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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Learning to Serve Others

In review of Mark 10:44 it says, “Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.”

Bottom Line:
Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.

What this means to me:
In God’s Kingdom, I am to set my desires aside and serve others first.

Rulers of this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But Jesus tells me that with me it should be different. He tells me that I want to be a leader, I must first be a servant and I want to be first I must be the slave or servant to everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many.

True greatness comes in serving others. Businesses, organizations, and institutions measure greatness by personal achievement. In Christ's Kingdom, however, service is the way to get ahead. The desire to be on top will hinder, not help. Rather than seeking to have all of my needs met, I should look for ways that I can minister to the needs of others.

Serving is a very powerful thing. When I have a pure motive and I’m reaching out to help others, there is something very powerful about that action. It sends a message to the world that God is using me for His good.

Perhaps I could be helping someone who can never fully appreciate what I'm going. Perhaps I’m assisting someone who can never in any way repay my kindness. That is the very best kind of servant hood. God sees; so I shouldn’t grow weary in well doing.

After all what I’m learning is that God wants to be a blessing through me, but he also wants to be a blessing for me. When I reach out to those around me in their hour of need, God takes note. When I least expect it, He will use someone to touch my life in a very real way.. When I need it the most. That is when I know the Holy Spirit is working on my behalf.

I should not bother keeping tally of all my good works; just continue to serve those whom God allow to cross my path. Do it as unto the Lord, aware that the greatest among us is servant of all. Man may look on the outside, but God sees my heart.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dealing With The Bad and The Good

In review of Matthew 5:45b it says, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Bottom Line:
God provides sun and rain on both the evil and the good.

What this means to me:
My Father in Heaven provides sun and rain for both the evil and the good people.

Today’s passage comes from Matthew 5 where Jesus is teaching us about love, especially for our enemies. People commonly think, love your neighbor and hate your enemy. However Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who oppose us. For when we do, we’ll be acting as true children of God. For God provides sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and unjust alike. If we only love those who love us, what reward is there for that. Even those who are corrupt do that. If we are only kind to our friends, how are we different from anyone else. Rather Jesus stresses that we strive to be like our father in heaven, who is loving and perfect.

By telling me not to retaliate, Jesus keeps me from talking the law into our own hands. By loving and praying for my enemies, I overcome evil with good. If I love my enemies and treat them well, I will truly show that Jesus is the Lord of my life. This ability to love our enemies is only possible for those who give themselves fully to God, because only God can deliver people from natural selfishness. Therefore I must trust the Holy Spirit to help me show love to those for whom I may not feel love.

Life may not be fair, but God always is. All the forces of darkness cannot stop God’s plan for me. It was set in stone before time began. As a human, I can choose to deviate from God’s plan for my life, but I should know that He has charted a very specific course that takes me down the path to my divine destiny. All I need to do is listen and obey. No matter what challenges I face, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do what I know I should.

Also, I’m told not to give the enemy any room to sneak in with fear or doubt. Don’t fret over what others are saying. Stay the course. God will take care of the rest.

Miracles and tragedies occur in everyday life. I can learn to move beyond the tragedy and dwell on the good, the positive, the gifts that God so liberally doles out to me. Don’t look at how great others may have it and become filled with envy. Trust that even when I feel like I’m drowning, God is up to something great, diligently working on my behalf to make something absolutely amazing transpire in my life.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Made In His Likeness To Be Like Him

In review of Genesis 1:26 it says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

Bottom Line:
God said, “Let us make a man, someone like ourselves,

What this means to me:
God has made and crafted me in his likeness, to be like Him.

I’m learning that while I may not be physically like God (as we are not sure what he looks like), I do have the ability to reflect his character in my love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness.

Knowing that I'm made in God's image and thus share many of his characteristics provides a solid basis for my self-worth. What I”m finding is that human worth is not based on possessions, achievements, physical attractiveness, or public acclaim. Instead, it is based on being made in God's image. Because I bear God's image, I can feel positive about myself.

And so, I was created in God’s image. He didn’t create me to be average and He certainly doesn’t want me to barely scrape by. I was made to excel in all things, to honor Him in all I say and do, to share the love of Christ with those who are hurting.

