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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Help Others Find Freedom

In summary of John 8:31-32 it says, “Then Jesus turned to those who had claimed to believe in him. ‘If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.’”

Bottom Line:
Live out what He tells you, then you will experience first hand the truth and it is this truth that will truly set you free.

What this means to me:
Jesus lets me know that if I live in accordance with his teachings, (really obey, abide and holding to them) that I am truly one of his followers.  As I do this, I experience the real truth and this truth is what sets me free.  I know this to be true in based on my own life experiences.  Often it is not until I take the step of obedience that I can see His truths.  Overtime I have experienced a track record that shows following him and what he teaches is truly the best course for me.  This makes it easier to take the steps of faith/obedience when I come to new decision points in life.  Given my experience now, he wants me to share and show others so that they too can find real freedom through his Word.  The best way for me to care about others and help them escape guilt, worry, resentment is to teach them the Truth that will set them free.  Show them that when they build a life on God’s Word, they’ll have a life of genuine freedom to.  They can then also see a life that is built on God’s Truth is filled with happiness, joy, passion and purpose.  I can really spare those around me an awful lot of headaches and heartaches and heartbreaks if I teach them to rely on God's Word as the sole authority for their lives.  For many of the people, I may be the only one who can help them find freedom in God's Word. In order to do so, I need to make sure that I keep getting into and knowing God's Word myself!  Today I ask God to help me keep this perspective as I interact with others.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Miracles!

In summary of Matthew 19:26 it says, "Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible’"

Bottom Line:
Jesus looked at them and said, “For people this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

What this means to me:
Jesus was very serious, for you to pull off a miracle on your own efforts is impossible, but with God all things are possible.  God specializes in things that are humanly impossible.  This is a pretty all-inclusive statement. No matter how big my problem is, God can handle it.  I need to realize that I still must do my part and that is to give my all, sacrificially to God..  I need to Do what I can with what you have and then trust God to take it from there.   As shown in the “feeding of the 5,000” is illustrates a principle that's all through the Scripture: you cannot out-give God. Whenever I give something to Him in faith, the blessing is incredible. "And the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. And the number of the men who had eaten was five thousand." (Mark 6:43-44 NIV)  Any time I choose to give sacrificially to God I’ll end up getting more back from Him.  Today I’ll think about what I might be holding back in giving on wholeheartedly and sacrificially.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Faith Is Something I Do

In summary of James 2:15-16 it says, “If a fellow man or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good luck to you I hope you’ll keep warm and find enough to eat”, and yet give them nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that?”

Bottom Line:
If a brother or sister is without the necessities and all you say or do is say, “I wish you well” but not provide for their needs, what good is it.

What this means to me:
Does merely talking about faith indicate that I really have it?   If I come across or know of a brother or sister that is without the necessities to live and all I say, do or think is “I wish them well” but not provide for their needs, my words are worth nothing. Faith is more than something I just feel. I need to be careful to not confuse emotions and feelings with faith. Just going through the motions of a Christian doesn’t mean I’m really walking in faith.  In the Bible I see that faith is something that I do, not just what I feel (the proof is in the doing.)  Faith carries compassion. Faith says, “I’ll do anything I can to stop your hurt.” Throughout the New Testament, the witnesses say Jesus was moved with compassion for people. Jesus showed us that faith is practical.  When I see a need and do something about it, I show my faith by what I do.  Today I will try to not think of myself, but instead look to the needs of others.  The Bible tells me that the more I give my life away, the more I’ll be able to take the focus off myself.  When I serve others with unselfish love, and bless others with my time and talents the more I’ll show my faith in action.  When I do this I hope my counter-culture faith will be increasingly evident and hopefully this will make others be curious about my life and the God I serve.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Being Counted On By Others

In summary of Matthew 25:23 it says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”

Bottom Line:
You’ve done well and should be commended.  You have been faithful in handling small amounts, so now I’ll give you greater responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate!

