Scrabble, Rummikub, Uno, Phase 10, 42, Spades, Hearts, you name the game. When you play these games you can win or lose, but whenever you play the Blame Game you lose. Blaming is easy, and it seems to come as natural to us as it did to Adam and Eve. The Blame Game has been around as long as sin; it was invented in the Garden of Eden. Whatever or whomever you blame you empower to control you. Blaming allows the person or circumstance to continue to affect you negatively. We have all been wronged, some more than others, but we are each responsible we respond. Break free from a life of blame. Release others who have wronged you and assume responsibility for your own life. Only you can operate your body. Only you can regulate you tongue and monitor your thoughts and emotions. Bask in the Father’s love. Trust Him with all your heart, and let the blame go. Refuse to lean on your excuses for not experience the abundant life. Release the past embrace Jesus and his ever-present enabling grace.
God created you and me with the amazing ability to choose. The gift of choice is valuable part of the image of God which we were created with, so never give up your ability to choose to anyone or anything. Remember, no matter how much you feel like you have no choice, you do. You have the ability to choose against your emotions, against your moods, against you habitual patterns, and against temptation. You can choose to rejoice in the midst of any situation. You can choose to trust in the Lord in the midst of any crisis. You can choose to praise your way out of depression. You can choose to stand against your Pharaoh like Moses did, against your Goliath like David did, and against your 450 prophets of Baal like Elijah. You can choose to stand alone. You can choose to make the tough decisions. You can choose to obey God, no matter what the cost. As you choose Him and His ways, God empowers those choices.
David said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He did not say, “Cram your mind with facts about Him.” He said, “Taste Him.” How will He taste? Good! Experience the delightful invisible One. You cannot taste food by observing it or by merely studying it. God wants to be intimately interacted with by us. Do not settle for knowledge about Him obtained at a distance. Draw near and sample Him. Relish His delicious goodness. Savor His unparalleled beauty. Enjoy his matchless mercy. Taste Him, and you will never be satisfied by anything less than Him again.
The daisy petal game, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not or She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not, originated in France. As you know, in this game a person seeks to determine whether or not the object of his/her affection returns that affection. The person alternately says, “He/she loves me, He/she loves me not” while picking one petal off the flower for each phrase until all the petals are removed. The phrase they speak while picking off the last petal supposedly represents the truth. You do not need to destroy a flower, hoping God loves you. The cross of Jesus is the proof that He loves you. Settle it. Never question it. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you… He proved His love amazing sacrificial love for you before you had a chance to impress Him in any way. He eternally, unconditionally, extravagantly loves you. The mystery concerning of the love of God toward you is not whether He loves you. The mystery is the unfathomable depths and the incomparable nature of His love for YOU.
Feel empty? Do not panic. There is a well in you. Just because you feel empty, does not mean you are. There is an endless supply of living water in you. You do not need to go on a frantic external search for water. Relax and consciously reconnect to the life-giving reservoir within you. Greater is the water source in you than the arid conditions around you. Far from empty, you are an irrigator. Your true condition is better than your current feelings. So, rejoice in Him, worship Him, experience fresh hydration, and let the rivers flow.
You look in the mirror, and automatically think, “That’s me”. Do not believe it; the mirror does not capture the biggest part of you. You are incalculably more than what you see. In the mirror, you look so limited. You appear to be alone, and you are never alone. The mirror does not capture the all-sufficient Christ in you. The mirror sends back to you a surface image, less than the tip of the iceberg of who you are. You are as deep, wide, high, and long as the love of the God you are inseparably united with. No mirror exists which is capable of reflecting back to you the totality of who you are. Look to Jesus; There, you will get a glimpse of who you really are, in your reflection in His eyes.
My grandson, Isaac, is a great little kid. I love him dearly, and he can ride in the car with me, but he will not drive. He may talk me into some things, but he can never talk me into driving. There is nothing wrong with Isaac. He is an awesome 4 year old, but he is not capable of driving right now. Your emotions are real part of you; they belong with you. They are awesome passengers, but they do not belong behind the steering wheel of your life. We must live life from a deeper place than our feelings, or else we will have an erratic, rollercoaster life without stability. So no matter how you feel, have a great day and drive responsibly.
If you take three identical balloons, and fill one with water, one with air, and one with helium; only the one with helium will rise. What is inside the balloon makes all the difference. You can rise above today, because of the One who lives in you. Makes sense, since you are filled with the Resurrection and the Life, Himself. So, rise and shine, my friend.
Wow! There is a lot of bad news bombarding us right now. Yet, we remain steady, because we live in the reality of the good news, no matter what happens. The gospel is not good history; it is good NEWS, because it is current. It is as true now as it ever was. It is as relevant today as ever. Our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ have bearing on this moment. We are existing in I Am, and I Am lives in us, and that is good news. So, do not let your hope, joy, or faith dim in the midst of the bad news. Revel in the good news and share it freely.
Paul tells the Colossians believers to SET their minds on things above. I am sure you have noticed your overactive mind has a mind of its own. It does not patiently wait for instructions. Left to its own, it will quickly come up with plenty to think about. When you wake up in the morning, your mind can easily find things to worry about and immediately fly into full speed thought. We need to be reminded that we are more than our thoughts, and our minds are our servants, not our masters. You and I must take authority over our thoughts, and SET our minds like setting a thermostat. Intentionally SET your focus it where it belongs. You are not at the mercy of your wayward thoughts and the corresponding emotions those thoughts spawn. You, and you alone, have the ability to direct your thoughts. So first thing this morning, SET your mind like setting your radio on the proper station and stay tuned to Jesus all day.
This morning, you woke UP. And that is where you belong, UP, because you are the head and not the tail. UP, because you are you are an overcomer. UP, because you are seated with Him in heavenly places. UP, because after being crucified with Christ, you were raised with Him. UP, because you tread on serpents and scorpions and all of the power of the enemy is under your feet. UP, because you live above your circumstances. Have a great day lifting Jesus UP and building others UP.
You are like a pantry. You are full of CANS. You CAN handle whatever life bring you today. You CAN love whoever needs to be loved. You CAN forgive where forgiveness is needed. You CAN rejoice in the Lord all day long. You CAN walk in the peace that passes all understanding. Even if you fall today, you CAN bounce right back up. You CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens you. If He CAN, you CAN, because He lives in you.
The Israelites had gone three long days in the desert without water. Then, they discovered an abundance of much needed H2O. Imagine the relief and sheer joy of finding the lifesaving water supply. The celebration was short-lived, however, because much to their disappointment, the water was undrinkable. God instructed Moses to throw a piece of wood into the waters. He obeyed, and the water became drinkable. The presence of that specific wood amazingly transformed the water. When Jesus is thrown into the waters of your mind everything changes. Negative thoughts are made positive when Jesus is present. Fearful thoughts are calmed. Harassing thoughts are silenced. Despairing thoughts are converted to hope. Jesus is the additive to your thoughts makes life doable and enjoyable. Let Him pervade you’re all of your thoughts, radically altering the flavor of your outlook.
Ever have a bad hair day? When you think about it, a hair problem is pretty superficial in the overall scheme of things. When you look at life from the proper perspective, practically all of our problems are as superficial as bad hair. We are intensely loved and completely accepted by our Creator. We are totally forgiven of all sin. We have passed from death to life. God is for us, not against us. We are in Christ, and He is in us. We are seated with him in heavenly places. He works all things together for our good. We are treasured children of the Perfect Father. So, if you think about it, with all this rock solid positive reality, most of our problems are as relatively minor as bad hair.
The home run is a huge, enjoyable part of the game of baseball. Among sportscasters and fans, the homerun has many names: Bomb, Tater. Long Ball, Round-Tripper, Dinger, Souvenir, Gopher Ball, Shot, Blast, Poke, Dong, Homer, Upper-decker, Moon Shot, Four-Bagger, Going Yard, Goner, Job, Jack, Touch ‘Em All, No-Doubter, Big Fly, Laser, Wallop, High-Riser, Tape Measure Shot, Quadruple, See Ya, and Missile. This very celebrated part of baseball is praised and enjoyed by many names. Jesus has many names as well. He is indescribable, but we do our best to describe his awesomeness as we praise and enjoy Him. There are around 200 names and titles of Jesus found in the Bible alone. That does not include the creative ones enthusiastic fans have come up with over the centuries.
When I was a child, and we sang the song “Were You There?” I was a little confused. How could I have been there when they “crucified my Lord?” We had some really old people in our church, but I did not even think any of them were old enough to have been there. Since my childhood days, I made the wonderful discovery that I was there, and it is a good thing I was. In the same way Adam’ sin took mankind into sin, Jesus, the Last Adam, became one of us and brought us out of sin. He put to death the you who keep was hopelessly enslaved under sin’s dominion. Over 2000 years ago, on a rugged hill outside Jerusalem I was crucified. Technically, my first trip to the Holy Land in 2013 was not my first trip there. I was there long before that. It was there I died with Him. The old sinner me that was only capable of sinning was crucified with Him. I was buried with Him and raised to new life with Him. Having died with Him, we have passed from death unto life. What a salvation! It is more complete than I used to think it was. Leave the old man in the tomb where he belongs, and live in freedom as the new, resurrected, death-defying child of God you now are. Reckoning yourself truly dead to sin and hyper alive to Christ, live in victory and communion as a risen on indwelled by the Risen One.
How freely do you think? Do you think like a being created in the image of God? Are you continually bogged down in the mundane routine affairs of everyday life or are you exploring the depths of the riches of your inheritance in Christ? Is your thinking driven by fear, worry, and pressure or by wonder and delight? Are your thoughts simply trudging through life or do you let them dance? Are they routinely lifeless and boringly work-related? Does your mind ever get to skip and play? We will never live outside our comfort zone, if we do not even think outside of it. How restricted are your thoughts, and what are your thought boundaries? Is your thinking habitually trapped inside the bounds of your past experiences and your current level of knowledge? Are they suffocatingly trapped in a rigid theology or severely restricted by practicality? Are your thoughts ruthlessly bullied by fear? Refuse to have your thoughts stifled; break free today, and think with God.
Lazarus was deathly ill, but Mary and Martha had hope. They both firmly believed their friend Jesus could heal Lazarus. So, with hope, they sent for Jesus, and with hope, they waited for Him. No matter how aggressively hopelessness tried to set in on them, they continued to hope since the Savior was on His way. They knew Jesus loved Lazarus and that He was a healer. But their hopes were dashed when Lazarus died before Jesus arrived. In fact, He showed up 4 days late. When he got there, all hope was as dead as Lazarus. Mary and Martha did not realize there was still hope since Jesus was on the scene. He tried to arouse hope in them when He arrived but He found their hope and Lazarus DOHA – Dead On His Arrival. Whenever you feel things are hopeless, they are not hopeless if Jesus is there. He is the resuscitator of dead bodies and dead hopes. And, He us the same yesterday, today and forever. He can breathe life back into your lifeless dreams, visions, and passions. In a world that often advises us. “Don’t get your hopes up.” I say, “Get your hope up again.” Your Jesus is more powerful than whatever is causing your hopelessness.
6-29-16 Humanity was created for fellowship with God. People are designed to function with an awareness of His acceptance. By divine design, we do not handle rejection well. We need to be loved and accepted by God to function properly. Only when we are experiencing the love and acceptance of God are we beginning to live. The good news is that He does love us, extravagantly. And, He does accept us, completely. And, we did nothing to deserve it. It is all by His amazing grace and the indescribably effective work of Jesus on our behalf. You need not live another second feeling rejected by God. He has chosen to accept you. The more you try to earn His acceptance, the less you can simply enjoy it. Fully accept His full acceptance of you. Live in unbroken communion with God today, confidently resting in the Father’s love and in the accomplishment of His Son.
Walking is metaphoric for how we live. As believers, our walk is to be a walk of victory, a supernatural walk. Peter took a little supernatural walk once. He walked on water. How did he do it? By keeping his eyes on Jesus. He was not just trying hard be as light as a feather. He did not concentrate on defying gravity. His supernatural walk was a result of being totally focused on Jesus, so focused on Him that he was oblivious to the storm. It was not so much a water walk as a Jesus walk. Look to Jesus today, the Author and Finisher of you faith. Just walk. The supernatural part of the walk is the fruit of our obsessed, dependent gaze on the amazing One who now resides within us.
My dad came to almost all of my baseball and football games when I was growing up. He loved to watch me play from age 6 to age 18. I was undoubtedly his favorite player in every game I played. He hung on every pitch in baseball and was into every play in football. He even seemed to feel the hard hits I took. And; as he watched, he was not quiet. With pride, he let everyone know I was his son. Once I started preaching at age 15, he made every effort to be there listening and supporting me whenever he could be. I was his favorite preacher, too. I was extremely blessed with a father who loved me to the best of his ability. Dad went to heaven over a decade ago. I have since discovered my Father God has also always been as intimately involved in all I did. In fact, He is still hyper-interested in all I do. Good news! This is true of you, too; He is immersed into all of our lives. He is there to support you in everything you face today. He is not distant and uninterested. He is close and very attentive to you.
Good morning, my child. Let’s go love people today. I want others to see Me in your smile. Notice all My precious ones. Treat them as the individual treasures they are. I want to make eye contact through your eyes. As you establish eye contact I will communicate agape through your eyes. I want to touch people and hug people through your hands and arms. I have the timely things to say through your mouth. Come on. Let’s love intentionally, extravagantly, and unconditionally.
Rise and shine, bright one. With the brilliance of the sun, shine. Carry the light of day wherever you go. Your light is The Light, so you possess and carry no small, insignificant illumination. Shine the light of love to those in the darkness of rejection and loneliness. Shine the light of revelation and knowledge to those in spiritual ignorance. Shine the light of hope and optimism to those in despair and discouragement. Shine the light of peace and confidence in God to those mired in chaos and confusion. Glow! Radiate! Emit! Illumine! Shine!
You are united with Christ, one spirit with Him. In Him, you live and move and have your being. He who is ultimately trustworthy has promised never to leave or forsake you. From now on, separation is an illusion. So, when you seek the Lord, you are not seeking for Him as if He is lost. You are not wandering around trying to find Him. Never be lured back into that kind of senseless seeking. You are seeking Him relationally. Searching out the riches of His infinite being. You are seeking to know His heart better, to know His ways more clearly, to know what He thinks about everything. You are not motivated by lostness; you are motivated by relational hunger for more awareness of the Person you are eternally united with. Having found the treasure, you are now exploring the unlimited riches of His beauty.
Some people do not know if they are going to make it. They live with haunting fear, because life is too tough, the opposition is to strong, and the odds are against them. They are existing, but they are not really living. We were not created to eek by. We were not designed to barely make it. We were made to soar. We were made to thrive. We were made to excel. We do not have just enough life to make it. We have excess life; we produce fruit. We are firm, verdant, strong trees planted by the waters, and we flourish. Others partake of heaven through us. Our words and our touch gives life to the strugglers. Our source in infinite and we are confident. We are hyper-alive in a barely-alive society. Abide, and thrive, my friend.
Wednesday is commonly referred to as hump day. When you envision the traditional Monday through Friday work week, Wednesday is the hump. Once you get past it, the rest of the week is downhill toward the weekend. The ultimate hump day in life is the day you truly realize the grace of God toward you. After a life time of struggling, striving, and stressing to perform to win god’s approval you can enter His rest. After living under the pressure of attempting to earn the blessings of the Lord and after years of condemnation and guilt, when you discover His unconditional love, which is the day you get over the hump. With Creator God as you perfect Father who is forever for you, with you, and in you, the rest of life over the hump. Enjoy the life, peace, and joy of over-the-hump living.
Want to know what you really believe? Check your expectations. You can discover a lot about your beliefs by what you are expecting, right now. There is often a discrepancy between what we say we believe and what we really believe. Our beliefs are shown by how we live. What we say we believe may only be what we wish we believed, but what we truly believe is revealed by the way we live. If you really believe God forgives you completely, you will not be living in guilt over past sins. If you really believe the all-powerful God is for you, you will not live in fear. If you really believe He lives in you, you act like He is light years away in another realm. If you really believe the gospel is good news, you will want to share it. If you believe He is good, it will affect your attitude as you face this day. Check your expectations for today, and it will reveal much about what you really believe about God, yourself, and your world.
Jesus came to earth to show us what His Father is really like, and we see a God who is scandalously in love with us. Jesus revealed a mercy-oriented God who is crazy about His creation. Yahweh is a perfect Father. He is the epitome of what a father is supposed to be, and he loves you as much as anyone else on the planet. He is a father like no earthly father. He does not deal with you form the place of hurt. He is not messed up by imperfect parenting. He is not struggling with His own identity. His not racked with insecurity. He is not bound by His own fears. He is not suffering from any substance abuse. He is not lacking in love. He knows you better than you know yourself. He not deterred in the least by your shortcomings. He loved you completely before you had a chance to impress Him. He is sheer unadulterated goodness. He is filled with only goodwill for all of his creations. He is free to love. He is the personification of love, and you are His child. Enjoy the day with Him and I will do the same.
