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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When I’m Under Attack, Learn to Just Rest

In review of Psalm 23:5 it says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (23:5 NIV).

Bottom Line:
God provides comfort in times of need. In fact, when you turn to him, He will overflow you with blessings.

What this means to me:
God will give me comfort when the odds are against me. In fact when I turn to Him, he overflows me with his blessings.

Psalm 23 allows me to see God as a caring shepherd and a dependable guide. Given this I must follow God and obey his commands. He is my only hope for eternal life and security.

In summary, the Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need in Him. He lets provides me rest and allows me to be peaceful. He renews my strength. He guides me along the right paths. Paths that bring honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest situation, I need not fear for He is always close beside me. His rod and staff protect and comfort me. In times of trouble, he will prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. He honors me by anointing my head with oil. My cup will overflow with blessings. Surely His goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life. I will live in the house of he Lord forever.

This psalm helps me to focus on the discipleship qualities I need as I follow. As the Lord is the good shepherd, I am one of his flock, one of his sheep. I’m am not frightened, passive animals, but rather an obedient follower, wise enough to listen to the one who will lead me in the right path and ways.

As I allow God, my shepherd, to guide me, I will find contentment. However, when I choose to sin and go my own way, I cannot blame God for the environment we create for ourselves. God knows the "green meadows" and "peaceful streams" that will restore me. I reach those places only by following him obediently. Rebelling against him is actually rebelling against the shepherd's leading is actually rebelling against our best interests.

In ancient Near Eastern culture, Hosts were also expected to protect their guests at all costs. God offers to protect me at all costs. God offers the protection of a host even when enemies surround me.

I can be encouraged to know that as his follower, I dwell with the Lord, the perfect shepherd and host. He promises to guide and protect me throughout my life. He welcomes me as a special guest in his house forever.

Today our civilization is losing its civility. The world is getting ruder! One of the things that’s causing that is the internet, because it allows people to hide behind the screen and say things online that they would never have the courage to say to others face-to-face.

All those people are doing is revealing the smallness of their hearts. Great people make people feel great, but small people belittle people. People who belittle others have a little knot for a heart, and they make fun of others because they think it will make them feel better.

What I’m learning is that I don’t handle rude people on my own. Rather I let God handle them. I should let God be my defender.

King David understood this. He knew what it meant to be attacked emotionally, verbally, and physically. As a young man, he was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel, but he didn’t become king right away. And that’s why Saul, the reigning king, wanted to kill him, and why David hid in caves while being distrusted, pursued, and in constant danger.

Yet David never said a bad word against the king. He never retaliated, because God was preparing him to be the king after his own heart.

David says in Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (NIV).

David was recognizing God’s goodness to him. God would anoint his head with oil, which says to the world, “This is my guy! Back off! This is going to be the next leader.” David’s cup overflowed, which meant God kept blessing him and blessing him, even when others attacked him.

Does it sound like David was stressed out? No! He didn’t have to use up all his energy defending himself because he trusted God to be his defender.

It will take a lot of faith and humility to rest and trust God when I’m under attack, when I’m misunderstood, when rumors are spreading about me and people are saying things about me online or at work. When that happens, my inclination would be to rise up and do something about it.

I’m reminded this morning that I’m most like Christ when I remain silent under attack. Jesus was constantly attacked, yet he never retaliated, even on his way to the cross. He remained silent before his accusers because he had entrusted himself to the care of the Father.

So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you” (1 Peter 4:19 NLT).

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Learning That Only God Can Provide

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

Bottom Line:
If God gave his Son, he will also give everything else we need.

What this means to me:
If God has given me salvation through His own Son, He will also give me everything else I need.

As I read Romans 8:31-39, I’m reminded that nothing can separate me from God's love. For if God is for me, who can ever be against me. Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for me, won't he also give me everything else? God himself has given me right standing with himself. I can keep in mind that it doesn’t mean he no longer loves me if I have trouble, or face calamity, persecution, hunger, danger, or even be threatened with death. If God gave his Son for me, he isn't going to hold back the gift of salvation from me. He will not withhold anything I need.

A major cause of stress in my life is worry. At times I worry because I wonder if I’ll have what I need when I’m going to need it. I must remember that anytime I expect others to meet my needs instead of God, I’m going to be frustrated and disappointed, because nobody can meet all my needs. Only God can do that. The cure for stress is to learn to look to God to meet my needs.

