January 29

NOTHING TO LOSE

GAIN CHRIST

In the back of my mind I have always wondered about people who make the statement; I have nothing to lose. Are there really any set guarantees in life that enable us to make such a bold statement? By the very nature of making a choice suggest that there is some risk in the choice we are making.

1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. Many people take the low road of procrastination thinking that making no choice at all ensures them that they prevent from having nothing to lose. Many ignore the need or a reason to follow after God and in the process they make choices that have no guarantees. You have everything to lose by ignoring the God who created you and sent His Son to die in your place that you might have everything to live for! To fall into the pit that lies between nothing and everything is our enemy’s darkest deception.

Mark 8:36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? The man who would gain the whole world would appear by all worldly standards to have nothing to lose, but in truth he would lose his own soul. The deception enters into our hearts when we define the two accounting terms of gains and losses by the wrong standards.

Phil 3:7-8 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ. There is gain to us or there is a gain of knowing Christ, but you cannot have both. Adam and Eve thought that they had nothing to lose, but in eating of the tree in the middle of the garden they lost everything.

Matt 10:37-39 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it. Our love for the temporary things of this world blinds us to the great chasm fixed between believing we have nothing to lose and losing everything.

The only sure way guaranteeing that we have nothing to lose is to lose everything for the sake of the gospel; of knowing Jesus Christ in all His glory. Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I have nothing to prove I have nothing to lose, and in the process gain everything!

January 18

FEAR OF FAILURE

PERFECT LOVE

There are many forms of fear that dominate our lives within the world we live today, but none can steal the blessings and joys of life from us like the fear of failure. Our fear of failure can define who we are as we confine ourselves within the safe yet mundane areas of what we have defined as life. We build walls around us to keep the fear of failure at a safe distance and we build boundaries around our hearts to keep us from straying too far away from the things we think we can control.

Gal 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. There can never be freedom where the fear of failure exists. There is no standing firm or moving forward in faithful confidence when the yoke of fear continues to enslave us.

Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We truly have all sinned and will continue to sin even as Christians. And, in our sinning we have also fallen short of the glory of God. To fall short means to miss the mark. To miss the mark means we have failed to reflect the glory of God! Rom 5:20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. Where failure increased, God’s grace abounded all the more. Its grace that sets us free, not our trying harder or doing more! Trying harder and doing more is indicative of living a life in the fear of failure.

I’m not implying here that we can continue to sin and expect God’s grace to set us free from the fear that will enslave us, but what I want you to know is that there is a God who loves you and sent His Son to die for your sins so that you no longer have to live in the fear of failure.

1 John 4:16-18 And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The fear of failure is one of our enemy’s greatest deceptions. Have you come to know and are you believing in the love that God has for you? Do you realize that the God who loves you with unconditional love dwells within you and has promised that He will never leave you? He tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from His love; not even our failures. By trusting in His great love for us, His love is perfected in our hearts. This perfect love casts out all fear; even the fear of failure.

June 13

WHAT’S THE TRUTH?

WHAT'S TRUTH

With all the advancement in technology and the abundance of information floating around on the internet it is becoming increasingly difficult for most people to answer the question what’s the truth?  I just typed in the phrase, “what’s the truth” into Google and in 4.2 seconds it revealed about 288 million results.  Hope you brought your lunch for the next fifty years!

Should we wonder why there is an increasing amount of anxiety medications being prescribed within our culture?  Trying to determine who’s truth is the right truth is like walking through a maze of mirrors without an exit.  Without absolute truth for a foundation we will build our lives on the quicksand of assumption and speculation.  So what’s the truth?

Truth is not a what, but a who!  Matt 16:13-15 …He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Many people today have a distorted view of who Jesus really is.  If we are still asking the question “what’s the truth” we have revealed that our truth is not as absolute as we would like others to believe.

We have many professing Christians who have memorized verses of Scripture with little to no lasting change in their lives or evidence of genuine freedom from the bondage of their sin.  They speak words of truth, but their hearts are still asking the question what’s the truth?  The mind has memorized, yet the heart is slowly being sterilized by a deceptive truth that has taken up residence within our hearts.  Rom 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.  The heart becomes sterilized to the Person of truth when we have exchanged the truth of God for the truth we want to believe.  Truth is about worship.  When we worship someone other than God we must create a truth that fits our object of worship.  What’s the truth?  It is whatever we choose to worship.

