Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Living With Great Expectations

“Living With Great Expectations”

1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

I think it’s safe to say we have all had many past experiences with having high expectations in various situations only to have those hopes dashed away for whatever reasons. 

You visit a fast food place, restaurant or have a meal delivered that someone spoke highly of and recommended, but then you end up having terrible service or food that was cold and tasted terrible.

You go see a movie that you’ve waited so long to see, but then you are so disappointed in the plot and are let down for spending the time and money.

You buy a product from a store that you’ve heard so much about and are excited to finally try, but then it turns out to be a piece of junk and you’re left broken-hearted from the anticipation you once had.

We’ve all been let down like this in some way or another and we often get tired of having great expectations of something turning out good only to have a completely opposite experience.  We all had great expectations for a great year in 2020, but we learned that anything can happen at any time to completely blow our minds in various ways.

Sometimes it’s really hard to live with great expectations after a very crazy 2020 and now with all that’s happened this year so far.  We tend to be hesitant to have great expectations and wonder sometimes if we should get excited about things.  Well, if they are worldly things, we better be prepared to get let down and not have high hopes.  However……if our expectations are a different and we focus instead on things not of this world, then we may just be in luck! 

We can have great expectations in our hope with God and He will never disappoint!  That’s not to say hard times won’t come, but He will never let us down.  We can rejoice and have great expectations to know that we have a priceless inheritance in Christ!  When the world lets us down, we always have Christ to trust and rely on.  He has given us new life and that life in Him is filled with great expectations! 

In Christ, we can always live with great expectations!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Trusting Vs. Trusting

 “Trusting Vs. Trusting”

Proverbs 3:5 NLT

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Sunday morning before last, I found myself waking up to a very abnormal side pain.  I’ve had side pains before, but this did not feel at all like any that I’ve had before, especially that it started in the middle of the night.  That Sunday, I went from an Urgent Care visit to the ER awaiting the removal of my appendix because I had early appendicitis.  I still remember the shock feeling that came over me when the doctor called to say the CT scan confirmed it was appendicitis and that I needed to head to the ER to get ready for surgery.

As I waited through the early afternoon, I was being tested in various ways and prepped for my surgery.  What I most appreciated is that I was being prepared mentally for what was about to happen.  I didn’t know any of the people taking care of me, but I just fell into a “trust” feeling when I was being told that I would be taken great care of and that it would most likely be a very successful surgery.  I was still nervous, but after they did all they could to prepare me mentally, it put me at ease knowing I would be sedated and then wake up without an appendix hurting.

After I woke up and have continued my days of healing up to now, I have been thinking everyday about the whole idea of trusting that day.  I was not only realizing how much I put all my trust in what the medical personnel was doing that day to tend to my care, but I couldn’t help to think about how I so often do not trust in God as much as He promises to take care of my life.  That thought has stuck with me and got me thinking a lot.

As I mentioned before, I tend to feel more at ease and trust more when things are explained to me and I can understand what I’m about to experience.  Being prepared does a great deal for me.  However, God does not always work this way.  He so often does not explain things to us and, instead, asks us to completely trust in Him when things do not make sense and when we don’t understand things at all. 

I trusted in the medical personnel because I was mentally prepared beforehand, but my trust should always ultimately be in God Who always provides and takes care of me.  He often asks us to completely trust in Him when we have no idea what is ahead and what we are about to experience.  That can cause some major anxiety!

My challenge for all of us is to consider how much we trust God in situations that are really challenging and in which we are totally blind to what might be ahead.  Do we trust God no matter what and not depend on our understanding?  Trusting in Him is everything.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Fixed On The Positive

 “Fixed On The Positive”

Philippians 4:8 NLT

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

We all have had and still have our very fair share of times when we don’t focus on the positive aspects of life and what God has given to us.  We have days when things are going great and we do nothing but lift up praises. Then….there are the days when nothing seems to be going right and there honestly isn’t an ounce of anything close to praise coming from our lips.  We all have these times and if you don’t, you’re not a real human being! 

We all know that in the past year before 2021 hit, we had a year that was very challenging to focus on positive things.  It was filled with events we never thought would ever occur.  They came and we all were challenged to reconsider so many different things in life.  It was easy for any of us to lose our focus on the positive with the pandemic, the riots, the election and now with what has already happened to start off the year. 