It can be really easy to place security in my job or money. However these are things that can easily be lost. His Word tells me that it’s best to never put my security in anything that can be taken away from me. For I can lose my job, health, reputation, spouse, and even my mind. But I cannot lose my relationship to Christ. When I put my security in that promise, I can trust God to meet all my needs.

Romans 8:32 says, “Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?” (TLB). If God loved me enough to send Jesus Christ to die on the cross, I can be assured that he loves me enough to take care of every other need in my life.

Every time I start to get stressed out, I can pause and say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 ESV). God’s going to provide. He’s going to take care of me. Instead of stressing out, look to him to meet all my needs.

Monday, January 29, 2018

God Smiles When I Obey Wholeheartedly

In review of Psalm 119:33-34 it says, “Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey” (TLB).

Bottom Line:
Learn what I to do, then live it out wholeheartedly.

What this means to me:
I should learn what the Lord wants and live it out wholeheartedly.

Psalm 139 is a repetitive meditation on the beauty of God's Word and how it helps me to stay pure and grow in faith. Verse 33-35, says, “Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will obey. I will learn to put them into practice with all my heart. Help me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness will be found.”

So I think that God smiles when I obey him wholeheartedly. That means doing whatever God asks me without reservation or hesitation. I shouldn’t procrastinate and say, “I’ll pray about it.” You should do it without delay. Every parent knows that delayed obedience is really disobedience.

Contrary to popular belief, God doesn’t owe me an explanation or reason for everything he asks me to do. Understanding can wait, but obedience can’t. Instant obedience will teach me more about God than a lifetime of Bible discussions. In fact, I may never understand some commands until I obey them first. Obedience unlocks understanding.

I know that very often I try to offer God only partial obedience. I want to pick and choose the commands I’ll obey. Mentally I make a list of the commands I like and then obey those while ignoring the ones I think are unreasonable, difficult, expensive, or unpopular. “I’ll read my Bible, but I won’t forgive the person who hurt me.” Yet partial obedience is disobedience.

Wholehearted obedience is done joyfully, with enthusiasm. The Bible says, “Obey him gladly” (Psalm 100:2 TLB).

This is the attitude of David: “Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord. As long as I live I’ll wholeheartedly obey” (Psalm 119:33-34 TLB).

James, writing to Christians, says God is pleased not only by what I believe, but also by what I do (see James 2:24).

God’s Word is clear that I can’t earn my salvation. It comes only by grace, not by my effort. But as a child of God I can bring pleasure to your heavenly Father through obedience. Any act of obedience is also an act of worship.

Why is obedience pleasing to God? Because it demonstrates that I really love him. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15 GNT)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Committing What I Do To The Lord

In review of Proverbs 16:3 it says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed” (NLT).

Bottom Line:
Commit what I do to the Lord. He will make you successful.

What this means to me:
I need to commit the things I’m doing to the Lord, ask him for guidance, obtain insight and to do well / persevere.  Then the plans I’ve made or involved with will be successful.

God is for my success in life; he created me for a purpose and wants me to succeed. It is God, my Creator, who will measure my success in life, and no one else. Knowing God is for me should change my whole perspective on life. He is not out to get me anytime I mess up.  Rather he welcomes me with open arms and forgiveness. This means I don’t need to be afraid of God, because God is for me.

There is no reason for me to be afraid of God. He will not try to make me feel guilty or lecture me. He’s not going to remind me of all the things I’ve done wrong. Jesus said, “I did not come into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” In effect, Jesus is telling, “I didn’t come to scold you; I came to save you.” So If God is for me, who can be against me!

So I need to follow the advice from Proverbs 16:3, and “Commit what I do to the Lord. For it is He who will make me successful”.

There are different ways I can fail to commit whatever I do to the Lord. First, I may commit superficially, saying its for the Lord, but in reality I'm only doing it for myself. Secondly, I can also give God temporary control of my interests, only to take control back the moment things don't go the way I expect. Lastly, I can also commit a task fully to the Lord, but put forth no effort myself, and then wonder why I didn't succeed.

This verse is a great reminder for me to evaluate the efforts I'm undertaking in my new job and the projects / items I'm working on. This morning I pray, “God I have a lot of new activities going on in my new job. I also have plans underway that were not mine with unrealistic deadlines. I have future plans I need to undertake as well. Right now I am committing these to you. I ask for your assistance to guide me. I will do my best on what’s in front of me as if I was doing them for you. Amen!”