My heart goes out to those who cannot celebrate Father’s Day with joy today. There are a myriad of reason for this, but there is only one answer. THE answer for all of us is found in THE Father. He is our true source, our true resource, our true provider, our true protector, and our true source of identity. Experience the answer. Let him embrace you. Let His perfect love trump the imperfect love of your earthly father. Let His choosing of you trump any rejection from your earthly father. Let His now love for you trump every bit of your past. I am not treating lightly the hurt incurred by your father issues. I am treating heavily the love of the Father now. I am not saying the wounds are not deep. I am saying the Healer can go deeper than the wound. I am not saying that you were not severely affected. I am saying the severe love of the Father can bring severe restoration. I am not saying this will work like magic, I am saying this Father’s power is greater than magic. I am not saying it is easy to forgive and release a father who hurt you. I am saying there is a love than can so possess you that it is possible to free yourself by forgiving. Celebrate THE Father this Father’s Day. Reach out to Him; He is already reaching out to you.
When I was at my lowest point, mentioned in yesterday’s devotional, when I was at the place where I felt I deserved the love of God the least, I discovered His love the most. He was undeterred by my overwhelming feeling of unloveliness. He persistently disagreed with my feelings of worthlessness. When I thought He should be embarrassed by me He joyfully claimed me as His. While I thought I was being useless and unproductive, He did not lessen His kindness toward me. My sheer, unhidden, humiliating weakness did not hinder His strong, stubborn love. I had always been a leader; now, I was having a hard time following. I felt like a “most likely to succeed” turned into a “least likely to recover”, but in those dark days, God proved Himself to be “Most Unlikely to Give Up on Me”. Suddenly, all those impressive things I had always done for Him were gone, and His trophy child was in shambles. For a quite a while, I could not handle the least amount of pressure without just crumbling and bursting into tears. My amazing Father never mocked me or berated me. He loved me back to new life, life without the constant pressure to perform perfectly. I have referred to those as dark days, but they were actually the days when I finally saw the light – the brilliant light of His incomparable amazing grace and unconditional love.
While mowing last night, after speaking 3 times in 24-hour period, I was reflecting. Wow! I remember a time 22 years ago when it looked like I might never preach again. I was not sure I wanted to live, much less minister. After a devastating ministerial shipwreck experience while pastoring in Illinois, Susan, our 3 young daughters, and I limped back to Texas. My health was terrible, having had a heart attack at age 37, and my emotional state was worse. I still have no idea what I did wrong, as we went from the best season of our lives, experiencing a strong move of God to becoming the target of false accusation, malicious treatment, and all-out resistance for a small handful of leaders. I cannot describe to you how bad things were for me during that dark stretch of time back then. So, after speaking 5 times in 5 days, last night I was reminded what a God of restoration we serve. Therefore, if you are in one of those seasons where it looks like your dreams are forever crushed, and you are not worth anything to anyone. If you feel like a failure, and are convinced everyone would be better off without you. If you feel like you might as well have “I am a disappointment” tattooed on your forehead for all to see, then I am living proof; there is life after what seems like the end. I am more convinced today than ever of the goodness of God and His unconditional love for me.
Last night after 5 innings, the Texas Rangers were trailing the Oakland A’s 5-0. It was not looking good at that point in the game, but in the 6th inning, the Rangers tied the game 5-5. Then, the tacked on 2 more runs in the next 2 innings and won the game 7-5. The important score is not the 5th inning score or even the 8th inning score, but the final score. In Christ, you are on the winning team. You are more than a conqueror through Christ, so do not worry about the current score. Hang in there. The perennial MVP lives in you, and in spite of your errors or occasional strikeouts, you will emerge victorious. Refuse to be discouraged by the scoreboard. Be encouraged by the Truth this morning.
Isolation seems pretty attractive after you have been repeated hurt by people. It seems to be a safer and less complicated way to live, but isolation is not really in our best interest. We were designed by God for relationship. In fact, you are not fully you in isolation. You are not fully you without God. Pulling away from Him to find yourself is utter foolishness. You will never discover yourself until you are functioning in union with Him. Similarly, isolation from people is not the way to reach your destiny. We only discover who we really are in the context of relationship with others. So, resist the temptation to withdraw. It really is worth it to mix it up with people, giving and receiving. Embrace the fact that you are a member of Christ and a member of His body. So, avoid the deception; intentionally run toward relationships and from isolation.
Smile! Go ahead. There you go. Now, let me tell you why you are smiling. Your Maker is thinking of you. He is with you. He watched you while you slept, and He is planning to spend the day with you. If that is not worth smiling about, what is? He is for you. He loves you intensely and wants you filled with all the fullness of Himself. So, go ahead smile, and set the tone for a blessed day.
The coming of Jesus is good news of great joy. If you do not have great joy, it is not because Jesus has not done enough. A lack of joy and gratitude is due to a lack of understanding of how blessed you are. You do not need to try harder; you need more revelation. Too many Christians only know enough of the truth to be miserable. You will know that you are grasping the fullness of the good news of the gospel when you are overwhelmed with unspeakable joy and overflowing thankfulness. Joy and gratitude are not genuine if they are manufactured by our hard work. They should be spontaneous expressions of hearts overflowing with the goodness of God. Enjoy the extravagant goodness of your Father today.
Good morning, child of God. Set your expectations for today with your eyes on me. Your expectations color your world and set the tone for your entire day. You were not designed to dread 6life. You were created to enjoy life to the max with me. Gaze at me. Remember the cross and resurrection. Remember my promises. Sense my presence, and raise your expectations. No matter what the day brings, expect me to be with you, in you, and for you. Do not limit what can be done today; expect what we can do together.
Good morning, dear one. How thrilled you would be this morning if you saw yourself the way I see you. Look to me. Let me define you. Lay down that incomplete hodgepodge collection of subjective memories that tries to tell you who you are. I alone see who you truly are. I knew you and loved you before you were born. Teamed with me, you are more than adequate for any task you will face in this life. Stop struggling to get to where you already are. Stop striving to earn what you have already been given. Stop trying to become who you already are. Believe the good news. Believe who I and what I have done. Believe you are who I say you are, and rejoice. Trust me, I know you better than anyone else does, and I forever love you the more than anyone else does. Be you, with joy, peace, and confidence.
You were lovingly created for unconditional love. Made to breathe it in and breathe it out. As a fish lives in water, you were designed to live and move in love. You were not conceived by God to be rejected, but rather, to be fully accepted. As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have eternally shared perfect love with one another, you were created in the image of God to enjoy that same love. Without it, we do not function properly. The good news is that our Maker loves us in all of our imperfection with absolutely perfect love. Thrive on His love. Drink it in. Revel in it. It is unfruitful, unnecessary, and unfulfilling to live a day unaware of it. The “i” in live and the “o” in love are interchangeable. To live is to love and be loved; to love and be loved is to live. God is love. You were made to live in Him and have Him live in you. Love in. Love out…continually…unconditionally. Love in; love out.
Seldom in life do we get to function “what ought to be”. We, instead, must live in “what is”. When Jesus came to earth, He came to a planet that has not functioning the way it “ought to” function. He stepped into the ugliness of the “what is”, and the “what is” did not hinder I AM from being who He was. And, praise God, He is still here with us in the midst of our “what is”. His presence makes the “what is” sacred and enjoyable. You do not have to put off living till everything is the way it “ought to be”. Celebrate Jesus, and experience His fullness in the midst of your current “what is”, and let Him radiate from you and flow through you to others today.
Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the God of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. He is the God of Peter, James, and John. Our God is the God of B.C. and the God of A.D. God is the God of pre-electricity log cabin dwellers and modern day techies. He is the God of ancient Greeks and contemporary geeks. He is the God of pre-computer days and the God of the internet age. God will never become irrelevant. He is out in front of the innovators of our day. The fact that He was relevant in ages past does not hinder His ability to be completely relevant now. He is forever relevant! He speaks with total relevance to Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, and Z. He is the Great I AM, and He remains ever fresh. He is what every generation needs, and the gospel is the perfect news for every age. Enjoy the day interacting with the state-of-the-art Savior, the up-to-the-minute Messiah.
Arise and live, NOW. You may have to wait for some things, but you do not have to wait to live. Jesus came that you might have life and have it more abundantly, NOW. You are as forgiven and loved NOW as you will ever be. NOW, you are indwelt by the entire Trinity. You have been united with Christ, and He is your life, NOW. You can enjoy the peace that passes all understanding, NOW. You are as accepted by the Father NOW as you will ever be. Cease striving and walk in the rest of God, NOW. Rejoice in the Lord, NOW. Be thankful, NOW. Live, NOW. Forgive, NOW. Love, NOW. Bless, NOW. Celebrate, NOW. NOW, have a great day!
You are readier for today than you think. Jesus, your life, is ever-ready. Jesus, your yokemate, is ready for anything. Nothing the two of you will face today will be too much for y’all. When half of y’all is Jesus, you are ready. Do not be deceived into thinking you will face anything alone today. The truth is, you are capable of what you and Jesus are capable of. So, fear not. Fret not. Move confidently through the day trusting your Better Half.
Rejoice! God is in your life. He is with you, in you, and around you. In Him, you live and move and have your being. He is not in you because He is forced to be. He wants to indwell you. He has always wanted to manifest Himself in the flesh. That is why He created mankind in the first place. His is not reluctant to live in you; He is excited about it. You are His element. He enjoys you. Welcome Him. Experience life with Him. Enjoy Him. Express Him.
DAY 156 –In love for us, Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. In the process, He did not despise us, but He did despise the shame according to Hebrews 12:2. He was dishonored, rejected, spat upon, mocked, beaten, stripped, crucified, and He did it all in silence like a lamb led to the slaughter. Throughout this entire process of bearing our shame, Jesus looked down on shame, treating it with contempt. Why? Because He knew you and I were not meant for shame; we were meant for glory. God never wanted us to go through life weighed down with a “something-is-wrong-with-me” attitude. We were made to experience, enjoy, and express the goodness of God. God wants you clothed in glory, not shame. Jesus successfully bore our shame so we should never walk in it again. We have been liberated from shame by our awesome shame-bearing Jesus. You were not made to move through life with your head hanging; you were made to shine, so have a joyful, Jesus-filled, shameless day!
Look into my eyes, my precious one. Discover who I am from gazing into my eyes. Explore who you are from eye contact with Me. Read what this world means to Me from the look in My eyes. Let My eyes be your compass, your director, your prompter. See what I see, how I see it. Keep your eyes intimately fixed on Mine and you will sense what I sense. We were not made for separation; but rather, I desire the intimate union of heart connected lovers. Come on; let’s attack the day together.
Good morning, my child. Rise, and shine. Let’s spend the day together. I will be with you every second. Enjoy fellowship with me. Trust me, as hard as it is for you to believe, I am interested in everything that concerns you. You are my tangible manifestation in the physical world which I created. Come on, I have things to show you. We have people to touch and things to do.
Good morning, my child. How you fare as you navigate through this new day will depend more upon HOW you see than WHAT you see. See yourself in the reflection of my loving eyes. See others through the same lenses of mercy you want them to see you through. See difficulties as opportunities. See temptations as prompting to refocus on Me. See the enemy under your feet. See the past as fully worked together for your good. See the future as an exciting, fruitful adventure. See through lies into the truth. See as a victor, not a victim. See fearlessly with eyes of faith. See Me with you ever step of the way.
Good morning, my child. What others think of you does not define you. Only what I think of you, ultimately matters. Never give people the power to affect you at that level. Your identity is not the result of a popularity contest. Who you are is not determined by finite, fallible, fickle human beings. I determine who you are. Most people did not recognize my Only-Begotten Son’s true identity when He walked the earth either. The ignorance and blindness of others does not affect your identity one iota. Come to Me, Your true Father, to discover and maintain consciousness of who you are. Let Me be your mirror; never let anyone else take my place as your mirror.
Good morning, my child. Welcome to the flow within the flow. You are called to go against the flow of this world system, but as you do, you are in the greater flow. Do not be discouraged by the temporal counter-Christ flow; rest my flow. Stay in the flow of peace as you conflict with chaos. Be moved along in the flow of overcoming faith as you encounter fear and doubt. Remain in the flow of love as you clash with indifference and even hate. You are in my river. My river is in you, and out of your belly flows rivers of my living water. The water you are in is life-giving: the other flow is the flow of death. Welcome to the eternal flow. Enjoy me in my flow, knowing greater is my flow around, in, and through you than the counter flow that is in the world.
Good morning, Lord. Good to be alive, Lord. Good to be loved, Lord. Good to be forgiven, Lord. Good to be in You, Lord. Good to have You in me, Lord. Good to be a victor, not a victim, Lord. Good to be living abundant, eternal life, Lord. Good to know that all things work together for my good, Lord. Good to be Your child, Lord. Good to have peace that passes understanding, Lord. Good to abide in you like a branch in a vine. Lord. Good to be rooted and grounded in you, Lord. Good to be in your hands, Lord. It is a good, good morning, Good, Good Lord.
Without revelation from God, people do not really know who they are. Sure, they may think they do, but they do not. So, as strange as it sounds, with revelation of the worth of mankind, you know most people better than they know themselves. Oh, they know details about themselves which you do not know. They have memories, thoughts, and dreams you are not aware of. But if you know their value to God, if you know how wildly they are loved by God, if you know God is for them and wants them in intimate fellowship with the Trinity, then you know the most important things about them. They are blind to knowing who they are by who they think they are. We are here to speak the good news of Jesus Christ – not the potential good news, but the real good news. So, treat them like who they truly are, rather than who they believe they are.
God highly values humanity. We really are created “in His image”. There is more involved in that phrase than most of us have grasped. In the Book of James, the Bible tells us it is inconsistent to use our tongues to praise God and to use those same tongues to curse people created in His image. He are expected to honor the image of God in imperfect people, people who are not showing any obvious evidence of God’s influence in their lives. They are to be blessed, not cursed, and treated with honor, simply because they are God’s unique creations. There are certain people that blessing or giving honor seems fitting to us, but God places this enormous value on every human being. This is what Paul had in mind when he said he no longer saw anyone according to the flesh. How people appeared to him no longer mattered; he viewed all of humanity as God did. With revelation of how God sees beings made in His image, and understanding lengths to which he has gone to reconcile all of us to Himself, Paul determined to be FOR people, serving God as a minister of reconciliation. Lord, adjust our way of looking at humanity today.
Good morning, beautiful tree. You are not the sun. You are not the soil. You are not the rain. You are not the entire forest. You are who your Maker made you. Abide in Him. Rooted and grounded in His love, soak in the rays of His brilliance. Joyfully accept your total dependence upon Him. Refuse to be deceived into thinking you are more than you are. Neither settle for being less than all you were meant to be. No one else can produce the exact fruit you produce. The earth’s orchard is not complete without your fruit. Striving to produce, competing with other trees, rebelling against where you are planted, and constantly questioning the Master Maker/Gardener are counterproductive. Abide in deep, rich, genuine intimacy with Him. Rest and trust. Freely receive, and freely give. Be, and let all of your doing flow from the energy of the Greater One flowing through you.
Gazing at the star-filled sky, mind-boggled, contemplative David once exclaimed to Yahweh, “What IS man that You are mindful of Him?” What IS man that thoughts of him fill the mind of the Creator of the expansive heavens? What IS man that You would fashion him in your image? What IS man that You so relentlessly pursue fellowship with him? What IS man that You refuse to give up on him? What IS man that You sent your Son to redeem from sin, Satan, and meaninglessness? What IS man the You gave him dominion over the earth You created? We have not seen in ourselves what You sees in us. Give us eyes to see You clearly and to see our reflection in Your eyes. Let us see every person as magnificently created and valuable, no matter how far below your will they are living. Fulfill the purposes you had in mind for each of us when you dreamed us up.
Planet earth is the target of God’s amazing love. For God so loved our world that He gave His only-begotten Son. For the most part the inhabitants of the earth, have no idea how loved they are. Unaware of their amazing value, under the influence of lies, most people are cluelessly existing unaware of the One who longs to enjoy their fellowship. Even those of us who know he loves us, have an extremely limited understanding of the depth of His love and the extent of our value. Every person we encounter in this life is targeted by God for undeserved favor and extravagant goodwill. Oh, that they might see. Oh, that we might see. This renegade planet is on the heart of God, relentlessly pursued by its loving Creator. Live deliriously aware of His your Father’s unparalleled love for you and with a keen consciousness of how much He adores every inhabitant of this world.
If you are not excited about being you, you do not see what God sees when He looks at you. Yes, you. He adores you in spite of all your faults and shortcomings, because you are His. Your loving Father dreamed you up, and gave you life. You are unique. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another you. Since mankind is created in the image of God, and you are the only you, you are a part of the image of God that never existed before you. You are a true original. You are not a Picasso, a Di Vinci, or Van Gogh. You are a Yahweh. It pleased the Lord to create you. Regardless of how much you have been devalued or mistreated in this life, God, your Creator, adores you. He does not love you for your potential nor for what he can get out of you. He genuinely loves you. You are a uniquely designed reflection of Him in your world. Live out of your union with Him, and be you. Be the YOUnique expression of God you were created to be .
