Monday, March 30, 2020

Consumed By God's Great Love

“Consumed By God’s Great Love”
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

As the days and weeks roll on with consistent changes in the world around us, it is easy for us to become consumed with all the updates and challenges going on.  I have found myself often lately saying to my wife, “Please honey, do we have to listen to the news…..again.”  It isn’t that I don’t want to be informed, I just feel consumed with hearing the news over and over and over again.  However, I struggle because I need to know updates (we all do to an extant). 

It almost seems impossible to think of not being consumed by everything going on around us, with the constant changes at home, at work, in stores, at church, etc.  We are surrounded by constant changes every day and all through the day.  We are especially dealing with the challenges now of having kids doing school at home.  That has affected so many families and I know that we are all adjusting in different ways with different things each day. 

As we are consistently dealing with the challenges of being consumed by world events, let us be challenged by our Heavenly Father that He wants us to be consumed with Him.  His great love is amazing and is so much bigger than any virus could ever be.  This is not to diminish the power and concerns of what the virus is doing in our world, but to remind us that we serve an amazing God Who is so much bigger and can comfort us when the world cannot. 

I hope and pray this passage and the thought of God’s consuming love will bring us all comfort in these continues days of uncertainty.  While so many things and activities around us have been cancelled, remember that God’s love, faithfulness and compassion will NEVER cancel on us.  No matter what is happening to us, around us or to our families, God’s powerful love will ALWAYS be with us.  We can count on this, no matter what!

I’d like to end with a prayer as we continue on these days with God’s strength in the days of uncertainty.

Father, please continue to guide and direct us as we face daily challenges of uncertainty.  We know You are in control even though the world seems out of control.  Help us to continue to provide for our families as we seek to follow You faithfully each day.  Help us to be thankful for every single thing we have that You have already provided.  Most of all, help us continue to focus on being a witness to those around us who do not know You.  Help us to spread the love, hope and compassion You give to us.  Thank You God for your consistent great love and faithfulness, which never fails or ends!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Give Us Wisdom, Lord

“Give Us Wisdom, Lord”
Proverbs 2:6 NIV
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Last week, I shared a prayer with you all regarding how we need God’s peace, especially now with all the chaos that is happening in our world these days.  In the past week, I have continued to feel scared and overwhelmed at what might happen as we continue to learn more and receive more disturbing news.  Every day, I’m praying that God will not only give me peace, but that He will also give me wisdom. 

As I think about how I need peace and wisdom from God, I wanted to share another prayer with you as we seek God’s wisdom in the many choices we face each day as we continue into uncharted territory.  I hope these words will echo in our minds and hearts as we continue to ask god to guide us.

Father, as each day passes and I continue to hear more and more about the chaos going on in the world with sickness, I find myself desiring wisdom more than ever.  Lord, we have so many choices every day that we need to make that affects others around us.  I need wisdom Lord to continue to be faithful in whatever you ask me to do each day.  As I continue to feel worried and concerned not only about my health, my wife and my kids, but also my friends and others around me, I ask Lord that You alone with grant me wisdom that only You can give.

God, we all need wisdom as we make intentional decisions that we’ve not really thought much about before.  As we consider how we need to use what finances we have been given by you, help us to be wise and discerning.  Maybe some of us have received blessed tax returns and we need wisdom to know how You want us to use those.  Some of us, though might not be doing so well with finances and are very concerned about the days ahead and how we will provide for our families.  Along with that is how many places of businesses have shut down and that can bring so much concern and worry to so many people, Lord. 

Father, help us be wise in whether we should go certain places and do certain things.  Help us be mindful of what is going on around us and make decisions that are beneficial to others and our families.  Help us be the servants you continue to call us to be.  We need wisdom so much these days, Lord as things seem to continue to spiral out of control in so many ways.  Let us never forget God that You are always in control and You will continue to fill us with peace if we ask. 

Father, as the days go on, I ask that you fill me with Your wisdom so that I can make good choices to support my family, no matter what lies ahead with what You have given to me and what happens to my place of work.  Amen!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Give Us Peace, Lord

“Give Us Peace, Lord”
Psalm 29:10-11 NLT
The Lord rules over the floodwaters.  The Lord reigns as king forever.  The Lord gives his people strength.  The Lord blesses them with peace.

