Sunday, September 27, 2020

Daily Desperation For Almighty God

 

“Daily Desperation For Almighty God”

Psalm 42:1-2

NIV- As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?

NLT- As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.  I thirst for God, the living God.  When can I go and stand before him?


I was reading a devotional this morning and the author used the word “Desperation” describing how our longing and panting for God should be each day.  It really caught my attention and I looked at both the NIV and NLT translations and wanted to use them both for this week.  I think about how we do or do not find ourselves longing or even panting desperately for God. 

If we are really honest with ourselves, I think most of us find ourselves often longing and even panting for whatever is next to give us another “high” of what the world offers.  With all the ads and invitations we constantly see and how we really long for the next great thing the world offers, we often get pulled away and enticed instead of truly longing and thirsting for what only God offers.

We so often get so busy with our daily lives that we forget how desperate we should be for God.  As you can tell, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve sent out a devotional.  We just got done selling a house and buying one in the same town.  For the past couple of weeks, I kept thinking about how I need to get another devotional out, but allowed myself to be consumed by everything else as we’ve worked on getting settled. 

So the case and point right there is that I longed and desired to send out another devotional and then ended up reading this morning about being desperate.  That hit home!  We so often get wrapped up in what we think is important and often forget what is really important and that is meeting with Almighty God and seeking Him above all else. 

When was the last time you and I found ourselves really longing and even panting desperately for God?  We should be this desperate each and every single day, not just when we become drained from the pull of the world that leaves us dry.  We should develop a daily desperation to seek God like we’ve never done before. 

I hope and pray that we are all encouraged this week and in the coming days, weeks, months and years to daily become desperate to seek Him like we have never done before!  We need daily desperation for Almighty God!  Our souls should long and pant for God in desperation to meet with Him!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Do They Really See Him In Us?

 “Do They Really See Him In Us?”

1 John 4:11-12 NLT

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

I have to really wonder how often unbelievers really see God in and through us.  As I consider all the ways we tend to live our lives each day as proclaimed followers of God, I just have to question whether or not we are striving for others to see Him in us?  It seems like we get so focused not only on how we want things, but also on how we want others to know how we feel about certain things. 

I just have to wonder with all the different opinions that we feel we need to share and get others to hear from us, how often are we really concerned how much God is showing through?  In all of my years of experience with secular work and working in ministry, it breaks my heart how so often His love is not expressed through how we treat one another. 

Think about this passage and read it over and over again, pondering what it is saying.  God loved us way more than we’ll ever understand.  He came to die for us and that is the greatest act of love anyone has ever expressed.  What does that mean to us?  Does it overwhelm us?  Does it move us to the point where we stop focusing so much on what we want and what we think and focus on loving others as He commanded us to?

I go to work each day and I just so often wonder if others are seeing God in me in some way.  I wonder if they notice something different in the ways that I treat others.  Sometimes, I don’t know if they see God at all in me as there are times that I don’t handle things well at all and say things I should keep to myself.  Working in the secular world for so many years has taught me so much and it has challenged me to think more about how I am around non-believers.

Loving each other is probably one of the biggest challenges we face in being the church God wants us to be.  Why is that so hard?  Sure, we have differences, but why can we not just love each other as He has called us to do?  That’s been a prayer and cry of my heart for years.  I’m sure it has been for many of you as well. 

I hope that you and I will deeply desire for others to see God’s love in and through us.  We need to work a lot hard on loving each other, especially when challenges arise.  We need to love others as best as we can, even if we don’t get along.  If we really want others to see God in us, we will obey His command with a passion in our hearts to sincerely love one another.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Investment in Godly Wisdom and Understanding

“Investment in Godly Wisdom and Understanding”

James 3:13 NIV

Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

I think we would all be very quick to say that we desire to have understanding and wisdom.  We all want to know things and become wiser in all that we do.  We want to learn more so that we can further our understanding for different things we continue to do in life.  We spend so much of our lives continuing to learn different things so that we can fill our minds with more knowledge to be more successful.

