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Thursday, August 27, 2015

A New Heart and Spirit

…25"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances

The word heart refers to the inner man; the mind will; heart. God wants to put in you a new principle of life. Your will is wonderful, but the Father's will, is refreshing and filled with new purposes and resolutions.

May this be our prayer today. May you commit to God so He may fill you with a tender and responsive heart. A heart that forgives. A heart that is obedient and submissive to His Will and authority. May you be renewed by the Spirit and grace of God.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Hellen Johnson Story

Hellen Johnson’s welfare check of only $120. per week was feeding her family of 6 people. When the check got lost in the mail they had nothing for two days, and were starving. When she entered a Dollar General store she was desperate, and intended to steal something to eat. The eggs she tried to steal broke in her pocket, and were dripping through her clothes. The police were called, and she was busted before she could even attempt to escape. Honest people usually make lousy thieves, and Hellen has even admitted she is not a good thief! It turned out getting caught would be one of the best things that ever happened to her! It is amazing how God can turn even the worst situation around and he did.

The officer who showed up knew she had no prior record, lived in poverty, and was not stealing for gain, but for the survival of her family and self. He showed the greatest compassion by not kicking this woman when she was down, but in buying her the eggs, and then bringing her a truckload of food the next day. In shock, she showed gratitude through the roof! The fact he helped, instead of judged is awesome. He did hold her accountable, and made her promise never to do that again. He has made a huge difference in this woman’s life.

We all know there are a lot of instances where there has been brutality by police officers, and that is never, ever acceptable. But it is also important to remember every human is an individual, a different person, with different values, and beliefs, and we should never judge all people as the same, that is wrong! If he had done that she could have been sitting in a jail charged, with a criminal record, in an unending cycle of poverty, that would just continue on down the family line. Instead he and others are helping her get on her feet, and move forward. There is a saying that, “many hands, makes little work,” and it is so true. If we all did just a little to help others, a lot of starvation, and homelessness would be eliminated. If we all did something small everyday, that could really add up in huge ways.

We know it is better to give than receive, ask yourself, how could you bless a single mother, father, or elderly person, or just a neighbor? How about the poor? This is the true work of ministry ... taking care of others ... loving your neighbor as you would love yourself.

Matthew 19:19 "honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Matthew 22:38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39"The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'
Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Don't Worry

Do Not Worry
26"If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28"But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!…

Christ largely insisted upon this caution not to give way to disquieting, perplexing cares, Mt 6:25-34. This is our encouragement to cast our care upon God, which is the right way to get ease. Being eager and anxious for the things of this world, even necessary things, will even damage the spirit of a disciple of Christ. Fear cannot prevail when we put needless cares upon ourselves upon needless. We must avoid this. How? When we value the beauty of God's holiness, we will not crave the luxuries of life. Look at it this way. Christ is our Master, and we are his servants, not only working servants, but waiting servants. We must be as men that wait for their lord, that sit up while he stays out late, to be ready to receive him. Another picture would be to be ready, as ready as the good man of the house would be, if he knew at what hour the thief would come.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Growth in Faith

There is a scene from the movie The Dark Knight Rises - the Prison Escape. The place they call "Hell on Earth".  It is a place where prisoners learn about despair.  Everyone that has ventured there over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom.  So easy ... So simple, but like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died.

The escape requires a prisoner to make a significant leap across rocks to get out. Long story short, Wayne does endless push-ups, squats, and stretches. Let me take you through the dialogue

BLIND PRISONER: He says the leap to freedom is not about strength.
WAYNE: My body makes the jump. 
BLIND PRISONER: Survival is the spirit. The soul. 
WAYNE: My soul's as ready to escape as my body. 
BLIND PRISONER: Fear is why you fail.  How can you move faster than possible? Fight longer than possible? If not from the most powerful impulse of the spirit. The will to survive.

Wayne believes he has what it takes to survive the jump, but the truth is, what is needed is not conditioning or muscles, but faith..  See there was a little girl that made it out of the prison well, she did it unconventionally. She took the rope off risking all she had to get out.  We need to do the same as well. There is no time for contentment.. God wants us to grow. So there will be many seasons where God has required us to leap into our faith with no rope, simply because our faith needs growth. If God is always coddling us, then we would never learn how to grow in faith.  

