Friday, June 24, 2016

Four Keys To Effective Prayer -- Part 2

KEY #2: Confession

(Based on Nehemiah 1, and an article by Pastor Rick Warren)

"Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them … I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NLT)

As it turns out--Monday will NOT work for me :-)  Wow---have you ever had "one of those summers?"  Anyway--I'm excited to share the second key to effective prayer with you TODAY!

  Key 1: Base Your Prayer On God's Character!
Key 2:  Confess the sins of which you’re aware.

After Nehemiah bases his prayer on who God is, he confesses his sins. He says, “I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us” (Nehemiah 1:6b-7 NLT). 

Israel was not in exile becauseo of Nehemiah's sin.  He wasn’t even born when that happened; he was most likely born in captivity. Yet humbly confesses His own sin and brokenness before God.

James writes, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6)  A major key to approaching God--in prayer or in any other way--is HUMILITY.  God is so full of compassion and grace and desire to work good in our lives---but not in proud, self-rightesous, unconfessing, hearts.

So come to him in open, transparent humility--confessing your need / thankfulness for the cross of calvary and the grace that so freely flows from it to all who put their hope in Jesus!  God's ear bends to listen to hearts like that!

Thanks for reading---remember to share!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Four Keys To Effective Prayer -- Pt. 1

I'm coming into a crazy busy part of the summer--so for the next two weeks,  I'm only going to be able to blog on Monday's and Fridays--but that's kind of cool because it gives me a chance to do a little "SERIES"... preachers love series! :-)

Four Keys To Effective Prayer
Based on Nehemiah 1 & an article by Rick Warren.

“Please remember what you told your servant Moses: ‘If you are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the nations. But if you return to me and obey my commands and live by them … I will bring you back to the place I have chosen for my name to be honored.’” (Nehemiah 1:8-9 NLT)

Here is Key #1. Base your request on God’s character.
Prayer is conversation with God.  If you've walked with and read His Word--you know He is a God of impeccable character!  So, as you lift your heart to God--express that : “God, I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!"

My friend Desiree Willett lives by a saying that Nehemiah would have totally approved of, "God's got this!"  I.e. "God is good and He loves me so I have nothing to worry about!"

God doesn't need to be reminded of who He is---but it's so good for us to express and confess it.  We need to remind ourselves.  Remembering,rehearsing and reminding ourselves of God's truth and character strengthens our faith and keeps our heart and mind fixed in the right direction.  And it's a key to effective communication (prayer) with Him!

We'll look at Key #2 on Friday!

Spend somtime today just confessing to God all of the good truths you know about Him!  You'll be blessed so much by the results!

Thanks for reading.  Remember to share the link!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Turn Or Burn!

Have you ever heard the old phrase “Turn or burn?” I totally get how utterly and completely HARSH that sounds—but in reality—it might be one of the most loving statements ever. Seriously, think about it—if you know that someone is headed for a cliff and you don’t say, “Hey, TURN or you’re going to crash and BURN!” … you just remain silent and let them go off the cliff—how “loving” is that?

The message of EVERY Old Testament prophet was—essentially—“Turn or burn.”

"Turn away from self-centeredness to God-centeredness – or you are in deep doo doo!"

You’re not personally judging your friend when you say to them, “Hey, you’re a sinner and you need to repent and receive Jesus as Savior.” You’re just telling them what the Bible says.

Jesus himself said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) 

Biblical belief and repentance are inseparable.

Biblical Belief: "absolute confidence and trust in & complete surrender, and heartfelt obedience to Christ."

Biblical Repentance: "to confess and turn away from sin and toward BELIEF (see deintion aboe) in Christ."

John MacArthur puts it this way, “The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture… One cannot truly believe unless he repents, and one cannot truly repent unless he believes. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin ”

A person can’t say "Jesus is my Savior" – and not “turn away from sin and follow Him as Lord.” Salvation isn’t fire insurance. It’s being reconciled to God. Sin separates us from God. Grace reconciles us to God. Separation from God = condemnation and spiritual death. Reconciliation to God = Relationship with God as Father and abundant life.

The ONLY path to be reconciliation with God is REPENTANCE & BELIEF.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts. 3:19) 

"SO THAT…” those are possibly the two most significant words in that statement. Pete is effectively saying—“God WANTS to REFRESH your life! But He CAN’T pour His grace into an UNREPENTANT heart. So—the KEY to connecting with God and having a relationship with Him (which results in salvation) is TURNING AWAY from sin (self-centered living) and TURNING TO God (Christ-centered-living). When we REPENT like this—God opens the flood-gates of His refreshing grace and love and lavishes them upon us! 

Also—never forget—REPENTANCE isn’t a one-time event.

It’s a life-long attitude of heart. Paul said it this way, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him…” (Col. 2:6) 

We RECEIVE CHRIST on our knees—in humility and we walk with Christ from that day forward – on those same knees, in humble gratitude—daily surrendering, trusting and following our Lord.

