Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Great Need For Humility

“The Great Need For Humility”

Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

I am reminded so often each day how much not only that God wants me to learn humility, but also how much He wants me to share that with others.  I am not a naturally patient person and that often ends me up becoming less and less humble many days.  I think about how my lack of humility not only affects my growth in my relationship with God, but also in my relationship as I interact with friends, family and co-workers. 

The world desperately not only needs to see us acting in humility in our lives each day as we go about our routines, but the world really needs to see humility lived out as we interact with one another in the church.  In all my years of paid and voluntary ministry experience, I have seen so much hurt in the church as proclaimed believers treat one another without humility.  Believe me, I have had my fair share of falling to this problem as well and still do.  We all suffer from blowing our opportunities to show humility to one another.

Friends, I want to encourage all of us to practice humility with one another.  We need this in our homes, our places of work and in the church.  God calls all of us to focus on reaching out to others and putting them first as we live our lives.  This does not mean our needs and interests are not important as Paul shares in Philippians 2, but that we consider our needs less and other’s needs more.  God will always provide for us and we need to learn and practice more humility in order to show His love with others.

Paul knew how challenging it was for believers to practice humility and share His love.  So often Paul mentions to different churches the need for love, not only between believers, but also to non-believers.  Each week as I think about my interactions with people at work, with my family at home and then at church, I am reminded that He has called me to love others and practice humility.  I am hoping and praying that we, His church, will make a huge effort to start practicing this more and more. 

The world needs to see believers living out humility with one another instead of seeing so much disunity.  I know this is a tough pill to swallow, but it is so true.  Loving one another is key and will build God’s church and the Kingdom more and more. 

We have a great need and calling for humility!

 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

You + God = Victory

“You + God = Victory”

1 Samuel 17:45 NIV

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

This morning as I was reading about David defeating Goliath, it got me thinking about all the giants I find myself dealing with each and every day.  I thought about not only the giants I deal with, but the giants so many others deal with as well.  We all have our “giants” that intimidate us and cause us to retreat back into defeat so often.  We see something that looks way too big and challenging to conquer and we fall back to the comfortable life we’re used to.

I cannot help but think it totally breaks God’s heart when He sees His children deal with the many giants in life like David dealt with.  There have been so many different challenged and obstacles in my life and I continue to daily deal with fears of different giants that I think I cannot overcome.  But then I get to thinking about how so often I think only about how I can overcome, when it’s not really about me at all.  It’s totally about what God wants to do in me and through me. 

As I thought more about this story and passage today, I considered how so often I become overwhelmed by the giants I face instead of becoming overwhelmed by God’s awesome presence in my life.  I so often forget that even though giants come against me with intimidating tactics, I can come against them with the very awesome power of God Almighty.  It’s so inspiring to read this story of faith and courage of David. 

We are all facing giants of many kinds in life these days.  Whether they are giants from the past or ones that have just risen into our lives, they often seem overwhelming and unstoppable.  What we must remember is that nothing is too powerful for God to help us overcome through Him.  We need to always remember that when God is behind us, nothing is impossible and He will often do things we never dreamed of. 

Can you imagine the look on the faces of the crowd of people after David defeated Goliath?  I’m sure everyone was totally amazed and it was all because God did something absolutely amazing through David who was faithful and devoted. 

I want to encourage all of us today, that no matter what giants we are dealing with in our lives, to remember that You + God = Victory!  We need to stop focusing on what our giants come against us with and focus more on the power that God gives us against our giants! 

We have victory over giants with Almighty God!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Lost Art Of Listening

“The Lost Art Of Listening”

James 1:19-20 NLT

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters; You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

There are a lot of situations in life that we must take the time to understand so that we can learn.  We spend our young lives taking directions and instructions not only from our parents, but also from our teachers at school as our bodies and brains grow and we absorb valuable lessons.  We spend years and years feeding our brains information and processing all of it so that we can continue to learn and grow. 

One of the greatest lessons in life is the art of listening.  It doesn’t do us any good to just listen good enough to get a decent grade and then forget what we’ve learned.  When we are taught lessons by whomever, we should always listen and seek to learn so that we can succeed in all situations and circumstances that come our way. 

Listening is definitely an art.  We learned at a young age the challenges of listening.  For some, listening comes naturally as we are eager to learn.  For others, listening takes a lot of work because we get distracted and lose track of the lesson being taught.  However, I think in some way we all struggle with listening for one reason or another.  James knew this and he shares a very powerful passage here as he teaches us that we all need to be quick to listen. 

