TALITHA KOUM INSTITUTE … THE BIBLE’S IMPACT ON ACTS OF CHARITY) [DEC 22]


Are you living your life with passion? Are you living your life with compassion? Are you living your life on purpose? Are you living your life with purpose? Are you living your life with vision? Are you living your life with a mission? Are you living your life to make a difference? Are you seeing opportunities to help in the healing process? As the year closes how will you make a difference? As a new year is arrive how will you plan to make a difference in the new year? Are you willing to make it personal? Are you willing to meet people right where they are at with respect, dignity, and love?


Today’s reading comes to use from Mark 5:

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

1They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”10And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.
14The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region.18As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.19And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter

21And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” 32And he looked around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
35While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5 (ESV)

Imagine being the woman and how the encounter with Jesus transformed her life. Imagine how her faith moment would have grown from believing to seeing the miraculous healing of her body. Imagine being the man and how his encounter with Jesus transformed his life. Imagine learning how God’s timing is perfect and that what we might consider a delay might be another opportunity to witness a miracle. Imagine learning how God’s purpose is greater than our ways when Jesus not only restored his daughter but also restored the life of the woman on the way to his house. What about you? Have you had a Jesus encounter that has transformed your life? Are you living that transformed life that others may come to know Jesus?


Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on the theme of the Bible’s impact on Acts of Charity on the subject of Talitha Koum Institute. Checking out the organization, I found that their mission is:

In a context of loving relationship, and using research-based therapeutic intervention, Talitha Koum partners with parents to raise children who are intellectually capable, emotionally resilient and prepared to be contributing members of the community.

About Talitha Koum Institute

I also learned that they have programs for MENTAL HEALTH THERAPEUTIC NURSERY, EARLY CHILDHOOD CURRICULUM, and PARENTING PROGRAM. Today’s devotional points to how today’s reading was the core inspiration for this ministry and organization. Today’s story of healing and compassion inspired the mission of Talitha Koum Institute in Waco, TX. Today’s devotional teaches us how the institute works with at-risk infants and children who are living in multigenerational poverty. We learn how they define their purpose as we read above from their mission statement. We learn in the closing of today’s devotional how they got their name from the Aramaic words found in Mark 5:41

‘Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” ‘

Mark 5:41

We also learn as the devotional closes that the institute has helped children from difficult situations and backgrounds to obtain higher test scores, better grades, lower truancy rates, and reduced behavioral issues.


Let’s stop and consider how we can make a difference. Let’s stop and consider who God’s Word may motivate us to step up and step out and help. Let’s stop and pray for wisdom and guidance not only for the idea but also for the passion, the wisdom, and the direction to make it so. Let’s also ask for others who can come alongside us to support the vision that God is bringing into our lives. Let’s prepare to be the person God has created us to be.


Let’s pray… Let’s first pray to commit our lives back to God


Next as we prepare for this day, let’s take hold of the Lord’s Prayer and align with God’s plans and purpose for today…

Now let’s get going with today and live out our lives as living sacrifices so that in and through it all God will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Let’s pray to forgive others…


Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for this new day and for everything that will be in it. I thank You Lord for allowing me to be a part of Your purpose and Your plan. I thank You Lord for reminding the importance and power of faith, perseverance, and trust in You. I thank You Lord for Your Word that never returns void. I thank You Lord for Your Word that is alive and speaks truth in love forever. Lord, I thank You for my children and the heart to serve children be it through giving of time and resources, serving and ministering, or leading and going that You have been and continue to be able to work in and through me for the better of others. Help me Lord as this year is coming to and end to reflect on this past year and to get a new vision for what it is You will have me do in this new year to come. Give me vision on those who will serve alongside me. Give me vision on those who will lead with me. Give me vision for things that can be improved or changed in order to better serve the youth. I give this all into Your hands as I take this time away from work to focus on You and my family and friends so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’s name. Amen.

Do you still have that childlike faith? …(The Bible’s Impact on Acts of Mercy [Apr 18])


Are you able to keep it simple like a child? Are you able to live with the innocent intentions of a child? Are you able to approach with the humility of a child? Are you able to approach in an unambitious way? Are you able to be docile like a child? Are you able to live with the affection of a child? Are you willing to “give up your ambitious aims and earthly contests, and imitate the simple unworldly ways of little children“? Are you willing to “lay aside all pride and prejudice and enter in with humility and meekness“? Can you be transformed to be more childlike by being “teachable, mild, humble, and free from prejudice and obstinacy“?

Consider what Matthew 10:15 says …

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

–from Matthew 10:15

Are you willing to turn to Jesus and receive His gift of love, hope, and salvation?

Will you choose to not be a barrier from allowing children to enter into faith? Will you choose to help children who are seeking to draw closer to Jesus? Will you give children the opportunity to hear the Good News and the opportunity to receive it?