God created because He wanted to create. Obviously, no one forced Him to make anything. Out of the amazing fullness of the Trinity, creation was a creative spillover of glory. He dreamed. He thought. He imagined, and He created. God, who is spirit, expressed Himself in matter. The immaterial One expressed Himself in material substance. All that was created, exists to reflect Him. The mountains, the rivers, the oceans, the sun, the moon, the stars, the tree, and the animal kingdom are all here to glorify Him in their own unique way. Nothing, however, could possibly reflect God like his masterpiece – humanity. Everything that exists, is traced back to a God idea. His biggest, most exciting, ultimate idea is mankind. We are created in His image and likeness. He imagined a creature capable of being lifted into fellowship with the Godhead, elevated into the family of the Trinity. He imagined us, then He made us. If you are not excited about being you, you do not see yourself like God does. He adores you, faults and all. You originated in the mind of God; you are one of His dreams come true.
It is so easy to talk about our magnificent God being almighty, omnipotent, and capable of doing anything. We speak so convincingly about Him being our Father and living inside us. In theory, we are undoubtedly invincible overcomers and are poised to march victoriously through all our days. With eyes fastened on Jesus, we see our authority and supremacy so clearly, but how quickly we can develop grasshopper-itis like the ancient Israelites when we focus on enemies and obstacles. A correct, concentrated, fixed gaze is absolutely essential. We are only aware of who we really are when we are focused on our Source, our Strength, our Life, our Savior, our Hope, our Peace, our Jesus. We only see ourselves aright when we see Him, since we are His image in the earth, in the here, in the now. Take in the strength that comes from proper focus today, rather than taking in the fear, doubt, and confusion of wrong focus.
After viewing the walled cities and seeing the giants, the Israelites refused to enter the Promise Land. Ten of the twelve spies were convinced they could not possibly possess the land. Did they really believe the giants were more powerful than Yahweh? Probably not. The real problem was with how they viewed themselves. The unbelief that paralyzed them was unbelief of who they were, not who God was. God’s people saw themselves as grasshoppers in their own eyes. With God, they were actually giant slayers. The true underdogs in this conflict were the Canaanites, not the Israelites.
You do not have to go looking for God when you get up in the mornings. You do not have to carry on like a prophet of Baal on Mount Carmel trying to get the attention of a god who in their case was not god at all. No, you wake up to a God who was waiting on you to arise and fellowship with Him. He kept you awake through the night and is ready to spend the day with you. You are his opportunity to materialize in your world. He plans to be your life today. He wants to do life with you, even on this ordinary Thursday. He wants to live, love, and laugh through you. You really do not have to press into Him. He has already pressed into you. Do not waste a moment wondering if He is with you. He is. He always is. He cannot not be with you. You bear His image. Enjoy Him. Trust Him. Adore Him.
Good morning, my friend, and a very good morning it is. You did not wake up alone today. God Himself was with you. He was watching you while you slept, and he noticed when you opened your eyes. His thoughts toward you are more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashore. You are on the mind of God. You matter that much to Him. You are so much more than you have ever realized you are. The one and only Almighty God thinks of you. This reality boggled the mind of the psalmist, David, and it is a staggering thought to any of us. Take some time to think of His thoughts toward you, then enter the day thinking of Him.
Locate your core. Find the indwelling Christ there. Are you there? Sink down. Settle in your depths. Convene with Jesus in your innermost being. Affirm your joint presence. Connect. Commune. Entwine. Relish your oneness. Rest. Be still. Gather yourself fully into the now. Experience your constant renewing. Love on the One who loves on you. Express your heart to Him as he expresses His toward you. Adore Him. Enjoy Him. Glorify Him by delighting in Him. Converse with Him about this day. Linger with Him with open ears and an open heart. Live the day with Him, in Him, and by Him.
One night, not too long after we moved from Texas to Illinois to pastor a church, we scheduled an open mic night at the church. Though I do not sing in public very often, I bravely determined take up my guitar and give it a shot. Soon after I began to sing I noticed a strange ripple of amusement and puzzlement running through the crowd. It took near miraculous focus not be affected by their distracting behavior. I kept glancing at Susan who seemed to be giving me a “you’re-doing-great” look and a “what-is-the-matter-with-these-rude-people” look. I fought through the commotion and delivered an amazing performance under the circumstances, which included increasing whispers and subdued laughter building until I finished. One of the elders laughing out loud when I stopped and he said with disbelief, “You do not know do you?” “Know what?” I replied. “There is a mental hospital about 20 miles from here named Mercyville.” he informed me. And I was singing, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercyville, where I live and always will.” Good song in Texas; not so much in that part of Illinois. We cannot trust our minds; they are functioning on limited information. All the crazy ideas of what people were thinking as I sang were totally off base. How much of what fills our minds is inaccurate speculation rooted in insecurities and self-preoccupation?
There is no one in all of cartoondom as persistent as Wile E. Coyote. He never stops trying to catch the lightning-fast, illusive bird known as the Road Runner. Episode after episode, the determined predator attempts one ingenious method after another, without success. As Christians, our persistence is rooted in the promises of God. We persist in believing God and His word, regardless of circumstances. When the will of God tarries, we maintain a never give up attitude in life. Persist, not as a beggar, but as one who is confident in the willingness of your Father to fulfill His word, regardless of the resistance and opposition.
Deputy Dawg was a lazy, dim-witted lawman from a backwoods Southern town. His friends were: Muskie Muskrat, Moley Mole, Possible ‘Possum, Ty Coon, Vincent Van Gopher, and Pig Newton. One of his favorite expressions was, “Dagnabbit!” A deputy is someone empowered by his superior, in this case the sheriff, to act as a substitute for the superior. We are here in this world to function in Jesus’ stead. All we do is done in His name, as we live enforcing His victory, will, and ways upon the earth. Okay, Deputy, be a wise, diligent representative of Jesus, not a dim-witted lazy deputy.
Popeye used to say, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” I am what I am, but that is not all that I am. I am a little I am in the big I AM. I am a dependent I AM in the independent I AM. I am a finite I am in the Infinite I AM. I am a limited I am in the unlimited I AM. I am not a has been in a has been; I am an I am in the I AM. I am not a could be in a could be or a will be in a will be. I am an I am in the I AM. I a created I am in the uncreated I AM. I am an image I am of the original I AM. I am a what I am, but I AM is in me. I will not live merely from an I am perspective. I will live with and an awareness of my oneness with I AM and will live with a WE ARE mentality.
Yogi and Boo-Boo always kept their eyes on the prize, and the prize was a pic-a-nic basket. Apparently, their full-time occupation was stealing food from Jellystone Park visitors. Every episode revolved around the mayhem incurred while swiping a pic-a-nic basket. Be smarter than the average BEAR, and set your eyes on Jesus. He is the prize worth our constant gaze, and He is loaded with everything you could ever want. With Jesus, there is no need for thieving; He gives Himself to us. The blessings of life with the Savior are almost too much to BEAR, but I challenge you today to grin and BEAR it.
The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. A traveler moving at that speed could circumnavigate the equator 7 ½ times in one second. There is, however one thing as fast as light – the darkness getting out of light’s way. We are the light of the world, and light expels darkness. We should never fear the darkness around us; we dispel it. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Shine brightly, fearlessly, and continuously. Today is a good day to scatter some darkness, so rise and shine.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Grace is more than simply unmerited favor. It is more than how He feels toward us. It is more than His mercy or pity. Grace is the entirety of God’s activity in Christ on our behalf. Grace is specifically identified with the historical person and work of Jesus. His grace is the ability to live the Christian life. His grace is sufficient for us; it is the strength of God perfected in our weakness. Grace is the totality of our salvation – past, present, and future. We are saved by grace, kept by grace, and empowered by grace. If you are not amazed by His grace, you do not know His grace.
Risen and exalted One, you are my environment. You are the air I breathe, my atmosphere. You are my context; only in you does life make sense. This morning, I woke up in You. I am truly located in You, deep in you. I am hidden in you, sheltered in you. Wherever I am geographically, I remain spiritually in You. You are the rich soil I am rooted and grounded in. You are the life-giving ocean I swim in. You are the sky in which I soar like an eagle. I worship You from within You. In You, I live and move and have my being. I am at home in You, at rest in You. Whatever I am in, I am in it in you. There is no place I would rather be located than were I am, in You.
We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in. We are each made to do some specific things for Him. Those things we are designed to do for Him are expressions of love for Him. Our deepest God-implanted desires are in us to fulfill His desires and purposes. As God’s creations who are also new creations in Christ, we or our innermost desires are in line with God’s dreams. Love is expressed by fulfilling the desire of another bringing the beloved joy. When we love a spouse it blessed both parties. What we desire most to pursue is primarily an expression of love for God. So, God, awaken our passion! Stir up our holy desires!
You were born when you were by God’s perfect design. Obviously, you had no choice in the matter. Some people feel like they were born out of time, convinced they were born either too early or too late. They actually fantasize about living in another era. The encouraging truth is, you were born for such a time as this. Your unique mixture of natural abilities and spiritual gifts are perfect for here and now. God planned your arrival on planet earth at a precise moment in history in the progression of generations. You are a gift to this world now! Esther was born when she was, so that she would be at the right place at the right time to liberate God’s people. Moses arrived in time to deliver the people of God from the grasp of the pharaoh. Elijah was born in time to be in place for the showdown on Mount Carmel. David arrived when Israel needed a king. Mary was born at the right time to be in place when the Messiah was to enter the world. John the Baptist was born in time to be the forerunner of Emanuel. Saul was born in time to become Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Accept your historical placement as an assignment from God and celebrate the fact you were made for here and now.
Jesus taught that “men always ought to pray and not to faint.” We seldom receive answers to our prayers as decisively or as quickly as we like. Over time, we can become discouraged and stop praying altogether about an issue. Many have lost heart and stopped really praying for America. Delayed responses to our prayers concerning any number of difficult situations can cause us to lose heart. Next time you are growing faint in prayer, ask yourself, “Why do I pray?” Are we not praying for things that need God’s invention? We are praying to a God for whom nothing is impossible, and lifting up to Him things that seem impossible. So are they really any more difficult for God when you are about to quit praying than when you first began? Day 1 or day 4,321, with God all things are possible.
Every day is crammed with potential distractions. Unknowns are all around us. Refuse to be lured out of peace into worry. Determine not to entertain nagging, harassing thoughts of concern. Bottom line – worry is fear, unbelief, and a distraction. Walk in joyful reliance on the Lord undistracted in the midst of all the potential worries. Allow daily annoyances and challenges to cause you to lean on Jesus more. Experience every part of your day with Him. He is in every ordinary little thing. Refuse to be distracted from your joy, your life source, your Jesus by lower level stuff. If you do get distracted, refuse to stay distracted. Refocus fast. Re-center quickly. Re-collect yourself ASAP. Live today undistractedly abiding in the True Vine.
Some Christians talk more about the devil than they do Jesus. Some people give him credit for everything, some things he is not even doing. They give him more credit for everything negative than they give God thanks for everything good. This excessive credit is actually giving him a form of praise. Refuse to give him too much attention or too much credit. Sure, the devil is out there. Sure, he is active. Sure, he is evil, but God is here too and He is infinitely bigger. You choose what you dwell on: make it something better than the devil. Dwell on whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, or praiseworthy. Do not be distracted by the evil around you. We are on a mission. We are on the offense. Deal with the enemy when he gets in the way. God’s glory is everywhere: enjoy it. Experience the sunrise, the starry night, the piney woods, the field of wildflowers, flitting butterflies, and hummingbirds. Do not be distracted from abundant living and pulled down by the devil’s activity. Be exhilarated by your nearness to God. Celebrate His presence. Follow the winner. Do not be distracted by what the loser is doing. Follow the leader.
Refuse to be lured away from moment-by-moment dependence on Jesus into unhealthy introspection. Obsessive, non-Spirit directed self-examination is a distraction from union with Christ. Do not be distracted from His adequacy by focusing on your inadequacy. Do not be distracted from His strength by fixating on your weakness. You can miss seeing His faithfulness, if you are constantly focused on your inconsistency. Do not be distracted from counting your blessings by counting your failures. Don’t be distracted from counting His excellency by counting your imperfections. Do not be distracted from your righteousness in Christ by obsessing over your sins he has forgiven. Such introspection may seem humble and holy, but it is a wrong focus, a self-focus. Abide in Christ, totally dependent upon his goodness and sufficiency.
Who wants to ride in a car with a driver who is focused more on what is behind him than on what is in front of him? There is nothing behind you when you are driving that is more important than the road ahead of you. Looking backward is no way to live. Live now; refuse to let your past distract you. Leave the past behind you. I Corinthians 9:24 says, 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. Who runs a race looking backwards? Be determined in your running. Do not just run to get the entry tee shirt; run to win. Run with purpose. Run with focus. Run focused on Jesus, the One you are running with, the One you are running for, the One you are running to. Leave your past hurts, failures, or disappointments behind you and remain undistracted in your race. Lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnare you and run with endurance the race that is set before you, looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your Faith.
Temptation is designed to lure us away from abiding communion with Christ. Temptation is an attempt to seduce us away from our source, to entice us away from moment by moment dependence, to pull us away from our sweet spot with the Lord. The devil dangles an illegitimate, substitute fulfillment for a legitimate need which God has a right way to fulfill. So, how do we handle temptation? Not by fighting it, wrestling with it, and focusing on it. When we focus on the temptation we are being distracted. If we spend considerable time struggling with a temptation, even if we do not submit to the temptation, we are distracted, so the temptation still works to a degree. Focusing on the temptation also stirs a desire for what you are being tempted with. Do not give the temptation your time and attention; turn to Jesus. Do not focus on saying no to Satan; say yes to Jesus. When the devil knocks on your door, send Jesus to answer it. Whenever we react like this, temptation backfires on the devil. His temptation has the opposite effect it is intended to have. He wants to distract you from Jesus; and instead, it can propel you to Jesus. Learn to accept temptation as a reminder to focus on Christ. Temptation, properly handled, actually strengthens us. Refuse to be distracted from your walk of dependent communion with Jesus today.
When we are walking in the truth, no matter what happens to us, He always causes us to triumph. As long as we remain aware that we are partakers of the divine nature, seated with Him in heavenly places, blessed with all spiritual blessings, we will walk as overcomers. We are more than conquerors in Christ. We are above and not beneath; the head and not the tail. As long as we remain aware of our union with Christ, we remain in victory regardless of our circumstances. Satan’s only chance is to distract us. The definition of distract is to draw attention away from or to divert. The enemy is out to distract us from Jesus, from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The devil knows He is outmatched, since we are OVERcomers. Refuse to see yourself under; we are above, not beneath. We are the head, not the tail. Many believers need a paradigm shift. Satan is not over us oppressing us, He is beneath us if we are in Christ. He is under Jesus feet, and since we are in Him, the enemy is under our feet, as well. He must reach up to trip us. He is at a disadvantage, and he must deceive us or distract us to make us fall. Beware of distraction, and stay focused on Jesus.
You have, no doubt, heard the expression “keeping up with the Joneses”. That is exactly how I got a part-time job once. Let me explain. When I was attending seminary in California I was hired as a gardener by a commercial airline pilot and his wife. Everyone in his upscale Saucelito neighborhood had a gardener; it was a local status symbol. How do I know that? Because my job was mostly to show up and look busy. My employers had an organic garden in their backyard, but they would not even let me actually do anything in their edenic little plot. Summer was approaching and there was a real job for me to tackle – scrubbing the green gunk off the lining of the backyard pool. The pool was about forty feet long, fifteen feet wide, three feet deep on the shallow end sloping down to about twelve feet at the deepest point. The pool had not been covered through the winter and there was a nasty, thick, green slime puddle at the deep end of the pool. The privileged lady of the house was relaxing poolside, sipping her beverage of choice, banteringly debating philosophy and theology with the naïve radical little seminary student….me. I was feverishly scrubbing the lining of the pool with a very soapy scouring pad. The intelligent young lad in the pool talked as the suds silently crept down the wall of the pool towards my unsuspecting rubber soled shoes. Yea, you see what’s coming, don’t you? Well, I didn’t. So, the soapy solution oozed its way well past my feet, and when I attempted to reposition my feet… They were repositioned alright, about 5 feet over my head, and my head, with the rest of me unwillingly following was thrown into a skid – like an out of control car on ice, face first, into the nasty green slime. I can only imagine what a treat it was for her to watch me take a little dip in her pool and come out looking like I was covered in guacamole dip. I was hosed off and changed into her 6’4” husband’s plaid Bermuda shorts, ankle length on me. I learned a lesson that day about how not to wash a pool. If you lose your footing, bad things can happen. The same is true in life. Make certain you are standing firmly in the truth. Stand steadfastly in Christ. Plant your feet on the word of God and stubbornly stand.