Ps 51:6 Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.  What’s the truth?  It is the personal relationship with the One who has become the reality of truth in our inner man.  Eph 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  If you have listened to the truth and believed that truth for salvation He has sealed you for His own possession.  And the result?  Worship!  To the praise of His glory!

May 21

GOD BREATHED THE BREATH OF LIFE

GOD BREATHED

As I reflect on the power and majesty of God and those six days of creation; heaven must have stood still with eyes wide open and mouth’s hushed with reverence and awe!  God always seems to save the best for last and when he made man He not only said it was good, but it was very good.  He did not speak man into existence, but reached down and took the dust of the earth in His hands and fashioned man in His likeness.  And with a final touch of His glory, God breathed into His creation the breath of life.

If life is not God breathed it is not worth living!  When we attempt to live outside of the God breathed life we breathe in the pollution of the world which brings forth death.  Rom 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  The pollution of lust, pride, arrogance, unforgiveness, ungratefulness and self-righteousness permeates the God breathed life like a cancer until there are no signs of life what so ever.  Sin pollutes the God breathed life!

What are you breathing in?  The answer is obvious if you examine what you are exhaling out.  God breathed into you the breath of life and His life exhales out love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  This life does not come by our efforts or accomplishments, but is God breathed.

If you have ever had the wind knocked out of you, you know the only thing you want at that moment is air.  When you come to the place where your sin has you gasping for air and all you want is the life that comes through Jesus Christ He will breathe out His forgiveness and grace and give you the God breathed life!

Rom 5:20-21… but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  When the sin in our lives has increased leaving us hopeless and helpless God breathes out His life giving grace all the more.  Where our sin ruled our lives bringing nothing but death God breathes His righteousness giving us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ezek 37:1-5 He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 And He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, Thou knowest.” 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ 5 “Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.  Can these bones live?  Can you live again?  I will cause breath to enter you (God breathed) that you may live!

April 15

A CLEAR CONSCIENCE

Clear ConscienceThe most prescribed medicines in our society today fall under the category of anti-depressants.  The anxiety level in the lives of Americans is staggering considering we are the most free and wealthy country on the face of the planet.  Maybe the only freedom we do not possess is that of a clear conscience.

Anxiety finds its stronghold in our lives through the varying degrees of fear that we attempt to cover up and justify away.  The fear of being exposed or found out muddies the waters of our ability to maintain a clear conscience.  We redefine truth in areas of our lives that we may maintain a clear conscience before God, but God is truth and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If truth is not clear than our ability to have a clear conscience is futile.  1 John 3:19-21 We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him, 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.  Confidence before God assures our hearts and minds to be free from fear and anxiety and to enjoy a life with a clear conscience.  

Think of the very first sin committed by Adam and Eve in the garden.  When they heard the sound of God walking in the garden they hid themselves.  God called out to Adam, “Adam where are you?”  Adam responded that he heard Him walking in the garden and was afraid so he hid himself because he was naked.  God asked Adam another question.  “Who told you that you were naked?”  The one who told Adam he was naked was his own conscience.  He knew God’s command not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden and yet he ate anyway, condemning his own heart and violating his own conscience.  When sin is clear in our lives we cannot live with a clear conscience.

We know when we have violated our conscience for it will become evident by the distancing ourselves from others.  We distance ourselves from God by not being in His word, our lack of prayer and fellowship with other believers.  It will be seen by our increasing judgmental attitude toward others.  We will become critical as we evaluate the motives and intentions of those around us.  Just as Adam and Eve tried to cover up their nakedness we attempt to cover our violated conscience.  God still sees it by the way.  We are unable to hide anything from the righteousness and holiness of God.

There is always hope for a clear conscience and it has nothing to do with you making up for your mistakes or trying harder; it has everything to do with the blood of Jesus!  Heb 10:19-22 Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Come in confession and repentance, with confidence into the presence Jesus our Savior and have your hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and find times of refreshing that you may live today with a clear conscience before your God!

