Don’t Worry!

Don’t Worry!

In the days we live in, it is all too easy to slip into fear. All you have to do is turn on the news. Listening to many nightly newscasts will make one think that all is lost.  And I hesitate to even call most of it news.  The news used to be based on fact and truth.  But facts and truth don’t seem to matter anymore.  What seems to matter to most news networks is what they want you to think and believe, not what is actually true. Fear has become a tool that is used to control people’s thinking. If you make people fearful enough and if you make them think you have the answers, then you can control them.  There is one sure way to live your life free of the fear and uncertainty that surround us.  And that is by keeping your mind and thoughts on God!  When you turn to His Word, you never have to question whether it is true because God is not like man that He should lie.  The NLT (New Living Translation) says this in Isaiah 26: 3-4 –  “ 3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! 4 Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.”  Keeping your eyes, thoughts and mind stayed on God is the ONLY way to peace in your life.  In Philippians, it tells us that we don’t have to worry about anything if we talk to God about it and tell Him what we need.  When we do this, we can experience a peace that can’t even be imagined.  And then, so that we don’t get off track, we are instructed on what we should be thinking about – things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and of a good report.  When is the last time you heard any of that watching the news?  If your blood pressure rises and you are full of fear after you watch the news, turn off the TV and turn to God! 

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:6-8 (MSG)
6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 7 Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 8 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Numbers 23:19 (NLT)
19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

This Sunday, we will be honoring, celebrating and remembering our dads.  For me, the day comes with a lot of wonderful memories.  But that’s not so for everyone. A relative once said that he was never going to have children because he didn’t want to be the kind of father to his children that his father was to him.  This makes me sad for a couple of reasons.  First, that his memories of his dad were bad ones.  And second, that he thought he was doomed to be that same kind of dad. To the contrary, many people allow their less-than-happy childhoods to motivate them to be the best parent they can be.  Will you always do the right thing as a dad?  The answer is most certainly no.  But your kids will  learn many valuable lessons by observing how you respond when you mess up.  They will either learn how to ask for forgiveness, how to admit fault and how to apologize and say I’m sorry or they will learn to be insensitive, unapologetic and stubborn.  It’s the tests and trials of life that will either add to your character or defeat you.  And remember, God and His word are always there to help you.  All you need to do is open your Bible or just ask Him.  Don’t let the fear of the past prevent you from being the kind of dad you always wanted to be.  Dare to give your kids good memories on Father’s Day.  To all those who have taken on the challenge of fatherhood, we salute you!  Have a blessed Father’s Day! 

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)

 Those who fear the LORD are secure; he will be a refuge for their children. Proverbs 14:26 (NLT)

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 (NKJV)

There Is Therefore Now No Condemnation!

There Is Therefore Now No Condemnation!

“Expression of unfavorable judgment; indication of strong disapproval; pronounce as guilty; judging to be unfit for use or service.”  These definitions don’t exactly invoke that warm fuzzy feeling.  They are all definitions of the same word.  Can you guess it?  The word is condemnation.  Have you ever had someone throw condemnation on you? No one likes being disapproved of, found unfit or unfavorably judged. But for the believer, we don’t have to live under this black cloud of condemnation.  Because there is a new power in operation in our lives.  And that power is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus!  The Spirit of life has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death.  Jesus came to give us life, not to condemn. The law was given to point out sin.  But it couldn’t do anything about sin.  The animal sacrifices were only a temporary fix for sin.  But Jesus was the final solution!  Because of Adam’s sin, we were all condemned to death row.  But God had a plan!  God sent Jesus to save the world and He was the final sacrifice ever needed.   Believing is Jesus has taken us off death row! But refusing to believe in Jesus keeps you there.  Don’t live under condemnation – choose Jesus!

 1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12 (NLT)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:17-18 (NKJV)

Put On Love!

Put On Love!

Scripture tells us that the absolute greatest gift there is is love.  But these days, it seems you don’t see much love being spread around, especially if you watch TV and the news.  Demeaning insults and remarks are the norm and it would seem our newscasters, politicians and late-night TV hosts try to outdo each other in that arena.  What happened to kindness, decency and respect?  They have been replaced with hatefulness, incivility and disdain.  But fortunately, we as Christians, do not have to follow this norm.  In fact, we were instructed not to conform to this world that is getting uglier by the day.  So it would be a perfect time for a reminder of the great “love” chapter from the Bible.  Let’s transform our minds with the Word of God and not with what we see on TV.  Let’s be that perfect example for our youth in how to show kindness, respect and graciousness towards one another, even those we disagree with. Let’s be the best influence, the best role models and the best ambassadors for Christ we can be no matter what the world thinks!