What this means to me:
To be a real servant, I need to be faithful to my responsibilities and ministry.  I need to finish my tasks, fulfill my responsibilities, keep my promises, and complete any commitments I make.  This means I don’t leave any job half done, and I shouldn’t quit if I get discouraged.  I need to make practices trustworthiness and dependability part of my daily routine.  In what I do, I need to value and take to heart the meaning of a commitment.  I need not make commitments casually, then break them for the slightest reason.  So in light of this a real question I need to ask myself is; can I be counted on by others?  Are there any promises I have committed in ministry or work to that I still need to keep?  Have I been obedient to God’s call in my life to bless others through my service?  Am I using the gifts he has given me to be a blessing to others?  Most of life is a test, a test of my faithfulness.  If I pass God has promised to reward my faithfulness in eternity.  My goal is to hear from God, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling what I gave you to do on earth, so now I will give you many more responsibilities, Let’s celebrate together!”  As a faithful servant here on earth my job will never be done (i.e. I can’t just retire and stop serving.)  I need to keep on serving faithfully as long as a live.  Today I will consider if others would describe me a committed and faithful person.  I will then also consider if I’m using my gifts and abilities to bless others and further His Kingdom.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moving Forward with God's Promises

In summary of Ephesians 3:20 it says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Bottom Line:
Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine

What this means to me:
All glory belongs to God who can do much, much more (immeasurably more)  through his mighty power at work within me to carry out His purposes.  He can accomplish infinitely more than I could ever dare to ask or even imagine would be possible.  He does this not by pushing me around but rather by working within me, via his Spirit deeply and gently within me.  If I truly ask God to use me, he promises some much.  He promises strength, he tells me no one will be able to stand against me (what God asks me to do, he’ll give me the power to do.  He promises success, he tells me I’ll be successful when I serve him.  He also promises support I’ll need, that he’ll be with me wherever I go; if i do things God’s way, I will not lack his support.  The more I get into and review his word the more promises I uncover.  God’s promise of success has nothing to do with my ability, but rather based on my commitment to His Word.   This is very comforting, I don’t need to worry so much about my ability but rely more on just committing myself to doing what He asks.  I can move forward with confidence knowing all that God has promised.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stop Procrastinating!

In summary of Philippians 4:13 it says, “I am ready and can do anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.”

Bottom line:
I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.

What this means to me:
Whatever I have, wherever I am, I have the strength to make it through and can be ready to accomplish anything he gives me to do.  This is because of the one who lives within me and empowers me (I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.)  Given this I still battle a natural tendency to procrastinate.  In my study this morning (Daily Hope), Rick Warren points out actions I can start to take today in order to battle procrastinating.
  • Stop making excuses - Typical phrases for me include "one of these days" or "When things settle down, then I'm going to ..."   The fact is things will never really settle down. So I must make a choice to prioritize what is important.
  • Start today - Not next month, next week, or tomorrow. As I have never been guaranteed a tomorrow.
  • Establish a planned schedule - "A wise man will plan ahead. A fool doesn't"  If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail. I need to designate some specific time slots each week for the things I need to do. Break down larger tasks into small pieces.
  • Face my fears. “Courage is not the absence of fear; it's moving ahead in spite of our fears.” His word tells me that there is nothing I cannot master with the help of Christ who gives you strength.
  • Focus on what you gain, not the pain. Very few things in life are easy. I must push through the frustration and look at the gain beyond the pain. Focus more on how good you're going to feel once you've finished the task.
Jesus never said life would be easy. There will be sacrifice and commitment. But there is tremendous reward when we I the things he calls me to do.  So instead of asking “what I feel like doing?” I need to ask “what does God want me to do?”  Today I will consider things God wants me to do.  Then I’ll work on putting the goals into my calendar.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Trade Life For Temporary Things

In summary of 1 Corinthians 7:31 it says, “Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.”

Bottom Line:
Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it will not last.