April 6

RESURRECTION POWER

RESURRECTIONOf all the power that God has put on display for the world to see, the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead has brought about the greatest expression of His love that we will ever know.  This same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that gives us new life and the power to live that life to the fullest!  Rom 8:10-11 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. God has placed within us the resurrection power of His Holy Spirit, giving us life; raising us up out of the deadness of our sin into a new life and loving relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! So, where is this resurrection power that our gracious God has given us?  Where is the evidence of this new life of freedom and victory?  If the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells within us, where is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  If the Spirit is the One who raised Jesus from the dead and the Spirit is the One who dwells within us; where is the power; where is the fruit? The answer to these questions can be found in Philippians chapter three.  Phil 3:10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;  We must be conformed to His death.  We must die to the flesh that the power of His resurrection may work within us and through us.  The more we know Him and His love for us the greater the resurrection power we will experience in our daily lives. Phil 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.  This is not about us giving up in order to get; that would be about us, but it is about desiring to gain Christ more than anything else in this world and receiving as a result of this intimate relationship, the indwelling power of His presence.  We should never seek the power, but the relationship. Eph 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. To know Him is to be rooted and grounded in His love.  To be rooted and grounded in His love is to be filled up to the fullness of God.  To be filled up with the fullness of God is to live in resurrection power.

March 3

GOD’S PLACE

GOD'S PLACEWhere is God’s place?  We believe that God is omnipresent; meaning that God is everywhere at the same time.  So, by faith then we believe that God’s place is every place; right?  Ps 139:7-8 Where can I go from Thy Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Thy presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.  There is no place to hide!

The question in this blog is not where is God’s place, but are you in God’s place?  This question is not referring to location but relationship.  Though God is everywhere we are not necessarily at every moment in fellowship with Him in the place He has designed for us.

In reading the story of Joseph we find an interesting conclusion to all of his disappointments in Genesis 50:19-20.  But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.  Joseph never evaluated God’s place by whether things were fair, difficult or painful, but he found confidence in the midst of his difficult circumstances for he saw God’s hand bringing glory to Himself as His grace impacted the lives around Joseph.

Many times we find ourselves living our lives like those who wandered through the wilderness for forty years; mumbling, grumbling and stumbling.  No, that’s not a new dance step.  It is living life missing God’s place in our lives.  Looking at our lives as our lives is our problem.  Its God’s place not our place!  When we see our lives in light of what we would like them to be, we place our own expectations on them missing God’s expectations altogether.  We hear our hearts express life in these words; “I’m not in a safe place.”  “This is not the best place to be.”  “I’ve been in better places before.”  “This is the worst place I’ve ever been in.”

We will never experience the glory of God as long as we live in our own fairy tale land of make believe.  In our make believe world we have to deceive ourselves into believing life is all about us; that Jesus died on the cross so that we could live a better life.  Life is better with Jesus, but He didn’t die so we could be better people, He died because He loved us and we were hopelessly lost and helpless without Him.

Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.  If Christ is living in us and if the life we are now living in this sinful world is by faith in Him; then our desire should be to live in God’s place, even if that place is not what I would like it to be!  Faithfully living in God’s place changes our whole perspective on every circumstance that comes our way; for God is faithful and He is about to perform a wondrous miracle.

Are you in God’s place?  Then stop your whining!

February 7

WHAT NOW?

what_now1In different seasons of our lives we are faced with many varying circumstances that leave us asking the question what now?  I mean, seriously where do I go from here?  My spouse has left me, my boss just informed me that the company I’ve worked for twenty years no longer needs my services, my doctor called and said we need to talk and the list of what now circumstances goes on and on.

In our what now moment we seem to get bogged down in the muck and mud of our temporary lives and replay our bad circumstances over in our minds like a bad movie.  We continue asking the same old question what now, but with silence at the end of our questions.  I believe our loving God is trying to answer us, but His still small voice is drowned out by the noise of our what now!

I believe there is a deeper question at the foundation of our what now question.  That question is; God are you still there and do you really care?  Look at the prophet Elijah and his what now circumstance as he runs from Jezebel.  1 Kings 19:3-5 And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”  He was fearful for his life and was tired from all his running.

