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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Because God Says So

In review of Luke 5:4-5 it says, “When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

Bottom Line:
Listen and obey immediately when Jesus asks you to do something. Give up your way and do his way.

What this means to me:
I need to listen and obey immediately when I get direction from God. With Jesus is in my boat, I should follow what he says (because he says so.)  As a follower of Jesus Christ, he expects me to obey whatever he tells me to do, even if it appears foolish, doesn’t make sense financially, or even if I don’t fully understand it (and scared to death about it.). Luke 5:4-5 says, “When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (NIV). Not only did Jesus get in the boat, but suddenly he began giving fishing instructions to professional fishermen. Peter’s reaction is interesting. First, he didn’t argue with Jesus. He didn’t say, “Excuse me, Lord. You’re a carpenter. I’m a fisherman. And those fish aren’t biting! Who are you to tell me how to do my job?” And, he didn’t hesitate. When Jesus said to launch the boat, he didn’t say, “Why don’t we think about this for a minute? Let’s form a committee and vote on it” or “We’re pretty dirty and tired here, Lord. How about we try again later?” Instead he responded to Jesus with unquestioned obedience. If I can become a because-you-say-so believer, I believe God will bless my life. His instructions do not have to make sense; if God says so, I should do it, trusting him in faith. In short, disobedience will always hurts me, mainly because I’ll miss out on the blessing he planned to give me through it. Because of my recent illness and surgery’s I have held back on doing what I believe God had asked me to do back in February; beginning to get involved in the lives of those around me (mentoring.) It’s scary, however, I know once I take that step forward that God will provide blessing to those around and to myself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why My Way Isn’t Working

In review of Luke 5:4-5 it says, “When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”

Bottom Line:
Stop doing things your same old way. With Jesus in your boat, give up your way and do it his way.

What this means to me:
Like Simon, I try to do things in my own strength constantly and not really get anywhere. When Jesus is in my boat, I should look to him and follow what he says (because he says so.) This of course, will take humility and obedience on my part. I need to be humble enough to listen and obedient enough to follow what he says, even though I may think I’ve already tried it. When Jesus tells me to do something he will provide a way for it to happen. The Bible says in Luke 5:4-5, “When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’” (NIV). One thing I had never thought about was how hard it must have been for Simon Peter to admit failure to Jesus. He was a professional fisherman, and as a result he was good at it. It was how he made his living. But sometimes even the pros can fish all night and catch nothing. They were doing their best. But sometimes best is not good enough, and sometimes there are situations that are out of our control. I can’t control the economy. I can’t control the weather. I can’t control a lot of things in life that will affect me. I may have tried so hard that it just doesn’t seem to make any difference. Well, I need to get and keep Jesus in my boat. In other words, I need to let him be the center of my work/job. Second, I need to admit that my way isn’t working. The Bible calls this confession, and it can be tough. It can be hard for me to admit my way isn’t working, because pride, stubbornness and fear get in the way. Pride says, I don’t want anybody to think I can’t handle it. I’m in charge. I’ve got it all together. I think I can handle everything by myself, even if it means working 12 hours a day. Stubbornness indicates my being unwilling to change the way I’m doing things. The greatest enemy of tomorrow’s success is yesterday’s success. And lastly fear, its hard to admit that I’ve fished all night and caught nothing. I’m afraid that people will think less of me. I’m afraid to get Jesus into my boat because he may likely steer it in a direction I didn’t want to go. So, I need to be sure that I’m letting go of pride, stubbornness, and fear so that Jesus can take my boat and fill it to overflowing. I want to be successful in my work/job/career. I’d like to see God use me to make a difference in the lives of others by showing them what it’s like to be a devoted follower of Jesus. What I’m learning is that I need to let go of doing it my way and instead invite him in, and do things his way. Doing this will give him control.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Having Jesus In My Job

In review of Matthew 6:33 it says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Bottom Line:
Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met.