Today’s reading from Matthew 19 includes a similar request in verses 13-15 where we read:

‘Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. ‘

–from Matthew 19:13-15

So let’s take a moment to get some context by reading all of Matthew 19 together…

Teaching About Divorce

‘Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.

Let the Children Come to Me

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.

The Rich Young Man

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

–from Matthew 19:1-30

Today’s devotional from The Global Impact Bible on Acts of Mercy speaks to Matthew 19:13-15 on the Bible’s impact on the care of children. Don’t be an obstacle to children getting to Jesus! Don’t be a barrier to the hope and truth and love and healing that is available through Jesus into the lives of the children! We need to be more focused on being servants! We need to be more focused on being like children! We need to be living lives with the awareness and the importance and the sanctity of life! If children are important to Jesus then they need to be important to us too! So let’s do what we can to protect and cherish children!

As I read today’s devotional it brings me back to the problems in this world that require children to be taken out of their homes for safety reason. As I consider and contemplate it I think of the children that I have watched come to both the kids and teen camps. All of whom by no fault of their own have ended up in the foster care system because of choices that were made by adults. We need to take hold of Jesus’ commands today! We need to take hold of what Jesus says in Matthew 19:14, Mark 9:37, and Luke 17:1-2! We need to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves just as Jesus stood up to those who were trying to keep the children away from receiving His blessing.  We need to be a voice of hope, of love, and of blessing over these children so that they too may know the love of God!

So how can you make a difference? Will you first receive the gift of God through Jesus Christ which is eternal life? Will you then be salt and light into the world so that others may also get the opportunity to meet Jesus? For salt to work, it requires contact and so we need to go out into the world! We are not of the world but we are in the world! No, it won’t be easy, but we can take hope because Jesus has overcome the world! So let’s make today count! Let’s step out of ourselves and our selfish ways and step into what God desires for us to do and to be into the world around us!

Never invited Jesus into your life yet? Let’s read this together…

Sample Sinners Prayer

Welcome into God’s kingdom. Want to talk about making a decision? Want to talk about having made the decision to follow Jesus? Leave me a comment and we can start a conversation. Find a local church body that is believing and preaching God’s Word!


Heavenly Father,
Thank You for this new day and for everything that will be in it. I lift You up and ask Lord for Your wisdom for this day. Help me Lord with the decision(s) I will need to make so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. You know the plans You have for me. You go ahead preparing in advance the good works You have for me to accomplish. Grant me wisdom and discernment, faith and confidence, courage and boldness to get it done in Your way. Let Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth and in my life as it is in Heaven. Not my way but Your way! Not my will but Your will. Help me Lord so that every word and action today will bring You praise, honor, and glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Where are you at today?


Are you rejoicing or lamenting? Are you celebrating or mourning? Are you dancing or weeping? Why?

What do you see around you? Does your perspective make the difference? Is it based on location? Is it based on situation? Is it based on circumstance?

Is it based on truth? Is it based on facts? Is it based on hypothesis? Is it based on speculation? Is it based on rumor? Is it based on gossip?

Is there hope? Is there expectations? Do you stand on solid ground? Are you rooted in good soil? Are you well nourished? Are you producing good fruit?

So will you be rebellious? So will you be obedient? We are all given the ability to choose!

Do you seek wisdom? Do you turn to God? Are you looking for answers? Are you seeking the truth? Do you know where you stand? Do you realize where you are heading? Are you hoping for more? Are your expectations right?

Will you humble yourself? Will you seek God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Will you pray? Will you petition? Will you turn from wicked ways? Will you turn back to God? Do you seek forgiveness? Do you want to repent? Do you want healing in the land? Do you want unity? Do you want restoration? Do you want hope? Do you want joy?

Are you taking for granted what you have? Are you realizing the gifts you have been given? Do you realize the blessings in your life? Are you thankful?

Are you rebelling? Are you fighting? Are you arguing?

Will you be obedient to God’s will? Will you receive the gift of His Son Jesus Christ?

We all get a choice! Adults get a choice! Children get a choice! We each get to make our own choice! It’s our decision that we will be measured against! So have you chosen? Will you choose? Is the choice something you picked by following your parents? Is it from following your friends? Is it from peer pressure? Is it from freedom?

Will you be faithful? Do you realize that every good and perfect gift comes from God? Don’t worship the things or the stuff, worship God!

How bad do things need to get before you will turn back to God? How painful does it have to get before you fall down and cry out to God for help and for forgiveness? Would it take a vision of heaven or of hell to get your attention? Which would help you to choose? Which would provide you enough evidence to decide?

Don’t compare yourself to others! Don’t compare what you have to what they have! Do not covet!

It’s all about love! Love God! Love your neighbor! It’s when we miss out on these two facts that we get off track and start heading in the wrong direction!

