Friday, June 21, 2019

So Much To Be Thankful For

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             Psalm 23 is a chapter in the Bible that is very familiar with Christians all over the world.  I myself memorized it at the age of 5.  So when I decided to make gratitude a habit for this month and focus on gratitude from a biblical standpoint, I was a little perplexed that this was the first place God lead me to study.  I didn’t really understand but His Spirit encouraged me to look at this chapter from the lens of gratitude!  I was completely blown away at the affects gratitude can have on my life from this chapter after doing so.  Here is what I found.


Verse 1 - GRATEFUL FOR THE BLESSINGS IN FRONT OF ME

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

            When I have an attitude of gratitude I’m not stressed about obtaining the material things I want because I’m focused on how God, my Shepherd, has provided for all my needs.  I notice amazing things going on in my life when I am grateful instead of noticing the amazing things going on in other people’s lives that I want but don’t have.  When I focus on my wants I miss the blessing right in front of me.  God has already taken care of my needs. 


Verse 2 – GRATEFUL THAT I DON’T HAVE TO FIGURE IT ALL OUT

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.”

            He leads me to the provisions, to the open floodgates where my supply is never ending.  He wants to meet my needs, desires, and wants but I must step back and allow Him to do so.  I need to stop getting ahead of God by thinking I know the right direction to the ample supply He has for me, and start following Him there. 



Verse 3,4 – GRATEFUL THAT GOD TAKES CARE OF IT ALL

“He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,
 for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

            Living righteously isn’t boring!  Trust me!  If you know my life story you know I am evidence of this.  In fact, living for God is an adventure because God’s power can and will do incredible things in my life when I let it!  He is a big God. 

            But I haven’t always lived righteously.  What I’ve noticed since being right with God again is the incredible peace I have from this restored relationship.  I don’t have to worry about anything, my needs, my enemies, my failures, my social status or my reputation.  He takes care of it all and He vindicates me.  I don’t have to worry about my future, death, evil, or sadness even though those things will come my way.  He promises to always come to my rescue. 

            He allows those things to come into my life so I see my need for Him and relinquish the control I’ve given myself over my life.  This world will hurt me because it is broken.  But I don’t have to allow the brokenness of this world to break me because I can look with gratitude on every season and circumstance.  By doing this I am able to see how He is working and how I am growing and learning.  With that gratitude will come a restoration of my soul out of the ashes.

  
Verse 5 – GRATEFUL FOR HAVING ENEMIES

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

            It is easy to show kindness or gratitude towards those who love me, but what about my enemies?  David wrote this Psalm and he had many enemies.  People he thought he was close to tried to kill him or take away his rightful God anointed position.  But God always took care of David.  His cup was never dry and he learned many things from the hardships his enemies caused him.  When I am in the midst of my enemies I have a heightened awareness of my fears, doubts, and what is going on around me, I’m more self-aware.

            When God delivered David’s enemies over into David’s hands he chose to allow God to vindicate him instead of vindicating himself.  Planted in the house of the Lord the righteous man will flourish regardless of what is around him.  The enemies of the Lord will perish. 


Verse 6 – GRATEFUL FOR THE PROMISE

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

            Gratitude is the gateway to the dwelling place of the Lord.  It’s the gateway to being blessed.  It’s the gateway to love, acceptance and many good things in life. 


               So I end by asking this question, what are you grateful for today?  Today I am grateful for God’s truth and how He desires to reveal it to a willing heart that’s ready to learn and open to change.



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

You Don't Have To Feel Judged


I’ve been pondering this question lately.  If God is love why do people constantly feel judged by Him? I was lead to John 3:1-21 this morning and this is what I realized about judgment. 

God sent His Son into the world because of His love for the world and desire to restore the relationship He once had with humans at the beginning of Creation. He didn’t send His Son to judge the world but sent His son because of His love for the world. (John 3:17)  So if Jesus purpose was not to bring judgment why do people still feel judged by God?  

It is because the world got used to living in darkness and Jesus brought Light.  God sent His Son, Jesus, to save us from eternal separation from Him, eternal darkness.  Jesus came to earth with the Light so He could expel the darkness in our lives.  But men like the darkness because the Light exposed their deeds.  Their pride and fear has kept them in darkness instead of choosing the love that comes from the Light. (John 3: 18-20)

But what people in darkness need to understand is that God doesn’t care what we have done, He just wants us back.  Our pride keeps us from returning to Him when we choose to remain in darkness instead of embrace the Light of His love and forgiveness.  People who choose to love evil hate the Light and accept judgment for themselves instead of love.  They choose to live for self instead of being restored into union with God and by doing so choose to feel judged.  They don’t see a need for rescue and by choosing to live in darkness choose to feel judged. 

People who choose to live in darkness are afraid of the consequences they may face by stepping into the Light of God’s love, forgiveness, and restored relationship with Him.  But what they don’t realize is once they finally walk out of darkness, and into Light, it is only then that the consequence of this decision are forgotten because they see they see the Truth and benefits the Light brings.  They see the need for the Light.  Once they decide to step into the Light they are finally able to live fully loved and fully known by God.  Once they step into the Light they are finally free!

