Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fresh Starts Are Always Available

In review of Lamentations 3:40-42a it says, “Let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled’”

Bottom Line:
Consider our ways, turn and repent. Lift up our heart and hands to God and confess how we have sinned and rebelled against him.

What this means to me:
I am encouraged to examine my ways and thoughts. I should confess, repent and turn back to the Lord. I should lift up heart and hands to God and say, I have sinned and rebelled against you.

Today's passage comes from the end of Lamentations chapter 3. This chapter speaks of hope in the Lord's faithfulness. The writer is recounting how he has been on the opposite end of blessings from the Lord (seems he had rejected the Lord before and was doing things his own way.) He then switches gears, saying he will never forget this time, however he brings to mind how the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies begin afresh each morning. The Lord is good to those who search for and depend on him. So even though we may feel oppression against us, it is best for us to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. He then goes on to encourage those at a younger age to submit to the yoke of God's discipline. Though grief may come, God also shows compassion. So we are encouraged to test and examine our ways, confess and turn back to the Lord. The Lord will hear us and provide all that we need and give us a fresh start.

So the path to a fresh start and a clear conscience begins with repentance. As I wrote about yesterday, it’s best to start with a review of every area of my life, and then repent of every sin that comes to mind.

Today’s passage says, “Let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, ‘We have sinned and rebelled’” (Lamentations 3:40-42a NLT).

Repentance does not mean rationalizing my sin. I can’t say, “It was no big deal.” It was a big deal, or I wouldn’t have remembered it. I can’t say, “It happened so long ago” or “It was just a stage I went through” or “Everybody does it.” It doesn’t matter! I cannot rationalize sin, minimize it, excuse it, or blame others. That would not be true repentance.  Repentance means that I take responsibility for my sin, I then turn away from it, and replace it with God and his grace.

The greatest holdup to the healing of my hang-up is me. I’m not waiting on God; I’m not waiting on anybody else. God wants to heal the hang-up in my life, but the greatest holdup to my hang-up is me.

1 John 1:8 say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (NIV).

The next step is up to me.  Will I get rid of the self-defeating habits in my life? If so, It will all start with gut-level honesty and recognizing that something is wrong, no matter how much I want to rationalize it and excuse it. I need to admit it, confess it, and get it out of my life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Establishing A Clear Conscience

In review of Psalm 139:23-24 it says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life”

Bottom Line:
God look at my heart, point out what offends you and guide me in the right direction.

What this means to me:
I ask you God to help search my heart (the guidance center of my life) to find out everything I’m thinking. I ask you to point out that which offends you and to lead me to the path of everlasting life.

Today's passage comes at the end of Psalm 139. In this psalm David is conversing with God. He knows that God knows everything about him, there is no place David can go that he can be hidden from God. After all, God had formed David and us, and he has made each of us unique and wonderfully complex.  What we need most is think through our lives and with God's help examine our motives, thinking, actions and things we have done. We allow God to help us realize where we've missed the mark and ask for his forgiveness and the guidance to make changes to become more like the person he wants us to become.

So, the first step on the path to a clear conscience is to take a personal moral inventory or a personal spiritual assessment, so in my quiet times I get with God and review my life and ask God to help me think of where I’ve missed the mark, sinned or have wrong through patterns. I then agree with God and ask for forgiveness.  I also ask him to bring to mind anything I wasn’t thinking of so that I can be clear with him.

I often even use Psalm 139:23-24 as I pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (NLT). You’re saying, “God, turn your spotlight on my inner self. Find the stuff in me that’s entangled me and that’s holding me back.”

Even though I try to do this in my quiet times, it wouldn’t hurt me to spend some extended times where I’m not rushed and really think through the patterns of my life and the character and directions I wish to take. It may even help to write it down and to be specific.

There is nothing more important than to have the blessing of God. I need to take the time to get alone, and do a personal spiritual assessment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

God Breaks, Then He Multiplies

In review of Ecclesiastes 11:1 it says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days”

Bottom Line:
Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.

What this means to me:
I am to be generous and to give. In time, I’ll be rewarded.

What I’m learning is that whatever I give to God, he multiplies.