Some of my best childhood memories were collected at 4417 Harrison in Bellmead, TX where my grandparents lived. They lived on a real farm; complete with a barn, a corral, a storm house, a tool shed, a hothouse, a minnow vat, a worm farm, a garden, a tractor, farming implements, trailers, and stacks and stacks of building materials. They had chickens, guineas, horses, dogs, pigs, and cattle. Along with all the good memories I accumulated on that familiar piece of ground, I did acquire one haunting memory there. Early one morning, after I had spent the night with my grandparents, Grandma sent me out to the hen house to gather the eggs. So, obediently and unsuspectingly I skipped my way to the hen house, stepped in, and the door closed behind me. I reached in underneath one of the hens to feel for an egg, and that fickle, feathered female freaked out. She commenced clucking and raising a ruckus. All the other inhabitants of the hen house enthusiastically joined her in her fowl mood. I was terrified, and immediately assumed a standing fetal position certain I was about to be pecked to death. Pigs, horses, cows – they never scared me, but chickens… now they are scary critters. And I am not the only one; there is a name for the fear of chickens…alektorophobia. Apparently, there are other similarly traumatized individuals out there. Of course, I now realize I really did not have to be afraid of chickens; that fear was irrational and unwarranted. And for us as believers, if we factor in the fullness of biblical truth, all fears are irrational and unwarranted. Fear not!
Arriving at one of our favorite fishing lakes My dad, my daughter, and I found the upside down aluminum boat, as always, on the bank near the shore. We flipped it over, slipped it into the water, rowed out, and began fishing. About an hour later, as we were lazily drifting in the middle of the calm, glassy lake, all of a sudden, I felt something crawling up my leg. My heart jumped into my throat, and I almost jumped out of the boat. When I looked down, I saw a mouse parked on my knee, staring at me. He swiftly turned, jumped over onto the seat of the boat, then leapt into the water. As that racing rodent was climbing my shin my fear level shot up to a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. Processing this logically, with the benefit of hindsight, there was no reason for me to be that afraid of a little mouse. An average field mouse weighs 1 ounce, and I, on the other hand, weigh…. more than that. The problem was not the mouse itself, but my thoughts as the mouse was running up my leg. My mind was thinking snake when mouse was coming up my leg, because snakes, water, boats, fishing go together more than boats, water, fishing, and mice. Therefore, my reaction was more consistent with a snake sighting than a mouse sighting. What I thought at that moment was wrong, and my mind sent out a false alarm which my emotions ran with. What we believe is true affects us as much as if it was true. It is so important for us to keep our thinking in line with the truth. A truth conscious mind is a prerequisite to walking in truth.
Susan and I are moving again. This is our 21st move in our 36 years of marriage. Thank the Lord, this move is only across town, not across country. Every time we move, it is a time of reevaluation. What do we keep? What do we sell? What do we give away? What do we throw away? We find ourselves looking at stuff saying, “Do we keep this or not?” Life has its moments when we need to stop and reassess what to keep and what to get rid of. Just because something was useful in the past does not mean it is necessary for the future. We are not still moving around the same couch we had when we lived in San Francisco. We are not still moving the refrigerator we had in Fort Worth or the stove we had in Valley View, but we are still moving the china we received as wedding presents. Do not allow sentimentality or familiarity to cause you to hang on to anything that will hold you back. Live, learn, grow, and welcome the changes which make you more like Jesus and advance the kingdom.
Apathy is an enemy. It seems more like a comfortable friend than an enemy. It seems to be serving us, but it is robbing us. It seems to be saving us, but it is killing us. Apathy seems harmless, but it is a major hindrance to the advancement of God’s purposes through us. It destroys our holy ambition, our spiritual appetite, our highest aspirations. Apathy drains our zeal, passion, and fervor. It makes the nauseating status of lukewarmness appear not so bad. Apathy creeps in, and we become tame, dull, humdrum, mundane, and stale. We become uninterested and uninteresting, colorless, insipid, and routine. We are indwelt with the One who is life. How can we be desireless? We should be fully in tune with our higher desires. As the people of God we should be brimming with desire, throbbing with aspirations, pulsating with desire. Our deepest desires as new creations are godly. Break agreement with any trace of apathy and co-desire what God desires.
We need to live in the here and now. In our geographical “here” and in our generational “now”. I am currently living in Texas in 2016, but that is not the complete picture. In Christ, in my spirit, while I live in the here and now, I live in in heaven and in eternity. Jesus lived in Israel over 2000 years ago, but he lives in heaven today, and he lives in me in Texas now. Be all you can be here and now, but never lose consciousness of being there with Him, and never forget He is now with you here.
The average temperature is -53 degrees in January, if you are in Oymyakon, Russia. You receive 467 inches of rain per year, if you are in Mawsynram, Meghalaya, India. On June 21st, you will have a full 24 hours of daylight, if you are in Westfjords, Iceland. The average median income of your city is $77,000, if you are in San Jose, CA. The average height of all the adults around you is 6’ 1”, if you are in the Netherlands. The average woman gives birth to 6.5 children, if you are in Nigeria. You are blessed with all spiritual blessings, a partaker of the divine nature, and more than a conqueror, if you are in Christ. You have access to peace that passes understanding, joy unspeakable, and a living hope, if you are in Christ. There is no doubt the best place to live is in Christ, no matter where you live.
Congratulations! You are the recipient of an awesome gift. A gift given specifically to you by God Himself. The gift is called TODAY. Seize your present with gratitude. Recognize the divine hand which delivered the gift to you and the generous heart that chose to extend the benevolent hand. Wake up and enjoy His beautiful world. Breathe His air; be warmed by His sun. Awaken to the full awareness that you live and move and have your being in Him. Grab this day with urgency and live it with intentionality. Receive the day freely given to you and use it to freely give to those around you. Enjoy your gift of TODAY, today.
People who are self-centered are egocentric. People who are Christ-centered are Christocentric. EgocentriCITY is a popular CITY with a huge population. People are streaming into the CITY with high expectations, but there is little true fulfillment for its residents. The CITY is abuzz with the hustle and bustle of dog-eat-dog competitiveness, hedonistic pleasure seeking, and countless trivial pursuits. ChristocentriCITY is the most awesome place to live. There is room for you here; this is where you belong. It is a realm of righteousness, peace, and joy where the government rests upon the shoulders of Christ. Enjoy your citizenship here in the true CITY of brotherly love. In this Christ-centered CITY of Refuge, everything revolves around the Him. Have the audaCITY to exercise your capaCITY to live a life of ChristocentriCITY.
Jesus is the Son of God, YET the Son of Man. He is the Lamb, YET the Lion. He is the Root of David, YET the Offspring of David. Jesus is the King of Kings, YET the Servant of All. He is at the right hand of the Father in heaven, YET He is here. He is the Creator of man, YET He is the Man, Jesus. He is fully God, YET fully man. He never sinned, YET He became sin for us. He had no beginning, YET He was born in Bethlehem. He is the Life, YET He died. He died; YET He lives forever. We live in Him, YET He lives in us. We see Him now through a glass darkly. I Guess you could say, “We ain’t seen nothing YET”
Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be a Sanctuary (Isaiah 8:14), and when Jesus walked on this earth, He was a living Sanctuary. Until His arrival the sanctuary was the actual tabernacle, and later, the temple. Jesus was a living set apart place, a dwelling place of the presence of the Lord, a place of worship, a place of refuge for the Spirit of the Lord. Jesus is now our sanctuary, and we dwell in Him. Now, we the sacred, set apart, holy things of God are now kept in Him like sanctified things were kept in the tabernacle or temple. He is our Safe House, our Shelter, our Refuge. Jesus is a Sanctuary of the presence of the Lord in whom we find sanctuary. Securely in Christ, we have become living sanctuaries ourselves.
Jesus is a Stone which God provided. Some reject the Stone, some stumble over Him. For those who receive Him, Jesus is the Cornerstone. He is the indispensable Cornerstone for the new creation we have become, individually and collectively. We agree with Peter, Jesus is the “Precious Cornerstone”. He is not an untested stone that cannot handle the weight of being a cornerstone but He is the “Tried Stone”. He is a “Sure Foundation” which can be fully relied on. Make sure all you do is built on Jesus and all of your trust rests squarely on Him.
For 45 consecutive mornings, I have posted a devotional about the wonderful person, Jesus. Each day we examined a different name of His. Like many different facets of a dazzling diamond, each name reveals a different aspect of this one Person’s magnificence. Calling Him any or all of these names is a privilege and a delight, but the most mind-boggling thing I can dare call Him is MINE! I am my Beloved’s and He is MINE. By His more than amazing grace, Jesus in all of His fullness, is mine. I am tremendously blessed to know Him as MY Savior, MY Shepherd, MY Messiah, MY Way , My Truth, and MY Life, Refuse to settle for knowing Him as a mere doctrine or historical figure; know him as YOURS.
Nazareth was an unimportant, insignificant town. Nazareth is not one of the 63 Galilean towns mentioned in the Talmud. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament or in the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus. Obscure Nazareth was such a nowhere place that people marveled that Messiah came from there. Surprisingly, God graced Nazareth with the presence of His Son. No matter how unlikely the town was, Jesus lived there. Do you sometimes see yourself as unimportant, and insignificant? That does not stop Jesus from living in you, and if He does live in you, you are not unimportant or insignificant.
Jesus once said, “Before Abraham was, I AM’. This claim delivered a stunning jolt to the original hearers, propelling them into riot mode. This claim was blasphemy in their ears, moving them to pick up stones to stone Jesus. They understood His words as an assertion to be I AM, God, eternally existent. Jesus exists in eternal isness. Two billion years before creation, He is. In the manger, He is. Today, He is. He forever is, and cannot not be. All He ever was, He is. All you need, He is. All you want, He is. And whatever I AM is, He is in us. He is everything in our nothingness. He is strength in our weakness. He is power in our impotence. He is fullness in our emptiness. Enjoy sharing isness with I AM today.
On numerous occasions in the New Testament, Jesus is called Rabbi. The root of the word means “great”, so rabbi means “the great one”. Jesus was given the title as a sign of respect and honor by those he taught. He was an amazing master teacher, the only teacher who ever fully embodied all He taught. Jesus taught with absolute confidence in what He taught, with unparalleled revelation, and genuine compassion. He taught remarkable “on the spot” lessons often spurred by seeing an object or in response to a question. Jesus was a master storyteller adept in communication profound truths through everyday stories. Jesus taught uncompromising truth with unconditional love. He is an expert on every subject, and has time for each of His followers. Today, joyfully follow the Great One, your Master, your Rabbi, your Jesus.
Lifeguards, doctors, soldiers, firemen, law enforcement officers are all in the business of saving lives. Thank God for their willingness to serve us, but no one saves like Jesus saves. He is truly the Savior of the World. Jesus saves from the stranglehold of Satan, the grip of guilt, the shackles of shame, and the horrors of hell. He saves from the fear of death, the power of addiction, the despair of hopelessness, the dominion of sin, and the ache of meaninglessness. No wonder Philip P Bliss wrote “Hallelujah, What a Savior”. Join Bliss’ bliss in praise of our Savior this morning.
The heavens opened over the Jordan River as Jesus was being baptized. The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and the Father declared, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Again, God spoke these same words to His dear son, Jesus, on the mount when He was gloriously transfigured. Jesus is also called simply the Beloved in Ephesians. Beloved is a form of the word agape, identifying Jesus as the dear object of agape. Imagine the perfect love of the perfect Father for the perfect Son. Jesus could not possibly be loved more than He was and is. And miracle of miracles, since we are in Christ, we are accepted in the Beloved. We are recipients of the exact same love. Do not waste another moment of your time entertaining any thought of not being accepted by God. Rejoice! Your acceptance by the Father is as sure as the acceptance of the Christ you now reside in.
Jesus is our tender, faithful Shepherd. He has His eyes on you. You can count on it; He cares about ones, not just the flock. He is completely aware of each of your unique needs at this very moment. Since Jesus never sleeps or slumbers, His watchful eyes are on you, 24/7. The Shepherd watching over you loves you continually. He proved that by laying His life down for you. Fear not, neither the lion nor the bear can fight its way through our awesome Shepherd. Jesus understands our weaknesses, and lovingly leads us besides safe, still waters. You, my friend, are in strong, capable hands, nail-pierced hands.
In Psalm 18, a Messianic Psalm, Jesus is called our Shield. And, what an awesome shield He is! A shield is a piece of armor designed for protection. Imagine the ineffectiveness of a shield composed
of paper, Styrofoam, plastic, or thin wood. You want an impenetrable shield made of the strongest possible substance. Our shield is the divine Son of God. Historically, shields have come in several shapes; Jesus is a unique 360 degree shield. He is actually more like a three dimensional bubble shield than simply a one dimensional shield. The president of the United States of America is protected by a living, human shield, the Secret Service. Jesus is our shield, the ultimate living Shield. The offensive line of a football team is a living shield for the quarterback. Jesus is our living Shield. Praise Jesus, and walk in fearlessness today.
Christ is the Storehouse of Riches. He is undeniably a treasury of truth, a bank of blessing, a depository of deliverance, a safe of security, a warehouse of wonders, a vault of virtues, and a stockpile of satisfaction. The bountiful resources found in the Indescribable Christ are boundless, infinite, limitless, incalculable, immeasurable, and endless. We cannot fully appreciate Him because we cannot fully comprehend His awesomeness. Relax. Your need cannot exceed His ability to meet it. You cannot be hurt beyond His ability to heal. Your sin cannot extend past His ability to forgive. Your loss cannot be greater than His ability to restore. Whatever you face, wherever you go, whatever you do, you will find more than enough resources in Christ Jesus to handle it.
According to I Timothy 2:5, Jesus is the Mediator, the one mediator between God and man. A mediator is needed whenever there is a dispute between two parties. The mediator, Jesus, stepped into the gap between holy God and sinful man. He entered the breach created by our rebellion and disobedience. Jesus was uniquely qualified to mediate, since He was the God Man, able to represent God and man. Jesus, in the middle, paid the price to reconcile man to his Creator. Jesus is the peacemaker; He is our peace. Never forget, the Mediator was lovingly sent by God, not by man. Born of a woman? Yes, and sent by God. One of us? Yes, and a member of the Godhead. Any notion that Jesus and the Father were acting separately is incorrect. We are reconciled due to the benevolent action of our loving Father and His obedient Son. Praise the Father and the Son.
In Hebrews 12:1, 2 and Hebrews 2:10, Jesus is called the Greek word “Archegon”. This word is made up of two Greek words meaning “to lead” and “the first”. Different Bible translations translate the word, Prince, Captain, Author, Leader, Chief Leader, Guide, or Source. Perhaps the best translation is Pioneer. Jesus is the one who went ahead and blazed a trail for us to follow. Jesus is the great Trailblazer. He has gone before us and opened a way for us to live rightly. Anywhere we must go, He has already been, victoriously. With the machete of the word of God Jesus cleared a way through the religiosity and paganism of His day. He fought the good fight and finished His course. He was the ultimate leader of humanity. He boldly went where no man had gone before. Expect the Pioneer to be the Trailblazer in us.
Jesus is the Anchor of My Soul. Several years ago a good friend of mine began talking about taking me fishing in his newly acquired boat. After months and months of talking about it, the long-awaited day arrived. We got up early and headed to the lake of his choice. It was a very large lake; we launched the boat in an isolated narrow cove. Much to my friend’s disappointment, his motor would not start, in spite of each of us wearing ourselves out pulling on the cord and his tinkering with everything he could think of. We stayed in the slew for hours and without much success. We were maybe 50 yards from where we launched. Eventually, we gave up and started rowing back to the boat ramp. We rowed and rowed and were getting nowhere. We were puzzled until he sheepishly said, “I forgot to raise the anchor.” The anchor had firmly snagged something on the lake bottom and we could not budge the boat. Oh, how secure is the Anchor of my Soul! We are in Him, He is us, and He is unmovable. Do not sweat the severity of the storm or even the size of your boat. Rejoice in the steadfastness of your Anchor.
Fire is a state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen giving off light heat and flame. A campfire is useful; fire in a fireplace or on a stove is beneficial. A forest fire, on the other hand, is indiscriminately destructive. Jesus is a Refiner’s Fire. His intent is not to incinerate, but to purify and refine. This imagery refers to the process of purifying metals where the metal is heated into a molten state. Impurities float to the surface to be skimmed away. Once the dross is removed from the surface, the refiner can see his reflection in the surface of the molten metal. So, welcome the activity of the Refiner’s Fire. You have nothing to lose, except what you need skimmed away.
Christ descended from heaven to earth to raise us up. He continually took the low place, serving others with humility. In spite of possessing the right to exalt Himself, He habitually chose to humble himself and serve. He even washed his disciples’ feet which was the menial task of a lowly servant. Jesus was mocked, abused, and spat upon, treated like the lowest form of humility. Crucifixion was capital punishment reserved for the lowest of criminals. Jesus, body was lowered from the cross and buried in the tomb. His disciple were scattered and sank to an all-time low as they saw their hopes sink into the dark abyss of despair. But then, early on the first day of the week, He arose. All of his descending was reversed as He was resurrected from the dead, ascended to heaven, and was exalted to the highest place and given a name above every name. Jesus is the Risen One. Rejoice, knowing you were raised up together with Him to walk in newness of life!
