Wednesday, September 15, 2021

He Is So Good, So Ready, And So Full

“He is So Good, So Ready and So Full”

Psalm 86:5 NLT

O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

As I read this passage the other day, it filled me with hope and assurance just knowing that no matter what I’m experiencing or dealing with, God is so good to me and ready to forgive my sins and is so full of love for me.  It sounds simple, but if you really take a moment to let those words sink in, it’s really profound.  He is so good to us.  He is so ready to forgive us.  He is so full of unfailing love to us. 

All we need to do is ask for His help and He is ready to lavish this love upon us.  We all know He is good, that He forgives and that He is unconditional in His love for us, but sometimes just how a passage is written and what we are experiencing, it’s just what we need to hear to bring us comfort. 

I don’t know about you, but there are so many things in life right now that I’m just tired of dealing with and sick of experiencing.  I wake up each day thanking God for another new day and opportunity to live for Him, but I also go through my day with so many thoughts of how I wish things would get better in different ways with life.  I think we have all felt this way for a long time.  We may never get to a normal way of life again, but perhaps a new normal. 

My heart has been breaking as I have heard of different people experiencing loss and hard times.  There are some days and times when I just have to focus on and remember that God is so good, so ready to forgive me and is full of unfailing love for me.  It brings life back into perspective.  It helps me focus on what is really important and not focus on all the negative things in life. 

I hope and pray that no matter what you might be experiencing, never forget how good He is, how ready He is to forgive and how His unfailing love is just waiting for us as we come to Him to ask for help and guidance. 

I remember the words of a praise song I learned so many years ago and want to close with those.  “For You are good, for You are good, for You are good to me!”

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Get Rid Of It

“Get Rid Of It”

Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

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

We have all had situations in life where we’ve had to say “Get rid of it!” when we found something that needed to get tossed.  Maybe it’s some moldy food that went unnoticed or got buried in our fridge for a while.  Maybe it’s a trash can that has something very rotten in it and the moment we open it, we can’t even describe the smell!  Maybe it’s a dead rodent that we start smelling somewhere in the house and we finally find it and are ready to be rid of the foul smell. 

We could go on and on describing situations in which we find something repulsive or just something that needs tossed and we raise our voices a bit and say, “Get rid of it!”.  There’s nothing good that’s going to come out of keeping these things and we know the only solution is to throw it away so that we can clean the bad smell up or just a mess that has gotten out of hand.  We have all been there and done that to some degree. 

None of us wants to keep foul smelling things anywhere or keep a terrible mess around to continue building.  We may let the messed build up for a while, but there comes a time when we have to do something and take action.  Most of us would agree that we gotten get rid of things that smell terrible or look horrible.  These things do not make life easier, but they make it worse and much harder to move forward.

Just like these bad things, we’ve got things in our spiritual lives that we also need to get rid of.  We so often hold on to bitterness, anger, harsh words, slander and evil behavior.  We let these things fester and they do no good in our lives.  We are clearly called to love each other and show grace and forgiveness to one another.  All of us know that we have treated people we love and care about in these ways.  We know people that we have treated poorly and, in a sense, it’s causing some smelly situations when God looks down on us.  It’s smelly to Him, but often we don’t think twice about it.  He wants us to get rid of these things and be full of love for each other.  I know, much easier said than done depending on different circumstances and situations. 

I challenge all of us to find things in our lives that we need to get rid of.  Find areas and broken relationships in which we are holding on to the bitterness, anger, hard words, slander and evil behavior.  We need to pray through this and ask God to give us a heart of forgiveness and show love instead. 

Get rid of it and be filled with God’s love instead.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Because

 “Because”

1 John 4:19 NLT

We love each other because he loved us first.

My kids bought me a funny t-shirt a couple years or so back that reads, “Because I said so – Dad”.  I have had many comments on it when wearing it out around different places.  I may see a parent smile or give a chuckle because they’ve also used the same phrase.  Now, however, my girls don’t get as much of a kick out of seeing the shirt on me when I wear it, but I still think it’s funny.

As much as this may give us a good laugh, we could think of endless situations in life in which we use the word “because”.

We do this because…..

We say this because…..

We go somewhere because…..

We talk to someone because…..

We go out to do something fun because…..

We could come up with so many different phrases in which we do or say something…..because.  Sometimes we do or say things because we mean whatever we say or do sincerely.  Then other times, we do or say things that are not so nice to other because we feel like it in the moment.  There’s always a reason why we say something, do something or go somewhere.  There’s always a “because”.

As I thought about this verse the other day when it came up for a morning reading, I thought about how so often we forget that we need to love people because Jesus first loved us.  We so often have our excuses and reasons for often treating others in a bitter way because we feel we have the right because of what has been said or done to us.  We are ALL guilty of this! 

My simple encouragement to us all today and every day from now on, is to ask ourselves what is our “because” behind what we are doing, behind what we are saying and behind why we are going somewhere.   We are told to do everything with love.  Are we?  Seriously, are we??  Often times we don’t. 