If I give God my talent, he’ll multiply it. If I give God my energy, he’ll multiply it. If I give God my time, he will multiply it. If I give God my money, he will multiply it. If I give God my relationships, he will multiply them. Whatever I choose to give to God he will multiply and give it back.

Ecclesiastes 11:1 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (RSV).

There’s a miracle in the Bible that Jesus did to teach this truth. Five thousand people followed Jesus out in the middle of the desert. He taught them all day, and at the end of the day, they were all hungry. The disciples told Jesus to send them all away. Instead, Jesus told the disciples that they needed to feed the people. In this, He was testing their faith. He wanted to see if they would depend on him to provide what they needed to feed 5,000 people.

Out of that huge crowd, one little boy had brought a lunch pail, and inside were five little loaves of bread and two dried fish. This little boys lunch was brought to Jesus and given to him.

Jesus took the bread and loaves. He prayed and broke it and blessed it and multiplied it. He tore it apart and began to feed everybody. It fed all 5,000 people! There were 5,000 witnesses to this miracle.

Not only did the small meal feed 5,000; when they picked up all of the leftovers at the end, there were 12 baskets full of leftovers!

What I’m also learning is that God always gives me more than I need, more than I anticipate, more than I can imagine. He took what the boy gave. He broke it, he blessed it, and he used it.

This is much of what God does in my life. I suppose the hard part is the breaking. But if I allow God to take and break me, he will then bless me. He will not only bless me, but others as well.

Today, I should consider what am I will to give to God to use today, for God breaks, then he multiplies.  Will I be willing to submit myself to be broken.  I believe God wants me to learn how to live with an open hand, freely willing to give what I have for his use.

Monday, June 27, 2016

God Wants Me to Give What I Get

In review of 2 Corinthians 9:10-12 it says, “God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity. He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times, so that many will thank God for your gifts which they receive from us. For this service you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people, but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God”

Bottom Line:
What God gives to me he wants to give through me.


What this means to me:
I’m reminded that it is God who provides everything I have and enjoy, as such he provides me with more than I need so that I can be generous and thus produce a rich harvest from my giving. He will always make me rich enough to be generous at all times, so that many will thank God for the gifts I give. I can know that my giving not only meets needs, but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God.


In today's passage from 2 Corinthians Paul is speaking of taking a collection and giving for others.  He knows the enthusiasm of the church in Corinth and wants to be sure they are ready when he comes to collect for distribution to others. He reminds them that a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop, however one who plants generously will get a generous crop. He provide this guidance, that each should decide in their heart how much to give. They should not give reluctantly or in response to pressure. God loves a person who gives cheerfully. God will generously provide all you need, then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. God is the one who provides the seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. When your gifts are given to those who need them, they will thank God.


So in summary, what God gives to me he wants to give through me.


God looks for those that he can bless the world with. He looks around and asks, “Will you be a cup, or will you be a straw?” If you’re a cup, you just get filled up, and that’s it. But if you’ll say, “God, I’ll be a straw, and you can channel your blessing through me to other people,” then that’s the kind of person God wants to bless.


Today’s passage in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says, “God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity. He will always make you rich enough to be generous at all times” (TEV).


This promise is built on my willingness to share what he supplies to me. Am I willing to pass on God’s blessing to others?


Often my thoughts wander to, Wait, I’m not rich enough to be generous. However, I am, no matter how much I have, I can be generous. I’m reminded of the story about a woman in the Bible who only had two pennies, yet she gave them away. It’s a myth that “I don’t have enough to give.” I can always give something. In fact, I should give something, because God is testing me. Verse 12 says, “For this service you perform not only meets the needs of God’s people, but also produces an outpouring of gratitude to God.


Even when things are tough, if I’m willing to share what I have, God promises to do three things: First, I grow spiritually. Second, he will use me to meet other people’s needs. And third, God is praised.


When I give whatever I have, God will open the door of blessing in my life like I cannot imagine.


Today’s passage is great reminder for me, especially as I ponder my current giving. Instead of switching from one to another, I should consider just going above and beyond and giving an additional amount.  I should also consider with whom I can share God’s blessing with this week.

