Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Good Morning God

Some people wake up and say... Good morning God, others wake up and say... Good God, It's morning. So which one are you? Do you dread mornings? Dread the beginning of yet another day at the office? Are you struggling to get the energy to fight through another day? Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated isn't it?

Something that can help with our outlook on the new day is to make a choice on which phrase were going to say when we wake up each morning. "Good Morning God," or "Good God, It's Morning." One of these phrases reflect a positive attitude that thanks God for a new day, the other is our negative perspective on what we think the day's going to be like. We're doomed from the very start of the day if we don't choose to say... "Good Morning God!" That single choice of welcoming in the new day with a greeting to God can set the pace for great things to come during the rest of the day. We can choose to have a good day, or we can choose to have a bad day. It really is our choice. The only time you don't have a choice to be positive is if you give up, then you become a victim to circumstances. Every circumstance that comes your way, you must face. You can tackle it head on or you can say, here we go again and throw up your hands in defeat. The choice is yours to make on how you are going to react. It really is. So what can we do to stay positive even though were bombarded with negative thoughts or issues.

1. Begin your day with the Lord. Good Morning God. Thank you for another day of life. Today is going to be great because your my Father and I'm your child. You can deliver me through all trials today if I'll just look to you for guidance and direction. There's great comfort in knowing your not facing the day alone and no matter what happens today, it was no surprise the God. It may have caught me off guard, but the God knew it was coming, so I can trust he's already got a plan for me to get through it.

2. Begin your day with alone time with God. Read a devotion, read the bible, meditate on his word. Make this a daily routine (a habit). Beginning the day with alone time with God helps clear your head. It's important to give the very first part of your day to the Lord, and it sets the precedence for the rest of the day. No matter whats happens today, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Allow God to show you his will and direction for you in your bible study. Allow God to speak to you through the scriptures. Sometimes it's amazing how a situation that you'll face today, you'll recall God's word speaking to you through the situation because of this alone time first thing in the morning. Some situations simply require that we love rather than fight, and without God's love flowing through us, well we could make the situation worse. God gives us the proper mindset for the day if we'll seek him first in the day.

3. Begin your day with prayer. Take everything to the Lord in prayer first thing in the morning. Talk to him, listen to him, share with him, and allow him to comfort your soul.

4. Go live out the rest of the day for the Lord. Pray throughout the day...stay connected to the source of power that can overcome all obstacles and issues that are thrown your way. God is in control of this day and all it brings... you are not alone. Will it be hassle free? Most likely not. Can you remain positive thorough it? Yes you can.

You know the happiest people on earth should be Christians. We have eternal life. We have Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We have a relationship with God the Father through his Son Jesus and he never leaves us or forsakes us. We're blessed everyday simply out of his love for us. We have power within us to overcome any obstacle thrown our way so we should be able to rejoice. But often, we do not reflect the joy we have to others. We're angry because of what's happening, we're sour because we've been treated wrong. Something unfair happened to me so I'm sad and disappointed and blame God for my problems. And sadly, we run out the door first thing in the morning already defeated because we didn't begin our day with... "Good morning God." Our attitude towards our Lord determines if we'll depend on him today, or go it alone on our own. Begin your day tomorrow differently... Focus on God first then let the day happen. You'll be better prepared to handle what comes and you won't feel alone as your handling it. Let God handle it through you. Your day will be more positive and you feel so much better at the end of it. May God bless you on your daily walk. Just don't walk alone. It's not safe out there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Are you productive?

What are you doing with what God has given you? God gives us resources according to our abilities and he expects us to invest those resources and gifts he's given us until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given. There is a parable in the bible that speaks directly to this. It's found in Matthew 25:14-30

Matthew 25:15 "And to one he gave five talents, to another he gave two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

God gives us everything we need to accomplish all that he expects for us to do. He sees what our own abilities are, and then with our abilities and his resources, his power, his strength, and his Spirit, we should build what we've been given so that upon his return, we can show him the result of what we've done. God expects us to think, to act, and to produce. God knows what he can trust us with and he does expect results. There were three men in this passage of scripture in Matthew 25:14-30 that the master gave his money (talents) to. Each man according to his own ability was given just enough money that the master knew he could handle. Then the master went on a journey. It was while this master was on the journey that the men were to be productive what they had been given. According to the scriptures there is no indication as to how this was to be done, it appears that it's entirely up to the men to decide what they are going to do. Two of the men through their efforts had gained twice as much money to give the master upon his return. One did nothing with what he had been given. He simply returned the money that he was given. He had buried it and did nothing to make it grow. Upon the masters return he was very pleased with the two that had been productive, but with the one that did nothing, he was very upset.

