Are you lusting after the wrong things? Are you dealing with unhealthy cravings?


Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
1 John 2:15-17

In verse 16 of another translation it is put this way:

For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. — 1 John 2:16

Is everything you do circled around trying to have physical pleasure? Is it circled around trying to have or get everything you see? Is your life based on your own pride and trying to achieve things or possess things? Consider the desires of your heart for whatever you are full of, that is what will pour out of your mouth. Consider what you treasure for where your treasure is, there also your heart will be. And what is driving and motivating you? Is it based on pride? Pride comes before the fall, it is better to live a life of a humble servant.

How far down the road will you go? How far away will you walk from God’s plans and purposes for your life, which are good and based on love? Will you turn back? Will you realize the choice you have? Will you ask for forgiveness? Will you be able to receive  it? So many questions and so many choices. Today we will be faced with choices we need to make. Today we will be faced with decisions that need our attention. Today the biggest choice may be if we will ask God for help and if we will be obedient to the instruction and direction He provides? We read in God’s Word how Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, He is the only way to the Father in Heaven. We see the story about the lost son who takes his inheritance (while his dad is still alive) and goes. We see how much God loves us through the response of the father when the son returns. God is so interested in saving that one lost person than being comfortable and hanging out with 99 safe, that He would leave the 99 to go and find the 1. He loves you that much. Has He found you? Has He found all those you care about?

What’s going on in your gut? Is your behavior eating you away from the inside out? Have you turned back and been healed and freed from that old behavior? God is faithful and just!

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. — 1 John 1:8-10

So where are you at today? Are you back in the fold? Are you still searching for yourself? What are you pursuing? Where is your heart? What will it take for a turnaround, a comeback, an upgrade? We are eternal — so the biggest choice is where do we want to spend eternity! God has greater things plans for you than where you are at today!

What an incredible Psalm to end my reading today… Psalm 40

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When tested, do you despise discipline?


Do you realize what discipline is or means? Looking it up, I found the definition to be:

Bing Dictionary

dis·ci·pline [ díssəplin ]

  1. training to ensure proper behavior: the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior
  2. order and control: a controlled orderly state, especially in a class of schoolchildren
  3. calm controlled behavior: the ability to behave in a controlled and calm way even in a difficult or stressful situation

Synonyms: punishment · correction · chastisement · castigation

It’s training. It’s an orderly state. It a calm state or behavior.

Not everyone responds well to correction. Not everyone responds well to testing. But it is necessary to help us have a good character. It is necessary for us to grow and develop into the people God desires for us to be. God’s desire when He disciplines us is to “the strenuous cultivation of the righteous life“. As much as God call us and corrects us, it is also our responsibility based on our roles to also help instill good attitudes and behaviors in our children and in those we are leading. It is part of our responsibility to discipline them when necessary to help bring them into alignment. Some may even consider discipline as training. Training others to do what is right. Training others to act the right way, respond the right way, speak the right way.

We each have a role and a responsibility in God’s plans. We each have a choice to obey. How will you respond? Will do you what you are being called to do? Will you speak the truth, the message, the wisdom, the correction, the discipline, the hope, the love, the training, the good news, whatever it is you are asked to deliver?

Will you do what you are called to do? How bad does it have to get before you will stop just sitting there and do something? What if it were as bad as what is said in God’s Word from today’s reading? What if things looked this bad, would you do something?

Your leaders, the princes of Israel among you, compete in crime. You’re a community that’s insolent to parents, abusive to outsiders, oppressive against orphans and widows. You treat my holy things with contempt and desecrate my Sabbaths. You have people spreading lies and spilling blood, flocking to the hills to the sex shrines and fornicating unrestrained. Incest is common. Men force themselves on women regardless of whether they’re ready or willing. Sex is now anarchy. Anyone is fair game: neighbor, daughter-in-law, sister. Murder is for hire, usury is rampant, extortion is commonplace. —Ezekiel 22:6-12

On the flip side, how much will it take for it to get through to this world, this culture, this time that things are going the wrong way? That there are other ways of turning things around that are good and beneficial? How far down will the spiral have to go before eyes are opened, ears are opened, and people will turnaround and call out to God the only true savior who can get things turned around. We know Jesus is coming back, so as long as we have breath in us, there is still time for us to be able to make a change, make a difference, and build an eternal relationship with God, bridging the gap, building up our lives, building up the good and the right and the just. Don’t let the good news, the message of salvation be missed in this generation. Let your light shine. Let others see your light and glorify your Heavenly Father.

