Monday, January 29, 2024

This E-mail Is Important

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“This E-mail Is Important”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.


Just recently I saw an e-mail that had the subject line “This e-mail is important”.  It kind of took me by surprise.  Of course, the sender of this e-mail wanted to make sure to grab the attention of whomever received it.  As I looked at the e-mail sitting in the inbox, I got to thinking about all of the e-mails that we receive on a daily basis.  Not just personal e-mails at home, but at work as well.  Our inboxes at home get flooded daily with different advertising from lists we’ve probably subscribed to.


I’ve often thought about getting off the lists, but then I think, “What if something they send one day is REALLY  important and a great deal?”  I also think about all the e-mails that not only I get at work each day, but so many others at work receive as well.  So many of us have to weed through hundreds of messages per day prioritizing what is really important.  Co-workers, vendors and other messages screaming for us to respond and devote time and answers to them.


Friends, it’s no surprise that we are constantly flooded with messages all day long that scream “This is important”.  What is really important?  How do we sift through all that’s not important and get to what’s really a priority?  That’s a hard question to answer through our day.  As we try to push our way through the constant messages every day, whether at home, at work, riding in the car listening to the ads on the radio, we must be diligent and intentional about what should be important. 


Through it all, we must remember what is most important.  We need to quiet ourselves before God and ask Him to show us what really matters.  We gotta clear the noise in our lives and let Him show us what is really important.  Not everything can and should be a priority. 


This passage is a great reminder that we are to love God first and foremost each and every day.  That is our greatest priority.  That is what’s most important.  When we come to Him and ask Him to lead us and give us wisdom, He can guide us to what’s really important in life.  Our family, friends, job, church.  These are all good things, but we must learn to better prioritize what’s really important as we live our daily lives. 


I often find myself overwhelmed by texts, e-mails, social media and other media telling me what’s important.  I want good deals for sure but I need to remember what’s really important in my life.  I want to focus on what God has given to me and appreciate His blessings.  Not everything can be a priority and not everything can be important all day long. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Proof Is In The Pudding

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“The Proof Is In The Pudding”

John 14:23 NIV

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.


Think about some of the ways we prove our loyalty and dedication to people and situations.


If we want good grades, we prove that we want to pass by studying diligently.

If we want to get a job, we do our best to prepare for the interview.

If we want to date and marry someone, we will go to great lengths to show and prove our love and devotion to the person.

If we want to get on a sports team, we will practice and show our determination to get better.

If we want to be a good student in school overall, we will listen to the teacher and obey what is taught.


We could think of many other ways in which we prove our loyalty or devotion to a situation or to someone because we want to show our devotion.  We have to work hard at proving we are serious about something or someone by showing we are devoted.  I think of the saying, “the proof is in the pudding”.  If we are real, authentic and genuine about what we want to do and who we want to be devoted to, it’s going to show. 


Jesus is very clear about the devotion we need to have in our relationship with Him.  If we truly love Him and are devoted to living a life of service to Him, we will obey Him.  It’s as simple as that.  If we are not devoted to Him, we won’t obey Him.  It’s either one way or another.  The proof is definitely in the way we live our lives. 


Do we really love Him enough to completely obey His teaching, no matter what it takes.  If we want people to believe we are truly devoted to someone or something, we must prove it somehow.  Being loyal to someone and working hard at something shows our devotion.  If someone told you they loved you over and over again, but didn’t treat you that way at all, you’d probably finally say, “Okay, see ya!”


If we really, really are devoted to Jesus, we will obey His teaching, regardless of what that entails and what challenges it brings.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

We All Need Fresh Starts

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“We All Need Fresh Starts”

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

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


This past Sunday at church, we played and sang one of my new favorite worship songs from River Valley Worship called “Ask, Seek Pray”.  I want to share the first verse of this song as we embark on a brand new year.


Give us clean hands give us pure hearts
Show us that's where the miracle starts
Beyond what I want beyond what I see
The change for my world begin it in me


As I listened to these words yesterday as we played this on praise team, I was thinking about how we came to the end of a full year and looking to begin a brand new year.  Our pastor had an amazing sermon on sadness as he talked about how so many struggle with this time of year and things that have happened to leave voids in our lives.  Many enjoy this time of year while others struggle with losing loved ones or remember hard times from the past for this time of year.  There can be many reasons why people struggle during Christmas.