What this means to me:
I am to seek first and be concerned with the Kingdom of God, and what God wants, then he will provide everything else I need. To turn from emptiness to overflowing, I am to give Jesus complete access to my life, including my career/job. Luke 5:3 says, “Jesus got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, and asked him to push off a little from the land. Then Jesus sat down and continued to teach the people from the boat” (NCV). Earlier in these passages, the disciples had worked all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus stepped into their boat and told them to cast their nets again. When they did, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break! It was the same lake, the same boat, the same nets, the same fishermen, and the same fish. The only thing that was different between nothing earlier and fullness was having Jesus is in the boat. The boat represents how I make a living. Simon’s business was his boat because he was a fisherman. The boat can represent my career/job, just like it represented Simon Peter’s entire livelihood. To have Jesus in my boat, means that I dedicate my career/job to Him. I give him control. When Simon Peter gave his job to Jesus for the Lord’s use, he was blessed with incredible results. However, I must be careful with the sequence as its not a “God, make me really successful in business, and then I’ll serve you with the success”, rather It’s the exact opposite. First, Peter let Jesus use his job for his ministry platform. Then Jesus blessed Peter’s job with enormous success. That’s the order. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (NLT). Whatever I want God to bless, I need to put him first. If I want God to bless my time, then I give him the first part of every day. If I want God to bless my money, then I give him the first 10 percent. If I want God to bless my job, I give him control. This is a great reminder for me as I officially return to full time work starting tomorrow. To give control of my job to Jesus means that I offer it and what I need to do before him, asking and praying for his guidance and perception to know what to do. It means considering my job as a way to serve God’s interests and his Kingdom. Today, I ask God to bless me in my work as I get re-engaged and help lead the team to accomplish our clients goals.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Seeing Others the Way Jesus Does

In review of Mark 6:34 it says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”

Bottom Line:
No matter what Jesus did, he saw people differently. He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

What this means to me:
The best way to know that I’m looking at life from God’s viewpoint is to look at the way I see other people. It’s the number one test of my spiritual maturity. Life is not about how much Bible verses I know, or how often I attend to church services, or whether I serve, tithe or pray. Rather it is about my relationships and how I see other people. Because life is all about love! As a first example, I should consider, how God sees my wife. He sees her as valuable. acceptable. lovable. and forgivable. Is this the way I see her? Do I see my wife the way God does? Next, how about the strangers at the grocery store? The person who cuts me off in traffic? The beggar on the street? What do I see when I look at other people? Do I see them as irritations? Do I see them as burdens? Do I see the people I work with as enemies? Do I see them as competition? Or do I see them the way God sees them? Every person matters to God. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done or even what they believe. Christ died for them, Jesus loves them, God has a plan for their lives, and he wants them to have a relationship with him. The Bible says in Mark 6:34, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (NIV). That’s the way Jesus sees people. I need to grow and learn to see people and have compassion not only for my own family but also for my neighbors, community, country and the whole world. I need to let my spiritual vision get larger and clearer and stronger as I learn to see people the way Jesus does. Like Jesus, I need to view people differently and have compassion on them. If they are like sheep without a shepherd, I need to spend time getting together with them to let them know what I have learned. Today, I will attempt to show compassion to other people today by trying to see them from Jesus’ view point.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Short Term Thinking Will Keep Me from Seeing Clearly

In review of Mark 8:17 it says, "Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you talking about not having bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your minds closed?’”

Bottom Line:
Do you not see or understand, do you not grasp what has happened, don’t you catch on? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing, is your mind closed?