In Genesis 3:15, the coming Messiah is referred to as the Seed of the Woman. Already in the third chapter of the Bible, there is a reference to our precious Savior. Whenever ancient people spoke of seed, it was always the seed of the man, not the woman. The prophesied Messiah would be born of woman without the help of a man. This foreshadows the supernatural conception of Jesus. He came as the offspring of the woman to crush the serpent’s head, bruising His heal in the process. Honestly, at the cross it looked like Jesus was the one crushed, but on the third day it became evident it was the serpent’s head that was crushed as Christ arose victoriously. The head is the place of authority and power; a serpents head is where its poison is located. Our Messiah crushed the head of the serpent. So rejoice; you are in the Messiah, and the Messiah is in you. You are the overcoming offspring of the Offspring of the Woman who crushed the head of your enemy.
Jesus is who He is, no matter who anyone thinks He is. He is not a concept subject to our own opinions. He is not a doctrine developed by our own preferences. He is a person who eternally exists as He is. We have all heard others pontificate, “I like to think Jesus is…” That’s nice, but that has no effect on who He actually is. Jesus is not the product of our imagination, He is the creator of our ability to imagine. In fact, He is not the product of anything. He is the Uncreated One, the Eternal infinite I AM. Jesus, give us ever-increasing revelation of who you are.
Isaiah 9:6 calls the coming Messiah Counselor. Since there is no punctuation included in the original Hebrew text, not all translators agree on the translation of this verse. The NIV, NLT, and NAS render Wonderful Counselor. The KJV, ASV, and Darby render Wonderful, Counselor. It is true either way, because He is Wonderful. He is Counselor, and Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is the perfect counselor, always available without an appointment. Jesus is an unparalleled listener. He has perfect knowledge of every one of his counselees. Jesus actually knows each of us better than we know ourselves. He knows your background, as well as, every spiritual force at work. Jesus is a compassionate counselor. To Him, you are more than just another case, more than just another client. He could not possibly love you any more than He does. He knows exactly how to help you, specifically.
According to Colossians 1:17, Christ holds all things together. He is the Creator and Sustainer in whom all things consist. He is the cosmic glue who holds everything together. If He was to remove His influence the entirety of creation would fly to pieces. In Him, we live and move and have our being. Without Him, every growing thing would cease growing. Every breathing thing would no longer inhale or exhale. Every beating heart would discontinue pulsating. The rhythm of the spheres would be thrown into immediate arrhythmia. The planetary orbits would lose their proper trajectory. Everything currently integrated would disintegrate. So, today, depend on Him to hold you together whatever you go through. Should you ever feel like you are going to pieces, trust Christ knowing that in Him you will not.
Jesus is called the Friend of Sinners. That is double amazing. The fact that God’s mere creations can become friends with the One who said “before Abraham was, I AM”. Friends with the God-Man, fully God, fully man? Really? That in itself is amazing, but even more amazingly, the Holy One is the friend of “Sinners”. There is a line which separates strangers from acquaintances, then another line which separates friends from acquaintances. Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, my friend? Remarkably, our unbelievable friendship was initiated by Him. The title “Friend of Sinners” is so priceless to us, was given to Jesus in scorn and derision. And now, because of all He accomplished for us, we are Best Friends Forever! BFFs!
Adam, the first man, was more than just an individual. He was the representative man, the prototype man, the fountainhead of humanity. Adam was the forerunner of all sinners. The first man obviously failed, disobeyed, and sinned. By nature, we were all descendants of the first man. But thank God for the Second Man, Jesus. The Second Man came bringing a second chance to mankind, to you and me. Since a man lost dominion to the enemy through sin, it was necessary for a man to win it back. The sinless Second Man undid all the harm the first man did. Jesus untwisted what the first man perverted and repaired what he damaged. Everywhere the first man failed, the Second Man succeeded. Amazing! The Eternal Christ who became the Second Man existed before the first man. The Second Man was so successful there will be no need for a Third Man. The Second Man, like the first man, was more than just an individual. He, too, was a prototype man, a representative man. Jesus was the fountainhead of redeemed humanity, the progenitor of restored humanity, the spring of reconciled humanity. The Second Man was the Firstborn of Many Brethren. Put the Second Man first in in all you do today.
Adam, the first man, was more than just an individual. He was the representative man, the prototype man, the fountainhead of humanity. Adam was the forerunner of all sinners. The first man obviously failed, disobeyed, and sinned. By nature, we were all descendants of the first man. But thank God for the Second Man, Jesus. The Second Man came bringing a second chance to mankind, to you and me. Since a man lost dominion to the enemy through sin, it was necessary for a man to win it back. The sinless Second Man undid all the harm the first man did. Jesus untwisted what the first man perverted and repaired what he damaged. Everywhere the first man failed, the Second Man succeeded. Amazing! The Eternal Christ who became the Second Man existed before the first man. The Second Man was so successful there will be no need for a Third Man. The Second Man, like the first man, was more than just an individual. He, too, was a prototype man, a representative man. Jesus was the fountainhead of redeemed humanity, the progenitor of restored humanity, the spring of reconciled humanity. The Second Man was the Firstborn of Many Brethren. Put the Second Man first in in all you do today.
Imagine an Ancient Near Eastern shepherd far from home with his sheep. Finding adequate pasture for the flock necessitated being too far from home to return for the night, so he gathers the sheep into a cave for safety purposes. The responsible, faithful shepherd stations himself at the mouth of the cave for the night; therefore, any enemy of the sheep must pass through the shepherd to get to the flock. He has literally become the door to the sheep. Jesus the Good Shepherd is the Door to the Sheep having put Himself in harm’s way for us. Adore the Door! Trust and appreciate the Shepherd.
Jesus is called the Baby in Luke 2:16. The Lord – a baby. The Messiah – a baby. Think about it. He did not appear on earth as a full-grown adult Savior. He arrived as a tiny, helpless infant. He who is exalted as head over all, the head of the church, once needed His own head supported by those who held Him. He who never sleeps or slumbers was a babe asleep on the hay. The One who now receives songs of worship in every language, once heard His mother singing Him a lullaby. One who holds the world in His hands, used to be held in the hands of his mother. Amazing how low the Eternal Christ condescended in order to lift us up to reign with Him forever as joint-heirs.
Every day begins with a morning, fresh, new, and full of possibilities. Who is not impressed with a beautiful Sunrise? The sunrise or “dayspring” is delightful, regardless of the terrain of the horizon it rises from. Mountains, plains, oceans, and deserts are especially picturesque at daybreak. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist prophesied the emergence of the Dayspring from on High in Luke 1:78. John the Baptist identified Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah, heralding the arrival of the coming day. Jesus is the Sunrise of a whole new era for humanity. Do you need a fresh new beginning? Could you use some new mercies on a daily basis? All of this newness is wrapped up in the faithful, brilliant, glorious Dayspring, in the Morning Himself, our precious Light of the World, Jesus!
In Revelation 22:16 Jesus calls Himself the Root and Offspring of David. Wow! That is an amazing statement. Think about it. Jesus is the Son of God who eternally precedes David. Christ is the Creator without whom David would never have existed. The Root of David is Christ, the Eternal Word, who was with God in the beginning. And at the same time this Root, the Son of God, was also the Son of Man who was born into this world through the lineage of David. David, the Shepherd King, is a foreshadowing of Jesus in many ways. The Messiah whom David foreshadowed was his Root. Only our Jesus, the God-Man could pull off such an impossibility. He is good at doing the impossible.
Jesus is called a Banner tor the Peoples in Isaiah 11:10. A banner is a rallying symbol. It represents the ideals and aspirations of a people. A flag or banner symbolizes a people’s identity. It arouses emotions and devotion to a cause, person, or a nation. Consider for a moment the United States flag, the Star-Spangled Banner. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have rallied under it to serve our county. These men and women set aside their many differences and preferences to rally together for a greater cause. All ethnicities, Republicans and Democrats, Christians and Non-Christians, Protestants and Catholics, professionals and manual laborers rally together under “Old Glory”. Isaiah prophesied the Messiah would be a rallying point for all peoples. Allegiance to Christ exceeds all other allegiances. Under Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free. Whenever one nation conquers another the conqueror promptly raises its flag over the conquered territory. Flags or banners are hung from a standard or a flagpole. Our Banner, Jesus, hung from a cross for us and forever conquered our hearts with His outrageous love and mercy. As a result, we voluntarily raise Him high over our lives and live in joyful submission to His authority.
Jesus is referred to as The Arm of the Lord in Isaiah 53:1. What a difference there is between the arm of the flesh and the arm of the Lord. The arm of the flesh yields what man can do. The arm of the Lord yields what the Almighty can do. An arm symbolizes strength and decisive action. Arms get things done; they reach, lift, and embrace. Jesus is our intervening God in action. Whatever Jesus did was connected to the heart and mind of the Father in heaven. Jesus was God reaching into human history to change its course forever. With Jesus, The Arm of the Lord, he struck the winning blow against the enemy of our souls. If you ever doubt whether the Arm of the Lord can be trusted, just notice the nail-print in the hand attached to The Arm.
Jesus was called a scepter that will rise out of Israel in Numbers 24:7. A scepter is part of a king’s accessories, an ornamental staff used by a ruler on ceremonial occasions as a symbol of sovereignty. Remember Esther? She was the Jewish queen of the Persian King Ahasuerus. She needed to come the king in an attempt to save her people from a plot to destroy them. According to Esther 4:11, Any man or woman that approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned by the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. In a dramatic scene, after three days of fasting, Esther risked her life to approach the king. According Esther 5:1-2, Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace, across from the king’s house, while the king sat on his royal throne in the royal house, facing the entrance of the house. So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. In our sinful condition, we could not approach holy God. But God reached out to us with Christ, His scepter. And his touch on our lives enables us to enter into the presence of the Father. Rejoice today in the access we have to the Father through Christ, the Scepter.
Bread is the most basic of foods. So fundamental, in fact, that the word bread is used as a substitute for the word food as in the expression daily bread. Jesus meets our deepest needs for true, eternal, abundant, spiritual life. Without Jesus, spiritual starvation is sure. Bread is meant to be eaten. No matter how much bread is around a hungry person it is useless unless consumed. Jesus needs to be internalized, digested, and assimilated into our lives. Christianity is Christ-in you-ity. We are to feast upon Jesus, experiencing union with Him. The Father knew exactly what we needed and sent Him to us. He arrived on earth, appropriately, in Bethlehem which means House of Bread. Spend the day satisfied with the hearty, delicious Bread of Heaven.
Being an heir can be a big thing or a not so big thing. Being an heir of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet is a big deal. Christ is the heir of all things. What a staggering statement! We are incapable of wrapping our minds around such a vast inheritance. The earth is the Lord’s, and it is all His to give. Jesus is the rightful heir by virtue of His relationship as the Son of God. He is the rightful heir due to His supremacy. In addition to all this, Christ has been appointed, chosen, selected as heir by His Father. He is the Heir of all things, and rightly so. But rejoice today in the more astounding truth that by His amazing grace we are Joint heirs with Him. Co-heirs with our amazing Savior, fellow-heirs with the Heir of all things.
The lion is a glorious animal, the symbol of power, courage, nobility, and royalty. This beast is known as the king of the jungle. A lion adorns many flags, banners, and family crests; many families and nations have adopted the lion as their emblem. The average male lion weighs 400 pounds. He can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour in short spurts and can leap up to 36 feet. The male lion defends the pride’s territory. The lion is equipped with terrific night vision and is 6 times more sensitive to light than humans. The brave lion will go toe-to-toe with animals much larger than itself and can kill animals up to 1000 pounds. The lion uses its powerful jaws to snap the neck or strangle its prey. The lion’s roar is able to be heard for 5 miles in every direction. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He marked his territory with the loud roar from Calvary, “It Is Finished”. So, boldly face this day knowing that you are in the Lion and the Lion is in you.
The Greek word translated only begotten in John 3:16 is “monogenes”. It means one of a kind or one and only. Jesus is the unique Son of God. God has many sons, but none like Jesus. We are sons, only because He is. Our sonship was predated by His. Our sonship is totally dependent on His. He is the only son of God worthy to be worshiped. Jesus was the Son of God in a category by Himself. There is no other son equal to this Son. This Son was the one and only sinless son. This amazing Son of God never sinned once by commission or omission. He never once grieved, quenched, or resisted the Holy Spirit. This son alone is given a name above every name at which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. In fact, this son of God is God. Our own sonship is based on His, and we are accepted in the Beloved. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself though His unique Son. Have fun in the Son today.
Jesus is the True Vine. He is firmly rooted and full of life. We are branches connected to the divine Vine. The vine and the branch are not seen as separate; they are always viewed as one. We are one with Jesus, the vibrant Vine. His life is our life; we share His amazing, abundant life. The sap of Christ flows in us, and the fruit produced through us is the fruit of the Vine. Straining to produce fruit is unproductive, so spend the day joyfully abiding in the Vine.
Jesus, the S-o-n of God is also the S-u-n of Righteousness. The physical sun is what it is in order to illustrate the Messiah’s brilliance and importance. Our sun gives us a finite glimpse into the nature of the spiritual Sun. Obviously, our sun is our planet’s source of light. The Sun scatters darkness and reveal things as they are. The sun is constant, the model of consistency rising daily like clockwork. Circumstances fluctuate, people may let you down, but Jesus is faithful. The sun is absolutely necessary for life on earth. Even more, the Sun of Righteousness is necessary for physical life, abundant life, eternal life. Imagine the tremendous power of the sun that is so powerful here though it is 93 million miles away. The Sun is all-powerful and is the center of our lives like the sun is the center of the solar system. Spend the day basking in the healing rays of the Sun and let Him radiate through you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave” Jesus whom Paul called the “Indescribable Gift” in II Corinthians 9:15. Jesus is the Gift that keeps on giving. He is the Gift that defies description, because he transcends superlatives and exceeds the power of imagination. Jesus is the total package crammed full of every good thing. This Indescribable Gift came to us wrapped in swaddling clothes labeled “to: the world”, “from: God”, Himself. Receive the Gift, experience the Gift, enjoy the Gift and share the Indescribable Gift.
Jesus is “the Alpha and Omega”. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last letter. Jesus is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. All things were created by Him (Alpha) and for Him (Omega). He is the Author (Alpha) and Finisher (Omega). He (the Alpha) began a good work in you, and He (the Omega) will see it to completion. Jesus is the first thing on my mind in the morning (Alpha), and the last thing on my mind at night (Omega). He was there on the day I was born (Alpha), and will be there on my dying day (Omega). He is the Eternal One, the Uncreated One before the first of me and carrying me through the end of time. He is everything needed by the Greek speakers from alpha to omega, by the Hebrew speakers from aleph to tav, and by English speakers from a to z. He is my personal alpha and omega. Christianity begins and ends with the person of Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:69 calls “Jesus the Horn of Salvation”. This image is used of the Lord a couple time in the Old Testament; however, this word picture does not mean a lot to the 21st century American mind. While the horn is on the animal, it is used for protection against attack. Jesus is our protector and defender. The horn, historically, symbolizes strength and power. Jesus has all power in heaven and earth and possesses ultimate strength. Hollowed out horns were used as drinking vessels. Jesus is the container of salvation. From Him we drink unconditional love, peace that passes all understanding, life abundant and eternal, resurrection power, and wisdom from heaven, Jesus is brimming full of everything we need. Horns are also a musical instrument, to this day trumpets and other brass instruments are called “horns”. These horns were used in Israel’s festival celebrations and to call people to war. Jesus is the fulfillment of the festivals, our reason to celebrate, and He calls us to His side in the battle of the ages.
In Hebrews 1:3, Jesus is called the Radiance of God’s Glory. He is the brightness, the effulgence, the outshining of His glory. He is not just like God, He was the very essence of God emanating. When people encounter Jesus they encounter God Himself. In Jesus they met the righteousness, holiness, mercy, goodness, and faithfulness of God. Father, Son, and Spirit functioned in perfect union in Christ. Jesus told Philip “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.” And miracle of miracles you are in Him and He is in you. Jesus became one of us to draw us into fellowship with the Trinity. Let Him radiate from you, today!
Haggai 2:7 called the coming Messiah, “The Desire of All Nations”. Jesus satisfies the longings of all human beings. He is the cross-cultural King, the universal Lord, and Savior of the entire world. All other religions quickly melt in His glorious presence. Jesus is totally relevant to every culture. Nations vary in technological development, economic prosperity, and political stability, but Jesus is the answer to the yearning of every heart. Jesus is the desire of Afghanistan, Argentina, Albania, Austria and Australia. Jesus is the desire of Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, and Bahrain. Whether they realize it or not, every Cambodian, Canadian, Croatian, Cuban and Colombian heart craves Jesus. Feast on Him today, the Bread of Life.
Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is Spirit.” As Spirit, God is incorporeal, immaterial, and invisible. So, what is this invisible God like? Colossians 1:15 tells us, “Jesus is the IMAGE of the invisible God.” If you want to know what God thinks about anything, look at Jesus. Sin? He hates it. Sinners? He loves them. Hypocrisy? He despises it. Lukewarmness? It nauseates Him. Unity among believers? He longs for it. Prayer? He practiced it. Children? He loved them. Scripture? He believed it. Jesus was the unseen, seen. He is the invisible, visible. He was the unknowable made knowable. He was the untouchable made touchable. He told his followers that if they had seen Him they had seen His Father.