We see a little insight to this third man's reasoning for doing nothing. He was afraid. He knew that the master would come back expecting more and he was afraid that he might lose what he had been given and upon the masters return he would have less money or even worse, nothing to give back... so his fear kept him from doing anything at all. So he hid it so that he would be able to give it back to the master when he returned. What happened when the master returned? The master became very upset with the servant because he wasn't productive and he took what he had trusted him with and gave the money to the man that was most productive with what he'd been given.

Matthew 25:24-28 (24) "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. (25) "And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours." (26) "But his lord answered and said, "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. (27) So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest." (28) "Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents."

So why was the master so upset with this servant? Why was he so hard on him? The answer lies in Matthew 25:15. He gave the talents to each... according to his own ability. You see this master knew that this servant could be productive, he knew that he could have done better. The master gave him only one talent because he knew that it was within his ability to handle. But the servant did nothing with it and instead returned it back with no gain.

So what does this mean for us?
It simply means that we are to use our talents, gifts, and abilities diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do. It simply means doing our daily work out of love for the Lord. The last man was playing it safe. If God is calling us to do something , we need to do it. If God is truly our Master, we must willingly obey. This is an example of how God rewards faithfulness. Those who bear no fruit for God's kingdom cannot be expected to be treated the same as those who are faithful. The person who diligently prepares for Christ return by investing his or her time and talent to serve God will be rewarded. Just remember this... God knows your ability. He will give you the resources to be able to do what he already knows you can do. Serve the Lord with all your heart and enter into the "Joy of your Lord."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's your plan?

Do you have goals for your life? Do you have long range goals that you hope to achieve within say, ten years or so? Do you have short range goals that you hope to achieve within this next week, or maybe over the next month or two? So what are your plans? Do you have a plan? Do you have dreams that you'd like to see come about in the future? What are you doing to make those dreams a reality?

When you think about those questions, your answers may be like mine... You realize that some dreams have come true and others have not. Priorities have changed due to circumstances of life and now you have new hopes and dreams. Maybe you still have a deep yearning to achieve the dreams or dream you've had for years, but you are frustrated that it hasn't come to pass and you feel like giving up. God promises to help us. He will direct our steps as we seek to accomplish our goals. There's one very important thing we must do first however, and that is... "Make a plan and then act on it."

Proverbs 16:9 says this.. A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Have you ever found yourself praying for God to help you achieve this goal or that goal only to sense that it's just not ever going to happen. You wonder why your prayers are failing. You never see any evidence that your making progress towards your dream. Sure, you believe that God can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but there you sit, no dreams coming true. It's discouraging and at times can even test our faith. My question to you is this... "What are your plans to make it come true?" "What are you doing about it?"

In my line of work nothing ever just happens. If I want to achieve sales, I have to have a plan on what to do to achieve sales. If I want to have a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have to have a plan on what I'm going to do to ensure that I make progress on my relationship with my wife. If I want to be promoted within 5 years, then I have to have a plan that I'm working to make progress towards reaching my goal of getting promoted within 5 years. I've heard it said many times over the years... "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." What about your spiritual walk? What plans do you have there. If I want to have a better relationship with the Lord I must develop a plan that I can work to start making progress in improving my relationship with the Lord. I've actually said a prayer something like this (see if it sounds familiar)... "Dear Lord, help me to be a better Christian, a better witness, a better husband, a better"... you fill in the blank." "If the Lord would speak to me he'd probably say... sure, make a plan and start doing something and I'll direct you on what to do next."

Proverbs 16:9 gives us some insight to how this works. Make a plan and get to work on your plan, as you proceed with your plan, God will direct your steps. So often we want to reach a goal yet we sit and wait (while praying and believing) for God to drop it into our lap. It doesn't work that way. God expects for us to use the brain he's given us and make a plan to move towards our goals and dreams. If we want to see the supernatural "Big dreams that we just can't see happening" come true, then we need to plan and act upon that plan with our natural ability and then let God direct us and help us achieve our goals with His supernatural ability. That's why it's important to have long range goals. Goals that you can dream of achieving one day, but deep down you know it's going to take God's involvement for it to happen. As you plan and work your plan, you will make progress towards your goal. The goal you set is the end result. There are lots of little goals along the way that we can celebrate as we achieve them, but as we achieve each short range goal, we get closer and closer to our long range goal.

