Thursday, November 26, 2020

Focusing On Giving Thanks

 “Focusing On Giving Thanks”

Psalm 105:1 NLT

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done. 

 

I wanted to share a small devotional with you all today as we gather together today in different ways today, for the first time for everyone.  Most of us would be traveling and getting together with our families and enjoying the fellowship in big groups.  I hope and pray that even though things this year are completely different than ever before, we can still focus on what God has done for us and all that He has continued to do, even in the midst of this pandemic. 

No matter what, we still have so much to be thankful for even with the chaotic year.  For the first time in my whole life, I am just spending Thanksgiving day with my wife and kids.  For many days, I knew this would be the situation at hand, but I’m praying that God would work in me to still be thankful for family and so many other things even though I cannot be with more family. 

I encourage all of us to find ways to express our thanks to God for all that He has done for us.  It is especially challenging this year for so many people to do so, but it is still possible because we serve an Almighty God! 

Please make it a point to focus on the blessings God has given and give Him thanks from deep within your heart.  My prayer is that we would all focus on enjoying the time we do have with smaller numbers gathered today and this weekend and appreciate what we do have. 

And we all definitely need to remember that Thanksgiving time is an all-year-around event, not just today!  Let’s focus on giving thanks each and every day!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

From Thoughtlessly To Wise

“From Thoughtlessly To Wise”

Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT

So be careful how you live.  Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

 

The other day when I read this passage, it really caught my attention.  The word that stood out to me was “thoughtlessly”.  I began thinking of all ways I find myself acting that way and reasons why I do so often it seems.  I also thought about how it is so easy nowadays to go down that path because so many of us have nerves that are either shot or close to being shot. 

With all the craziness and chaos this year has brought on, it is so easy these days to find ourselves acting thoughtlessly in different ways.  We get worried, stressed out and frustrated easily because of so many changes that have come upon us in ways we never expected before.  Maybe some of us are finding ourselves flying off the handle more than we ever have been in situations where we usually keep our cool.

I think now, more than ever, we need to tightly hold onto God’s wisdom and really let His promises guide us so that we can better avoid acting thoughtlessly.  The world really, really needs to see us filled with hope when so many things are pulling hope further and further away.  You don’t have to look far to see or hear that hope is being dashed by the media and in other ways.  Our emotions have been all over the place this year and continues to be often. 

I do not want to act thoughtlessly in any ways as that does not bring hope to others.  I’m sure you don’t either.  However, we need to begin our days with God’s wisdom as we read His Word and take in the hope that only He gives.  We need to make the most of every opportunity, especially these days during a continued pandemic.  We need to hold on to this hope we have in God and find ways to share it with others. 

When we choose to seek God’s wisdom each day, that doesn’t meant the problems all around us will go away, but we will learn more how to hold on to hope and let peace fill us.  As we do this, we will become a beacon of God’s love and hope to those around us.  As we strive to steer away from the temptations to act thoughtlessly, we will find that we become wiser and we can then share God’s love and hope even more with others.

I hope that we will all seriously consider how we can avoid acting thoughtlessly and become wiser as God leads us each day.  I pray that we will all learn to make the most of every opportunity each and every day.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Resting At Home Base

“Resting At Home Base”

Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust in him.


I remember the old-fashioned game of tag as a child.  It’s one of the most cherished childhood games that so many grew to love.  It was fun to run around and try to avoid the person who was “it” and not get tagged!  I also remember how challenging it was to try to avoid the person who was “it”.  Sometimes, it was easy if the person was slower, but then other times it was very challenging if the person was fast.

One thing I clearly remember was always having a “home base” in the game.  Even though the game could get very intense as we ran out of breath, it was always reassuring to know that I could go to home base and rest for a bit.  While at home base, I was safe and no one could get me “out”.  It was a safe refuge for a period of time until I left home base.  It was just a great feeling to know that I could go to home base at any time and feel safe.  However, most of the time I played tag, there were rules that you could only stay at home base for a certain amount of time and then had to get back into the game.