What this means to me:
I need to be careful of all the things the world offers and the media/vendors often thrusts upon me.  I need to make sure I’m not becoming absorbed by or dependent upon them. I can be obsessed at times, thinking my time is my own and doing what I like.  God’s word reminds me that these things are all temporary and will not last.  The things that will last are the things after his own heart; my relationship with him and serving / sharing with others (being used by him to further his kingdom.)   As I think back, quite a bit of what I’ve did yesterday (or even in the past) will not matter even a year from now, much less for eternity.  I must not trade my life for things that are only temporary.  Allowing myself to become distracted takes me off course of what it is that he has planned for me to do.  There are times when I need recreation/rest, I just need to make sure I have clearly outlined and put together plans to do what’s important and not slack off on these in favor of distractions of this world (often without a plan the fun stuff seems to call me.).  In addition, the easy fun stuff comes when I’m not feeling 100%.  So today I need to focus on increasing my energy.  I’ve felt a bit run down and my body is aching the last few days.  I need to make sure I’m getting the right exercise, eating/drinking the right foods.  I’ll consider what I’m investing my time with and making sure it’s not for things that won’t matter.  God I ask you today to guide me in my actions, and help me to strip away the things that are slowing me down.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let Go of the Things That Hold You Back

In summary of the second half of Hebrews 12:1 it says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress ...”

Bottom line:
Strip off, get rid of, remove anything that would get in our way, especially the sin that easily holds us back or trips us up

What this means to me:
If I’m going to finish well in the race of life, i.e. make it to the finish line, I’ll need to let go of some things that are holding me back.  I’ll have to de-clutter/simplify things in order to finish well.  It’s a little bit like attaching too many things to one battery, it won’t last long.  These things can include additional items to my schedule (which can ultimately cause me to become discouraged and tired because I can’t finish them.)  Overall there are two things contribute to holding me back.  One is weight; extra burdens, relationships, work, activities, unrealistic expectations - too many things whether good or bad can wear me out.  And the others is sin; missing God’s mark -  the things that you know to do but you don’t do them (i.e. spending more than I make, knowing the right thing to do but choosing not to.)  I need to learn to say “no” to many things in order to grow.  I don’t think God expects me to do everything.  I can only live in the now, trying to understand the future or dwelling in the past will only weigh me down.   Also, I need to be careful to live within my means so that I can lay aside the weight of financial debt and run this race well.  So today I will consider the things that are weighing me down that I may need to lay aside.  I’ll need to determine the changes that I’ll need to make in my lifestyle that will help me run the race well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Using Moment-by-Moment Dependence on God To Make A Difference

In summary of Philippians 2:4 it says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

Bottom Line:
Forget about yourself long enough to lend a helping hand to others.

What this means to me:
I need to learn and practice looking beyond myself and my own interests in order to show concern for others and to lend them a helping hand.  This means I need to mature my thinking beyond a selfish child.  God commands me "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too." (Philippians 2:4 TLB)  This is a challenge, a difficult mental shift mainly because I’m naturally self-absorbed.  Our culture promotes this (advertising encourages us to think of ourselves) it’s all around us and the way most people live their lives.   The only way I can possibly make a mental switch is through a “moment-by-moment” dependence on God.   It is fortunate for me that he doesn’t leave me to struggle on my own about this; God has given me the Holy Spirit who dwells within me.  One way I can learn and practice is to ask the Holy Spirit to help me think of the spiritual needs of unbelievers I come in contact with.  I can say, “Father help me to understand what is keeping this person from knowing you."   I can then work on determining where they are in their spiritual journey and help bring them a step closer to knowing Christ.  I can adopt Paul’s mindset, "don't think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved."   With this in mind, I will work on thinking and taking a different approach in the relationships I encounter today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Don’t Get Discouraged, God Knows Your Faithfulness

In summary of Galatians 6:9 it says, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up."

Bottom line:
Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up.

What this means to me:
I am to be careful about not getting tired of doing the right thing; what is good and helpful for others.  If I stick with it a time will come when God will reward me with a harvest of blessing in the future and into eternity.  Unfortunately there is a natural pull in me that makes me want to give up or throw in my hand if I’m not seeing immediate benefits, results or praise.  I need to remember that God sees every act of my faithfulness.  In fact he sees everything that I do that is good and right; he is the audience of my life.  So every time I choose not to sin, every time I resist temptation, every time I take a stand because of God’s Truth, he see my faithfulness to Him.  His word tells me that every good deed will be rewarded, no matter how insignificant and regardless of whether anybody else on earth sees it.   So when I get discouraged, I only need to remember that God sees it, and it doesn't matter who else does.  Nothing good I do is ever done in vain. God sees it all.  Today I will work on remembering that all I do in life if for Him and I want to please him with how I’m stewarding all that he has given me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

God Knows Everything About You And Has A Great Plan

In summary of Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “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.”