Today’s reading concluded with a Word that was prophesied over me year ago. I remember it and hold onto it every time I hear the word gap. I cry out use me God. Here I am. How can I help? What shall I do? Use me Lord!

30-31“I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one. So I’ll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they’ve done. Decree of God, the Master.” — Ezekiel 22:30-31

The thing that comes to my mind is who will fill the gap. The word fill is another word that resonates with me, a guy named Phil. In my mind I see it as who will fill the gap — allow me, to be Phil in the gap.

Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything that will be in it. I thank You that there is more to be done as I have breath in my lungs and life to live so today Lord help me to accomplish Your will and to complete the work You are going in front of me to prepare that in and through it all, You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

How are you living today?


If your day, your attitude, your reaction, your response, your engagement, your effort, your heart, your mind, … were all considered and weighed and judged, how would your life speak about who you are and what you believe in? Are you living a life that aligns with your beliefs? Are you living a life that models to others who you are following? What would be said of your life based on how you are living today?

If it isn’t good, it’s not too late to make a change. If it isn’t good, there is one who you can turn to for wisdom and direction. If it isn’t good, you can turn away from those attitudes and behaviors and turn back to the things of God and how He wants you to be living. If it isn’t good, you can call out to Jesus and ask Him into your heart so as to help you be transformed from the inside out and become all that God has created you to be.

This morning’s Bible reading starts out with the title Judged according to the way you live. God’s Word also warns us not to judge because whatever we use as our measuring stick, it will be used on us.

1-5“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. — Matthew 7

We all get a choice. We all have a choice to make. No matter where things began, we get to choose how it will end. Be it we had great parent(s) that raised us, how we live now is up to us. Be it we had bad parent(s) that raised us, how we live now is up to us. We will be measured against our decisions and our behaviors and our actions. Today’s reading calls out that the parent won’t be held accountable for a child that has gone astray and similarly, the child won’t be held accountable for a parent that has gone astray. We are all accountable for our own behaviors, attitudes, and actions. So choose wisely! Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! Check your priority list to make sure that you are putting first things first. I have been reminded a couple times lately when I have missed the mark. I am so grateful for an incredible wife who helps me see it and loves me enough to tell me so that I can not only be a good husband, but a good dad too.

Let’s make sure we are living lives that are fair and right! Living upright and well with receive the credit. Living wicked will ensure a verdict of guilty as charged. But if you are down the wrong road, it isn’t too late to turn yourself around and end up on the right side of life. With Jesus who paid it all, separating us from our past sins as far as the east is from the west, when we turn around from those ways, we can be free from the guilty verdict could of and should of because of our change of heart and God’s incredible grace and forgiveness. On the other hand if for some reason you have a change of heart and turn away from God and turns their back on being upright, their judgement will be that of the wicked, guilty as charged.

God is fair and just. God is Love and provides us with mercy and grace. We have choices to make and we get to choose. Do you want to lose your life? Do you want to save your life?

I’ll judge each of you according to the way you live. So turn around! Turn your backs on your rebellious living so that sin won’t drag you down. Clean house. No more rebellions, please. Get a new heart! Get a new spirit! Why would you choose to die, Israel? I take no pleasure in anyone’s death. Decree of God, the Master.
“Make a clean break! Live!” — Ezekiel 18

So wondering what to do? Wondering where to turn? Who can help? Who knows what you’ve been through and can help? Who knows the way to go to get out and start fresh?

GOD does. He has never left you and never forsaken you. He is right there waiting for you to ask. His Word is available to speak wisdom and guidance. His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. So call on Him. Will you ask for forgiveness? Will you turn from those ways? Will you turn back to God? He sent Jesus to save not to condemn. He sent Jesus to bridge the gap and enable us to be reconciled back to God the Father. So it’s not too late till it is too late. We all get a choice. Chose life!

Rather than trying to control God, let’s come back to Him and try to walk in alignment with His will, His plans, and His purpose for our lives. Let’s have dreams to become more like Jesus. Let’s have dreams to allow the Spirit into our lives to guide our steps, our words, and our actions and responses. We all have a choice and we should make it sooner rather than later. Let’s choose life!

 

 

 

Don’t take what you have for granted!


Do you realize the gift you have been given? Do you realize the blessings you have received? Are you grateful for the things you have and do you appreciate them? Today between God’s Word and a post a friend put up about his dad and how it was 24 years ago today that he lost him, it made me stop and reflect. Stop and think about all the haves that I have and consider if I really appreciated the things I had and the things I have.