What prison do you need to climb out of to grow in faith?


Monday, August 17, 2015

Discipleship: an inward and outward commitment

We can easily this work with a lot of hurt. Whether white or black, Haitian, or African we can all agree there needs to be a change some place. There are 3 scriptures I want to look at that will help give us a characterization of how we can help.

John 8:31 - So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,-

John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 15:8 - "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

So, if we hold on to the teachings of Christ, we will learn how to love like Jesus loves, and in return we will bear fruit.  This is not just an inward acceptance in the heart, but it is a commitment on the outside.  It is going to take action to do this. So after your heart says, "Yes, I want to follow Jesus." There needs to be some changes in your life as you get closer to him. This my friends is fruit. Your life starts changing. This is the fruit of the words of God. This is what people see. That fact someone can be rude to you and you decide to love them anyway.  This is a combination of inward and outward commitment because what you do in front of people is nothing if you are not living the same life at home behind closed doors. (Matthew 6:5-7).  So if we are going to change this world it is going to require more than peace rally's, riots, and protests.  It is going to take the reconciliation of man back to God. This is why we need to be about Our Father's business over everything else in life. It is time we commit to:
 
1) abiding in God's word, 
2) loving others, and 
3) bearing fruit to show you are a disciple of Jesus

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Creation is Limited

In Jeremiah chapter 1 we learn of the young prophet's call to be a prophet of the Jews and neighboring nations. 

When confronted Jeremiah tells the Lord God, "Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”  Not only does Jeremiah admit that due to his young age he could not have enough wisdom to prophesy to the nations, but it reveals the fallibility of creation and no work of the Lord is possible without our Lord God.

I believe this was a humbling situation. When creation fails to satisfy your heart, it's not a tragedy, it's grace. God's teaching you that what you seek can only be found in him.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Isaiah 40:28-31

ESV Isaiah 40:28-31
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;  but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Regardless of what you think is going to give you renewed energy in this world ... always remember YOUR strength comes from the Lord God Almighty.  Your job or profession may have you down and you want to quit ... WAIT ON THE LORD.  You may be tired of your marriage  and ready to give up... WAIT ON THE LORD. Your family may be pulling on your last nerve and you're about 30s from cutting them off, WAIT ON THE LORD. Wait on the  Lord so HE can renew your strength. We all fall down and need to get up not give up. Giving up is not the answer whether physically, spiritually, mentally, or socially.  None of our lives were close to what Jesus experienced and if God never permitted him to give up, why would he want the same from you. Especially when he gave his only son for you. Remember the devil wants you isolated so he can pluck you out like a deer in an open field.

However, God's word says, "Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable." He understands everything you are going through. Before you go weary in your own thinking, wait for the Lord to renew your strength.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Identity

My family has a 6yr old labrabull (Labrador / Pitbull mix). He's VERY energetic. When we first got him we were a little apprehensive. He was a1 yr old, 35 lb stranger.  We were transitioning him with Sofia, our beautiful daughter, and one evening she happened to be walking by him while he was playing with a dog bone. He nipped her and I couldn’t wrestle him to the ground fast enough. I have to admit, it was almost his last night either in our house or on Earth.

That was 5 years ago. Now, we have RJ, and it is nothing for RJ to go in Dante's doggie bowl while eating and pick at his food. Why? When Dante was younger, I wrestled that thought out of him.  Danteunderstandshis hierarchy.

Spiritually speaking, we need to do the same. We need to stop harboring behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets that are in opposition of what God says.  We must learn to defeat those thoughts and behaviors before they take root in our hearts. This is how the mindset gets lost, we allow feelings, problems, insecurities, depressions, to sit and develop.  This is no way to live. When these contraries start popping up we need to take complete control and show who's  in charge. Flex your identity.

Sacrifice

Sacrifice: something that is not natural to give; voluntarily releasing something, doing something you would not normally do, not instinctive; an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God


When we look at Luke 5:27-28 …
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.  