Friends, there are so many things that would give us reason to focus on anything but positive things.  It often seems so easy to pick out the bad things happening in life, but that’s where the enemy wants us to be.  He wants us to be constantly thinking of negative things and not be filled with the positive things that God has done and continues to do in us, through us and all around us.

I would like to encourage all of us to take a few moments now and each day after, how we can take a step back, rethink all of the words we may be spewing out to others each day via social media to express our opinions, and remember that Paul highly encouraged not only the church in Philippi, but us as well today that we need to focus on the positive things God has done and continues to do. 

It is a daily challenge and one we must fully embrace if we are to shine the light of Christ around us to others.  Do people really need to hear our opinions or do they need to know the love of Christ?  Ouch!  Tough pill to swallow.  Does that mean we’re not allowed to share our opinions?  No, but it does mean that we often need to consider what we are focusing on and what our mission is each day of life.  Are we going to choose to be fixed on the positive and all that God has done and continues to do?  Or are we going to focus on making sure that everyone knows how we feel about things going on around us? 

We all need to take a deep breath, think about what we are sharing with others, and consider if what we are sharing is really spreading the true love of Christ.  Paul tells us to fix our thoughts on all that is excellent and worthy of praise.  Good advice!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

It's Right In Front Of You

 “It’s Right In Front Of You”

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.

Last year, I remember a funny moment when I went to find something in the pantry at home.  I looked for it and made a comment about not finding it.  My oldest daughter comes to join in at the pantry door, looks right in front of me, grabs it and says, “Dad, it’s right here in front of you!” as she laughed.  I think I said something to the effect of “Of course!  You find it right away!” as I laughed as well.

We have all had our fair share of times in life when we look for so long for something and someone else somehow happens to come to our aid and finds it almost immediately!  How can that be?  How in the world can we so often miss what’s right in front of us?  How can we be that blind?  We look everywhere, but……how carefully are we really looking?  Are we looking quickly and missing what is right in front of us?  Many times we are.

In the past years, when we’ve asked our girls to find something in their rooms, we have often joked that they go to the door, glance quick and come back saying they can’t find whatever we asked them to look for. 

As I mention these examples, I think about the things God puts right in front of us so often that we miss.  He is daily putting reminders all around us and so often we are so focused on the things we want to see and our own agendas that we totally miss exactly what He has clearly put in our path.  We get so set on our own thinking, our own agendas and our own ideas and we completely miss the great blessings God has put in clear view for us. 

I know that we have all been very consumed in one way or another this past year and even into the New Year, with uncertainty and chaos that has been in our lives.  It’s been easy to focus so much on all the chaos and fear that easily settles in our path and forget that God is abundant with His constant blessings. 

Sometimes, it’s so easy to dwell on the past and former things in our lives and we lose sight of what is right in front of us that God wants us to see.  Some of us are great at dwelling on the past and that blinds us to what God is trying to show us now.  God is making a way if we will just stop trying so hard in our own ways and focus on Him.  If we just slow ourselves down to take a deep breath and let Him lead, we will be so surprised at what we find right in front of us. 

As we continue into this New Year, why don’t we become better at letting Him lead, slowing down, and letting Him open our eyes more to what is right in front of us.  His blessings are all around us!  Do we see them?

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Our Hope For The New Year And Beyond

“Our Hope For The New Year And Beyond”

Psalm 33:20-22 NLT

We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.

 

I have found myself in the past months starting off statement with “I sure hope________________” and then I fill in the blank with whatever thought I have at that time.  I have been hoping for a lot of things as I’m sure many or most of you have as well.  Through our years of life, we hope for many things in different ways. 

This past year, 2020, we have all probably hoped for things we had never thought about before.  With all the chaos and uncertainty, we have found ourselves hoping in different ways and maybe hoping for different things than we have hoped for in the past.  Just take a few moments and think back to the different things you have hoped for this past year.  Think of all that has gone on and all that has happened in your family, at work, at church and other places.  Take some time to think on what you have hoped for that you hadn’t really thought about in the past until now.

Many of us have probably had hopes shattered in some ways and then found ourselves grasping for some kind of relief and assurance that things will get better.  We have all been affected in so many ways this year by all the pandemic chaos and we are hoping and praying that things will get better very soon.

I’m learning each new day that instead of hoping in things of this world, as I so often do, I instead need to hope always in God.  I need to put my hope and trust solely in Him because He knows the future and knows what is best for myself and my family.  I’m learning little by little to hope more in Him and not in what the world offers or tries to offer.  I have been so grateful for the ways God has been providing for us this year in many different ways with the pandemic, but I need to remember that those things we have been blessed with are not and in themselves.  God is always the provider and I need to put all my hope and trust in Him.