When I think about growing up, I am so grateful for the family who loved me. My parents. My grandparents. I miss my pappy but I know how much we had and how much we loved and how much we invested in that relationship. I am so grateful for the people who were with me to help me become the man I am today. I am so grateful for the friends I have had and the new ones I am getting. I am so grateful for the divine intervention of God who took me right where I was at and took me in and embraced me and taught me how much He loved me and the plans He has for me. He has calmed many a storm in my life either by calming me down or by calming down the hustle and bustle of life. He helped me learn through obedience and hesitation/disobedience. Helped me learn the power of forgiveness to heal so many pains and stresses. I am so grateful for the church that was right down the street after a big move so many years ago that invited me in and helped train me and help me get interested in spending time with God and in His Word daily.

Do you realize all that God has done and has given you? Are you grateful or taking it for granted?

Have you allowed all He has done for you to go to your head? Or are you allowing Him to have control of your heart and to allow His love and His blessings to flow through you in a way that will bless Him and spread the Good News to everyone you come into contact with?

Are you taking what you have and using it for good? Are you appreciating what you have and God’s love for you? Are you walking with Him? Are you talking with Him? Are you?

God’s love for you is great! His plans for you are good! He wants you to have a hope and a future. So are you following after Him? Are you keeping your relationship with Him strong? Are you walking with Him or are you walking away? Is your love for Him being built up or are you mistreating it? Is He really a priority for you?

Consider the bar, the measuring stick, the units to measure life against. The old testament had the 10 commandments, but we see Jesus calls us to a higher bar. The 10 commandments show us how much we need a savior to be able to get to heaven. It shows how much and why we need Jesus to intervene and intersect our lives. When we check what Jesus tells us about the law, He wants us to live at a higher standard. Consider when He said: (in Matthew 5)

Completing God’s Law

17-18“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

Murder

21-22“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26“Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.

Adultery and Divorce

27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heartcan be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.

Empty Promises

33-37“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.

Love Your Enemies

38-42“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

God wants us to live to a higher calling, because if we just live an average life, the average is going to keep dropping. If we don’t live to a higher calling, it becomes a slippery slope that will not only allow others to drag us down, but what is OK and what is good will change. Consider the higher calling. Consider the minimum bar. And realize first we need Jesus in our hearts and then we need to be living to the higher calling of life so as to help those in need through generosity and grace by giving them a hand up rather than just a handout.

How are you living today? What are your relationships like? Are you having healthy relationships? With your wife? With your kids? With your family? With your friend? With those you work with or meet? How are you living today? Is it building up? Is it positive? Is it healthy? How are you living today?

Are you brave enough to stop and turn back to the truth? Are you brave enough to stop and ask for forgiveness before it is too late? Are you brave enough to accept the forgiveness and start fresh? Will you be willing to give and receive forgiveness?

Fear Not, Just Believe. Faith is the antidote of fear!

If someone was going to compare you to something, what would it be? If someone was going to see how you measure up, what unit or standard would they use? Consider today your life and how you are living and what you can do to improve your life, how you live, how your life impacts others, how your life compares to God’s Word. As God’s Word says it, let’s live our lives:

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

So let’s live lives that show our faith and trust in God! Let’s live lives that show how much our hope is placed on Him! Let’s love so that the world around us knows His love, true love, the real meaning of love, not what the world has soiled it to mean. In the end, the best of these is LOVE!

So live a life today that will shine for God! Live a life that will shine the light of Jesus into the world that you are in. Let your light shine so that others will come and glorify our Heavenly Father. This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

What type of stories do you like to listen to?


There are many who like to gossip and listen to gossip. They like to listen to lies and get pulled into the story. They may even start to buy into it after hearing it too many times and forget that it isn’t even true.

There are others who will stand up against gossip and speak against it. They stand for the truth and don’t get pulled into the lies and the gossip that is going around. They will speak against it every time it comes up and call people to be accountable and reality in regards to what they are saying or repeating.

Realize where you are at today. Consider where you want to end up and if the behavior, the response, the stories you are being a part of will help or deter you from getting to that final result. Consider how if you took it and measured it up against God’s Word how it would do. Consider how if you were in alignment with God’s Word and speaking the truth be it the hard truth or instruction or direction or correction. Consider the impact not only on your own life, but on the lives of those around you if you were to walk upright, shining a bright light (like a lighthouse) so that they could avoid the rocks and pitfalls of life. Imagine the change and the impact of a generation of people who are speaking life, instruction, direction, hope to the world around them and what a transformation that would make to the world around us.