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Thursday, June 16, 2016


“…a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come." (Joel 2:2)

God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) and love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4). But love is not timid or empty of truth. It does not keep silent when sin threatens to destroy. It speaks up—in earnest warning.

That is what the prophet is doing here. Joel’s words foreshadow The Great and Terrible Day of God’s Final Judgment. The day upon which the sheep will be separated from the goats (Mt. 25:31-46); And death, Satan and all of his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10-14).

It will be a great day in that on that day God will appear, and for all who have received grace through faith—the songs of praise and joy will be sung with unbridled delight! But it will be a terrible day for all who ignored Christ, or simply chose to live for self instead of surrendering to the Lord Jesus.

Someone might ask, “What about those who never had an opportunity to hear about Jesus?” 

To that question I have a very simple answer, “I don’t know. God hasn’t revealed that answer to us. What God has revealed to us is this—He knows all, and as the sovereign and just King of all—He will do what is right on that day. The fate of those who do not hear about Jesus is not my concern. My mission—and if Jesus is your Lord—your mission—is to be His witness to the world. (Acts 1:8)

“…a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come.” (Joel 2:2)

Have you ever watched the sun rise? It begins slowly—with morning’s first glimmer of light breaking up through the blackness of night, growing brighter until you see it—the brilliance of the sun peeks over the horizon. Now it’s full on, as light spreads out everywhere in unstoppable, awe-inspiring fashion. Light instantly engulfs everything.

That’s a good thing when you’re describing a sunrise. But the prophet here is using this same imagery to describe the overwhelming arrival of the armies of Heaven on THAT DAY. His appearing will be overwhelming, unstoppable and utterly awe-inspiring! For those who believe it will be the greatest moment ever. For the unbeliever it will be the worst.

Jesus described His return on that day like this, “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me.” (Rev. 16:15)  "Watching for Jesus" isn’t about sitting at your window peering non-stop into the sky. It’s about walking with Christ. When you walk with Christ—you have nothing to fear—ever.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rm. 8:1)

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I know The One who holds the future!

“He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:22) 

He reveals deep and hidden things…”

The word “revelation” has a mystical, almost spooky reputation, but its definition is really pretty simple: “make (previously unknown or secret information) known to others.”

If I know something you don’t know—and I share it with you—I just REVEALED something to you.

So when Daniel says God “reveals deep and hidden things…” he’s saying—when we walk with God He shows us His ways.

The Apostle Paul says it this way, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)  Translation, “Walk with God... abide in Christ (John 15)... fill up on God’s Word--and your mind will be “renewed.” This word could be translated “renovated,” or “made-over fresh and brand new.” In short—when we walk with God and fill up on His Word—God empties us of worldly stuff—and fills us with godly stuff.  We lose our appetite for the things of this world and our hunger for heaven and the things of God increases! We begin to see life from His perspective. (Jn. 3:3) We begin to love what He loves and value what He values. To use use biblical language—we are conformed into the likeness of Christ. (Rom. 8:29) It’s not religious rocket science, it’s good, old-fashioned relationship.

“…he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.” 

I don’t know who I got this saying from, but I’ve used it for years, “I don’t know what the future holds—but I know who holds the future!” I may not know what’s around the next dark corner in life, but I know WHO will be there with me.” NOTHING you ever experience in life, EVER, catches God off guard or surprises Him.

If Jesus is your Lord--anytime you face “dark” times—you can be sure of two things:

1) God is with you (Heb. 13:5)
2) God is working in it for good. (Romans 8:28) 

As a Christ-follower you can know this for certain:  NOTHING is EVER WASTED in God’s economy!  He uses every experience in our lives to shape us more and more into the person He created us to be. (James 1:2-4)

Every “dark” time is ACHIEVING something great FOR YOU! “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17) Paul looked at every beating he received, every shipwreck He experienced, every imprisonment He endured for Christ as WORKING FOR HIM—achieving for him eternal glory and FAR outweighed any hardship! 

He knew that the God who KNOWS what is around every dark corner—was with Him always—and He’s with you too! And as you walk with Him—the light of His presence, love, grace and truth fills your heart, ESPECIALLY in the darkest of times!

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Oh What A Day That Will Be!

“As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” (Ezekiel 34:12)

God is a gathering shepherd by nature. The deep desire of His heart is to have His people together with Him. He created Adam and Eve in His image (Gen. 1:26-27) and walked with them daily in the garden. And the moment they disobeyed, Him and ate the forbidden fruit—God set in motion His plan to redeem all who would believe—so that we could be together with Him again. (Gen. 3:15)

He called Abraham to follow Him by faith and from him created a nation called Israel. When Israel found herself in slavery—God sent His deliverer Moses and through Him did mighty deeds—breaking the will of Pharaoh and liberating His people from bondage. He brought them through the Red Sea, right to the foot of Mt. Sinai—where He made His covenant with them, saying, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Ex. 6:7) 

And so God was with His people, but they weren’t always interested in being with Him. As generations passed Israel was hot and cold in their devotion to God. They were often times swayed from God by the pleasures of the world. When they lost their way, God sent His prophets: Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and many others to cry out, “Repent and return to God so that you are not destroyed.” Sometimes they did repent. Other times they did not—and thus experienced the harsh consequences of choices.