As I have been faithful in the past with my giving, I have been able to experience God’s blessing in abundance.  God you are truly great and I could never outgive you.  You provide for all my needs, whether it be my salary or even with great insurance coverage which paid a significant portion to past medical bills.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Learning To Trust God, One Day at a Time

In review of Philippians 4:6 and 8b it says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done . . .  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”

Bottom Line:
Instead of worrying, turn to prayer and thanksgiving. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

What this means to me:
Instead of worrying or being anxious about things, I should pray about it and give thanks for all he has done. I am to fix my thoughts on things that are excellent - those that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable.

Today's passages come from the 4th Chapter in the book of Philippians where Paul is giving words of encouragement to the church in Philippi. Paul tells us to always be full of joy and rejoice in the Lord. We are to let everyone see that we are considerate in all we do.  He tells us that instead of worrying (which is our natural tendency) we should pray about it, telling God what we need and being thankful for all he has done. Paul then tells us to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable (things that are worthy of praise.) We are to continue to put into practice all we have learned and received and seen examples of. If we do, then the peace of God will be with us.

This ties back into what I had been looking at for the last several days. God wants me to turn toward him and trust him, not just once but, one day at a time: I am to ask to “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not for next week. Not for next year. Not for next month. Just one day at a time.

Philippians 4:6 and 8 show me that there are four things that I need to do to trust God on a daily basis: “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. . . Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT).

I am to not worry about anything. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34 NLT).

Instead I am to Pray about everything. Prayer can change things. Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (NIV) God solved my biggest problem, getting into Heaven when he sent Jesus to die for me. If God loved me enough to send Jesus to die for me, I would think he loves me enough to take care of all these other problems.

I am to thank God in all things. No matter what happens, give thanks. The Bible doesn’t say, “For all things give thanks.” It says, “In all things give thanks.” I don’t need to be thankful for bad things in life and I should never be thankful for evil. I don’t need to be thankful for cancer or a car accident or war or abuse. But God says in everything give thanks. Why? Because I know in midst that God’s going to take care of you. I can know that he’s going to meet my needs and that he’s going to help me.

Think about the right things. God gives me a list of things to think about, things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. But where do I find things that are pure and lovely to think about? At the movies or TV? Not likely, seems I will only find pure and lovely and honorable thoughts in the Word of God. Therefor I am to read, study, memorize, and let it fill my mind. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (NLT)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

God Is Waiting for Me to Ask

In review of Matthew 7:11 it says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

Bottom Line:
If we as parents know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly father give us when we ask.

What this means to me:
Even being a sinful man, I know how to give good gifts to my family. I need to realize that the God of the universe is ready to give good things to me when I ask.

Today's passage comes from Matthew chapter 7 where Jesus is teaching about effective prayer. He tells us to ask and we will receive, seek and we will find, knock and the door will be opened. If we as parents know how to give good gifts to our children and we are sinful, how much more will our heavenly father give us when we ask.

God is really the source of everything. Everything I see in the world and everything I can’t see in the world and in the universe, God has made. He’s the source of every good thing in the universe.

As I depend on God as my source for everything, there are four truths I need to keep in mind:

First, everything is a gift from God. Nothing I have, have I earned. It’s all a gift of God’s grace. If God didn’t want to give it, I wouldn’t have it. James 1:17 tells me, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (NIV). Perhaps that’s why the Lord’s Prayer in this third phrase starts with the word “give.” “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is a gift. I can’t earn it.

Second, there’s nothing I need that God can’t provide. I don’t know what I’m going to need the rest of this year. But whatever it is, God has the power to supply it. Philippians 4:19 reminds me: “. . . My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Glorious resources means as lavish as only God can lavish. God has unlimited resources.

Third, God wants to give me everything I need. Matthew 7:11 says, “If you ... know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV) God wants to meet my need.

Fourth, He’s waiting on me. If I have needs in my life that are not being met, it’s not God’s fault. I’m not waiting on God. He’s waiting on me! The problem is not that God doesn’t want to meet my need; the problem is that I never ask him for it. James 4:2 says, “. . . You do not have because you do not ask God.”

