Saturday, January 10, 2015

A list of New Year’s resolutions,

Psalms 27:4-5 NLT The one thing I ask of the LORD—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in His Temple. 5 For He will conceal me there when troubles come; He will hide me in His sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.

It  is traditional for many people to make a list of New Year’s resolutions, goals for the upcoming year to make a difference in their lives. Here are four things I highly recommend to place on your to-do list for 2015. 

1. Don’t worry about anything. The Message Bible says it best. In Matthew 6:34 MSG “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Worry is the opposite of faith and will steal your joy. Worry is counter-productive to accomplishing God’s goals for your life.
2. Pray about everything. Philippians 4:6 NASB “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” If you are looking for something to do, PRAY instead of worrying. Prayer is nothing more than talking to God, having a conversation with the Almighty, who is the only one who can do something about your situation. Prayer is a monologue, not a dialog. When you talk with God, listen for His response. The voice of God will calm the most anxious soul and mind. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NASB
3. Thank God in all things. Philippians 4:6 NASB “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Thanksgiving is an act of faith.
4. Think about the right things. Philippians 4:8 MSG says it best, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
If you ask anyone, he or she would probably say there were things they didn’t like about last year. They would probably also say some good things happened, too. In between the mountains there are valleys. Ups and downs are what life is all about. But - you have a choice as to what you will dwell on. Choose the good because God is good and He is good to you. Refuse to give the devil any of your time. Don’t rent any space in your mind to him!

I pray that you and your families will have a prosperous, healthy, and joyous 2015.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving Time

Thanksgiving is a time of remembrance of the past year. To the pilgrims of old it was a celebration of a great harvest. Their meal itself reflected the abundant crops they had harvested. After surviving a horrible winter and working hard through spring and summer they were now able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It truly was a time of THANKSGIVING.

Being thankful is not just an act of gratitude but is also a move of faith. When I begin to thank God for those things I ask in prayer I demonstrate that I already believe that He will provide.

(Mark 11:24 NASB) "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Many of us have had a difficult year. The world, time and the devil have come at us from all directions.  Some things we didn't even see coming.  But our lives are not defined by what we are going through.  Our lives are defined by what God says.  Life is, after all, 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to situations and circumstances.   

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT  Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done(7)  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Paul says to pray about everything, tell God what you need and then be THANKFUL. It is through a thankful heart that we experience God's peace in our lives.  Make a list of all the good things that God has done for you over the past year.  We do that by thinking on the good that has happened not just thinking about all our troubles.

Philippians 4:8-9 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.  (9)  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

This Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for what God has done for us and excited about the future.  He has great plans for all of us.  Happy Thanksgiving!

A Psalm for Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations. Psalms 100:1-5

Friday, November 14, 2014

Never give up , Never Surrender.

I know that many of us have been through a lot this year. We have endured things that we never thought would happen to us. Death, sickness, unemployment, and the list goes on. Things come at us and seem at times to not stop.

I am, like many of you, a person of faith. Faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ as my savior, faith in God's Word. So when I go to God's word I read verses that promise deliverance from life's challenges. Challenge: that's a Christian word for troubles, problems and the miserable things that happen in life. Somehow we think if we use a word that seems milder than the event that we are attempting to survive it will be less difficult. I don't know, maybe it does work like that. But I find that is not always the case.

Faith is how you get through the rough moments in life. 

Have faith in God because it is this faith that is based on the unmovable, unchangeable, all powerful standard. Faith in man will fail, faith in money will fail, faith in the USA will fail. 

Only faith in God can bring victory in the face of defeat. 

The face of defeat looks different at times. Sometimes it looks like sickness or unemployment or a car wreck or unpaid bills or just fear in the middle of the night.. Yes, defeat can look very different but the face of victory is always the same: GOD, the Almighty. He never changes.

Heb 13:8 NASB Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Someone once said, "Within you lies the power to seize the hour and live your dreams. Faith is the oil that takes the friction out of living. Faith will enable you to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. When you begin to have faith, your load will get heavy but your knees won't buckle, you'll get knocked down but you won't get knocked out."

Great advice. God says this. Jer 29:11 NKJV 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.
Isa 55:8-12 NKJV "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. (9) "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (10) "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, (11) So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (12) "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Under the Microscope

Bars or Stars?

Once upon a time ,there were two men who were both sentenced to one year in prison for crimes they had committed. The prison cells that became their home were ten feet square with ten-foot walls. They were made of cement, damp most of the time, dark even in the middle of the day, and cold. Located high up on the wall of each cell was one small window with bars.

At night these two men would sit in their cells and look up at the window, longing for the day of their release. One prisoner, angry and bitter, saw nothing but the bars. His thoughts were always about how rotten life was and how God had given him a raw deal.

The other prisoner, however, knowing that he had been rightly judged and convicted, looked past the bars and saw the stars in the night sky. Each night he would dream of the life he was going to have after his release. He would talk with God about the company he was going to start, the wife he would marry, and the children he would raise. He dreamed of the life that one day would be his.

One prisoner saw the bars, and the other prisoner saw the stars. One wasn’t able to look past his present circumstances, but the other had a vision of what would be and the future that awaited him.

Just as those prisoners had a choice, we as believers have a very important decision to make. We can look to God, embracing His vision for our lives, and move forward into our divine purpose. Or we can blindly focus on our present circumstances and miss out on experiencing the fulfillment of His promises to us. You see, vision is all about the future. It is looking past our present circumstances and envisioning what can be. It is going before God, listening attentively to His voice, and then passionately pursuing the words He speaks to our hearts.

