Good morning dear friends. Glad you made the trip with me. Remember the time when you were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” None of my family to my knowledge ever thought I would be come a pastor/shepherd. I never gave that a single thought either. What happen? Only God knows!
I remember asking my youngest son what he wanted to be when he grew up. To my surprise he quickly replied, “I am going to be a garbage man, so I can ride on the back of those trucks.” Any dad’s dream for their child right? It is a dirty job but someone has to do it.
Most of my day yesterday was dealing with trash. I bag up the garbage from my surroundings and the trash bags were so heavy that it strained my back to even attempt to carry them. I guess I put too much trash in each bag. But I got it done at least for now. Monday is trash day around our house. I attempted to get the trash to the curb before the trash truck came by but that didn’t work. Now when people pass in from of the house they will see the trash waiting for the next pick up day.
My wife refuses to let me take the trash to the landfill. She says I always bring more back than I take. You do know, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” don’t you? Who wants to spend their time at the garbage heap?
But have you ever thought about it? That is exactly where the LORD Jesus was crucified. It was a place of all sorts of garbage; death stench filled the air. And here was our LORD hanging on the Cross in the middle of the garbage - our garbage - not His. Remember the garbage bags that were stuffed so heavy I could hardly carry them? Well, the garbage that weighs us down in life is what we need to bring Christ Jesus. He will take all the garbage we treasure in our bags and relieve us of all of it. That is the reason He went to Calvary, to carry our baggage. I gave my sin baggage to Jesus years ago and it is true when He says, “Come unto Me and learn of Me. My yoke is easy and My burdens are light. I will give you rest from your heavy load of daily garbage you are trying to tote.”
Thank You LORD Jesus for lifting my burdens at Calvary. Be blessed.
Good LORD’s Day morning to all your wonderful folks. We have a fresh day for a fresh start. Yesterday was a day to relax. I set it aside as a PRAYday and enjoyed the time the LORD provided. I went to a baseball game to watch our Grandson play baseball. As I was sitting there doing my careful evaluation as I usually do, I began to notice the ones who have been there before. For example, their skill levels were not the same. They all were wearing their uniforms and looked very professional. But there were the times in the clutch that some just could pull it out. Strike outs, base runners, fly balls, and base hits made up the day. Good pitching and not so good pitching. Good catching and not so good catching. I was not doing a judgment on these players, just an observation, an evaluation, thinking that if I were the coach, what could I do to help this teenager develop their areas where they were weak. It was a great day with these guys, just sitting and watching them perform.
As a Director of Mission I could relate this day with the life of our congregations. Our association is made up of different churches but we all play on the same team. I noticed that when one of the players did well the entire team was there to meet him and pat him on the back. Our churches should be doing this as well. We should be lifting our sister churches to the LORD and asking God to anoint them with His Holy Spirit and bless them. Sometimes we get caught up in our turf wars and when that happens it is like a player out for their own ego trip. When each player does the best they can then the team wins. When our churches desire to join hands and work together God is always going to be honored and glorified. God wins! We may all look the part but there are some who are a bit more skilled than others. They have the resources, the extra people and things seem to be better in their mission field. But as I was reminded this week, God knows your address and has placed you at your assigned location for His purpose. We just need to find and follow it.
Like the coaching side of me in the baseball game, I have that same desire to come along side of the pastors and encourage them in their assigned task. We are on a winning team when we are on the LORD’s Team. Together we can do more. Have a blessed day and serve the LORD with gladness, enter His courts with praise. Be blessed.
We all hear things like, what is on your mind? But that is not what really matters. To me I would rather know what is in your mind. The mind, if filled with your thoughts that usually lead to actions. However, most minds are filled and affected by the nay-sayers around them. Some are afraid to even try. They fear failure. Ray Johnson defines fear as “a darkroom where negatives are developed.” Fear has a way of defeating you before there is even a battle. Fear robs you of your faith. When your faith fades, your belief and trust in God dwindles.
