Why? Why? Why?

Ever been somewhere and people question everything? They question everything you say. They question everything you do. They question your intentions. They question your reasons. They question your goals. They question your answers. Why? Why? Why?

Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you? Are you prepared to give an answer for your faith? Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you and for where it comes from? You will always be questioned when you are perceived as different. You will always be questioned when people notice something different about you. The way you carry yourself. The way you keep your calm and cool. The way you respond to pressure. The way you respond to attacks.

Who do you have to be accountable to? Who is the one who leads you and guides you and keeps you on the narrow path? Even when you are stressed and pressured from all sides, do you realize what others see? Do you realize the strength that comes through the Holy Spirit because of your hope and trust in Jesus? Do you realize that God’s peace that goes beyond all understanding covers you and surrounds you and makes other people question, what is going on with you? Why? Why? Why?

Keep a hold of God’s Word! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God! Be Bold and Courageous! Put on the full armor of God and when you have stood all you can, stand firm!

Today’s reading starts with lots of questions…

Another big question is covered in today’s reading…

There so many people who try to fill that emptiness with stuff, but the reality is that it won’t last and there is but one thing that will last forever and so making sure we put it first is the key! In another reading it was put this way “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.” We need to put first things first! If we don’t have our priorities set straight and stick to them, we will end up wasting our lives chasing after the wrong things. As I saw this morning

“You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
– Zig Ziglar

I shared it with my own comment:

“Work-Life balance isn’t a 50/50 type of thing. It’s a 100/100 type of thing. Similar to how for marriage to work it has to be a 100/100, not 50/50. It all comes down to making your priorities real and sticking to them.”

So what does your list look like? If you compare how you spend your time and money as the log of what you value, does it align?

Not sure how to respond? Not sure where to turn? Not sure where to go? Turn to God for help!

153Look at my suffering, and save me, because I have not neglected your law.
154Defend my cause, and set me free; save me, as you have promised.
155The wicked will not be saved, for they do not obey your laws.
156But your compassion, Lord, is great; show your mercy and save me!
157I have many enemies and oppressors, but I do not fail to obey your laws.
158When I look at those traitors, I am filled with disgust, because they do not keep your commands.
159See how I love your instructions, Lord. Your love never changes, so save me!
160The heart of your law is truth, and all your righteous judgments are eternal.

–Psalm 119:153-160


Why are you doing what you do? Why are you calling others to do such things?

If a new thing is going to take place, can you keep doing things the old way? If new results are being expected, can you keep doing things that produced old results? Repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, you know that is? So do you want new results? Do you want a different outcome? Do you want different responses? Are you willing to try doing it differently? Is something important? Are you doing anything that could reduce the importance? Is something necessary? Are you taking into consideration the implications and impact of making such rules and regulations? Are you trying to get it done man’s way or are you trying to get it done God’s way? Are you trying to get it done in your own strength or are you trying to get it done through the power of the Holy Spirit? Don’t get stuck in the old or comfortable ways, press on and finish strong pursuing God’s plans and God’s purposes for your life in God’s power through the wisdom and direction of the Holy Spirit! When we received Jesus into our lives, we were transformed. We were reborn spiritually, the old is gone and the new has come, we are new creations. So now that we are new, why would we go back to the old ways? We see as today’s reading begins just such a story…

The Question about Fasting

(Matthew 9.14-17; Mark 2.18-22)
33Some people said to Jesus, “The disciples of John fast frequently and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but your disciples eat and drink.” 34Jesus answered, “Do you think you can make the guests at a wedding party go without food as long as the bridegroom is with them? Of course not! 35But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” 36Jesus also told them this parable: “You don’t tear a piece off a new coat to patch up an old coat. If you do, you will have torn the new coat, and the piece of new cloth will not match the old. 37Nor do you pour new wine into used wineskins, because the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will pour out, and the skins will be ruined. 38Instead, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins! 39And you don’t want new wine after drinking old wine. ‘The old is better,’ you say.” –Luke 5:33-39

When I read it and wondered how it would apply today I wasn’t sure and instead of just skipping it, I started to do some research. I turned to biblestudytools.com and checked out the commentaries (Geneva Study Bible, John Darby commentary, John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)). It provided insight into a deeper meaning. It opened my eyes to seeing beyond the words. I shared a reality beyond just parables into the transformative power of receiving Jesus and how things change and the old ways aren’t always the right ways. And how to get a different result and to aim for a higher purpose, we need to reconsider how we do it, why are we doing it, and what should we be doing instead.