Bottom Line:
God knows his plans for you.  These are good plans, not ones to bring you to ruin, instead ones that give you hope for the future.

What this means to me:
God has a plan for me and it’s a good one in which I will prosper, its one that will give me hope for the future.  God knows everything about my life and as I think about this, I am comforted.  The fact that he knows everything is a tremendous motivator for me to live a godly life as nothing in my life is a secret.  I need to remember as I go about my day that there is no way to fool him, he knows all.  In addition nothing that I can ever face or go through will ever catch him by surprise. I can count on him to help me get through it.  Nothing I can come across is too big for God’s strength.  Nothing that I can do for him will ever be in vain.  God knows what he’s planning for me.  His plans for me are good and prosperous ones that won’t hurt me.  As I walk closely with him he will bless those things that he has in mind for me to do.  Today I will go through the day with the confidence that God has a plan for me.  I just need to check in with him daily to get his direction.

Friday, February 8, 2013

God Knows About Your Stress, Go To Him for Help

In summary of Matthew 6:8 it says, “Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”

Bottom line:
Don’t be like others, God knows what you’re dealing with even before you ask him.

What this means to me:
This verse reminds me that God knows everything that causes worry and stress in my life.  At times I act as if God is unaware of these stresses.  I get uptight, upset, and then worry kicks in about the issue.  However I what I need to realize is that worry on my part is a result of me forgetting about the omniscience of God.  When I don’t think that God knows about or cares about what’s going on, I begin to take matters into my own hands; in effect I take on God’s role for myself. Worrying on my part is the taking on the responsibility for things God never intended for me to have.  In reality, God is fully aware of all my needs, whether it be financial, spiritual, sexual, social or emotional.  In fact, he knows what I need even before I ask it.  When I pray this is never about giving information to Him, he already knows.  God is waiting for me to ask HIm for help, so praying is my way to ask him for help.  So I shouldn’t be like the masses who take matters into their own hands.  I’m dealing with my Father in heaven and he knows exactly what I need even before I ask him.  So I ask the Holy Spirit to remind me when I start worrying that I should stop, and realize God knows all and cares.  Then I can go to God in prayer and ask for his help.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

God Knows Your Future, So Ask For His Guidance And Insight

In summary of Jeremiah 33:3 it says, “Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.”

Bottom Line:
Ask me, and I will tell you great things that you don’t know or understand on your own.

What this means to me:
I can ask God for guidance for things in my future and he will provide me with insight and direction on the things that are to come.  It’s natural for me to want to know or figure out what is going to happen next in life.  Today’s verse reminds me that Instead of seeking the future on my own, I should consult with the one who knows best what’s going to happen - God!  His word tells me that He’s able to be in the past, present and the future all at the same time.  God not only walks with me day-by-day, He also walks with me in my future.  So if God knows all my tomorrows, then I should ask Him for advice.  I’ll just have to remember that I walk with God one day at a time.  He will not lay out my whole life at once.  Moving forward I will try to incorporate a review of my daily schedule with him each day and weekly when I’m doing my planning for the week.  I’ll pray "Father, You've already seen this day that I'm about to experience. Tell me the things that are important today and then help me to focus on them."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

God Knows Your Frustrations, So Give Them To Him And Have His Peace

In summary of 1 Peter 5:7 it says to “Give all your anxiety to him because he cares for you”

Bottom Line:
You can give all of your worries over to him, he cares about you.

What this means to me:
I should decide upfront and in my heart (once and for all) to give or turn all of my worries, anxieties and cares over to God.  God shows me in his Word that he takes a personal concern over me and will care for worries me.  I should never think to myself that “nobody knows what I’m going through or nobody knows the pain I’m experiencing” because God knows!  He already knows all of my feelings and frustrations even before I tell him.  There is no hurt in my life that would go unnoticed by Him because he is my father; one who is tender and compassionate toward me.  God knows all of the causes, the reasons, the things that brought me to this point.  He fully understands because he is the one who made me.  He sees the hurt in my heart like nobody else ever could.  Because he knows what my frustrations and despairs are, I can give those feelings I have back to him, I can cast them all permanently back to him, once and for all, and then, never take them back.  Even though I know this, I often default into dwelling on my problems and worries, trying to solve things for myself.  I am thankful for this reminder through his word, that whenever I start to feel worries or concerns that I can instead just turn them into prayers asking God to take them from me and to handle things in the way he knows best for me.  I also need to remember that he always has my best interest in mind and that whatever happens will be used by him to grow my faith and to fulfill his purposes.  One of the immediate benefits of casting my fears and worries onto him is the immediate peace that he grants me about the situation, especially as I trust him with the outcome.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