I can also leave my faults at the Cross as I ask the Father for complete forgiveness. And if I find myself off course, its ok to alter it to get back into the direction God has for me. I need to be open to change and sensitive to what the Lord is telling me.

Whatever I do today, I should do it with all I have, as if unto the King Himself. He has changed me to live with excellence as an example of what His children can accomplish here on earth. So I should make the very best use of today and let the light of God’s love shine so brightly that all those who come into contact with me will want His light too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Power To Move Beyond The Negative

In review of Deuteronomy 23:5 it says, “Nevertheless the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”

Bottom Line:
Because God loves us, He doesn’t listen to evil doers, instead he turns an intended curse into a blessing.

What this means to me:
My God loves me, He even takes what someone intended for evil and turns it into a blessing for me and my life.

What I’m learning is that I shouldn’t waste my time worrying about what everybody does to me or what mean-spirited people say about me. Instead I should be cautious in how I respond to them. I shouldn’t allow the enemy come in and attack my thought life. If he can strong arm me into obsessing over negative things, he’ll win his battle.

I can choose life over death, blessings over curses. I can make a conscious decision to look for the beautiful, the priceless, and the uplifting.

So move beyond the chaos of the day, the bad news report on the television, or anything that leaves a negative thought in my mind. God is good! He is faithful! He loves me!  Instead focus on the great things He has done, for He can and will do those things again, and even more!

After all, God didn’t bring me through my past issues only to let me fail in another area. My God is able and willing to bless me. So I should set my sights on what I can do through His power, and it shall be done in Jesus’s name!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finding The Source of Contentment

In review of Philippians 4:19 it says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Bottom Line:
God who takes care of me, will also supply others needs.

What this means to me:
God takes care of all of my needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. He can do the same for others.

I can trust that God will always meet my needs. Whatever it is I need here on earth he will always supply, even if it is the courage to face death as Paul did. Whatever I'll need in heaven he will supply. However there is a difference between my wants and my needs. Most people want to feel good and avoid discomfort or pain. I may not always get all that I want. By trusting in Christ, my attitude and appetite can change from wanting everything to accepting his provision and power to live for him.

I'm also reminded how Paul learned to be content whether he had plenty or whether he was in need. His secret was drawing on Christ's power for strength. When I have great needs, or when I become discontented because I don't have what I want. I can learn to rely on God's promises and Christ's power to help me be content. If I'm always wanting more, I can ask God to remove that desire and teach me to be content in every circumstance. He will supply all of my needs, but it will be in a way that he knows is best for me.

Paul was content because he could see life from God's point of view. He focused on what he was supposed to do, not what he felt he should have. Paul had his priorities straight, and he was grateful for everything God had given him. Paul had detached himself from the nonessentials so that he could concentrate on the eternal. Often the desire for more or better possessions is really a longing to fill an empty place in a person's life.

To what am I drawn when I feel empty inside? To find true contentment, the answer lies in my perspective, my priorities, and my source of power.

No matter what I’m facing, God can shine his light on my problem and make it vanish as He meets my every need. When facing something that seems enormous and insurmountable comes up, I can give it God. He is the one who calms the storms with three simple words... “Peace, be still!”

Big or small, whatever my need is, I can give it to God. He has promised to supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. There is no limit to His resources. I need to give Him the opportunity to reach down and touch my life. He his a God of power and might! I can call upon His majestic name, realizing He will meet my needs so completely that things I didn’t even know I needed will be taken care of.

In summary, whatever I really need, God will supply. My trust in Him will help my attitude and appetite (I go from wanting to accepting what he has provided.) I can draw on Christ's power for strength. I can rely on God's promises. Meanwhile, I should just focus on what I'm supposed to do, not what I feel I should have. Continue to work on my overall perspective, my priorities, and the knowing the source of power.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Growing in Confidence and Courage

In review of Deuteronomy 31:6 it says, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord you God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Bottom Line:
You can be determined, confident and without fear. For the Lord your God will go before you. He will not abandon you.

What this means to me:
Because God goes with me, I can  be strong, courageous, determined and confident. There is no reason for me to be afraid, for He has promised to never fail or abandon me.

It is not what others say about me that defines me, rather It is what God says that really defines me.

