Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Where are your thoughts leading you?

Psalm 8:5 “Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!”

Genesis 1:26-27 “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.”

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Isaiah 26:3 “The steadfast of mind you will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.”

Your thoughts are important; generally for most of us, your thoughts become words or actions.  There are some whose thoughts become words or actions much quicker than others but regardless your thoughts are powerful.  Whether you are thinking about the test that you have coming up the next period, or the interview that you have next week, or the bad thoughts running through your head; those thoughts are powerful.  When your mind is focused on the kingdom of God, your thoughts revolve around that same kingdom.  Your thoughts may lead you to encourage a fellow student, a co-worker, a friend, a complete stranger.  When your mind is not focused on God, but instead focused on things of this world; we are more inclined to fall into the traps of this world, we are more inclined to fall into the traps of the deceiver. 

Satan wants nothing more than to cloud our minds with thoughts that do not belong there.  Satan wants nothing more than for us to remember that image we saw on the computer screen or on your cell phone.  Satan wants nothing more than for us to replay the images of that person cutting you off in traffic or cutting in front of you at the grocery store.  Satan wants us to keep those thoughts in our head, because Satan knows that if those thoughts are in our head, he is winning.  Satan also know that when our thoughts are focused on our Lord and Savior and growing the kingdom of God, that he loses. 

“We are destroying speculations and every loft thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every though captive to be the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Let your thoughts be based in the Gospel, let your thoughts be completely indulged in the love of Christ.  Where your thoughts are, so there will be your actions as well. Love God: Love Men.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Focus on His Presence

Matthew 28:20; Psalm 139:1-4

“When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place.  As you gaze at Me through the eyes of your heart, you can see the world around you from My perspective.  The fact that I am with you makes every moment of your life meaningful.” Jesus Calling – Sarah Young.

“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NASB

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down, and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar.  You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.  Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, you know it all.”  Psalm 139:1-4 NASB

It is incredible to me to know that the some of the last words our Savior spoke were “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  That just shows me that amount of love that our Savior has for each and every one of us. 

When you are focusing everything you do around the thought of would this glorify God, there are going to be times when everything seems to be working; there are also going to be times when even when you are focused 100% on the presence of God that things are going to go wrong.  Following Jesus is not an easy thing, nor is following Jesus the cure all for having problems.  But when you try to focus your every thought around the presence of God and glorifying Him through everything that you do, you are going to have an impact on your life and the lives of the people around you. 

But even when we fail to focus our lives on God, our Savior still loves us.  He is still our Savior and He gives us the opportunity to redeem ourselves by trying to do better.  This isn’t a one time shot, take it or leave it.  Our faith is an opportunity to show growth through trials and triumphs.  Our faith is an opportunity to show others how important the message of our Savior is to others. Our Savior knows every move that we are going to make. He knows when we are going to make the right decisions and He knows when we are going to make the wrong decisions; and He still loves us the exact same. 

Try to live your day to day where you focus on glorifying God in everything that you do, but remember that we are going to fall short of the glory of God; but that isn’t going to change the way that our Savior looks at us nor does it change the love that He has for us.  Love God: Love Men

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Struggles = Pure Joy!

Matthew 13:45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

“Thank Me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials.  Adverse circumstances are normal in a fallen world.  Expect them each day. Rejoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world.” ~ Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

It seems really crazy to thank God when we are facing things that we feel like we shouldn’t be facing.  Try these for example: God thank you for diagnosing me with cancer, God thank you for letting my parents get divorced, God thank you for letting me struggle with inappropriate content.  I have heard very few people ever say they are thankful for circumstances like those.  Maybe that is not the point that James 1:2-4 is trying to make but then again maybe it is.  It doesn’t say consider it joy when you face struggles that aren’t that difficult, it doesn’t say consider it joy when you face struggles that you can deal with.  It says “consider it joy…when you encounter various trials.”  That is a very difficult concept for me to grasp.  I am supposed to consider it joy when things stack up against me; that just does not make sense to me. Unless you don’t read the entire verse, it doesn’t say that the things you are going through are going to be easy, it doesn’t even say that it might not hurt; but it does say that “testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  So my suffering, my trials, my struggles, are supposed to make me “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”.  It is at times like this where the infinite power and all knowingness of God is completely and utterly amazing.  The struggles of this world are just that, struggles of this world! Struggles that are temporary, struggles that will go away; don’t confuse that with me saying those struggles aren’t going to hurt because they are going to hurt.  They wouldn’t be struggles if they didn’t. 

