All in a Day’s Work . . .

John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Every day most of us wake up, go through our morning routine and then head off to our appointed duties. If we could examine this process without going into details, I think by and large it would be the same for all of us. Moving on, as you head out the door there is probably some sort of plan for your day. We have meetings to attend, customers to serve, errands to run and goals to accomplish. Our world has geared us to revel in conquering our tasks and acquiring more stuff.  

The problem here is that when we focus on these self fulfilling tasks we begin to internalize everything we do. “This is for me. I have to go here so I can get this and do that, etc.” If we are to “bear fruit”, we can’t do it while concentrating on our own pursuits. Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  

Can you imagine what our world would be like if we focused as much on helping others and encouraging those around us as we did on our own self interests? In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” Scrooge is speaking to Marley’s Ghost, telling him that in life, he was a “Good Man of Business”. Marley, enlightened and already knowing of his misgivings replies, “Mankind was my Business!” When we get caught up in accomplishing our worldly goals it becomes easy to forget why we are really here.

If you are in the habit of planning your day, start it by scheduling time to help someone out. Try reading some scripture to remind you of your true purpose in life. Put others needs before your own and you will be rewarded far beyond earthly gains.

Romans 12:10 – Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Balancing Act

Psalms 119:133 – Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

I visit the YMCA a few times a week to jump on the Elliptical in an effort to keep this aging body in some working order. It’s somewhat of a “Hamster treadmill” in that you’re pretty locked in to what you’re doing but it’s a pretty stable machine. However, if you take your hands off the machine and “run in place” you must balance yourself while “running”. This is not real hard to do, but close your eyes and wow! you’d think you were on a completely different machine. Actually, just close your eyes while you’re walking and see how fast things change for you. I’m guessing you’ll lose your balance pretty quick. Once we lose our sight our balance is all out of whack. It takes a lot of adjusting to learn to balance again without our sight.

The same can be said for our lives. With all that we have going on it’s very easy to get out of balance. In fact, we often use that exact term to describe our lives. When things are going crazy how do you regain your balance? Where is your center and what do you turn to that takes you to that place of peace in your life? Is it a bottle? Is it something as harmless as TV? Do you escape with a book? When we are burning “both ends” it’s so easy to try and escape with something that is probably not the best thing for us, but feels good right then and there.

The true center of our lives should be God and His Word. When we speak with God on a daily basis we’re able to deal with the little things that can throw us into a tizzy. When we center our lives on Him, all things seem to stay in balance just a little bit more. His Word centers us on what’s really important. When life wants you to perform a balancing act, center yourself with the Lord!    

Psalms 32:8 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Perpetual Mission

Mathew 25:40 – And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Have you ever gone on a Mission Trip or participated in a large project that helped the less fortunate? Experiences like this are so rewarding for all concerned. I think we all have a great feeling of accomplishment when we can be a part of something like this. It’s usually a big production and we plan for weeks and for that relatively short period of time we have the heart of a servant like we never have had in the past. Soon we return home or the project is over and we go back to living our lives and literally passing up missionary chances on a daily basis.

In the scripture above Jesus is summarizing all the things we could do for others in His service. The planned Mission Trips and Community Service Projects are a great way to do this but when you think about it there are countless small things we can do on a daily basis to reach those around us. Something as seemingly insignificant as taking a grocery cart from someone in a parking lot to save them a trip or asking a neighbor if they need anything from the store could make a world of difference in a person’s day maybe even in their life.

I guess I’m just thinking out loud here, but have performing “random acts of kindness” become cliché’? so instead we just go about our day and live for what we want/need without even looking around us for what our brother or sister may need? We all feel better when we serve others. . . . God planned it that way. So why not make it a point to do this at least once a day? Start your Perpetual Mission and reach out to someone you know or even a complete stranger. You may be the only Jesus they have ever known.

Colossians 3:24 – knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Got Super Powers?

Colossians 1:11 – May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

I’m a pretty big fan of Superheroes. One of the things that draws us to these characters are their powers. Some Superheroes possess supernatural powers, via being born in another world or through some mutated human trait. However there are a few that get their power elsewhere. One such Hero is the Green Lantern. He gains his power through a ring given to him by an alien. This ring can only hold so much power and has to be recharged on a regular basis in order for The Green Lantern to be more than a mere mortal.

The same can be said for Christians. We receive our strength from God, through our relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. We do this by reading our Bibles, going to church, participating in study groups and so on. If we do these things on a regular basis then His presence in our life will be much stronger and we will be able to fight the battles we face much easier. His strength is there to help us meet ALL of life’s challenges. Psalms 28:8 – The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. If we neglect to “power up” then we will be a much easier target for the enemy. Without the Power of God on our side, the temptations we face are harder to resist . So if you find yourself in a place where the enemy is getting the best of you, call on the one who can give you the power to overcome anything that may come your way!   

1Timothy 1:12 – I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

To Obey or not to Obey, or what I learned from The Lion King

Proverbs 1:8 – Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

Last weekend we watched The Lion King, a Disney Classic that has been re-released in 3-D. We opted to go old school and watched a VHS tape at home. Like many Disney movies there’s a lesson to be learned in The Lion King. The young King-to-be is tricked into feeling he was responsible for his father’s death.  Instead of facing the pain and responsibility he flees, in the end he returns to reclaim his “birthright” and save the Pride, along with the many animals associated with it. However, in the beginning there’s a scene where Simba (ignoring his father’s instruction) and Nala stray away to exploreand find themselves in trouble. When Mufasa (Simba’s father) rescues them Simba tries to explain, “Dad, I . . . .” Mufasa interrupts and simply states “you deliberately disobeyed me”. For such a simple statement this carries so much weight!

