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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shortcuts Are Short-sighted

In summary of Genesis 6:22 it says,
“Noah did everything God commanded him to do.”

Bottom Line:
Noah Obeyed What God Commanded him

What this means to me:
Just like Noah, I need to do everything that God tells me and not take shortcuts.  God he knows what's best for me and what my life could be if I did.  Unfortunately I do come across the temptation to take shortcuts.   What I’m learning is that taking shortcuts (moral, ethical, spiritual, financial, or even relational) will only get me off track. Any shortcuts will be short-sighted and distract me from getting where I really need to go and more importantly from what God wants me to do in my life.  When I look back at the life of Noah, I see he doesn't try to cut corners. Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  In order for me to reach the dreams God gives me, I must do things exactly as God tells me to do them.

Monday, April 29, 2013

To Hear God, I Need To Get Near Him

In summary of Hebrews 11:7 it says,
“It was by faith that Noah heard God’s warnings about things he could not yet see. He obeyed God and built a large boat to save his family. By his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong, and he became one of those who are made right with God through faith.”

Bottom line:
It was by faith that Noah could hear God about things to come. He obeyed and did what God asked.  Through his faith, Noah showed that the world was wrong.  Noah became close and intimate with God.

What this means to me:
It is only in faith that I may fully hear what God wants to tell me.  So It is highly important for me to obey not only what I already know to be true but also what he may reveal to me about my next steps.  The best way to truly hear him is for me to be in a close relationship with Him.  In this passage this morning I read how Noah obeyed God about things that had never before happened would actually happen.  Noah was able to do this because he could hear God.  Like Noah, I can learn to hear God better by getting getting nearer to him.  However, It is hard to hear God when my mind is filled with a lot of distractions.  So I need to get alone with God and just be quiet.  God’s word reminds me to “Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)”   In order to do this I need to sit down and shut up.  As I do, I’ll be able to get closer and hear him.  I can add the following question to my daily quiet time activities; "God, is there anything you want to say to me?”   “God, I want to listen to you, not the voices of doubt. I want to hear you, and I promise to then obey you. I want to be one of the people that you can use and bless in the next ten years. I want those years to be a decade of destiny for me and my family.”  After doing this I can then go about reading God's Word and talking with him about what's on my heart.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wise People Look Ahead

In summary of Proverbs 14:8 it says,
“The wisdom of the wise keeps life on track; the foolishness of fools lands them in the ditch.”

Bottom Line:
A wise person will understand what to do, but a foolish person is deceiving themselves

What This Means to Me:
It is prudent for me to give thought to my ways, look ahead, seek counsel, and get advice or wisdom to try and understand what to do (look for pitfalls.).  I would be a fool to think I have it all figured out and to proceed without checking things out (I would only be deceiving myself.)  This passage reminds me that a wise man will look ahead.  I will face pitfalls as I make plans for my future, however I can learn to overcome them.  The Bible says I’m wise to look ahead and make plans. By doing that, I'll not only be prepared to spot the pitfalls when they come into my life, I'll also be prepared to apply the antidote to the pitfalls of life.  I’ll ask God to help you establish goals for the next decade of your life. Then you'll be ready to learn how to handle the pitfalls that potentially could keep you from getting where God wants me to go.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Examining Who’s Driving My Life

In summary of Proverbs 16:1-3 it says,
“We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.  People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.”

Bottom Line:
We can make plans, but God has the last word. We may think we are pure in our thoughts, but God weighs our motives. Put God in charge, then your plans will succeed.

What this means to me:
I can make my own plans but God has the last word.  I may even think my plan is pure and noble, but God will actually weigh my motives.  Often I have a plan all worked out that I want to see happen - and I may want it real bad.  So I make a plan and set out to work it.  Along the journey there will be roadblocks, challenges and discoveries that will cause my plan to be altered.  In these moments I need to ask, Am I choosing real faith or just demanding that God to help me do what I want?  Therefore it is better for me to take my plans to God and put him in charge.  When things come that my alter my course I need to check back with God.  When I choose real faith and follow him, the plan will succeed.   If I don’t follow him, I’m only pushing my wants ahead.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God's Work in Me

In summary of Philippians 2:13 it says,
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

Bottom Line:
It’s God working in you to give you the desires and power to please him.