A great example of fear and faith is found in 1 Samuel 17. Here we revisit the story of David and Goliath. All of Israel was afraid and that fear robbed them of their trust in God. They felt the challenge was too great. They were paralyzed in their minds because they didn’t trust God. Then comes along this young kid who wasn’t suppose to be there to begin with, according to his older siblings. Who does he think he is? Doesn’t he realize we are in a war with this one man? But David believed with all of his heart that God was larger than the giant, that God could use him to defeat this Philistine. You see, the whole army saw a giant too big to beat but David saw a man too big to miss. We know how the story ends.
So again I ask you. Not what’s in your wallet, but What is in your mind? Do you believe God is greater than anything you might be facing these days? Don’t be afraid. Remember fear robs you of your faith. By reading and studying the Word of God your faith will increase and you can be the giant slayer. All things are possible when you put your faith in God because nothing is impossible with God. Be a great blessing to others today. Share if you like.
Good morning dear strugglers. If you got it all together then I don’t have a lot to say. I don’t think I have ever been on that level. It must be nice. I have been a born-again believer following Christ Jesus for a long time but I still remember what it was like B. C. (before Christ). I had an opinion of others and they definitely had opinions of me. You might say I fit in to the “Shady Character” column. I made some shaky decisions and I am not speaking of health.
In my devotion time this morning God took me to a party. It is found in Matthew 9:9-13. Boy can I identify with this story. It seems like Jesus ran into the local IRS agent and invited him to follow Him and become a disciple. Matthew was considered an outcast because of his choice of vocations. His name was constantly left of the invitation list. He was a shady character making shaky deals under the table. But Jesus went right up to him and said Hey Levi follow me. Levi was what his mommy named him. I guess she had higher expectations for his life than he did. Anyway, he closed up shop and begin to follow our LORD.
But the story is not over. He decide to throw a going away party to tell his shady friends goodbye. He did and they came. These characters were not ones you would expect to attend the Clergy Convention at the Baptist Building. Not only were his friends there but the disciples were there as well. They were having a good old “good-bye” time and in walked trouble. The more-religious-than-thou group raided the party. They were not invited but they felt it was their responsibility to point out that Jesus made a mistake by hanging out with this riff-raff. Why are you at this party, Jesus? You should know better! Jesus, as the Great Physician that He is, gives them the diagnoses for their self-righteous disease. It is the sick that need the doctor. They want to get well. You guys don’t see the filth in your own life cause you are all leathered up on the outside.
Yes, I was a constant at those parties when Christ Jesus pulled me aside and said aren’t you tired of this life? Wouldn’t you like a better life from this day forward? I said YES and from that time the only SHADY part of my life is sitting under the shade of the love of the LORD Jesus. I get along with those who are out in the world struggling just to get through the day a lot better than those sitting in a luxury suite looking down on people.
Enjoy your day and if you see someone like me, why don’t you stop and say Hi and invite the “MEs” for a glass of tea. That would be such a blessing.
Good mid-morning dear friends. Running a bit later this morning. Excuse me but I have been having a blast with the LORD. He does take first place in my life you know. Remember (if you can) sitting at your desk in the first grade and being given a sheet with pictures on it? The purpose was to pick out the part that does not belong. An example would be a place setting at the dinner table. Everyone has a fork, spoon, a knife but this one has a hammer rather than a knife. We were to select the hammer because it was out of place.
In Matthew 16, Jesus poses a question to His disciples and received several answers. The question was, “Who do you say that I am?” He had already heard what others were saying about who He was. But now the question was, who do YOU say that I am? And of course Peter gave his Great Confession response.
As we study the Word of God we find that Jehovah had several identifying names throughout. Each name followed Jehovah (EL) with “Elohim”, “Shaddai”, “Jireh”, “ Rophe”, and the list goes on. The reason for the different names is because God demonastrates His authority in different ways and the Name was a reminder of how God had touched the lives of the people.
Moving us forward to the todays of our life, Christ Jesus again asks the question “Who do you say that I am?” Like the names of God in the Word of God, we too have a special touch from God during some difficult moments. When the money runs out before the month we know God as our “Provider.” When we are suffering from a difficult disease we know God as the “Great Healer.” When we feel discouraged and down, we have experienced God as the “Comforter” who refuses to let us walk through things by ourselves. But the name Christ Jesus would like all of us to know Him by is Savior and LORD!
