How bad is it really?

This week I have found that many of us are struggling with trials in our lives. I have also come to acknowledge that when we are growing in our faith is when satan attacks the most. Therefore, I am comforted in knowing that what we are doing for the Lord this week is for His glory. And thus, satan has begun an offensive, and is attacking us. However, I am even further comforted through the following passage from Romans:

 

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the future glory that is to be revealed in us.”

 

Paul tells us that no matter what we are going through, it does not compare to what is in store for us in Heaven. Our future with God is so vastly overwhelming that it is not even worth comparing to what we are going through here on earth. That’s a pretty bold statement.  

 

How bad is it? Now, I’m not sure what your trials are at this time, but I do know mine. I know that earlier this week my troubles seemed large, practically too impossible to overcome. But as I’ve made it through this week, I matured in my faith as I’ve trusted the Lord to carry me through. My troubles have shrunk in size, and as I continue to be blessed by the Lord and see each trial overcome in my life, I begin to realize again how wonderful and loving our God really is. Our troubles don’t compare to our future glory.

Support from Zion

The Lord continues to amaze me as I get feedback from others, not just here in the comments section, but from others at work, and through additional Scripture readings.

This morning I came to Psalm 20:1-2

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!

 

Now, I didn’t come upon this verse by “searching” for additional Scripture to make me feel good about the trouble I’m going through. No, I simply opened my Bible and that was the passage that was on the page I opened to. Now, some of you may believe in coincidences, fate, destiny, etc…. But what I believe in is God. He purposely knows that while I trust in Him to pull me through, I still struggle at times. This morning, God was going to make sure that since I spent time with Him this morning to study His Word, that He gave me something to kick-start my day. I’ve found that on the mornings that I stop to have my devotion time, God starts my day on a bright note.

I encourage you also to start your day with a Word from God. Open your Bible, Pray, and read His Holy Word. It will help you get through another day on earth and bring you ever closer to Jesus.

Beating the “odds”

This week I’ve struggled with trials and tribulations in my own life. Yesterday those troubles seemed to hit a boiling point. Satan was on the offensive and he was starting to get the best of me. My odds were slim to none…that is when I tried to beat him on my own, however, “with God all things are possible” (Mt. 19:26).

When I got home, I mentioned to Kimberly that I sure was glad that church service was tonight (Wednesday). I needed a little motivation to get through. And then it happened….

When I got to youth services, I got the boost I needed. God spoke to me and I ended up not teaching my lesson the way I had planned. God had a different plan, and I realize that His plan is always better than mine. So, I went along with it, not really knowing what to expect.

The Scripture we studied last night was out of James 1:2-12 

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:5-7 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial 

 

So, for those who attended, I pray that you received what you needed to hear. I know that I received what I needed last night. I realize that God’s plan is far better than one that I could ever dream up.

He will carry us through to the other side. And we should “Consider it a joy” when troubles come our way. They will test our faith, but in the end, God will use these times to mature us in our Christian faith. As James 1:4 says: God will make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” You can only beat the odds by following God’s plan for your life.

No Subject

Yeah, that’s right. No subject. I’m not sure why. In fact, I’m not sure exactly what this blog will be about totally.  All I know is I was pumped up again this week following the “Blaze.” If you haven’t been yet, I encourage you to attend on Monday nights at 8pm all summer long (just off Bear-Creek Cut-off Road).

The past few days I’ve been focused on what God can do. Reviewing and reading Scripture and websites that discuss His unyielding power. Then, interestingly enough, I just found another person’s blog – the title to it was “If You can use anything Lord, You can use me.”

Now, I used to believe in fate, accidents, superstitions, etc.  However, as I’ve matured in my Christian faith, I’ve come to realize that nothing is by accident. God has a plan for all of us. In this case, I thought it very cool that last nights message by Russ Warren at the Blaze had the same theme: The Lord can use me. The Lord can use YOU. Yeah, he can work through ALL kinds of people.

When I first realized that the Lord was calling me into ministry, I struggled with the question of “why?”  Why me Lord? Why would you want me? How in the world could You use ME for Your work? I’m a very young Christian (17 years old in my faith). Yet, He chose me to be involved in His work.

I’m NOT perfect; not even close. But God still chose to use me. As I study the life and ministry of Jesus, I find that Jesus also chose ordinary people to work through. I don’t know why God chooses people like us, imperfect, sinful humans; but He does. Hey, it’s His plan (a perfect plan at that), and who are we to challenge it?