3 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
4 Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
5 Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
6 Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
7 Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
8 Love never dies.

13…..Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8 & 13 (MSG)

Be Equipped!

Be Equipped!

Last week’s Food was about the importance of reading and doing God’s Word.  The danger of not knowing God’s Word is that it leaves you susceptible to “every wind of doctrine” that comes along.  Or, in other words, it becomes easy to fall for every new teaching not based on scripture. If you don’t know what’s in the Bible, then when you hear a message that sounds good, makes you feel good and maybe even sounds spiritual, you get drawn away by it.  Satan is a crafty one.  He knows that most Christians have a basic knowledge of the Word.  So he takes that basic knowledge and throws in a little lie here and there to give it the appearance of truth –  much like what happened to Eve in the Garden.  The serpent (Satan) starts off by reminding Eve that they couldn’t eat from every tree in the Garden.  Basically, this is true but has a negative twist.  It puts emphasis on not being able to eat from every tree, when God said they could eat from every tree except just one. Then the serpent calls God a liar and accuses God of having ulterior motives in an attempt to cast doubt in Eve’s mind that God is not really the loving God He portrays Himself to be.  We are warned in the scripture about preachers who will be more than happy to attend to those with itching ears. Those with itching ears are those who no longer want to hear sound doctrine. It’s too hard.  It requires changes to their life and they are quite happy where they are.  So they will seek out preachers who will assure them that God is a God of love and would never bring judgment down on them.  Repentance is obsolete because of God’s mercy.  These preachers will water down the Word so much that nothing is required of the believer anymore.  It’s all about God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s willingness to overlook any sin in their life.  On the surface, this sounds wonderful but don’t fall prey to this enticement!  You must be equipped to fight the good fight of faith and you can only do this with the Word of God!

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Ephesians 4:14 (NLT)

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 (NKJV)

3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT)

11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 (NLT)

Take As Directed

Take As Directed

If you are a Christian and attend a church that boldly preaches the Word of God, then you have heard this over and over again – “You gotta read the word!”  And about now you might be thinking “oh no, not again”, but there is just no getting around it if you desire to please God and live a fulfilled, balanced and overcoming life.  Hearing the Word preached from the pulpit on Sunday mornings is great and maybe you even take in an extra dose midweek.  But, just like medicine, you can’t just take it every few days and expect it to work for you.  Below is II Timothy 3:16-17 printed in several versions of the Bible and it stresses to us the importance of the Word. It would not be wise to take medicine without reading the dosage directions.  It’s not wise to enter a contract without first reading it.  And it’s not wise to go through our Christian life without reading our manual.  Read the scriptures below and see that God just wants to thoroughly prepare you for this life!

 (NKJV) – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(NLT) – 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

(AMP) – 16 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

(MSG) – 16 Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. 17 Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

What A Ride!

What A Ride!

Mother’s Day is a wonderful occasion.  It’s a time for each of us to honor and remember our mother and the huge influence she has been in our life.  And, as a mom, memories and thoughts come flooding back to us as we reflect over the years.  If we are truthful, we would say that being a mom is like being on a perpetual roller coaster.  There are those wonderful highs that each of us experience as we raise our kids and watch them achieve each milestone along the way.  There are all the “firsts” that you’ve possibly recorded in a memory book but most certainly are etched in your mind forever.  Then, realistically, there are the lows that come in the form of tears, anxiety, and even heartbreak as you watch your child go through things you’d give your life for them not to have to experience.  Sometimes the world deals them a dirty blow and other times it’s just bad decision making.  Either way, you’d take their place in a heartbeat to protect them from the lows.  And, most likely, that roller coaster ride will continue until you take your dying breath because that’s how long your love for your kids will last.  So this Mother’s Day I offer a prayer for each mom.  And the prayer I would pray is the same thing that Solomon asked of God when God told him to ask for anything he wanted.  I pray that God would give you all the wisdom and knowledge you need for the job –  wisdom for training up your children, wisdom for decision making, wisdom for advice-giving, and wisdom in knowing what to pray for over your children. God knows exactly what your children need and I pray that He imparts that to you because sometimes you should act and sometimes you should just pray. I pray that God gives you the wisdom to know the difference. May this Mother’s Day bring you joy and blessings and wonderful memories!  You deserve it all because you are a blessing!