What This Means To Me:
God is always at work within me.  It is He who gives me the desires and the power to do what He pleases.  This is good news.  I don’t have to worry about doing it all on my own.  He provides the Holy Spirit who is living within me to help produce a “Christlike” character in me.  On my own, I cannot possibly come close to being like Jesus in my own strength.  The way the Holy Spirit releases his power in my life is through quiet, unassuming ways.  Way that I’m often not even aware of or feel.  What I’m learning is that Christlikeness is not produced by mere imitation, but more by inhabitation. I allow Christ to live through me.  This can only happen through the choices I make. I choose to do the right thing in situations and then trust God's Spirit to give me his power, love, faith, and wisdom to do it. Since God's Spirit lives inside of me, these things are always available for the asking.  There is tremendous encouragement in knowing that God is working in me.  When I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, I just need to remember to ask God.  He will provide

Monday, April 22, 2013

Character, Taking On A God-Fashioned Life

In summary of Ephesians 4:22-24 it says,
“22 So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to—the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. 23 Your hearts and minds must be made completely new, 24 and you must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.”

Bottom Line:
Get rid of your old self and ways which was destroying you by deceitful desires.  Instead be new by putting on your new self created in God’s image and likeness.

What This Means To Me:
I need to get rid of my old self and desires, letting the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes.  I need to put on my new self each day and live as a new person made to be like God, truly good and set apart for his service.  In addition I need to be careful that I’m not trying to control my circumstances, my future and people around me (playing God).  God doesn’t want me to become a god; instead he wants me to become godly, taking on his values, attitudes, and character. In this verse I’m reminded that I’m meant to "take on an entirely new way of life - a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into my conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you."  Every time I forget that character is one of God's purposes for my life, I’ll become frustrated by my circumstances wondering "Why is this happening to me?"  I need to remember that life is not about me! I exist for God's purposes, not vice versa. God gives me my time on earth to build and strengthen my character for heaven.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Learning To Be Careful, Bad Temper is Contagious

In summary of Proverbs 22:24-25 it says,
"Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul."

Bottom Line:
Don’t hang out with angry or hot headed people.  Bad temper is contagious, don’t get infected with it.

What this means to me:
I need to be careful with who I hang out or associate closely with.  Anger just like complaining is contagious.  I might easily pick up on the habit and have a hard time changing back.  I’m better off staying away and not picking up on it.   The energy from anger is contagious.   The methods used to express our anger are learned. Since they're learned, they can be unlearned. Every time I blow up and lose my cool, I'm modeling inappropriate anger to those around me. Since I'm a leader, others are learning from what I do.  God, today with your help, I will do my best to take control of my temper. I know that I have fallen in the past, but today I ask for your strength to make a new commitment. Help me to understand and realize the cost of my anger, that it causes arguments, mistakes and causes me to do foolish things and get into all kinds of trouble.  Father, help me to reflect before reacting, to have wisdom and ask myself, `Why am I angry? What do I really want? How can I get it?' Help me to see the causes beneath my anger. Help me to release my anger appropriately, no longer expressing it through violence, shouting, pouting or just being quiet and holding it in as a grudge. Help me to admit it, confess it to you, myself and others. Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Learning To Reflect Before Responding

In summary of the two verses below:

Proverbs 29:11
"Fools vent their anger openly, but a wise and sensible person will quietly hold it back.”

Proverbs 19:11
“If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it.”

Bottom Line:
Foolish people lose their tempers, but wise people control theirs.  Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

What this means to me:
These verses remind me that when situations arise that raise my frustrations/temper it would be more sensible for me to control it and hold back rather than vent it openly.  In practice when I’m angry I shouldn’t respond impulsively, rather I should opt to delay (at least for 5 minutes) take a "time-out', and give myself some time to reflect and think it through, even to look at the situation from God’s point of view.  The Bible says a wise man lets his anger cool down. (Proverbs 29:11)  If I don't stop and think, I’m likely to do the wrong thing. So I need to reflect before responding.  While I’m cooling down, I can reflect on three questions; Why am I angry? What do I really want? How can I get it?  Understanding the answers to these three questions will give me greater patience and perhaps the ability to overlook an offense.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Change Requires Making Hard Choices Then Acting

In summary of Ephesians 4:21-24 it says,
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God — truly righteous and holy.”

Bottom Line:
Since you have heard and learned the truth that comes from Jesus, throw of your old sinful ways of doing things, which was corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and ways of thinking.  Put on a new nature and let God reproduce his character in you.