Friends, it’s a sad reality we must face that we have become people who are not quick to listen, and instead are quick to speak and get angry.  That seems to be a large majority of people in the world today.  So many people get so angry and determined to get their opinions out all before they take time to actually listen to what others say.  

What if we actually took the time to listen to others and started learning before going off on our tangents?  I’m not trying to get political in any way and I don’t like politics to be honest.  I am saying that it is so important, now more than ever, to stop spewing out what we think and feel all the time and take time to actually listen.  Most of all, we need to listen to God and let Him guide us. 

Instead of us being slow to listen, quick to speak and quick to get angry, we need to take a step back and start being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.  If we practiced this in our lives and in the Church today, it would be amazing what we would learn and the love that would abound as we actually took the initiative to listen and love one another. 

God, help us to always strive to listen not only to You most of all, but to others as well as we seek to share Your Love. 


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Ultimate Refuge

“The Ultimate Refuge”

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 Him.

We all have different ways we enjoy being refreshed, don’t we?  A glass of ice water or a pool on a hot summer day; taking a book and going to the beach to relax and get some rays; taking a hot shower on a cold winter day.  These are just a few of the many ways we seek to be refreshed.  Whether it’s something we consume or a place we go, we all have different ways of refreshing ourselves.  Right now, you can picture your favorite spot to go to so that you can feel at peace and get some relaxation.  We all have our favorite things and places for refreshing. 

As I think of all the things people like to do and places people like to go to get refreshment, it reminds me of the great blessings God has given to all of us to have these opportunities.  We all need times to get away and be refreshed.  We can’t always work, work, work.  We need times to get away and calm our minds and just relax.  We need to relax our minds and just get lost in letting our minds stop thinking so much.  Refreshment is something we all long for so often in the midst of our busy lives. 

I hope that we are all thankful, most of all, for the refreshment we have as we take refuge in God.  When we live and dwell in the shelter and presence of God, that is refreshment like nothing else.  When we take the time to just be in His presence and soak in all that He wants to give us, we experience peace and safety, even while living in a world of chaos.  The chaos of the world will most likely never end or slow down, so we need to make it a priority to “check out” often to refresh in Him.  As much as the world provides ways of refreshment, there is no refreshment like being in His presence. 

When we let Him become our refuge and place of total trust, we find peace like we’ve never experienced before.  We find ourselves at the peak of true enjoyment.  There is absolutely nothing like resting in the shelter and shadow of Almighty God.  When things are crazy in my days, as they often get for many of us, I like to just rest in Him.  I know that He will give me refreshment and peace that no one else or nothing else can give in this life. 

I pray that we all will find times each day to escape the chaotic world around us and just get lost in His wonderful presence.  We all need this, especially with all the craziness going on around us this year.  We need Him now more than ever and He will provide this peace and refuge. 

Will we seek ultimate refuge in Him?

 


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Encourage, Love and Support One Another

“Encourage, Love And Support One Another”

Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

This past week I have found it more challenging to think about what I want to write and share about.  Some weeks the words just flow easily from my heart.  Other weeks, I find it very hard to articulate exactly what I’m feeling and what I want to share with others through my devotional writing.  The past weeks, I’ve been thinking and talking with friends and family about all the craziness of life.  While God has definitely continued to bless us in many different ways, the craziness of life is still present and we work through it by trusting in His guidance each day.

As I find myself scrolling through facebook, checking the news reports on my phone, listening to various conversations around me at work, I just have to wonder what this world would be like if we really took this passage to heart and lived it out.  What if we really challenged ourselves to encourage, love and support one another as God has commanded us to do?  What if we took this command seriously, as God wants us to and really loved one another? 

It seems these days so many people are so focused on getting their opinions out and making sure they are heard.  While this is healthy when done in the right way, we always need to remember that no matter what, God has called us to love, encourage and support one another.  I think about that when I’m with my wife and kids especially.  Am I loving them or just venting my opinions out to them about how I feel about things?  Do I take the time to really love them and hear how they are feeling?

Friends, sometimes we just need to take a step back and really listen to what others have to say.  Many months ago I watched a devotional series by Francis Chan and I was really impacted by how he talked about how, in this world today, so many people are so focused on airing their opinions and not just listening.  We really need to take the time to listen to others.  It’s important to show others we care and help motivate them to doing great things. 