How long will you make God wait? He is patient and desires that nobody would perish!

But not everyone will decide to choose Him and His way!

So as today’s reading concludes in Galatians, let’s read through it together and ponder where we are at and how we will respond to the call of God! Will you believe? Will you have faith? Will you give yourself to God and be adopted into His family?

Faith or Works of the Law

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

The Law and the Promise

15Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Children of God

23Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamʼs seed, and heirs according to the promise.

–Galatians 3

 


Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 19, 20, Galatians 3

Original plans…


Ever considered how it is supposed to be? How long it is supposed to last? What purpose was it designed for? Well God never said it would be easy and in His Word we read “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He doesn’t just warn us, He also encourages us! So don’t give up when it get’s tough. As the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”! Consider some of the most important things in life and remember how important they are to God too. First let’s consider marriage…

6But in the beginning, at the time of creation, ‘God made them male and female,’ as the scripture says. 7‘And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, 8and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.” — from Mark 10 (GNT)

God’s plan is that we will come together and become united and live as one. His plan is that there will be alignment. His plan is that the man will give of himself as Christ did for the church. His plan is that woman will give of herself as the church does to Christ. It’s not 50/50, it’s 100%/100% to make it work.

Second, let’s consider children…The incredible gift of God! The one gift that we can receive that will last for eternity! The one gift that comes with such a great responsibility of helping them to realize the truth and the hope that comes through a relationship with God and living in that alignment with Him, full of faith.

13Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. 14When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16Then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them. — from Mark 10 (GNT)

So let’s consider it pure joy when we face challenges, for we know that God is at work in us. Let’s not give up! Let’s not give up! Let’s grab a hold of everything that God has planned to make us complete and lacking nothing!

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — from James 1 (GNT)

So let’s get started today with the right attitude and the right priorities! Let’s put and keep first things first so that in all that we think, say, and do, God will receive all the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference!


Do you have any? Even just a little bit? What are you going to do with it? What are you doing with it? Do you realize the potential is? Even if you only have a little bit? Don’t give up! Don’t quit! There is hope even when you only have a little! A little hope is huge! A little forgiveness is huge! A little faith is huge!


 

If we start with the story of a poppy seed or mustard seed – so small but a big example we read:

1-2He said to his disciples, “Hard trials and temptations are bound to come, but too bad for whoever brings them on! Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!
3-4“Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
5The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.”
6But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it.
7-10“Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from plowing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, ‘Sit down and eat’? Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, ‘Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I’ve finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper’? Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him? It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.’”
11-13It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14-16Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.
17-19Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”
— Luke 17

In other versions it speaks of a mustard seed instead:

5 The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith (that trust and confidence that spring from our belief in God). 6 And the Lord answered, If you had faith (trust and confidence in God) even [so small] like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be pulled up by the roots, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.
–Luke 17 (AMP)

So have faith, allow that little bit of hope and faith within you to kindle a new fire, a revival fire within you that will prepare you to help transform the world around you. Don’t give up! There is so much more to come.

Don’t be fooled! In God’s Word, we know how Jesus is going to come back, so don’t allow frauds or fakes to trick you into thinking otherwise. Many will try to trick you, but stick with a good crew who are teaching God’s Word from God’s Word and not their own ideas! When the time comes, don’t turn back! As I say sometimes in my own house, no going back, only going forward! 🙂

20-21Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.”
22-24He went on to say to his disciples, “The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won’t see a thing. And they’ll say to you, ‘Look over there!’ or, ‘Look here!’ Don’t fall for any of that nonsense. The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes.
24-25You know how the whole sky lights up from a single flash of lightning? That’s how it will be on the Day of the Son of Man. But first it’s necessary that he suffer many things and be turned down by the people of today.
26-27The time of the Son of Man will be just like the time of Noah—everyone carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ship. They suspected nothing until the flood hit and swept everything away.
28-30It was the same in the time of Lot—the people carrying on, having a good time, business as usual right up to the day Lot walked out of Sodom and a firestorm swept down and burned everything to a crisp. That’s how it will be—sudden, total—when the Son of Man is revealed.
31-33“When the Day arrives and you’re out working in the yard, don’t run into the house to get anything. And if you’re out in the field, don’t go back and get your coat. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you’ll lose it, but if you let that life go, you’ll get life on God’s terms.
34-35“On that Day, two men will be in the same boat fishing—one taken, the other left. Two women will be working in the same kitchen—one taken, the other left.”
37Trying to take all this in, the disciples said, “Master, where?”
He told them, “Watch for the circling of the vultures. They’ll spot the corpse first. The action will begin around my dead body.”
— Luke 17

Pray without ceasing! Don’t give up! Keep asking! Keep seeking! Keep knocking! Don’t give up!