Thursday, January 25, 2018

When I Work Together With Others, I Can Maximize My Impact

In review of Matthew 25:40 it says, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me” (NCV).

Bottom Line:
What we do for others, we do as if it was for Jesus.

What this means to me:
What I do in serving and caring for the needs of others, is like doing it for Jesus. Just this fact should affect my attitude and actions.

Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of Jesus’ final judgment. In summary when Jesus returns, he will sit upon his glorious throne. All will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place sheep at his right and goats on his left. Then he will say to those on his right, '”come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For when I was hungry, you fed me, I was thirsty you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. You provided clothing and cared for me." For Those he separated on his right were actually doing this for Him as they served and took care of others needs. Those on the left ignored those in need. Therefore he will send them away to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.

This means that when His final judgment comes, he will separate his obedient follows from the pretenders and unbelievers. The real evidence of my belief is the way I act. To treat all people I encounter as if they were Jesus is no easy task. What I do for others demonstrates what I really think about Jesus' words to: Feed the hungry, give the homeless a place to stay, look after the sick. This morning I need to consider how well do my actions separate me from pretenders and unbelievers?

In summary, the parable told here describes acts of mercy I can do everyday. These acts to do not depend on wealth, ability, or intelligence; they are simple acts freely given and freely received. I have no excuse to neglect those who have deep needs, and I cannot hand over this responsibility to the church or government. Jesus demands my personal involvement in caring for the needs of others.

While these are things I can do on my own, it also ties back to working with others to accomplish God’s will. For when I work together with others, I can maximize my Impact. I’m reminded again this morning this verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which says, “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break” (NCV).

This passage has a lot to say about serving with others in ministry, but it can be summarized in three statements:

1. When I work together with others, I maximize my impact.

Collectively we get more done. If I want to make a global impact with my life? Then I need to live and do it with other people in my church, because what I with them together as the Body of Christ will be far more significant than what I can do individually. One drop of rain doesn’t make a big difference on a desert, but a million drops of rain can turn that desert into a garden.

2. When I work together with others, I minimize failure.

As Verse 10 asks, when I’m serving on my own and I fall down, who’s going to pick me up? When I serve together and one person falls down, the other people just pick him up. Doesn’t that make a simple but profound point? I need to work with others to encourage each other and minimize our failures.

3. When I work together with others, we collectively can mobilize our resources.

When I pool my resources and funds, they go further. I can share the blanket, and two people will stay warm instead of one.

In Matthew 25:40, Jesus taught, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me” (NCV).

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My Significance Comes from Serving

In review of 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace” (NCV).

Bottom Line:
Each has a gift that should be used to serve others.

What this means to me:
God has given me gifts, I am to use them to be a good steward of His grace.

God has given me gifts from his great variety of spiritual gifts. I am to use them to serve others. I am to use what he has given me with all the strength and energy that God supplies to me. Then everything I do, will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. For all the glory and the power be to him forever and ever!

My abilities should be faithfully used in serving others; none are for my own exclusive enjoyment. Some feel that they have no special talents at all. Peter explains that everyone has some gifts: it's up to us to find and use them. Even if I see a need in the church that isn’t within my immediate gifting, I should do what I can to meet it. In doing so I may end up finding gifts in areas I may not have even thought possible.

God is glorified when I use my abilities as he directs, to service to others. They will hopefully see Jesus in me and glorify him for the help they have received. Peter may have been thinking of Jesus' words, "Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly father." (Matthew 5:15.)

This morning I’m reminded that in order to experience significance in this life, I must serve with others in ministry. Ministry just means doing good to other people.

Significance itself does not come from status or a driving a certain type of car or a logo on on shirt. Significance does not come from a bigger salary. Significance does not come from sex.

Rather, significance comes from service. Significance comes when I start thinking about others more than myself and I give my life away. It's almost impossible to be selfish and significant at the same time.

Today’s verse in 1 Peter 4:10 reminds me that, “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others” (NCV).

The talents I’ve been given are not for my benefit. God gave them to me for the benefit of those around me. I was shaped for significance, and I’ll find that significance by using my gifts and talents and abilities to serve others.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. If two lie down together, they will be warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves; a rope that is woven of three strings is hard to break” (NCV).