Our God who knows we are going to struggle is perfecting us to be complete, lacking nothing so that we may be the ambassadors of His message to the people that we come into contact with.  Those struggles are not going to last forever, those struggles are not going to bury you.  “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  I have to think that the exclamation point didn’t exist at the time of this writing because there should have been at least five exclamation points at that end of that sentence.  No matter what the world throws at us, and the world is going to throw things at us, no matter how hard things get; our God has overcome them!!!!!  Our God has overcome the world!!!!! 

So next time that you face a struggle, whether that be in the next 5 minutes, or the next 5 days; try to consider it pure joy that our Heavenly Father who loves us so much is perfecting us.  He is chiseling away at the things that do not need to be in our life.  He is building us up to ambassadors of His calling.  Allow those struggles to reaffirm that our Heavenly Father has called you to be His child.  That is absolutely, pure joy!  Love God: Love Men.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Are you allowing God to do extraordinary things in your life?

Deuteronomy 31:6; 1 Peter 3:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6-7; 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Your weakness and woundedness are the openings through which the Light of the knowledge of My glory shines forth.  My strength and power show themselves most effective in your weakness.” Jesus Calling- Sarah Young

The opening line of the daily devotional this morning says “It’s okay to be human”! Let that sink in a little bid for you.  “It’s okay to be human”.  That is a very comforting thought, that our Savior says it is okay to be human.  I mean after all he does know what it is like to be human.  He knows what it is like to be surrounded by people who don’t have the same beliefs that you do.  He knows what it is like to be talked about behind your back.  He knows what it is like to be betrayed by a friend.  In short, He knows what it is like to be a human.  But just because it is okay to be human, doesn’t mean that is it okay to wallow in the fact that we are human and therefore can’t be used for God’s purpose. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail your or forsake you.” NASB  When we are going about our daily business and things are tough, or when someone we know says something about us that is unpleasant, or when something bad happens to someone we love, know that the Lord our God is the one who is walking beside you.  And when He is walking beside you, it is more than okay to lean on His everlasting arms.  God is going to use those times when things are going badly to show Christ to others through you.  “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.  The earthly vessels are used to show the power of God in us so that we cannot boast in the power that God has.  “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boat about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.  “Power is perfected in weakness”; God takes ordinary, sinful people to be His instruments to show the world the grace that He has made available to us.  God uses the regular Joe to do incredible works in His kingdom, because “power is made perfect in weakness”.  By God using regular people to do incredible things, the power of Christ is becoming evident.  Because we are so incapable of doing the things that God is using us for, it draws the attention away from us and towards God.  It takes the ability to boast about what is happening away from us and gives that ability to God. 

God is going to use you in ways that you cannot imagine.  God is going to do incredible things through you.  God is already using you to do some of those incredible things.  Keep your eyes open so that you may see the things that God is doing in your life so that you can attest to those things.  The world is in dire need of people who are willing to let the will of God be done in their lives. Are you going to be that person?  Are you going to be the person that is the change they want to see?  Are you going to be the person that 20-30 years from now people look back and say “Wow, God used that person to do something extraordinary”?  I challenge you to be that person!  Love God: Love Men.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding

Psalm 52:8; Proverbs 3:5-6

“But as for me, I am like a green olive tress in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.” Psalm 52:8

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust is like a staff you can lean on, as you journey uphill with Me.  If you are trusting in Me consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed.  Lean on, trust, and be confident in Me with all your heart and mind.” Jesus Calling ~ Sarah Young

Trust is a weird thing; we can give it out sometimes without even thinking about it to people we hardly know.  We pass it out to strangers without ever needing to receive it back.  But we often find it difficult to trust in the Lord of all the earth who created everything in our world.  Why is it difficult to trust in God?  Is it because we can’t see Him?  Is it because we can’t physically touch Him?  Is it because we aren’t really sure how or where this trust is going to lead us?  Is it because we are too prideful?  Personally, I don’t like to ask for help, in anything.  Now, I’m not one of those guys who will drive around lost for hours before asking for directions, but I am one of those guys who does not like to admit when I struggle with things.  I don’t like to admit when I don’t have it all together.  I don’t like to admit that I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t always like to ask for help, because I am not always sure that I want to hear the answer that is going to be provided. 

