Wednesday, October 28, 2009


"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2nd Timothy 1:7)

One of my favorite acronyms is for the word fear --False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is one of the most powerful weapons the enemy can use against us. As believers we are called to only fear God. The fear in that context is a reverential awe not a stark raving terror. Fear works against in terrible ways. It makes us sick in body and soul. Fear is based in our belief of a bad outcome in a certain situation. The situation can involve pretty much anything but health, finances, job, and family seem to be the ones that really hit home. When developed to an extreme fear can lead to crippling phobias. Fear can also be an extremely tough thing to battle.

But "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2nd Corinthians 4-5). The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (natural) but they are MIGHTY! Take a close look at this passage and discern the argument Paul is making. Pulling down strongholds; casting down arguments; and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing thoughts (all of them) into captivity to the obedience of Christ. The battlefield here is the mind. Satan doesn't show up with his pitchfork, rather, he whispers in your head.

Meditating on a dread outcome is giving in to fear -- believing that "false evidence appearing real." Taking those thoughts captive changes the picture! To do that though we have to something else to stand on. To cast down an argument we have to have something to counter that argument with. How about the Word of God! The Word of God is full of wonderful promises for God's children but you won't know too many of them unless you get in there and dig them out!

How does this work? Let's say you are given a difficult task at work. You might start having negative thoughts like, "There's no way I can do this" or "This is just way too hard. I can't believe I got stuck with this." If you know the the Word that says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13) then you can cast down those thoughts and bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ. It is pretty simple but it does takes little discipline and perseverance. You can do it.

Don't let F.E.A.R. have its way in your life!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 23rd Psalm

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever." (Psalm 23:6)

"Follow me on Facebook or Twitter." Social networking that combines the internet, cellphones and PDAs is really, really popular these days. Initially considered the domain of the young, people of all ages are now using technology to keep up with one another's activities in real time. With the right technology (and motivation to keep it up) people can literally stay connected and follow one another (in a virtual sense) around the world.

Long before Twitter and Facebook though there was a precious promise that David grasped. That was a promise that the goodness and mercy of God would follow him all the days of his life. The 23rd Psalm is truly a wonderful little psalm but I fear that sometimes we've heard it so much it loses its impact. It has been put on plaques and paintings and clocks (I have one myself) and needlepoint and hundreds of other things beside.

The reality, though, is that this psalm is an awesome revelation of the goodness of God. It has wonderful promises for His children and portrays His love and care in such a marvelous manner. Take some time to meditate on it today. Don't say "I've read it a thousand times, I already know it." Read it again. Let God speak to your heart. It'll encourage and bless you! God will once again reveal His goodness and mercy to you in new fresh ways!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rejoice Today!

"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Sometimes the challenges of the day can seem overwhelming. That's when we need to change our focus from the challenges to the possibilities. We need to change our focus from our circumstances to an expectation that our wonderful Heavenly Father is there for us today. We have his Spirit dwelling within and so many wonderful promises from God's Word. If we look for Him in the midst of the day we will find Him! He doesn't leave us or forsake us. He is a very present help in time of need. He has made this day! Rejoice and be glad in it!

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Come Apart Before You Come Apart

"For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you." (2nd Corinthians 1:12)

Simplicity is a good thing. In a culture that strives to find happiness in the acquisition of material things simplicity is almost a foreign concept. Stress seems to be a present reality for most folks. Fear about the economy and the world situation compounds our anxiety.

There really is something to be said for a peaceful and quiet life. We really need to take some time to unplug. You can't be of much help to others if you are overwhelmed yourself. A friend of mine used to say, "Come apart or you will come apart." It's something you really have to be intentional about. It is amazing how voids in our schedules can quickly get filled up. My oldest son is working two part-time jobs and going to school. A few weeks ago he had a situation where he got the inevitable text from a coworker-- "What are you doing Friday evening?" This person wanted him to work for her. He didn't actually have anything going on that evening. That didn't mean he was obligated to work her shift. He declined the opportunity.

Take some time to come apart. Spend time with the Lord. Take a walk. Go sit by a lake and watch the water. Do what it takes to recharge your batteries. Take a look at your life and see what's not working. Take a look at what is working and what is not. Ask the Lord to direct your steps!

"You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Praise The Lord!

"Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created." (Psalm 148:1-5)

It is easy to get caught up in the stress of life where all out prayers and thoughts seem to get focused on dealing with our issues and struggles. Sometimes we just need to step back, take our gaze off of our circumstances and place it squarely on the Lord. Praising Him is a wonderful way to do that. If you don't know what to say open up the book of Psalms. The Psalms are filled with wonderful declarations of praise and worship.

Here is the rest of Psalm 148 for your enjoyment.

"He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away. Praise the LORD from the earth, You great sea creatures and all the depths; Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills; Fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl; Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and maidens; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory [is] above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, The praise of all His saints-- Of the children of Israel, A people near to Him. Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 148:6-14)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

He Will Deliver Me!

"Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied." (1st Samuel 17:45)

David's confidence was in the Lord. The quote above is David's response to a threat from Goliath that "I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field." Goliath was insulted that the Israelites would send such a young man out to challenge him. We know how it ended and there wasn't much to it. David pulled out his sling, slipped in a rock, whirled it around, let it fly and took Goliath down with one shot.

When David volunteered to fight Goliath no one believed he could beat the giant. Saul had tried to talk him out of it but David's response was, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine" (1st Samuel 17:370). David had experienced God's help before and was confident in it again. David had developed the habit of spending time with God and getting to know Him. In knowing God David learned to trust Him through what would be, for most of us, some pretty trying adventures.

Learning to trust God is a wonderful adventure. God is with you and will be there for you in whatever you are going though. He is your help and your deliverer! Look to Him!

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." (Psalm 18:2)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What a Wonderful Gift!

"As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." (2nd Corinthians 6:16)

What a precious promise from the Word of God! What a wonderful fulfillment we have in Christ. "I will be their God and they shall be my people." I believe that in this verse we really see the heart of God. Adam walked with God in the cool of the day. Abraham was called the "friend of God." David had a heart after "God's own heart." We were created for fellowship with God.

I believe that this verse expresses the heart of God. He loves humanity. He paid the greatest price that we could be pardoned. He really couldn't have made it any simpler. But, someone might ask, why not just accept everyone regardless? I could write a really long response to that but here's a question to ponder -- is it the fault of the gift giver if someone refuses to accept their gift?

"But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (Galatians 3:22)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Living Continually with God!

"Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. (Psalm 73:3-4)

We have such a loving heavenly Father. In Hebrews 13:5 we are told that "I will never leave you nor forsake you." The promises we have as His children are wonderful. People will fail us. They will hurt us and let us down. But God is not like the people in our lives. He is faithful and true. He is full of mercy and compassion. He loves us with a love so wonderful that it is really hard to wrap our brains around it. It is a love that we catch glimpses of in our love for one another but it is so much more. His love manifests in action. His love was manifest when Christ went to the cross and will be manifested in our day to day walk with Him.

"You hold me by your right hand." We can see in that a picture of a parent and child holding hands but when we understand that in Hebrew thought the right hand represented power and strength the picture enlarges. His power and strength is more than enough for what you are going through today. He will never leave you or forsake you!

"To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pray for One Another

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy." (Philippians 1:3-4)

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life we forget just how important it can be to pray for one another. It is such a blessing when you have been going through a rough time and someone comes to you and says, "I've been praying for you."

Often we are well intentioned but forget. We tell someone at church that we will really be praying for them and then life comes along and we forget. Be like Paul was with the church at Philippi. Be intentional. When you sit down to read the Word or fellowship with the Lord take some time to remember situations that have been brought to your attention. Most churches have a prayer list of some kind. Sometimes just taking a moment to think about it will give the Holy Spirit a chance to jog your memory and remind you of some needs.

Prayer is more than just some psychological exercise. Prayers prayed in faith have power. Prayer is a wonderful ministry that you can do for others in your life!

"Pray without ceasing." (1st Thess. 5:17)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rich in Mercy

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." (Ephesians 2:4)

What a picture of the goodness and love of God. He is rich in mercy. He has an abundance of mercy. When we look at Jesus we see such a wonderful manifestation of God's love for each us. The same God, that sent His son to die for us, is not sitting up there waiting to smack you as soon as you make a mistake. We need a savior because of our inability to live up to God's standard. Instead of changing the standard, He makes a way for us that we could never make on our own, ultimately, changing us. Sometimes people think they've just been too bad to be born again or they think that God has had it with them. But He is rich in mercy. He has more than enough and it is freely available to those who will humble themselves before Him.

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Rock and My Salvation

"He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 62:6)

I am so thankful that we have a heavenly Father who loves and cares for us so much! Hebrews 4;16 says that we can "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." I have seen the goodness of God manifested in my life over and over again. Not just in emotional help to deal with problems but in real tangible "God episodes" where His provision and help came to bear. God still works in His people just as he always has. When you are in a hard place look to Him. Run into Him.

I love the picture in Hebrews 4:16. We run boldly to the throne of grace. When we do that we find mercy and grace when we most need it -- not when everything is just right and we have it all together but when things are hard and we've made mistakes. That's a verse we can can grasp in the midst of our brokenness and pain. In the throes of our fallen nature we can run boldly into Him because of what Jesus has done for us!

Psalm 46:1 says that "God is is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." Look to Him first. Don't try to fix everything in your own strength and when that doesn't work try God. Run into Him first. Ask Him for wisdom and help. Trust that He is at work in your life. We serve a wonderful God.

"Whosoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock" (Matthew 7:24-25).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Wineskins

"Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:17)

Wineskins, in Palestine, were usually made of tanned goatskins. New wine would be stored in new wineskins. The weight of the wine and the process of fermentation would stretch the skin to its maximum elasticity. The collagen in the wineskin would break down during this process. As the wine and wineskin aged together the wineskin became stiffer and stiffer. Putting new wine in an old wineskin would risk the loss of the new wine as the old wineskin would break.