Jesus is the LIFE, higher LIFE, eternal LIFE, indestructible LIFE, abundant LIFE. He is the giver of life and the giver of LIFE. Jesus, as the LIFE, came bringing LIFE, restoring LIFE, and imparting LIFE, divine LIFE, God-LIFE. The LIFE came to die, for those dead in trespasses and sin, so we might have LIFE. The Resurrection LIFE becomes our LIFE. Live the LIFE today as the LIFE lives in you!
Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!” Iron Man “possesses a wealth of powers through his powered armor suit. These powers include super strength, the ability to fly, durability, and a number of weapons”. Spiderman’s powers include wall-crawling, enhanced strength, speed, reflexes, durability, stamina, healing and agility, as well as an early warning system officially dubbed the “Spider-Sense” Batman has “no superhuman powers, he is one of the world’s smartest men and greatest fighters. His physical prowess and technical ingenuity make him an incredibly dangerous opponent.” Jesus is the God Man. He is fully God and fully man. His powers include healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, stopping storms, walking on water, and multiplying food. And, oh, the best thing about Jesus is that he is REAL. These other characters are fictitious, therefore, unknowable. Jesus, however, is knowable, and all of His powers are at work for you and potentially in and through you.
Jesus Christ is THE Truth. Jesus is not just the possessor and teacher of truth. He is the truth personified. He is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Into a lie-filled, deceived world the Truth became flesh and dwelt among us. He was, is , and evermore will be the Truth. Truth is defined as that which conforms to reality, as that which squares with the way things really are. All that Jesus is, says, and does is perfectly in line with how things actually are. Our Savior is the truth about God and the truth about man. Sent by His Father, the God of all truth, He was anointed by the Spirit of Truth. Behold Jesus, and you behold truth. Listen to Jesus, and you hear truth. Follow Jesus, and you follow truth. All truth is His truth, and all truth is united in Him. He is THE Truth which holds all truth together. Walking in the truth is more than walking consistently with the facts; walking in the Truth is walking with a person, the person who fully embodies reality. And this, my friend, is the truth.
Jesus is called the Breaker in Micah. In the fullness of time, He broke through the darkness as the Light of the World. The eternal Son of God broke into the human race as the Son of Man. He broke into this earthly realm with the kingdom of God. He is the Breaker who goes before us to break through every obstacle as a forerunner, a pioneer, a trailblazer. He broke the power of the enemy at the cross. He breaks whatever needs broken in order to fix whatever needs to be fixed. He breaks cycles of defeat; He breaks addictions and generational curses. Once broken, now we are in the Breaker and the Breaker is in us.
Numbers 24:17 says, “A star shall come out of Jacob.” In ancient times a star was a symbol of a great leader. This passage is a messianic prophecy foretelling the coming of Jesus from the lineage of Jacob. The birthplace of this brilliant Star who was actually the maker of stars was marked by a star. Jesus is the greatest leader of all times. He outshines Moses, Joshua, David, Peter, John, and Paul. Jesus outshines Luther, Wesley, Edwards, Booth, Mueller, and Moody. He outshines the Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Caesars, and Russian Czars. This star shines universally and eternally with unparalleled splendor. So, follow the leader, Jesus Christ, Superstar.
Jesus said He is the way. THE way, not a way. If you drive from here in Rusk to Waco or Dallas or Houston, in each case, there is more than one way to get there. Jesus, however, is the only way to get to the Father. Jesus is the way in the sense of being the route and the transportation. Years ago, I was blessed to go to Queretaro, Mexico on a mission trip. While there, we did not have a car and did not drive all week. Queretaro is a city of over a million people, and we stayed a long way from the church. We did not know how to get around the big city, but Fernando was our driver. He was our way everywhere we went. He was our way; our way was a person. We simply trusted Fernando, and he got us wherever we needed to be. Jesus is the way; the way is a person.
The maker of rocks is called the Rock. The maker of lions is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The creator of water is called the Living Water. The creator of lambs is called the Lamb of God. The maker of trees is the Tree of Life. The maker of man became a man. The creator of the sun is called the Sun of Righteousness. The creator of stars is called a Star. The maker of light is called the Light of the World. The maker of vines is called the True Vine. All of creation is here to reveal God and to reflect His glory. Things in nature are what they are for a reason. The creation is the work of an Intelligent Designer. We are surrounded by object lessons. Let everything you encounter in God’s creation point you to the Father, His Son, and His ways.
Imagine yourself driving down the highway in the middle of nowhere. Your bladder sends a signal to your brain, “Find me a bathroom!” You look up to find a sign with bad news; the next town is 45 minutes away, and the next rest stop is 35 miles away. Your mind is not happy, because waiting that long will not be easy. The next leg of your journey is miserable, and your bladder is constantly reminding you that it means business. It is even making threats. FINALLY, you get to the rest stop exit. You get into a parking spot and inconspicuously speed walk to the restroom, and on the door is an “Out of Order” sign. We all know what out of order means; it means it is not working properly. For humans to live as God intended, we must be in proper working order. We are to live with our Holy Spirit filled spirits ruling our souls and bodies. Spirit, soul, and body. That is the proper order. Do not be mind-led or emotion-led; be spirit-led. Let your innermost being rise up and set the rest of your being in order. Refuse to live a single day “out of order”. Live from the new you, the spirit you.
As Christians we talk about “time alone with God”. By that, of course, we mean our quiet time or our prayer time. And we all regret we do not have more time alone with Him. I will never forget when I discovered a simple, life-changing secret. Anytime I am alone, I am alone with God. He is always with us, so as soon as we become aware of this simple fact, our time alone with God is multiplied. Be cognizant of those times and make the most of every moment. We do not have to retreat to a devotionally-conducive setting to spend time alone with Him. We do not have to set the atmosphere. We can just naturally enjoy every scrap of alone time with Him. Get all the planned alone time with God that you can, but savor all the rest of opportunities.
Greetings, my name is Mordecai. I am a Mediterranean Monk Seal. You do not know me but I think you will be interested in my story. It all started for me when I noticed a huge fish swimming surprisingly close to the shore. My curiosity was stronger than my fear, so I drew nearer to see what was happening, and much to my amazement the fish expelled something onto the shore. That something was alive and moving. It was a human being who I have since discovered to be a reluctant prophet from Israel. As I saw the broken man sprawling on the shore I drew near to him. Close enough to hear him speak, I was privileged to hear quite a heartfelt prayer. A prayer from the lips of a man whose life had just been miraculously spared in a most unorthodox method. This smelly, humble, contrite man greeted dry land in a very obedient mood. He was ready to do things Yahweh’s way. Jonah was determined to make the most of his second chance. That decision gets my SEAL of approval. I would suggest to the rest of you people, obey God the first time!
Hi, I am Samuel C. Gull. I hang out at the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. There is an extraordinary man in my region who has been doing amazing things. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. There are rumors circulating about him walking on the water. One day, some of my fellow gulls watched him orchestrate such a catch of fish it took two boats to gather in all the fish. Once, I winged my way up to watch him teaching thousands of people on a nearby hillside. I had a bird’s eye view of another amazing occurrence. I hesitate to tell you, because you may think I am GULLible, but I witnessed a man catching a fish with a coin in its mouth. I swooped down for a better view of this strange happening. The man was celebrating the catch ranting about how Jesus said there would be a coin in its mouth. This man has caused quite a stir around here. I know people make fun of bird brains, but it is pretty clear to me this man should be listened to and followed.
Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again. Being born once is not enough, we must be born a second time of the Spirit, from above. The theological term for the new birth is regeneration. To generate is to produce, to cause to be, or to bring into existence; so to re-generate is to be recreated, made again, or made new. Regeneration is a spiritual experience where we are genuinely, supernaturally changed at the core of our being. We are internally transformed by God, and we become something we were not before. We are reGENErated, re-gened. Genes are a basic unit of heredity. We are born the first time with the physical genes of our earthly parents. We are born the second time with the spiritual genes of our heavenly Father. We are now truly His children, with His DNA. We have inherited His nature, thus making us new creations with a new nature. Our first birth did not to equip us for eternal life, but our second birth is with eternal genes fit for eternity. We are already experiencing eternal life as true children of the Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. So, in this age of paternity testing in the physical realm, if it was possible to do a spiritual DNA test on those of us who have been born again, the results would reveal God is truly our Father. Celebrate your reGENEration today, and live as the new creation you have been made.
Hi I am Demetrius De Rodent from Philippi. I want to tell you about the most bazaar night of my life. One night two unjustly harassed, severely beaten men were tossed into the dismal dungeon where I was hanging out. These two guys were different than any prisoners I have ever encountered. They were obviously uncomfortable and in intense pain, but at midnight they surprisingly began to sing. That’s right sing; they were praising their God. I was astounded! I thought. “What kind of men were these? Or, better yet, “What kind of God did they serve?” As I was marveling, the prison began to shake. It was a perfectly timed earthquake sent to liberate them from incarceration. That night I was convinced their God is THE God. The way they loved Him and the way He intervened on their behalf was earthshaking. Literally.
(Testimony from one of David’s sheep)
Wow! You should have seen what my shepherd did today. We were out grazing when, suddenly, a lion began rushing toward the flock. David was watching us so closely he caught the lion before he nabbed any of us. I have never seen him move as quickly as when he bolted between the approaching lion and the nearest sheep. He threw himself in harm’s way for us. He risked his life for us, sheep like us. He killed that lion with his bare hands. What a shepherd! I own my life to him. (I can definitely relate to the sheep; how about you? And our Shepherd actually died for us. What a Shepherd!)
Hello, my name is Work. Hi, Work, where are you from? Does it matter where I come from? Oh, it matters. Well, if you must know, I have lived several places. I used to live in Obligation. After that, I moved to Payback. I gave my best effort everywhere I have ever lived, but I never really hit my stride until I moved to my current location. So, Work, where are you from now? Rest, that is where I come from now. I am Work from Rest. Great, I was hoping you were from there. That is perfect! Stay there; that is where Work should be from. (So, where does your work coming from? If it is not Rest, get there quick.)
Welcome to a small, crowded Texas gym near the dawn of the ‘70s. It is an afternoon game which was a part of a junior high basketball tournament. The host school released their students to the gym to attend our game. I was a starting forward for the visiting team that memorable afternoon. At one point in the contest, there was a loose ball; ten players madly scrambling to control it. As if the ball had a mind of its own it eluded everyone until I impressively corralled the ball and broke free for an uncontested lay-up. I drove to the basket and executed a text book lay-up. I was elated, so I did a little mini-celebration complete with a hearty fist pump. As I turned to head back up the court I noticed something disturbing. The entire opposing bench was celebrating, and our coach’s head was in his hands. Not good, I had just scored for the other team. The crowd was suddenly swept up in the moment, full of laughter and fingers pointing at me. Was it an embarrassing moment? You bet; but did I hang up my Converses? Did I run to the locker room and hide? No, I finished the game and ended as up our second leading scorer and the opposing team’s fourth leading scorer. So, what did I do? What could I do? I just laughed and took a bow to the crowd. We all mess up, but letting it devastate us is unnecessary and unwise. I had a game to finish and a season to complete. Moping and whining would not have helped anyone. Shame holds us back and makes us feel unqualified to continue. Thank God, Jesus bore our shame, so, we can get up quickly after falling. Taking ourselves too seriously is a form of pride.
It is a beautiful spring day in 1974 at the ballpark in Lacy Lakeview. Welcome to an exciting high school baseball game, a playoff game. I am in the batter’s box facing the hardest throwing pitcher I have ever faced, a left-hander. He releases a pitch zooming right at me at such a high velocity I twist to my left, turning my back to the pitch. Thud! The stray fastball nails me square in the back. I do my best to shake it off and get down to first base. A couple of innings later, I must get back in the batter’s box again. That is how baseball works; you just have to put getting hit behind you and get back in there. In church life, we all get hurt. The temptation is to avoid putting ourselves in a position to take another hit. To leave the game is to walk away from the body you need and the body that needs you. Be courageous, get your bat, and step up to the plate. Hang in there slugger!
Last Sunday night, we hosted a Super Bowl party at our house. The Denver Broncos played a truly outstanding game; their defense was amazing! We had a good time watching the game together, and the next morning, I made a face book post with a picture of our living room crowded with spectators. I received a couple of comments from friends in Colorado pointing out how bored we all looked while viewing the game. They commented on the lack of orange and blue in the room. Two years ago, I attended to a Super Bowl party at a dear friend’s home in Colorado when the Broncos were playing the Seattle Seahawks. There was definitely much more anticipation, much more emotion, and much more orange and blue in that room on that day. As I reflected on the difference in the two watching experiences, I quickly realized it would have been so different at my house that night if the Dallas Cowboys had been playing. Most everyone gathered at our house last week was for Denver, but no one really cared all that much. They did not have a “passion” for either of the two teams involved. If, on the other hand, one of the teams playing had been a team we had a lifelong allegiance and loyalty to, it would have been a different story. There is a passion developed for a team you have a history with. You care more about a team you have followed and invested time in getting to know. If a person only has a slight passion for God, is it not proof of a shallow, casual relationship with Him. We should be so invested in Jesus, so intimately related to Him that we are outrageous Jesus FANS. Jesus FAN-atics!
Some pickup trucks have two gas tanks. When one tank gets low, you can switch over to the other tank. We are similar to the pickup with two tanks. When you find yourself worrying and fretting it is proof you are drawing from the limited, human power tank. When we are drawing from that limited tank we are fearful of running out of gas. We are anxious, insecure, and full of feelings of inadequacy. Once we realize we are drawing from the wrong tank, it is time to flip the switch over to the unlimited, high-octane God tank. Pulling from the right tank, all anxiety and tension subsides. So, where are you drawing your life from? Switch to the God tank and keep it there!
We have all seen pirate treasure maps in the movies. And, of course, on each of these hand-drawn, tattered documents, X marks the spot. Find the X, and you find the treasure. Since these treasures are buried, hidden in a cave, or resting on the ocean floor, people are unaware of their location without the aid of the all-important treasure map. Theoretically, you could be standing right by the hidden treasure and not know it. In this life, we are surrounded by unnoticed treasures. May the Lord give us eyes to see each of our brothers and sisters in Christ marked with an X. Let us see each other as the priceless treasures. Each person is a unique treasure chest, laden with value and worth. Lovingly digging into each other’s lives is an adventure which leads to great profit.
My alarm woke me up a few minutes ago. Until then, I was unaware of my surroundings, unconscious and oblivious to my environment. I, then, heard the clock beeping and was suddenly awakened. Similarly, when I begin to fear or worry it is an alarm going off. It is telling me my focus is off. Whenever you start thinking and saying, ‘I can’t”, let it call you back to consciousness of Christ. Let your disrupting, anxious thoughts be the annoying beeps that call you back to the place of peace, rest, and trust in the all-sufficiency of Christ who lives within you. Have a fearless, worry-free, Christ-centered day!
Last night, Susan and I hosted a Super Bowl party at our house. We were rooting for the Denver Broncos. All night long, I used “we” when referring to the Broncos. “We”? Obviously, I was not on the field playing for the Broncos. Nor do I own the team. It was a vicarious “we”. I wanted Denver to win last night because of our many friends in Colorado and because of their poor showing in the Super Bowl year before last. And sure enough, “we” won. When Christ left heaven and came to earth. He lived and died and was raised for us. “We” were crucified, buried, and raised together, even though I was not even born yet. “We” defeated death, hell, and the grave. “We” are more than conquerors. Today, we are one, and all He did for me is as much mine as if I had done it myself. Jesus and I are a genuine ‘we”. Our lives are forever entwined. And that is a victory worth celebrating today and every day!
Thank you Lord for tearing down the WALL between us. You have opened the DOOR to a life without a CEILING. Since you crossed the THRESHOLD into my life, my hope has gone through the ROOF. Every day is an amazing WINDOW of opportunity for you to continue MOLDING me into the image of your Son. You set me free and have given me ROOM to move into my full destiny. Every morning when my feet hit the FLOOR, I want to raise the RAFTERS with your praise.
Father, give me eyes to see the brilliant majesty of Christ. Help me explore the unfathomable riches of the glory of your amazing Son. Captivate me with the beauty of His holiness. Overwhelm me with the splendor of His magnificence. Superimpose His image on the lenses of my eyes, so all I see is through Him and for Him. I choose to live a Christ-focused, Christ-centered, Christ-directed life. In Him I live and move and have my being.