I should never let anyone paint me into someone that I’m not. I have been set free in Jesus’ name. God is good all the time. His mercies endure to all generations. There is no need for me to live under the shadow of a lie.

Allowing others to control my life, will only lead to a miserable existence. This is not the joy-filled life that God has in mind for me. He can silence your enemies and send them packing. There is no need for me to live under a dark cloud created by misguided fools.

I can square my shoulders and hold my head up high! God has great things in store for me. He believes in me. He wants my very best. He goes with me around every turn. As I follow Him, I can expect His blessing and know that His favor is mine, no matter what others are saying.

So, in summary, I should wait on the Lord and be of good courage! For I was created to do great things for the Kingdom.

Life is truly great! I was blessed with a grandson this past weekend. He was born June 17th at 4:38 am. I was able to hold him for a few hours while he slept. He is so precious. I thank God for bringing Him into the world safely.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Doing My Part

In review of 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 it says, I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. What matters isn’t those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow."

Bottom Line:
We may plant, other may water, but God is the one who makes the plants sprout and grow.

What this means to me:
I may plant seeds, and another may water them, but it is God who makes them sprout and grow. What matters is what God does. I am only doing what He has asked me to do

In summary of 1 Corinthians 3, I see where Paul planted the seed of the Good News message in people's hearts. He was a missionary pioneer--he brought the message of salvation. Apollos came alongside and  watered the seed--he helped the believers grow stronger in the faith. Paul founded the church and Apollos built on that foundation. However, the believers in Corinth had split into factions, pledging loyalty to different teachers. God is the one who makes Christians grow. Paul was addressing their issue.

Today this verse reminds me that often I can get caught up in my own realm of self-recognition for what I do, especially at work. I often feel that I’m not appreciated or doing things that are really important.

What I’m learning is that God's work involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities. There are no superstars in this task, only team members performing their own special roles. I can become a useful member of God's team by setting aside my desires to receive glory for what I do. I shouldn't seek the praise that comes from people--its comparatively worthless. Instead, I should seek approval from God.

Afterall, I’m only God's servant through whom others can hear the Good News. I need to do the  work the Lord gave me to do. It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grown. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. Both will be rewarded for their own hard work. I am one of God's workers and God's field is out there.

I can be encouraged and not give up on my tomorrows. I should accept the good plan God has for me--a plan filled with hope, purpose, blessing and increase in every area of my life! And when the blessing comes, know that my heavenly Father is the one who sent it.

When I do my part, God does His. He has promised to meet my needs according to His riches in glory. I can call upon His mighty name and know that all of heaven rejoices as my ashes are turned into absolute beauty. No matter how shattered or broken life can get, He can heal my heart and gently place the pieces back together in Jesus’ name.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Endurance and Patience Will Be Rewarded

In review of James 1:12 it says, “Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him.”

Bottom Line:
Happy is the one who doesn’t give in and do wrong when tempted, his reward awaits him.

What this means to me:
I will receive a blessing when for enduring testing and temptation. God promises his reward of the crown of life.

The crown of life is like the victory wreath given to a winning athlete. God's crown of life is not glory and honor here on earth but the reward of eternal life--living with God forever. The way to be in God's winners' circle is by loving him and staying faithful even when pressure comes my way.

If good things come to those who wait, then great things are in store for those who are willing to persevere to the end. So If I’m tempted to throw in the towel, I should tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on. I need to realize that I was not promised that every day will be a walk through the rose garden of life, however I was promised that, as the Friend who sticks closer than any brother, He is the one I can call on in my hour of need.

From what I’ve learned, temptation itself comes from evil desires within me, not from God. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when I dwell on the thought and allow it to become an action. Then like a snowball rolling downhill, sin grows more destructive the more I let it have it's way. So the best time to stop a temptation is before it becomes too strong or moving too fast that I can control it.

Also, I can be assured that God does not tempt me, rather he does allow Satan to. He does this in order to refine my faith and to help me grow in my dependence on Christ. I can resist the temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey his Word.

So in summary I should not allow myself to get sidetracked! I shouldn’t let satan throw me off my game. If he can send me a problem big enough to deter my focus from the Lord, then he has won the battle. No matter, my challenge, I should stay focused on the Cross. It will be the moral compass that will guide and provide, leading me down the narrow path to life everlasting.

