Thursday, May 12, 2022

Are We Connected

“Are We Connected?”

Exodus 33:18-20 NIV

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”  And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.  I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.  But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

One of many amazing encounters we see in the Old Testament between Moses and God.  Moses was connected and was about to have a major connection session with Him!

As I think about how we connect these days, I feel like we are focused on connecting every way we can in our world and with our world these days.  We want to be connected on social media.  We want to be connected with events happening in our church.  We want to be connected to events happening in our community.  We want to be connected with what is happening in our children’s schools.  We try so hard to stay connected so that we don’t miss anything!

With all of the technology we have available today, we are so concerned to miss anything that we peruse our social media accounts and check to see what texts and e-mails are coming in.  We seriously do not want to miss ANYTHING!  I admit I have become one of these people.  I don’t want to miss any important info that I need to know from whatever sources I feel are important for me to stay up with.

As much as we have become addicted to staying connected in whatever ways possible to not miss anything, it breaks my heart when I think how unconnected we have become in our relationship with God.  I’m not saying we don’t care about growing in our faith, but we have to admit we focus a lot more on staying connected in our world events rather than with what God wants to teach us. 

How often do we find ourselves with the deep desire to connect with God as Moses did?  He wanted to be so close to God and he made it a priority.  That’s what we need to take time to consider in our lives these days.  How important is it for us to be connected to God and what are we willing to do in order to make that happen?  Do we really want to connect with Him?  Will we let all the other connections we try so hard to maintain go by the wayside in order to make sure God remains our top priority? 

This doesn’t mean we ditch other things in our lives, but it does mean that God needs to be our main connectivity above all!  What are we willing to do about this and how badly do we want to connect with Him? 

Are we connected more with Him or with the world?

Monday, April 25, 2022

Strategies To Defeat

“Strategies To Defeat”

Ephesians 6:10-11 NLT

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

We all have experience with putting together different strategies for various things we’ve been involved with through our years of life.  There are many different situations and activities in which we put much effort into strategizing. 

In school, we may develop certain strategies to accomplish things in our classes or extra-curricular activities. 

At our job, we may come up with certain strategies to do the work better and build up to more promotions. 

We become involved with various sports and develop strategies to not only work together as a team, but to defeat our opponents during games.

In different hobbies we have, we can develop certain strategies to learn more and get better at what we learn.

When we buy a home, we can develop strategies to make the house better and build equity.

There are so many different ways in life that we become involved with developing strategies to do different tasks for various reasons, whether professionally or personally.  The list could be endless!

As we consider different strategies that we put our time and energy into through the years, I cannot help but to think how much more effort we often put into the strategies of earthly matters and how much less we focus on the strategies of growing in our relationship with God by defeating our enemy, Satan.  How much time and energy do we invest each day by reading God’s Word and developing mental and spiritual strategies to defeat the flaming arrows of what Satan throws at us? 

I so often find myself becoming defeated because I have put so much time and effort into other worldly things in my life and much less time and effort being smart about how the enemy might attack me.  I don’t build my spiritual ammo up to defeat Satan. 

What would our spiritual lives look like if we put much more effort into being prepared daily for spiritual battle?  Paul meant it when he told us to be prepared.  We should heed that encouragement and always be prepared for the strategies the enemy throws at us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Just Like He Said He Would Do

 “Just Like He Said He Would Do”

Matthew 28:6 NLT

He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.  Come, see where his body was lying.

I think we would all agree that we like when people follow through on what they say they will do for us.  We like it when our food comes out fresh and hot in a fast food place or restaurant.  We like when installers show up on time to do what they say they will do and do it correctly.  We like when repair people show up on time and get the job done that they promised to do.  When a good friend or family member says they will show up to some event, we appreciate them making it a priority to actually be there.

As we like it when people do these things for us, the exact same is expected of us when we give our word to doing something or being there for other people.  When we say we are going to do something, people put trust in us and expect us to follow through.  Granted, life happens and there are understandable things that come up to prevent this at times, but we must always make the very best effort to be there and do what we say we will do.