Are you ready for a fishing story….a true fishing tale? Fishermen are known to stretch the truth, but I have a witness. There are few things this side of heaven which I enjoy more than fishing in the ocean. A few summers ago, I was fishing from a jetty in Freeport, Texas. The jetty was lined with huge rocks which extended outward underwater for 15 or 20 feet. As a result, when reeling in your line you had to hold your rod and reel high and reel as fast as you could to avoid getting hooked on the rocks. My wife, Susan, was sitting next to me reading a book under a multicolored umbrella. The fish were not biting very well on that sizzling gulf coast day, but that did not keep me from my wholehearted angling. Occasionally, I would reel in a piggy perch or a small catfish. Part of my enjoyment of salt water fishing is that you never know what you might catch. I have caught ribbon fish, croakers, redfish, a bonnet head shark, black drum, speckled trout, blowfish, a ling, and a tuna, to mention a few. But that day I made my most unlikely catch. I will, quite possibly, catch at least one more of every type of fish I have caught to this point in my life; however, I will never reel in what I snagged that day. I remind you, Susan was there as my witness to this amazing feat. I was fishing with a large hook baited with a 3 ½ -inch dead shrimp. On one of my rapid reel-ins over the rocks I caught something. It was …are you ready?…a shrimp, a 2-inch live shrimp. I had snagged it through its middle section and it was flapping its little head and tail wildly. Yes I really did, I caught a shrimp. I cast out a big, dead shrimp and reeled in a smaller live one. What are the chances of that? I have never met anyone who caught a shrimp on a hook; this was truly a unique catch. Like that little shrimp, you are a rare catch. The ultimate Fisher of Men has snagged lots of people over the centuries, but no one ever like you. My little catch is long gone by now, but you, you will never be forgotten by the one who caught you. You are a keeper, so rejoice!
We live in a world where so many people are unsure of their own worth. They are on a treadmill of performance and competition striving to prove their worth. They are self-absorbed in their struggle to win approval and validate themselves. Into this chaos of insecurity and selfishness, come the words of Paul, “Consider others better than yourself”. Who can afford to do that? Only the one that knows who he is. Only the one who has already had his own worth validated by the cross of Jesus Christ and an intimate relationship with Him. We are not told others are actually better than us, we are simply told to esteem them as better. Secure in our relationship with Jesus, we can do this. Extraordinarily loved, we can extraordinarily love.
Imagine yourself in a large classroom with an amazing teacher, brilliant beyond description, whose standard is absolute perfection. This class is required, all-inclusive, and continuous. The teacher is an unceasing fountain of valuable insights and remarkable information; however you are overwhelmed and becoming incredibly nervous about absorbing everything flowing from this extraordinary teacher. To make matters worse, you discover this is a pass/fail course, requiring a 100 on the final exam in order to pass. You notice a mixed reaction in your classmates; some are goofing off as if they do not believe the test is coming, do not care, or have given up all hope of passing. The front row is packed with super students ruthlessly competing to lay hold of everything by will power and maximum effort. You are doing the best you can, but beginning to panic, because the possibility of making a 100 is appearing increasingly unattainable. I mean, really, how can you make a perfect grade? A 99 is failing, what kind of system is this? Then, one day you notice there is one person in the room unlike the rest. He is enjoying the teacher, the delighting in the class content, and loving every student in the room. This guy is relaxed, unworried, and confident. One afternoon he approaches you with an amazing offer – his perfect final exam paper! “Here just put your name on this and turn it in when the time comes, and come enjoy the class with me”, he says. Your immediate response is, “No way, that is cheating! If the teacher finds out, we will both be in trouble.” “Oh, no”, the stranger responds, “The teacher is my father, and he sent me to give this to you.” Righteousness is pass/fail. We need a 100 according to the letter of the law and the spirit of the law in order to pass. Thank God, we can receive the 100 achieved by the Son and enjoy the rest of the class without fear or worry.
When I was in the first grade our backyard adjoined the elementary school playground; there was not even a fence between us. So, getting to and from school was safe and easy. One day I was riding a bus to my grandmother’s house after school for some reason. I boarded the strange bus, and off we went. Before long, the bus was half empty and I had not seen anything familiar yet. I was looking out the window intently searching for that recognizable white house. The bus riders continued to stream out of the bus in a normal routine flow, stop after stop. None of them seemed worried about anything, but my nervousness increased with every screeching stop. I did not know what to say or do; I had never been in this position before. Eventually, the driver said, “Last stop; everybody off.” And, like some mindless robot, I got off and he drove away. This was a traumatic experience etched into my memory complete with audio. The song Winchester Cathedral was blaring on the bus radio. Oh-do-dee-o-do, Oh-do-dee-o-do, Oh-do-dee-o-do…There I stood, somewhere, but no somewhere I had ever seen before. I was downright, honest to goodness lost. I looked for the friendliest house in view, walked up the sidewalk onto the porch, and rang the doorbell. I was welcomed in and after a phone call to my grandparents, I was rescued.
Since then, I have realized I should not have gotten off that bus, but I was so shy I was afraid to say anything to the bus driver (yes, me, shy), but my biggest mistake was getting on the wrong bus in the first place, the bus number was close, just one number off, but the wrong bus leads to the wrong destination. In life, I once was lost, but now I am found. I am aboard the right bus. I am in Christ Jesus. My journey and destination are safe and secure. And, what a ride it is! My Father is the bus driver and He will never leave me on the side of the road.
“Let your unbending, dogmatic stubbornness be made known to all.” No, that’s not it. “Let your unbending, uncompromising, strong-willed forcefulness be made known to all.” No, that’s not it either. “Let your gentleness be known to all.” That’s it. Gentleness is a strength that often gets mislabeled as a weakness. Paul told the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 5, to be known for their reasonableness, for their yieldingness. It is a strength, not a weakness, to have a sweet disposition which remains meek under provocation. It is honorable to avoid argument and contention and to be quick to forgive. Remember, love suffers long and is kind, it is not rude. Rigid intolerance in the name of Jesus is not strength, but rather, weakness of character. So, be strong today! Be gentle!
Colossians 3:15 says, Let the peace of God rule in your heart. Our peace is derived from our internal union with Christ. Once our oneness with Him becomes more than a doctrine, and is genuinely experienced, the peace of God becomes a reality. This divine peace is a by-product of flowing in harmony with Him. As long as we are moving with him, that peace flourishes. Whenever the peace lifts it is an indication we are doing or entertaining something out of line with His will or character. Therefore, we are to allow the peace of God to “rule” in our hearts. The word “rule” means to act as an umpire. The peace of God serves as an arbiter, referee, or judge.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Having peace WITH God through Christ, we now have access to the supernatural peace OF God. This peace is not soft, or wimpy. This peace of God is not meant to be a peripheral, optional luxury; but rather, an essential abiding peace which surpasses all understanding. Our peace is a deep, abiding, spiritual peace which guards our hearts and minds from hostile invasion. Our peace is important and has a purpose. Our powerful, protective peace is a strong defense. Peace matters. Be still. Go deep within. Find the indwelling Prince of Peace. Share His peace, and live in peace.
My seven year old eyes watched the baseball approaching the plate, and at just the right time, I swung the bat making solid connection with the ball sending it scorching its way out from the batter’s box. The well hit ground ball went straight to the short stop and straight through the shortstop’s legs as a croquet ball through a wicket. So, the center fielder and left fielder were converging to scoop it up; however, neither of them got any leather on the ball as it rolled to the fence. I was racing around the bases at a pace not to be confused with a cheetah’s. Once they did get a handle on the ball there was an accurate throw to the cut-off man. The third base coach was waving me home as I approached him. The relay throw from the cut-off man to home plate was surprisingly on target, and before I got two-thirds of the way home from third the catcher had already thrown off his catcher’s mask, received the throw, and was waiting to tag me out. This is a good time to tell you this catcher was the biggest kid in elementary school, Mark Ryan. Not just the biggest, but one of the meanest, as well. What could I do at this point? I had gotten this far and was determined to finish strong. The catcher was hunkered down and braced for the impact of my upcoming slide, but for some reason I decided my best chance was to go over him. So, as I almost reached the point of impact I closed my eyes and jumped as high as I could. My knee hit Mount Ryan in the nose; the ball went flying out of his glove as I flipped over him and landed on home plate. As I made my crash landing, the umpire loudly cried, “Safe!” Mark was holding his bloody nose, and I was being applauded for an awesome play.
There are times in life when, looking ahead, things look impossible, but if you know your Coach has sent you, just move ahead with all your heart. Regardless of appearances, in reality, God’s Davids have an invisible advantage over every Goliath.
Your mind is a prime target for the enemy, because as your mind goes, so goes your emotions. Our attitudes, our behavior, and eventually our character are affected by our thoughts. Our thoughts can be confusing. Most people are confused about their true identity, because they do not understand the dynamics of the mind. Actually, many thoughts that enter your mind do not even originate from the true, deepest, new you; therefore, all thoughts are to be screened or judged. They are to be “taken captive to the obedience of Christ”. How can we actually sort these thoughts? After all, for many of us, our minds are like five o’clock traffic on a major thoroughfare in a big city. The key is to know who you really are, deeper than your mind. You are more than your thoughts; there is an inner you, the spirit you in the eye of the hurricane. In intimacy with Him, establish and maintain a gap between you and your thoughts. Only then, are you able to evaluate your thoughts. Live in peace and let the peace of God guard your heart AND MIND.
I am UNdone by your UNdeserved favor. You UNconditionally love me with UNlimited, UNstopable love. It is UNbelievable how your UNfailing love remains UNdiminished no matter how many times I fail. Your UNspeakable relentless, UNtamed goodness surpasses my UNderstanding. Your UNadulterated UNfathomable mercy is UNcontainable. You have UNlocked my heart, and I will UNceasingly, UNreservedly, UNashamedly praise you UNtil I see you face to face.
Hello Monday. I know you are not very well-liked, but I receive you as a gift from God. I say, “You are the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in you”. You are 24 hours of opportunity. You are an opportunity for me to co-live and co-labor with Yahweh. You are an opportunity for me to love and be loved by Jesus. I do not care what anyone says about you; you are alright. Thanks for being a fresh chance to encounter, enjoy, and express God.
Good morning, Morning. You are the Dayspring from on high. Before the sun showed up today, You are the blazing Sun of Righteousness. The rays of your brilliance caress me, leaving me warm and secure. You bathe me with your light, chasing away all darkness wherever I open up to you. You are as necessary for my well-being as the earth’s sun is for plant life. And you are more dependable than the faithful sun which has risen every day of my life. You are my center, everything revolves around You. Shine on me; I bask in your presence. Shine on me, shine in me, shine through me.
SubMERGE to the depths of your being. Leave the hassles of surface life, and go deep. Enter the silent tranquility of your core. Then, experientially MERGE with the One you are one with. Become conscious of your union with Christ. Commune interact, fellowship with the Indwelling Life-Giver. Fully establish a fresh awareness of your oneness with the Almighty. Linger in His presence being infused with His fragrant awesomeness. Be marinated in His goodness. Then, eMERGE to the surface of life on a mission aware of the merging you experienced while submerged. Attack life with relentless hope. Besiege your fellowman with love. SubMERGE! MERGE! EMERGE!
You are one of over seven billion people living on the earth right now – seven billion with a “b”. It is difficult to conceive a number as high as a billion. Jesus was walking on this earth a little over a billion minutes ago. If you stacked a billion pennies, the stack would reach 1000 miles above the earth. The space shuttle orbits the earth at 225 mile above the earth’s surface. A person counting at the rate of two numbers per second would need over 5 years and 308 days to reach one billion, and there are seven billion people in the earth right now. And you are only one person among that mind-boggling throng.
Wow! Just hearing those numbers makes you feel pretty small and insignificant, but our amazing God knows the exact number of hairs on your head right this second. You have two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, ten fingers, ten toes, and between 100,000 – 150,000 hairs on your head. And God knows the precise number of hairs on your head.
Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (NKJV)
He cares about you more than you can even imagine.
Psalm 139 (NKJV)
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. 5 You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.
One blustery Northern California morning about 36 years ago, I drove up to the Marin county side of the Golden Gate Bridge for a little fresh air. It is definitely one of my favorite places on planet earth with a breathtaking view. I had been sick in bed for a couple days and was looking a little scruffier than usual, wearing a comfy old sweat suit and a toboggan. I had driven up to the lookout station in our recently acquired ’69 Mustang. While I was pacing around the periphery of the parking lot praying, suddenly someone grabbed my arm, directed me to the nearest car and began frisking me. It was the FBI, they presented a badge and began interrogating me. I was informed that someone matching my description had been stealing cars at that location and my behavior was suspicious. They asked me to show them proof of ownership of the car I identified as mine. Oops, we did not have the proper ownership paper in the vehicle, and Susan’s friend in San Jose was supposed to be mailing it to us. I had to sit it out while they checked out my story. After a little investigating I was released.
I never suspected I was a suspect for anything. I was one potential perp who had not perpetrated. I was completely innocent, but still incredibly scared. This was the FBI; you do not mess with the FBI. I was innocent, so I could have simply stood fearlessly through the process, but fearlessness and I were not even in the same area code. I should have rested in my innocence and remained unaffected by the accusations. The Bible says there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So when the devil comes to suddenly hurl accusations at you, do not panic or be afraid; stand unaffected in the innocence of the Lamb of God on your behalf. You have been justified by the blood of the Lamb.
In our society, certain days are designated for celebration. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Fourth of July. Thanks to Jesus and what He accomplished on our behalf, He left every day worthy of celebration. He is a reason for a blow-out party all day every day. No day lived in Him and with Him is ordinary. You cannot set off enough fireworks today to adequately celebrate your freedom. “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) Every day is as fresh as New Year’s Day. Every day is a gift wrapped in grace from our passionate Lover. Every day is perfectly fitting for an extravaganza of thanksgiving. Only the days of the week that end with a “Y” should be celebration days. Well, enough said; it is WednesdaY, so go celebrate! Rejoice!
We are made to run on “want to” not “have to” or even “ought to”. Frustration comes when our “have to” or “ought to” do not match our “want to”. God does not just want to have us grit our teeth and do the “ought to’s” out of fear. He wants us to do all we do with “want to” out of love. A major key to the abundant life is to genuinely want to do all the right things, the most profitable things. It is not possible to live consistently in the fullness of peace and joy if you are struggling to do the “have to’s” and “ought to’s” against your “want to”. Life is not about trying harder to overcome your own unwillingness. You are not made for internal civil war. The solution is knowing and experiencing your true identity through intimacy with Him. What the deepest you wants to do is good, and He is working in you to “will and to do his good pleasure”. Refuse to live from the place of “have to” and find the place of “want to”.
Hello, my name is Wattson De Bulb, and, yes, I am a light bulb. I get lots of credit for my work. People see me chasing away darkness and bringing illumination to my world. I am bright and people are often impressed with my brilliance; however, I just want to set the record straight. I owe everything to Electricity! Without electricity, I am only a fragile combination of glass and metal. Sure, I was intricately designed to shine, but I cannot produce a single lumen by myself. I am fully dependent on the energy of Electricity working in me.
Paul, the apostle, lit up his first century world like a flood light. He made it clear where the energy came from for his brilliant accomplishments. He wrote to the Colossian believers, “I labor, striving according to his working (energy) which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:29 He owed all of his vast accomplishments to the energy of God working in and through him. So rise and shine today! Let your light so shine before men!
There is more to you than meets the eye. Part of you is visible, but you have a deeper, invisible dimension. You interact with people and circumstances at surface level, but you are finding your source at a deeper level where you interact with the Infinite One. Plunge into the infinite depths where the stillness is. Plummet deep where there is peace, calmness, and tranquility. Descend into the security, stability, and intimacy of the Immeasurable One. Refuse to be affected by the surface activity of life. Let the tempest rage on in surface life as you abide in the depths. Abide deeply in the serene depths of His unfathomable love. Let all you do at the surface of your life be birthed, motivated, and empowered by your union with God in the depths.
Today is a good day for a breathing treatment. Tuesday Susan and I took Lucas to the doctor where he had his first experience with a nebulizer. Be still and relax in His awesome presence and breathe. Breathe in the atmosphere of heaven and be exhilarated. Breathe in hope and be encouraged. Breathe in freshness and be renewed. Breathe in His love and be reassured. Breathe in strength and be empowered. Synchronize your breathing with heaven, then spend the day shifting the atmosphere around you. Peacefully inhale His presence and freely exhale His fragrance wherever you go.
We have all seen movies where someone wakes up after an accident or coma and immediately asks, “Where am I?” We all want to know where we are. As Christians, the most important answer to the question is not geographical.
“Where am I?”
Snuggled securely under the wing of the Almighty.
Situated securely in the palm of His hand.
Abiding calmly in the secret place of the Most High
Sheltered safely in the Cleft of the Rock
Established eternally in the family of the Trinity
Set strategically in the body of Christ
“Where am I?” Whatever the geographical answer is to that question, there is another answer…a deeper answer. You are in Christ. You are in a good place. Rejoice in where you are, no matter where you are.
The sun was beating down on my dad and me in an old aluminum boat in the middle of a central Texas private lake. A lake I would love to have fishing access to today, by the way. This was the final fishing trip I ever enjoyed with my dad. How that man loved to fish! Dad did not believe in fishing with one fishing pole; he never did it. He utilized at least two, often more. He was facing the back of the boat casting one rod and reel toward the shoreline, when we heard a rattle-clank-plop and there went the rod and reel Dad had staked out for a catfish. It had been baited out with a dead minnow sitting on the bottom of the lake. Now his second-string rod and reel was experiencing its first underwater journey, powered by a big fish. Well that was the end of that rod and reel, right? Surely it had experienced it final cast from the hand of a Haines. Don’t be too hasty with your assumptions. We fished for another 45 minutes; then, I saw a lily pad jerking in the distance. Since lily pads do not normally dance on the water we upped anchor and slipped over to check it out. I let down my line, hooked his line, and pulled it up. Within a few minutes and a little untangling I recovered the rod and reel and landed about a 4 lb. bass.