So, if you find yourself asking “Why me?” like I did. Forget it. You probably won’t get an answer. I didn’t get one, I just stopped asking and answered His call. Allow Him to work in your life, God’s got a plan. Follow Him.

Fathers, a story to remember

While I cannot confirm the validity of this story, I still believe it is truly something we can all learn from. This is supposedly taken from a Daily Turning Point Devotion from David Jeremiah:

“A man came home late from work to find his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door. The first thing out of the child’s mouth was, “Daddy, how much money do you make in an hour?” “If you must know, I make $50 an hour” said the man. “Well, can I borrow $25?” the boy asked. “For what?” replied the man. Without saying a word, the little boy went to his room, removed some crumpled money from under his bed and added it to the money his dad gave him. He came back and said, “Daddy, now I have $50. Can I buy an hour of your time?”
Sometimes, balancing the responsibilities of providing for our children and making time to invest in their lives can become overwhelming. Being a godly father is a huge responsibility. But it is also one of life’s greatest joys. As we raise our children in the love of the Lord, may we not become discouraged as the pressures mount; rather, let us look to our own Heavenly Father for the strength, love, courage, and discipline needed to carry out this high calling.” 

Although my father spent a lot of time with me, there were still times in my life that I was in the shoes of the child and wanted more of his time.

Now, however, I am impacted by this story not only as a Father, but also as a child of God. You see, I wonder how many times our Heavenly Father has asked for an hour of our time, but we have not given it.

Many people give God an hour of their time…but only on a weekly basis. They come to church and “check the box.” But God doesn’t just want us to check a box and give Him only an hour a week. God wants more than that.

He is more than an earthly Father; He has provided for our entire life, but more so – our future eternity. Yet we fail to give back to him what He deserves. Daily Devotions do not have to take a full hour of your time. Just a few minutes with God, reading your Bible, and praying sincerely helps to start your day so that you can rejoice in the blessings He gives you on a daily basis.

If God was paid hourly, I couldn’t imagine His salary. Yet, He still gives us His time when we ask Him for it. Stop today, right now, take time for God. Let this be the beginning of a daily habit of spending time with your Father.

Do you praise God?

Throughout the Bible, writers repeatedly mention the need to praise God. Earlier today as I compiled this evening’s Youth Lesson, I reflected back on my life.  At first I thought I did a pretty good job of praising God. However, as I continued to develop the lesson for the students, I realized that I have a lot of maturing to do in how and when I praise God.

Come back later as I finish this post, and I believe that you too, will admit that while we think we praise God, we really fall short of giving God the praise He deserves.

Tonight’s lesson is an interesting spin on the normal and ordinary thought process that we have, when we think about Praising God.

 

A Lesson on Praise:

Do you praise the Lord? If so, how? Write down some ways you praise the Lord. Seriously…, before continuing, just jot down a few ways that you “praise God.”

Throughout the Bible, we find passages of Scripture asserting the need to Praise the Lord. In Psalms, David highlights many reasons why we should Praise the Lord. In Psalms 146-150, we can even find a collection of Praise Psalms.

As I read through these passages (and there are many others throughout the Bible), I realized that a Christian should have “no restraint” when praising God. We are to sing, play instruments, and be thoroughly transparent in our sincere and continuous praise to God for ALL things.

Psalm 150:1-6
Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!

Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

To list the reasons why we should praise God would take pages upon pages of material. However, this blog is NOT intended to explain WHY we should praise God, the Bible clearly states why. This entry is to help others express their praise properly.

 

This past week I attended the Blaze – a student led ministry just starting in Tuscaloosa, AL. I was amazed at the enthusiasm and praise that students (teenagers) can express to God because of their love for Him. Then, unfortunately, I remembered the following anecdote:

A new pastor in Your City, USA, spent the first four days making personal visits to each of his prospective congregation inviting them to come to his inaugural services.

The following Sunday the church was all but empty. Accordingly, the pastor placed a notice in the local newspapers, stating that, because the church was dead, it was everyone’s duty to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral would be held the following Sunday afternoon. 

Morbidly curious, a large crowd turned out for the ‘funeral’ .

In front of the pulpit they saw a closed coffin which was covered in flowers. After the priest had delivered the eulogy, he opened the coffin and invited his congregation to come forward and pay their final respects to their dead church.

Filled with curiosity as to what would represent the corpse of a ‘dead church’, all the people eagerly lined up to look in the coffin. Each ‘mourner’ peeped into the coffin then quickly turned away with a guilty, sheepish look. 