With all the learning that we do, I often think the best wisdom we can obtain goes untouched in so many ways from God’s Word.  We say we want to grow in Him and that we want to learn humility, but the ways we live our lives really says something totally different all too often. 

What are we investing in these days?  Where are we putting our time and focus?  This is something I have been thinking a lot about, especially with so many changes that have happened over this year.  I’m trying to continuously challenge my priorities and where I am putting most of my focus.  It’s a daily challenge as it is for us all.

This week, I’d like to ask all of us to seriously consider where we are investing our time?  Do we really seek Godly wisdom and understanding?  Do we really want to learn what is means to be humble?  Are we serious about this learning?  We often say we are, but what we are doing daily to be challenged and to learn more about Godly wisdom that will bring more understanding and more humility? 

I’m not at all against the different investments we make in our lives for us and our families.  We definitely need to invest in different ways, but I have to wonder where we are focusing most of our investing?  Are we investing more in material things or in Godly wisdom?  I know I am not investing as I should each day. 

What do you think others are seeing in your life?  Are they seeing you invest in the wisdom from God or from the world?  Do they see you investing in understanding His Word more?  Are they seeing you become more humble?  I think we all need to take a serious look at how we are investing our daily lives and then ask God to give us His wisdom and glean as much as we can even more from His Word like we’ve never done before.

Our greatest investment is gaining Godly wisdom so that we can be more understanding and learn to be more humble. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Easy To Understand, Hard To Practice

 

“Easy To Understand, Hard To Practice”

1 Peter 5:7 NLT

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

There are a lot of things in life that we find very easy to understand, but then they are difficult to put into practice.  Often times we are given instructions to do something and, at first, the instructions seem simple.  However, once we get into the nitty-gritty of actually following through, we come to find out that it’s more than we bargained for!  It isn’t necessarily that we made a wrong choice per say, but we just definitely don’t understand how hard it is to actually follow through with certain things.

We all struggle with different situations, whatever they may be.  We may think something sounds cool, but then when we actually jump in and start, we find out that it’s so much harder than we first thought.  We honestly want things as easy as possible.  I know I do!  When we’re faced with instructions or obstacles that are hard, we tend to hesitate and try another way so that we can avoid any extra work or effort.  As I said before, there are so many different scenarios that seem easy to understand up-front, but once we get going and try to follow through, we find ourselves having a hard time keeping up and actually committing to finishing.

This passage really hit me the other day as I pondered how hard it is for me to give all my worries and cares to God.  I mean, it’s so simple to understand that we should give all of our worries and cares over to God.  He wants us to leave those things at the Cross and to trust in Him.  We know that.  We’ve been taught this for so many years, yet we find ourselves struggling to do this each and every day.  It’s so simple to say it and tell others we need to do it.  But then actually following through and letting God take these things from us is a different story all together! 

I have struggled for so much of life giving Him all my worries and cares and just letting Him be in control.  I want to worry and fret and be anxious and stress about everything it seems!  Well…..I really don’t want to, but by the way I live, it sure seems that way often!  God doesn’t want us to hold on to these things and live with all these things burdening us.  He wants us to give it all over to Him and trust that He will guide us through.  He doesn’t want us carrying these things on our own.  He wants us to give it all to Him. 

This is so easy to understand, but very hard to put into practice.  However, it is a daily challenge and learning experience as we grow in our faith and allow Him to take our worries and cares.  Are we willing to give those up and actually follow through in letting Him be in control? 

The ball is in our court.  Are we going to give these things to God and let Him be in control? 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

He Is Our Shield, Glory And Only Hope

“He Is Our Shield, Glory And Only Hope”

Psalm 3:3-4 NLT

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.  I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain.

 

In a sermon many years ago, I heard Chuck Swindoll say that he has been asked many times how people who don’t know the Lord get through their problems and trials.  He then said not to come up and ask him that question because he didn’t know the answer to it.  I’ve never forgotten that statement and have shared it many times with others.  I also do not know how people, who don’t know God, make it through different challenging times in life. 