What it means to me:
I need to be careful with getting caught up in myself and not seeing what God is doing. If I do, I’ll miss out on what God is doing in my life, especially if I remain focused on the here-and-now and not what God wants to do in my life for the long term. When I think about comfort rather than character, when I think about my happiness and not my holiness, when I’m thinking about enjoying now instead of preparing for eternity; I’m caught up in short-term thinking, and it will keep me from seeing life clearly. This is what happened with the disciples in this passage. Jesus was trying to teach them a lesson about pride by using yeast as a metaphor. The Bible says in Mark 8:16-17, “His followers discussed the meaning of this, saying, ‘He said this because we have no bread.’ Knowing what they were talking about, Jesus asked them, ‘Why are you talking about not having bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your minds closed?’” (NCV) Jesus was trying to teach the disciples a lesson about life, and they thought he was talking about lunch! He was talking about the need for maturity, and they were talking about their next meal. Now that’s short-term thinking. Unfortunately, short-term thinking will keep me from seeing how God is working in my life. It’s hard to think long-term today because everything in our society teaches me to do the opposite. We tend to rob the future to enjoy today. We’re setting up years and years of unpayable debt to future generations so we can do what we want now. Whenever I’m thinking short-term, I won’t be able to see what God’s doing. I won’t be able to see his long-range plans for my character when I’m thinking only about my own comfort.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees (Pride and Arrogance)

In review of Mark 8:15 it says, "Jesus warned them, ‘Be careful! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod."

Bottom Line:
Jesus warns us  to take and be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.

What this means to me:
Jesus warns me to take and be careful of the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod. In the Bible, yeast was used as a metaphor for pride and arrogance. When yeast is put into dough, it makes it It puff it up. If I put in too much, it will even blow up. In making bread, you don’t pour a cup of yeast in, you only need a little pinch. Just like yeast, I don’t have to have a lot of pride for it to take over quickly and get me into all kinds of problems. When I’m filled with pride, I can blow things out of proportion. All of a sudden, the little things will get me really upset. Whenever that happens, I should know I’m dealing with pride. Wherever we find conflict anywhere in the world, pride is always involved. When I’m filled with pride, when I have the yeast of the Pharisees, I won’t be able to see life clearly. Personally pride occurs when I think more highly of myself than I should. When I’m prideful, I can’t see what God is doing in my life because I’m so obsessed with my own self and not what God wants me to do. Overall, Jesus warns me to beware the “yeast of the Pharisees” so that I can more closely follow him and understand how he is working in my life.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Learning That God Provides

In review of Philippians 4:19 it says, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Bottom Line:
God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need.

What this means to me:
God can and will meet my every need, from his glorious riches, through Christ Jesus. No matter where I am on the way to a miracle, there are some things to remember. First is that God is all I need. I don’t need the government or even a job. If God wants to, he can have ravens drop food on me as his way of providing. If he turns off one job opportunity, he can turn on another just as easily. I should not trust in my bank account, which changes daily. God is all I need. Secondly, where God guides, God provides. If God tells me to go to Zarephath, leave now! When God gives me direction, he will provide what I need to get there. Thirdly, I must trust him one day at a time. Mainly because something like a recession isn’t going to come at me all at once. It’s going to come one day at a time. Fourthly, God’s promises hinge on your obedience. God wants me to take a step, and then he’ll show me the next step. Take a step of faith, although it may not seem logical, I do what God says because God’s way is always best. The Bible says, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NIV). The first step of faith is asking Jesus to take control of my life and get to know him. I’ll conclude with this prayer. “Dear God, thank you that you love me and want to keep me from depending on other things instead of you. Forgive me for when I’ve depended on my job and other people instead of you. Thank you that you haven’t forgotten me. Lord, the days ahead may be a little scary at times, but I understand now that the path to a miracle is through uncomfortable territory. I understand now that the source of a miracle will be unexpected, so I shouldn’t try to figure it out. I should just trust you. When you tell me what to do, and it doesn’t always make sense, I will still do what you want me to do. Help me to remember that you’re all I need and that where you guide, you’ll provide. I want to learn to trust you one day at a time. I want to go your way, not my way. I want to follow you, and I ask you to save me and come into my life. I claim your promise that if I trust you, you’ll meet my needs. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Learning That Miracles Always Come from Unexpected Sources

In review of Isaiah 55:8 it says, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’”

Bottom Line:
The Lord’s thoughts and ways are not the same as yours.

