice and wish they’d be locked up for life for what they’ve done.  There’s no doubt we have a right to be upset when these things happen, but we must also remember that everyone really needs Jesus.


The past few weeks, I just keep thinking of the phrase “People need Jesus”.  It keeps crossing my mind.  It’s not just those who have made choices to hurt other people in these awful scenarios, but it’s also people we come across each and every day in our work places and other places we go.  Every one needs Jesus. 


While it’s easy to get angry and pass judgment on these people who do horrific crimes and think they don’t deserve forgiveness for what they’ve done, we must remember that we all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.  It’s easy for us to think people who hurt others physically are much worse than us.  However, it’s all sin and, instead of passing judgment, we need to pray for them.  We really, really need to pray for them.  If their lives were taken in the event, we need to pray for their families, friends and others involved.


I know I’m guilty of not taking the time to pray about these things, but I’m convicted that I need to do more.  People need Jesus.  No matter who they are or what they’ve done, they need Jesus.  I’ve heard various stories of people who have lost loved ones in crimes and instead of casting judgment on them, the person prays for the criminal.  When I hear those stories, I honestly don’t know if I could do that if someone hurt a loved one. 


Friends, we all need Jesus.  I’m hoping and praying that we will all choose to pray the next time we hear about a tragedy, no matter what it involves.  Pray for the person who has gone mad and ask God to move in ways we won’t and don’t see. 


Again, it’s easy to pass judgment and think they don’t deserve forgiveness, but neither do we and Jesus Christ gave that to us.  We don’t deserve it, but He died for us all.  They need Him as well as we do.  We all fall short.  Remember that when it’s tempting to pass judgment.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

We Need To Be Still

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“We Need To Be Still”

Psalm 46:10 NLT

Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”


This past weekend, I read a chapter of “Silence and Solitude” from the book “Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by John Mark Comer.  I have really enjoyed this book and it’s opened my eyes to many things that I’m convicted of now.  This chapter I read really spoke to me in many ways.  I really appreciate how John stated the need for silence and solitude in our lives. 


This got me thinking a lot about how we fill our lives and quiet moments with tv, internet, music, reading, phones, etc.  These things are not wrong, but it seems that we cannot handle having quiet moments where we just do nothing but sit there.  When John mentioned this in the chapter, it really struck me.  We have become so accustomed to grabbing phones out of our pockets or purse when there’s even a hint of boredom on the horizon.  Wherever there is a waiting moment, we pull out the phones.  I am EXTREMELY guilty of this! 


I think about this verse and how God has called us to be still before Him.  I like how John talks in this chapter about us taking time to just sit and do absolutely nothing.  Carving out time in our daily life to just sit and do nothing.  It’s VERY hard to do!  I know that I always feel like I’ve got to be doing something.  It’s hard for me to just sit and do nothing at all. 


We need breaks in the daily to calm our minds and heart.  We need to practice being still before God and just being in His presence.  It’s easy to say we need to be still and we would probably all agree we need this practice.  However, it is a whole different thing to actually put into practice.  For me to just sit and do nothing, I feel like I’ve got to be doing something with my mind.  When I sit and do nothing, I think about all the things I’ve forgotten to do and what all I still need to do. 


So often I think God just says, “STOP!”  We’ve got to take the time to be still and just be in His presence.  Let the Holy Spirit fill us and God can speak to us and calm the chaos in our world. 


I encourage all of us to take the time to be still and do……NOTHING!  Just be still in His presence.  We need to practice silence and solitude. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Don't Lose Momentum

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“Don’t Lose Momentum”

Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


There’s a calendar at work I saw about a month ago that stated, “Momentum: To make progress, you must keep going.”  It reminded me of how Paul encouraged us in this passage to strive ahead in life and keep going.  He encouraged us to keep going and not lose momentum.  It’s so easy in life to lose momentum.  It’s so easy to get discouraged in life from all the disappointments and give up on striving ahead.  Life gets tough and we feel defeated often.  One day, you can feel on top of the world.  The next day, you can feel totally defeated from unexpected difficulties.


Almost every winter, I often find myself pulling up slowly to stop lights hoping it will change to green before I have to make a complete stop.  Even if I am going slow, I still have some momentum, even if it’s just a slow crawl.  If I stop, I have to gain the momentum back and it can often be hard on icy and snowy roads. 


As I’ve considered, I think about how important it is in life to keep momentum and striving ahead in life, especially through difficulties.  None of us are immune to the troubles of life, however some of us have gone through more than others.  We all experience trials and pain, but if we keep the faith and trust in God to get us through and keep moving, He will help us keep moving. 


What’s most important is that we keep some kind of momentum.  Even if it’s moving like a turtle sometimes, it’s still moving.  We gotta keep our eyes on Christ, keep the faith and keep going. 


I hope and pray that whatever obstacles you and I are facing right now in our daily lives, we will strive to keep momentum, no matter how slow it may be at times. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

It Was My Tomb, Till I Met You

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“It Was My Tomb, Till I Met You”

2 Corinthians 5:17

NIV- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

NLT- This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!