As hard as life is often times, I cannot imagine dealing with all the challenging times without God to guide me and comfort me.  Life is hard enough and just to even imagine dealing with hard times without Him just seems impossible.  I can’t even imagine going through life without knowing He is with me and guiding me, even though there are many things I continue to not understand.  He is my Shield and my Glory and only Hope in life.  The world around me does not and will never give me what He does.

In the past months, I have been focusing many of my devotionals on dealing with challenging circumstances because I feel that is what God has been laying on my heart to share because we are all dealing with situations, circumstances and emotions that we have never before dealt with.  I know that I need daily reminders that God is helping me through this uncharted waters and I believe you all do as well.  Even though we all may be dealing with new experiences this year, God continues to be Who He is and that will never change. 

Never forget that He is our eternal Shield, eternal Glory and eternal Hope!  We all have good days and we all have bad days.  It is definitely easier to have hope when days are good and we are feeling good about the future.  However, when times seem gloom, it’s much harder and much more challenging. 

I would like to leave us with this prayer as we continue to go about our days through this consistently challenging year.

Father, we thank You for being our constant Shield, Glory and Hope.  We just cannot imagine dealing with life and not having hope in You.  Where would we go and how would we even deal with all these things if we could not come to You with our burdens and concerns?  Father, please help us to put our trust and hope solely in You always!  Let us never forget that You are guiding us, even when we cannot feel it.  Give us daily strength to do what only You can do through us.  We know You are leading and we just need to trust, even when things seem very confusing.  We trust and hope in You!  Amen.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

His Unfailing Love Never Ceases

 “His Unfailing Love Never Ceases”

Psalm 86:5-7 NLT

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.  Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry.  I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.

Over half of the year has flown by and is full of events that we would like to soon forget!  We have all been exposed to new emotions and circumstances that we never though would occur.  We are all continuing to deal with the inconsistency of different events that keep popping up all over the world.  It can get very overwhelming at times.

No matter what we continue to experience, we can be assured that our Almighty Father never ceases to pour out His unfailing love.  No matter what is troubling us, we can bring these burdens to Him and He will shower us with His unfailing love.  He is good and is so ready to forgive, no matter what is in our recent past or years past.  He will always listen closely to our prayers.  Take some time to read through the Psalms of prayers from David.  You will see the heart of a man of God pouring his deepest pain out to God. 

No matter what is going on in our lives, we must always remember that God’s unfailing love will never cease.  That is a promise you can always count on!  Don’t listen to the lies the enemy is trying to feed you.  God always hears our urgent cries for help and we must keep an open mind and remember that He works in His ways and not ours.  Isaiah says that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not ours.  We often get into trouble when we expect God to work in our timing.  He has never worked that way and never will.

I can’t promise you that God will take your pain away right now in whatever you are dealing with, but I can tell you that pain will never be in vain.  Whatever pain you are experiencing with waiting for answers, please keep trusting in Him and know He is working, even when you can’t feel or see that. 

We need to remember in the times of hardship that God wants to connect with us and commune like we’ve never done before.  It’s in these times that He can transform us and mold us like He’s never been able to do before.  We so often want Him to change our circumstances and the things around us, but what He wants to do more than anything is change our hearts so that we grow more in our faith. 

Never forget that His unfailing love never ceases, no matter what we feel or what we think.  His love and faithfulness endures forever!

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. 


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!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Certainty In A World Of Uncertainty


“Certainty In A World Of Uncertainty”
Hebrews 13:8 NIV
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

There are some things that I don’t mind being the same in my life.  There are certain things that I enjoy being predictable and expected each day and each week.  I’m sure there are things that you all enjoy each day that become a routine.  We all get into routines and we come to expect certain things at certain times. 