What this means to me:
The Lord thinks and does things very different from the way I do. He has declared that his thoughts are not my thoughts and neither are my ways, his ways. Everyone including myself has a need in life that we want met. I know I have my strategies that help me figure how to get it fulfilled. Often I may be thinking, “Maybe God could do it that way” or “Maybe I could help God along with this” or “Maybe I could give a suggestion here.” However, these thoughts are merely ways in which I’m trying to manipulate God. These will not work. What I’m learning is that the source of a miracle will not be where I think it’s going to come from. It’s always unexpected. God told Abraham that he was going to have a son, and that son was going to be the father of a great nation. Abraham was nearly 100 years old and had a little trouble believing God’s promise. So he took matters into his own hands and had sex with a woman who wasn’t his wife, and they had a son named Ishmael. But God said, “No! That’s not the one I promised. That’s the one you came up with using your plan, but that’s not my plan. My plan is I’m going to use your wife Sarah and do a miracle long after she’s capable of having children.” The way I want to meet the need in my life is not the way God wants to meet the need in my life. My way is second best. God’s way is always best. Isaiah 55:8 says, “’My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine’” (NLT). As I wrote about yesterday, the path to a miracle is always through uncomfortable territory. Today, I learn that the source of a miracle always comes in an unexpected way. So, I am to not fret, fear or try to figure it out on my own. Instead, I am to just have faith. I trust God, and say, “I don’t know how God is going to do it, but he will do it.” If God tells me to do something, even if it doesn’t make sense, I do it. Even if going in that direction, or to that location, or to talk to that person doesn’t make sense, I simply obey God and do what he tells me to do. And then, I get ready for a miracle. To show faith, I need to ask each day, “God, what can I do today that will require faith?” It’s an important question, because the things that require my faith are the ones that are going to please God and that he will work through..

Monday, July 14, 2014

Learning That The Path to A Miracle, Goes Through Uncomfortable Territory

In review of 1 Kings 17:8-10a it says, “Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah, ‘Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you.’ So Elijah went to Zarephath.”

Bottom Line:
When God speaks / communicates, Take action and obey. God will take care of the details regardless of how the circumstances may appear..

What this means to me:
God speaks his word. I am to listen and do what he asks. He will provide and take care of the details for me. Then regardless of how uncomfortable it may seem, I just need to move forward and execute. As simple as this sounds, it can be difficult, especially when doing so scares me and makes me feel vulnerable, not knowing where I’m going. Nor do I know how long it’s going to take, or know what’s going to happen once I get there. To combat these feeling, I need to remember that the path to a miracle is always through uncomfortable territory. As illustrated in 1 Kings 17:8-10a: “Then the LORD spoke his word to Elijah, ‘Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. I have commanded a widow there to take care of you.’ So Elijah went to Zarephath” (NCV). God told Elijah to walk to a place that was more than 100 miles, during a drought, through dangerous territory, where everyone knew who he was, and everyone knew King Ahab had a price on his head. When Elijah finally made it to Zarephath, he met a poor widow who was going to feed him, but how could she help defend or protect him from a pagan town full of people who wouldn’t hesitate to kill him? What I’m learning is that miracles don’t happen when things are comfortable. Rather, miracles happen when things are uncomfortable. The Bible doesn’t report Elijah second guessing or saying, “God, there are three things wrong with this plan. One, you’re sending me in the wrong direction. Two, you’re sending me to the wrong location. And three, you’re sending me to the wrong protection.” Elijah just obeyed. Another example comes from the life of Moses. When Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the Promised Land, they had to go through the Red Sea first. Also, before David could slay Goliath, he had to walk onto the battlefield. God told Jehoshaphat to put the choir before the army, and he’d win the victory. All these things took a great deal of faith. I can’t expect a miracle to occur when I’m in my comfort zone, when everything’s great and convenient. I usually won’t look for or need a miracle when everything is settled and doing well in life. I only need a miracle when I’m on the edge, when I’m scared to death, when I’m insecure, when I could get hit at any angle. So the key is to remember that when I face times with life is a little uncomfortable (financially, emotionally, relationally, or physically) or I’m little nervous, on the edge, or insecure. When these conditions are present, I’m likely on the path to God performing a miracle. Just like Elijah did, God wants me to obey. This way I can see his miracle at the end of the road. Today as I reflect on things that may be making me uncomfortable, the notion of reaching out and meeting with others in my life comes to mind. God has put this on my heart now for many months, and now that I’m healing well and ready to get back to a more normal routine, I just need to obey and take the first steps. I’ll ask God to give me the courage to move forward knowing that He will take care of all the details. I just need to step out. Furthermore, I’ll initiate getting together with a few other guys for accountability and encouragement.