As time continued—what was clear to God from the beginning—became glaringly obvious to everyone--people aren’t capable of living up to God’s righteous standards. So the Good Shepherd began to speak of a new covenant… a new way of being made right with God and walking with Him.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36:26-27) 

No longer would God stand at a distance. He would move into our hearts and by His Spirit lead us and shepherd us. And so God sovereignly crafted the chapters of His-story right down to the perfect time to send us His Son—to initiate the new plan!

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son…” (Gal. 4:4)

Jesus came as Emmanuel, “God with us”. He lived among us, loved us, healed many and fulfilled every messianic prophecy of the Old Testament (over 300 of them!). And then, as the ultimate-once-for-all-time-sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus laid His life down for us on the cross. (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 7:27 & 9:28)

“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29, NASB) 

Why? Why all this trouble and sacrifice? Because God is crazy about you. He wants all of us to be with Him. And since our sin makes that impossible, He took it upon Himself (literally) and paid for our unrighteousness with His own blood—so that we could be part of His family and call Him “Daddy”

“…to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, "Abba, Father." (Jn. 1:12, Gal. 4:6)

Someday, when the trump of God sounds, Christ will split the skies and return for all who have trusted Him as Savior. (1 Thess. 4:16) The old heavens and earth will be swept away and replaced with the new creation - unmared by sin's curse.

At that time these words will be fulfilled, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-4) 

Oh what a day that will be! Finally, The Good Shepherd will have all of us, once again, together—with Him in paradise—the way He always intended it to be!

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Monday, June 13, 2016

Promoted To Shine In Dark Places!

“He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light. (Lamentations 3:2)

The Book of Lamentations, as the title suggests, is a collection of laments---over the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of the Babylonian Empire in 586 B.C. The book is traditionally credited to the prophet Jeremiah, but even if tradition is wrong, the author was clearly a faithful follower of God who was carried away with God’s people when Babylon defeated and carted them off as captives.

“He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light. (Lamentations 3:2) 

Sometimes bad things happen to good people—for God’s purpose. (Rom 8:28)

Israel had turned its back on God and their rebellion resulted in their defeat and exile, but God did not let His People go into exile without a witness. He did not send them into darkness without lights. Ezekiel, Daniel, and Shadrach Meshach and Abednego were there—standing strong for God! And no doubt there were many others who loved God there too—shining brightly for Him in the midst of Israel’s time of darkness.

When I finally hit bottom I looked for the light. I needed something to give me hope and show me the way out of the mess I had turned my life into. My Grandma Rachel was right there—shining.

Grandma had experienced a lot of grief and many hardships in her life—and I’m sure there were moments in her senior years when she must have wondered, “Lord, why am I still here in this dark old world?” But on the day I walked into here apartment--broken in spirit; primed and ready to surrender to Jesus, I’m sure all of those questions were replaced with fresh joy and purpose as she led me right into the arms of our Savior.

God needs bright people in dark places. God needs His lights where you work, His witness in your neighborhood. If you love Christ and are following Him—and still find yourself in dark and difficult places, never assume that God is being unfair.

He just promoted you!

He has called you to be an Ezekiel to others around you; to testify for Him in a place where no one else seems to know Him. He has raised you up to pray openly to Him like Daniel. (Dan. 6) And to shine as a bright resolute light for Him like Shadrach Meshach and Abednego! (Dan. 3) In those times don’t weep--praise and pray and walk every day on your knees in humble surrender--remembering that when you are weak and surrendered---you are at your strongest, shining your brightest!

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts. 1:8)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) 

God purpose for every Christ follower is that we might know Him as Savior and grow more like Him as Lord. (Rom. 8:29) And if—as part of that purposeful-process—God allows your life to travel down some dark paths—don’t become bitter—accept the promotion with grateful humility and determinted faith!

People living in dark places need people of light! Shine for Jesus today!

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Friday, June 10, 2016


“You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord: “Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more?’” (Jeremiah 2:31)

I learned a long time ago that asking God “Why?” doesn't accomplish what I want it to.  In 1988 I underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. After the surgery I discovered that I had permanently lost 75% of my vision. For the next year or so I begged, pleaded, argued with and yelled at God—and He listened. I knew He was there. His Spirit was present in my heart, but He never responded to my outpourings of frustration. I prayed with faith, believing—and He listened. Through it all—the BIGGEST question I had was WHY? Why God? Why did you let this happen to me?

An interesting--and totally unexpected--thing happened to me during that season.  Without my even noticing, I grew spiritually ten-fold.  There is a koinonia--heart-on-heart-kinship that is forged with God in fiery trials--that doesn't happen any place else. (1 Peter 1:1-7)  I look back on that season now as a refining fire that God used for His good purpose--and I'm thankful!  But at the time—it was just a horrible experience that I didn’t like or understand—and we always hate and fear what we don’t understand.