Perhaps we need to shift our thinking of hope for the New Year and start putting much more hope in God instead of the things of this world.  When things seem bleak, God is still going to provide in some way and He always does.  We need to look into the New Year and be reminded of all the wonderful ways He has provided and still will continue to provide.  

He is our True Hope for the New Year and beyond!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The True Source For Every Season

 “The True Source For Every Season”

Psalm 62:1-2 NIV

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

 

As I gather my thoughts and share with you in the devotional for this week, I am thinking through the whole year of 2020 and all that has taken place with the chaos.  However, even with all the chaos, I know and truly believe that God is still and will always be in control. 

As I consider the past year, our time of celebrating Thanksgiving last month and now embarking on the week of Christmas and then New Year’s to follow right after, I am reminded that no matter what is going on, I can always find true rest and peace with God amidst all the craziness going on.  We have all experienced and continue to experience times that are good, time that are challenging and times where we just cannot wrap our minds around anything going on around us. 

I am so blessed to know that God has taken such good care of me and my family through all of this turbulent time this year.  I am so thankful for the health that he has given to me and my wife and kids.  I’m also thankful for the wonderful family he has give to me through my wife’s extended family and mine as well.  Each day, God is reminding me of all He has blessed me with and continues to give me. 

I am reminded that I have a job, a family who loves me, great friends who care, a house to live in, food in my fridge and transportation to get me and my family where we need to go.  God has provided and He continues to do so in so many ways.  I am reminded that He is truly my peace and rest.  He is my salvation and my rock.  He is my fortress and I can never be shaken, no matter what comes my way.

I find each day that instead of focusing on all the constant changes that are happening around me, I need to focus on the blessings He has given to me and continues to give. 

I’m sure so many of you out there are dealing with many different challenges and struggles as this year has progressed.  Let us never forget that even though we often face great challenges, we serve a great God Who is bigger than anything we face!  He reigns and always will!

As we approach this week of Christmas and gathering together with friends and family as much as we can, let’s remember Who is the real reason for not only this season, but every season and every single day of life.

God bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Praise, Give Thanks And Trust

“Praise, Give Thanks And Trust”

Psalm 28:6-7 NLT

Praise the Lord!  For he has heard my cry for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and shield.  I trust him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

 

After reading through this passage several times lately, I felt it would be a good challenge and encouragement for us to consider focusing on three different things as we have just finished the Thanksgiving holiday and go into Christmas.  I always say and have heard often that we shouldn’t just focus on Thanksgiving one day per year, but rather each and every day because we have so much to be thankful for. 

The three different areas we should focus on are praise, give thanks and trust, considering all the chaos this year has brought to us.  First, we should praise God for Who He is and always will be.  Second, we should always give thanks no matter what has happened or is happening.  Third, we need to daily continue to learn to trust in Him, especially when we don’t understand life around us.

There are some days it is easy to do these three things.  Then there are days when it is far from our minds to even consider praising Him, giving thanks and trusting.  I get it and have many of those days as well.  There are some days when I feel good in praising Him, giving thanks and putting my trust in Him. Then there are days when these things are the last on my mind because I’m frustrated and confused and just don’t feel like doing so.  We all have challenging days when we feel like and wonder why God isn’t leading us or connecting with us. 

This year has been so challenging in ways we never expected.  Instead of us often focusing on the frustrations we continue to deal with, perhaps we need to shift our perspective and focus on praising God for all He has done and continues to do, give genuine thanks for the abundant blessings He has given to us and learn to trust in Him no matter what situations or circumstances come our way. 

In the past weeks, I have found myself up and down in emotions and feeling frustrated over continued changes and restrictions.  Some days it really feels overwhelming and I feel so tired of dealing with the year, as I’m sure many of you are.  But then I have to remember that I should not focus on all the negative things, but instead focus on all the great things God has been doing and continues to do in my life.  It’s my choice what to focus on and I need to make sure I’m working hard to set a good example for not only my family at home, but also for my coworkers and for anyone anywhere else I go. 

My prayer for all of us today and every day is that we will remember to always praise Him, give thanks and trust not only to keep us focused on what we’ve blessed with, but also to show others His light as we strive to shine setting an example of His love for all to see.