Friday, July 11, 2014

God Will Always Provide. I Just Need To Ask

In review of Romans 8:32 it says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”

Bottom Line:
He did not spare his own Son, but rather gave him for us. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things.

What this means to me:
Since he did not spare even his own Son, but gave him up for me. Won’t he also give me everything else I need. When I was younger, any time I needed something, I’d go talk to my dad. Sometimes what I needed was expensive, but I remember that not once as a kid did I worry about where my father was going to get the money for whatever I needed. That wasn’t my job! It was my dad’s job to figure out where the money was going to come from. It was my job as a child to simply ask. Likewise it’s not my job to figure out how God’s going to provide. It’s simply my job to ask. The Bible says in James 4:2, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (NIV). A second key to stress management is: Worry less, and ask more. Instead of worrying, pray about everything. Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (NLT) If God solved my biggest problem, everything else is small by comparison. If God loved me enough to send Jesus to die for my sins, he loves me enough to help me with my finances, my health, my relationships, my career decisions, and with my deadlines. There’s no area of my life that God is not interested in. He already knows what I need, but he still wants me to ask him for it. Instead of worrying, pray about everything. I used to think it was unusual for me to ask if he already knows what I need. However, what I’m learning is that God wants me to ask so that I can learn to count on him and not take it for granted. Also, it helps in me knowing that God will respond to my requests.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Learning The Key To Stress Management: Don’t Worry!

In review of Philippians 4:6 it says, Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart.:

Bottom Line:
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.

What this means to me:
I am to not worry or be anxious about anything, instead, I am to let God know what I need in my prayers and requests, asking with a thankful heart for all he has done. The number one source of stress in my life is not always work. It’s worry. The work won’t keep me up at night; however the worry will. God is very clear in the Bible what he thinks about worry. Philippians 4:6a says, “Don’t worry about anything” (NLT). I need to let go of worry. Worry is unreasonable for a couple of reasons. First, worry actually exaggerates the problem. The more I think about it, the bigger it gets? Second, worry just doesn’t work. To worry about something I can’t change is useless. And to worry about something I can change is stupid. If I can do something about, just go do it. Furthermore worry is unnatural. Worry is something I’ve learned, I was not born with it. Since worry is unnatural, it’s also unhealthy. My body wasn’t designed to handle worry. When people say, “I’m worried sick,” they’re telling the truth. Doctors say a lot of people could leave the hospital today if they knew how to get rid of guilt, resentment, and worry. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body” (NLT). Worry is unhelpful. Worry cannot change the past, and worry cannot control the future. All it does is mess up today. The only thing that worry changes is me. It will make me miserable! It’s never really solved a problem. It’s unhelpful. Therefore, worry is unnecessary. God made me, he created me, he saved me, and he put his Spirit in me. With all of that, I should know that he will take care of my needs. There is no need to worry. The first step in stress management is to refuse to worry about anything. Why? Because it’s unreasonable, unnatural, unhelpful, and unnecessary. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern” (AMP). God personally cares about me and for my needs. So any of the things I’m stressing, anxious, and worried about, I should just let them go. Instead, I should give them to God. Besides when I worry, its like saying I don’t trust God to handle it for me. I’ll do my best to remember to “cast all my anxieties and worry on him.” He will not rip me off.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happiness Will Require Letting Go

In review of Philippians 3:13-14 it says, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Bottom Line:Forget the past and focus on what lies ahead. Press on to reach the goal and to receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ is calling us.