As so much uncertainty has swept over the entire world recently, I have found myself filled with so many different emotions, concerns, worries, anxious thoughts and prayers as I’m sure millions of others are experiencing as well.  I struggled with what to share this week as I sort through how I’m feeling and all that continues to unfold each day. 

I read this passage this morning and I just feel led to share it with you all and offer a prayer as we all look to God for the comfort only He can provide.

Lord, I come to You today with a very heavy heart as I consider all that is going on in the world today.  Each day that passes recently, I find myself tempted to give in to the fear of everything that is happening and the uncertainty that seems to hang over our heads.  Lord, I want to come to You and lay all of my worries and fears at Your feet because I know that no matter what happens, You are truly the One in total control. 

I don’t know how things will turn out, Father, but I know that You will give me peace because You and You alone reign over all.  There is nothing more powerful that You, Lord!  No matter what fear I may face today and the days ahead, I know that You will give me peace beyond understanding and I just need to trust in You with all my heart.  Father, some days I am very scared of the uncertainty of what will happen at my job, with the school and other closings that could occur, but I need to remember to completely trust in Your provisions and be thankful for what You have given to me.

Lord, I know that You and You alone can and will give me the peace I need to live each day as I trust in Your unfailing provisions.  Father, help me to not allow fear consume me as I continue to hear of the devastation of this sickness spreading.  Help me to completely focus on You, Lord and bring all of my concerns and worries to You anytime I have them.  I need to lay them at Your feet and know that You will give me comfort.

Lord, I pray for all of those who have been affected with all the chaos going on and I ask for Your loving arms to comfort those in need.  Father, help me to reach out and encourage others in any way that I can as needs arise.  Lord, You are in control and that will never change. 

Father, may we all trust in You and be filled with Your amazing peace as we continue in the days ahead.  Than You for being Almighty God!  Amen!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Endless Benefits Of Wisdom

“The Endless Benefits Of Wisdom”
Proverbs 2:1-6 NLT
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.  Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.  For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

We sure like a lot of things in life that promise or advertise some time of benefits.  We like to have a job that provides many benefits to us and our families.  We like subscribing to different memberships of services that promise to provide many great benefits.  How about when we go out to eat and pay a fee to have “all you can eat” buffets?  We sure like those and get our fill, don’t we?  There are so many things and situations in life that offer some kind of benefits and it makes us feel good to know we are covered and taken care of one way or another.

While you and I both enjoy the many different ways we can get benefits in this world through various places, services and memberships, I cannot help but to think how little it compares to the amazing benefits we receive from God’s infinite wisdom.  As much as I focus on getting great deals and bargains for the money I pay for different things, I need to be reminded often that the valuable wisdom that God offers far surpasses anything in the world could ever provide.

One food place that is in the Twin Cities that I really enjoy going to is Red Robin.  They have endless/bottomless steak fries with any burger entrĂ©e.  When we go there, you can just imagine how many fries I eat!  My wife will tell you that I get like 3 helpings of fries!  Not only are they good, but they just keep bringing more and more of them because that’s the benefit of going there to eat.  I know that by going there, I will always get that deal.

The same is true with the wonderful benefits of wisdom of God!  We know that anytime we come to Him and dive into His Word, He will impart endless wisdom to us if we ask Him.  How amazing is that?  He never stops pouring out the riches of His endless pearls and nuggets of great wisdom! 

My hope and prayer for all of us is that we will be reminded every day of the riches and richness of God’s amazing and endless wisdom.  It’s greater than anything the world can possibly offer us.  While there are definitely many different ways to enjoy benefits with different things in the world, absolutely nothing could and can every compare with the bountiful wisdom from our wonderful and amazing God Who created us! 

Oh, the endless benefits of the wisdom of God!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Transformation Through Genuine Love

“Transformation Through Genuine Love”
Romans 12:9 NLT-Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT- If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

What I am about to share is very hard for us to hear, but it is what the church needs today as a reality check.  The one place people should experience love and compassion the most is sadly too often the one place where people feel the most criticized, hurt, rejected, judged and shunned.  This is a heartbreaking, terrifying truth and it should serve as a huge wake-up call for us who claim to follow Christ.  How have we managed to stray so far from God’s intention of what the church should be? 