When asking God to work in your life whether it be by asking for Him to show you His path for you, or asking Him to walk beside you during dark times, or whatever else it might be that you ask God for; sometimes those answers aren’t always what we want to see, hear, or do.  God sometimes uses us in places that we are uncomfortable being used in.  When we ask God for what He wants us to do, He is going to tell us; and when he does tell us, we have to be willing to do what is asked.  I often find myself asking, “God what do you want me to do, what is your plan for me?” and before there is even time for answer, I think I know what God wants me to do.  Sometimes, I might have the same idea, but for the most part just asking God for his plan isn’t enough trust.  The trusting part comes from when God answers and you follow.  “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6  NASB  Notice it doesn’t just say, do trust your own understanding, but acknowledge Him.  Acknowledge what is being done around you, acknowledge what God is saying, acknowledge where God is leading you.  Because if you ask God, He is going to lead you.  Trust that His plan is way better than yours.  Love God: Love Men.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Win the Day!

Psalm 118:24; Philippians 4:19, 6-7

“Come to me with a thankful heart, so that you can enjoy my Presence.  This is the day that I have made.  I want you to rejoice today, refusing to worry about tomorrow.”  Jesus Calling- Sarah Young

I had a coach when I was in high school that his motto was “win the day”.  Whether that be in practice, in class, at games, wherever…it was always “win the day”.  That little saying did very little to actually change the way that I played or practiced (I like to think that I was “winning the day” regardless of if he said it or not) but now I see that saying in a different meaning.  Sports are my thing; I like to play them, I like to watch them, I like to talk about them, and I some times feel they can illustrate a point better than my words can so bear with me as I try to bring this all back together.  Psalm 118:24 “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” NASB God wants us to rejoice in the day that He has made for us.  He doesn’t want us to bogged down by the worries of the next day, he doesn’t want us to worry about the things that happened yesterday; no, our God wants us to rejoice in this day, the day that He has made.  This may be a little bit of a stretch, but I believe God wants us to “win the day”.  You cannot go back and change the mistakes of yesterday or live in the successes of yesterday, you cannot go forward and fix the problems that the next day might bring; but you can “win the day”.  What does “winning the day” look like?  How do we “win the day”, when it seems like the odds are so stacked against us?  Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  NASB God just drew up the game winning alley-hoop, God just drew up the game winning Hail-Mary pass.  God just put away match point.  “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehensions, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Sounds like a pretty awesome game plan.  Sounds like a pretty sure fire way to “win the day”. And when you does those things, when you bring your requests before the Lord with thanksgiving, he is going to supply all the needs that you have to “win the day”.  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  So not only did God draw up the ultimate play to win the game, He also brought the star player to complete the play with you.  WIN THE DAY!  LOVE GOD: LOVE MEN                                                                                                                                   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is your yoke difficult? Are your burdens heavy?

Matthew 11:28-30; Isaiah 1:5,9

“Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur.  Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to me, and relax in My Peace.”

Remember back to your elementary days, or possibly even junior high; you over hear your teacher or principle talking about something that you did.  You know that you are probably going to be in trouble over it.  All day you spend worrying about what is going to happen, how they are going to react, how you are going to respond.  The teacher/principal waits until the end of the day to say something and by that time your stomach is in knots because of all the worrying you are doing.  So the principal finally calls you into his/her office only to find out that they understand what you did and why you did but they still have to punish you somehow but it isn’t nearly as bad as you were expecting.  I’m sure all of us have had an experience like that whether it be in school, at work, or even in relationship; but Jesus doesn’t want us to live in that constant state of fear.  Jesus wants us to walk through those struggles when they happen, not over and over in our head.  Maybe there is a specific sin that you struggle with; Jesus doesn’t want you to beat yourself up all the time for times that you have failed previously.  No, Jesus wants to walk alongside you through the current times when you are struggling.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My Yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB.  Jesus doesn’t want us to carry around the fear, the hurt, the anxiety, the worry of things to come; Jesus wants us to take His yoke upon us, he wants us to carry His burdens which are much lighter than our own. 

Jesus never says that being a follower of Christ is going to be easy, he never says it will be without trials and tribulations, but he does say that He is with us every step of the way.  When we are facing those struggles, those trials, those valleys He says do not continue to fill your entire mind with how bad the troubles are.  When the road is long, when the days are hard that is when Jesus wants us to lean on Him even more.  When we feel like we can’t take another step, when we feel like we can’t take another failure, when we feel that nothing in this world is going right; that is when Jesus wants us to fall into His arms and to let Him carry us.  “Take My yoke upon you…..for My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.  Love God : Love Men.