We get up in the morning, take a shower, eat breakfast, get the kids off to school (in the normal world, of course), drive to work (or go into the home office), eat lunch, drive home (or leave the home office), eat dinner, go to bed at some point.  We sometimes add to these activities or change them up in some ways as different things come up, but we stick to a routine a lot of times. 

We live in a world right now where nothing is certain or predictable.  Just when we think we have something figured out, change comes drastically it seems.  Nothing seems certain anymore, especially with all the chaos of the pandemic around us.  We have become very unsure and uncertain of many things.  It seems every day that I go to work, there are some changes taking place and more to follow. 

I’ve come to a point where I mentally have to prepare myself for any changes that may come and ask God to help me deal with them.  Sometimes I deal with changes ok, but other times I do not.  The change in expectation or routine can totally throw my day off.  It can ruin my mood and make me crabby the rest of the day with coworkers and then with my family at night.  I just want to have certainty in life so often.  However, I need to learn better to expect the unexpected and just be ready if things change.  I don’t need to be anxious, but just prepared. 

Friends, we live in very uncertain times, but one thing you and I can count on each day is knowing, trusting and believing that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  We can rest in that promise that He will never change and that we can trust Him in every aspect of life.  Nothing will ever change Who He is and how awesome He is.  He will remain the supportive and loving God we have followed for years.  Be certain that in this world of uncertainty, He is and always will be constant. 

God, we thank you for being such an amazing Father to us.  In this world of constant uncertainty, we praise You for remaining You.  We thank you for helping us and never leaving us, no matter the situations that come up in life.  We are so grateful that we can put our trust in You, even in the midst of the uncertainty in the world with this pandemic.  Help us trust You, even when things don’t make sense.  We lay our worries and anxious thoughts before You.  Thank you for hearing us.  Amen!    

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Continued Thanks Through Uncertainty


“Continued Thanks Through Uncertainty”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

This passage is very powerful and encouraging as Paul reminds us to rejoice always no matter the situation, never give up with prayer, and continually give thanks.  Friends, this can be so hard to do some days, especially when we are bombarded with so many different venues of news and statistics. 

We have so very much to be thankful for these days.  We always have a reason to continue our attitude of thanks.  There should never be a moment that goes by in our daily lives that we don’t have something to be thankful to God for.  I know sometimes it’s hard to give thanks when we are having really bad days and things right and left seem to be falling apart.  It’s in these times that God challenges us more and more to focus on how blessed we really are.  It can be tough to look through the stormy clouds and feel joy and thankfulness. 

We need to be consistent in our daily thanks to God for all He has done and all He continues to do.  I want to challenge us all, whether we are working from home or if we’ve been laid off and are spending much time at home with our family than we possibly ever have before,  to cherish this time when we are forced to not go places and do the things we have been so accustomed to doing.  Life has slowed down in so many ways and God has opened so many other doors of opportunity for us to fellowship with each other. 

Let’s take advantage and be grateful for this time we have to be close to our family members every single day and look for the opportunities God gives us to bless each other and grow closer together.  Maybe we need to turn off the TV and any other news source pumping stats into our minds and just focus on being together and praising God for everything He has blessed us with. 

Some days, it’s honestly hard for us to give thanks, even though we know we should always be doing so.  We are human and we often get very frustrated and the enemy can easily work through these times to steer us away from our gratefulness toward God.  If we focus each day on His abundant blessings, we will be reminded of our need to have continued thanks through uncertainty. 

Father, as we continue on in these unknown days that follow, we desire to seek and trust You every step of the way.  We want to focus on the amazing abundant blessings that You continue to pour out, regardless of our situations.  Help us focus on Your unfailing love and the opportunities You give us to be a blessing to others during this challenge time.  We give You continued thanks because we know You are always with us through everything.  Thank You for being faithful.  May we also be faithful as we seek to serve You each day.  Amen!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Thank You For It All, Lord


”Thank You For It All, Lord”
Psalm 36:5-7 NLT
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.  You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.  How precious is your unfailing love, O God!  All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.