During response time, after the sermon, as we started playing “Ask, Seek, Pray” people were invited to come and ask for prayer through their hard times of sadness.  As I sat there playing on stage, I watched so many people come forward and it was so moving.  As we all start this new year, whatever we might be struggling through or trying to recover from, let’s ask God to help us begin a new year seeking Him and relying on His strength for each new day. 


Let’s pray that God would start to do amazing things through us so that we can love on others as He has called us to do. 


“Father give us clean hands and hearts as we begin this new year.  Forgive us for all the ways we have been so selfish and consumed with only what we want.  God, please give all those who are experiencing hurt and sadness Your strength and comfort.  Surround them with people who can relate and show comfort through these hard times.  Help us to ask, seek and pray for Your will to be done in our lives so that we can see past the things we want and focus on how we can help change people’s lives in a positive way with Your love.”


Happy New Year to you all!  May we all experience a fresh, new start to the year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Little Light Of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine

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“This Little Light Of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine”

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


Last Sunday morning at our church, the kids group sang a fun rendition of “This Little Light Of Mine”.  As they were singing, it was so cool to see them singing this song they had practiced and how much fun they were having doing it.  We all have some laughs at what some of the kids were doing.  When kids are on stage, there can be some funny moments and very precious moments as well. 


As I kept thinking about that song, it made me think of how much I’ve sang that song from when I was a little kid up to even now.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve sang that song and enjoyed it.  But when I think more about the words, I wonder, “How much have I really let my little light shine for God?”  All these years I’ve sang it with others and watched kids sing it, how often are we REALLY excited to share that light with others?


In Matthew, we read that we have the Light of God and the world needs to see what we have to share and offer.  We wouldn’t light a candle or turn on a lamp and then cover it.  That would completely defeat the purpose.  We are meant to carry the Light of God and shine for all to see.


As we all celebrate the Christmas season and look forward to a New Year very soon, let us consider how we can live this out, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”  As Matthew states, we are the light of the world.  God wants us to shine!


Next time you hear a child or a group of kids or even adults sing this song, remember how God has called us to REALLY let our light shine!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

We Are ALL Sinners

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“We Are ALL Sinners”

Romans 3:23 NLT

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


The other day, while I was on my way to work, I was coming to a roundabout and I saw a minivan on the left coming at quite a fast speed.  I wasn’t even going to try to beat them into the roundabout.  I just let them go through and I watched them drive very quickly around and down the road.  As I kept driving, I just watched them drive and go around vehicles.  My first thought was, “Wow, they need to slow down!  Too many crazy people driving like that!” 


After this thought went through my mind, I immediately remembered how sometimes I am not the greatest driver either.  It’s so very easy for me to criticize other people who are driving crazy and going off on them verbally for their stupidity, but so often I am honestly the same way.  I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true.  I get frustrated in traffic and get in a hurry.  As I thought about this more, I thought about how I need to take the log out of my eye and not be a hypocrite.  I’m not saying I’m a crazy driver all the time, but I have my moments.  Don’t we all??? 


As I kept driving, I thought of this verse and how it explains we are all sinners in need of God’s saving grace.  None of us are exempt from needing Him.  We have all messed up and fallen away from God and we desperately need Him.  It’s so easy to judge what someone else is doing and forget that we so often have our bad moments just like the people we are criticizing.  It’s so true!


As we approach Christmas coming up and even beyond that, may our hearts be ever full of grace and not judge so quickly.  The same God Who forgives other people who act so idiotic in our eyes, is the same God Who forgives our idiotic times as well.  Let’s practice love, even when it’s so hard to give. 


We didn’t deserve His love, but He gave it on the Cross.  He also died for others as well, so let’s start practicing some better love.  Be more understanding of others on the road. Maybe that person driving the minivan so fast was having a bad morning.  We all have bad mornings and days sometimes!