This is a great reminder for me as I thinking through something in the future. I need to not just wish but be clear in my request and bring it to God to ask him to help me, if he thinks it's best for me to accomplish it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What Is My Daily Bread

In review of Deuteronomy 8:3b it says, “People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord”

Bottom Line:
People do not live by bread alone, they really need the Word of God.

What this means to me:
I need more than just food to live. Real life for me comes from obeying every command God has given me. They are there for my good and not my harm.

Today's passage comes from the beginning of Deuteronomy chapter 8, in which Moses is telling the people to remember what God has lead them through and done for them. Given this, they are to obey what he has commanded them so that things will go well with them.

So when Jesus tells me to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he’s talking about far more than just bread. The Bible tells us that bread represents four things.

1). Bread represents the necessities of life. This is the economy of God. God says, “I supply it. You gather it.” When I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” it doesn’t mean you sit on the couch and wait for God to throw me money. I’ve got to work! Even the Israelites had to go out and pick up the manna. Work is a part of God’s purpose for life. It builds character. Proverbs 14:23 says, “Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table” (MSG).

2). Bread represents God’s Word. The Bible is spiritual food. Bread is a symbol for Scripture. The Bible says, “People do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3b NLT). When the children of Israel were walking to the Promised Land, God dropped manna from Heaven for the people to pick up because they had nothing to eat. God gave them this bread to teach them that people need more than bread for their life. Real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord. I don’t just need physical nourishment; I also require spiritual nourishment.

3). Bread represents God’s family and fellowship. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is the bread which we break not a sharing in the body of Christ?” (AMP) Bread is a metaphor for the family of God. I need God’s people in your life! Whether or not you have a physical family, God wants me to be part of his family that will last forever — the Church. It is to be a place of fellowship.

4). Bread represents salvation. Jesus chose bread to represent his sacrifice in communion. Every time I eat the bread and drink the wine or juice, it is a reminder of how much God loves me and the sacrifice he made so that I can go to Heaven.

Whatever my need is; physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual, God will take care of it if I depend on him. When I pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” I am to trust God to provide for me in every way.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Exploring What It Means To Surrender My Life To God

In review of Romans 6:13 it says, “Give yourselves to God ... surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes”

Bottom Line:
Don’t sin with your body, rather offer yourself to God. You have a new life, so surrender and use it for his purposes.

What this means to me:
I am to not let any part of my body become an instrument of sin being used for wicked purposes. Rather, I am to offer every part of myself to God. Once I was dead, but now I have new life, so I am to surrender and use every part of myself for his good purposes.

Based on this passage, when it comes to surrendering to Jesus, I believe it means laying down every area of my life. God wants you to learn to be a giver in life, not a taker. Jesus said, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 TLB).

What does it mean to throw away my life? It means I submit yourself to God for his purposes. Romans 6:13b says, “Give yourselves to God ... surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes” (TEV). Live a life of purpose. Be driven by purpose. Give myself to God. Let him use me for his purpose. If I do, I’ll get the adventure of a lifetime!

When I give myself, God promises to give me everything I’ll need, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).

In order to make the Kingdom of God my primary concern, I need to care about the things God cares about. What he cares about most are people. God doesn’t care about money. God doesn’t care about fame. God doesn’t care about a lot of things I care about. When I surrender my life to God and make the most important things in my life the things that are most important to God, he will take care of all my needs.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Surrendering to God

In review of Proverbs 3:5-6 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”

Bottom Line:
Trust in God and not yourself, seek his will and he will guide you.

What this means to me:
I am to trust in the Lord with all my heart, and to not depend on my own understanding, but rather to seek his will in all I do. If I do, he will show me which path to take.

Today’s verse is part of what I consider my life verse. If I follow it closely, it tells me how to keep on track. A big part of trusting in God means to surrender to him.

This surrender means leaving the future to God. Today’s verse in Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV).

Today I should consider what area of my life have I not surrendered to God?

What I’m beginning to understand is that what we may not have surrendered, is what is causing underlying stress.  For instance some may not have surrendered their sex life. They know God says sex is only for marriage, but decide to do it their own way.” Causing stress. Others may not have surrendered their finances to God. They think, “I know God says that I should give the first 10 percent back to him, but I can’t afford to tithe.” That is likely causing stress.  Some may not have surrendered their relationships to God. They think “I know I should forgive that person who hurt me, but I’m not about to forgive them.” While others have some secret sin that they have not surrendered to God. Or they have a habit that they have not surrendered to God. Or even a hurt or a hang up that they have not surrendered to God.

