Thursday, March 22, 2012

Life Changing Challenge

Have you ever been really excited about something God is teaching but when you try to explain it you just fall short?

You are reading God's Word and are overwhelmed by what is right there for you.  It is just the answer you are looking for or something that doubles your faith in an instant. If you are like me, you can't wait to share it. So you go to your spouse, friend or teenage son (oops meant to say child) and tell them with great excitement what God has shown you. Only you finish and they are still not excited.  Why?

It is because God desires a relationship with each person individually.  They must spend time with Him to understand with amazement.  It is a gift given through the Holy Spirit.  I have noticed as preachers experience this and I have experienced it as a Bible study leader. You want so desperately to share what you learned.

It simply cannot fully be shared to the fullest degree. Each heart must be prepared by a healthy dose of one-on-one time with the Father. It is the only way.  Now that being said, I do believe that once we are prepared (through prayer, Bible reading, faith and humility) we get exponentially more out of any teachings or even music.

We are at a time in America where we must humble ourselves before the Lord. I believe that things are going to be much more difficult if we do not.  Just going to church is not enough. I would like to place a challenge before you. For at least one week, would you commit to give 30 minutes a day to prayer and Bible reading? Ask God to open your eyes to His truth. Think about who you are talking to.

Abba - Romans 8:15Almighty - Psalm 68:14

Alpha – Revelation 22:13

Author of life – Acts 3:15

Beginning and the End – Revelation 21:6

Branch – Jeremiah 33:15

Bread of life – John 6:35

Bridgegroom – Isaiah 62:5b

Bright Morning Star – Revelation 22:16

Chosen one – Isaiah 42:1

Christ – Matthew 22:42

Comforter – John 14:26 (KJV)

Counselor – John 14:26

Creator – 1 Peter 4:19

Deliverer – Romans 11:26

Door – John 10:7 (KJV)

Eternal God – Deuteronomy 33:27

Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6

Father – Matthew 6:9

Friend – James 2:23, John 3:29

God – Genesis 1:1

Good shepherd – John 10:11

Guard – 2 Timothy 1:12

Guide – Psalm 48:14

Holy One – Acts 2:27

Holy Spirit – John 14:26

Hope – Titus 2:13

Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14

Jealous – Exodus 20:5

Jehovah – Psalm 83:18

Jesus – Matthew 1:21

Judge – Acts 10:42

King – Zechariah 9:9

King of Kings – 1 Timothy 6:15

Lamb of God – John 1:29

Life – John 14:6Light of the World – John 8:12

Lion of the tribe of Judah – Revelation 5:5

Living Water – John 4:10

Lord – John 13:13

Lord of Lords – 1 Timothy 6:15

Love  - 1 John 4:8

Master – Luke 5:5

Messiah – John 4:25

Omega – Revelation 22:13

Peace – Ephesians 2:14

Physician – Luke 4:23

Potter – Jeremiah 18:6

Power of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24

Prophet – Acts 3:22

Redeemer – Job 19:25

Rock – 1 Corinthians 10:4

Ruler – Revelation 3:14

Savior – Luke 2:11

Servant – Isaiah 42:1

Shield – Genesis 15:1

Stone – 1 Peter 2:8

Teacher – John 13:13

Truth – John 14:6

Vine – John 15:5

Way – John 15:6

Wisdom of God – 1 Corinthians 1:24

Wonderful Counselor – Isaiah 9:6

Word – John 1:1

I truly believe that if you do this then you will be ruined for anything else. It will forever change your life.  Be courageous enough to let Jesus have a radical place in your life. Please feel free to commit and say you have made the commitment or how your life changed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bread Bibically

Please take a look at my post on Family, Faith & Dinner pertaining to bread. This post is about food but I believe it is so much more.  We have changed and lost so much from our diets to the point that we no longer eat the way God intended. Without our physical health, then how we will be able to serve Him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Can God use you despite limitations, failures or doubt?