One of my favorite songs from Passion Conference is “Glorious Day”.  We play this on our church praise team somewhat often and I always enjoy playing it with the team.  It’s such an energetic song with a very powerful proclamation.  As we played this again on Sunday, I got to thinking about the words “It was my tomb, till I met You”. 


Before we came to know Christ, each one of us was stuck in a tomb of some kind.  Some of were buried with shame, some of us tried to hide our failures.  The list could go on and on of things we tried to hide before we accepted Christ.  We found ourselves living in some tomb that seemed impossibly to escape.  However, when we met Christ, it was the GREAT ESCAPE! 


Last year, one of the Sundays we played this song, we had MN Adult and Teen Challenge come to our church.  We started the service off with this song and I cannot describe the overwhelming feeling it was to hear these men shout, “It was my tomb, till I met You!”  It blew me away as I was playing drums!  It was a powerful proclamation coming from these men, many that had experienced renewal and freedom from some kind of addiction. 


The key word here is “Was”.  Whatever bound us before we met Christ, we are now freed from!  This is past tense!  We are not still in the tomb because Jesus freed us from whatever bondage it was!  It’s an incredible freedom we experience when we are freed from whatever bondage kept us in a tomb of shame, regret or failures.  The enemy wants nothing more than to bring those memories back to haunt us.  However, we have been bought by Christ and we are freed indeed! 


Whatever tomb held you in bondage, never ever forget the words in this song, “It WAS my tomb”.  It no longer is your tomb.  Christ rescued you!  Every time the enemy tries to remind you of that past, remember it is not your tomb anymore.  You have been freed!  Christ lives in each one of us and we don’t have to be haunted by our past. 


I really like the words in the chorus, “You called my name, and I ran out of that grave.  Out of the darkness into Your glorious day!” 


We are no longer bound by the tomb!

Monday, April 10, 2023

It Is Finished

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“It Is Finished”

John 19:30 NIV

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


I don’t know about you, but I am a person who likes to begin a project and see it through till the end.  I don’t like starting something and not finishing it.  Drives me crazy.  It has happened more times that I would like and there’s still many projects around my house that have remained unfinished.  Life happens and you just get distracted and say you’ll get to finish some day.


Many of us like the feeling of finishing something we start.  There’s a great sense of accomplishment when we finish something we have worked on for a short period of time or a long period of time.  We really like watching the HGTV shows of home renovations and also the show of Building Off The Grid that shows people putting in way more than expected hours, days and months to build a home they’ve envisioned for years.


When we finish a project, it’s great to say the words, “It is finished.”  There’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment. 


As we have just celebrated Easter weekend, I so often think of the words spoken in John where Jesus said “It Is Finished.”  Those are VERY powerful words.  He came with a mission and completed it.  But it wasn’t just like any mission most people would embark on.  HGTV has nothing on what Jesus did!  No mission on earth by any human being could ever be greater than His mission.  Jesus had the greatest mission and when He completed it, it was literally earth moving.  The temple veil tore I two and we gained direct access to the Throne of God! 


There’s an old Petra song I really like and this past weekend, it came back to mind as it does every year at Easter.  The song is “It Is Finished.”  There is no accomplishment in all of life that could ever be as great as what Jesus did for us on the Cross. 


His mission was completed.  The mission is now passed down to us to carry on.  We must carry His mission out and spread the Good News!  His death was just the beginning of amazing things He would continue to do in the lives of so many who accept Him! 


As David Phelps' song says, “This was the end of the beginning.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Love God, Love People

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“Love God, Love People”

Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”


This past Saturday night, I took my wife on a concert date to go see Danny Gokey, Jordan Feliz and Blanca.  They were all very talented and gifted singers.  I had never seen Blanca or Jordan Feliz in concert before and it was a blessing to hear their music live.  This is the second time my wife and I have seen Danny Gokey in concert and he was a favorite of ours back when he was on American Idol.


One of the songs Danny sings is “Love God, Love People”.  I’ve heard this song many times, but it was a great reminder hearing it once again and got me thinking about our lives and our mission as followers of Christ.  As Danny’s song states, we are called to love God and love people.  I think back many years ago a devotional I read from him and he stated, “So many times I think we overthink our calling and over complicate the Gospel, when really our purpose in this life comes down to two simple things; loving God and loving people.”


I want to ask us all a very simple question.  Do we make it our daily life mission to love God and love people?  This should solely be our life call each and every day.  No matter where we are and no matter what we are doing, we are commanded by God to love Him and to love people. 


Friends, there is nothing about this requiring a Seminary degree.  It’s a very simple concept, but it can be very tough to live out some days when life doesn’t make sense and people are treating us terrible.  However, we must remember Jesus was very mistreated, but He kept loving people because it was His mission and call of life. 


I really like the chorus of Danny’s song which says, “Gotta keep it real simple, keep it real simple.  Bring everything right back to ground zero.”


I hope that we can all take a step back, look at life and see how we can make it our daily life mission to love God and love people.