How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time, that's how! Imagine how difficult of a task this would be. It would appear impossible, but with each bite we get closer and closer to our goal. Finally through a series of achieving smaller goals by being persistent we reach our ultimate goal of eating the whole elephant.
So... if you want to be successful at whatever it is that you feel God is leading you to do. Draw up a plan of how you think you can get there. Then step out in faith and work your plan. Remember, God can not direct your steps, if you haven't even moved. Step out and work your plan and see how God directs your steps. He may allow you to intersect with the right people that can help you in your career. He may open the door to a particular job or event that can help you accomplish your goals. One things for certain. A man's heart plans his way, then the Lord directs his steps. Let's get moving!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Where did you go?

My apologies for not writing. As I begin to write, my grand daughter just realized I wasn't around and came looking for me! So right now I have my Grand daughter hanging on my leg saying, "Pa Pa, Pa Pa." Kind of hard to ignore you know. So I'll stop here and go play for a while until she gets tucked into bed, then it's almost time for me to get tucked into bed, and so it goes about every single evening after work. So my writing suffers I know. But I have joy in these wonderful times spent with her and my family. Got to go... I promise I'll sit down to write soon...

God Bless


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bath Time

My little granddaughter loves "bath time." I don't think she really enjoys getting clean as much as she does playing with those wonderful bath toys. Occasionally I'll have the opportunity as her Grandpa to give her a bath, and usually she splashes around so much that I'm usually soaking wet, but we sure have fun! After her bath she always smells very clean and she seems to feel better as well. Basically she's ready for another day...clean, fresh, and ready to go!

Can you imagine how we would look or smell if we never washed? Over time we would look pretty rough. We'd begin to smell bad, look bad, and feel dirty and filthy. If we didn't wash, we know we wouldn't get cleaner... but only filthier with each passing day until finally we jumped in the shower and cleaned up. I think it's safe to say that everyone understands the importance of taking a bath regularly. It's pretty easy to see what happens when we don't. Well the same is true with sin in our lives. Just as we would wash up with soap and water to clean our bodies, we also need spiritual cleansing as well to remove the filth of our sin.

Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"

None of us is without sin. We have our old nature and our new nature at war with each other every moment of every day until we have gone to be with the Lord in that place (heaven) where there is no sin that can tempt us. Until then, we will fall into sin. The very moment we confess and repent of our sin, sinful thoughts and actions begin to creep right back into our lives. We all need ongoing cleansing, moment by moment. Thank God that through His mercy we are forgiven when we ask for it. Just as this verse says... Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" None of us that's for sure... the heart can only be cleansed by God, not us. The sad reality is that even when we've been forgiven we still sin again. This reminds me of Paul when he wrote...

Romans 7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Paul understood how sin invaded his life everyday. He knew some of his thoughts or actions were not of God, and even though this really bothered him he admitted that he still keeps doing the things he knows he shouldn't. Now I'm not saying we should just sit back and say "Oh well, why try then?" The difference is in knowing that we're wrong and we know better. This was on Paul's conscious just like it is yours and mine. So since we can not clean our own heart, we must seek cleansing at all times from the only One that can cleanse. We know that we do not do the good we always want to do, rather we do the evil that we don't want to do. We seem to keep on doing it.

There's good news for you and I. God loves us and he understands us. We need to make confession and repentance a regular part of our talks with God and rely on him moment by moment for the cleansing we need. So, the next time you get that distant feeling or you feel like you've lost your focus on Christ... maybe it's "bath time."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Encouragement, we all need it

I don't know about you, but nothing picks me up like a word of encouragement from someone else. I can be feeling overwhelmed at work, at home, in church, then suddenly a friend will write a wonderful note or say a kind word of encouragement that just simply washes away all those negative feelings I was having. It's amazing what kind words can do.