With God You Never Have To Pretend

In summary of Psalms 69:5 it says, “God, you know every sin I’ve committed; My life’s a wide-open book before you.”

Bottom Line:
God you know everything I’ve done; my life is never hidden from you.

What this means to me:
God knows every foolish and sinful thing I’ve ever done.  My life is like an openbook, whatever I’ve done could never have been hidden from you.  So given this it is foolish for me to do something wrong and then try to sneak it past God (thinking he never noticed.)  Likewise it is foolish for me to take something I’ve done and to not deal with it rightly (ie. trying to stuff it in the closet, locking the door.)  God knows all, even stuff behind the locked doors.  Everything I think, everything I see, everything I do, everything I feel -- God knows all about it. He already knows all I've done wrong and yes He still loves me!   In essence, I not fooling God when I keep my sins hidden.  He’s not shocked by what I’ve done and not surprised when I admit it to Him.  Confessing my sin will never change the way he feels about me.  This frees me to be exactly who I am around God.  I never have to pretend or fake it; he will always love me unconditionally.  
Given this, I come to you today God and ask you to help me examine my life and bring to mind any unconfessed sin / wrongdoing so that I may confess it and receive your forgiveness.

Monday, February 4, 2013

You Can’t Hide From God

In summary of Hebrews 4:13 it says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

Bottom Line:
Nothing is hidden from God! He sees through everything, and we will have to tell him the truth we can’t get away from it.

What this means to me:
Nothing I do is hidden or concealed from God.  There is no where I can go to get away or be secretive.  Everything I do is open and exposed before his eyes, he sees through everything.  I am not impervious to God’s Word, he is the one in the end that I’ll be accountable to telling the truth to.  There is no way from me to get away from anything - no matter what.  Unfortunately there come tempting times in my life when I just want to go with my impulses and desires, thinking it won’t hurt anyone (ie.. Just one bite, even though I’m trying to watch what I eat.)    The enemy feeds me with his excuse, “no one will ever know.”  If I do decide to move forward with my desire using my excuse, “no one will ever know” there is one who does know; God!    His Word tells me that nothing in creation is hidden from Him and He knows everything about me.  The good news about that is, there’s never a question God can’t answer and never a problem I could have that will ever confuse him.  He’s never surprised or shocked.  He knows all.  This week I’ll keep in mind that my life is an open book before God.  There is nothing I can do that he won’t see.  I pray that Holy Spirit brings this verse to mind the next time I’m tempted and saying to myself “no one will ever know!”

Friday, February 1, 2013

Prioritizing And Choosing a Simpler Life

In summary of Ecclesiastes 3:5 it says, “A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away”

Bottom Line:
There’s a time in which something needs to be done and many times where it doesn’t need to be done at all.  There are certain relationships that need priority and others that don’t.

What this means to me:
My life is full of choices and competing demands.  I truly believe that God never intended for me to make completing a to-do list the purpose of my life.  To-do lists are good for helping me sort out priorities, but it is a tool not a way of life.  There are likely many things in my life that I think are important that are probably not really worth doing.   Tools like “Evernote” or “Outlook” are great but they won’t simplify life.  Simplifying is more about choices and the prioritizing what is important and then sticking to those choices no matter how tempting it would be add more onto my plate.  I’m the only one who can assume responsibility for my time.  I need to clarify what’s really important to me.
 Today I will evaluate my priorities based on what’s really important in God’s eye’s and what’s not.   If there is extra time left over, I can pursue the other things.

When Opposed, Learn to Choose Worship over Worry

In review of 1 Peter 3:14-15 it tells me that “ If I suffer for doing what is right , God will reward me for it . So don’t worry or be afra...