Lately, I have been finding myself thinking of more and more ways to be thankful each day for what God has provided for me.  This passage is powerful starting with declaring praise to God for His unfailing love.  I am thankful each day how God reminds me that I need to be constantly and more grateful for the unfailing love He pours out to me. 

I’m so thankful that He continues to love me, even as I am often unlovable to those I love and care about the most.  There are days when I’m just not fun to be around and I’m so grateful for the love my family continues to show in those times toward me.  I’m grateful for His continued faithfulness that never ends and stretches beyond the clouds.  He is faithful even when I am so often unfaithful to Him in little and big ways.  Some days, I just don’t want to even try for various reasons.  I get in my own world and I’m just selfish and want things my way.  I’m thankful for not only His faithfulness, but the faithfulness of my family in those times.

I’m finding myself becoming more aware of all that He has done for me and continues to do through His faithfulness and unfailing love despite so often how self-absorbed I can get.  I’m so thankful for it all!  I don’t want to become ungrateful, but so often I do.  I’m so grateful for how faithful He is to give to us so abundantly in so many different ways.  I need to be reminded often how very grateful I should be.

Friends, these are just thoughts I want to share with you in hopes that you will be reminded of how grateful you need to be as well because of the amazing faithfulness, unfailing love and righteousness of God.  We serve an amazing God and we all need to be daily reminded of how very Awesome He is!  We need to be reminded to be so thankful for all things and all the people He has put into our lives to encourage and love on us.  We should also be thankful for those who challenge us to be better servants in our lives.

With all the continued changes we are dealing with day in and day out, we need to be reminded of His blessings and say, “Thank You For It All, Lord!” 

Father, help us to be in complete awe of You every single day from the moment we get up till we lay our head on the pillow to sleep.  Help us to be strengthened each day by Your constant, unfailing love and faithfulness.  You are faithful, even through all these challenging days.  Amen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Thankful For The Hope


“Thankful For The Hope”
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.

This past week, I have been thinking more and more about the hope that I have been given in my life with God.  I find myself wanting to thank Him more and more each day for giving me the life that I have in Him because I have a hope that is real and strong, no matter what my emotions are like as I go through my days.  As I daily fight different emotions with all the different changes in life from this pandemic, I am being reminded by Him that I have so much to be hopeful about and so much to be thankful for.

I am thankful that He is my help and my shield.  I am thankful that I can fully trust in Him, no matter what is going on around me daily.  His unfailing love surrounds me every day and I just love feeling His warm embrace as I rest in Him.  I know that God is going to continue to provide for me and my family even though the coming days and weeks are filled with uncertainty. 

Friends, I simply cannot imagine how life would be with the hope we have in Christ.  I could not imagine waking up in the morning and living the whole day without any hope that God gives.  It saddens me when I think about how many people live each day without being filled with this hope and now knowing God at all.  Life with God is still hard enough so many times with not understanding things, I just can’t imagine not having my relationship with Him and being completely without hope. 

I want to encourage all of us this week, and in the coming weeks, to focus on putting our hope in God, no matter what the future holds.  We don’t need to worry, but just allow ourselves to be surrounded by His unfailing love in all the ways He shows that.  He is taking care of us and always will somehow.  Whatever you might be dealing with today and in the days to come, know that nothing is out of His control and He will fill us with hope.  We can rejoice daily because we have a hope that the world can never take away and no world events can crush.  Yes, we may have our days of despairing feelings, but His hope will fill us once again. 

God, thank You for the hope that You will us with each day.  There are some days, Lord, when we feel like we’re losing hope and feeling helpless.  We are human and we need Your unfailing love to fill us and remind us that we are never alone.  We have so much to be thankful for God and we need to trust that You will never abandon us and that You truly love us.  Remind us each day God to give You thanks for all the wonderful things You continue to bless us with in our lives.  We are truly blessed, even with a chaotic pandemic going on around us.  You are bigger than anything we might fear.  We love You and thank You for loving us and giving us hope.  Amen!