In the coffin, tilted at the correct angle, was a large mirror.

I wonder how many of us are members of this ‘Dead Church’…?

Why? Because “praise” includes being joyful, rejoicing, and glad in spirit. It should involve the “whole heart” of oneself. Nothing should restrain a person from properly praising God. Yet many people in church have a somber look on their face, why?

I understand that each person’s method of praise is different. The problem is that many of us feel uncomfortable praising God in our way. Or, we don’t know how to properly praise God, and feel like we need to fit in. We don’t want to offend anybody. Or, maybe we don’t want to feel embarrassed by what we do, or how we do it.

 

The Blaze is a great example of many young Christians that have removed restraints from their lives. They publicly display their praise and worship to God. So maybe you don’t want to jump up and down and hoot and holler for God like teenagers. That’s fine!…as long as you don’t let anyone else hinder your praise to God.

Even through all the techniques and methods of praising God, we must remember two remaining items. If you truly are thankful for what God is doing for you, have you really praised God?

 

1) Are you living your life for God in a way that is pleasing to Him?

2) Are you telling others what He has done for you?

Praise isn’t just about how or why or when, but about living your life for God. Matthew 5:16 and 1Peter 1:7 tell us that our lives should praise and honor and glorify God.
 

 

 

  • Don’t let anyone or anything hinder your worship and praise to the Lord. If somebody or something is holding you back from praising God, cut your ties from it/them.
  • b) Your life is a form of praise. Some of us have stayed quiet about our beliefs, never telling anyone that we are Christians. However, we should be proud of who we are and tell people we’re Christians and…how THEY TOO can have a life with Christ.
Let your praises sing to the Lord
Don’t let ANYTHING hinder your praise to our Lord and Savior.

 

If you like loud music, great worship, and unrestrained praise…Come to the Blaze on Monday nights this summer at 8pm on Bear Creak Cut-off Road.

God’s Will in your life

Do you pray for God’s Will? The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:10 states “Thy Will be done.”

 

What we find ourselves doing often is praying to know God’s Will for our life. I have even encouraged my students at church to pray to know God’s Will. However, as I re-examine Scripture, I must ask if we are truly following God’s direction for our life when we pray to know God’s Will. After all, God gives us His Will and direction in His Word (the Bible).

 

The problem I have is that many times I already “know” God’s Will, but I fail to follow it. Therefore, what I believe we should pray for is to do God’s Will. We all know right from wrong, but we sometimes fail to do right. We know we ought to glorify God in ALL that we do. And If we pray just to “know” God’s Will, our bodies are still weak, and we may fail to follow God’s Will. Therefore, I challenge all of us when we pray –  to pray for strength to do God’s Will, not just to know it.

 

Throughout the Bible, a recurring theme is to “glorify God.” Psalms 22:23, 50:15, 86:9, Luke 2:20, 5:25, 18:43, John 17:1, Acts 13:48, Romans 15:6, 1 Cor 6:20, 1 Peter 4:16, and Rev 15:4 all reference the need to glorify God. If you have any doubts about what God wants you to do, these passages clearly state that we are to glorify the Lord in ALL things. Pray now that what you may do today will glorify Him.

 

>> Lord, we are blessed to have the freedom to choose freely in America. We are free to study and read Your Holy Word. I ask that You continue to instruct us in all things so that what we do may glorify and honor You. I therefore ask and pray that you strengthen us to do Your Will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Defense or Offense?

Today, I wanted to speak about Football. Well, not really: I wanted to expand on a lesson that we had in Vacation Bible School about taking the Word of God into the world. I know a lot of us struggle with sharing our faith with others, especially close friends and family. For me, the time I had to tell my family about my call into ministry made me nervous. What would they say, what would they think? But what I discovered is that they were happy about my calling and supported me in it. I’ve found the same to be true for almost every encounter I have with others when discussing Jesus.

Many people don’t mind talking about religion, yet others people are rarely the first to bring it up. So how do you bring it up? Good question and I hope to answer that in a series of blogs that I plan to write over the next few days.

But first I want you to consider something. Are you on the offense or defense when it comes to Christianity? Do you openly go to people and tell them about your faith (the offense)? Or do you only speak about your faith when something happens against your beliefs (the defense)? Or…are you sitting on the bench because the one time you told somebody about Jesus, they “rejected” you? (Let me be clear, although you may think they rejected you, they rejected Jesus, not you).

