Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Hope in 2018

  I’ve been thinking about the New Year we’re all about to face. I know for many of you 2017 was a difficult year. I can relate as I went through a some battles of my own.  If it were not for the strength of the Lord, my family and friends, I don’t know what I would have done.

     Well, that is all behind me now and I am looking forward to 2018.  As we face going into a new year I’d like to encourage you to allow the Lord to do some new things in your life. Some of you might be comfortable with you life. To that I say, the Lord loves us too much to allow us to remain as we are. We need to always be growing in some area of our life. Others of you may be fed up with life, disillusioned, even fearful.  For some of you there’s been a dream that you’ve held in your heart for years but you just don’t see it happening. Hold on, you might be delayed, but you are still destined!
     Now let’s look at some new possibilities for 2018.
New Pursuits: “There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the LORD'S counsel-- that will stand in  nevertheless the LORD'S counsel.”  - Proverbs 19:21
     God might lead you to a new job position. He might send you back to school for some more training. Ask the Lord what he wants to do with your life.  If you’re a Christian maybe he’s calling you into ministry or to go on a mission trip. Be open to new ideas in the New Year. Get your steel-toed shoes ready…. It might be that you need to change some of your relationships that are leading you down a wrong path. In the bible it says, “Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character."  1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT - You have more worth than you realize. Don’t let yourself be dragged down by those who are on a destructive path in life.
New Reputation
"Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isaiah 54:4
     Perhaps you’ve failed in some area of your life.  Have you done something that brought you shame? Or maybe it wasn’t something of your own doing, but the false words of others against you. It can all be made new when you call upon the Lord. I could share some stories with you about how God has turned some things around in my life! 
New Heart
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
     Has your heart been wounded, broken and shattered? Maybe your heart has been so hardened that you feel you just can’t reach out to others or allow people to reach out to you. If you will ask the Lord, he will give you a new heart.  Look at this scripture – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” - Ezekiel 36:26
New Beginnings
 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” Col 3:10
     If you life has been full of pain, abuse, addictions and failure, whatever – God wants to give you a new life, a new beginning. I can testify to the reality of having my life taken out of the gutter and being made brand new. My life was such a mess at one time that I am in awe that the Lord has changed my life as he has.
     Friend, if you have tried everything else and it hasn’t worked, perhaps it’s time to give things over to the Lord. I know he will help you live in a new way. He will give you hope. If you will just surrender to him, he has a good plan for your life.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
     Once again I must share with you one of my favorite scriptures –  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

     Until next time, keep your eyes on Jesus because He never fails!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Abiding in the Rush

     When most people read John 15:1-14 they usually end up talking about bearing fruit for the kingdom of God.  That is an important principle for us to live by.  If we’re true disciples of Jesus Christ we should desire to bear much fruit for the sake of the Gospel.
However, as I read this recently I had a different perspective on it.
      In this passage in John 15 two verses, in particular, stood out to me. The first is in verse 5, which says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” As I read this I thought about how we all are in the “rush mode” getting ready for Christmas. The Lord spoke to my heart through this and reminded me that we must keep our focus on God, His Word, and his son, Jesus -the reason for the season.  Maintaining this focus will help us be less stressed with more opportunity to bear fruit for the Lord.
     Understanding that in this passage Jesus is the Vine we’re to abide in, let’s see what we can learn about abiding in the Vine. I have made an acrostic of the word “abide” from which we can glean five principles of abiding. Apply Build Involve Deny Examine.