After a couple years, I had run out of gas for wrestling with God. I was coming to grips with my new reality; adjusting to life as it now was. Then—at that moment—when I surrendered--THINGS HAPPENED FAST. God broke His silence on the why question and said to my heart, “Brad—your physical blindness has resulted in NEW SIGHT--inner sight and new VISION for what you life can be!  Before you surrendered---I could have sent Gabriel Himself to your living room—and lit it up with light more brilliant than you could stand—and in the most awesome voice ever declared to you my sovereign reason for allowing physical blindness into your life. But you weren't surrendered then, so as soon as Gabriel left, before the heavenly light had even completely faded, you would would have shouted, “Okay God, I get that, but WHY!?”

I learned a great truth that day:  Surrender to God results in really good stuff!

I also learned that it’s not my place to second guess God or question His sovereign motives. It’s my place to, as the old hymn says, "Trust and obey--for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

That season of life taught me—in a much deeper way—the truth of verses like:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9) 

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:9) 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Prov. 3:5) 

We are simply not in position to question God. But He is in a position to question us! And that’s what He’s doing in our passage above. “You of this generation, consider the word of the Lord: ‘Have I been a desert to Israel or a land of great darkness? Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more?’” (Jeremiah 2:31)

“…consider the word of the Lord…” 

The word of the Lord is the testimony about His faithfulness, the record of His awesome deeds.  The story of His eternally enduring love, the account of His sovereignty, the revelation of His glorious omniscience, holiness and grace—and on and on!  God’s Word stands as an overwhelming testament of God’s reality and goodness.

So God, through Jeremiah effectively asks, “How can you honestly consider MY WORD and walk away indifferent; just shrug your shoulders and sluff me off like an insignificant trivial thing?" 

“Why do my people say, ‘We are free to roam; we will come to you no more?’” 

God’s heart shines through here. His great love for us comes out on His sleeve and says, “Why in the world would you choose to roam and wander through life without me? Why do you refuse to come to me?” 

As dearly loved as we are by God, we’re not in a position to question His sovereign motives because—we’re finite, created beings. But He is in a position to ask us—“When you consider my word—how can you ignore, marginalize and spurn me? And though I do give you the freedom to do so, why would you want to?”

Life is hard—with or without God—period.

Bad things happen—to bad people and to good people.

But when I consider God’s Word—I find hope and strength! (Heb. 6:19) I find my Heavenly Father who will never leave me nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5); Who gave His Son to be my Savior (Jn. 3:16), poured His loving presence into my heart by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5) and has good plans for me (Jer. 29:11).

WHY---IN DEED—would I not want that?

Thanks for reading! Remember to like, share or comment. Have a great day in Jesus!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

God's BIGGER Purpose!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." (Isaiah 60:1-3)

Israel’s election wasn’t about them; it was so much BIGGER than that. Their grave mistake was thinking it was just about them.  God raised them up as nation from Abraham’s descendants and later delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, led them through the Red Sea and made His covenant with them—saying, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Ex. 6:7) for a purpose that was SO MUCH BIGGER than their personal happiness!

Israel didn’t deserve God’s favor (grace) any more than you or I, but God sovereignly chose to redeem them and bless them so that they might shine as a living testimony of His grace and goodness; an example to the whole world of what He does for ANY person (or nation) that will turn to Him!

Our salvation isn’t JUST about us either. When we forget this truth—like Israel we get mired down in small-self-centered thinking and lose sight of the reality that salvation isn’t THE END—it’s A MEANS TO AN END! Like Israel, we are saved through faith in Jesus—SO THAT we might be living testimonies to the world around us & to the COSMOS of God’s grace and goodness! 

Jesus didn’t die on the CROSS just to provide fire insurance for your soul! Oh, don’t get me wrong—that’s a beautiful BENEFIT of salvation—but it’s only PART of God’s purpose. We aren’t saved—just to be saved and go to Heaven. We are saved for a HUGE purpose!

In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul—who had been to Heaven and seen first-hand—the fullness of God's purpose (2 Cor. 12) expresses it beautifully, saying. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6-7)

Did you catch that phrase “in order that in the coming ages...”? That phrase is the key!

All who—through Christ—experience forgiveness and salvation become shining trophies of God’s grace; living testimonies of His goodness—to the world—AND BEYOND!

I’ll be honest—I don’t know what all Paul is referring to when He says, “in the coming ages…” We’re not told... it’s a mystery. But I do know this—He’s speaking of times beyond creation as we experience currently.

Wow—doesn’t that just blow your mind?

When you “get” this—it changes how you live.