As we celebrated Easter, the great story of the amazing Resurrection of Jesus Christ this past weekend, I got to thinking more about this passage.  What stuck out to me was the phrase “just as He said he would happen”.  Jesus predicted what would happen and it happened.  People were totally amazed and dumbfounded at all that happened.  It is truly amazing to remember that Jesus not only died, but He rose again victorious! 

I was reminded this weekend, and am reminded each day, that He keeps His promises and does what He says He will do.  He has never let me down and He has always come through.  He always will!  As we continue our thoughts of Easter weekend and the praise of Him rising from the grave as He said would happen, I think it would be good for us to all do some soul searching and examine our lives to all the things that we “say” we will do. 

When we say we will do something, let us make the most effort to keep the commitment.  People are counting on us just like we count on others.  None of us are perfect, I get that, but we definitely need to do better on what we commit to and actually following through.  Look at all that Jesus followed through on and He went through more than anyone in history will ever go through.

Let it be said of us from others that we did “Just like we said we would do”. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Giving It Up To Truly Follow

“Giving It Up To Truly Follow”

Luke 9:23 NLT

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

I’ll be perfectly honest with you all in that I like to do things my own way.  I also like to hang on to things that I think are important.  Pretty much any day, I want to do things the way I think they should be done and go my own way.  I also want to hang on to things that I think are important and have a hard time letting go of what so often shouldn’t be important to me at all.

This passage has been heavy on my heart the past week or so and I just wanted to share the real struggle this has been for me as I take inventory of my life and how I want to grow closer to Christ in giving up my ways and my life. 

We so often want the better life and the better ways that Christ offers us, but we do NOT want to and are so often NOT willing to give up our own ways to do so.  It’s like we think we can do our own thing and have the better life Christ offers us to have the best of both worlds.  It does not work that way and we are well aware of that!  However, we continue to convince ourselves that we can do what we want and when we want.

Two things I find fascinating when Jesus talks about the cost of following Him.  First, He makes it very clear the cost of following Him and how hard it will be.  Second, I’ve often found myself thinking that He almost tries to talk people out of following Him in a sense because He wants people to really consider the huge cost.  He wants us to follow Him and desires that above all, but He absolutely wants us to count the cost of what it really means to give up our own way and our own life in order to do so. 

Friends, do we REALLY count the cost???  I don’t think we often do.  We say we do and we say we understand what it means to follow Him, but I don’t think we totally understand the depth and magnitude of what this truly means.  I know I don’t.  It is very difficult to daily give up our own way.  As much as we are all so accustomed to a self-centered life and culture, it is so challenging to surrender every day and give control over to Jesus. 

My prayer is that we all make a true and honest effort to daily commit to giving up our own ways and our life so that Christ can really be in control and lead us.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

For God So LOVED That He GAVE

“For God So LOVED That He GAVE”

John 3:16 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I have heard this Scripture cited so much through my years of life, but the past few weeks something really stood out as I heard it again.  Two words stood out to me and really stuck with me as I thought more about this passage I’ve heard so much.  The two words are “Loved” and “Gave”.  They are not only action words, they are also very intentional.  What greater message could be shared with a dying world than to tell them that God Loved and He gave? 

No one else in the entire world has ever loved and given more than God.  This is a model for us to truly live by.  God so loved this world that He gave.  He loved more than anyone of us could ever love and He gave more than any of us could ever give.  This is a model of the greatest love ever shown and given to anyone. 

As I pondered this thought the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking of the absolute greatness of the love God gave in sending Jesus Christ to redeem our lives.  Let’s just consider this thought and let it sink in for a while.  Take a few moments and just think about this passage and those 2 action words.  God so LOVED that He GAVE.  It’s really breathtaking if you stop to consider this!  We didn’t do a thing.  He did it all!  He love us so very much that He gave everything. 

Friends, I encourage you over the next several days and weeks to take time to think about these intentional action words and what they mean to you and your life.  Consider the impact they have not only on your life, but what they could mean for others who need to hear of the great Gospel message!