Apply – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15KJV - If we’re going to walk in tune with the Lord, we’re going to have to know his word. I don’t mean that you have to be a scholar or read twenty-five chapters a day. Just be consistent to read something from the bible every day.
Build – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians  5:22-23   Ask the Lord to help you build these qualities in your life. They will certainly be helpful in the crowded stores! (smile)
Involve – 46And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47NAS  The believers in the early church stayed in close contact encouraging each other and they were committed to involvement in their local church.
Deny – “Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24 Again, if we keep Jesus first in our life, and think of others more than ourselves, we’ll be less apt to growl back at another tired shopper.
Examine –“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified.”  2 Corinthians 13:5 We must regularly take inventory of our lives to make sure that we’re living in righteousness.
     Earlier I mentioned two verses that stood out in John 15. We looked at verse 5. Now let’s look at verse 11.   John 15:11 - "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”  “These things” refer to the scriptures Jesus just share in verses 1- 10. So, what Jesus is saying to us is that if we abide in him we will have JOY.  What a promise to hold on to for the rest of this month and next! The stress of shopping, the pain of being alone, missing a loved one, financial strain, etc.  As we abide in Jesus in the midst of it all we can still have joy in our heart.
Be encouraged, my friend.  Even in the stresses of life, even in the rush of the holiday, we can call on the grace of God to strengthen us as we abide in him. If you are struggling, pray the following: “Lord, I am hurting, I am tired, I feel so alone. Please send your Spirit, the comforter to come alongside me. Help me to focus on You so that I may have joy in this season of celebrating the birth of your Son.  In Jesus name, amen.”
     Until next time, I pray that you are filled to overflowing with the joy and love of the Lord!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Thinking About Easter

With all that happened just before the crucifixion of Jesus and afterwards, the disciples and other followers experienced a wide range of emotions. As we look at these feelings they had let’s see how we can apply some principles to our life today. Our main test is  Luke 24:1-4 but we’ll be going throughout the whole chapter. It reads, “1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 "He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee...”

Confusion: Luke 24:1-4
     In the original Greek language the word perplexed means “to be left wanting, to be
embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn.” Imagine the thoughts they must have had swarming around in their minds. Could this really be?  What if it isn’t, where is his body? Thankfully, Jesus isn’t bothered by our questions. He doesn’t condemn us for having questions. He would rather us ask the questions than to ignore him.
Fear / Sadness: Luke 24:17 & Luke 24:5 –
     What were they afraid of? I think they wondered if they had been duped by Jesus. Was he really who he said he was? Did he fool us? They fear for their lives wondering if they would be arrested, even killed also because of their association with Jesus. Think about it,
Peter denied Jesus  You might say, “Well I would never deny the Lord. But have you ever had an opportunity to speak up for him and didn’t because you were afraid of being embarrassed?
Joy: Luke 24:30-32
     Think about this – right in the middle of their sadness Jesus was right there and they didn’t even know it… until He opened their eyes. Once we recognized that Jesus is revealing Himself to us and we acknowledge him, great joy comes into our lives. I don’t know about you, but before Jesus was in my life I had no joy, no hope... just negative thoughts and feeling down all the time. As believers joy should be a mark of our lives. That’s not to say we never have tough times but that we don’t have to allow the tough times to steal our joy.
Doubt: Luke 24:9-11 & 35-38
     Ever have someone tell you something and you’re like “yeah right…” And then later you found it to be so? I can only imagine the doubts that must have flooded their minds when things happened as they did. After hearing testimonies they wondered; “Is it true that he’s risen?” Just like us, they didn’t remember the promises he had given. How many times do we go through a trial and we forget about earlier trials that God brought us through? Doubt… we all experience it at times. 
Adoration: 47"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48"And you are witnesses of these things. 49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." 50And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.52 And they worshipedHim, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and  were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:47,48 51-53 (Emphasis added)
     This is the heart of the Easter Story – WORSHIP – We’re to worship Jesus as King of Kings  & Lord of Lords…. He is risen indeed! According to verses 47 & 48, once we have received Jesus into our lives it gives a sense of mission. We’re now to be his witnesses telling other of the hope found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And in our mission we’re to preach verse 47 – “repentance and remission of sins.”  You see my friend, one cannot experience the joy and worship of the Lord until they first have repented of their sin and surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. Does that mean life is problem free after salvation? Not at all! But, we now have the Lord to walk with us through those difficult times.
     I would like to close with a quote from a pastor (Tom Lovorn) that was used in a recent sermon I read. “ With hope, you can claim the Holy Spirit's guidance and power. And, with mission, you will have a reason for being where you are. You'll be purpose-driven to win your world for Jesus. Your whole image - the way you dress, talk, and walk; your attitude and outlook; your reaction to people and things – everything about you will be different. When people ask you, "What happened to you?" You can answer, "Easter happened, that's what!"
     Until next time, let’s rejoice that we have a risen Savior!