What this means to me:
As I follow Christ daily I learn more and more of the truth he reveals.  This has helped me throw off some of my old ways which were corrupted by the world’s views and my own selfish desires.  I am now learning to let the Holy Spirit renew my thoughts and ways of thinking.  Daily I try to clothe myself with this new nature and let God reproduce in me his character.  What I find is that It’s not enough to just want to change. It’s not enough to desire or even say, “I have a dream of changing.”  Dreams are worthless unless I wake up and actually act on them. I won’t change the defects in my life until I choose and act on change.  If I want to permanently change It won’t happen automatically. I’m not  just going to get healthier by accident.  Often my tendency is to think that I’m waiting on God to change me.  What I need to realize is that I’m not waiting on God, rather God is waiting on me.  There will be no growth in my life without change. And there is no change without loss. This means that I’ve got to let go of some old stuff. And there is no loss without pain.  It doesn’t really matter where my old ways came from. I simply need to deal with them.  The good news is that I’m a believer, and because of this I have a new power in me that is greater than my old tendencies. That power is the Holy Spirit.  The only thing I have to be afraid of is missing God’s best and wasting my life never really understanding God’s purpose for me.  The secret to changing my life won’t be with willpower on my own. It will be by God giving me the will and the power through the Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Celebrating My Uniqueness

In summary of Romans 9:20 it says,
"Who are you, a mere human, to talk back or argue with God our creator.  We have no right to question the creator on 'why he made me like this?’”

Bottom line:
The created should not question the creator on “why we were made the way just the way we are?”

What this means to me:
Often I don’t understand why God has made me the way I am.  I”m not sure what my real purpose for being here is.  This passage reminds me is that I should not question God on the uniqueness of how he put me together.  God has a purpose for making me the way I am.  My shape (skills, heart, attitude, personality, experiences)  was sovereignly determined by God for his purposes.  So I shouldn't reject it, instead of trying to reshape myself to be like someone else, I need to learn how to celebrate the shape God has given only to me. "Christ has given each of us special abilities - whatever he wants us to have out of his rich storehouse of gifts." (Ephesians 4:7 LB)  Part of accepting my shape is recognizing my limitations. Nobody is good at everything, and no one is called to be everything. We all have defined roles. So I should be envious of the runner in the lane next to me?.  No I just need to focus on finishing my race. God wants me to enjoy using the shape he has given me.   The enemy will always try to steal the joy of service from me by; tempting me to compare my ministry with others, and by tempting me to conform my ministry to the expectations of others. Both of these are deadly traps that will only distract me from serving in the ways God intended. Whenever I feel as if I’m losing my joy in ministry, I need to start considering if either one of these temptations is the cause.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Using God’s Spirit In My Life To Have The Power to Say 'No'

In summary of Romans 8:9 it says,
“But you are not ruled by your sinful nature. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. But the person who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ.”

Bottom Line:
If you belong to Christ, then you have the Spirit of God living in you.  You are not controlled by your sinful self but rather the the Spirit of God.

What this means to me:
I have committed myself to Christ as the Lord and leader of my life.  Because of my decision, God has sent his Spirit to dwell within me.  I can now look to the Spirit of God living within me to help control my sinful nature.  Those who have not accepted Christ are missing out and subject to their own human/sinful nature and usually give into any desire that comes their way.  All they have is pure will power and they are relatively powerless against the great craving that drive them.  As a believer, I’ve got the Holy Spirit — and a new ability to say “no.”  This doesn’t mean that I won’t have the same compulsions, desires, lusts, and impulses I had before I began a relationship with Jesus, but now the power of God resides inside of me. Now I can say “no.”  Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” The Bible doesn’t say me that I won’t have sinful desires now, but it says the Holy Spirit will help me choose not to satisfy them.  I have the power to say “no.” So i need to use it.  When I am tempted, I’ll recall this passage and claim the power I get from the Holy Spirit to say “no.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My Personality And Past Experiences Will Help Reveal Purpose For My Life

In summary of Galatians 6:4 it says,
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others.”

Bottom line:
You need to look to who you are, what led you to be this way and what work you’ve been given.  Concentrate on that.  Don’t compare yourself with others.