The choice is yours.  If you want to step out of the darkness of judgment and into the Light of Love, message me and we can talk more. 
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Who Are You Listening To?


Sometimes God calls His people to do things beyond the comprehension of this world.  Are you feeling like God is calling you to do something radical?  Are you being called to abandon safety and leave comfort for uncertainty?  Is this radical call not making any sense to you, your family, or your friends?

I’ve been called to a life that doesn’t make sense to the world because the career I have been lead to comes from a place where no human living on this earth has ever been.  When I decided to live/work by faith my career began to revolve around whatever God wanted me to do for the advancement of His kingdom.  Position is no longer my priority. 

What I have begun to realize is that when I begin to seek people for advice on how to complete this kingdom task, before seeking God, or I seek validation for what I’m doing from people first, before seeking it from God, I find myself completely confused, anxious, and questioning if I am doing the right thing.  Then I feel like I have to explain myself to people because they don’t get it, but their lack of understanding should come as no surprise.

Human beings speak on and process things they can comprehend from this physical, worldly, fleshly realm only.  But God, the Creator of the call and task, understands it better than any human ever will.  We show how little we love God by preferring to listen to His servants only instead of heeding His guidance.

 I just want to encourage you, and myself, not to allow our flesh and this world, that can only comprehend earthly ideas, keep us from fulfilling this radical call of obedience on our lives. Actions speak louder than words.  Let your fruit show people you are fulfilling the call on your life, and let’s stop wasting our time by feeling like we have to explain ourselves.  Followers of Jesus don’t always know where they are going but they know who they are going with.  Live and work with confident trust in the authority of Christ and the mission He is calling and equipping you for. 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be known to God.  And the peace of God, WHICH SURPASSES ALL COMPREHENSION, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’” ~Jeremiah 7:23

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016: A Year of Humility

Humility is a trait that is necessary to shape our character 
so that it reflects the character of our Heavenly Father.

            Humility was my word for 2016. I struggled for weeks to accept this word.  Even though I knew becoming more humble would be good for me, my pride kept me terrified to accept this word. In just a matter of days after accepting this as my word for the year God began to humble me, chipping away at the wall of pride that has been building for years as He forms me back into His original masterpiece.  That chiseling hurt, terribly!  My pride did not want to accept what this year was meant to be but thankfully God gave me the power to keep it in check (for the most part, I still had my days).  This has been a difficult year but so worth it.  I exit the year 2016 thankful that I said yes to humility. 

Lessons I learned:

I. Pride has ruined so many relationships and opportunities in my own life.  It has kept me from being happy.  It has kept me from opportunities I wanted and were given to others instead.  It has kept people I wanted to know better at arms length.  It has kept me from really knowing how much God loves me and experiencing that love first-hand. 

II. Luke 14:11 says, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled.  And all those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  Often we don’t realize when we have exalted ourselves until we are humbled.  I do this regularly.  But when I look at the life of Jesus, I see that He took on the heart of a servant.  He had every right to exalt himself but chose instead to serve.  It’s important to remember that when I don’t feel like I’m being treated fairly.

III.  Self-justification is dangerous.  It is confidence in yourself and your abilities.  It is pride.  Humility is confidence in how God sees you and confidence in God’s ability to use you.  Self-justification is idolatry in appearance, caring more about appearing righteous rather than being righteous.  God hates it when I prop up my holiness on the failures of others.  God hates it when I read scripture and try to justify my behavior by comparing myself to others.  God hates self-justification and even tells us throughout scripture to allow Him to vindicate us.

IV.  The opposite of love is SELFISHNESS.  Pride has caused me to be selfish in the way I show love to others.  It has fooled me into thinking that I have loved others well.  1 Corinthians 10:24 says, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”  Loving people with pride has caused me a lot of heartache because I put unrealistic expectations on others.  When they don’t meet those expectations I am let down by no ones fault but my own.  Humility is doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.  (You can read more about this lesson by clicking here to read a past blog I wrote.)

Reflection:

            As I reflect on this year my question for God is, “Have I learned all I can this year about humility?  Have I taken every opportunity to grow in humility?”  I know I still have a pride problem.  Pride is a sin I’m constantly going to have to keep in check.  But I do believe I have changed.  I feel like a better person.  I feel more alive, freer, and more open to love and to be loved.  This is the way life is meant to be lived.  Humility should be driving the way we encounter, love and respond to people, not pride. 

Even though 2016 is coming to an end, and I will take on a new work in January, I ask that God continue to help me overcome pride with humility.  I don’t want to be afraid of being wrong.  I don’t want to be afraid to be last.  I don’t want to be afraid to love.  I don’t want to be afraid to hold whatever position or job I have been given.  Lastly, I don’t want to think of myself more highly than I ought to think.  God’s truth has the power to transform us. May I never go back to pride, but always pursue humility. 

Where I was afraid to make this my word for a year I now want to make it my word for life because of how much better I feel.  Even when I’m stuck in a crappy situation by thinking about how I can make the best of it, instead of thinking about what I deserve, I find contentment, joy, and peace. 


This is a video I came across as I was deciding about my word for 2016.  It also popped up randomly a couple times during this year.  It is done by The Skit Guys.  The title of it is "God's Chisel Remastered." You can learn more about them by clicking here.  I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.