In a way we are like those wineskins. We need to remain pliable before God. When you think you've figured it all out where God is concerned you have become an old wineskin. The Christian life is an ongoing process of growth and change that should continue until we die. Don't become an old stiff wineskin. When you read something in God's Word that challenges you don't try to explain it away. Be willing to submit to what God has said! When you are tested with something from the Bible that seems out of synch with your particular group don't fall back on the group and say "we don't believe that." I know ministers that will only teach passages of the Bible that line up with their beliefs. They refuse to even deal with passages that will cause them difficulty.

Let the Word of God challenge you! Let it test you! Dare to wrestle with it instead of trying to neatly package it in some palatable form. In doing so you will remain anew wineskin that God can pour into!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Humble Before God

"The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way." (Psalm 25:9)

As we humble ourselves before God we allow the process of transformation to work in our lives. As fallen human beings we are prone to be self-centered and prideful. We want our own way. We want to do our own thing. James 4:6 tells us that "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."

God calls us to submit our lives to Him. It's easy to say but sometimes hard to do. Of course, most of us (Christians anyway) say we do. We don't find out of if we really do until we are tested. Change and growth is a process. We all have areas we need some help in.

I have a son who works in a Christian Bookstore and he has related a lot of disturbing stories about Christians who behaved badly. Almost every story he has shared relates to people not getting their way. People wanting to use expired coupons or wanting discounts but then getting angry when they couldn't get them. He even had someone tell him he wasn't very Christian when he wouldn't take back a CD. This person had opened it up and wanted to return it. It's against state law to allow returns on opened music because of potential copyright violations.

I always wonder -- do they read the Bible? Have they been taught at all? That old self- centered behavior exhibits our ugly side for sure! The only solution for it is to humbles ourselves and submit our ways to God in everything we do. Then you begin to understand that you live for Him and not for yourself.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 5:20)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bring Those Thoughts Captive!

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." (2nd Corinthians 10:4-5)

So many of the battles that we face in life occur between our ears. Our minds can really be a battleground. That's why it is so important to submit even our thoughts to God. Sin doesn't happen in a vacuum. Wrong attitudes and beliefs don't magically spring up. They sometimes happen because of bad teaching or no teaching but, many times, they simply happen because we don't submit our thoughts to the Word of God.

For example -- somebody hurts your feeling. What is your response? Do you walk in humility, love and forgiveness? Or do you think about it and stew over it until it becomes a real resentment issue in your life? If you're living you are going to have problems. It's critical that we respond as God would have us respond. A key in doing that is to bring those thoughts that are contrary to God's Word captive. Bring them into obedience. How do you do that? By making a decision to change what you are thinking about. Replace the angry or fearful thoughts with some scripture. Talk to the Lord about it. Pray for the person who wronged you. Don't take a thought and make it sin by dwelling on it!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Good Word

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." (Isaiah 50:4)

Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "death and life are in the power of the tongue." Ever notice how much quicker some folks seem to criticize instead of encourage? And yet, you can, by the words of your mouth be an incredible blessing and encouragement to someone else. Jesus told us that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."

If you only criticize and tear down it's time to examine your heart. We can use words to hurt or to heal -- to harm or to help. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren and we sure don't want to participate in that ministry.

Some folks say they're just speaking the "truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) when in reality they are using that verse to excuse their behavior. I've seen a lot of truth spoken among Christians that was not handled in love.

Be a blessing. Be an encourager. God is simply looking for those who are available.

"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Help in Time of Need

"Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:25)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego had refused to bow before the idols of Nebuchadnezzar. For this offense they were thrown in a fiery furnace. The fire was so hot it killed the men who threw them in. But then an awesome thing happened. God showed up. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego walked out of the fire.

We serve an awesome God. When you are going through the fire turn to Him. He will be there for you. Don't just believe for comfort but believe for help. We serve a real God who works in real ways for His children. God is greater than your struggle and difficulty!

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Hearing of Faith

"Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Galatians 3:5)

Paul is asking a rhetorical question here. The obvious answer is by the the "hearing of faith." The hearing of faith is, in a nutshell, hearing what God has said and believing and applying it to our lives. Paul is addressing the trap that Christians easily succumb to as fallen human beings -- thinking that God's work in our lives is based on our goodness. In reality it is based on His goodness.

That's not to say that there is not a price for sin and disobedience. There is. Sin hurts us. One of the ways it hurts is that it gnaws at our conscience and gives the enemy a place to speak into our lives with thoughts like, "God doesn't listen to your prayers. Look how you sinned." It plays out in our lives by creating a paradigm for God's work in our lives that is based on our ability. We think that God helps us when we're good and abandons us when we're not so good. We've made ourselves the standard.

Paul nails that with this question. God supplies His Spirit and works in our lives by the "hearing of faith." He doesn't do this because we keep the rules and live a really good life. He doesn't do this because we are good but because He is good.