Habakkuk 2:2,3 (Message) states:

And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming -- it can hardly wait! And it doesn't lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

God’s words are vision; therefore, all true vision comes from God. But after God gives us vision, what is our part? What are we supposed to do? To see our God-given vision come to pass, there are four basic principles we must have active in our lives.

1. Faith To Believe - What Others Can’t Believe

Then the Lord took Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky and see if you can count the stars. That’s how many descendants you will have.” Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord was pleased with him.

Genesis 15:5,6 CEV

Every year I lead groups of believers on short-term mission trips overseas. Many times there are people who sense God’s leading to go but don’t because they can’t believe — or are unwilling to believe — that He will provide the finances for them. As a result, they miss out on the life-changing experience He intended for them. You see, to see a God-given dream fulfilled, one needs the faith to believe what others can’t believe.

For five years, God provided the opportunity for me to go on a mission trip with my church. Each year the cost of the trip was approximately 2,000 dollars. At the time, this amount seemed like a lot of money, but I had a vision for world evangelism and a deep desire to go the uttermost parts of the earth and share the saving message of Jesus.

One year God told me that my wife and I would both be going overseas, which more than doubled the cost. As we prepared for this trip, people would tell me that we would never raise this much support, but we continued to stand in faith. Of course, the finances did come in, because finances always follow a God-given vision when it is pursued by faith.

Today I am the mission director who organizes mission trips for our church, and I have watched as our ministry overseas has grown by leaps and bounds. The amount we have to believe God for has gone from 2,000 dollars to 150,000 dollars each year. Yet God has always provided for us because we have the faith to believe what no one else will believe.

2. The Ability To See - What Others Can’t See

Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.”

Nehemiah 2:17 NASB

In Nehemiah 2:11-16, Nehemiah traveled around the city looking at what remained of the walls of Jerusalem, destroyed years earlier by the Babylonians. As he rode around the rubble, Nehemiah envisioned a new wall built in place of the ruins that were before his eyes. He could see what no one else could see.

Vision is, after all, seeing things the way they can be and not being stopped by the way they look today. It is looking past barriers, public opinion, and one’s own shortcomings. God has no barriers or shortcomings, and He isn’t concerned about public opinion. He has purposes He wants to see fulfilled, and He wants to use us to fulfill them. Whether or not we hold fast to the vision of fulfilling those divine purposes in our lives is a choice we make. However, this is a quality that all true leaders possess — the ability to see what others cannot see.

3. Having the Courage To Do - What Others Won’t Do

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

Numbers 13:30

Now look at me: God has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty-five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. And here I am today, eighty-five years old! I’m as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I'm as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If God goes with me, I will drive them out, just as God said.

Joshua 14:10-12 Message

You have to love Caleb — that man had courage! One of my favorite Bible teachers, Dr. Ken Stewart, defines courage as the bridge between faith and hope. The courage to step out to do what needs to be done produces the action that brings faith into reality.

To reach your God-given goals and see your vision move from future tense to present tense takes courage. Gathering the personal strength to move forward in the face of obstacles, opposing opinions, and your own weaknesses also takes courage. If you’re going to live as a person of vision, you must develop the courage to do what others will not do.

4. The Hope To Endure - What Others Won’t Endure

Let’s break down this principle. The first part of the principle is hope. Romans 8:24 tells us that hope is an expectation of the future, which simply means that if you already have something, you no longer need to hope for it. Verse 25 then goes on to add that hope includes the patience to wait for your dream to come to pass. In addition, hope is full of enthusiasm; it is excited to the point of being almost overwhelmed by the idea that you will one day see your vision manifested.

The second part of this principle is endurance. You have to be ready and willing to endure the passage of time, criticism, failure, and disappointment. When God gives vision, it always comes with a timeline. As Habakkuk 2:3 stated, your “…vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming — it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

In my life, God’s timeline seldom matches my own preferred schedule. Although I know His timeline is always correct, it isn’t always easy for me to accept. I have had to learn to endure the time it takes to see a vision come to pass. And I must also be willing to endure the criticism that often accompanies that time of waiting. (People always have their own opinion, and they’re usually eager to give it to you!)

If you think the road to success will be easy just because you have a God-given vision, think again. The most difficult part of this fourth principle is working through feelings of failure or disappointment between the moment the vision is imparted and its time of fulfillment. As Galatians 6:9 (Message) states, “…Let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit.”

With every vision comes testing. You must be willing to endure the trials that will come to try to block your vision from coming into fruition. You must have the hope to endure what others will not endure.

Make the Decision To See Stars

In closing, let’s return to the illustration of the two prisoners, which is, in fact, a true story. After the angry, bitter man was released from prison, he didn’t stay a free man for long. He soon ended up back in prison, cursing God and man for his situation — seeing only the bars of his imprisonment. On the other hand, when the other prisoner was released, he went on to start a successful business that he called Brown Bag Tomato Company (another story for another time). In time, he married and had three wonderful children. Why was this man’s outcome so different from the first prisoner’s? Because in a time of testing, he chose to look at the stars — not the bars.

So what are you looking at in your situation? Do you see “bars” or “stars”? The choice is yours to make. Remember — the vision God has given you is a witness to what is coming. Hold fast to that word He has spoken to your heart, and you will see it come to pass.