1-3Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’
4-5“He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”
6-8Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”
— Luke 18

Do you want to be right with God? Do you want to look all that or really be ok?

9-12He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’
13“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’”
14Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.
15-17People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
— Luke 18

Do you really want to have eternal life? Do you really want to live with God forever?

Where your treasure is so will your heart be. What’s impossible for man is possible with God! Don’t give up! There is still hope! Have faith even if it is small! Trust in Him!

18One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?”
19-20Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don’t you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother.”
21He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.”
22When Jesus heard that, he said, “Then there’s only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go.
24-25Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God’s kingdom? I’d say it’s easier to thread a camel through a needle’s eye than get a rich person into God’s kingdom.”
26“Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked.
27“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
28Peter tried to regain some initiative: “We left everything we owned and followed you, didn’t we?”
29-30“Yes,” said Jesus, “and you won’t regret it. No one who has sacrificed home, spouse, brothers and sisters, parents, children—whatever—will lose out. It will all come back multiplied many times over in your lifetime. And then the bonus of eternal life!”
— Luke 18

God wants us to get it! God wants us to understand! God wants to take that little seed of faith and help it grow! That’s why He gave us His Word!

31-34Then Jesus took the Twelve off to the side and said, “Listen carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. Everything written in the Prophets about the Son of Man will take place. He will be handed over to the Romans, jeered at, made sport of, and spit on. Then, after giving him the third degree, they will kill him. In three days he will rise, alive.” But they didn’t get it, could make neither heads nor tails of what he was talking about.
— Luke 18

Don’t just be quiet! Go after it like you can’t live without it! Allow that little seed of faith to prompt you and lead you and guide you! Allow your life to be transformed because you go after it like it matters!

35-37He came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man was sitting beside the road asking for handouts. When he heard the rustle of the crowd, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is going by.”
38He yelled, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
39Those ahead of Jesus told the man to shut up, but he only yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
40Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought over. When he had come near, Jesus asked, “What do you want from me?”
41He said, “Master, I want to see again.”
42-43Jesus said, “Go ahead—see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!” The healing was instant: He looked up, seeing—and then followed Jesus, glorifying God. Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.
— Luke 18

So today is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s meditate on His Word daily! His Word will speak to us right where we are at! Don’t just sit on the side of the road, but let’s pursue after Him so that we can be touched and transformed so that we can live the life that He so planned and desired for us to live! It doesn’t take a lot, and we have to step out with what we have to allow His miraculous touch to transform our life and the lives of those around us. Don’t be held back by fear, rather step out in faith and see God’s hand work in and through your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no if’s…it’s a matter of when!


Do you believe or not? Do you think it can be done or not? Consider your thoughts and your words! When you are going to say something consider what you are trying to say. Imagine if my previous statement has started with if the difference that makes to the comment. It’s not if, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when because you will say something, I believe that. So there is no if’s about it!

How many times do you hear people say “If …”? How many times have you started or thought “If…”? Now when this happens the next time consider stopping yourself when you are about to do it or when the other person is starting to do it, ask do you mean when? The main reason is that when you believe something it becomes when not if. When you aren’t sure or don’t know that is when you will hear people saying “If…”

We see this in today’s morning reading from Mark 9-10, Psalm 103 when Jesus is confronted by a man whose son needs a touch from God.

21-22He asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been going on?”
“Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!”
23Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.”
24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!
25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.
— Mark 9

All things are possible when we believe. Do you have doubt or fears and need help from God? Consider what this man said: “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” As Jesus said: “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.“, it becomes a matter of when! God’s timing is perfect, He is never late, rarely early, and always on time! So where will you put your trust? What are you going to believe? Do you believe it’s possible? Do you believe it’s going to happen? Are you asking God to help you with your disbelief? Are you asking God to help you with your doubts?

What are you facing today? Are you trying to do it all in your own power? Are you trying to do it all in your own strength? Think about it a different way…Turn to God and talk to Him about it. Pray for wisdom and direction! Pray for power and strength in the name of Jesus to be able accomplish His will today! And walk it out trusting and believing in Him.

We see how the disciples we having troubles and Jesus affirms what needs to happen:

28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn’t we throw the demon out?”
29He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.” — Mark 9

When we walk with God, building up our relationships, He prepares us for what is ahead so that it won’t be such a surprise and that we won’t lose faith but remember what He said and keep our hope and trust in Him. Fear may shake us up, but joy comes in the morning. We may not always walk it out or listen, but when we get to a point, a pivot point, we will remember and turn back. Some walk away and when they hit rock bottom they come back. Some walk away and realize what is going on and turn back sooner. Have you walked away from Jesus? How far will you have to go before you will turn around and run back into the open and loving arms of Jesus? We see how much God is interested in finding and saving the lost in His Word! Today may be your day to go home to God and allow the angels to celebrate your return. There is a huge party because you were lost and now you are found, you were good as dead and now you are reborn and alive. It’s a matter of trusting and believing!