All of a sudden you realize, "I’m not called to be holy for me...

like it’s all just about me having a good life and someday going to Heaven.,,

No, it’s INFINITELY BIGGER than that! I’m called to be holy FOR HIM!  Because HE -- my Father is holy and Christ my Savior is Holy and because His HOLY Spirit lives in me, I am MADE HOLY (made clean/saved and set apart for His purposes) BY GRACE. And I am called to WORK OUT (not for) that salvation (Phil. 2:12) – every day—fixing my eyes on Jesus—the author and perfecter of my faith. (Heb. 12:2) Allowing God’s Word to renew my mind (Romans 12:2), being transformed into the likeness of Jesus—my Savior and Elder Brother in the Family of God (Rom. 8:29)… walking as a Child of Light. (Eph. 5:8)--So that in all that I say and do--I represent my Father and My Savior--with honor and bring them glory---and not shame!

Oh friend—we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus---FOR HIS GLORY! 



When this reality comes alive in your heart—you will never be the same.

Have an awesome day today—walking, working, speaking, etc.--as a living testimony to the world of God’s grace and goodness!

Thanks for reading!  Hope this encouraged you.  If it did--remember to share the link!

Until next time--blessings,

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2 + 2 = 4 In Math... & In Life.

“No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil… Their feet rush into sin… They pursue evil schemes… there is no justice in their paths… 9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes.” (Selected thoughts from Isaiah 59) 

Sometimes when I’m counseling a person who’s made a string of poor decisions, but now wants to turn things around—I will say, “Okay, just like 2 + 2 = 4, EVERY TIME and is NEVER 3 or 5, EVERY TIME you do __________ it’s ALWAYS going to = BAD FRUIT.” In our passage above, Isaiah is talking about the spiritual equivalent of my little 2 + 2 illustration. He’s saying to God’s People (my paraphrase) “Dude, you’ve thrown integrity, honesty and justice out the window, and now you don’t understand why your lives are filled with strife, come-on! Get real, you can’t spurn God’s ways and still expect His blessings.”

Here’s the BIG LIE the devil doesn’t want anyone to think about: Temptation always OVER PROMISES, UNDER-DELIVERS… And comes with BAGGAGE you didn’t count on! 

Think about it—the power of temptation is what it promises—fun, a good time, escape from problems, pleasure, money, etc. And while you might experience a brief moment or season of that if you follow that temptation—in the end, it always falls flat and leaves you empty and disappointed—AND it always produces unintended consequences.

I remember well my life B.C. (before Christ). I bit into every temptation offered—and yes, I experienced some “high” moments—but that lifestyle--over-all--bent the trajectory of my life in a bad direction.  Today--with Christ on the throne of my heart, the other-side of that principle applies. With Jesus. I experience plenty of difficult and discouraging moments—but today, by the power of the Spirit of Christ within me—I no longer seek to “escape” those issues. I face them with faith and press through.  Of course I struggle at times--and try to handle things on my own and get all stressed out and have toRELEARN the timeless truth that God--is my strength.  But God is so faithful, He even uses those times to teach and mold me more into the image of Christ! (Rom. 8:28-29)  And as a result—the overall trajectory of my life in Christ is victorious and positive.

I think Paul said it best: 
"...we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…. we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…” (2 Cor. 4:7-9 & 3:18)

Here’s the bottom line: 2 +2 DOES = 4 EVERY TIME, in math and in life.

Godly choices today—better life tomorrow---nuff-said.

Thanks for reading!  Hope this encouraged you.  If it did--remember to share the link!

Until next time--blessings,

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Proof Is In The Pudding!

And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” (Isaiah 58:10, NAS) 

“And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted…” 

What have do you give yourself to? All of us give ourselves to things every single day—work, hobbies, family, fun, etc. How can we give ourselves to the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted?  I think making a list of some of the ways we give ourselves to other things might help us with this:

I thought I’d just go ahead and knock this most obvious one off at the top. Yes, when we value something—we invest money into it—absolutely!

But there are tons of other, equally or even more valuable ways to give ourselves to those in need. 

When we value someone—we lift them up to God. We ask God to help, bless and guide those we love. Ask Him to show you how you can be a blessing to others—and I promise you He will!

We all invest time into things and people we care about. One of the greatest ways you can give yourself to another person is by just showing up. Just hanging with them—doing whatever. In those times—what you do isn’t important—it’s all about just being with them.

What do you do well—talk, run, listen, sing, draw, decorate, play guitar, tell stories or jokes, garden, fix things, clean, encourage, organize, etc.?  Look for ways to do that for, or share that with the hurting people in your community!

Sometimes stuff just needs to be done. Things need picked up and moved or cleaned. People need to be fed, or have an errand run for them. For some people—it’s a huge blessing when the person entering a building in front of them—pauses to hold the door so they and their walker can navigate through more easily. If you ask God to open your eyes to ways you can serve others each day—you will be amazed at how many opportunities are all around you!

We advocate for the people we care about. We stick up for them and look for ways to help them get what they need. If you have an opportunity to speak up for the needy and raise awareness in your circle of friends at work or church do it! Maybe there’s a local shelter, soup kitchen or some other ministry to the hurting in your community that you and your friends or fellow church members can serve at? Be the voice that advocates for the needy and sparks others to help. 

