Where are you focused?


There is so much going on. There are so many things that could be getting your attention. There are so many things competing for your attention and your time. Are you on the look out? Are you following something or someone? What do you have your eye on?


This morning’s reading starts with the title “The Whole World Has Its Eyes on God“.

Do you have something that you are keeping your eyes on so that you know where you are going? Do you have a destination you are wanting to get to and have a north star or something that you are using to get there? Are you keeping your eye on God so that you can follow after Him? What are you expecting? What are you anticipating? What are you hoping?

The next title speaks to Jesus riding in on a donkey. Kings tend to come on donkeys in peace and horse for battle. Jesus’ first visit had Him on a donkey that Palm Sunday with people shouting and speaking prophesy. Today’s reading speaks to it this way:

9-10“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion! Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem! Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right, a humble king riding a donkey, a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim, no more war horses in Jerusalem, no more swords and spears, bows and arrows. He will offer peace to the nations, a peaceful rule worldwide, from the four winds to the seven seas. — Zechariah 9:9-10

When I think of the colt of a donkey on Palm Sunday, I also reflect on His second coming when He will be coming back to claim what is His, what is already His and finish the battle with Satan. He will be on a horse that time and ready for battle. The first time He came to fulfill the law and to open the doorway to reconciliation with God for the sins of the world. So that everyone who will receive Him, who will accept Him as their Lord and Savior, who will follow after Him. As we read in John 3:16, God loves us, He sent Jesus to save us not to condemn us. So now we need to keep our eyes on Him. God’s Word also speaks to us being prepared:

  • I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. — 2 Timothy 4:1-2
  • Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. — Ephesians 6:13-18
  • With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. — 1 Corinthians 15:58
  • You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. — Mathew 24:44
  • 13Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong! — 1 Peter 3:13-17

There are many more. Trying to find a list, I found this link that you can check out.

The chapter finishes with the Jesus on a horse, the one who will fight and win the war of all wars. The war for the souls.

14-17Then God will come into view, his arrows flashing like lightning! Master God will blast his trumpet and set out in a whirlwind. God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them—all-out war, The war to end all wars, no holds barred. Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them. They’ll become like sheep, gentle and soft, Or like gemstones in a crown, catching all the colors of the sun. Then how they’ll shine! shimmer! glow! the young men robust, the young women lovely! — Zechariah 9:14-17

Let’s pray for those who are lost, sheep without a shepherd. Let’s pray that the truth and hope that comes from a living relationship with Jesus can be brought into their hearts. Let’s pray that lives will be reset and returned under the hand and covering of God. Let’s pray that our light, our words, our actions will point people to the one true God in a transformational way that will and does save. Jesus came to be the shepherd. He came to show us the way. He is the truth, the way, and the life, nobody gets to the Father except through Him. There aren’t many ways. There is but one way.

As I get into chapter 11, an interesting question comes to mind. Do they really care about you? Who is over you? Do they care? Or are they just wanting to get what they can and move on? It’s interesting to see what the difference looks like. It’s interesting to experience what the difference feels like.

Take a look around, are people trying to get rid of something? Something important and real? Something that should be the highest priority? Is there an attack going on against the way? Are they preparing the world for a time of battle? Are they preparing the world for a time of reset? Do you see that there is a battle underway? Do you see there is a battle going on right now for your soul? Who is going to stand up and be counted? Who is going to stand in the gap? Or are we headed towards the end? Is the momentum that strong that there is no turning back? Is there still time for a people to come together and try to restore truth, hope, love, justice? What is the purpose? What is the intention? What is the reason for such actions and decisions? Are things being improved or is the average being lowered? Are we headed back up? Are we heading back down? What’s really at the heart of the matter? What is driving people’s actions and decisions? Really… What’s really motivating them? It’s a matter of the heart so let’s inspect what the motive is.

How close are we to the Big Day?

There is only one thing that can wash away the filth, the grime, the sickness, the chains, and it the love of Jesus. It is only by His blood that we can be reconciled back to God, become new and clean in the eyes of God. He is the fountain that will wash away the sin of the world. When the Big Day comes will you be on the right side? Is God your god? Are you part of His people?

Chapter 14, starts with the title “The Day Is Coming”.  What day you may ask? The chapter is clear and starts with:

“God’s Judgment Day is on the way”

It will be an incredible day – Jesus in the lead and an army of angels with Him.

6-7What a Day that will be! No more cold nights—in fact, no more nights! The Day is coming—the timing is God’s—when it will be continuous day. Every evening will be a fresh morning.
8What a Day that will be! Fresh flowing rivers out of Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea, half to the western sea, flowing year-round, summer and winter!
9God will be king over all the earth, one God and only one. What a Day that will be!
10-11The land will stretch out spaciously around Jerusalem—to Geba in the north and Rimmon in the south, with Jerusalem towering at the center, and the commanding city gates—Gate of Benjamin to First Gate to Corner Gate to Hananel Tower to the Royal Winery—ringing the city full of people. Never again will Jerusalem be totally destroyed. From now on it will be a safe city. — Zechariah 14:6-11

Which side will you be on? Are you for Him or against Him?