You probably know that the command to encourage others is found throughout the Bible and when we look at 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23 we see where Paul gives many examples of how we can encourage others. As I read these verses I'm reminded of the impact we have on others when we build them up, when we hold them up when they're weak, or when we simply lend a helping hand or a word of encouragement to help restore their faith and give them the confidence to press on. Let's look at a few of the ways that we can practice this wonderful word of encouragement.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another..."
I think back just a few weeks ago to the Olympics. As I watched the marathon race, I saw the pain and agony in the runners faces as they approached the finish line. They were a mile out from the finish line and many were limping along barely able to continue running but when they finally got inside the stadium and heard the cheers of the crowd that were watching the race, I was amazed at the renewed strength and energy they had during this last moment in the race. As Christians were to encourage one another. A word of encouragement can give someone just the strength they need to continue on to the finish line. It can be the difference between finishing well or collapsing along the way. We all need encouragement every day, and we need to offer support to others every day through kind words or actions. As Paul says... "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another..."

1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 "...Recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you and esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake..."
This verse probably refers to leaders in the church such as elders, deacons, and Pastors. One of the greatest ways we can help the church, is to support our leaders, To encourage them and lift them up in high regard for their work's sake. Imagine the toil of serving through the church and how frustrating that could be. These leaders are called to serve yet time and time again they feel like the runner in the marathon race and they 're not anywhere near the end of the race yet, but feel like quitting, the pains too great, they're weak, they begin to wonder if they should even be in this race? Where do they get their strength? From God of course, but He can use us to encourage them. When we say... thank you, when we tell them we appreciate them for what they do, then they have reason to be encouraged. Tell them how you have been helped by their leadership and teaching. Let them know their ministry in your life has made a difference. Remember our leaders need our love and support.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 "... Be at Peace among yourselves."
Especially in the church but also at home, at work, and everywhere we go, we need to look for ways to get along with others. The spirit within us seeks peace and harmony with others. One of the best ways to encourage someone is to get along and not fight or argue. We can agree to disagree without resorting to being disrespectful towards one another.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 "... Comfort the fainthearted..." "Uphold the weak..." "Be patient with all."
Many of us grow weary in our service. Sometimes we even think we just can't keep up the work, were tired and weak. We can fall into the trap of believing that we're not able to go anymore. Maybe we feel overwhelmed. We might feel like a failure in our weakness. It's times like these when we need to experience comfort from a friend. As Christians we can remind others about the promises that God has for them in scripture. We need to lift them up and give them some support and one way we can do this is to be patient with them. We don't know what they're going through, only God does. They just need a friend, someone to remind them that they can do this and I'm here with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 "See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone."
Revenge can be a very destructive thing. Have you ever seen what happens when someone takes revenge on another person. usually the revenge comes after evil or wrong doing has been done. Were just not going to take it are we? So what do we do? We pay them back with the same evil or wrong doing to get even. "Turn the other cheek" not this time baby... you've gone to far. Paul says that we should never repay evil with evil but rather we should pursue what is good both for ourselves and for all. Revenge just tears us apart. We can't rebuild relationships and begin again if were planning our next act of vengeance. If your feeling this way, seek the Lords council. Talk to a friend about your feelings, but know that Jesus wants you to do good to those that hurt you. It's a way for them to see the love of Christ and this type of behavior goes against the way of the world. It's one of the best forms of encouragement because it's unexpected and undeserved. So the next time you're thinking about getting even, do good instead and allow God to touch their heart... and yours.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice always"
Sounds simple enough doesn't it, but oh so hard to practice sometimes. Especially during difficult trials and circumstances. I can't tell you how encouraged I've become by watching another brother or sister in Christ experience joy and have peace during the turmoils of their life. We can be such a wonderful encouragement to others when they see in us the joy that only the Lord can provide when we go through tough times. We send the message that we know that God is always with us and He's in control. That's why we can rejoice always.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing"
God is always with us, we need to talk to him. We need to pray for others as well. There is nothing more encouraging for another Christian than to know that they are being prayed for by others. We understand that God hears and answers our prayers. Sometimes the only comfort we can offer to another is prayer. We don't know what to say to help them, we don't really understand their hurt or pain, but we trust that God does and we can always offer up prayers of support. I remember the day I had my four wheeler accident in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I didn't return home and my wife knew that something was terribly wrong. She ran to the neighbors house and asked the boys to start searching for me on their motorcycles because the last time she had seen me was earlier that morning as I rode my four wheeler up the side of the mountain. She feared the worst. The next thing she did was call a few of her friends and asked them to start prayer chains. Churches were called and members all over were praying for me. We had only been visiting churches, we hadn't become members yet, but churches all over were praying for us because our friends belonged to several different churches and they made those calls and asked everyone to pray for me. Because of my injuries I was unable to move so I lay there all day in the cold wet snow. I was found right about dusk suffering from hypothermia. I had my accident around 11:00AM and it was around 30 degrees and was snowing. I know I would not have made it through the night, and I know that those prayers offered up for me saved my life and I definitely know it was the only Hope my wife felt she had in a situation where she felt so out of control. Thank God for those prayers. Let's never cease praying. We must talk to God about everything and through those prayers we'll see God work.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give Thanks"
We need to make a list of all the things we're thankful for, then give thanks to God for each one. It's too easy to only see the bad, and miss out on the good. There's a song... "Count your blessings name them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done." When we count our blessings I'm sure we'll see those people that God has put in our path that have encouraged and blessed us along life's journey. Let them know how you feel about them, this can encourage them and motivate them to keep on being the wonderful person they already are. Most importantly... thank God for them as well. It's amazing how people with the love of Christ inside of them are able to show acts of God's love through their kindness and actions. Thank God for those people. Let's give thanks.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Do not quench the Spirit."
If you want to be an encourager you need to realize that our actions can and do quench the Spirit of God in ourselves and in others. Any time we do not cooperate with the Spirit we quench it. Disobedience will quench the Spirit and can harm our daily walk with he Lord. The next time the Spirit prompts you to say a kind word, share the gospel, or to simply go to church when you thought about staying home, follow through and fuel the fire of the Spirit within you. No warmth comes from a fire that has had water doused on it. It's the same with us as Christians. For us to be a light in a dark world or the warm of comfort to others during those cold storms of life, we must not quench the Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from every kind of evil"
We must always be on the lookout for situations that draw us into temptation and when we recognize those situations, we should run the other way. We can not encourage others as God would want us to, when we're falling deeper and deeper in sin because we did not abstain from evil. It's difficult to allow the fruit of the Spirit to shine through us to others when we've played with sin. Evil can harm our testimony and our witness. Let's seek God's help to overcome and avoid those situations where evil reigns.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We realize that the Christian life is to be lived not in our own strength but through God's power. We know we can't be encouraging to others except through God's love and power. In our own weakness we're selfish, but through God's love we offer up sacrifice for others, we encourage one another in God's love and we allow the Spirit of God to shine through us and give hope to others that are lost, or struggling in their walk of faith.