A great way to help the hurting people is by equipping them with skills and resources that can make their lives better. Money can help, but many needy people need to be equipped in ways money can’t touch. They need to know that they matter and are valued. Many have emotional scars from their past and they need others to help them develop the confidence, social skills, work ethic, and character they never received as children. Any way we can step in with a smile, some words of encouragement or a listening ear can make a real difference!

“Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.” 

This is a BIG part what Jesus had in mind when he called his followers “the light of the world.” (Mt. 5:14) Yes, being light includes living a pure and righteous life—but righteousness isn’t righteous—if it doesn’t include a healthy dose of compassion and mercy---just ask the Priest in Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) who walked past the beat up guy on the side of the street—because He was too preoccupied with his religious activities to pause and BE RIGHTEOUS by demonstrating mercy. This is what Jesus meant when he said to the Pharisees, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Mt. 9:13) In this context, “sacrifices” were literally part of the Jewish faith. The Pharisees had “religion” down to a science. On another occasion Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Mt. 23:23) Translation—Being active in your local church is awesome and important (Mt. 16:18, Jn. 13:34-35, Acts, 2:42, Heb. 10:25)—but, as the old saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding!” The WHOLE POINT of church is to equip us to live Christ-honoring—just, merciful and faithful lives! And when we live these kinds of lives---we will shine like bright lights in a dark world that is desperate for justice, mercy and authentic people who are FULL of FAITH! 

Shine for Jesus today my friend!

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Trouble With Lone-Ranger Rebels

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” (Isaiah 45:19)

 When Jesus was on trial before the Roman Governor Pilate, he said, “In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (Jn. 18:37)   The 1828 Edition of the Webster Dictionary defines truth: “Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.” 
 Truth is what is.  You can deny gravity all you want to—but it still “is”.  This unshakable reality is at the core of God’s nature.  He “IS”.  Thus when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3) and Moses asked God what his name was, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.'" (Ex. 3:14)  

We can deny Him, reject Him, rationalize Him away in our minds---but none of that changes what IS. Sin, as defined by God’s Word, is sin—no matter how we spin it.  Jesus IS the Way the Truth and the Life—and the only way to God--whether people accept it or not.  It just “is.”

One day, Jesus was in the temple teaching. “…while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’” (Mt. 21:23)  Jesus took their question as an opportunity to teach them about the “truth” (realities) of God’s Kingdom.  In vs. 42 & 44 He said, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…  Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”  Jesus is the cornerstone of life. (Eph. 2:20)  All who come to Him with a humble heart experience the brokenness of repentance and death to self, but this brokenness results in a new life of fellowship with God through grace!  On the other hand, all who refuse to fall on this stone in repentance will be crushed by it in judgment.

I know this sounds harsh, but it’s reality.  For all who embrace Jesus as Lord—He is a ROCK of salvation and support, but for those who refuse to embrace Him—that same ROCK becomes the instrument of final judgment.  Take some time to read Revelation chapter 1-3 today and you will get a fresh perspective on the nature of our risen Lord.

“I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.” Isaiah 45:19 

 Friends, God has made Himself--and continues to make Himself known—though His witnesses (Christ-followers, Acts 1:8) and through His Word.  He is not hiding in dark shadows, or vague in His speech.  His Word clearly lays out what right and wrong look like; the reality that all have sinned and fall short of His glorious standard and how beautifully Jesus redeems all who trust in Him. (Rm. 3:23-24)

When Jesus told Pilate that He had come to testify about truth, Pilates response echoed the spirit of our age, “What is truth?”

 Here’s the deal—if you can understand these two words—they will help you cut through a truck load of confusion in our culture today.  OBJECTIVE & SUBJECTIVE.

If a truth or reality is “objective” it exists completely independent of you.  It IS what it IS—no matter what you do or think about it—example: gravity.

Subjective thoughts are all about what you feel or perceive—and they may or may not have anything to do with objective reality.

Many times in life our subjective feelings conflict with objective reality.  In those times we have to make choices.

Subjective thought: “I don’t FEEL like going to work today.”  Objective reality: “I will be fired if I skip work whenever you feel like it.”

Do you see the difference?

God’s Word is OBJECTIVE TRUTH.  It IS what it is—whether you agree with it and feel like accepting it, or not.  To requote Webster, God’s Word proclaims that which is “fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.” 

 God’s declarations about ethics, morals, sex, marriage, holiness, sin, repentance, Jesus, grace, etc. ARE reality.  They do not depend on us or need our approval to stand as true.  They are 100% objective.

The question is, Will we surrender to God’s word and allow Christ to be a Rock of Hope & Salvation, or reject it and experience its crushing judgment?  The spirit of our culture is ruled by a subjective mindset.  Whatever we feel rules!  If I feel something on the inside—in a culture where subjectivity rules—that’s all I need to justify my lifestyle or behavior—and who are you to tell me any different… AND if you disagree with what I feel—I might just label you as a narrow-minded bigot or hater!

The BIG problem with SUBJECTIVITY is it’s fickle, selfish, and ultimately self-destructive.