God stands against lies and illusions which don’t speak the truth. His plan is good. He is light and there is no darkness in Him. His plan gives hope. He sent Jesus so that we could have a hope and a future. Don’t be drawn into the lies. Don’t fall for the illusions of those who are trying to mislead or deceive you. Turn back to the truth. Not sure of its status compare it against the Word of God and see if it aligns or doesn’t. See if it contradicts God’s Word or if it speaks out God’s Word. Don’t let someone twist or take words out of context and then try to use that to lead you astray. That is the devil’s plan, he even used it on Jesus in the wilderness. So take time to read God’s Word. Take time to spend with God daily to be enlightened and refreshed and renewed. Walk with Him all the way because He knows where He is going – so hold onto His hand.

Consider the stories you are wanting or are drawn into wanting to hear. Consider if you may be falling for something because you haven’t been standing on a firm foundation that you believe in. I’ve heard it put this way “Know what you stand for, or you will fall for anything”. God’s Word today speaks to this when it says to woman prophets who are lying to the people: “You’ve lied to people who love listening to lies.” He warns everyone in closing with this statement:

“‘Because you’ve confounded and confused good people, unsuspecting and innocent people, with your lies, and because you’ve made it easy for others to persist in evil so that it wouldn’t even dawn on them to turn to me so I could save them, as of now you’re finished. No more delusion-mongering from you, no more sermonic lies. I’m going to rescue my people from your clutches. And you’ll realize that I am God.’” – Ezekiel 13:22-23

Take a moment and search your heart! Take a moment and consider what you have allowed into your heart. Do you have a bunch of junk and clutter? Why not turn back to God and ask Jesus to come into your heart and to get Him to help clean out the place? Allow God to create a new heart, a soft heart, a clean heart in you and see the transformation that will take place. And then take care of it. Seek wisdom prior to allowing anything to come in. Seek truth before you allow things in that will pile up and take away from the truth and the hope that should be in there.

Consider the nation in which you live today. Would the following describe it? Consider the consequences…

12-14God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, when a country sins against me by living faithlessly and I reach out and destroy its food supply by bringing on a famine, wiping out humans and animals alike, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job—the Big Three—were alive at the time, it wouldn’t do the population any good. Their righteousness would only save their own lives.” Decree of God, the Master.
15-16“Or, if I make wild animals go through the country so that everyone has to leave and the country becomes wilderness and no one dares enter it anymore because of the wild animals, even if these three men were living there, as sure as I am the living God, neither their sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only those three, and the country would revert to wilderness.
17-18“Or, if I bring war on that country and give the order, ‘Let the killing begin!’ leaving both people and animals dead, even if those three men were alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, neither sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only these three.
19-20“Or, if I visit a deadly disease on that country, pouring out my lethal anger, killing both people and animals, and Noah, Daniel, and Job happened to be alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, not a son, not a daughter, would be rescued. Only these three would be delivered because of their righteousness.
21-23“Now then, that’s the picture,” says God, the Master, “once I’ve sent my four catastrophic judgments on Jerusalem—war, famine, wild animals, disease—to kill off people and animals alike. But look! Believe it or not, there’ll be survivors. Some of their sons and daughters will be brought out. When they come out to you and their salvation is right in your face, you’ll see for yourself the life they’ve been saved from. You’ll know that this severe judgment I brought on Jerusalem was worth it, that it had to be. Yes, when you see in detail the kind of lives they’ve been living, you’ll feel much better. You’ll see the reason behind all that I’ve done in Jerusalem.” Decree of God, the Master.

What if what we decide today could make a difference? What if what we choose to do today would help turn lives around? What if what we say today would turn people’s hearts and minds back to God? What if God’s truth was being shared so that people who weren’t aware everywhere could be warned of the wrath and also of the joy and hope of asking Jesus into their hearts? What if the forgiveness that comes through Jesus impacted an entire nation where everyone turned back towards God? What if there was a spiritual revival that took place in your nation and lives were transformed, lies were defeated, truth was being spoken, and everyone around you was walking with love, joy, hope in their hearts? No consider, what is your part? What if you did your part, how could God take that shake it together, multiply it, and use it? Remember the little boy who only had a little bit of bread and fish? Remember the little lady who only had a little oil?

So, will you have faith for today? Will you put your hope and trust in God? Today is a new day, so how will you start yours and what will you do with the little you have?