What is your “because”?  Do you do things in love even when it’s hard?  Every time we’re tempted to treat someone bitterly, we need to be reminded that He first loved us.  We love because He first loved us.

Simple concept…..yet so difficult to practice.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Just Need To Trust And Obey

“Just Need To Trust And Obey”

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.

The other day, I was reading a devotional from a friend of mine and it was titled “I have no words”.  I know that he is going through a very rough time in life and just expressed that he didn’t have the words to convey how he really felt.  I honestly felt myself feeling the exact same thing.  Knowing his situation and thinking of the difficult challenges my family has experienced lately and so many others have been experiencing lately and for a while now, I find myself at a loss for words.

I am finding myself these days asking so many more questions to God and feeling like I don’t know the answers.  I’m finding myself asking these questions so often to God:

 

Why are you allowing this pain?

Why are so many hurting?

Why won’t you stop and intervene?

When will this pandemic end?

Why do so many have to be so sick?

Why am I facing so many challenges in life?

Why can’t You explain and show me more?

 

As I’m thinking of these questions and have so many more thoughts and feelings, I’m realizing even more and more now that I must trust Him in every way, even though there’s so much more I don’t understand.  I just need Him to show me the path and to lead me in His truth.  I need to hope in Him, no matter what. 

I need to trust and obey, even when life doesn’t make sense.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

We Must Stay Positive

“We Must Stay 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.

I’m finding myself lately becoming more and more challenged to focus on things that keep me positive about life.  Some days, things are going okay.  But then other days, it seems like every time I turn around there’s a challenge and some of those challenges are very difficult to deal with.  When life gets frustrating, it’s so very easy to let myself focus on everything that isn’t going well.  When I do this, it then becomes very easy to not focus on all that God has given to me through various blessings.  

The challenges in life will never stop.  We will always face things that tempt us to only focus on the negative.  I have been thinking about this passage a lot lately.  The Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when giving this encouragement to fix our thoughts always on things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  The enemy prowls around waiting to pull us down and turn our thoughts toward negative things.

So many of us have dealt with and continue to deal with so many challenges that come our way.  Some of these challenges continue to really test our faith and allegiance to God as we decide to trust in Him or go our own way. 

I was just talking to my oldest daughter earlier today about how we are all dealing with various challenges and discouragement.  It’s so easy for us to focus on all the negative things happening.  But then I encouraged her and shared how I was trying so hard every day to focus on all the things that are positive and are going well.  I’m trying to focus on the blessings God is giving and trying so hard not to think about the challenges and frustrations that are present. 

We must all do our best to make the best out of everything we deal with in life.  It is not easy sometimes and requires a change of attitude often.  So much can pull us down, but we must remain strong and fixed on Christ.  We have to be intentional about fixing our thoughts on positive things.  We must always strive to keep our attitude on praising God, no matter what we are dealing with. 

I want to encourage all of us to stay positive and strive every day to keep our attitude in check and to remember God is with us no matter what we experience.  His blessings are always present and He continues to take care of us and lead us.  We must stay positive and trust. 

Blessings to you all as you strive to fix your thoughts on all that is excellent and worthy of praise!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

More Than Ever Before

“More Than Ever Before”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT

Be on guard.  Stand firm in the faith.  Be courageous.  Be strong.  And do everything with love.

I think more than ever, not only in our personal lives, but also in the church, we need to be on guard, stand firm in faith, be strong and courageous and…….most of all…….do EVERYTHING with love.  As I think through the various challenges we have all had in the past year and a half, it’s challenged us beyond what we ever thought we would have to deal with in life. 

We’ve experienced situations we never thought possible.  We’ve dealt with situations that often seem impossible to overcome.  We have all learned so much in so many ways, whether at home, at work, at church, out in public places or traveling around.  We’ve all learned more than we ever thought we would about life in general as things have drastically and dramatically changed.

My family has been experienced challenges this year that we have never dealt with before, but God is seeing us through and teaching us that He is still in control.  Through the various trials and challenges we’ve experienced in our home and in our family, we are realizing that more than ever, we need to be on our guard and to be strong and courageous.  However, more than that, we must always do everything with love.  It’s through these challenges and trials of life that we must learn what it really means to not only say we love others, but to put that into proof of action. 

The Apostle Paul was very adamant telling people to do everything with love.  He experienced more than most of us ever will and he continued to do things with love, no matter the challenge at hand. 

I am still struggling to wrap my mind around all the challenges we have all been through in the past year and a half and what continues to be challenging as we move forward in life.  What I must realize and understand is that God is always in control and I need to trust Him with every moment of my life.  As I do that and strive to grow in my relationship with Him, I’m hoping that others will see that love of God shine in my life. 

More than ever before, God is calling all of us to stand strong and stand for Him as we love others.  Our mission is to love others as Jesus loved and as He continues to love us today, even in spite of our sins. 

Blessings to you all and may God guide you as you continue to strive to love more than ever before.

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?