All things are possible for those who believe!


 

Where are you focusing today? Are you trying to get there first or help others also get there? Are you leading from the front or hurrying others from the back? Consider a shepherd or a sheepdog they try to keep everyone together and going in the right direction. If they went from the front, someone could sneak in from the back and try to lure them away. If you are leading from the front, it is possible that not everyone would make it in before the gate closed. If you are leading from the back, you are sure everyone got in! Are you a servant leader who is caring for others? Are you leading from a place of power demanding of others? Are you leading from a spirit of love?

I’ve taught my kids when I ask them if they want to go first or last and I have had situations where they are all asking to be last because God’s Word tells us that the first will go last and the last will go first.  This is how Jesus put it:

33They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
34The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
35He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
— Mark 9

So do you know how to treat others? Do you realize it has implications?

36-37He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”
38John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
39-41Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
42“On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
43-48“If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
49-50“Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.” — Mark 9

So let’s persevere! Let’s press on! Let’s be peace makers! Let’s be lovers! Let’s shine the hope of Jesus to the lost around us! People are looking for a reason to hope and a reason to be loved. Will you point them to the source? Will you tell there is a way? What role will you play today?


Ever been faced in the situation where someone is trying to trip you up? Asking trick questions? Trying to trick you into saying something that they can use against you? Trying to get some leverage they can use? Consider God’s advice… Even a fool seems wise if he doesn’t say anything. We should ask God for wisdom and understanding when asked or confronted. We can then have the right questions to ask in return or the right words to speak if we should even speak. Jesus demonstrates such a situation in today’s reading:

1-2From there he went to the area of Judea across the Jordan. A crowd of people, as was so often the case, went along, and he, as he so often did, taught them. Pharisees came up, intending to give him a hard time. They asked, “Is it legal for a man to divorce his wife?”
3Jesus said, “What did Moses command?”
4They answered, “Moses gave permission to fill out a certificate of dismissal and divorce her.”
5-9Jesus said, “Moses wrote this command only as a concession to your hardhearted ways. In the original creation, God made male and female to be together. Because of this, a man leaves father and mother, and in marriage he becomes one flesh with a woman—no longer two individuals, but forming a new unity. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.”
10-12When they were back home, the disciples brought it up again. Jesus gave it to them straight: “A man who divorces his wife so he can marry someone else commits adultery against her. And a woman who divorces her husband so she can marry someone else commits adultery.” — Mark 10

Are you pointing people to God or away from God? Are you trying to get in the middle of it all? Are you trying to help them get there?

13-16The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. — Mark 10

Have you given everything to God? Is there anything in your life that you are holding back? Is there anything that you are holding onto and not allowing God to be ruler of all? He is either the savior of all or He is not savior at all. Just like so much of our lives and where we end up, we have to make a choice! What are we going to do with our free will? Will we give every part of our lives? For those who had nothing and walked with God to prosperity, they trust Him with all (the enemy tends to try and shake them up with fear though). For those who come to Him with or in prosperity  giving it all up into His hands can be a challenge. Jesus shares such a story with us in today’s reading. Nothing is impossible with God! It may be impossible without Him, but with God all things are possible!

17As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”
18-19Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”
20He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!”
21Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”
22The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.
23-25Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.”
26That set the disciples back on their heels. “Then who has any chance at all?” they asked.
27Jesus was blunt: “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it.
28Peter tried another angle: “We left everything and followed you.”
29-31Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”
32-34Back on the road, they set out for Jerusalem. Jesus had a head start on them, and they were following, puzzled and not just a little afraid. He took the Twelve and began again to go over what to expect next. “Listen to me carefully. We’re on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. Then they will hand him over to the Romans, who will mock and spit on him, give him the third degree, and kill him. After three days he will rise alive.” — Mark 10

Be careful what you ask for! Are you sure you want that? You may get what you asked for just to learn that you don’t really want it! Or that it wasn’t everything you thought it would be! Consider what happens next in our reading…

35James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came up to him. “Teacher, we have something we want you to do for us.”
36“What is it? I’ll see what I can do.”
37“Arrange it,” they said, “so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left.”
38Jesus said, “You have no idea what you’re asking. Are you capable of drinking the cup I drink, of being baptized in the baptism I’m about to be plunged into?”
39-40“Sure,” they said. “Why not?”
Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you will drink the cup I drink, and be baptized in my baptism. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. There are other arrangements for that.” — Mark 10

So do you want to be first or last? Do you want to serve or be served? Do you?

Do you want Jesus? Do you need Jesus? Will you let anyone get in the way of getting you to Him and into His presence? Will you allow anyone to detract or derail you from being with Him? What if people shushed you or tried to quiet you down?