Now, God provided something for him to eat and told him to rest, but then He asked Elijah; what are you doing here?  Why have you allowed your what now to turn into I am done?  Your what now question is the wrong question.  The real question that should be asked is what sort of God do I believe in and how much does He love me?

There are two words I read in Scripture that bring so much comfort and reassurance to my heart that I would like to share them with you.  As you read let your heart focus on the these two words; But God!

Gen 48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.

Gen 50:20 “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

1 Sam 23:14 And David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.

Ps 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

2 Cor 7:5-6 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

Eph 2:3-5 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

What now; but God!

January 26

DANGEROUS INROADS

Matt 15:19-20 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  Out of our hearts come the greatest of evils, but first there were those dangerous inroads that brought forth the evil that eventually brings shame and suffering.

We give the enemy access to those dangerous inroads when we allow our eyes to dwell upon those things that create desires outside of what God has designed and desires for us.  We allow our ears to listen to long to the luring sounds of temptation until our thoughts lead us into sin’s deception.

These dangerous inroads will eventually build spiritual strongholds in our life and the lives of our families.  2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  These strongholds are built brick by brick with the speculations and self-righteous thoughts raised up against the knowledge of God that have traveled down the dangerous inroads of our lives until eventually they become a four lane highway to our hearts.

Just as in our communities that have roads that become heavily congested, they will widen the roads to accommodate the traffic, so our hearts widen the dangerous inroads to accommodate the speculations and lofty opinions we have given access to.  James 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.  Because of the heavy traffic of thoughts we give to our fleshly desires we find ourselves being carried away with their enticements until the sin of those thoughts bring a dark separation between us and the God Who loves us.  He never stops loving us for He is love, but we can be separated from the experience of that love.

If we are to tear down these strongholds we must first put road blocks up to the dangerous inroads that build them in the first place.  We must make choices that prevent access to these dangerous inroads and then by abiding in His word we can take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  John 17:14-17 “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.  We are kept from the evil one and his dangerous inroads when we are sanctified in truth.

Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  The renewing of our minds with the truth of God’s word transforms the dangerous inroads of our heart into deserted roads that lead to nowhere and we can live within the provision that God has provide; that which is good, acceptable and perfect.

November 4

BUMPY ROAD

Do you remember the old western movies where they had a wagon carrying the volatile nitro glycerin to the mining site? One wrong move or big bump would blow things sky high.  Blended families raising kids seem to be traveling that same bumpy road.  The volatility in the hearts of kids in divorce is like handling nitro glycerin on a bumpy road.  The road they travel is filled with the pot holes of disappointment and rejection.

The issue of fairness has always been a juggling act for the parents on this bumpy road.  When hearts are in pain it seems that all we want is a fair playing field.  Even without divorce and even if we only had one child; life is never going to be fair.  So, for you parents who are attempting to steady the bumpy ride you’re on by making everything fair you’ll need to find a liberal doctor with endless refills for anti-anxiety medicine.  There is no balancing the scales when it comes to fairness, for the perception of fairness is in the eye of the beholder not the one who is under the pressure of trying to make it fair.  Playing referee will always put you on the wrong side of the fence.  When a child puts you in the position of referee and not the parent the game will always be under protest.

Some kids after taking this bumpy road a few times find it entertaining and even beneficial so they create a few extra bumps.  If they can keep mom and step dad or dad and step mom busy trying to keep the nitro glycerin from blowing up in their faces they can manipulate the circumstances in their favor.  The disunity and dysfunction will only intensify.

None of us should really desire fairness, but God’s grace.  His grace levels the playing field for each one of us.  His grace heals and restores what divorce has corrupted with its painful divisiveness.  The insecurity we experience and the loss of family identity is found in the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.  To allow ourselves to travel the bumpy road of fairness is to allow the sin of the divorce to continue its volatile destructiveness in our blended families.

2 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Our blended families desperately need grace and peace multiplied to us as we travel this bumpy road of divorce.  Through the true knowledge of Him we have access to His divine power that we might escape the worldly corruption of fairness. Even as blended families He has called us to His own glory and excellence.  Our God loves taking our blendedness and turning it into a masterpiece of His grace.  Isa 40:3-5 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. 4 “Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; 5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  The Lord’s promise to you and me; the bumpy road can be made smooth by His grace.