7 On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?” 8 And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, O LORD God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?” 11 And God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life–but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king– 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.” 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 (NKJV)

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29 (NKJV)

O Wretched Man!

O Wretched Man!

“O wretched man that I am.  Who will deliver me from this body of death”!  This was the apostle Paul’s exclamation in Romans 7:24.  Paul was teaching about wanting to do what is good and right yet not doing it and knowing what is wrong but doing it anyway.  How many times have you found yourself in the very same predicament?  We, who are born again believers in Christ, are new creations through Christ.  We have a new nature in us, God’s nature.  Well, if we have God’s nature in us, why do we sometimes desire to do what is wrong or not do what we know is right? The answer is because that new nature that we have dwells inside a body that is fleshly and carnal.  Prior to accepting Jesus as Lord, we had a sin nature (thanks to Adam), which lived quite compatibly inside our carnal fleshly bodies.  There was no conflict there because we were free from the obligation to do what is right. But when we were born again in Christ, we were instantly given a new nature – God’s nature, or the awareness of what is good and right.  But unfortunately, the house it dwells in, having been dominated by that old sinful nature for so long, is still the same.  It is now in need of training!  But we know that any training period involves pain and even setbacks. And through this training period (which, by the way, will last until Jesus returns), our carnal flesh will continually war against our new Godly nature. It can be extremely difficult and frustrating.  But, as Paul continues to teach on the frustrations he is dealing with, he answers his own question – Jesus will deliver him!  And even better, in the beginning of the next chapter he tells us that those who are in Christ do not have to face condemnation!  Allow Jesus to see you through this training process.  Allow the Holy Spirit to help.  And the next time you feel you are being pulled in opposite directions, you know that there is therefore now no condemnation!

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. Romans 6:20 (NLT)

20 As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. Romans 6:20 (MSG)

24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24-25 (NLT)

1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Which Robber are You?

Scripture tells us that Jesus was crucified along with two criminals.  And we know that one of these men ultimately realized that Jesus truly was the son of God by addressing Him as Lord and asking Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom, while the other man mocked him along with the soldiers.  But scripture also tells us in Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32 that, at some point, both of these men mocked Jesus. So why did one of these criminals come to the truth of who Jesus was and the other did not?  We must remember that this entire crucifixion took several hours.  And these men were exposed to the ridicule and humiliation that Jesus endured.  And they both were witness to Jesus’ supernatural response of love and forgiveness toward His tormentors.  At some point in our lives in our fallen states, each of us comes to a place where we are introduced to the love and forgiveness that Jesus has to offer.  And we then have a decision to make.  We except Jesus or we reject him. The penitent criminal did at first mock Jesus – until he witnessed the overwhelming love Jesus had even toward those who crucified Him and His willingness to ask the Father to forgive them.  He then acknowledged his guilt, acknowledged who Jesus was and asked for His mercy. Much in the same way we all did when we first accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  The other criminal, being exposed to the very same Jesus, remain hard hearted and defiant.  Each chose a different path for themselves.  Maybe you are at that point of decision in your life.  Jesus’ love and forgiveness are offered whole heartedly to you no matter what is in your past.  How will you respond?

Matthew 27:44 (NKJV)
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.

Mark 15:32 (NKJV)
32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

Luke 23:40-42 (NKJV)
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

No Greater Love!

No Greater Love!

This Sunday we celebrate what is certainly the most significant event in Christian history – The Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  Jesus’ victory over death was our victory! But Jesus paid a horrific price for that victory.  During the hours leading up to and including His crucifixion, Jesus experienced mind numbing torture, ridicule and abandonment.  And according to His prayers to the Father in the garden, He was agonizingly aware of what was approaching for Him, asking God if there was any other way to accomplish His plan.  Yet, Jesus’ ultimate desire was God’s will to be done no matter what it meant for Him.  And indeed, He fulfilled that plan. He was our substitute. He bore our sins and our sicknesses with every lash and every nail.   There is no greater love than this.  God’s love extends to His followers and His ridiculers alike because God so loved the “world”.  Even the thief on the cross was embraced by the love of Christ. Our prayer for you this Easter is that you realize and experience the boundless, life-changing, unconditional love of Christ!

42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Isaiah 53:3-5 (NLT)

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NLT)

43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 (NLT)

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NLT)