Back to the question and Peter’s response. Here was Jesus, The Sinless Son Of God sitting right there with them as they were talking and God asked them the question. You talk about something being out of place. God choosing to sit with sinners. Royal robed among the filthy rags. But that is the kind of God we worship and has chosen us to be His children. So right now, Who do YOU say that HE is? Like Simon Peter, He is THE CHRIST the SON of The LIVING GOD who died for each of us so we can (each of us) live for HIM. That is a blessing friend.
How is your day going? It is a cool day in the neighborhood for me. I know some of you are in the single digits this morning. Cold is cold no matter where you are. Remember, a warm heart is the key. Stay warm by spending time with the LORD Jesus.
My wife has three jewelry boxes (that is not something the thieves need to know) and one of those boxes is a place to hang her necklaces. However, they tend to get tangled up. Or would knotted up be a better description? She has spent a lot of time trying to untangle the knots so she can wear a certain necklace.
Teaching first grade students for many years, she explained one time that what she did most was zip up pants and tie shoes. Sometimes those shoe strings got in knots and it is hard to get those knots out of the strings. We have all been there. I guess those knots are what made slip on shoes or Velcro shoes so popular.
Not sure about you but I can identify with the knots in life. “My stomach is all knotted up” with worry, some would say. I have even been called a knot-head. Still don’t know what that really means. But I know what it means to be all twisted up to the point of tied up. We have deadlines to meet. We have bills to pay. We have papers to write. We have tests to study for. We have appointments we have to keep. We are bombarded with life challenges and struggle to make sense of it all.
Like the first grader whose shoe stings are in a knot and they ask for help, we too have someone who can be there to untie those knots in our life. His Name is Christ Jesus. He is as close as the whisper of His Name. He is more than willing to help get the knots of our life untangled. We just need to bring them to Him and submit to His learning and leadership that will show us how to get out of the mess and confusion we all struggle with.
I have found that Christ Jesus is ready and able to help me when I call on Him. He will do the same for you. Proverbs 3:5-6 is my go-to verses when I am confused and tied up trying to determine the next step. I simply will trust the One who knows all the strings that can be confusing. Let Him untie the mess in your life today. That is a blessing.
Good morning dear friends. Glad to celebrate another day with you and the LORD. Each day is precious to us. It is a gift from our LORD Jesus. I am known for not reading the instruction manual. Our sons have finally given up on me doing this. I tend to rely on their expertise in matters that are at times complicated (electronically speaking). They seek out my advice on other things. Not a problem.
God gives us an instructional manual known as the Word of God. It is a daily guideline for living a life that honors God and allows others to see Him in our lives. Many read it like it is a historical account of the happenings of old timers back in yester-years. But we fail to read the “fine print.” The details get caught up in the destination, so-to-speak.
I say often times to congregations that we have enough education and experience that we can do church and never have to rely on the Holy Spirit for anything. Many of our churches are plateaued and declining because they rely on their own abilities. Oh they do call out to God but it is to bless what they are doing. You see, the fine print of God’s Word is that we should be doing what God is blessing. We can use our man made plans and strategies to see some results but it doesn’t happen that way for many of our congregations. That is the reason why many are struggling just to keep the lights on and pay the bills. They are real close to being a statistic of closing their doors. It doesn’t have to be that way. God said HE would build HIS church and death will never touch it.
God has been speaking to me from Luke 5:1-11 for the past few hours. You can read the story. Here were experienced fishermen, who had the right equipment, and knew the lake, the fish, the nets, their boats better than anyone else. They had fished all night and their stringer was empty. When they allowed Jesus to get in the boat and they followed His advice...well you know the rest of the story. There was so many fish that it took two boats that were sinking to bring the catch to shore. The Word of God said they had to call other partners in the (fishing Gospel) to help bring in the catch.
So what was the difference? Christ became the MASTER of the boat, the MASTER of their lives and they followed HIS instructions. Churches, if the nets (pews) are empty we might need to look at who is in charge of the fishing trip. Have a blessed day as you make your way into the deep today.