How many times did you disobey your parents growing up? Whether it was “don’t touch the hot stove” when you were young or “just because you have checks doesn’t mean you still have money” when you were older, our parents used their wisdom to guide our lives. Of course we had to experience it for ourselves because “WE KNEW MORE THAN THEY DID” how’d that work out for you?

The very same can be said with the instruction and wisdom we receive from our Holy Father. We know we shouldn’t lust, yet we do. We know we shouldn’t cheat others, still we do. We know we shouldn’t covet material things, but out we go to one-up the “jones’”. What are you doing that you know you shouldn’t be? God loves us so very much that he has provided all the parental advice we’ll ever need, yet we would rather try it our way. How’s THAT working for you?

The truth is we’ll never be perfect, and that’s a good thing, but why must we continue to stray away from the advice of the one True King!  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5. Solomon knew that God knows what’s best for our lives. As hard as it is to do sometimes, we all know that obeying our Father is always that best thing to do.

Proverbs 2:6-7 – For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, (read all of Prroverbs 2)

Forgiveness through Faith

Luke 23:34 – And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks on our Country. I can’t help but think about the lives that were altered due to this atrocious act. When lives are affected so drastically, where does forgiveness find its place? To me one of the best examples for us to live by is the story of Joseph and what his brothers did to him. Joseph speaking to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today”, Genesis 50:20. Even though his brothers betrayed and sold him into slavery Joseph believed it was God’s Will. He took a situation that many would have seen as the worst thing that could have happened and found good in it. Actually through a good portion of the story Joseph had no idea what would happen to him but he trusted God through it all.

Psalms 37:7 – Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! When someone does something to us we want some sort of revenge. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about David and how he chose not to avenge. We could take that same lesson here but Joseph’s story is more about trusting God and His plan for our lives. Whatever may come, it is God’s plan, Good, Bad or indifferent. Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

If we accept the gift of grace from God then we must fully trust in His plan for our lives. If we were as devoted to this as Joseph was I think forgiveness would be a very easy thing to do.

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Sowing and Growing

Mark 4:27 – He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how

I’ve been planting a garden in our backyard now for the last 2 years. Although I’m in the landscape industry I know nothing of “farming” even on the urban level. However, we have been blessed with pretty good “harvests”, until this summer’s record heat that is. The gardening process is amazing. We buy a small plant or better yet, a packet of seeds. We prepare the soil, plant and begin watering. In a few days we see the little shoots emerge and with consistent care we have Produce in a matter of a few weeks. This is truly one of Gods miracles of life! The faith we put in that little plant or seed, while sub-conscious, is as big as faith gets. How exactly the seed grows is a mystery. Though it grows by a process we cannot see nor fully account for, we have faith in the growing process. So it is with the Kingdom of God: we work in partnership with God, yet the real work is left up
to Him – we trust in a process we cannot see nor fully account for.

The word of God works invisibly within us. God promised that His word would accomplish the purpose for which He sends it (Isaiah 55:11). So when you hear the word it works in you – even as you sleep! It works in you spiritually, in a way that is invisible to our eyes.

Jesus used the seed/soil scenario in a couple of different parables. In the verse above the seed is The Word. When it’s planted in us, and we nurture it, it has the ability to grow and we then have the ability to sow more seed by sharing God’s Word with others. This gardening thing is pretty cool!

2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Excerpts from Mark 4 Commentry by David Guzik

A True Test of Faith

1 Sam 24:12 – May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.

I’m still making my way through the old Testament. This morning my reading brought forth the above verse. The Living Bible translates, “Perhaps the Lord will kill you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you.” What a great message!

Our human nature takes us to places where we know we shouldn’t go and I would put revenge right at the top. Here, it could be argued that David had the right to kill Saul in self-defense but David acquiesced to the Lord and His judgment alone.

This comes down to a question of faith. Have you given your life to Christ and fully trust Him? If so, then such matters wouldn’t occupy our minds. Something as simple as an absentminded driver cutting you off may cause you to go into revenge mode, OK, that one might be easy to let go. How about someone stealing from you or harming a family member? Not so easy. God has promised to take care of the righteous and punish the wicked, but He will do it in His time.

As Christians, how can we bring forth a message of Love when we have revenge on our minds? If the Lord forgives us of our sins, then we must do the same with our transgressors. It’s our selfish nature that makes this one of the hardest edicts of the Bible to follow, but if we do, we truly exhibit full surrender and trust in the Lord. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal!

1 Sam 26:23 – The LORD rewards every man for hisrighteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’s anointed.

A Purpose for everything and everyone

Originally Published 3/22/09

Rev 4:11 – “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

My wife and I took a trip down to the Texas Hill Country this past weekend. In my modest travels, I think this area is some of God’s best “work”. The rolling hills, regal oak trees and winding creeks seem to be around every corner. The wildlife that occupies this country is equally beautiful and amazing. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in our lives that we rarely take time to appreciate God’s Creations. When you do though, it’s evident that all that we see and hear is not by happenstance. Take for example the Owl Butterfly or a simple Leaf insect, for their protection, God created these defenseless creatures with an inherent ability to blend in with their surroundings or in the case of the Owl Butterfly, even scare their predators away. If we were to think like evolutionists do, it would be a logical conclusion that the Leaf Insect used to be a “leaf” and over time it just grew legs and a thorax, etc, etc. We know these to be the perfect creations of God our Father.

God gives all his creations special abilities. This means YOU! We all have something we do well. It could be an artistic skill or the ability to run a corporation. The point is that God wants you to use the abilities he gave you. So think about what you do well and/or enjoy doing and go do it, knowing that it is a gift from God and while you’re at it, give him the Glory and Praise that such a gift warrants.   

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24