Subjectivity says, “I’m the center of my universe. I don’t care what you, or God, or the Government, or anyone else says, this is how I feel—and THAT makes it right FOR ME.”  One of the many problems with that mindset is—

You can’t build a sane society with a population of lone-ranger rebels who believe their personal feelings trump objective truth.  

History clearly teaches that the end of a subjective culture is always moral decline, decimation of the family structure, and eventually, self-destruction—just ask the Roman Empire—NO ONE defeated Rome militarily—they followed the path of subjectivity and destroyed themselves.

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes… There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Jdgs. 17:6 & Prov. 14:12)

Listen carefully to the conversations in your world today and ask yourself, “Is this person guided by a subjective, “I feel…” mindset, or an object, “God says,” mindset? And hold tight to—one of the greatest objective declarations ever made: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16)

If this encouraged you--Remember to leave a comment & share with friends, thank you!

Until next time...

Friday, June 3, 2016

HOPE: The Happy Anticipation of God

Today is my "day off" -- otherwise known as "The day I try to cram in all the stuff I can't do on the other days." :-)

So, I'm going to share some thoughts with you--from another great Bible Teacher I enjoy very much, Joyce Meyer.  This is an article she wrote about HOPE.  Enjoy!

We will all battle hopelessness at some point in our lives. And no matter who we are or what our situation; HOPE is one thing we all desperately need. The reason is, hope is powerful. Hope is more than a motivational thought or a fading daydream; hope is a nothing-is-impossible-with-God firestorm refusing to be quenched. It’s an awareness that God is actually expecting, looking and longing to show you His goodness. Hope is what stabilizes your frantic thoughts and emotions—it’s an awareness that there is no problem big enough to keep God from rescuing you.

These days, it’s easy to be worn down by hopelessness. People lose hope when they experience overwhelming loss, repeated failures, impossible situations, or are hurt by people they trust. Like most of you, I understand what it’s like to feel hopeless. I spent 23 years of my life filled with pain, abuse, disappointment, unfaithfulness and one bad thing after another. Because of this, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I used to say, “If I don’t expect anything good to happen, I won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t.” But when I got serious about my relationship with God and began studying His Word, I discovered real hope. I learned why hope is important, and how powerful hope can be.

Hope: The Happy and Confident Anticipation of GOOD Hope is a positive expectation that something good is going to happen to you because of God’s great goodness. Hope is not a wishy-washy, vague, wait-and-see attitude, but an action we must choose to take on purpose each day.

Hope and faith go hand in hand. Hope also enables us to endure hardships and long waiting periods, and God uses these times to develop character and endurance in us. Psalm 27:14 says, Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord."

Hope dares us to believe You know what? Things might just work out after all. It’s the sometimes unexplainable, but always undeniable, feeling that today would be a bad day to give up. Isaiah 40:31 tells us: But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. 

Hope in God is POWERFUL
Regardless of who you are or what condition your life is in, you can’t function successfully without hope in God. If circumstances are bad, you surely need hope, and if they are good, you need hope that they will stay that way. Hope energizes and motivates us to take action by causing us to step out in faith and act in obedience with God’s Word.

Hope believes boldly, decides daringly, speaks firmly and perseveres passionately. 

When we embrace hope on purpose, it influences our thoughts, our attitudes, our outlook and the way we speak. Hope builds us up as we wait on God. It releases joy, and the joy of the Lord becomes our source of strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). Hope is exciting because you have a part to play. You don’t have to sit back, just waiting for an answer to fall from the sky. You can take your hopes to God, ask Him for His wisdom, and then take real and practical steps toward your goal.

Living a Hopeful Life
If you want to live a life full of hope, the best thing you can do is turn the leadership role over to God. When you say “Lord, I choose to follow Your lead, I believe Your plan is infinitely better than my plan could ever be,” it’s a lot like a “trust fall,” when you’re trusting someone will catch you. But there is a major difference: God does more than just catch you. God catches you and then takes you higher than you were before.

So plan your future and work diligently to succeed at the tasks in front of you, but do those things after you have spent time with God asking for His guidance and direction. Let Him be the leader, and decide to follow Him wholeheartedly, trusting that He has a great plan and He is working that plan to perfection. Ask yourself the question: Am I following God or am I asking God to follow me? Overcoming the Impossible

Never assume that where you’ve been or where you are is as good as it gets. And when your goal or your situation seems impossible, keep in mind that nothing is impossible for God. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God. It doesn’t matter what the situation looks like around you; God is greater than any obstacle you may be facing.

Everything that has never been done is impossible until someone does it, so why can’t it be you? Don’t allow your mind to become a hindrance to the things you can accomplish in life. Think big—the way God does! Choose to believe God is going to do something better in your life. Go ahead and get your hopes up…God is leading you to something better than you can imagine!

Thank you Joyce!
LINK to the original article:

If this encouraged you--Remember to leave a comment & share with friends, thank you!

Until next time...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Our Father... IN HEAVEN..."