What this means to me:There is one thing I can always do: and that is to forget the past, and to look forward to reaching what lies ahead. So I will run straight toward the goal so that I can receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling me. Happiness will require letting go and learning to forget. Worrying won’t change the past, so I should forget what can’t be changed and instead focus on the future. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (NLT). I know from experience that II only have a limited amount of energy. That’s why I get tired, fatigued and worn out. Since I only have a limited supply of energy, I should not waste any of it on the past. Instead, every day, I should choose to focus my energy on what is in front of me and what lies ahead. Keeping this in mind, there are three potential traps I need to be aware of.
  • First is the trap of regret. I need to got to let go of regrets. Are there things I wish I had done differently in life? Of course. But it’s useless to dwell on them because I can no longer change them. They are in the past. Given this, I shouldn’t waste any emotion on them.
  • Secondly, the trap of resentment. Holding on to resentment doesn’t hurt anybody but myself. Let it go! For my own sake, I must forgive. Do they deserve it? Maybe not, But do I deserve forgiveness from God? No. Those who experience grace are gracious.
  • The trap of tradition. Everything is constantly changing, and I cannot stop it. I have to decide whether to resist and resent those changes or to be happy. Happiness is a choice I can make.
So ultimately, how I handle change in my life will reveal my spiritual maturity. When I’m guided by and anchored to eternity, change can take place all around me and I can choose to be happy. Of the three traps above, II can so easily be trapped in tradition and in having things change. Change can be very disrupting to my routine and I can see it being a hindrance to moving forward. So today, I will practice letting go of the past and pressing on and looking toward the future goal.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Learning That Daily Growth Leads To Happiness

In review of Philippians 3:12-13 it says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be.”

Bottom Line:
We have not gotten there yet, rather we keep working toward the point in which Christ saved us for and wants us to be. To do so, we must focus on forgetting the past and looking toward what lies ahead.

What this means to me:
I have in no ways become perfect or achieved what I need. Rather,  I keep working toward the day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. I’m still not all I should be, but I will focus on forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Following Jesus is a decision and then a process I’ll conduct for the rest of my life. I can’t follow without walking. I’ve got to have movement! Philippians 3:12-13 says, “I don’t mean to say I’m perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I’m still not all I should be” (LB). When Paul wrote this verse, he was an older man in prison in Rome. He was at the end of his life and incredibly mature. Yet he says he hadn’t arrived yet. He was still growing, learning and becoming more like Christ. The trap that will keep me from following Paul’s example and continuing growing in Christ is “pride.” Pride will keep me from growing, because when I pretend that I’ve got it all together, I won’t make an effort to become more spiritually mature. The truth is, that no one has it all together! Humility leads to happiness because it makes me teachable. A happy person never stops growing. A happy person will never stop discovering, never stop stretching, never stop learning. Happiness and humility go together because humble people are teachable. It’s the internal asking of, “How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better friend? How can I be a better boss? How can I be a better follower of Jesus?”  2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it” (MSG). Growing spiritually in the past year has come from having regular quiet times. Since I’ve been on disability for the last five months, I’m not sure that my growth can be seen by others. Those around me have seen how God has healed me and can see my attitude and positive outlook. I do need to pursue getting together with a few trusted men in my congregation for support and to hold me accountable as I strive to grow spiritually. Ultimately, I want to remain teachable and humble, so that I can be open for learning and honest critique I may need to stay on course.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Getting to Know God Better

In review of Philippians 3:10 it says, “For my determined purpose is that I may ... progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.”

Bottom Line:
I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.