What This Means to Me:
I am not to compare my life to someone elses.  Instead I need to carefully explore who I am and the work that God has put in front of me.  I can take pride in doing what God had shaped me for.  I can gain great satisfaction for doing what I’ve been given to do well.  A way for me to determine my purpose is to review what I really enjoying doing the most, what makes me feel fully alive.  Its the stuff in which time flies by quickly.  It’s also part of my internal make up.  By nature I’m very introverted, a thinker and one who tends to cooperate.  I need to also look at past experiences; extracting the lessons I’ve learned from them and how they have helped to shape me.  It’s often hard to see God's good purpose in pain or failure or embarrassment while it is happening. Only in hindsight can I understand how God intended a problem for good.  Extracting the lessons from my experiences will likely take time. I can start by reviewing my life little by little, pausing to see how God has worked in the various defining moments and consider how he may want to use those lessons to help others.  After this I may have a much clearer direction on the ways he wants me to minister to others.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Learning To Be Careful In Listening To My Heart

In summary of Jeremiah 17:9-10 it says,
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.  But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.  get to the heart of the human.  I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

Bottom Line:
Our hearts are deceiving, they don’t always do what’s logical or rational, its hard to figure out.  But God searches our true hearts and knows our intentions.  He then gives according to our ways and deeds

What this means to me:
My heart won’t always want what is really best for me.  I can easily convince myself of anything to suit my real desires.  It’s hard therefore to be really rational.  God sees my true intent and will deal rightly with my hearts intent.  One way to combat this is to be brutally honest with myself so that my mind doesn’t try to justify my selfish desires.  One way I just learned to deal with this is to ask the question, “Am I being completely honest with myself?” and this is best asked personally in front of a mirror and in private.  It’s important to expose my real reasons.  Next, I can follow what’s in one of my favorite verses,  Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.”  And the other is follow what Proverbs 18:13 says, and make sure I get all the facts before proceeding.  Today, I will think through decisions I’m currently making and re-evaluate them based on this.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning To Trust In God And Not Myself Or Others

In summary of Jeremiah 17:5-8 it says,
“This is what the Lord says: ‘A curse is placed on those who trust other people, who depend on humans for strength, who have stopped trusting the Lord.  6 They are like a bush in a desert that grows in a land where no one lives, a hot and dry land with bad soil.  They don’t know about the good things God can give.  7 But the person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed.  The Lord will show him that he can be trusted.  8 He will be strong, like a tree planted near water that sends its roots by a stream.  It is not afraid when the days are hot; its leaves are always green.
It does not worry in a year when no rain comes; it always produces fruit.’”

Bottom Line:
The Lord does not give favor to those who put their trust in other people, the ones who rely on just human strength and have turned their hearts away from him.  For them they are like a bush where no one lives, a hot and dry land with bad soil.  They are unaware of the good things God provides.  However a person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed.  The Lord will show him how he can be trusted for he will be more like a strong tree planted near water, it’s roots have a constant supply of nourishment.

What this means to me:
God will not show favor to those who have turned their hearts away from Him.  They put their trust in themselves or in others for strength.  Jeremiah goes as far as saying that they are cursed for doing this.  In my own life I find that only God is one who can be fully trusted.  As I have put my trust in him, he has proven his trustworthiness over and over again.  When I stay plugged into God as my source of strength it is like planting myself near a source of constant nourishment.  In the tough times I can turn to him for what I need.  In this verse Jeremiah indicates that people have a universal heart problem (putting ourselves first) and that at times our hearts can deceive us about what is best.  When we don’t look to God as our source, what we get is what culture points us to; which is all about ourselves and fulfilling our desires.  We tend to rely on our own strengths or count on others to come through for us.  The problem with this approach is that people can not give us what God can.  They will often disappoint us because they too are only looking out for themselves.  I believe the curse comes in the fact that I would miss out on the best he had planned for me by putting the focus on myself or what others can do for me.  I will only hurt myself.  When I put God first, he will point me the right direction and show me the blessings that come from living a life the way he designed it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Choices Control My Calendar

In summary of Galatians 6:5 it says,
“Each person must be responsible for himself.”

Bottom Line:
Each must carry his own load

What this means to me:
I must take responsibility for doing the creative best I can with my life.  I am responsible for my own conduct and carrying my own load.  Therefore the choices that I make control how I spend my time.  My choices are far more powerful than my circumstances. I may not care for how complicated my life has become yet (with few exceptions) no one is forcing me to keep my life complicated.   I have the power to simplify my life. In fact, God expects me to assume responsibility for my life and to carefully choose how I spend my time.  God has given me just enough time to do his will while I’m here on earth. I've been given just enough time to fulfill my purpose. When I try to do more than what God has planned for me, it's only natural that I find myself out of time or stressed over your schedule.  Today I will consider what choices I’m making and how it impacts my time.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Instead of Trying Harder On My Own Effort, I Need to Learn To Trust Him More

In summary of Psalm 37:7 it says,
“Wait and trust the Lord.  Don’t be upset when others get rich or when someone else’s plans succeed.”