As I read this passage and thought of the game of tag that I used to play, and sometimes still do, I couldn’t help but think about how things are in today’s world.  No matter what is going on in life and what chaos is going on around us, it is always so refreshing to know that God is and will always be our refuge.  We can rest at home base with Him knowing that He is always there to welcome us and give us peace and strength.  This isn’t to say, unfortunately, that nothing can bother us or affect us in any way, but when we are close to Him and resting in Him, He does give us peace no matter what storms come our way.

Friends, we are all weathering many different storms this year in different ways.  So many things have been going on and flooding our lives with fear or just not knowing what’s ahead.  I have found myself thinking so often, “Will this ever end?”  I’m sure so many of you are as well. 

While we don’t know how long any of this craziness will last, one thing we know for certain and can be assured of is that we can go to home base and rest in the arms of Almighty God.  Again, we won’t become immune to all that is going on around us, but we will have peace and feel safe knowing that He is in control.  We just have to trust in Him.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Reminded Of His Constant Love

“Reminded Of His Constant Love”

Psalm 143:8 GNB

Remind me each morning of your constant love, for I put my trust in you.  My prayers go up to you; show me the way I should go.

 

The other day, as I was reading this passage, I was thinking about how I really need to be reminded each day of the awesome and amazing love of God.  Not that I doubt He loves me, but just the fact that I really need the reminder every day in some way that His love is constant and never wavering. 

In the past days and weeks, I have found myself continuing to be overwhelmed and tired of all that has been going on with the pandemic and other things going on in our nation.  Some days, it just seems so overwhelming and I get tired of hearing news that is negative.  I want to hear some great news and the best news that I could hear is that His love is always with me, no matter what.

I’ve been tired of dealing with things regarding the pandemic and all that has been going on with the election.  So often I’m just asking God to give me peace when I don’t feel any peace at all.  Often I have so many questions to God about why this or that is happening.  I find myself wanting so badly to protect my family and do everything I can to make sure they stay safe and healthy. 

I need to learn more and better each day to continue to put all of my trust in no one else but God.  He will lead me and He will guide me in the ways I need to go.  Some days, I become unsure of what way to go and what to do.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling and many of you are feeling the same things. 

Friends, I don’t like being overwhelmed with so much negativity and I’m sure that you don’t either.  Being overwhelmed by good things is a great feeling, but being overwhelmed by negative things around us drains us!  My hope and prayer for each one of us is that we will seek God each and every day knowing that He truly does love us.  We need reminders every day, especially now, that He will never leave us or forsake us. 

I know that many days I find myself weak and not feeling hopeful or filled with much faith that things will be okay or go right.  Some days, I just downright feel hopeless, but I must remember that God is my hope and that He will pick me back up and help me to be filled with hope again.

We all need to be daily reminded of His constant love that endures forever!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

We Desperately Need Restoration

 “We Desperately Need Restoration”

Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.  Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

 

As I was reading this passage this morning, I thought about how we are all so often guilty of negative behavior toward other people.  It’s definitely evident in the world around us each day, especially during this time of election.  I get so tired of commercials showing candidates bashing each other.  But, it’s not only evident in the secular world around us, but sadly also very evident in the church today as well. 

If we were to be absolutely honest, often this behavior happens more in the church than in the secular world.  Ouch!  In all my years of paid ministry and volunteer ministry, I have seen so much that has broken my heart as people treat each other in so many ways they never should.  I have been very guilty of this myself in many ways through the years. 

Paul is very adamant that we need to get rid of all this evil behavior that consumes us and, instead be consumed with kindness, love and compassion for each other.  The world really needs to see the church be the example of Christ that it needs to be.  If we are filled with bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, who in the world would want to be around us?  If we are filled with this behavior, how is the love of Christ going to shine through us?  Just the opposite!

My wife, kids and I really enjoy watching HGTV shows.  We are often surprised and make loud comments when people walk into homes that look disgusting.  We often wonder how in the world people could treat homes the way they do.  Some home are left in awful condition and it’s often a turnoff to many realtors and home flippers.  The one thing they want to do in these homes is get rid of everything that makes the home sale impossible.  They want to get rid of everything disgusting and replace all of that with things that will bring in home buyers.  The home flippers will go to whatever lengths they have to in order to make the home presentable and inviting. 