The Thessalonian church was young and they needed help and encouragement. Both the persecution they faced and the temptations of their sinful culture were problems for these new Christians (just as it is for us today). Paul wrote to strengthen their faith and build up their resistance to this persecution and temptation. We too have a responsibility to help new believers and encourage those already walking in faith with the Lord. These verses simply help us to be better equipped to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can use these verses as a "encouragement checklist" so to speak. So ask yourself, "How are you doing?" My prayer is that you will experience the fullness of God's love upon you and you'll be the encourager that God wants you to be. Encouragement... we all need it!

God bless you in your service.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

All is well

Things are going well for Eric, Marcie, Halle, Ryan, Brenda and I. We're all one big happy family here. It's been good having Eric home. Good news! Eric begins working Monday next week! Prayers are being answered and we truly are doing well. Halle has really enjoyed getting to know her daddy. This picture was taken his first few days home.

My family situation reminds me of when I lived in Germany in 1979. The Germans always had many in their family living in the same house. Often they would have two story homes with a basement apartment as well. The grand parents lived on the top floor apartment. The children lived on the main floor of the house and another sibling would take up residence in the basement... if they didn't have another child living in the basement then they might rent it out to someone else outside the family to help pay the bills. That's where Brenda and I came in. We lived in the basement of a very nice families home that we got to know and love. We had a wonderful landlord, Ms. Weis, and she lived upstairs while her son and his family lived on the main floor. Anyway... our house now reminds me of those days. Sometimes Brenda and I think about the days when we'll be able to call this home our own. But we both know we'll miss our family, the meal times and being able to be together. We instead, plan to enjoy it while it lasts, because we do know things will change one day.

Thanks for your prayers, and I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. I'll try and do better.