Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Poison Of Dwelling On The Past

“The Poison Of Dwelling On The Past”

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

There are a lot of things in life that I forget about.  There are things that I remember very easily and then other things I tend to forget.  I’m often baffled at what I can easily remember and then the things that I often forget.  We all feel this way with the things we wish we could remember and then wonder why there are some things that we have no problem remembering. 

One thing that I am very good at remembering, and comes back to haunt me so often, is the memory of mistakes that I have made.  I know that we can learn from our mistakes and focus on not repeating them, which is a good thing about remembering the mistakes.  However, the bad part about that memory of mistakes is how Satan likes to remind us so often that they somehow define us.  He is absolutely WRONG!  I have a very bad habit of remembering my mistakes and beating myself up over and over and over again about them.  My wife and kids will attest to that! 

The enemy has a sly way of popping his ugly head up every time a memory surfaces and a situation presents itself again and I repeat the cycle again getting down on myself.  We learn here that God is always doing a new thing.  We should never dwell on the past.  It’s so easy for us to constantly dwell on things that we did wrong in the past and be reminded of them every day by the enemy.  God wants us to instead focus on the new things He is doing with us and through us. 

It’s almost as if we are feeding ourselves poison every time we dwell on the past and relive the emotions of the painful mistakes we have made.  All the while God is trying to take this poison away from us and get us to focus on the new things He is doing.  I know there are many people who will read this and are reliving the same painful memories from the past that keep haunting you.  As the Apostle Paul shared to the church in Philippi, he pressed on, forgetting the past and focused on what was ahead.  We definitely need to do the same!

Friends, whatever painful past memories you are struggling to stop dwelling on, ask God to give you the strength to overcome and move forward.  I’m preaching to myself on this as well!  I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m working on it.  We are new creatures in Christ!  The old has gone, the new has come!  Let us focus on who we are in Christ! 

Stop feeding on the poison of dwelling on the past.   


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Many Parts, One Body of Christ

“Many Parts, One Body of Christ”

Romans 12:4-5 NLT

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In all the years I have been involved with ministry, both paid and voluntary, I continue to long to see God’s church become a body that loves and supports one another.  As I was reading this passage one morning this weekend, I cringed at the thought that so many believers struggle with animosity toward one another in the church.  The Apostle Paul was very adamant about believers working together to love one another, despite differences.

Friends, we have all been part of hurtful situations in the church at some point or another.  It is unfortunate and we all have experienced scars from these instances.  I wonder so often if we will take seriously the call to show love to others and work hard together to be a healthy, functioning body of Christ? 

Think of all the different scenarios and situations in which different parts work together to make something operate properly.  We could think of so many different possibilities.  Consider different machines that are put together to operate to make something or make many things.  If one part doesn’t work, it affects the whole machine and the outcome.  We see the same thing happen with a vehicle that has many parts.  If the vehicle has a part that is acting up, you will notice and sooner or later, the car won’t run properly anymore until you fix that bad part.

Friends, we need to put this illustration to work in the body of Christ and seriously think about what we need to do to contribute toward a positive, healthy and encouraging body of believers.  There is unfortunately so much division and animosity within the body of Christ and too many of us focused on what we want and not focused on what God desires.  We have become so selfish and focused on things that we want to happen.  This leads to great hurt, confusion, and emotional scars as it damages relationships.   

To see love and healing start and spread in the body of Christ, we need to set the example of love ourselves for others to see.  We can’t fix others, but instead need to pray and ask God to help us show others love.  Why don’t we focus on praying for God to use us to show others love, despite our differences?  The church today desperately needs to show love to one another and work through differences and past hurt.  It is very hard to do, but healing needs to take place. 

My prayer is that we all strive to do our part to love, forgive and work hard to make the body function as God intended. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Help Us To Trust Your Path And Ways, Lord

“Help Us To Trust Your Path And Ways, Lord”

Psalm 25:4-5 NLT

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.

We receive directions at many various times in our lives, don’t we?  We get directions from our parents, grandparents, teachers, bosses, supervisors and others as well.  Almost every single day, we receive directions in some way to help us understand and learn what to do next. 

When we start a new job, we get trained in what to do for our position.  If we start a new hobby, we might read a book or watch a YouTube video to help us learn.  If we take up a new sport, learn to drive, or buy a new product, we will find out what we need to do in order to succeed.  We spend so much of our lives being trained for things we don’t know how to do. 

I like having instructions in knowing what to do with any new thing.  Some of us adapt quickly and figure things out without having to refer to instructions over and over again.  Some of us need the instructions more often as we learn slower.  Everyone definitely learns different. 

As much emphasis as we put on following instructions and directions, how often we do the complete opposite in our relationship with God and following Him.  We so often get determined to do things the way we want to do them because we think we know what is best.  All the while God longs for us to trust Him, even when His instructions and directions don’t make any sense at all.  I think that’s the big kicker for us.  While so many instructions and directions in life come to make sense after we study and train for a while, often God’s ways do not make sense to us.

We need God to show us the right path.  We need God to give us strength to trust in Him, even when things so often don’t make sense.  We have all had quite the year of things not making much sense.  We’ve all been through new experiences and it’s often hard to trust God in these uncertain times we continue to face.  There have been a lot of things in life in the past months that have tested my faith and trusting in God because I want things to happen in my timing.  I have often gone my own way and done my own thing thinking it was right and then hit a wall. 

We all need to ask God to give us strength to trust Him to show us the right path even when His ways seem crazy to us.  We need His instructions and directions to lead us even when the path seems to make no sense.  We definitely need to put our hope in Him all day long.  Are we trusting?  Are we giving up our ways to seek His? 


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Focused On The World Or On Christ

“Focused On The World Or On Christ”

Colossians 3:1-3 NLT

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

I have been realizing so much lately in my life how easy it becomes to focus on the things of this world.  Obviously, we’ve had a lot that has bombarded our minds this year that we’ve never had to deal with before.  It is so easy for us to become focused on things that we need to take care of and lose sight that our focus needs to be on Christ. 

For me, it is so easy for me to become focused on things at work, at home and so many other little things that need to be done and decisions that need to be made instead of focusing on letting Christ lead me.  It just seems easier, for some reason, to let my mind become engrossed and overwhelmed with all the cares of the world and neglect focusing on my Savior, Jesus Christ.  We all know we should focus on Him, but often, it’s just the opposite.  We tend to focus on anything but Christ and then somehow expect things in our every day lives to go right. 

Friends, I know that we all have so much going on in life right now that we’re still trying to process and work through.  None of us are in an isolated situation when it comes to many of the things we are dealing with.  We are all overwhelmed and concerned in many ways.  We just let ourselves become too focused on the world and not focused on Jesus.  But, we have to ask ourselves, are we going to be focused on what we want in the world or the life we are meant to have in Christ?

Often times, we like being focused on the world and all the temporary pleasures we get from chasing after things, don’t we?  Come on!  Admit it!  We all like to chase after things that we know we shouldn’t and then somehow we think that we should be able to have the best of both worlds and try to focus on Christ as well.  We think, “Hey, I can have the world and Christ, too!”  Nope!!!  Stop it!!!  Don’t even think that.  It doesn’t work that way.  I struggle with the same thoughts often. 

Friends, we are either consumed by and focused on the world or on Christ.  We need to choose.  We cannot have both and it will wear us out doing both.  I encourage all of us to choose which way we will go.  Let’s set our minds and hearts on Christ and not things of this world.  We can enjoy what God has given to us in this world, but not to be focused and consumed by the world. 

Are we focused on the world or on Christ?


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.