Dare To Dream!

Dare To Dream!


We continue again this week with the theme of hope.  Hope is only as good as who or what you put your hope in.  The last line of a song from a popular musical  goes like this:  “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed”.  We’ve probably all experienced times in our lives where we’ve longed for, hoped for, counted on and anticipated something for so long and then, poof, in an instance, that hope is shattered into a million pieces.  I visited a woman who experienced such a time.  She and her husband had a dream of someday owning a bed-n-breakfast.  Her abilities were such that they would lend themselves well for such an endeavor. For years, everything she did was in anticipation of one day purchasing it and running it. Then after many years went by, her husband told her he never wanted it, that it may have been her dream but it was never his and he wanted no part in it.  She was absolutely crushed.  What she thought was their dream would never come to pass.  Her hope in that dream had been killed.  Last week we read the dictionary definition of hope.  This week, let’s read the Bible definition of hope:  Psalm 71:5:  “O Lord, you alone are my hope.”  If your hope is not in God, then there’s a good chance life will somehow kill your dream.  When hopelessness threatens to overwhelm you, check to see where you’ve placed your hope. If your hopes and dreams have their roots in God, you will overflow with peace, joy and confident hope!  God is not only your hope, He is the source of hope!   

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7 (NLT) 5 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Psalm 71:5 (NLT)

5 O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood. Psalm 71:5 (NLT)

Hope!

Hope!

Hope!  Just the sound of that word is uplifting and encouraging.  The definition of hope is: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire or trust. Many times, we don’t actually have what we need in our possession but hope tells us that it is on its way and gets us through to tomorrow. Often our hope is placed in people – people we feel we can trust, that we can rely on, that won’t disappoint us or let us down. But all too often, our hope is misplaced.  The Bible tells us that Abraham hoped against hope.  Just what does that mean?  It means that, even though the outcome for what he was expecting had little to no chance of happening, he continued to believe for it anyway. And the reason that Abraham could continue to hope against hope was because his hope was placed in what God said.  When you put your hope in God, you will never be disappointed!  If God said it, no matter what your circumstances look like, there’s hope!  He makes the hopeless possible!

18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. Romans 4:18-22 (NLT)

His Eye Is On The Sparrow!

His Eye Is On The Sparrow!

Upon trimming some bushes out at our church, I discovered a small nest.  It is a sparrow’s nest containing 5 tiny eggs.  I’ve been checking on the nest every day and it now contains 5 tiny little baby sparrows.  Occasionally, I catch the mother sparrow feeding her young and sometimes the babies are alone with their little beaks skyward waiting for the mother’s return with a meal.  Today it is extremely blustery.  The trees are bending and I know the wind is fierce so I go to check on the nest.  And there, hunkered down, wings spread over her young, is the mother sparrow.  The bush is bouncing back and forth in the wind, but momma bird is hanging on for dear life to protect her babies.  As I watched this, I was reminded of this scripture- Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  NLT  As the mother sparrow protects her babies from the wind, the rain, or the storm, how much more are we sheltered by God’s wings of protection!

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT)
 
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (NKJV)

26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

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)

17
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)