46-48They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
49-50Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”
They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.
51Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”
In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.
— Mark 10

 

 

 

 

 

God won’t give you more than you can handle…are you adding more?


At lunch with a friend yesterday this very topic came up. He was sharing how God had spoken to him about not everything we get is from Him, but that we add to it ourselves. He mentioned about how insurance policies speak about “acts of God” and that how about 98% of the events can be traced back to somebody, leaving 2%. The example of New Orleans also came up in that the waves and the storms will come, but God never told anybody to build a city below sea level. In this morning’s reading from Matthew 19-20, Psalm 94, this topic was revealed to me as well when the Pharisee’s were questioning Jesus and His response to them was:

…a concession to your hard heartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. — Matthew 19

Everything we are facing isn’t always because it was God’s will or part of God’s original plan. So we need to seek wisdom first rather than trying to figure it out on own later. If we had of asked for wisdom first, it may not have been easy, but it would have been in alignment with God’s perfect plan and purpose. If He brings you to it then He will bring you through it.

God’s Word bring up the gateway to Heaven. We should be helping people get into His presence and not trying to prevent them or getting in the way.

13-15One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.
16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”
18-19The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
20The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
21“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
22That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
23-24As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
25The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
26Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
27Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
28-30Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 19

Nothing is too difficult for God! Things that seem impossible to us – are in our own power – but with God nothing is impossible! It’s not God+, it’s just God that we need to have in our lives. The question, do you want to be first or last? Will you push to the front of the line and then realize they switch the direction and now you are at the end? Will you be willing to allow others ahead of yourself? Will you think of others before yourself? Selfless rather than selfish?

Are you going to be stingy or generous? Are people good to their word or will they try to get more?

1-2“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
3-5“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
5-6“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
7“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
8“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
9-12“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
13-15“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
16“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”Matthew 20

Don’t let power and influence go to your heads! Whatever influence you have received, use it to serve others! Be A Servant Leader!

20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21“What do you want?” Jesus asked.
She said, “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
22Jesus responded, “You have no idea what you’re asking.” And he said to James and John, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?”
They said, “Sure, why not?”
23Jesus said, “Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business. My Father is taking care of that.”
24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”Matthew 20

Jesus is the ultimate servant leader. He gave everything for the opportunity for us to be saved from the fiery pits of hell as our final destination. What type of leader do you want to be? What type of leader are you being? How does that align with the ultimate leader?

Do you want it? Do you really, really want it? What if there were resistance how would you respond? What if they were shushing you?

29-31As they were leaving Jericho, a huge crowd followed. Suddenly they came upon two blind men sitting alongside the road. When they heard it was Jesus passing, they cried out, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!” The crowd tried to hush them up, but they got all the louder, crying, “Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!”
32Jesus stopped and called over, “What do you want from me?”
33They said, “Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!”
34Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. — Matthew 20

Will you go after it with faith, trusting and believing in God no matter what the naysayers have to say? Will you put all your hope and trust in Jesus because you know that He is the way, the truth, and the life, the only way to the Father? Will you get louder? Will you get more passionate? Will you care enough for others to help them get there too? Will be more interested in sharing the good news with others than with puffing yourself up? Will you be more interested in sharing the hope with the hopeless than keeping it to yourself? Every day we are faced with choices. Every day we have to make decisions. Make sure you have your bearings straight and your heart in the right place because others are watching you and needing you. Help reflect the love of Jesus into the lives of those around you so that in and through it all He will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name.

What if someone start a statement to you with…


“‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! Use your heads! Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market—and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? — Jeremiah 7

Consider where you are in your life today. Are there leaders that aren’t speaking the truth? Do you know it but accept it anyways? Or do you speak up and try to do something about it? Are you standing up for what is right and just? Are you letting things slide? Are you doing what is righteous and worthy? Are you just taking advantage of others? We all have choices and if we or when we are put in a situation where we are being led off to slaughter we have a choice. Will you choose to stand up for what is right, rather than falling for everything? Will you choose to stop and turn back or just go with the flow? It’s important for your future. It’s important for the rest of your story. It’s bigger than just today. It will impact your eternity and the future of those who are counting on you.

God’ commands aren’t to keep us from having fun or hold us back.

“Obey me. Do what I say and I will be your God and you will be my people. Live the way I tell you. Do what I command so that your lives will go well.” — Jeremiah 7

That’s right — it’s so that our lives will go well.