“I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, GOD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7, The Msg)

We need a little history lesson in order to appreciate this passage. Israel had been a rebellious child. They turned their back on God and followed other gods. Repeatedly God sent prophet after prophet to say to them, “Repent and return to me—or you will be destroyed!” But Israel was too caught up in their ways to listen to God—so they blew the prophets off. So, God allowed—first Assyria, around 722 BC to sweep down and carry off the northern half of God’s people (called (Israel) into slavery, then around 586 BC He allowed Babylon, who had previously conquered Assyria, to sweep across and conqueror the southern portion of His people (referred to as Judah) and carry them off into slavery. This period of Jewish History is called The Babylonian Exile.

For seventy years the descendants of Abraham were in exile—for one reason—they had refused to repent when God reached out to them. But in His mercy, God promised that after that period He would bring them home again. And He used King Cyrus of Persia to accomplish this.

God allowed Persia to conquer Babylon -- and as a result to inherit all of the Israelite slaves. Then God put it in Cyrus’ heart to set Israel free and allow them to return home! In a nutshell—we could tell the story like this, God who is one-hundred-percent sovereign over all of Creation—used the most powerful nations on earth at the time—Assyria, Babylon and Persia, to spank His kids and give them a time out in the corner. And then He sovereignly moved Cyrus to send them back home.

And so Isaiah writes, “GOD’s Message to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand To give the task of taming the nations, of terrifying their kings—He gave him free rein, no restrictions: “I’ll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road. I’ll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances. I’ll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables—Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, GOD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. It’s because of my dear servant Jacob, Israel my chosen, That I’ve singled you out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work. And you don’t even know me! I am GOD, the only God there is. Besides me there are no real gods. I’m the one who armed you for this work, though you don’t even know me, so that everyone, from east to west, will know that I have no god-rivals. I am GOD, the only God there is. I form light and create darkness, I make harmonies and create discords. I, GOD, do all these things.” (Isa. 45:1-7, The Msg.) 

Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father, in heaven…” (Mt. 6:9) God is a loving father, who is IN HEAVEN, i.e. He is sovereign over all. We need to hold fast to both of those realities. The fatherhood of God assures us of His love that endures forever. His sovereign position IN HEAVEN reminds us that He is our Holy God and King. Together, these two realities produce what the Bible calls, “The fear of the Lord.” (Prov. 9:10) This “fear” is probably best understood as reverence and respect. This is God’s world. We are His creation. He is utterly sovereign. The psalmist writes, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Ps. 115:3) 

God doesn’t love us because He has to. He doesn’t pour grace out on us because we deserve it---indeed, we deserve just the opposite of grace—utter a annihilation. When people ask, “Why would a loving God send people to Hell?” I always think, “Why would a holy God not send all of us to Hell? Why would a Holy and Sovereign God who does not need us at all, and whom we have repeatedly offended and rejected, care about us in the slightest? Much less, send His Son to us and let us brutally execute Him to pay for OUR sin?”  

The answer to that question is---because He WANTS TO.

“For God so loved…” He sent Jesus to be our Savior! (Jn. 3:16) 

Walk humbly with God today—thankful for the fact that you are forgiven—not because you (or any of us) deserve it—but because God—out of love for you--chose to offer Jesus up as a sacrifice for your sin—so you could experience grace, know Him and live with Him forever!

If this encouraged you--Remember to leave a comment & share with friends, thank you!

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Following God Is An Adventure

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16) 

Most of us don’t really enjoy change.  When I finally get things set up the way I like them on my computer, or in my work routine, I don’t want somebody coming along and telling me I need to upgrade to the new operating system or change my schedule! I like things just the way they are. I’m comfortable that way.

Guess what? Spiritual growth is all about change.

You can’t grow without changing.  Even the briefest reflection on the words infant, child, teen, adult and senior evoke powerful images of change in our minds.

Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me...  we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…” (1 Cor. 13:11 & 2 Cor. 3:18)

The life of a Christ-follower is a journey of growth and change.  Every day is a new adventure, with God in the driver’s seat. Where will He call us out of our comfort zone—in faith—to stretch and grow? What opportunities will we encounter today? (Eph. 5:16) What doors will open for us to testify about our King? (Acts 1:8) What challenges will expose our weaknesses and require us to lean wholly on Him—reminding us that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:10)  What arguments, pretensions or strongholds will we have to demolish by His divine power? And what thoughts will we have to subdue and make obedient to our Lord? (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them…” 

The path is unfamiliar, but the guide is our Father. We do not know what lies around the next corner but we know Who will be there with us—guiding us every step of the way!

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (Isa. 30:21) 

“I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

God is a wilderness guide, a sea-splitter, an ememy conqueror, a giant slayer, a cross bearer. The paths He leads us down NEVER—at first glance—appear smooth or easy, but those who walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) step forward in trust and experience His faithful provsion every step of the way.

. He places our feet on solid ground (Ps. 40:2), rarely far in advance, but always on time.  He provides for our every need.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” (Prov. 3:5-6, NLT) 

Let go of fear and launch out with God today!

If this encouraged you--Remember to leave a comment & share with friends, thank you!

Until next time...