I once heard a story of a person in a coffee shop that had an encounter with another rude customer.  Instead of fighting back with mean words, the person offered to buy their coffee and mentioned them having a bad day.  Wow, could we be that person when others are being rude?  I hope so!


Remember friends, we are ALL sinners and we ALL need God’s forgiveness.  None of us are exempt from needing Him.  Next time you get mad at someone in traffic, remember you’ve most likely acted that way, too.  Instead, pray for the person and ask God to bless their life.  

Monday, December 11, 2023

Simple, Yet Powerful Reminders

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“Simple, Yet Powerful Reminders”

Matthew 28:20b NLT

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.


One day last week, I remember having a tiring and frustrating day at work.  As I’ve started a new job at a different company, some days have been rather challenging.  This particular day, I was tired and overwhelmed.  The next morning, as I went out to leave for work, I saw a beautiful sunrise.  I don’t always catch good sunrises, but this one took me by surprise and I remember looking up and saying “Thank You, Lord!  I needed that today!” 


I wish I could say that the moment took all my stress away that I was feeling that morning and all overwhelming feelings.  However, it was a great and simple reminder that God knew I needed as if to say, “Don’t forget how amazing I am and how little your issues are compared to Who I am.” 


It’s so often easy for us to become overwhelmed with all that is going on in our lives and forget that God is ALWAYS more greater and powerful than anything we experience.  God has ways every single day that show up to remind us He is there and guiding us.  We definitely all need these reminders all through our day as we sometimes experience stress and unexpected frustrations. 


There’s nothing earth shattering regarding this devotional, but a reminder that God is always doing something every day, through our days, to remind us that He is there and always with us.  Are we seeing these reminders each day that He gives us?  Sometimes we get so overwhelmed and God knows we need a sunrise, sunset or some other form of His majestic beauty to remind us of how Awesome He Is! 


I am so thankful for these simple, yet powerful reminders.  Again, they won’t take away all our problems or frustrations, but He gives us these moments to remind us that He is with us and that He is so much bigger and greater than anything that overwhelms us in our daily lives.


This passage is found right at the end of the Great Commission, where Jesus promises the Disciples that He will always be there with them.  That’s a promise He made to them and it’s a continued promise to us today.  He is always with us and shows Himself to us in so many ways, big and small, each and every day. 


I hope that we all notice these reminders each day!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

It's ALL About His Work Through Us

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“It’s ALL About His Work Through Us”

Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.


This passage is the benediction that we end with at church each and every Sunday morning.  The past few weeks as I’ve thought more about this passage, one phrase really sticks out to me. “according to his power that is at work within us.” 


So much of our daily lives get focused on things that we can do and what we can accomplish.  We often get so busy doing our daily routines that we often forget God gives us the ability to do what we are able to do.  Each day we awake, every single thing we are able to do is because God has given us another day with the abilities to do what we are doing.  Every single little thing we have the ability to do, He gives us that ability.  We so often forget this.


When I think about the work God has called us to as we serve Him, it can easily become about what cool things we can do for Him.  In reality, it’s absolutely never ever about us.  It never has been and never will be.  We have to understand this and realize that life is never about us and never will be.  It is ALWAYS and will always be about what God does first and foremost.  It is about Him choosing us and working in and through us with a willing heart to accomplish what He wants us to do. 


As I drive to church many Sunday mornings early to practice for the praise team, I think of the ability God has given me to play drums.  I ask God to humble me and help me focus on helping lead people into worship.  As much as I like to play drums, I need to be reminded it’s never ever about me.  It’s about Him and how He uses me and the rest of the team to play, sing and lead the church in a very worshipful experience.  When you’re up front on stage, it can so easily become about you and your abilities.  This is something I have asked God repeatedly to remind me of and to humble me so that I’m not thinking about how cool it is that I’m playing. 


The team I play with each week is really amazing and I’m so grateful and thankful each time I get to play alongside with them.  It is truly and honor and blessing be part of such a wonderful group of people with a love to lead and worship! 


Friends, I hope we never ever forget that our daily lives are never about us, but about what God can do through us.  Let us never forget and be reminded daily that life is all about how God can do immeasurably more than all we could ever ask or imagine.