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

Every Christian wants to be useful to God.  But let's face it. . . He is God and, well, we are us.  How could we possibly be useful to God?  This is especially true when you consider our limitations, past failures and doubt.  In the mist of your doubt, I wonder if you have met Gideon?

His story starts in chapter 6 of Judges with talk about the evil that his people (Israel) did in the sight of the Lord.  Yes, that's right.  This is the same group of people that were in Exodus as God brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land.  Fast-forward. As a result of their evil, they were handed over to Midian by God. They were being greatly oppressed by Midian and basically starved to death.  So when they hit bottom, they cried out to the Lord.  Now Gideon was busy trying to provide food for his family when an Angel of Lord appeared. Please note: He was very busy. He had great family responsibilities.

The Angel said to Gideon, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

The first thing Gideon had to overcome was doubt.  His reply was, "“O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Did you note the doubt? Did you note the lack of understanding that their own sins were responsible for their troubles?

If you go on and read about Gideon, you will find that God showed His power and miracles to him on several occasions in really big ways. Little by little, Gideon is obedient because of the faith God grants him. Finally, it is time to defeat the Midianites.  Now you would definitely think that by this time Gideon would have tremendous faith in God.  But if you doubt and have great fears in what the Lord ask of you then you are not alone.  For the great Gideon who even made into God's hall of faith was allowed special assurances.

"It happened on the same night that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have delivered it into your hand. 10 But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant, 11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.” Then he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the armed men who were in the camp. " Judges 7:9-11

Basically God said to him, I am going to do this. Let me show you so that you might move forward in faith.

So you see, there is no excuse. If you have limitations. . . "For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

If you have past sins and failures. . .  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. "1 John 1:9

Is doubt stopping you. . . "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil." Proverbs 3:3-5

God won battles on Gideon's behalf. Gideon was given the opportunity to participate because of faith.  It is only your faith that keeps you from being used. God is able! "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Romans 10:17


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lonely, Hurt, Broke, Depressed, etc. . .

Have you considered my servant Job? 

Forewarning ~ I am going to make a duh statement.  Sometimes life stinks!  But why?  Is the enemy attacking? Am I being punish for sin or is it just the result of sin? And perhaps the hardest question: Why would God allow such?  The list of reasons for which we might ask these questions goes on and on.  It may be finances, job, marriage, children, sickness, death of a loved one, depression, loneliness, etc.  It is a long list that can sometimes make it hard to understand where God is in the situation. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable and often last for such a long time. But there is hope.

One of the greatest things about God's Word is that God has provided for everything we truly need to know.  It might be in one of the unlikeliest chapters of the Bible that you will find immense comfort during a hard time.  The book of Job. The Bible says that Job was blameless and upright. It says he feared God and shunned evil. It also says that Job had an amazing life. He was wealthy, great marriage, and had seven sons and three daughters. Life was good!  Then everything changed. Job lost everything (wife, children, home, health, livestock)

The 7th verse says,  "And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it."   In 1 Peter 5:8, it says the enemy prowls the earth looking for someone he might devour and this is what he was doing. Would it surprise you to know that God asked if he had considered His servant Job? Now why in the world would He do that.  Remember that Job loved God and likewise God loved Job.  Also, remember that Job was blameless so it was not sin related.

The key is verse 42:5. At the end of this devastating time Job said, ""I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You."  Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to say you "see" God?  That you not only have mustard seed faith but that you have huge faith! Because God loved Job, He allowed him great suffering that he might see Him.  God is all about having a relationship with us.  He bends over backwards to show us His great love.  He is a God who wants to lavish us. If life is really hard right now, then look to the one that is Holy but yet will show Himself to you.  Here are some great uplifting verses:

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19)

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" (1 peter 1:8)

"The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you." (Deut 28:11)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. " (Ephesians 1:3)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace  that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding" (Ephesians 1:7-8)

"How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." (Psalm 36:7)

Now sweet friend, I hope you have allowed these verses to wash over you.  But also know this from Job 42:10, "And the LORD restored Job's losses  when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. "  So not only did God allow Job to SEE Him, but He also restored what he had lost even double.  Praise God for He is so amazingly good to us and praise Him that He makes Himself available to us. May you see Him even today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

They will follow your lead. . .