What this means to me:
I desire to know Christ more deeply and intimately acquainted with the power that raised him from the dead. To know more about what it means to share in his sufferings and in this understanding become more like him in his death. What I’m learning is that I was made to live in relationship with God, and I will never be fully joyful without getting to know him better. Happiness is found in getting to know God a little bit better every day. This is what Paul discovered, as he says in Philippians 3:10, “For my determined purpose is that I may ... progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly” (AMP). There is a difference in knowing about someone and knowing someone. Paul became “deeply and intimately acquainted” with God because he had a relationship with him and took the time to get to know him. I won’t get to know God by accident. Rather, It’s a “determined purpose” in my life.  It’s something I need to do something about. I need to invest my time in it. Unfortunately I often can get busy, and this busyness can destroy relationships. It can destroy my relationship with my family, and it can destroy my relationship with God. To get to know Jesus, I’ll need to spend quality time with him. To spend time with him, I’ll need to make it a priority. So I will continue to set aside 10 or 15 minutes of focused time with God each weekday morning, carefully making sure that myself and my mind are not busy. Doing so will make all the difference in my life and can help me make a difference in the world around me. If I’m not careful, there are a lot of things that I can let crowd out this time (i.e. oversleeping, not scheduling my time correctly, goofing off.) To get regular undistracted time, I’ll need to get up early and set aside time in my schedule.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Learning To Relax in God’s Grace

In review of Philippians 3:9 it says, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.”

Bottom Line:
You can be made right with God, not by following the law, but rather by believing in Christ. God will use that faith to make you right with him.

What this means to me:
I no longer count on being right with God just by obeying the law, but rather I’m righteous through the faith I have in my belief in Christ. God’s way of making me right all depends on my faith in him. This means that there is nothing I can do to earn God’s approval, love or his recognition. God is love, and he loves me unconditionally. To be a happy, I need to relax in God’s grace every day. Philippians 3:3 says, “We Christians glory in what Christ Jesus has done for us and realize that we are helpless to save ourselves” (LB). One of the things that will rob me of happiness is legalism. Legalism is the attitude that I have to prove my love to God. Legalism is trusting in what I do for God instead of what Jesus did for me. It’s a thinking that I have to follow rules and regulations and restrictions in order to prove myself worthy. I’m being a legalist when I’m judgmental of others. I can live in grace when I’m gracious to others. When I live by grace I’ll find it easier to forgive. Legalism on the other hand will suck my life dry. Each day, I’ll need to remind myself of the grace of God, and just relax in it. “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9 NLT).

Friday, July 4, 2014

Learning The Power of Grateful Prayers

In review of Philippians 4:6-7 it says, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace.”

Bottom Line:
Don’t worry, instead bring it to God in prayer and thanksgiving for what he has already provided.  Doing so will help you experience God’s peace.

What this means to me:
I am never to worry or be anxious about anything, instead I am to bring up all of my concerns and requests in prayer coupled with thanksgiving, letting God know what’s on my heart. If I do this then God promises to provide me with his peace, which is far beyond anything I can imagine. Through this, He will help guard my thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 presents one of the most difficult verses in the entire Bible to obey it says: “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace” (NLT). It’s not easy to stop worrying about the often-scary, everyday parts of my life, but God tells me how in the next part of the verse: “Pray about everything … and thank him for all he has done.” Grateful prayer brings peace. God says, when you start to worry, stop and pray instead. As a parent I can easily understand the power of grateful prayers. I believe most parents wouldn’t appreciate their children always making requests without saying “thank you” for what they’ve already received. God sees it the same way. He wants me to ask him for what I need and want. More than 20 times in the New Testament, I’m told to “ask” him. But he wants me to ask with gratefulness. The Bible urges me to be specific in my requestsand my praises. Instead of a simple “thank you for everything,” he wants me to tell him what I’m grateful for. God likes to hear what I appreciate and about what I'm grateful for from Him. So when I pray, I be sure to specifically tell God what I’m thankful for. Prayer is one of the most important ways I can tell God “thank you.” Thanking God in advance is a big step of faith. When I have the faith to thank God ahead of time, miracles happen. The more thankful I am, the more God works in my life. The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of his people. He uses my thanksgiving as an instrument of power in my life. Today, I admit that I am thankful for God providing me miraculous healing from my most recent infection and for healing from steps the Doctors took to help prevent additional infection.  I’m thankful for my wife, daughter and son-in-law being part of my life. I’m also thankful for God leading me to and allowing me to be under the leadership at my church, and for the love and support we receive from our Church family. I know that as I spend more time with God each day and take his word to heart, making it part of my life; that he will continue to bless me in the future.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Learning to Sing My Thanks to the Lord

In review of Psalm 147:7 it says, "Sing out your thanks to him; sing praises to our God."