Thursday, January 26, 2017


  In my last post we discussed the idea of God making you new in this new year 2017. At the end I shared that we would look a little deeper this time into not only being made new, but in moving forward with all that God has for us.
     Change…. That is a word that most of us don’t like to hear.  Even when change is for the good, it can sometimes be difficult, even scary.  But, change is one of those inevitable pieces of life. We all experience it one time or another.  I heard this statement from an inmate one time: “When the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change, you will change.” That is a power packed statement.
      Change will take courage. The definition of courage is: Fearlessness when facing change or a difficult situation, following difficult instructions.

One of the biggest hindrances to change for many people is that they are stuck in their past or even in a present dilemma.  Think about this. If you drive down the road in your car looking in the rearview mirror the whole time, what is going to happen? Obviously, you will crash. Well, it’s the same thing in life. If we keep looking back we’re going to crash into various obstacles in life. So, what is the answer to this fear of change? The bible gives us several answers.

First of all in Philippians 3:13,14 it says
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Emphasis added)

The first step in moving forward is to stop looking backwards all the time. Take your hurts, your questions, your fears…. Everything and give them to the God.  His Son, Jesus Christ took all your pains on himself when He died on the cross.

Let’s quickly look at a few other hindrances to moving forward that the bible mentions.

Forsaking God - In other words, preferring your own way.  So many of us think we know what’s best for our life. But who would know better than God Himself, the Creator of the universe who knows everything? Take the risk to step out and trust God with your whole life.  In Matthew 6:33 it says:    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  If we put God first in our lives, He will meet all of our needs.

Fear of man - Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”  We will never take risks or try new things as long as we fear what others will think of us. One way to help fight this is to remember the following statement: “I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions or reactions except my own.” Besides, if someone is truly your friend they will encourage you to move forward and be happy with you for the changes in your life.

Worldliness - This could be a lengthy subject, but for now let’s simply say that if let the ways of the world influence us, it will choke out the truth of God’s Word.  See Mark 4:18, 19 and 1 John 2:15.

 Misplaced confidence - Relying on anything or anyone other than God for your needs.  It is only in a relationship with the Lord that we can have all of our needs met.  Remember the scripture quoted earlier from Matthew 6:33? Put God first in your life.

Self-sufficiency – This is when we think we don’t need anyone. WE think we can do it ourselves and refuse to ask for help.  But Proverbs 3: 5,6 says; “5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Another scripture that talks about self-sufficiency is Rev. 3:16-20 where the Laodicean Church thought they had it all together more than anyone else but didn’t realize they were spiritually blind.

Neglect of the "little things" – I once read a statement that said. “We stumble over pebbles not rocks.”  We often tend to overlook what we think are the little things. But then these little thinks pile up into a big mountain and next thing we know we’re totally overwhelmed. So, don’t let little things go unchecked in your life.  Ask someone you trust who you know will be truthful with you to be an accountability partner to help you monitor your progress.

Finally, our last point is

Not counting the cost – It makes a made up mind to decide we’re moving forward with our lives no matter what.  We need to be aware that not everyone is going to like the changes in our life.  Family, friends, co-workers may not understand. Some may try to put fear in you, some will threaten you by saying they won’t be your friends anymore.  Reality is there will be a cost to change. The people you surround yourself with may have to change; priorities will have to change, etc.  But with God on our side we can overcome anything as Roman 8: 31-39 declares,
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33   Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34    Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That’s all for now my friend. Take the risk and step into a new season in your life!