Good morning on this very cool Saturday morning. Join me as I thank the LORD for this new day to try to get things right again. Have you hear or ever said, “Ignorance is no excuse?” We all try out the excuse “we just didn’t know!” In part of the process of helping churches to refresh and refocus I often use the phrase, “The best definition of ignorance is when we keep doing the same old thing and get the same old results.” Why would you expect anything different?
In our Bible Study class tomorrow we will be in Deuteronomy 6:1-13. This is probably one of the best lessons we have had in a while, not to say the others have not been great. This lesson teaches us that if we want God to bless us, then there are some things we MUST do. Things like loving God with ALL our heart, soul, and strength. Things like receiving the Word of God into our lives so that God directs each of our steps. We don’t take a step without the affirmation of it being in the center of the Will of God. We publish our faith on our hearts, homes, houses, and the places where we reside. We demonstrate our belief in God publicly before men. We teach these commands of God to our children, our grandchildren. In other words we live in the power and presence of the LORD each moment. Then God will bless our lives with peace, promises, prosperity, and possessions. Remember, God is not a bad person. He wants the best for each one of us. It is when we keep God in our pocket just in case we need a miracle moment that we find our selves on the short side. In the Word, as you read the text you will see that there are several “so that’s.” We need to look closely at what God is saying with each one. But the phrase that jumps off the page is “LISTEN - BE CAREFUL TO OBSERVE ALL THAT AM TEACHING YOU” so that you can live and teach your children and grandchildren these same true commands. God doesn’t want us to live the life of paupers and has rich blessings to share with us. Our problem is when we do the same old thing the same old way and expect anything different. Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise to each of us. But it has its requirements. God has a telephone number. It is Jeremiah 33:3. Give Him a call, Give Him a try. You wont regret it. Today really can be the first day of your life when we do what Deuteronomy 6 teaches us. Blessings are yours for the seeking.
The more I am in the Word of God, the more I realize the task that lies ahead of each of us. The fact is there are so many who have bought into the fact that our religious faith is just a small part of who we are. It is like the many pairs of shoes we keep in our closet and depending on what we are wearing that day, determines what shoes we will be wearing. We have to match you know. For us guys things are a bit different. We have one pair of shoes that’s comfortable and they will go with anything we put on and anywhere we head off to.
Our Christian faith should be like those comfortable shoes. Our faith is comfortable and we take it every where we go. We don’t put it on for some special occasion or activity. We don’t need a Monday faith , a Tuesday faith, a Wednesday faith--you get the picture. We must have an every-day faith that others can see and be invited to know how they too can have the joy Jesus brings to one’s life.
And you know that faith, unlike our shoes, will never wear out or become out of date, out of style, or obsolete. Each day you make a decision on what shoes you will wear, but your Christian faith is a daily given. Wear it with pride and all will know that you have been with Jesus.
Be blessed by the way you are dressed.
How do you like to travel in your car? For me, I like it quiet. No so with my lovely bride. She has to have her music and she joins in with them as they sing. I got a set of head phones so she could listen to her music as we travel along on life’s roadways. That didn’t work because she began singing with them but I didn’t hear the music. Sad to admit it but I seldom listen to the words, just the beat. She usually gives in and we sit side-by-side, riding along, saying nothing. As she would say, “BORING.”
However, I do have process in my driving. I see a sign and it tells me the next city is 75 miles ahead. I look at the mileage counter and determine it will register now at 000125 and when I get to the city it will be 000200. Now I have a way of determining how much further it is to the next fuel stop, eating place, or bathroom.
I am constantly noting my success, whether traveling on the roadway or along life’s byways. I don’t seek the applauses of man or at least try not to. And when I look back over the many years of tracing in this life, I try to decide if I have made a difference. But then God pulls my head out of the clouds and reminds me that I am in His ministry serving Him. He reminds me that it is His job to keep the journal of our journey. I only need to be found faithful. My comfort comes by remembering He called me into His ministry and you know that satisfies my soul.
I remember the days when you had to order a radio if you wanted one in your car. My wife would have went nuts. Happy singing as you travel along on your byways today. Be blessed.