There’s another category I haven’t mentioned – the sideline. Are you just on the sidelines watching others talk about their beliefs? Do you cheer for them, or are you the stick in the mud that won’t root for either team (for or against Christianity)?

Well, no matter which position you are playing (or sitting) on the field, there is good news. God called us to be disciples of Him. God commanded us to go into the world and share our faith, but He didn’t just say to do it…He gave us the tools to accomplish it.

There are numerous methods and programs used to teach people about Jesus [these will be discussed in future blogs]. However, the main way to reach people for Christ is having a relationship with the other person. This first step is already complete among your friends and family.

But how do you tell somebody on the street about Christ? You can’t just go up to them and talk to them, right? After all, our parents have told us “don’t talk to strangers!” Well, I’m sorry, but Matthew 28:19 says “Go…[to] all nations.” But remember the next verse reminds us that God is with us “always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We don’t have an excuse for not talking to people about God.

Still it’s hard, but God gave me a neat little question to open a conversation with. I used this at Lowe’s the first time and it works great. When you approach somebody, simply ask them “Do you know of a good church around here?” This question doesn’t offend most people, but it will tell you a lot about that individual’s religious convictions. From here you can use a variety of questions to turn the conversation to Jesus.

I will follow-up this blog with another entry soon about how to use this question and the response(s) they give to steer the conversation into a witnessing encounter.

Let’s all get on the offensive and tell the world about Jesus!
 
 

 

Praise the Lord….

Many times we wake up – groggy, slow moving, or just having that “I don’t want to get out of bed” feeling. This morning was just that for me. I’m a little tired and can’t get started for the day.

Then….I turned to Psalms for a little uplifting message. Not expecting to find anything to get me going quickly, I was somewhat surprised in how God helped me out immediately!

I came upon Psalms 146:1-4: “Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”

Last night, our VBS lesson was about “Focusing on Jesus,” not on the world. The disciples lost focus during the storm while on the lake two separate times (Matthew 8:23-27, 14:22-31). During the second time, Peter asked Jesus to command him (Peter) to walk on water. Jesus did, and Peter walked on water until he lost focus on Jesus. We also need to stay focused in all that we do and praise the Lord for He is worthy of praise.

Then I thought of the current song Undignified by David Crowder (the students will recognize this one):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aokWlnJ4d0

“I will dance I will sing
To be mad for my King
Nothing Lord is hindering this passion in my soul”

Suddenly, my day was brighter with this very uplifting and upbeat song. But I thought, “When was the last time I had NOTHING hindering my passion for praising the Lord?” This really hit me hard as many times I do allow things (even other people) to hinder me from praising the way I really feel I should. I’m going to use this song as a reminder to me to praise the Lord without hinderance.

But this call to praise the Lord also brought with it an encouragement to me as it lifted me up to begin my day. The Psalmist already communicated in Psalm 104:33 to sing praises to God as long as we live. Why don’t we start everyday with a song of praise to the Lord?

I enjoy listening to music, so on my way to work I listen to contemporary Christian music on the radio. It’s a great way to start my day; sing praises to the Lord today!

It’s 2 AM, why am I awake?

This morning, I woke up at 2 AM…worried. I know God tells us not to worry, but even I worry about things (Kimberly can verify that). Well, after getting this blog up and running, I stopped to pray and ask God to help me get through today. I quickly felt the need to have a short devotion to help me; and so I opened my Bible to a random passage of Scripture.

Guess which “random passage” God showed me…. 

Philippians 4:4-6 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Paul is telling the church (us) to STAY POSITIVE in all things, rejoicing during ALL times…not just when the good times are here, but ALWAYS!

I continually remind my students “when the Bible repeats something, it’s important.” Here, Paul says to Rejoice twice within the same verse. Must be important! Paul also reminds us that the Lord is near – He knows our trouble, He is in charge…we should be content to have the most sovereign ally on our side.

Paul also reminds us to pray “with thanksgiving.” We should thank God because it could be worse, but He has shielded us with His comforting hands. He will not allow us to endure anything that we are not capable of surviving.

As I continued my devotion, I read Phil 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I don’t always understand how God will solve our troubles, but He does. Jesus reinforced this message during the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34), reminding us that we are more valuable than the birds of the air, and yet God provides for them, why wouldn’t He provide even more so for us? 

There we have it, if we obey God’s Word and rejoice in Him, pray for our needs, and trust Him, He will give us what we really need. I will not question God, but instead rely on His precious and loving care to carry me through.

Have a good day everyone!