I want to encourage all of us to focus more on encouraging others around us each day.  This is not to say we can’t share how we feel about things with others, but we need to make sure we are focusing on loving, supporting and encouraging people.  That is what God wants us to focus on as we seek to share His Light. 

Father, help us to encourage, love and support one another as You have called us to do.  Help us focus not on getting our opinions heard so much, but listening to others and seeing how we can help them come to know You.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Peace And Joy In Him Alone

“Peace And Joy In Him Alone”

John 16:33 NLT

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

This past week and weekend, I found myself overcome with so many different emotions at all that is going on in the world right now.  I remember going to bed one night and I was overcome with anxiety and fear and I did not like that feeling.  I was overcome with feelings of anxiety and the fear of something bad happening because of things that had happened in our town.  As I laid there, I fought the feelings of anxiety and fear and I knew that God was trying to remind me that He was in control and that I need not worry. 

I just wanted to go to sleep and not lay awake worrying about the next thing that might happen.  I finally fell asleep and was glad that I could sleep through the night and awake in the morning knowing He was still in control.  This doesn’t mean that I was completely at rest for the weekend.  All the happenings in the news and such were just continuing to weigh my heart down and I just told God that I don’t understand why so many horrific things are happening.  My heart was broken and I prayed for peace and joy. 

Even though I cannot control the things happening in life, I need to remember every day that I can have total peace and joy in God.  The world will never provide this peace and joy.  It is only found in God alone.  Over and over and over again, God tells us in His Word to take comfort in Him and that He will be our peace and joy.  He is very clear that in this world we will have many trials and sorrows. 

While we are guaranteed we will have trouble in this world, we are even more guaranteed that He is always with us and will give us peace and joy like no one else can provide!  While all these crazy things are continuing to happen around us each day, we can know that God has overcome the world.  That gives us strength that we can, through Him, also overcome the world.  Whatever you might be struggling with today and this week, know that He will give you peace  and joy that the world can never give. 

God, thank You that in You we have amazing peace and joy that the world can never give us!  Father, as so much unrest is happening in our world recently, help us trust that You are still in control and that we need to reach out to others with Your love and shine.  Help us to trust in You everyday so that we can be a light for others to see.  Thank You for being our peace and joy, always.  As we continue to live in a world of confusion, work in us Lord so that we can be Your witness as people need that now more than ever.  Amen!


Monday, May 25, 2020

Always Remember.....With Love


“Always Remember…..With Love”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

We all have experienced more than we ever thought we would have in the past several months.  Many of us still shake our heads thinking, “Is this really still happening?”  We’ve all had so many changes happen in our lives and, at times, we are still trying to make sense of this new “normal” as so many have come to call it.  This year has been unlike any year for everyone.  Sometimes, we can go through experiences in life and feel like we’re all alone because we think no one else has gone through what we are dealing with.  Well…..not now!  We are all experiencing many of the same feelings and emotions.

As many of us have been dealing with different experiences, it can be very challenging to show love to one another, especially when we get on each other’s nerves.  Just the fact that we are all dealing with constant changes can alone bring much irritation, especially if we are a person who doesn’t deal well with change.  Everyone is different for sure and that’s okay.  It’s in times especially like these that we need to be challenged to love people more as God calls us to do. 

Think about what is really showing love to those around you?  It isn’t just saying that you love the people around you, but most importantly showing them love.  Paul makes it clear that we can do all the great “acts of service” we want to in life and look really good doing them, but if we don’t have love, it’s absolutely meaningless and we’ve wasted our time.  Ouch!  That’s a tough one to swallow!

I would like to encourage us all to make the extra effort to show God’s love sincerely to those around us each day.  Whether it’s people who are easy to love or who are difficult to love.  And, remember that YOU are difficult to love sometimes as well.  Ouch!  Another tough one to swallow!  Let us always remember that we need to do and say things……with love. 

Lord, help us to truly show love to others each day of our lives.  Help us to not only say we love others, but to really show it.  We need to love more than ever before.  Help us to love sincerely and even when it’s hard to do so.  You loved us enough to die on the Cross for us, regardless of how people treated You.  Help us also to love others, regardless of how we are treated, even though it is often hard.  Help us love others each day, especially as we continue to navigate these uncertain days ahead.  Help us love with Your love.  Amen!