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Lord, Help Us Through These Storms


“Lord, Help Us Through These Storms”
Matthew 8:23-26 NIV
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”  He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

I don’t know how many of you are storm chasers and/or storm enthusiasts, but I have been a storm enthusiast most of my life.  I’m sure that I have written before about my fascination with thunderstorms and the weather patterns it creates.  During thunderstorm season, I get really excited when storms come through because I just like the adrenaline rush of watching them.  I have never personally witnessed a tornado in person, but I have heard and watched videos of countless stories of people who record them and chase them.  I also like to watch storm chasing shows on TV just to see the excitement and adrenaline rush of the storm enthusiasts.

Some storms have plenty of warning, but then there are some that suddenly come up and people respond with, “Where did that storm come from?  I did not see that coming!”  Sometimes we have no warning at all it seems and we are completely taken off guard by what comes our way.  We often don’t know how to react and we want to keep ourselves and our family safe. 

Friends, we continue to embark on the unknown ahead of us as we all deal with this new life experience none of us were prepared for or ever saw coming.  I hope this passage can bring a little comfort to us knowing that we are never alone when we deal with storms that come up in life.  Right now, we are all experiencing so many of the same storms.  And just like this passage states, these have come without warning. 

Even though we may be feeling a wide range of continued mixed emotions about the pandemic around us, know that Jesus is there to comfort us through these storms, whether we are experiencing job loss, the actual coronavirus itself in our life or within our family, financial difficulty or you are a first responder dealing with the front lines on all of this, know that Jesus is right there with us and will give us comfort through this as we trust in Him.

Father, we experience a lot of storms in our lives.  These current storms often seem overwhelming and they have come upon us much without warning.  Give us strength daily Father to trust You that You will carry us through this scary time.  We love You and know that You will never forsake us or abandon us.  Help us trust in You even though we don’t understand so much right now.  Give us joy and peace even in the midst of this pandemic.  We know You are still in control and help us never forget that, especially in the storms of life.  Amen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Lord, Help Us To Keep Trusting


“Lord, Help Us To Keep Trusting”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

This past week, I have had the word “trusting” on my mind and heart frequently.  As the days and weeks continue on, I still feel the need to share with you all how God is teaching me more and more how to keep my trust in Him in the midst of the pandemic that feels like a bad dream still.  I find myself waking up everyday and just wondering what the next set of news I will hear will be about.

I find myself praying differently.  I don’t really know how to describe it, but I’m just asking God for peace and that I will continue to have the strength in Him to trust even though there is so much I cannot understand. 

I have read this passage more times in my life than I can count.  It’s been a staple for many of us through the years and is a popular passage to quote in various times and circumstances.  Lately, I’ve been thinking more about it and how God is asking me to trust Him even more these days as I strive to provide for my family as I keep hearing different news at work and in the community about changes. 

He is reminding me to trust completely in Him, even though I don’t understand many things.  He continues to provide for us and lead us.  It is often easy some days to wake up and immediately feel anxious about many things.  It seems I’m hearing daily changes at work about various changes and it’s easy for me to lose sight of hope and that He will always be with me no matter what.

Friends, I don’t have any great revelations about all that you and your friends and family are dealing with.  However, I do know that we serve an Almighty God Who has never stopped providing and will never stop leading us, even when the path seems very unknown.  He asks us to continue trusting in Him, especially when things seem chaotic. 

Will you please join me in striving each day to wake up and put total trust in Him?  We need to trust Him now more than ever and not depend on our own understanding.  I would like to end with another prayer this week.

Lord, please help us to continue trusting in You, even though we find ourselves continually bombarded with temptations to lose hope.  It’s easy for us to become fearful of the continues news of sickness, but may we focus on You and depend on Your understanding, not ours.  Help us to trust and know that You will always provide.  Give us strength, Lord to trust even when we feel weak.  We know You are in control and will always be.  Help me to know I am blessed in so many ways as You have provided.  Amen!

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.