I heard a guy on the radio talking about how evil is tempting, it looks fun. I also remember hearing preaching that sin may look fun (for a season). Then it traps you, it chains you up, it tries to be your master, it works to control you through addictions, fears, threats, … The people I know who have come out the other side of addictions tell me what a mistake it was how powerful and controlling it was, the double life they had to live so that people didn’t know and didn’t find out, how coming back to God like the story of the prodigal son speaks was the best intervention and thing they could have ever done. Don’t wait till you hit rock bottom to look up. You will come to discover that Jesus is the rock, the solid foundation that we can build our lives upon. The guy who not only gave us a good example of how to live or lives, not only showed how following God we are able to live in the spirit and allow the spirit to do miracles through our lives, but also the guy who gave it all so that everyone after Him who believed in Him wouldn’t perish but could have everlasting life through forgiveness and reconciliation with God the Father.

Are your kids important to you? Then do something about it that will not only leave them a legacy but also allow the transformational power of Jesus to bring joy, peace, harmony and wisdom to their lives. What if today was the last day for you, what you say?

I love my wife and my kids. I do everything I can to let them know that. I even tell them. I know that God has transformed my life ever since that encounter in 2000. I know that He had a different plan for me than what I had been living. I remember Him calling me when I was in school and I went through the classes, but somehow missed that it is all about a relationship with Jesus. But starting at the Christmas of 2000 and leading into the first part of 2001, He helped me get a hold of that truth. I learned about the real message is a living relationship with Jesus. I was going to Bible studies. I was reading my Bible. I was taking time, setting it aside to spend time in the morning to start it with God and then talking to Him throughout my day. Asking for wisdom. Thanking Him for helping or providing. God’s Word tells us to pray without ceasing. God wants an intimate relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to live any part of our lives apart from Him. And it is amazing how walking with Him can keep us from pains we could have self inflicted. It is amazing His grace that when we don’t listen He still sticks with us as we learn why He warned us and helps us get out of the message we got into. He grants us wisdom to understand that we may not be able to change the situation or the people, but we can change our hearts and minds, we can change our responses and our thoughts, we can forgive. God loves us so much and Jesus is the way, the truth and the life that opens the door for us to step into a live that we live with God rather than apart from God. Not just when we move on and go to Heaven, but also right here and right now. He wants to walk with us now. He wants to live with us now. He wants to help us and show us His love now. Not just when we find a hope and a future in Heaven, spending eternity with God, but also now by helping us walk through, walk over, or walk around things that will help us learn and grow to be stronger in our faith. He will be there in the valley time and the mountain tops. He will grant us wisdom to make decisions. He will grant us favor that we can speak to people we may never have imagined – be it leaders who are over you or be it youth who are looking for wisdom. So it’s not a list of rules to keep us from having fun. They are rules that call us to a higher level so that we can avoid many or most of the pitfalls and pain that come from the alternative. It may be pain for others that you end up causing. It may be pain that you feel because of what you lose. God wants the best for you. That is why He sent Jesus so that we could be saved and reconciled back to Him.

Want to know more about this love? Want to know more about the instruction manual for life? Want to know more about God’s plan and purpose? Check out The Good Book — The Bible. It’s available online http://bible.com. It’s available in Bible study formats in other places http://www.biblestudytools.com/. You can get your own copy at every book store.

As a new year dawns…


As I start this new day and consider the last year, all I can say is “Wow!”. There were so many different experiences and feelings. There were so many different responses and changes. There were big changes, happy changes, experiences to share and be open rather than to fear and clam up. There were times to learn and times to prepare. There were times to listen and times to take action. So many changes and God was in them all. He calmed any doubts or fears. He spoke into every question or doubt. He answered when I had questions. He encouraged as I waited.

It started with bad news, but God told me He had my back. He rewarded my behavior and actions better than the company that seemed to turn its back on me. From a previous experience, I knew I had to start it with forgiveness. He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Because of God’s love and provision, I was openly sharing how I knew that God was working on something and either things would be fixed and improved or He had something else planned for me. I used it as a testimony of how we don’t have to worry or fear what man can do to us, but rather that we can trust in God and allow the joy that surpasses all understanding to help us get through it all.

I had times of doubt, not in God, but if there was really anyone who cared  or could be trusted. God made it clear that there was by setting divine appointments where people would come in and speak truth, speak care, speak love into the situations.

Then the message about Peter shows up in one of my morning devotionals when get walks on water. As I drive to work I ask God if the company I was working for was the boat and if it was and if I was to get out, that He would grant me wisdom to know which side. I was just about to turn onto the highway after driving over the hill and my phone made it’s texting message that ended up being “get out of the boat“. I knew what that meant. I knew that no matter how things changed at work, my time there was limited and that God was preparing me for the next phase of my career. Since I included the clarity of “which side”, I knew that wasn’t the day, but that night I had to start to prepare. I updated my resume, I updated my LinkedIn profile, and I started to reach out to people who worked at companies where I found jobs of interest and the process began. I went to work each day with the joy of knowing God was with me and that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew He was working out a plan for my future and so I did my job the best I could for His Word tells me “work as unto the Lord“, He is the real boss of it all.