Bottom Line:
Sing out your thanks and praises to God with melody.

What this means to me:
This passage reminds me that, I am to sign out my thanks to the Lord. I am to sing praises to God with melody of music to accompany me. Several versions of this verse include using a harp or making melody to God on the lyre. As in the case of all instrumental music among the Hebrews, the harp and lyre were used principally as an accompaniment to the voice. Instruments were used on joyous occasions, such as banquets and festive processions. So, learning to thank God for what he has given me is an important part of my spiritual journey. One of the most important ways to show gratitude is by singing. The Bible says, "Sing out your thanks to him; sing praises to our God" (Psalm 147:7a LB). Nothing can help me be aware of God's presence more quickly than singing praises to Him. It doesn’t matter how much musical talent I have. The Bible urges me to make a joyful noise. Even pigs do that as they eat! If pigs can make a joyful noise, so can I. Christianity is a singing faith. There are more songs about Jesus Christ than anything or anyone else, even love. That’s why its important for me to be part of a local church. It’s not just about listening to a weekly message from the Bible. At least once a week, I need the emotional expression that comes from singing thanks to God. Failure to do so will make a heart shrivel. I can’t be a healthy Christian on sermons alone. I need both the impression from the message and the expression through the music. Rick Warren mentioned, “I have discovered that the times when I least feel like singing are when I need to do it the most. When my heart is cold, I need to be renewed, restored, and recharged through singing thanks to God. In my hectic schedule, I find listening to music and singing praise to God renews my soul.” I have found this to be turn in my own life. Therefore, I should turn on my favorite worship songs and find a Christian radio station to listen to in the car, and sing along, thanking God for all he has given me. And making a joyful noise to the Lord while I’m at it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Learning To Say Thanks for Answered Prayer

In review of Habakkuk 3:2a it says, “O Lord, now I have heard your report, and I worship you in awe.”

Bottom Line:
Lord, I know of your reputation, and I worship you in awe

What this means to me:
Lord, I know of your reputation, I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In my time of need, help me again as you have done in the past, show me your power to save me and be merciful in your wrath. In order to hear God speak, I need to worship and thank him for being a part of my life and for being interested in all of the details. Thank him for answering my prayers: as stated in Habakkuk 3:2a, “O Lord, now I have heard your report, and I worship you in awe” (LB). God provides me with his vision, he gives me a dream. I know what God wants me to do, so now I move toward thanking him for answering my prayer. This is all part of worshiping God. What I’m learning is that I should stop seeing my prayers as a monologue and start seeing them for what they truly are; a dialogue. Prayer is to be a conversation with God. God hears me when I pray, and he answers when I ask questions. What I need to realize is that He wants to talk to me every day. I won’t be able to hear God until I know God, and there are three levels of knowing Him: recognition, acquaintance, and friendship. God wants me to live beyond the first two and be at and maintain the friendship level with him. He wants to be my friend, and he wants me to be his friend. God wants me to talk with him all the time. I’ll end today with this prayer. “Dear God, I'm amazed that you would want me for a friend. I really want to learn to have conversations with you. Help me to spend time with you every day. Thank you that you care about every detail of my life. Jesus, I want to know you more and more every day, and I want to depend on you for guidance in my job, my family, my future, and in every other area of my life. I invite you to be the manager of my life, my Lord and Savior, as I follow you and trust you. In your name I pray. Amen.”

How to Bear Fruit That Lasts

In review of John 15:16 it says, “ You did not choose me , but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit t...