So are you trying to force your own way on someone else? Or if God wants them to do something else are you ok with that? Interestingly just this week the topic of my daughter getting back into softball came up, the team was looking like they would be fair, reasonable, and flexible in order to accommodate her volunteer and school requirements, but she was resistant. A while ago when we got her a student card, I remember praying “God, I really like watching her play and I know You called her to step down from the busyness of select ball so that she could step up and step in to the youth leadership program at church. I don’t want her to lose her PE credits and am thinking softball is the way to get it done. If it is your will that she not return to the field, then make a way so that it is clear to me that Your will different than mine and we will go that way.” So right after hearing the news from the coach, I gave my daughter the instruction that we don’t want her to lose the credits and that it looks like softball is lining up as the way to get it done. (probably a bit more forceful than it sounds here and she wasn’t too happy)The next day was conference with her teacher and this topic came up. The teacher told her she didn’t have to play ball and gave her alternative options. When I got a text telling me of the event and once I got home and had time to think about it, I realized that God had made a way and that I couldn’t be upset or mad about it, for it was God’s will to protect her and keep her for something bigger and better and greater than playing ball. We can’t be trying to control everything, we need to be able to give it up to God and if His answer is no, we have to be ok with hit. If His answer is Yes, we have to be ok with it. If His answer is wait for it, we need to be patient and wait for it, for His timing is perfect! Allow His peace that goes beyond all understanding to cover us! Trust in Him with all your heart, mind, and strength! Don’t lean on your own understanding, but put your trust in Him!

Today’s reading continues with …

Timothy and Epaphroditus

19If it is the Lord’s will, I hope that I will be able to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be encouraged by news about you. 20He is the only one who shares my feelings and who really cares about you. 21Everyone else is concerned only with their own affairs, not with the cause of Jesus Christ. 22And you yourselves know how he has proved his worth, how he and I, like a son and his father, have worked together for the sake of the gospel. 23So I hope to send him to you as soon as I know how things are going to turn out for me. 24And I trust in the Lord that I myself will be able to come to you soon. 25I have thought it necessary to send to you our brother Epaphroditus, who has worked and fought by my side and who has served as your messenger in helping me. 26He is anxious to see you all and is very upset because you had heard that he was sick. 27Indeed he was sick and almost died. But God had pity on him, and not only on him but on me, too, and spared me an even greater sorrow. 28I am all the more eager, then, to send him to you, so that you will be glad again when you see him, and my own sorrow will disappear. 29Receive him, then, with joy, as a believer in the Lord. Show respect to all such people as he, 30because he risked his life and nearly died for the sake of the work of Christ, in order to give me the help that you yourselves could not give. –Philippians 2:19-30

Need help? Need wisdom? Need direction? Turn to God and ask…

145With all my heart I call to you; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your commands!
146I call to you; save me, and I will keep your laws.
147Before sunrise I call to you for help; I place my hope in your promise.
148All night long I lie awake, to meditate on your instructions.
149Because your love is constant, hear me, O Lord; show your mercy, and preserve my life!
150My cruel persecutors are coming closer, people who never keep your law.
151But you are near to me, Lord, and all your commands are permanent.
152Long ago I learned about your instructions; you made them to last forever.

–Psalm 119:145-152

It’s never too late to make a change!

Some may think they have gone too far, they have fallen too far, they have walked to far away to be able to recover or rebound. The Bible says that He will never leave you nor forsake you. The story of the lost son speaks to how much the father is looking for the son to come to his senses and come back. God is Love! God is Good, not just some times, but all the time! Some people are looking for the opportunity to reconcile. Some people are living the “good life” until it runs out and then wonder what happened and what can they do now. The reality is that when we turn back and begin to follow after Jesus, that is the beginning of the good life, the real good life. Is it easy? No, for God’s Word tells us that in this world we will have trouble, however, there is now hope for God’s Word doesn’t end there but continues with take heart for I have overcome the world. Jesus will provide us with wisdom and direction. Jesus allows us to have hope and not grow discouraged. It may not be easy, but it will definitely be worth it because we know the destination. God’s Word tells us (when you read the end of the book, the book of Revelation) that Jesus wins! The devil is defeated and then everything is different! No more pain! No more suffering! No more sickness! And when we turn back and give our lives over to Jesus, there is a peace that goes beyond all understanding. Jesus helps us to carry that weight on our shoulders. Jesus provides a reason for the hope that is within us. God provides “one another” so that we can come together and help each other through the tough times and to celebrate together in the victories. So no matter how far you have gone, how far you have fallen, don’t wait till you hit rock bottom before you turn back to God and cry out to Him and ask Him for help, ask Him for forgiveness, ask Him back into your life so that you can start the journey to recovery, restoration, and renewal.