Interviews were happening. Preparation was taking place. And then right when I thought I knew which side of the boat, God opened the door with the clear message that He had a different idea. He provided me with every sign, every notice, every encouragement I needed so that I knew which side to get out on. Be it rainbows. Be it songs on the radio. Be it my morning Bible reading. Be it the offer. He knew what He has planned and started so many months earlier and this has been an incredible year and one I wouldn’t want to give up. The valley may be deep and it may not be easy, but when you come out the other side and look back, the things you learn are things you wouldn’t want to give up or give back. What an incredible time it has been in my new role. What an incredible group of people I have been blessed to meet. What an incredible opportunity and challenge faces us. And with God directing my path, I know that even greater things are yet to come.

So today as a new year begins, what do I think? what do I want? what do I think? what do I need? what do I plan? Theses are incredible and powerful questions.

What do I think?

I am blessed by God!

What do I want?

To help share the love of God with my family and friends and those who God will bring across my path.

What do I think?

God, what is it you have for me to do today. No need to worry about tomorrow, today has enough things to keep me busy.

What do I need?

God’s wisdom for every action, every activity, every decision, every moment of every day.

What do I plan?

To have another great year spent with my wife, my kids, and my friends and family trying to love them better and share God’s love with them to a new level. To help those I work with to accomplish even greater things that we could have ever asked for or imagined by the grace of God!

This is the day that the Lord has made, let’s rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank You Jesus!

Love,

Phil


365 Fear Nots: Verse of the Day

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

1 Peter 2:17 (KJV)

Be of good character and live your life with integrity, treating everyone the same, with dignity. Love your brothers and sisters in Christ and be respectful of authority. Honor and revere the Lord God!

Spurgeon’s Morning Devotional – Day 59 – My Expectation is from God!

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Psalm 62:5

Spirit of adoption!


We are not forgotten. We are not accidents. We are not mistakes. We were created on purpose with a purpose by God!

The enemy will speak lies to try and create fear and try to put us in a cage that holds us back from what could be and what should be. He tries to keep us from being or becoming what God had planned from the very beginning for us to be. When we stop listening to the lies and turn to God, the voice of truth, we will hear a different story. I remember a day in my car driving home from work after a really tough day and what song comes on the radio but the “Voice of Truth” and it spoke right to my heart. It melted me and I wept as I heard God speaking to me how much he loved me. It helped me to clear the lies and focus on where I should have been focused all along, the voice of God speak to me in and through His Word. It is amazing the playlist God will setup on the radio for my commutes to speak right into my very day. There are no such sings as accidents, coincident, but there is a purpose and plan behind what is taking place. To teach. To draw us back to God. To let us see what things would be like if we get our way because we chose to walk away. To see how far we would walk away before we turn back realizing what we gave up. To see how much God really does love us.

Casting Crowns – Voice Of Truth from Casting Crowns on Vimeo.

When we turn back. When we come to God and ask for forgiveness and for Jesus to come into our heart, we become children of God. We are adopted into God’s family. We no longer have a spirit of fear or being slaves to the old way, we find freedom with the privilege of enjoying a spirit of adoption. As 365 Fear Nots puts it: “We come to the Father through prayer and dependence as His children.” Romans speaks this to us from God’s Word like this:

For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:15-16 (GNT)

God’s Word is powerful and speaks life and truth and hope. It speaks wisdom and vision. It tells us how we can get right with God through a relationship with Jesus for He came to the world to save the lost. It speaks to us of God’s great love, a love so great that He sent His one and only son Jesus to pay the ultimate price, to give His life on the cross once for all as the atoning sacrifice so that everyone who would follow Him, who would receive Him as their Lord and Savior, would not parish but have everlasting life. Before they had to do it over and over and over and …

22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9:22

So by receiving Jesus into our hearts and receiving Him as our Lord and Savior, we are pardoned by His atonement through His blood. It is because of Christ that I have hope for He gave it all so that I could live a life with God rather than apart from God. There are many who are waiting for a savior or looking for a savior. There are many who have found Him. It’s not about some ritual or routine, it is about a relationship with God. I still remember the aha moment when that was revealed to me. I went through the steps, the pattern, the rituals, but one day the light turned on. God wants to have a relationship with me. Jesus wants to be a part of all of my day, all of my week, all of my year, all of my life. Not just weekends. Not just a bit of time in the morning. He wants to be with me every step of every day. He will stick closer than a brother. He will never leave me nor abandon me. I know we have freewill and can choose to walk away, but that isn’t His plan or what He wants. He gave it all and when we receive Him, we get adopted into God’s family and have a place setup in heaven where we will get to spend eternity with God.

I am a child of God! I have been adopted into God’s family.

I pray that you will choose to make this decision. If you have I am glad we are part of the family. If you haven’t I pray that you will so that we can spend eternity together.