12-14But this is what will happen to all who fought against Jerusalem: God will visit them with a terrible plague. People’s flesh will rot off their bones while they are walking around; their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues in their mouths; people will be dying on their feet! Mass hysteria when that happens—total panic! Fellow soldiers fighting and killing each other—holy terror! And then Judah will jump into the fray! — Zechariah 14:12-14

Today, I lift this day up to God and I ask how I can help and what I can do to point others towards Him. I ask Lord for Your wisdom and favor in what I say and do so that in and through it all, You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory. Help me Lord to be a good ambassador for You. Help me Lord to shine so that others will see that I am just like the moon in the dark sky, reflecting the light of Your Son Jesus my Lord and Savior. Lord, help me today so that in and through it all You will receive the praise, the honor, and the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Have you had a life changing moment yet?


Get to a crossroad and having a life changing moment? [Leave country or leave company]

Get an ultimatum, you will be [_______] or you will be nothing, you pick? [President of a homeowners association]

To forgive or allow bitterness to control the situation? [Power of forgiveness to produce freedom]

Get a message and then changing the next step of your career? [Get out of the boat]

Or how about some examples from God’s Word that are called out in today’s devotional from TGIF:

  • Moses and the burning bush – Exodus 3:1-15
  • Joshua parting the Jordan as he was about to lead Israel into the promised land – Joshua 3
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego coming out of the fiery hot furnace unharmed – Daniel 3
  • Daniel untouched in the lions’ den – Daniel 6
  • Peter walking on water – Matthew 14:22-36
  • Paul being blinded on the road to Damascus – Acts 9

There are times in our lives when something big happens and based on our decision, based on our response, based on our faith a new destiny, a new testimony, a new hope raises up in our lives. When we respond in God’s way incredible things happen.

When I was faced with the decision, the crossroad of life of having to leave the company I was working at or leave the country I grew up in, I turned to my parents and my in-laws for wisdom. As I connected with God later in life, I realized that what I had done was an incredible testimony and truth that aligned with God’s Word where in the 10 Commandments, we read:

12Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

When I was faced with the prompting of my spirit to step up but didn’t feel that I was ready, God made sure I knew what was at stake with the ultimatum of “you will be president or you will be nothing”. Not wanting to be nothing, I stepped up and allowed God’s will to happen. With all that took place from that point forward, the Lord not only guided me through the tough road ahead in rebuilding the team who were staffed to support the community, but also in setting up the right infrastructure to help the association grow and move forward.

When I faced a time when it was feeling like everything was going wrong, that people were cheating me, lying to me, setting me up, … I ended up allowing a bitter root to get in me. It took a lot of time but one day when I was concerned about something else, God opened my eyes and spoke me through the song 7×70 on the radio and then the journey to my off-ramp from the highway we walked through me forgiving everyone who had hurt me and then the message that came to me was “as you forgive others so I will forgive you” and so I asked God to forgive me for being stubborn and bitter rather than doing things His way which He kept reminding me of every night on my way home with every song that spoke right to my very day. As I pulled off the highway, I was a changed man. It was all gone. The weight on my shoulders. The bitterness that had been in my heart was uprooted. All of it was gone and I was transformed by God’s grace and mercy which reminds me somewhat of Paul’s story when he was Saul and what it took to get his attention and to transform his heart.

When after nearly 20 years, my morning devotional spoke of Peter getting out of the boat, I asked God (since my morning readings tend to speak about where I am at) if the company I was working for was the boat and if I was supposed to get out and if so, if God could let me know what side. He was clear when a text arrived almost immediately that spoke to my heart “Get out of the boat” so I started my journey to determine which side and on that day when I knew and was going to step out, God encouraged me through His Word again with the message of Job 42:12, that the second half of my life was going to be twice as good as the first.

 

Where are you at today? Have you had a life changing event in your life? Are you at point in the journey where it is a preparation stage? Where ever you are in your journey, the key to getting to experience and live it out is to trust God and walk in a relationship with Him. As you notice above each of mind pointed me to the next turn in my journey and I know from the Job 42:12 that my journey isn’t over yet. With each fork in the road I learned an important lesson and have been able to carry that with me to move forward with God. Honor your parents. Nothing is too big for God. Forgiveness is the key to true freedom. God’s ways are best and His timing is perfect.

References:

My Prayer:

Heavenly Father,
I thank You Lord for the incredible life You have given me with the incredible blessing of a wife that loves you, with incredible children who are wanting to pursue after you, with friends who are there for me and allow me to be there for them. As I look forward today Lord grant me wisdom for every conversation and situation. Help me Lord to speak love in truth and hope for those around me. Help me to be a light that shines for Your glory I pray. And may every thought, word, and action, bring You praise, honor, and glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.