So many people have been turned off and continue to be turned away from ever darkening church doors because of people who claim to be Christians, but do not genuinely love one another.  This breaks my heart and I’m guilty as charged as well.  I know this makes many of us squirm, but it is the tough pill of truth to swallow.  We should be all about God’s love. 

Throughout my years of life, I have lived many places and attended many churches.  Out of all of my years in the church, both volunteer and paid ministry, I have noticed a common problem that comes up frequently and it is the issue of genuine love getting pushed aside while petty differences take over.  I have seen so much hurt in the body of Christ through the years and it breaks my heart because God wants us to work together to be united to love one another.  

Paul explains that we can be busy doing so much for God, but if we do not do so with love, then it’s all for nothing.  Love must be the root of all these things we do in service of God’s church.  If we have not love, we’ve completely missed the point. 

The world is desperate to see us living a genuine love for one another and not just claiming to love God and love others.  Love must be our mission.  Genuine, authentic, real love that comes from God and should shine through us as believers. 

Don’t just pretend.  Really love people genuinely. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Transformation Through Complete Surrender

“Transformation Through Complete Surrender”
Romans 12:1-2 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

All of us have a natural desire to be in control of our lives.  We don’t like when things around us seem out of control.  We tend to spend a lot of time and energy to make sure that we’ve got everything under control or going as we like.  We do know that we should give God complete control of our lives, but we don’t often live this way.

Living our lives in worship to God involves completely surrendering to Him so that He can take control of our lives and do as He pleases with us and through us.  We are all guilty of falling to the daily temptation of conforming to this world.  The NLT says in verse 2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

We need a completely changed mindset.  If we desire a life of true worship, we will surrender our lives to God each day and long for nothing more and nothing less than living for Him.  We need to be transformed as we learn to serve Him with all we are.  This means completely giving up our ways and letting Him take over and redirect our path constantly. 

We initially say we want this, but so often stop Him from this transformation because we want control.  If we want true worship in our lives, we cannot be in control at all.  By becoming a living sacrifice for God, this is true worship.  It’s more than anything we just do in a church service.  It is about how we live our lives every day to serve Him. 

Real transformation comes through true worship as we seek to love God with every part of who we are.  It is vital that we be completely sold out to God in every way so that our lives become controlled by Him.  If we seek to be completely transformed, God wants us our heart with no reservations. 

Do we really seek to be transformed by Him so that we fully worship?

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Greatest Rescue Story

“The Greatest Rescue Story”
Psalm 13:5-6 NLT
But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.  I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

We all enjoy hearing stories of people who are rescued from different situations.  Whether it’s stories we hear from people directly, read about online or see on the news, we like to listen to stories of people who went from a bad situation to being rescued and their lives being saved.

When I was a kid, I remember watching “Rescue 911” on TV and I really enjoyed the stories of the extreme situations people were involved in and how they were helped.  We are often so drawn to stories of people being rescued, no matter what the situation involves.  Often times these stories involve much drama and pull our emotional heart strings to leave us teary-eyed or with tears streaming down our faces. 

Through the years, I have found myself drawn to stories of people being rescued and the extremity of those situations.  Some of them leave us with a gasp as we listen or watch the story unfold.  It can really take our breath away as we enjoy hearing the great end to a rescue story. 

As much as we enjoy hearing stories of great rescues, let us never forget the greatest rescue story as Jesus came to save our lives.  Do we hold tightly to this truth and cherish it in our lives more than anything?  He rescued us from a life of doom.  He gave His life in order to rescue us from the sin of our lives.  What an amazing rescue story! 

Do we rejoice each day for all that He has done for us?  Sometimes I think we tend to become more amazed at the stories we hear about earthly rescues than of the greatest rescue of Jesus.  Why do we allow ourselves to become so drawn to the other stories and so less drawn to His rescue story?

I know that I so often let myself become drawn in more to those stories and I take for granted His rescue in my life.  It can become so “commonplace” and I don’t want that to happen.  I’m sure it happens to many of us.  We become so used to this story and we tend to get drawn in to the other stories we hear more.  This is not to downgrade the severity or the triumph of these stories we hear.  They are wonderful to hear about.  But how much are we thankful of the rescue Jesus made in our lives?

The greatest rescue story is what Jesus did for us!  No other rescue story even comes close!