I just don’t ever want to take for granted (even though I have way too often) how intentional God’s love was that He truly gave it all for us.  He so very much loved us that He gave His only Son.  There is so much power packed in those words!

I hope that we all keep these intentional action words etched in our minds each day as we remember how very amazing it is and was that God so loved us that He gave the most anyone has ever given.

For God so LOVED that He GAVE!  Let us NEVER forget how amazing and powerful these words are!    

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Love More, Do More

“Love More, Do More”

1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Three things that will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.

Several weeks ago as we were attending the food packing session for Feed My Starving Children, I noticed a new shirt they had.  The shirt had this log on it, “Love More, Do More”.  Ever since I saw that shirt, that phrase has stuck with me.  There are so many places in Scripture we find the command to love others.  It is so imperative in life that we live with the intention of showing God’s true love to other people.  Yes, that is often so hard to do.

When we love people more as God calls us to do, greater things can happen and we will see God do amazing things.  When we take the time to love others, we see truly amazing things take place. 

Loving others and doing loving things for others can often be difficult, especially if we are on bad terms.  No matter what, God has called us to do our very best to follow His example and love others as He has called us to love.  It is often not an easy task, but when we do this, the benefits are just amazing.  We come to discover that we learn so much more and that love we show goes far beyond what we might think.

We must love even when situations become difficult and people oppose us.  As we go to Feed My Starving Children each quarter, we continue learn how difficult it is so often for these meals to reach kids who are hungry.  The meals have to go through a lot of barriers to get to the destination.  As we pack these meals and we do so in love, we know God will do incredible things as we send them off. 

The more we love and become intentional about loving, especially in challenging times with others and situations, the more God can work in the hearts and lives of others.  He has called us to be faithful in loving.  We cannot control how others will react to us, but we can do our best to be loving.  Are we being faithful in loving? 

I know I have a long way still to be loving to others.  It’s often hard, but I know the more I do it, the more others will see Him through what I say and do.  Like I said before, when we love more, we do more than we can possibly ever imagine. 

I pray that we will all learn to love more so that God can do more through what we do and say.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Letting Go

“Letting Go”

Proverbs 22:6 NLT

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

A year ago, my wife and I started working with our oldest daughter to learn driving when she got her permit.  We spent much time working on instructing her and helping her as she learned more and more about driving rules.  This past week, we took her to take her driving test for her license on her sweet 16 birthday.  My wife and I waited anxiously as she was out driving with an instructor and hoping and praying she would pass.  As she stepped out of the car, my wife and I walked toward her and she threw her hands in the air with an excited run and smile toward us!  She passed her test and was officially licensed!

We are so proud of her, but I cannot help but to feel emotional still today as she embarks on this new adventure in her life.  It is really hard for me to let go and watch my little girl grow up so fast and take on a new phase of life.  I want her to learn and grow, but so much of me does not want to let go.  We’ve raised her in a Christian home and have done our best to teach her God’s ways and will continue to do the best we can as she continues to grow. 

As hard as it is for my wife and I to watch her drive off now by herself, we have to be reassured that God will take care of her and that we have worked hard to train her in His ways so that she makes good decisions.  It’s a time of life I thought would never come and it came too fast.  This passage came to mind this week as we transitioned from her having her permit to her passing her test for her driver’s license. 

Friends, it can be hard to let go of many things in life.  We grasp so tightly to many things and we don’t let go.  We’re afraid of what we might lose or what might be ahead.  It’s the unknown that scares us so often.  We want control and we have a hard time trusting that God will lead and take care of things.

As I am working on letting go of my little girl into a new phase of life, I am being reminded by God that He will guide her still and take care of her as we have worked hard to train her and raise her in a Godly manner. 

Whatever it is that you are finding yourself having a hard time letting go of, I encourage you to trust that God will lead and guide, whether it’s a child who has grown up into taking on more responsibilities or if it’s letting go of something you need to part with.

Letting go is hard and I will do my best.  We must trust things are in God’s hands.