I love when God gives me a real life example. As I enjoyed (ok that might be a slight exaggeration) my couch to 5k today, I realized that both of the kids who were home had followed me. The 16 year old on his skateboard and the 7 year old on her bike.  Had I been spending my time relaxing inside they would have gladly followed that lead too.  Titus 2:7  (NLT), says, "And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching."

As I ran and watched them, I reflected on how they truly do follow our (mine and Jim's) example in so many ways. It became my heart's cry that we not disappoint, that God be glorified in all we teach them by example.  It is a heavy burden to bear. We cannot expect more of our children than we are willing to do ourselves.  Yet, it is impossible.  Fortunately, our Lord gave us the perfect gift of His Holy Spirit.  By His Spirit we can daily go through a process of sanctification.  Sanctification is the activity of God (through His Spirit) which liberates the Christian from the power of sin. Sanctification imparts the righteousness of God through man.  It is not a one time deal. While we are justified when we are saved (once and for all), sanctification depends on where you are today with Christ.

I know that I cannot, on my own, be the example my children need. I have proven that over and over again.  However, I also see such a difference when I seek the Lord's face each day.  I am able to handle situations with so much more grace and find all sorts of teachable moments. Not to mention that have seen me spend time the one who changes everything.

If we want real change in our homes and in our world, we need not deceive ourselves.  It begins with the small changes that each of make and ends with others trying to imitate us (while we imitate Christ).

When we came back in from our exercise, I poured both myself and my daughter a big cup of water.  I carried mine to the bedroom and she followed. I said, "you know you are not suppose to bring that in here." Her prompt response was, "I was trying to be like you."  Hum. That was the punctuation of what God was teaching me. Out of the mouth of babes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


"Do  you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." 1 Corinthians 9:24

For a myriad of reasons you don't want to hear. . .I am out of shape.  I have never been a true runner but have discovered that it is very refreshing (almost cleansing).  Even as I wonder if I can take the next step while running, I feel that sense of cleansing.  It occurred to me today as I tied on my shoes for the Couch to 5k that I desperately want to complete that running is what we do with God. We either run to Him or we run from Him.

Before we accept Christ as our Savior this is easy to see.  I think some people are afraid of the unknown and some just simply don't want to change.  They run and run and run in the opposite direction.  Sometimes the sin is so deep that they even believe they no longer can accept Christ. This is simply not true.  He wants to know you no matter what you have done or what has happened to you.  Sometimes we just try to be good but still have no place for God.  We run to keep busy and fill our lives with other things.

But what about after we are saved.  I still think it applies.  We may spend time with Him and grasp every possible opportunity to know His presence. In this case, we are clearly running toward Him.  But just like an unbeliever, we can busy ourselves and fill our lives with all sorts of things (some good, some bad).  All of it helping us run from true abundance that is offered in a daily relationship with Christ.  I want to challenge you that no matter how busy you think you are. . . you do have time for Bible Study and for church.  Be creative if need be and be willing to cut some things out of your life.  Make time for what really counts.  When you are no longer in this world, what will you be known by? What will people say about you and your walk with Christ?

That cleansing feeling that running gives is nothing compared to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit! He saved you to have a relationship with Him.  I hear running can be very addictive and, you know what, so can spending time with God.  He will absolutely spoil you for the ordinary!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Trusting God