What seemed to be lost forever was recovered and with the best catch of the day. Our God is an awesome God of restoration. Do not give up on whatever gets away. God is actively involved in the reclamation business. You name it, He can restore it. So, don’t ever give up.
Live life on purpose. Attack the day with expectation and joy. The goal of life is not safety. Refuse to let the avoidance of getting hurt dictate how you live. The aim of life is not protecting yourself, but rather giving of yourself. Be an intentional, determined lover of God and people every day. Love aggressively, regardless of the response or non-response of others. You are backed up by the unstoppable, unending, unlimited flow of Love, Himself. He is your source; you are His outlet.
Jesus was not so caught up in the “what” of His mission that He overlooked the “whos” around Him. Ignore people? No way, the people are why He came. He was love personified, animated agape in the flesh. Even on the very night before He became the fulfillment of the horrific suffering prophesied in Isaiah 53, He spent the evening washing his disciples feet and passionately teaching them, preparing them for what was about to happen. He prays for them that night, not just for Himself. He died forgiving the ones responsible for His death. Self-protection did not keep Him from loving. He lived passionately and loved wholeheartedly. So, arise follower of Christ! Live intentionally, and love extravagantly!
Yesterday, 350 of us were summoned to jury duty at the Cherokee County Courthouse by the District Court. Each of us was qualified to be called in. Once we were assembled, the process of selecting those who would serve on the actual jury for this specific case began. Paul told the Colossians, as believers, we are qualified for the family of God by the Father himself. The Son of the Qualifier qualified for us. How blessed we are to partake in the mind-boggling riches of our inheritance in Christ. We were all DISqualified until Jesus came and swallowed up our “DIS” leaving us qualified. No amount of our own striving would have ever been enough to qualify us, but our loving Father did it out of the goodness of His heart. I would say that qualifies as a reason to celebrate!
Colossians 1:12 …giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (NKJV)
Next time you look in a mirror do not be fooled. You will be tempted to believe there is only one person in front of that mirror, but the truth is there are two. It appears that it is only you; however, it is never just you. It is you and the invisible Christ in you. Just because His image is not reflected in the mirror does not mean He is not there. With a little sanctified imagination, go ahead and see Him in the mirror with you. His presence does wonders for your confidence. Need a little courage? See the Lion of Judah with you. Need protection or guidance? See the Good Shepherd with you. Are you getting the picture? See Him with you, and watch yourself smile. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, you are not reflecting it all.” “In fact, you are missing the best part.” So whenever you gaze into a mirror, whether you are looking good or half-scary with bed head hair, you are not alone, so rejoice! Take a while to reflect (pun intended) on this and have an awesome day as you reflect Him to those around you.
Isaiah 49:15 (NLT)
15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
The roads were icy, but it was Sunday morning, and I was the pastor, so I set out on the treacherous 55 mile trip to Bethel Heights Baptist Church in the boondocks of Coryell County. As a 20-year-old Texan, I was inexperienced at driving on ice (as well as at pastoring). Leaving home plenty early to allow for reduced speed, I prayed and hit the highway heading west with total concentration and both hands strangling the steering wheel at “10 and 2”. Thankfully, about 35 miles into my slip fest, the road conditions improved significantly. Finally, I turned off the highway onto the first of two gravel roads leading the church, at which time I caught sight of the steeple in the distance. When I finally arrived, I was shocked by the total number of people who were eagerly assembled for worship. Zero! That’s right! Zero! No one person was there, not even the deacon who lived 100 yards away. After establishing with certainty that it was Sunday, and not Saturday, I went to the deacon’s house to see what his absence excuse was. He was carrying fire wood toward his house (obviously not bedridden) as I drove into his driveway. When I got out of the car he said with surprise, “What are you doing here?” I said calmly, “I came to church.” thinking, “Duh!!!!!!!!:” He replied, “Oh, we called off church today; didn’t nobody tell you?” Well, as it happened, no, nobody didn’t tell me. I soon discovered how two people divided the list to call everyone, and each one thought the other was calling me. It was an accident, an innocent oversight. Things like that happen with people.
Aren’t you glad, however, the One in charge of all that really matters will NEVER forget you? He won’t accidentally leave you off a list. In his unfathomable love, you are much too dear to Him to forget. Not to mention “oops” is not in his vocabulary. The last time He made a mistake was….well…. never! Enjoy today, knowing even if you forget Him for a moment, He will not forget you…ever!
Psalm 131:2 (NKJV)
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Oh, the blessing of a calm, quiet soul. How joyous is the soul which has been weaned from mind domination. How relieved is the soul weaned from all the “what ifs” concerning the future and all the “if onlys” concerning the past. David received truth and a proper perspective on life from his intimate fellowship with God. He, then, enforced the truth upon his own soul.
Arise, and enforce what you know at the spirit level on your soul. Enjoy the peace found deep below surface life where you are anchored, rooted, and grounded in Him. Rest in that place of tranquility, serenity, and calmness. In inner stillness you know His presence is with you. And you understand the words of God recorded in Isaiah 30:15“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Good morning, Lord. You are life. You are the giver of life. You are MY life. Life is not life without you. You, alone, make life, life. I focus myself on YOU. I focus myself on NOW. I am in I AM. I find my reason for being in You, the Ultimate Being. Our lives are entwined. Wow! What a place to be! I am tapped into unlimited living water. I am not a pump drawing from a bathtub, but an unlimited, infinite ocean; therefore, I will not live like one who is eking by. I am not one who is surviving; I am one who is thriving. I have more than enough grace for every challenge, every task, every temptation, every attack, and every person I will encounter today. This day is incapable off presenting a single demand greater than the supply so freely given to me. I choose to savor life with You today, living one second at a time in joyful union with You. The past is past. Yesterday is gone. I will live fully engaged with You in the wonderful now, and now is wonderful, because I share it with you. I share the now with You, the eternal, infinite One who chooses to share His life with me. How can a day begin with any more promise than this? How can I keep a smile off my face as I consider Your willingness to share life with me?
Toy six shooter…BB gun…pellet gun….410 shotgun…12 gauge shotgun. Such was my personal progression in firearms. This particular story comes from the earliest days of my .410 phase. It was dove season in Central Texas, and I was finally equipped with a real shotgun…a shotgun that kicks back against your shoulder when you fire it…a shotgun that shoots a whole herd of bb’s, not just one. Dove hunting takes skill, because, typically, doves are shot on the fly. The dove hunter inconspicuously waits near a pond, or other body of water, until the doves fly overhead. One autumn afternoon my dad and I were on one side of a pond, and there were two men we did not know on the other side. In the course of the hunt, one of the other two men shot a dove sending it plummeting to the earth. When the wounded bird hit the ground it quickly scampered 15 or 20 yards from where it hit the ground. The shooter went over to the spot where he thought the bird went down, looked around a while then gave up. But I, the young eagle-eyed great hunter, knew exactly where the bird was. I made my way over to the defenseless dove and put the end of my shotgun within a couple inches from the bird (I did not want to miss it), and pulled the trigger. Feathers flew, and needless to say, I got him. Grabbing what was left of the little feathered creature by the feet, I carried him to my dad with pulsating pride and excitement proclaiming, “I got one! I got one! I got one!” When my dad saw the mangled chunk of feathers and flesh, he laughed and said, “What happened? Did it land on your barrel?”
The term “overkill” comes to my mind when I revisit this scene in my mind. Thankfully, I was the hunt-er that day, and not the hunt-ed. I do, however, have some experience being hunted. The Heavenly Hunt-er found me and blasted me with goodness. He blew me away with his mercy and grace. Goodness and mercy shall follow [chase, pursue, hunt stalk, hound] me all of the days of my life. God’s passionate desire is to love and bless you. His desire is for your best and His glory, and the two are one and the same. Stop running and surrender yourself to Him. Rejoice it is people season, and there is a zealous Hunter out to get you!
Unfortunately, I cannot claim that no animal was harmed in the making of this story.
One morning, I was walking around Chipeta Lake in Montrose getting in a little exercise and prayer in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. There is a path around the lake with lots of grass and reeds on each side of the narrow trail. Totally caught up in my thoughts with minimal focus on where I was walking, I was serenely sauntering along when, suddenly, my peaceful little stroll was abruptly interrupted by an unexpected reptilian critter crossing the path unannounced. I almost stepped on the unwanted slithering organism. Being from Texas where we have lots of poisonous snakes, let’s just say, it got my attention. I, soon, gathered my wits and got back to my excursion around the lake. This time, paying a lot more attention to the path. About 50 yards farther down the trail, I saw something black cross the path right in front of my feet again. My heart stopped; my body froze, then I jumped back. What I saw was not a snake; it was simply the shadow from a bird flying overhead. It was only a shadow, but I got the same shot of adrenaline as if it was a poisonous water moccasin. Soon I had to chuckle at myself as I finished my circuit around the lake.
There is a lesson in this little story. Trust me. The fear I felt when I saw the harmless shadow was real, but the cause of the fear was entirely unwarranted. Similarly, we automatically react to what we see or sense in life, but when we process what is happening in the light of God’s presence with us and promises to us, there is no reason to fear. Right thinking will remove the feeling of fear. Biblically, whatever happens, fear is unwarranted, for He is with us. So fear not, and have an awesome day!
Tis the season to exercise. Gyms are being invaded by strangers. Treadmills are being walked all over. Tracks are being given the run-around. Racketballs and tennis balls are being smacked around. AB-machines are being ABused. Indoor pools are being disturbed. Hiking trails are being trampled. Weights are being manhandled. More exercise is taking place right now in early January than any other time of the year. Many who set their bathroom scales back 10 lbs. for the holidays at the end of 2015 are now facing reality in beginning of 2016. Physical exercise is a good thing, and most of us could use more.
I am not, however, writing you to encourage you to participate in any particular exercise. Instead, my purpose is to encourage you to stop a certain exercise…JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS. Jumping to conclusions is the practice of are drawing negative conclusions with little or no evidence to one’s assumptions. There are always gaps in what we know. Insecurity, fear, or a victim mentality drives some people to fill in the blanks with the worst case scenario and habitually read bad into relationships and situations where they have no real evidence. This is a miserable way to live. There are enough obstacles in this life without imagining more. Why not believe the best and fill in the knowledge gaps with hope, faith, and love unless the Holy Spirit show you otherwise? Jumping to conclusions is a form of worry. You were meant for more than living defensively as a victim with negativity and paranoia. You are an overcomer with every reason to be filled with life, hope, and joy. Pick another form of exercise and have a great day.
1963…Bellmead, TX… Mrs. England, my first teacher, left our class unattended for a few minutes – the perfect opportunity for an impromptu football game. So, I rapidly tied my light blue pull-over sweater into a tight knot and “voila” a football. Immediately, the game began with two of us; then quickly, four or five boys were passing the woolen pigskin back and forth. I remember realizing when there were only three of us playing…then, just two…eventually, only I was still out of my seat playing. I had lapsed into one of my imaginary bedroom football games. If you have never witnessed a one-on-none football game you have missed out. I played entire football games in my room, alone, as I played genuine fantasy football. (By the way, I never lost a game.) In these games I was not only all the players, but the broadcast team, as well. So, back to the classroom where I was Dandy Don Meredith throwing a long pass to Bullet Bob Hayes and catching it for a touchdown, all the while doing the play-by-play announcing. Yes, I really did this. The classroom was strangely silent as I celebrated the touchdown by spiking the sweater and looking to the crowd whose eyes were ping-pong-ing from me to the door and back… Then, this unparalleled terror shot through my mind and all through my little seven year old body. She couldn’t be, could she? Mrs. England could not be back in the room – so “that is why everyone deserted me”, I thought. I hesitantly peeked at the door, and there she stood. I was caught in the act of excessive end zone celebration in the classroom. She did not blow a whistle or throw a flag, but I knew there would be a penalty, maybe even an ejection. That sweet little lady who I had only known as gentle and kind to that point, grabbed me and began to shake me until my eyes were crossed and my brain was scrambled. If I would have had a loose tooth at the time, it would have certainly been dislodged.
My imagination got me in trouble that day, and it still has the capacity to do so today; however, the imagination is a precious gift from God. An imagination yielded to God is a powerful thing. In 2016, seize your imagination, harness it for the purposes of God. Bring it into the presence of God and yield your God-given image making ability to Him. As you meditate upon the Lord, His creation, and His word intentionally bring your imagination to the table.
The ground shook! The windows creaked! My seminary classroom moved! It was my first earthquake. And, admittedly, I was shaken up a bit, and not just physically. I experienced an emotional jolt, because my wife, my new wife, my spouse, my mate, my helpmeet, mi espousa, Susan, was in San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge from me working on the 44th floor of a skyscraper. I had visions of her building scraping more than the sky, like maybe the building next to it. I was familiar with Texas tornadic activity, however, entirely unacquainted with this Californian seismic activity. I had ventured over 2,000 miles to find my wife in Washington, and now this. I realize, now, my thoughts were overreactive; nevertheless, I must admit I had them. So, as soon as class was dismissed, I scurried back to our on-campus apartment to give her a call. With apprehension, I dialed the number and waited. Once she answered with her normal upbeat, pleasant telephone voice I quickly surmised she was not buried in a pile of rubble. Before I could even tell her why I called, she blurted out, “We just had an earthquake. It was the coolest thing ever; the whole building swayed, and my pencil rolled off my desk.” She enjoyed it – from the 44th floor, no less!
You gotta love Susan’s response. We do not have control over what happens to us, yet we can control how we respond. March fearlessly into 2016! Treat life like an adventure. Refuse to ramble into the new year as a victim squeaking by, narrowly escaping disasters with a survival mentality. Live as the hyper-conqueror you are in Christ.
One day a few years ago, I pulled up in the Palestine post office parking lot, turned off the ignition, pulled out my keys, grabbed the two copies of Storm Proof which I was there to mail, and darted inside. Immediately, one of the employees asked, “Can I help you?” Where was the typical long line? Shockingly, without any wait, I was at the counter where I set down my keys and handed him the two envelopes to be weighed and stamped. At that point, I was distracted by seeing a man that I had not seen in over a year. I paid the postage, got my receipt, spoke to my old friend, gave him a hug, and returned to the van. I hopped in, slammed the door, and reached in my pocket for my absentee keys; then, just as I was realizing I had left them inside the post office, the van blared, “honk, honk, honk-honk.” Suddenly, the doors all automatically locked, and a red light on the dash began to flash. Everyone in the parking lot stopped in their tracks and gave me a puzzled glance, then went about their business. I tried to unlock the door and get out, but I couldn’t. I was locked in. I mean locked inside the van without the keys which had the remote door lock. It was about 90 degrees outside, over a 100 in the closed up van, and there I was – trapped. Hmmm.
Soon, a lady came up to my window holding her keys up and said, “Did you leave your keys inside?” I tried, in vain, to get the window down, so we continued our conversation through a rolled up window. I said, “Yes, but those are not my keys.” She said, “I know. These are mine; yours are inside.” And she walked off. I honked my horn and motioned for her to come back, so I could ask her to go get my keys, but she looked at me like I was dangerous, scurried to her car, and sped off without looking back. So, there I sat trying to figure out how to get someone to come my rescue. I decided that I needed to get the attention of a passerby and motion him close enough to hear me through the window. I simply had to pick the right candidate. By now, I am sweating profusely in the closed up van, and no friendly-looking person passed by. A light bulb in my head came on, and I decided to call Susan and tell her my predicament. I was still suffering from semi-shock as to how this happened. She suggested I call the post office and tell them. Why didn’t I think of that? She found me their number, and I called…and called…and called…and called…and called…and called, each time receiving a busy signal. Finally, a real person answered the phone. I explained to her my dilemma. She laughed, got the keys, came out, and pushed the unlock button on the remote and I was free. Free, at last!
How the van locked me in is a mystery to this day. What I do know is that I needed help; I could not get out alone. I had to ask someone for assistance. There are times in life when we need others, times when we must humble ourselves and ask for help. If I had been too proud to ask for help, I may have ended up van-roasted. The quicker I humbled myself, the quicker I got free. So, next time you need a little help to get out of a mess, no matter how embarrassing, do not let your pride keep you immobilized. Ask for help, so you can go on about your business, His business.
Happy New Year! May you discover 2016 to be a year full of news: new hope, new vision, new joy, new revelation, and new encounters with God. May you encounter the Father’s new mercies every morning. Every day you awaken, in 2016, will be a new day. May you have eyes to see each day brimming with fresh opportunities. May every trace of staleness and sameness be left in 2015. You are one with I AM, the forever new One who renews your inner man daily. You were recreated to walk in newness of life. Do not fear the new, be exhilarated by the prospect it brings your way. Seek out the new this year; go ahead stretch yourself. Venture outside your comfort zone. Pursue life in 2016 with the One who makes all things new.
Lamentations 3:23; II Corinthians 4:16; Romans 6:4; Revelation 21:5