And still there are many who have never surrendered their life to Jesus Christ or found a church family.

Surrender is the act of holding up the white flag and saying, “God, the war’s off. I’m not going to fight you any more. I want serenity, not stress.” Surrender is the ultimate expression of faith.

Today I will consider what area of my life have I not surrendered to God?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why Doesn’t God Tell Me Why Something Happens

In review of Psalm 37:7 it says, "Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with an evildoer who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes."

Bottom Line:
Instead of being envious of evil men who prosper, rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him to act.

What this means to me:
I am to learn to be patient and trust the Lord. I shouldn’t let it bother me when I see all going well for those who do sinful things and seem successful.

Psalm 37 is David’s feelings about how he needed to wait patiently for the Lord, while it seems wicked would go on to him or all around him. This really made it hard for him to be content.

I think I often struggle with contentment because I want and need explanation for why things happen. However, what I’m learning is that God won’t always tell me why. He likely doesn’t tell me because he’s testing me. In particular He’s testing me to see if I’ll will let go of control and just learn to be content, whether he explains it or not.

In reality, God doesn’t owe me an explanation for anything, besides I may not fully understand it even if he did. Even an explanation wouldn’t take away the pain. I probably won’t know why most things happened until I get on the other side of death. So I might as well get used to not getting an explanation. But one things for sure, he will test me.

When I find that God is silent in my life, it's probably a good indication that I’m going through a test. When I don’t hear God and he feels like a million miles away, that is a test!  Just like when  a teacher is silent when the students take a test, when I notice God is silent in my life, my faith is being tested. At this moment, will I let go of control, or will I grab onto it more tightly? Will I learn to be content?

The next time I go through struggles or pain, I’ll need to remember that I don’t really need God’s explanation. I only need God’s presence.

Therefore I should take David’s advice to heart, “Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a GW).

Instead of asking God “Why?” I can ask for patient endurance and assurance that if I just follow what he has already told me that he will work all things out for my good.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Letting Go, and Knowing God's in Control

In review of Psalm 46:10 it says, “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth”

Bottom Line:
God says, “Calm down, and learn that I am God! All nations on earth will honor me.”

What this means to me:
I am to let go, be still and be free from concerns. I am to Know that he is God and he rules the nations and all of the earth and is in complete control.

Psalm 46 speaks of how God is our refuge and strength, and that he is always ready to help in times of trouble. I just need to be still and to know he is God. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us and is our fortress.

So every day, I need to decide who’s going to be in control of your life; myself or God.

That choice is a battle. There are so many things that I naturally want to control. I’d rather make my own rules. But what I’m learning is that stress relief always starts with letting God be God. It always starts with saying, “God, I’m giving up control, because you can control the things that are out of control in my life.”

Today’s verse, Psalm 46:10 says, “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth” (GW).

While I may not always know what I’m going to face next, God want me to let go of control, and know that God is in control. Let go, and know! This is the first step to serenity.

Whenever I face out-of-control situations, I can tend to go to one of two extremes. One is trying harder to control it. At other times, I just want to give up, throw my own pity party.

In reality, both of those reactions are foolish. They don’t work. So, instead of being a victim or becoming hyper controlling, I need to pray the prayer of surrender.

A key reason that I’m under stress is because I’m in conflict with God. I’m trying to control things that only God can control. I can’t control those around me, nor can I control situations at work.  The more I do, the more I’m trying to play God, and that only puts me in opposition to God. When I do this, not only will I lose that conflict, but I’m also going to get tired.

Today I was directed to look more closely at the last eight lines of the Serenity Pray which is based on the Lord’s prayer. It say: “Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with you forever in the next. Amen.”

That’s where the power is! There is power when I surrender to God the very things I’ve been trying to control. When things get crazy, I need to just let go, and know that my God is in control.

Using My Words to Build Others Up

In review of Ephesians 4:29 it warns me to “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building ...