Friends, we also need to work desperately hard to rid our lives of the disgusting things Paul mentions and fill our lives and attitudes instead with the love of Christ so that people feel invited more to know the love of God.  We cannot afford to set a bad example of behavior for others when they need to see God’s love. 

We need to daily resist the temptation to fly off the handle and instead allow God’s love to fill us and bring us to forgiving others and showing unconditional love that God showed to us. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Let Us Hold Tightly To Hope

“Let Us Hold Tightly To Hope”

Hebrews 10:23

NIV- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

NLT- Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

 

The other morning, I was reading this passage and the timing could not been better and I’m sure it will be good timing for many of you to read this as well.  This passage hit me as I’ve thought about all the different challenges and obstacles so many people, including myself, have dealt with this year.  2020 has definitely been a year where many people have had their faith and hope tested.

So many people these days are hoping for so many things.  I have found myself hoping for many things as well.  Often times, our hopes are dashed because of past pain that has resurfaced or new pain that has come up.  We all continue to deal with current and new challenges as this pandemic goes on.  We feel fear, panic, worry, concern and so many other different emotions as we continue to listen to news and statistics of what’s going on.

There are days when I find myself holding onto hope in God that He is in control and then other days when I don’t feel much hope for one reason or another.  I find myself becoming discouraged from hearing about constant issues coming up with the pandemic and other things happening.  I’m not a political person at all, as I’ve shared in the past, and I’m so ready for all this election stuff to end.  Some days, I’m finding my head and heart full of concerns and worries that I need to give to God. 

God is inviting me each day to turn over these things that weigh me down and allow His hope to fill me as only He can do.  Friends, we need to hold on very tightly to the hope we have in God.  Just because we have chosen to follow God and committed our lives to Him, that will NEVER make us immune to the pressures and discouragement of this world.  Each day, we need to commune with God and ask Him to fill us with His presence and pray that He will give us strength to continue to have hope in Him.

God is faithful and He will lead us on, even in the midst of such a crazy year.  He will always be faithful and we can always trust and hope in Him.  I hope and pray that each of us finds new hope in God every day that we wake and in the moments when we feel especially weak. 

Let us hold tightly and unswervingly to the hope we profess because God can be trusted and He is forever faithful!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Understand This Most Of All

“Understand This Most Of All”

Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God.  He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.


There are a lot of things in life that I don’t understand and cannot wrap my mind around to even begin to comprehend.  Some things I wish I did know and other things I know a lot about.  There are some things that I have taken great interest through the years to read up on and come to understand better.  Then there are other things that I find totally boring and don’t care to learn more about at all.

There are some things in life that I wish I understood better and some things that I really don’t care to know more about for one reason or another.  Some people make it a point to educate me on things they think I need to know.  Some of those situations I really appreciate while others I just take with a grain of salt.

Out of all the things I don’t understand and wish I could, I am very thankful to know that I understand God is an amazing God and He is more faithful than I’ll ever know.  I don’t have to know all there is to know and I never will.  No one can fully understand Him.   It comforts me to know that I don’t have to know everything to be at peace in Him. 

I often find myself becoming frustrated at things in life that I cannot understand and I feel like everyone else is “getting it” but me.  Satan knows this is a weak point in my life and he drives it hard with me often.  My wife often has to remind me this is not the case and there are many people who don’t understand a lot of things.

While there are so many things in life we don’t understand, especially this year with so many crazy things happening with the pandemic, we can rest assured to know that God is indeed a great and amazing God and He’s in control.  He indeed lavishes His love upon us each and every day.  Just knowing that He leads us and guides us should be a wonderful comfort for us.

I want to encourage all of us to stop trying to understand everything that happens in life and rest in the fact that while we can’t understand so many things, we can understand that God is indeed Who He says He is and that He will always be our great Provider. 

May we all be blessed in the coming days, weeks, months and years knowing He will continue to be faithful and loving to us all!