I’m reminded this morning that Christ endured the cross. He endured the temptation to call angels to rescue Him from the worst kind of torture any human could possibly imagine. That is how great His love is for me. No matter what I may be enduring, I can know that a crown of life awaits me if I’m willing to finish the race.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Giving God Control

In review of Isaiah 55:8-9 it says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says to the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

Bottom Line:
God doesn’t think and act the way we would.

What this means to me:
God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are my ways his ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways and thoughts higher than mine.

It would be foolish to act as if I knew what God was thinking and planning. While I may have a general sense, His knowledge and wisdom is far greater than mine. In addition, it is also foolish for me to try to fit God into my mold, to make his plans and purposes conform to mine. Instead, I must strive to fit into his plans for me.

What I find is that when I pray and ask for something, He won’t always answer on my timetable. Sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes He says “no,” and sometimes He says “wait or slow.” Regardless, it is wise for me seek His will for my life.

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the one who sees the beginning from the end. I need to give Him the opportunity to work something in my life that is so fantastic, there will be no doubt that it was Divine intervention.

When I face giants, and it feels victory is far away; my best course of action is to continue doing what I know I should do and stand firm in the promises found in God’s Word. I should ask God to take over. Then, as I follow His mandates, I’ll be in the right position for Him to intervene on my behalf. He can turn my problem inside out and bring a resolution so complete that my mind won’t be able to grasp the awesomeness of His plan.

My resources are incredibly limited. Why would I want to hold God to my standards. I shall seek His face and thank Him for the answer that is already on the way. He has the perfect solution already lined up.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Learning To Trust God With My Situation

In review of Psalm 38:15 it says, "For I am waiting for you, O Lord my God. Come and protect me."

Bottom Line:
Trust God to take care of things

What this means to me:
I trust in God and wait for him to answer and protect me

In reviewing this psalm, there are three things I see. First I see where true sorrow for my sin brings hope. God alone is the true source of healing and protection for those who confess their sins to him.

Interestingly at the beginning of this psalm, David wasn't saying for God to not punish him, but rather, "don't punish him while God is angry." David acknowledged that he deserved to be punished, but he asked that God temper his discipline with mercy. Like children, we are free to ask for mercy, but we should not deny that we deserve punishment.

Often God has to punish his children in order to bring them back to himself. But when we repent of our sin, God promises to forgive us. He delivers us from sin's eternal consequences, though he does not promise to undo all of sin's earthly consequences.

Secondly, being silent can be extremely difficult when others tear us down because we want to protect our reputation. We find it difficult to do nothing while they assault something so precious to us. But we don't need to lash back in revenge or justify our position; we can trust God to protect our reputation. Jesus was silent before his accusers; he left his case in the God's hands. That is a good place to leave mine as well.

Thirdly, I should not lose hope. It is always too soon to throw in the towel. When I’m down to nothing, God's up to something so great, that I can’t even imagine the effects it will have on my life.

When things start to look bleak around me, this is the perfect time for God to step in and take over. He has not promised me that life would be a pleasure cruise, but He has promised that if I place my hope and faith in Him, He will be there to carry me through the storms. No matter what I’m going through, no matter how bad, I can lift up my voice in praise and faith. He will hear and respond, and grant me His all-surpassing peace. I can turn that frown upside-down and know that as I begin to praise the Lord, He will saturate my soul with a peace and joy that the world can’t give and the world can’t take away.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Way To The Father

In review of John 14:6 it says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father."

Bottom Line:
Jesus is the only way to the Father.

What this means to me:
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; my way to the father is through him and him alone.

Jesus' words show that the way to eternal life, though unseen, is secure, as secure as my trust in Him. He has prepared the way to eternal life. Jesus says he is the only way to God the Father. I’m sure some will argue that this way is too narrow. However In reality, it is wide enough for the whole world, if the world chooses to accept it. So Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying, "Thank you, God, for providing a sure way to get to you!"

As our way, Jesus is our path to the Father. As the truth, he is the reality of all God's promises. As the life, he joins his divine life to ours, both now and eternally. Jesus is, in truth, the only living way to the Father.