Bottom Line:
Wait and trust in God in prayer.  Don’t bother yourself with those who climb the ladder, who may be elbowing their way to the top.”

What this means to me:
I am not to worry about those around me who seem to be getting at head or climbing the ladder in either legitimate or illegitimate means.  In this passage I’m reminded that instead I should just surrender myself and then wait on / trust in God.  So surrendering my life means to:
  • Following God’s lead without knowing where he’s sending me.
  • Waiting for God’s timing without knowing when it will come.
  • Expecting a miracle without knowing how God will provide.
  • Trusting God’s purpose without understanding the circumstances.
I’ll know that I’m fully surrendered to God when I rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, or force my agenda, or control the situation.  I can simply let go and let God work.  I don’t have to always be "in charge."  So Instead of trying harder, I’m trusting more.  In addition, I know that I’m fully surrendered when I don’t react to criticism and rush to defend myself.  A surrendered heart for me will show up best in the context of my relationships. I’ll not be self-serving, I won’t try  edge others out, and I won’t demand my rights.  For an example, I can look to the example of Jesus. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus surrendered himself to God’s plan. He prayed, "Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”  Jesus didn’t pray, "God, if you’re able to take away this pain, please do so." He began by affirming that God can do anything! He prayed, "God, if it is in your best interest to remove this suffering, please do so. But if it fulfills your purpose, that’s what I want, too."  Genuine surrender for me will be when I can say “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness, or circumstance is needed to fulfill your purpose and glory in my life or in another’s life, please don’t take it away!"  This level of spiritual maturity won’t always come easily. In Jesus’ case, he agonized so much over God’s plan that he sweated drops of blood. Surrender is hard work. In my case, it will require an intense warfare against my self-centered nature.  Today I will evaluate where my treasure / heart.  I’ll review if my attitude toward my treasures/heart reflect a heart surrendered to Christ/

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Being Encouraged, Having A Heavenly Cheering Squad

In summary of Hebrews 12:1 it says,
“We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.”

Bottom line:
We have a great pool of people whose lives are an example to us of what faith means.  So run with determination the race that is before us. So strip off the things that hold us back and slow us down, especially the sin that holds on and easily trips us up.

What this means to me:
Its encouraging to know that I have lots of examples of people whose lives provide me with a testimony of what to live in faith means.  These are the pioneers who blazed the way ahead of me.  I can read about them and gain insight from their lives.  In addition what I’m learning is that they are also there cheering me on.  So I need to consider the things that are holding me back from living a life of faith, especially the sin that holds onto me tightly and easily keeps tripping me up.  Then run with all the determination and endurance I have the race that God has set before me.  I can take and use Jesus’ life as one of the greatest examples.  He  both began and finished this same race of human life.  What I need to keep in mind is that what I do is never private,  I have an audience in Heaven looking down.  They are my cheering section.  Every believer who has ever lived is in the stands watching me live out my faith and cheering me on. When I’m scared, they’re rooting for me to be courageous. When I want to give up, they’re urging me to keep going. When I feel insignificant and forgotten, they’re in my corner.   So for the next few days, if I start feeling down or defeated I will keep in mind that I have a cheering section in Heaven who is encouraging me.

Monday, April 1, 2013

God Gave Jesus To Help Me Find My Purpose

In summary of Colossians 1:16 it says, "
Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ."

Bottom Line:
Through his power all things in heaven and on earth were made.  God created the whole universe through him and for him.

What this means to me.  
God created the whole universe; everything I can see and not see.  God created it through Christ.  Christ was there in the beginning.  Everything created has a purpose and receives its start from Christ.  Christ then came down to earth to testify to God’s truth for me and paid the ultimate sacrifice for my rebellion.  So when it comes to the purpose for my life, I owe everything to him.  I can only find my purpose through Christ.  Anything I try to seek outside of him will never make sense.  As I walk closer with him day to day I’m finding that the major items that make up my purpose are: bringing glory to him in how I live my life, getting to know him better day by day, learning to love, obey, please him and learning to love and serving others.  I’ve also learned that my purpose in life is not a solo action.  Things are much better when I’m teamed up with others.  I need help from by brothers in Christ.  I need their counsel, encouragement and prayer.  Today I will I will look forward to meeting with the guys from my “Life Group” tonight.  I need their help to walk with and keep purpose in my life.