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

Anybody else found that hard at times. Come on. . . be honest.  For me, it has been the free will part that got in the way.  Trusting God is one thing but I have found that when you don't trust people it comes full circle causing you to not trust God.  When you have been hurt before, then you know the saying.  Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.  Ah, such a feeling of empowerment when we put up our guard of protection.  Problem is that same guard begins to deteriorate us. It is exactly what the enemy wants us to believe. For when we depend upon ourselves for protection then we are leaving God out of the equation.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, do not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is one I know from experience, you cannot live in a state of anxiety and submit to God at the same time.  I tried and tried.  I was so afraid that people who had hurt me in the past would do so again that I lived every day guarded (taking every precaution). Then one day I realized that the only thing I was really guarding myself from was an abundant relationship with the love of my life (Jesus Christ).    It is these verses that finally hit me when change could occur:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

When God searches what do we want Him to find? Do we want Him to find the "offensive way" of "anxious thoughts?" Does it penetrate your heart like it does mine when you think of God knowing everything about your thoughts. So back to trust. We must trust. . .we must trust. . .we must trust! This should help:

  • Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trust in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. (Psalm 32:10)

  •   Taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trust in him.  (Psalm 34:8)

  •   The LORD redeem the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.(Psalm 34:22)

  •   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Then I will leave you with this one last thought.  Take to the throne and leave it. Get on your face before the Lord and wait on Him. Let His Spirit reveal Himself to you.  If you have been hurt before, then the enemy got that little victory.  If you refuse to trust God to protect you, then He gets another one every day.  God is with you ALWAYS.  He is the only sure protection for you, your family, your health, your finances, etc.

Now I do know that life is really hard and everything cannot be covered in one simple blog but this is the foundation. The place to start. Just submit and begin trusting in the one who knows every hair on your head (He is that close to you right now) with what you need today.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Going Deep Book Review

The following is a review of the book "Going Deep" by Gordon Macdonald.  The book was provided by for an unbiased review.

After finishing this book by Gordon Macdonald, I saw "wow".  The book is a bit lengthy and no doubt the point could have been made with fewer words (probably just leaving out some sections).  However, the information delivered is still very much worth the read.  The book addresses through a fictional story the epidemic of surface level Christians and the inability of church programs to make a difference.  It address the importance of discipling and a radical way to approach it.  The ideas presented could wholly change the church of today and the responsibilities of pastors today.  As a lay person, there were several times I thought this book is meant for pastors. At the same time, as a Bible Study leader it was very motivating and I am so thankful that I took the time to read it.  I would strongly suggest that any Christian who desires a "deeper" relationship with Christ or needs information on discipling others take advantage of this resource.  There is no reason why any Christian could not apply many of the principles here to their personal journey and their ability to serve God in an effective manner.  I do believe that while the story is fiction, the ideas are very real and applicable.  I would highly recommend reading this book.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Status Quo Christian

Getting ready to start a new Bible Study tomorrow.  I am filled with excitement and nervousness about it.  I know God has prepared this lesson for us.  For months now, He has repeatedly laid it out before me.  Now I feel the burden of the task to try to put together cohesively all that I have been learning.  I sense that this is the one.  The one that could radically change lives. The process of preparation has changed me and I so want to share it.

The theme of the study has been pounded out on my computer in a few of these post.  It is basically, how to not be a (what I am calling) a "status quo Christian".  You may be thinking,  what in the world does that mean? It is being a Christian but having a surface level daily relationship. If you are a "status quo Christian" then you may feel moved Sunday morning during the sermon, but by Monday you are too busy to let it matter.   You probably heard that God speaks, but doubt He does these days. When you hurt or are in a difficult situation, you have no faith God will change anything. You probably don't read your Bible or may not have ever been on your face before the Lord. And as a result, you are ho hum about your relationship with Christ.

The study we are doing is "One In A Million" by Priscilla Shirer".  I hope to be able to add to that some of what God has taught me over the past months.  In the end, I pray we will find our Promise Land.  The place where we live an abundant life with a God who desires to talk with us. I pray that we learn to "walk" with Him daily on both good days and bad. I pray that bitterness and lack of faith with be sent packing back to the father of lies.  That every time we read His Word our excitement will grow and we will tingle head to toes.  I cannot wait to see what the Lord Jesus will do with our lives when they are fully submitted (eyes upon the one who loves us more than life itself - literally).