Since Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, if I follow him I will never go wrong. Cling to the Bible and saturate myself with the truths found within it. Dare to make my life the best it can be with the help of Almighty God. The Bible and human history reveal stories of dreamers who change the world by acting on their God-given dreams, people who dared to imagine the impossible regardless of what those around them said.

Joseph dreamed his way from the pit to the palace. Moses took up God’s vision to liberate the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage. Daniel dreamed his way into the knowledge of his country’s future. Abraham Lincoln’s dream ended slavery in America.

Today I will consider what my dream is? I can be assured that I can make it a reality because God has called me to it. What He brings me to, He will bring me through. So stop looking at all the reasons why I can’t accomplish my goals and start moving toward the prize that God has in store for me in Jesus’ name.

Friday, June 9, 2017

His Mercies Are New Each Day

In review of Lamentations 3:23 it says, “His mercies are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”

Bottom Line:
Great is his faithfulness, they are new each morning.

What this means to me:
Great is his faithfulness, his mercies to me are new each day. He gives me the chance to start fresh everyday.

In Lamentations 3, I read how in Jeremiah's darkest moment, his hope was strengthened with this assurance: God had been faithful and would continue to be faithful. Jeremiah was witness to both God's judgment and God's steadfast love. Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him: "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease." God will willingly respond with help when we ask.

In my own experience, I know that God keeps his promises. Trusting in His faithfulness day by day makes me confident in his great promises for my future.

Today, I will take the time to try and see myself as God would see me... As a mirror of His own image. He loves me so much that he has strategically carved out a plan of absolute perfection to meet my every need. Not just a few of my needs, but every single need I will ever have before I even know it exists.

So when I have a hard day or week, I can wake up in the morning knowing that I can have a fresh start in Jesus’ name. Today is the day to celebrate the faithfulness of Jesus Christ in my life.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

God Provides What I Need When His Timing Is Right

In review of Psalm 37:3 it says, “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.”

Bottom Line:
To be safe, trust in the Lord and do good.

What does this mean to me:
When I trust in the Lord and do good, I’ll live safely and prosper.

Psalm 37 is about trusting in the Lord and waiting patiently for him to act. I should never envy evil people, even though some may be extremely popular or excessively rich. No matter how much they have, their possessions will fade and vanish like grass that withers and dies. Those who follow God live differently from the wicked and, in the end, will have far greater treasures in heaven. I need to keep in mind that what an unbeliever gets on earth may last a lifetime, if they are lucky. What a believer gets from following God will last forever.

What I’m reminded of is to just trust God. I may not always get my way, but He will work things together for my very best in the long run.

Whether I want to believe it or not, an answer of “no” or “slow” to my request is very best answer for me. I’m only thinking in the moment, however God sees the entire picture.. not just the tiny snapshot that I see from my vantage point.

This morning as I work through my devotional, I’m encouraged to start a prayer journal and write down the things I would like for Him to do in my life, the areas I would like for Him to supernaturally touch. What places need supernatural intervention and inspiration.

Then make a prayer list and start sending my petitions to the throne room of God. He is waiting. Then, mark the dates beside your requests and have faith that in the season, the Lord will answer my prayers.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Obtaining Peace In Difficult Times

I review of 2 Thessalonians 3:16 it says, “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.”

Bottom Line:
The Lord of peace Himself can give you peace in every way.

What this means to me:
When I look to and trust him, my Lord of peace himself will give me his peace no matter what is taking place around me.

I know from my own practical experience, (especially lately with the completion of a large project to relocate one of my clients data centers,) that when I focus on the Lord, and trust Him with my situation, that he grants a peace that is unexplainable.

What I’m learning is that peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the presence of God no  matter what the conflict is. Regardless of what’s going on, It’s good to remember that God has not forsaken me, for I matter to him.  

Everyone in this life will face trials. As long as I’m still breathing, obstacles will come my way. I need to know that if God can bring me to it, He can bring me out of it. There is no need for me to run away from a problem in fear; rather I should face it head-on, knowing if I’m on God’s team, I can defeat any enemy.

No matter how enormous the challenge is, instead of worrying about it, I should put my trust in Him. When I ask Him to make my problem as His own, He will saturate my life with peace.