I’m not meant to serve God by myself. I’m meant to serve God as part of a team. I’m meant to serve God in a family, in a small group, in a church. I’m meant to serve God in relationship.

We’re all better together!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

God Created Me With A Need For Others

In review of Ephesians 4:16 it says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow” (NLT)


Bottom Line:
He makes everyone fit together. As each does it’s part, it helps the other grow.


What this means to me:
God fits me together where he wants me. As such I use my gifts to do work and help others grow.


God provides guidance for me, so that I’m no longer immature like a child, being tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. This way I’ll not be influenced when people try to trick me with lies so clever that sound like the truth. Instead, I will learn to speak the truth in love, grow in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.


My oneness in Christ does not destroy my individuality. The Holy Spirit has given each Christian special gifts for building up the church. It is crucial that I use them. Look for opportunities to serve.


Myself along with my church have been given an enormous responsibility, to make disciples in every nation. Left on my own, I may end up giving up without trying, however as a member of his body, its possible. Together we can obey God more fully than I can alone. Working together as a church, we can express the fullness of Christ.


So, the most important things I need to learn in life require that I be in relationship with other people. I can’t do it on my own. If I want to build your potential, I must learn from others.


Ephesians 4:16 says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow” (NLT).

In short, I need the people God has placed in my life. And they need me! God wired all of us to need each other and to learn from each other so that we become the people God created us to be.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Learning My Purpose Through Serving and Relationships

In review of Romans 12:4-5 it says, “We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. . . . Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (The Message).

Bottom Line:
We find our meaning and function as part of the body

What this means to me:
God has given me different gifts for doing certain things well. So I am to obediently use it serve the greater church body (in relationship) and make a difference in the world. In doing so, I will find my meaning and function in this world.

Today’s passage comes from the first part of Romans chapter 12. Paul starts by pleading with me to learn to give myself and my body to God because of all he has done for me. Let my life be a living and holy sacrifice, the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way for me to worship him (with my life dedicated to him). I shouldn't try to copy the behavior and customs of this world, but rather let God transform me into a new person, by changing the way I think. Then I will learn to know God's good, pleasing and perfect will.

I should not think more highly or better than I really am. Be honest in my evaluation of myself, measuring myself by the faith God has given me. Just as my body has many parts each with a special function, so it is with Christ's body. Collectively we become many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So when God give a gift, I need to use it serve.

God has made it clear that obedience from my heart is important. God wants me to offer myself up daily, laying aside my own desires, in order to truly follow him. I put all my energy and resources at his disposal and trust him to guide me. I do this out of gratitude that my sins have been forgiven.

Paul used the concept of the human body to teach me how I should live and work together with other Christians. Just as the parts of the body function under the direction of the brain, so Christians are to work together under the command and authority of Jesus Christ.

God gave me gifts so that I can help build up his church and my work environment. In order to use them effectively, I must (1) realize that all gifts and abilities come from God; (2) understand that not everyone has the same gifts; (3) know who I am and what I do best; (4) dedicate my gifts to God's service and not my personal success; (5) be willing to utilize my gifts wholeheartedly, not holding back anything from God's service.

Given this, I only learn who I am in relationships. I only learn my true identity in community. I’ll never learn who I am by myself. I’ll only learn it in relationships. That means I must connect with others for fellowship. If I had lived my entire life to adulthood with no human contact, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea who or what I am. I learn your identity by being in relationships.

The Bible says we need to be connected to God’s family, the Body of Christ: “We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. . . . Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (Romans 12:4-5 The Message).

For example, my ear only functions and fulfills its purpose by being connected to my body. If my ear were cut off and lying on the ground, what’s the value of it? Nothing, because it can’t hear anything. Same goes with my nose and eyes: If they’re not connected to my body, what’s their purpose? They don’t have a purpose, because they can’t smell or see anything by themselves.

In the same way, if I’m not connected to the Church, then I’m not going to know the purpose of my life. I’m not going to know my role. I’m not going to know my function. I’m not going to know my value and my meaning.

My value, my use, my purpose, and my identity become apparent in relationship to the Body of Christ — the Church.

Stress Management: Don’t Worry!

In review of Philippians 4:6 it says, “ Don’t worry about anything ; instead , pray about everything . Tell God what you need , and thank h...