Today’s reading starts with a man named Levi who Jesus calls…

27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” 28Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. 29Then Levi had a big feast in his house for Jesus, and among the guests was a large number of tax collectors and other people. 30Some Pharisees and some teachers of the Law who belonged to their group complained to Jesus’ disciples. “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and other outcasts?” they asked. 31Jesus answered them, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 32I have not come to call respectable people to repent, but outcasts.” –Luke 5:27-32

God is our healer! God is our savior! God is our everlasting hope in times of need! With Jesus, bodies can be healed, relationships can be healed, lives can be healed! There is hope! Don’t give up! Get up and turn back to God! Ask Jesus into your heart! He will forgive you if you will ask Him. He is the God of the 2nd chances. Know how many times we are supposed to forgive and it speaks to the number of times we can be forgiven? Not 7 times, but 7×70 times. So remember it’s not too late! Why not choose today?

For those who have turned back, shine your light! There is a dark world out there which doesn’t offer much hope to the world around it. But you can shine your light of hope and provide that glimmer of hope that others need. Wondering how to do that? Today’s reading speaks to this … stop complaining and arguing! offer a message of life and of hope! be glad and share your joy!

Shining as Lights in the World

12So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you. Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation, 13because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose. 14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. 17Perhaps my life’s blood is to be poured out like an offering on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God. If that is so, I am glad and share my joy with you all. 18In the same way, you too must be glad and share your joy with me.
–Philippians 2:12-17

So whether you need hope or you have hope there is something that you can and should be doing. Stick with God! Turn back to God! There is hope! Share that hope! Receive that hope! Grab onto the truth and hold onto that hope!

137You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are just.
138The rules that you have given are completely fair and right.
139My anger burns in me like a fire, because my enemies disregard your commands.
140How certain your promise is! How I love it!
141I am unimportant and despised, but I do not neglect your teachings.
142Your righteousness will last forever, and your law is always true.
143I am filled with trouble and anxiety, but your commandments bring me joy.
144Your instructions are always just; give me understanding, and I shall live.

–Psalm 119:137-144

Do you care? Do you really care? How far will you go to make it happen?

Do you want to help? What if it is going to take effort, will you still help? What if the way seems blocked, will you look for alternatives and go above and beyond to make it happen? Will you not give up? Will you stand up for someone who isn’t able to stand for themselves? Do you realize the impact of this? Do you realize the impact of your faith on others? Do you realize what can happen?

Today’s reading starts with just such a story, let’s take a look at what they did and the results of their faith on their friends life…

Jesus Heals a Paralyzed Man

(Matthew 9.1-8; Mark 2.1-12)
17One day when Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of the Law were sitting there who had come from every town in Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. The power of the Lord was present for Jesus to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a bed, and they tried to carry him into the house and put him in front of Jesus. 19Because of the crowd, however, they could find no way to take him in. So they carried him up on the roof, made an opening in the tiles, and let him down on his bed into the middle of the group in front of Jesus. 20When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the man, “Your sins are forgiven, my friend.” 21The teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who speaks such blasphemy! God is the only one who can forgive sins!” 22Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why do you think such things? 23Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, pick up your bed, and go home!” 25At once the man got up in front of them all, took the bed he had been lying on, and went home, praising God. 26They were all completely amazed! Full of fear, they praised God, saying, “What marvelous things we have seen today!” –Luke 5:17-26

Do you realize that there will be resistance and disbelief as you walk through life? Do you realize there will be doubters who can’t believe that “all things are possible” and that “nothing is impossible for God“. So what will it take to change their minds? What will it take to get past the resistance? What will it take to help them believe? And will their resistance and disbelief keep you from accomplishing everything God has planned and purposed for your life? Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Stand firm! Finish strong! Allow Jesus to be your strength to press onward and not give up! Allow Jesus to give you peace that goes beyond all understanding. Not sure what to do? Not sure how to do it? Turn to God’s Word for wisdom! It is the instruction manual for life after all.

1Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another. 2I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. 3Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. 4And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. 5The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: 6He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. 7Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. 8He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—his death on the cross. 9For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. 10And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, 11and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. –Philippians 2:1-11

So let’s allow God’s Spirit living in us to help us be kind, to help us see people through God’s eyes and with compassion, share love, and work to live at peace with everyone within your control. Don’t be selfish, but rather live humbly lifting up others, looking out for one another’s interests. Don’t try to force your will on people, but rather we have been give our lives with free will and so live a servant’s life and let your life speak louder than words. You don’t have to lift yourself up, live your life right and allow God to move in your life. Not sure what to do? Not sure where to turn? Turn to God! Open His Word and allow it to speak over you and to you the promises, the wisdom, the desires, the hopes, the plans, and the purposes God has for you.

129Your teachings are wonderful; I obey them with all my heart.
130The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant.
131In my desire for your commands I pant with open mouth.
132Turn to me and have mercy on me as you do on all those who love you.
133As you have promised, keep me from falling; don’t let me be overcome by evil.
134Save me from those who oppress me, so that I may obey your commands.
135Bless me with your presence and teach me your laws.
136My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law.

–Psalm 119:129-136

How bad do you want it?

Would you seek out a cure? Would you seek out an answer? Would you beg to be healed? Would you submit yourself to get an answer? Do you believe it is possible? Do you believe that He can? Do you have faith to ask? Do you have faith to move?

Today’s reading speaks to the need as well as the desire of God to touch us right where we are at…

Jesus Heals a Man

(Matthew 8.1-4; Mark 1.40-45)
12Once Jesus was in a town where there was a man who was suffering from a dreaded skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he threw himself down and begged him, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean!” 13Jesus reached out and touched him. “I do want to,” he answered. “Be clean!” At once the disease left the man. 14Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go straight to the priest and let him examine you; then to prove to everyone that you are cured, offer the sacrifice as Moses ordered.” 15But the news about Jesus spread all the more widely, and crowds of people came to hear him and be healed from their diseases. 16But he would go away to lonely places, where he prayed. — Luke 5:12-16

What do you believe He can do for you? What do you want him to do in your life? Will you ask? God’s Word tells us that we have not because we ask with the wrong motives. God’s Word tells us to Ask, Seek, Knock … are you doing anything about that want, that belief, the need? Do you know why?

7“Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock. 9Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? 10Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? 11As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets. –Matthew 7:7-12

We want to live God’s will right? We see in today’s reading this person did… “if you want to, you can make me clean“. The Lord’s prayer even begins with this message…”your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven“. So is your heart and mind in the right place? Why do you want it? Will you go to God for help? Will you ask? Will you seek? Will you knock? In order that you may get the answer and find a solution? What will provide your life to give a greater testimony of your faith? What will bring you greater joy? When you know you will spend eternity with God in heaven, isn’t there an incredible peace in knowing that whether you live or you die, you will be alright? Isn’t it amazing how God’s peace that goes beyond all understanding can cover your heart and your mind in ways that are better than anything we could ask or imagine?

Today’s reading continues…

21For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more. 22But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. 23I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; 24but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. 25I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that when I am with you again, you will have even more reason to be proud of me in your life in union with Christ Jesus. 27Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel. 28Don’t be afraid of your enemies; always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory. 29For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in him, but also by suffering for him. 30Now you can take part with me in the battle. It is the same battle you saw me fighting in the past, and as you hear, the one I am fighting still. –Philippians 1:21-30

Don’t be afraid! Always be courageous! Take confidence in knowing that Jesus has already won the victory! In our weakness God’s strength is revealed. As I consider all these words, the son “You make me brave” comes to mind. Don’t give up hope! Trust God! Do what is right! There is such thing as right and wrong! Trust in God’s constant love! If you aren’t sure, turn to God for wisdom and direction.

Today’s Psalm speaks this over us with …

121I have done what is right and good; don’t abandon me to my enemies!
122Promise that you will help your servant; don’t let the arrogant oppress me!
123My eyes are tired from watching for your saving help, for the deliverance you promised.
124Treat me according to your constant love, and teach me your commands.
125I am your servant; give me understanding, so that I may know your teachings.
126Lord, it is time for you to act, because people are disobeying your law.
127I love your commands more than gold, more than the finest gold.
128And so I follow all your instructions; I hate all wrong ways.

–Psalm 119:121-128