Matthew had a decision to make.  He had to determine if he was going to sacrifice his life and deny himself, or keep his  post where he collected taxes from those exporting and importing goods through Capernaum. This could not have been an easy decision. Matthew will have to sacrifice his reputation, comfort, his life, and his job. The bible says,  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 

Sacrifice, is a tough concept. The fact you must sacrifice YOUR desires, your kids, your spouse, job, time, money, etc. Well, in Jeremiah 29, God warns to understand what seems wrong, or different by Him, it is actually for good. 

There are 2 big pictures here. This is like a double feature presentation ... 

1) Don't think your situation is so off that God cannot help you. 
2) Despite your inadequacy God offers opportunities of reconciliation to get your life in order.  

Despite us being inadequate He does not disassociate from us. Instead He shows grace mercy, and sovereignty.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Colossians 3:23

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 

My personal study time has been primarily dedicated to studying servant hood and discipleship. In the beginning my biggest struggle was serving people. Ever notice how children pick up on the word "mine". We have to teach our children how to share, we have to teach our youth how to be considerate or conscious of others. This is because in our culture selfishness is taught and idolized. We have selfies and selfie sticks.  We let everything everyone says dictate our attitude. Why? Because it is all about us.

However, this is what makes things interesting. God wants us to understand, it takes a sacrifice to spread the Great Commission and to change this world. "...with all your heart" can be defined as the human soul, life, self, or the vital breath of life.  When you give your soul to serve it is not to any human being ... it is to honor the gift inside them. The gift that God has formed inside. This is a sacrifice ... a willing sacrifice. Meaning this is done out of pure Godly love.  Truly serving is not done forcibly, or out of necessity, there is no murmurs, just from the heart with good intentions.  So serve with all of your heart and because of your sacrifice the God will will reward you.  Truth be told you can turn around a sour relationship by serving each other. Identify a person in your life that would benefit from being served and watch God move in both your lives.




Thursday, August 6, 2015

Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
In this text The Lord God, is using the prophet Jeremiah to tell those that have been exiled to not be afraid of God's promise to restore them to the land, but to understand what seems wrong, or different it is actually for good.

I am guilty of this for sure. Sometimes when you are in a place where you don't really belong, but you've been there for so long you get so comfortable. You put up curtains and blinds, instead of those Walmart shades. You make it cozy ... moving furniture around for a better look.  We know we don't belong, but we're going to do our best to make it work.  This is what we FEEL we need to do because as human beings we cannot stand change.  Here is another look at it. We put billions of dollars in educational systems, because we feel we know what we want to do in life. We decide what career we want to have and make critical life decisions based off of these dreams that we feel defines us. We switch careers and move across the globe, because we think we know what it is we need to be doing. 

We ASSUME all of this! The reality is God wants to restore you to where you need to be. We need to understand ONLY God operates under certainty.  Only God knows where we need to be. Like those in exile, not all adhered to the word of God.  When we let our own wisdom directs us, we tend to be lead to believe we know more, or better than God.  What really needs to happen is we need to submit to God's provision. We need to submit to his promise to restore fortunes, or put us in our proper place.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do !

Satan seeks to defeat you by tempting you to trust your own wisdom, to live according to your self-centered feelings and to gratify your flesh. This is what our society and culture promotes. The "Do You!" or "You Only Live Once" - "YOLO" mentality.  It preaches do whatever makes you feel happy. Lean on the infallible word of God. 

Proverbs 4:7 says, Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.
I want to pick out 2 phrases:
  • The wisest thing ... meaning the most excellent of all possessions.
  • Whatever else ... meaning even with the price of all things, even though it may cause you to lose of all which you have.  
So let's put it this way, obtaining wisdom is the greatest thing you could ever obtain, use that wisdom to make wise choices.

Have you ever heard of people that don't learn from their mistakes? We have the friend that just keeps dating the wrong guys and won't get the hint. The family member that just can't seem to get out of their own way?

These my friends are examples of not taking the wisdom and using it for good judgment.

 Don't lean on your own understanding. Lean on God's word. It is always relevant.